I’m the three-year-old in the grocery store; God’s the parent

I love my kids.

 I really do. 

However, it doesn’t mean that they don’t drive me crazy sometimes. 

One of the craziest times is bedtime. In our house, it consists of brushing teeth, use the bathroom, sleep attire, puffers, nasal sprays, tuck-ins, reading, songs, and prayer.

All the while, you’re trying not to wake the ones who have fallen asleep. That’s the real trick. I believe that parents who can consistently and successfully get a child to sleep within 10mins should get an honorary Doctorate. 

Can I get an Amen on that!

It always seems it’s right before bed that they mention the homework that they have to do or the book that needs to be read and returned.

Do they not know that it’s bedtime! 

Do they not understand that if they do not go to bed that very minute it will be meltdown city! That the next day will consist of tears, screams, fists, and turmoil.

To no avail, seldom do they listen. Kids rarely understand the consequences. Continually we try. Why? Because we love them. We know that to neglect them would be a worse fate than to do our best. 

Or how about those moments when you’re in the store and your child… I mean your friend’s child (we know yours is perfect) starts flipping out in the aisle because they want the fluffety puffety marshmallows and you said no. Suddenly, it’s as if you have stripped them of everything dear in life and they must scream, shout, kick, grab with all their might, so the universe knows and yields to their beck and call!

Yet, we love them.

I believe this is why the Scriptures speak of God as Father. Jesus actually teaches us that the relationship we have with God is so much more intimate than the term father. Jesus and the Apostle Paul use the word “Abba” (Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, Gal 4:6), which means Daddy. It speaks of an intimate relationship. Not God afar, but a God who draws us close.

When I’m candid with myself, I’m the three-year-old in the grocery store demanding Marshmallows; God’s the parent. Too often, we travel through life only looking for fulfillment. We pray and expect God, like any good vending machine, will give us what we want. We’re like the little girl in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory singing

“I want a feast
I want a bean feast
Cream buns and doughnuts
And fruitcake with no nuts
So good you could go nuts
No, now”

I Want It Now

Sometimes we get what we want out of our free will. There are other times, because of the love of God, where our wish is at a distance from us.

Just because you ask, doesn’t mean you should get it. 

I am the child in the relationship who wants and needs–cries and screams. I fight when something good, but something I don’t want, is demanded of me.

Though I know, I still fight it. I fight my heavenly father because I think I know best. I know best as my four-year-old knows best–not at all.

My Prayer:

Lord, I need help. I don’t know what I’m doing, though I pretend I do. Help me to heed your words and follow your instructions. Most importantly help my heart to be soft, so I continually see you for as the loving Dad you are. You are my peace and my hope.

Amen

Resources used in this post

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3 things to get the most out of Sunday

If you are a regular church-goer then Sunday, more than likely, is the day when you gather with others who are on the same spiritual journey as you.

There are many reasons why we do this. To learn, be challenged, and fellowship with others, are to name a few. There are, however, times when this does not happen. It is quite easy to walk away from a Sunday service and feel, was that it? 

Whether you have felt like that or you always walk away satisfied, there are three things you can do before Sunday ever happens so that you can get the most out of Sunday (or whichever day you meet).

I break them down to heart, body, and mind.

1) Heart

This may seem obvious, but to get the most out of Sunday, you need to prepare your heart. But what does it mean to prepare your heart? 

To prepare your heart begins with prayer. Prayer is about repentance, thanksgiving, petition, lament. 

Consider prayers like this the tenderiser and your heart the meat. Now the Sunday becomes the grill. While not the perfect analogy, I hope you can get the picture. 

Sunday is a time when God speaks to His body corporately, which you are a part of. As Greg Boyd writes,

“…our heart conditions our ability to see and understand spiritual truths…”

You need to do your part to set aside the weekly distraction in order to hear what God is saying, which leads us to the second one.

2) Body

I’m not talking about spiritual jumping jacks or shoulder exercises so you can hold your hands up longer. Body has nothing to do with your physical body.

As mentioned previously, your part of the body of Christ. As a member of that body, you need to help the body get ready for what God is saying to His Church. You have just as much of a responsibility to help prepare the body for game day (to use a sports slogan), as anyone else.

Call someone up form your church have coffee, maybe lunch, or a someone for dinner and discuss spiritual matters. If your church has small groups, engage in them. Proverbs states that we are to be,

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17. 

A great way to get the most out of Sunday is to engage others with what God is doing in your life, their life, and the church as a wholes life.

3) Mind

Depending on your tradition, this is either over or underemphasized. In most cases, it’s the latter. Surprisingly, it is almost demonized. Yet, Jesus told us to love him with all our mind (Mark 12:30, Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27).

Here’s the thing, it’s easy to be lazy. When you are lazy with your mind on spiritual matters, you do your self a disservice. Most churches nowadays do series. That means you can know the topic of the series and the Scripture before it ever comes. Pick up a commentary and do a little study. Even if you’re not a reader, it’s easy to either read a verse or listen to it. Once you do that, think about it, talk about it, pray about it. You can even find other sermons or podcasts on that Scripture.

Even if you don’t know what is coming next, you know what has happened. Engage the previous Sunday. Talk, pray, and think. Do as much as you can to engage the text and hear what God is speaking to you through it.

If you do these three, I guarantee that you will get the most out of your Sunday experience.

Checkout the resources used in this blog

Prayer isn’t a strategy; it’s communication

The other day I was listening to a two church leaders talk about all the different strategies to help your church grow. The guest, while speaking of the different strategies they utilized and put resources together for, the guest referenced their resource for strategic prayer.

Prayer is a great strategy.

Saying this, I am unsure if we should be totting prayer as a strategy. What they were referencing are strategic prayers that will help grow your church.

Is prayer important? YES!

Does God want more people to attend your church? Probably (if it’s dysfunctional, God wants function then growth).

It just doesn’t sit right.

After all, prayer is a conversation between the Almighty God and the people whom he loves.

Prayer denotes intimacy. It isn’t the cloud downloading knowledge, it is fostering a relationship.

Imagine you’re happily married (maybe you don’t have to, perhaps it’s just the happily part… for another blog). Now pretend that you had strategic conversations with your spouse. This conversation would be to help your interests.

But you’re not to have your own interests. Marriage is a partnership.

We need to pray that the Holy Spirit prepares hearts. We need to pray for strength and diligence to tell of the Good News of Jesus’ incredible love. However, prayer isn’t a strategy to increase your platform or increase your metrics. Prayer isn’t a strategy; it’s communication with God.

What do you think? How have you seen prayer used?