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Looks Can Be Deceiving

“She looks just like you!”

I said that to someone I had recently started working with, about her daughter. Then she told me their daughter was adopted.

An Adoption

My sister was adopted. It was public and well known. Most adoptions are not that way, but this was different.

  1. They adopted when I was 10, my brothers were 13 and 12.
  2. When you show up for church one Sunday with a baby, it gets noticed.
  3. Everyone knew my parents didn’t have a baby girl.
  4. And she didn’t resemble either parent.
  5. She was from Viet Nam.  

The Resemblance

No, she obviously didn’t favor either parent. But when she learned to talk, she talked like us. Her mannerisms reflected those of our family. She ate what we ate, did what we did, and went where we went. She was ours and we were hers. We belonged to each another. We were the same, we were family.

How That Happened?

Here are some things that made her one of us:

  1. She had our name.
  2. She had our values.
  3. She was believed as we believed. 
  4. She was loved equally and in the same way as her brothers.
  5. She was a Fyffe, through and through.

A Spiritual Adoption 

Paul wrote in Ephesians that God adopted us into his family, 1:5. That we are the Father’s workmanship, the result of his divine will, 2:10. That we were given his name, 3:14. And that we grow to become like him, 5:1-2.

We were created in the image of God, but that wasn’t about appearance. My sister didn’t look like my parents, but they were her parents, she was our sister, and we were one.

Our spiritual identity comes from God. We wear his name, reflect his values, and share his purpose. We became one with him.

  1. Identity
  2. Name
  3. Character
  4. Purpose
  5. Family

It all came from him, it all points to him.

To Close

We look different, but we were adopted and fitted into God’s family. It’s not about who you look like, but who you belong to.

I said to my friend, “She looks just like you!” Spiritually, we all look like the Father.  

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Shalom

The Crossover Kids

Sunday evening we hosted some 5th-6th graders for a pool and pizza party, and twenty-three kids attended. It was a great event and we had a really good time.

QUESTIONS

Here are some of their questions that I found amusing:

  1. “Has anyone ever died in your pool?”
  2. “Does your house have anything to drink?”
  3. “What should I do with my money while I swim?”
  4. “Can you hold my towel so it doesn’t get dirty?”
  5. “Can I have more than one brownie?”

And there were others.

They were sweet kids and I knew most of them but not all so was glad to get better connected. Our church calls them the CROSSOVER KIDS because they are too old for Children’s Ministry and too young for Youth Ministry, they are in the process of crossing over from preteens to teens. Each month they have a fellowship event and last night was the first of the new school year.

MOBY DICK

At the beginning I was in the pool and holding my own, but then the kids got in. I did okay with the first ten or twelve, but by the time fifteen or more got in they just sort of beached me like a big sad whale.

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Can you find me in the picture? I’m the one with thinning grey hair floundering about.

SOME OBSERVATIONS

  1. 5th and 6th grade boys live somewhere between wanton destructiveness and shyly asking for a second brownie.
  2. They used the pool “noodles” for sword fighting and for whacking each other and found all manner of other unimagined uses.
  3. At no time did the genders interact. The boys populated the deep end while the girls frolicked in the shallow end.
  4. As a rule, the girls manifested a more mature behavior than the boys.
  5. They boys were showing off for each other, and for the girls, while the girls pretended not to notice. I think they were doing a little showing off too.

IN CLOSING

After swimming for 90 minutes and devouring nine large pizzas and a big tray of brownies their parents arrived to pick them up. Before leaving they each came and thanked us for having them to our home.

They were well mannered and delightful kids. I’m proud to be their Preacher.

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We could tell they are getting good parenting. 

I think we will have them over next year!

 

 

Five Year Old Kids

KINDERGARTEN ASSISTANT

A woman in our Life Group asked if someone could help with her Sunday morning Kindergarten Class. Her usual assistant was dropping off a kid at college.

So I responded, “Sure, I’ll help.”

WHAT HAPPENED?

My duties were basically crowd control. You know, help them stay seated, keep them from getting crazy with their neighbors and make sure nobody got hurt.

The teacher, who is a professional school teacher, was phenomenal. Her teaching skills were impressive. Her ability to engage each child with respect and dignity was effective. She could do a lot with just the sound and tone of her voice.

If I had been the teacher I would have been outwitted, outplayed and outlasted by a bunch of sweet little five year old kids. I was barely getting by with crowd control.

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                          Not our Kindergarten class, not even close, our kids were cuter and smarter.  Maybe I’m just biased. Maybe?

SOME OBSERVATIONS

While making the first letter of their names with Play-Doh one kid asked another:

“Where does Play-Doh come from?” The kid shrugged and said, “I think it’s magic.” 

When asked what they knew about God and his Son:

“I think God and Jesus are basically the same person.” 

“Jesus went to the cross and there were fireworks.” 

When asked, “Can you name something God made that we can see.”

“TV” 

“Kids riding bikes. I saw a picture of it on the wall.” 

The Play-doh kid said, “Play-Doh.”

MY TAKE AWAY’S

They were adorable and smart. One child knew the days of creation, of what happened each day. One named four or five things she learned in school that week. One child wanted to talk and say all kinds of things. Some raised their hands when they wanted to speak or answer a question. I went away blessed to have been there.

I laughed, marveled and thanked God for such precious people. They were obviously from loving families who are talking about God in their homes. It was so sweet.

I think I’ll go back next week!

A Child’s Five Questions

FIVE QUESTIONS

At this year’s Orange Conference in Atlanta I heard Kristen Ivey talk about the five questions a child needs an adult to answer in order to trust them.

  1. Do you know my name?
  2. Do you know where I live?
  3. Do you know what matters to me?
  4. Do you what I have done?
  5. Do you know what I can do?

It makes sense doesn’t it? Before extending trust to an adult a child needs to know the adult understands who they are, that the adult has a sense of what matters to them.

Children's Blessing 1

When I think about it, the five questions work pretty well for me too.

  1. I’m flattered when someone takes the trouble to learn my name.
  2. Not my home address, but aware of something that’s going on in my life.
  3. I instantly like a person who understands what’s important to me.
  4. The person who has some sense of my history will sooner earn my trust.
  5. The person aware of my abilities and achievements gets my attention.

These questions make it personal for the one who is asking and for the one who is answering. If a child asks and I know the answers, then the child will more readily view me as a friend. It isn’t easy because it’s a lot to know, and will take effort and intentional interest.

I like seeing Jesus reaching out to people. Take Zacchaeus for example, it’s Jesus making an effort with intentional interest. It’s Jesus getting personal.

DO YOU KNOW MY NAME? Jesus looked up and called him by name.

DO YOU KNOW WHERE I LIVE? He wanted to go to Zach’s house for the day.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT MATTERS TO ME? Jesus knew money was important to him.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT I HAVE DONE? Jesus knew he collected taxes for Rome.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT I CAN DO? Jesus knew Zach would trade extraordinary greed with extraordinary generosity.

AND US TODAY?

How does Jesus get personal with us? Does he know who we are, does he know our name and what’s happening in our lives, a sense of “where we live” or “Where we are at?”

In my next blog I’ll write about some ways that God gets personal with us.

TO CLOSE

Jesus spent most of his time with huge crowds. But he often reached out to individuals and did something to change their lives. It’s how Jesus made it personal.

On his way to the cross to save everyone he often stopped to save someone.   

Spirit Filled Wiggle Room

There are several phrases used in church that I haven’t located in Scripture. It’s okay, they don’t have to be found in scripture to be used.

Here Are a Few of Them

  • Have the communion trays been filled?
  • Who has our opening prayer?
  • Who’s officiating the Lord’s Supper?
  • Are we singing old or new songs?
  • Do we have announcements?
  • Is it time for the children’s contribution?
  • Don’t you think his sermons are too long!

These and others can be heard in my church on any given Sunday.

That’s because on any given Sunday we sing, pray, observe the Lord’s Meal, have a sermon and take up an offering. Sometimes we have a baby blessing, or a blessing for a mission trip, or for donated items to the less fortunate. Often there is a video, a testimonial or a baptism. It’s all pretty good.

IT’S REASSURING

Frankly, I find it reassuring that the Holy Spirit left “the worship service,” fairly vague. If a global, all time Order of Worship (another phrase not found in scripture) was important to the Spirit then it makes sense the Spirit would have given one. But he didn’t.

Clearly the early church sang, prayed, heard the word, shared the bread and wine and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Obviously they gave and they gave a lot.

Growing up in conservative churches our worship focus was about 40% on what we were doing and about 60% on doing it right. Doing it right was big in our church. Doing it right meant making sure we didn’t do it wrong. Doing it wrong might incur the wrath of God bringing judgment and condemnation on us and we sure didn’t want any of that.

IT’S DIFFERENT

It’s different today, or maybe I’m just different. The last few Sundays we took time to bless two groups of kids. The first were children about to start Kindergarten, a big change for them and their parents. We prayed over the parents during Bible Class and then over the kids in the worship assembly. The next week we did the same with kids, and their parents, entering the 7th grade. Both are important milestones. I’m glad we do that kind of thing. It’s important for the families and for the church family.

Children's Blessing 1
PRECIOUS LITTLE FIVE YEAR OLDS ABOUT TO START KINDERGARTEN 
SIXTH GRADE BLESSING
A BUNCH OF SWEET KIDS ABOUT TO START 7TH GRADE AND JOIN THE YOUGH GROUP!

IN CLOSING

I’m glad the Holy Spirit left us some wiggle room regarding what happens in worship.  The wiggling is some of the best stuff we do to encourage and bless others. I think the Spirit would be happy about it, but that’s just me.

Shalom

 

 

 

How Adorable Can You Get?

ON SUNDAY

Our church has a Family Ministry. It’s an 18 year curriculum for parents that’s organized by the milestones of a child’s life. The goal is for the church to partner with each family to support and equip them in their quest to raise Godly children.

One of the early milestones is a child transitioning from preschool to kindergarten. It’s a big deal for the child and can be a really big deal for moms and dads. This year, we have thirteen children entering Kindergarten.

Children's Blessing 1

On Sunday we recognized this milestone with our Family Ministry Team meeting with the parents to encourage them and pray over them. It was a beautiful thing. Then in our 2nd service we brought the kids on stage to give them a special blessing. It was sweet.

MORE THAN SWEET

But referring to it as sweet doesn’t capture all that it meant. It’s always precious to see young children in the spotlight but it’s so much more when we consider the significance those kids have and the special future God has planned.

  • Think about the amazing potential each one has
  • Consider the generations they will bring into the world
  • Imagine the impact they could have in their lifetimes
  • Embrace the endless possibilities that exist within a child’s heart
  • Rejoice that their young lives are being filled with Jesus Christ

children's blessing 2

PERSONALLY

I don’t remember kindergarten, I guess I went, but I don’t really remember. But one thing I know for sure, my church never brought me on stage or spoke words of blessing for a great future. They never prayed with my parents. I’m just grateful for those who have a better idea and are using their gifts and faith to help future generations.

TO CLOSE

They are adorable children, full of enthusiasm, unbridled energy, and souls as pure as new fallen snow. Jesus loves them. He loves all the little children. I think they are his favorite.

Have a great school year kids, you are loved and you are special!

A CASE For Camp

This is the week. It’s the last BIG event of our summer. We call it CASE Camp which stands for Creative Art and Science Exploration. Doesn’t that sound like fun! It’s for elementary kids and we have 192 of them coming.

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Not one of CASE camp’s  wonderful volunteers, but close, really very close. Actually, he’s the A/V guy for the week.

THIS IS COOL

The cool thing is that 71 of the kids are from our church and 121 are from the neighborhood. It’s the largest children’s event of our year that’s purposed at filling kids hearts with Jesus.

This week they will learn about:

  • God the Great I Am
  • Creation and creativity
  • Art and artistry
  • Jesus the Real Redeemer

It’s also four days of hanging with friends, making new friends, and having a sense of community. It’s four days of learning by exploration. It’s a massive camp to produce, the prep for materials is incredible and it daily requires 80 volunteers of adults and teens.

ME?

They didn’t have CASE camp when I was a kid. The closest I got to science was shaking a can of soda and spraying my friends. The closest I got to art involved a spray can of paint and a wall. Sorry mom, it’s true. 

THE GOAL?

Well, the goal is to instill belief, to deepen faith and to help them understand more about God and his Son. It’s a great thing and it starts this morning. 

TO CLOSE

I don’t know much about science and even less about art, so I’m not crucial to the success of the event. I’ll just write about it.

Thanks to our Children’s Ministry and Youth Ministry for their constant effort to serve God by serving those to whom the Kingdom is given.

HAVE FUN!

 

Moments On High Places

WHAT HAPPENED?

My heart is full this morning, or at least at near capacity. Last night, Wednesday night, we had an evening or praise. It was glorious.

To start, one of our worship leaders, with an eight person praise team, led us in songs of great meaning and of great praise. We also had two people share their testimony about the power and blessing of the camp last week.

The celebration was all the better because many  who attended the camp were there last night. Their worship at camp was incredible because the campers were challenged to worship without boundaries, to let the walls come down and their self-consciousness to melt. They did and were able to give wholehearted praise to God.

Our worship center was lit up with energy and excitement, the people attending were of all ages and backgrounds but for an hour last night, we were one voice.

AND THEN?

Afterwards, one of our Dad’s baptized his teenage son. Probably 200 people stayed to share in the moment. While standing in the water together, he shared his son’s faith journey and then shared a little of his own. They hugged each other and the tears were flowing. Finally, after a few minutes, he immersed him into Jesus. It was one of the most moving moments I’ve ever witnessed.

I know, mountain top experiences aren’t meant for every day, that’s why they’re called  mountain top, and most of us don’t live on mountains. But I wouldn’t mind having some of that as often as I can get it.

As far as I know, today will be a normal day. I’ll be in my office at the church. I’ll put the finishing touches on the lesson for Sunday. I’ll check with staff members and review whatever needs reviewing. It’ll be a regular day, but my soul will be on fire and my heart filled with joy.

THANKS

Thank you God for your Spirit. Thank you Holy Spirit for filling us. Thanks you Jesus for sending the Spirit so we could experience moments like last night.

Shalom

 

A Very Cool Thing

There are things that warm my heart and fill my soul. Here are a few of them:

  • playful puppies
  • the love of a young child
  • an unexpected gift at an unexpected time
  • the hugs after baptisms

 FIRST: SOME JESUS CONTEXT

One day a wealthy man asked what he needed for salvation. He was told that because his wealth controlled him he needed to give it to the poor and make Jesus his one true master. He wouldn’t, and he left sad.

A woman was caught having sex with a man not her husband. The religious police brought her to Jesus trying to discredit him before the people, they failed and left defeated. Jesus didn’t condemn, but forgave, and encouraged her to live for God.

One night, an influential man approached Jesus saying that he must be a teacher from God due to his miraculous signs. Rather than discuss his credentials, Jesus taught him to be born again, that to enter the coming kingdom he would need to be born of the Spirit.

Three Key Thoughts:

  1. Make Jesus the Lord and master of your life.
  2. Look to Jesus for forgiveness and righteousness.
  3. Regardless of race or heritage, we all need to be born of the Spirit

Those three thoughts come together when a person confesses Jesus as Lord and Savior and is immersed into his name, and raised a new creation, fully cleansed, filled with the Spirit, and dedicated to holiness. Some call it baptism.

I saw a pic on Facebook of a Pastor, who is a dear friend, who was about to baptize some people, probably in the Conejos River, water temperature at snow melt levels!

A week ago I baptized a woman who happened to be deaf. Thankfully, our church has a member who interprets for the deaf and was a huge help. Being deaf had nothing to do with being baptized; it wasn’t about her hearing, but about her believing.

Below is a 20 second video clip of a dad baptizing his teenage son in a river very likely warmer than the Conejos. Watch the hug, its one of the things that warms my heart and fills my soul!

The 92

Kids go to camp. Many go to more than one.

Yesterday at church I called for all the kids who were going to Camp Bandina to come on stage. There were 92 of them. I offered a prayer of blessing and then moms and dads got their kids and their stuff on two huge, beautiful busses and off to camp they went.

I saw a few parents with a few tears and a few parents running to their cars in freedom.

With 350 total campers and 80 adults to serve them there will be an outpouring of love and faith; an amazing experience of friendship and fellowship.

Here are nine thoughts about the “9” in “92”

  • nine are first time campers
  • nine will miss home and want to call mom or dad
  • nine will develop a crush on someone
  • nine will make friends with kids from other places
  • nine will deepen friendships within our group of 92
  • nine will have life-affecting conversations with their counselor
  • nine will come home thinking about their futures for the first time
  • nine will make some kind a decision about who they are with God
  • nine will return a bit sad because it’s their last year at Camp Bandina

We have excellent people at the camp this week. People who will guide the campers well, who will model Christ for them, share their lives with them and be available at all hours of the day and night.

Camp is for having fun and the campers will have a blast. But camp is also for disconnecting from their tech, from gaming systems, cell phones and tablets. It’s a week of discovery about themselves, others and God. It’s a week of personal connection. A time when their hearts and minds will be open, available and receptive to healthy influence.

May God bless them all.

I loved camp.

The Following Is a True Story

Have you ever imagined winning the lottery? That one day all the magic numbers line up and you are an instant millionaire. Or even more!

lottery tickets
Not the lotto tickets my wife bought, but close, really very close.

Have you ever wondered if somewhere out there was a distant relative you didn’t know about? Then one day a lawyer calls requesting your presence for the reading of the will and you inherit millions of dollars!

pile-of-cash
The reading of the will, a pile of cash! 

WELL, IT HAPPENED TO ME

Yep, it’s true. I was contacted by a law firm in Alberta, Canada informing me that a relative had passed away. The relative had a life insurance policy but the benefit hasn’t been paid because the deceased didn’t leave a will or stipulate a beneficiary. The firm has been searching for a living relative and they found one, me. 

HOW MUCH?

I know you’re wondering. Well, it’s a staggering amount: $9,820,000.

After reading the letter and then getting up off the floor I started thinking of what I would do with the money. How much would I give to my church? How much would I give to my kids? How much would I give to my government?  I would definitely get new tires for my wife’s car and probably buy a new fly rod. I’m such a visionary. 

I wondered if Sunday would be my last day on the job? 

AND THEN?

I should probably mention that the law firm didn’t contact me in person, nor by phone, email, registered mail or by telegram. It was by fax. I didn’t know people still used fax machines. We have one in the office, it’s a dinosaur, but it’s how I got the letter. They obviously tracked me down and discovered where I was employed.

HOWEVER

After further reflection, and some internet surfing, I’ve determined that it’s probably a scam aimed at getting my SS number, bank account numbers and so forth. Wouldn’t surprise me if they needed money to pay filing and processing fees and to compensate them for their time. 

Also, the fax had misspelled words, a rather awkward writing style and other clues indicating it was less than a professional document. 

Therefore, amidst great sadness, I’ve concluded that I’m not going to be a ten-millionaire and should forget all about it.

Sunday will not be my last day on the job. I hope.

TO CLOSE

Wow, now I wish I hadn’t gone ahead with the tires, talk about spending money before you have it! 

Oh well, live and learn.