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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.  

familyworship-750x500

Shalom

Have You Counted the Days?

“Teach us to count our days.”

Who Said That?

It wasn’t David or Solomon, or one of the prophets. It wasn’t Jesus. It was Moses, but don’t bother searching for it in the Torah because it isn’t in there, its found in the Psalms, its Psalm 90, “A prayer of Moses the man of God.” 

Count Our Days?

Verse 2, “…from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” 

Everlasting is a long time. Longer than we can count. 

Verse 4, “A thousand years in your sight are like a day.” 

A thousand years isn’t nearly as long as everlasting but its bucket fulls of years longer than we will live. 

Verse 10, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures.”

That seems more like it. Odd though that Moses wrote that and lived to be 120 years old. I guess he had lots of enduring strength. 

Verse 12, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Everlasting is hard to count in days. A thousand years is 365,000 days, I can count that high but I won’t live that long. 

Seventy years is 25,550 days and eighty years is 29,200 days. Lets split the difference and call it 27,375 days. Okay Moses, we have counted our days and now we need a heart of wisdom. Has it come yet?

A Metaphor?

Was Moses saying its wise to admit that we won’t live forever so its good to live life fully? We only get so many days. We get whatever we get, but the point is, what are we doing with the time? 

168 is the number of hours in a week, we all get the same amount, how do you use them? 

936 is the number of weeks in 18 years. From the moment your children are born to the day they walk across the stage is 936 weeks. Count the days moms and dads. 

40 Sundays is the national average for family’s having their children in bible school, forty Sundays a year. 

45 minutes is the average amount of time a child will spend in bible school each of the forty Sundays they attend. Doesn’t feel like thats gong to be enough does it? 

Story time
Its just a phase so don’t miss it. Time matters. 

In Closing

Moses was right. We need to count our days for they are not unlimited. What we do with our time matters. What we do today matters. How much we invest in the spiritual training of our children matters. Don’t miss it. 

“Teach us Lord to count our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Shalom

Blending In: Easier Than Ever

If you read my VLOG last week then you know it was about my high school track experience. It was a message about striving to keep the faith and to run our race with perseverance. 

08^1003939473 12PREP061117.jpg
Not me, but close, really very close.  

However

What I didn’t mention was that in the spring of my senior year I decided not to run track. It wasn’t so I could play baseball or tennis. No, I joined the drama club, which proved a most unpopular decision. I was worried sick about what people would think and say. Some of those I worried about:

  • the Track Coach 
  • the Track Team
  • my friends
  • my girl friend
  • my parents

 In a small town High School the boys that played sports played all of them. We were a fraternity. The best players in football were the best players in basketball and track. I was one of the best and they were depending on me.

My fears were well founded. I was ridiculed and teased. Some treated me differently, including the coach. But not my parents who supported my decision and not the Drama Club who were happy to have me. We rehearsed after school at the same time the track team worked out. I had played football and basketball and track since Junior High, and enjoyed it, learned from it, and won my share of medals and trophies. But as it turned out, I also loved being in drama and acting, it was so much fun.

Wizard-of-Oz-Ogden-High-School
Not me, not even close, actually, I played Toto 🙂 

A Hard Choice

My decision went across the grain. I chose drama over sports. I chose performing on a stage instead of competing on a track. It wasn’t easy to go against the grain, they called me “loser” and  other words I won’t put in print. It wasn’t pleasant and I knew what it was like to be on the outside.

Our Culture

Our culture demands that everyone fits in, to do what’s expected even if it’s not in our best interest. Kids are under enormous pressure to blend in, to keep their heads down and not be different. Difference is a killer. Difference gets noticed and attacked.

To Close

For believers with kids, you face challenges that are bigger than ever. The dynamics are the same: the need to fit in,  be accepted, and peer pressure will always exist. But the consequences are worse. The bullying and ostracizing are more intense. 

I am struggling to accept it, but the nation I love is slowly becoming a place where living as the light of world is ridiculed, anathema and increasingly belittled. 

Making the choice to be different is still the calling of God for his people. It has never been easy and now it seems harder than ever. Please accept my encouragement to keep trusting in God and to keep struggling to be the light of the world. 

It’s never been easier to blend in.

God bless you, stay strong and keep the faith.

Shalom 

A Divine Helping Hand

What Is The Value of Prayer?

Credentials

I offer the following acknowledging  that I am neither a medical doctor or a mental health professional.

Values

When I think about the value of prayer I land on two primary benefits.

The Spiritual: Being a believer allows me to connect with the presence of God. The Holy Spirit takes me to the place that is not of this world. It’s a holy place, not a location, but a place of divine availability. It’s how I talk to Him. It’s how faith becomes expressed in words. It’s about heavenly power. 

The Physical: Being a believer means that I can share whatever is on my mind, my heart and my soul. Prayer can be offered in a quick moment or in long periods of thoughtful reflection. Nope, God is not my medical doctor, my analyst, or my emotional guru. Prayer doesn’t fix everything or eliminate all problems. Here are some of the benefits prayer provides. 

  1. connection to a higher power
  2. a relationship with the divine
  3. relieving anxiety
  4. the place to take problems 
  5. the place to off load worry 
  6. the way to ask for help
  7. the way to seek assistance for others
  8. the place to confess weakness, sin and struggle 

Other Benefits

Praying lowers my blood pressure and provides me a sense of peace and calm. Praying makes me feel better both spiritually and physically. 

A friend of mine told me that he was struggling with something and the more he thought about it the more angry he was becoming. So, rather than stay angry or get even angrier, he decided to find someplace quiet and pray. It won’t be a quick prayer but a day of confession and connection with his heavenly Father. Whatever his mental and emotional condition when he begins to pray will not be his condition when he is finished. He will come back changed and for the better. 

god lending a hand
We all need a little help now and then, a divine helping hand.

In Closing

I’ll leave you with this.

“Rejoice in the Lord and I will say it again, rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Shalom

 

 

The Bunnies Are The Best

EASTER 

What?

I like Easter, it’s a fun holiday, a religious one, but fun. My earliest memories are:

  1. New clothes for Easter Sunday
  2. Mom hiding Easter eggs 
  3. Chocolate bunnies wrapped in brightly colored foil
  4. Chocolate bunnies that tasted a lot like wax
  5. Wondering how I knew what wax tasted like

Why?

The word “easter” seems to have originated from a pre-Christian goddess in England named Eostre who was celebrated at the beginning of spring. The only reference to her comes from the writings of the Venerable Bede, a British monk who lived in the late seventh and early eight centuries. 

Bruce Forbes, a religious studies scholar, wrote this:

“Bede wrote that the month in which English Christians were celebrating the resurrection of Jesus had been called Eosturmonath in Old English, referring to a goddess named Eostre. And even though Christians had begun affirming the Christian meaning of the celebration, they continued to use the name of the goddess to designate the season.”

When?

This year, Easter is April 1. But the date for Easter changes every year. The reason is that Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. So in 2019, Easter will be April 21 and in 2020 it will be April 12. Last year, for 2017, Easter was April 16. The year before, in 2016, Easter was March 27.

But our Easter celebration isn’t based on the goddess Eostre or the British monk. It’s aligned with Constantine who favored Christianity, who convened a meeting of Christian leaders who resolved that Easter be celebrated on a Sunday, and it be the first Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal equinox. 

In Closing

Many cultures connect Easter with the Jewish feast of Passover, commemorating the liberation of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. 

However you recognize Easter, whatever meaning, significance, or cultural traditions you observe please remember that its about the risen Son of God.  

empty_tomb_wide

The Resurrected Messiah-Our Hope and Our Glory

(the chocolate bunnies are nice too

It Happened Sunday Night

“Tramp, Tramp, Tramp”

Do you know that song? It was a brutal Civil War marching song written by George F. Root in 1864 and was sung by soldiers as they marched into battle.

However

The tune wasn’t destined to remain a battle song. Nope, a lyricist named Clarence Herbert Woolston borrowed the music, gave it new words, and gave the song new life for generations to come.

Who was Clarence Woolston? He was born in 1856 and died in 1927. He was minister, author and writer of hymns and was Pastor of a Philadelphia church. 

And his song? You probably know it, have sung it, and even grew up with it. Here is a piece of the song he wrote:

“Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world, red and yellow black and   white, Jesus loves all the little children of the world.”

Yep

Woolston used the music of a Civil War marching song and transformed it into one of the most beloved songs of all time. Jesus loves the little children. Yep! Here are a couple of verses for you: 

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

“He took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them, and blessed them.” Mk 10:16

For Me

On Sunday night, our church’s Children’s Ministry performed their Easter Musical,

“It’s All Because of Jesus”

Watching sixty kids sing songs of praise was inspiring; they told the old, old story with young voices and fresh hearts. Jesus loves the little children indeed. 

Easter Musical

I cried during the performance, which isn’t at all unusual, but I did. Before they came into the Worship Center to start the performance, I had a moment to pray over them. That prayer was granted. There is just something about watching and hearing children sing about Jesus that melts my heart.

To Close

I get why Jesus loved kids. I understand why he wanted them to have unhindered access. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

Sure, kids can be loud, busy and constantly moving, even distracting and disruptive at times. But it’s their hearts. Jesus saw their hearts, and the love of a child comes from the very center of their pure and precious hearts. 

Thank you Mr. Woolston

Your song is a big hit. 

 

Juicy Fruit: A Great Reward

Jesus Wept

It’s true, he did. A family had lost a brother. When Jesus entered their home he found them weeping for their loss, and so, he wept with them. It’s in John 11:35.

This Blog

This blog isn’t about grief, or about Jesus weeping, or even about raising the deceased  from the dead, which Jesus did. His name was Lazarus. It’s in John 11:43-44. 

No, this blog is about the shortest verse in the English language Bible. Growing up, I had several occasions to quote it.

  1. At bible camps when quoting a verse received a reward.
  2. At Vacation Bible Schools when quoting a verse received a reward.
  3. In bible classes when memorizing a verse received a reward. 

Quoting John 11:35 was the least labor intensive path.

You might think those rewards were really special? They weren’t. They were things like a pack of gum or some little doo dad that meant little and were soon lost.

juicy fruit gum

It wasn’t about the rewards.

The Real Reason

The motivation to quote was to avoid negative attention. It wasn’t impressive to quote the shortest verse, it was just the easiest way to avoid embarrassment. I did’t want to be the kid who was laughed at, or have their teasing. It was about my insecurity. 

I’n not sure that peer pressure was a good motivation for kids to learn scripture. 

To Close

That shy little boy had no idea he would grow up to be a preacher, but he did. Over the years I’ve memorized and quoted others verses in addition to John 11:35. It’s a good thing and the rewards have been rich and plentiful. I guess it’s the motivation that changed. 

“Jesus wept”

Juicy Fruit was my favorite.