For the Flowers That Haven’t Blossomed Yet

My wife was talking to the neighbor when she had noticed that our three year old had been gone way too long. As they both looked and called for Jonathan, Melissa met him coming out of the house with a cup of water. She explained to him that if he wanted a drink he would need to sit at the kitchen table with it. He said, “It’s not for me; it’s for the flowers…the one’s that haven’t blossomed yet.” He then proceeded to randomly give a drink to several dandelion buds.

When was the last time you thought of “the flowers that haven’t blossomed yet?” Winter always lasts too long for me, but it doesn’t need to last too long in our thinking. It’s time to shake out the dead thinking and put on some hope-filled, forward thinking patterns and see the flowers that will be coming–the one’s that haven’t blossomed yet…and maybe even give them a drink.

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“The People Here Don’t Know Us, Dad.”

ImageNot long ago I could tell something was out of sync with my son. He is thirteen now and I believe is coming to the rude awareness that his innocent elementary days are behind him. He is observing his friends who said they were Christians make hurtful choices that show they are not at least acting that way and he is trying to walk through the confusion that brings. That is a tough place. But something God is showing me is that this really is normal. So normal I need to anticipate that this occurrence would and will happen. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the entire school system disappoints us let alone our friendships in that system. There will always be the feeling for the children brought up since child birth in a Christ honoring home to sense that something is a little off in school. And that can be a major awakening, and one parents need to be prepared for.

            The school system will never have what the Church has. My son said something to me when he was quite young that has stayed with me like a pondering of Mary’s own heart with her son Jesus. We were pastoring then and so it shouldn’t have seemed like such a surprise. It was just the insight my little boy had that shocked me as well as his verbal expression of it. We were going to the store and as we walked in I remember his looking around and seeing all of the people and after a few moments saying to me without turning towards me, “Dad, the people here don’t know us.” I didn’t understand then how huge that was. Years later I continue to unpack what was in the heart of such an observant child. And I think I am beginning to scratch the surface of that. 

            We were pastoring then and so my son was raised in a home well aware of the kingdom of God lived in community. Think about it. Every week we would go to the building across the lawn and see and be with people who ‘knew’ him. Focus on that word ‘knew’ and what that means. The same people week after week, perhaps with different methods but the same purpose—to meet for the sake of Jesus Christ and his story and discovering that our story is a part of the continuation of his. People shared, prayed for one another, sang, read the Bible story, and ‘knew’ each other. Every week my children were spoken to, greeted, recognized, smiled at, accepted, loved on, had hands extended to shake, welcomed into as being a part of, embraced. And so should it be any wonder that at a store with so many people where no one greeted you, but everyone was walking around us and past us and these elements experienced at our gatherings in another setting were entirely missing—that a little boy should make one the greatest observations a growing child of God can make in life—“These people don’t know me, dad. Something is different here. Something is missing.”

And so another time comes when a child of God is in the school system and notices at a rite of passage age, that people there are no longer as they seem. “Something isn’t right like I thought it was, dad. Something is different, and I am noticing it, don’t like it, and I am wondering what to do about it.” What are you going to say?

“You’re right son, it isn’t. You will never feel ‘at home’ at school for two major reasons—the school is a fallen system put in place by another fallen system in our world, the government, that is under a prince—the prince of this world. The school system that we have today seems like it is a lot of things that it really isn’t. Don’t get me wrong—God has secret agents stationed at their posts in this fallen system, but the school will never offer you what the kingdom of God in the Church offers you. That feeling you have is normal—normal because it acts like a compass pointing you to the place our heavenly Father has prepared for you—a new world that’s coming and that you are a part of. That feeling that you have at school is much like the feeling you had years ago at the store—you long know and to be known, to belong, to represent, to feel that sense that you have a greater purpose to serve and were created for. That feeling will never be satisfied at school by those around you. But it can be created. And that is the next step in your journey. 

 

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God Is In Indianapolis

My 3 year old was talking about his heart the other day. “That’s what I feel in my heart.”

"God is Indianapolis."

“God is Indianapolis.”

And he said it several times. Since I was on bath duty tonight I decided to explore that a little further and asked him if Jesus was in heart. The response would have set any theologian into hysterics! I will try to remember and record the interaction here the best I can.

“Yeah…he is. I sometimes hear him in my heart. He speaks to me. He tells me to play nicely with Allie and Andrew. But sometimes He is too far away because He is in Indianapolis.”

I see. So you hear God speaking to you? In your heart?

“Yes. Sometimes I only hear his voice because he is away…He is Indianapolis.”

This had me befuddled but I rationalized that since the family took me to the airport and then picked up there a month ago maybe he thought the city and its greatness reminded Him of a place where a big God would have to live. So I probed a bit more…

So God is Indianapolis. What is he doing there? Without a 2nd thought…

“He is there taking care of his kids…his babies.”

Huh? What do you mean?

He is taking care of baby Jesus there.

OHHHHHHHHHHH! Hmmmmmm…. I wonder if the mayor knows? Aren’t kids great! 🙂

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christmas cal 2013 (12 photos), by Kent Kessler


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5:1 Initiative Part 2: Joshua’s Bar Barakah

Instead of a bar mitzvah, I chose the route of what is being called the bar barakah, or ‘son of the blessing’ rite for my 13 year old. Below is the outline of this time together with some explanatory notes in [brackets].

 

WELCOME TO JOSH’S BAR BARAKAH [Son of the Blessing]:

OPENING PRAYER & THE LORD’S PRAYER

SONG (1): Jesus Loves the Little Children [Joshua was to pick out three songs himself]

THE MEAL/GREAT STEAKS! [we had porterhouse on the grill! baked potatoes, green beans, rolls, and pumpkin pie for dessert]

CALLED TOGETHER:  “Joshua” Means… [a reminder of what Joshua’s name means with short stories from the Bible]

INSTRUCTION/CEREMONY/CELEBRATION [my intro]

JOSH’S “These Three Verses I Cherish” [Joshua chose| Romans 5:8  | John 3:16 | John 11:35 | and he shared why]

SONG (2): Jesus Loves Me

TESTIMONY #1: “WHAT I SEE GOD DOING IN YOUR LIFE, JOSH…” Frank on Your Identity & God’s design for your life

TESTIMONY #2: “WHAT I SEE GOD DOING IN YOUR LIFE, JOSH…” John on Loving God forever, wherever & whenever

TESTIMONY #3: “WHAT I SEE GOD DOING IN YOUR LIFE, JOSH…” Scott on Keeping a Clear Conscience (Responsibility, Injustice, Authority)

TESTIMONY #4: “WHAT I SEE GOD DOING IN YOUR LIFE, JOSH…” Dave on My Testimony and Why Having A Quiet Time with God is So Important.

TESTIMONY #5: “WHAT I SEE GOD DOING IN YOUR LIFE, JOSH…” Pastor Tim on Friendships, Sexual Purity, and Relating Properly to the Opposite Sex

JOSHUA’S TESTIMONY: “What I took away from our time together (personal journal)”

TESTIMONY #6: Dad

RAISING UP AND A PRAYER OF BLESSING & RELEASING of “MY BELOVED SON!” [we lifted Joshua up on a chair and I shouted out loud “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased!]

SONG(3): Amazing Grace

PHOTO MOMENTS, Autographs–For memory’s sake & DESSERT!

After the men left and we cleaned up, Joshua was very joy-filled as he walked about the house. A couple of days later I asked him if anything was different and he told me that our time was significant and he has began to read his Bible every day since. As the days go on,time will only tell what germinated in that inner seed we invested in.

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How To Do Well In School

Statistics have shown for quite some time how those do better in school differ from those who do not in their behavior patterns and therefore beliefs. What are students who achieve better grades doing to succeed in school? Here are eight things I asked my students, based on research and statistics, if they are doing to do better in school.

1. Statistics show that students who attend a place of worship on the weekend consistently will do better in school. Do you attend a place of worship on the weekend?

2. You need rest to do well in school. At least eight hours and sometimes more. Do you get to bed by at least 10:00 every school night?

3. It is hard to focus on the work of study when your stomach is growling. You need a good breakfast. Whether at school or at home, do you get a good breakfast every school day?

4. Now for the hard part. Is your brain too small? Statistically students who are exposed to too much media have smaller brains. Research indicates more than two hours of media (TV, computer, ipad, video games, videos, etc.) causes brain shrinkage. Could you be watching too much media?

5. Sports! Being active is a great way to release stress and feel better in your body so you can study. Are you active?

6. Music? Yep. Listening to good, selective music helps you to become less stressed. And being less stressed helps you do better on your homework and studying. Especially classical music because it based on the best three music compositions: math, science, and emotion. So listening to good music helps you become less stressed so you can do better at studying. Do you listen to good music?

7. Studying, actually doing your homework, increases learning retention. Wow! Whodathunk? You need to do your homework in a place where you can actually think and study so you gain in your understanding. Do you do your homework after school?

8. Asking others for help is yet another way to do better in school. Can you ask your teacher for help? Your parents? Your older brother or sister? Are you finding the help you need to do better. Explain to them your motivation–“I want to do better in school (or in a subject like math). Will you help me?” Do you have someone you can ask to help you do better in your studying?

I then asked my students to “Conduct your own experiment!” And “Do you want to better in school?” I then challenged them with, “Which of these will your try out for three weeks:
Attending church every week
Eating a good breakfast every day
Getting to bed earlier
Being more active
Not watching TV or being on computer devices before coming to school
Not playing on video games/computer/ipads, etc for more than 2 hours a day
Listening to good music
Taking homework home and doing it after school.”

I hope to see some improvements and I won’t stop the encouragement. If we would just follow the research…

References:
http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/tv_affects_child.html
http://blog.beliefnet.com/on_the_front_lines_of_the_culture_wars/2011/03/why-do-church-kids-make-better-grades.html
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-08/isu-sic082712.php –or– http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/107/2/423.full
http://nutrition.about.com/od/nutritionforchildren/a/dietandlearning.htm
http://psychology.about.com/od/psychologyexperiments/a/breakfast-exper.htm
http://www.teachersatrisk.com/tag/listening-to-music-in-the-classroom/

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