Children Are So Important.

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Whether we liked it or not, we were all children once. And our childhood was incredibly important in forming the people we are today.

The smiles, the good memories, learning the ABCs, the bed time stories, climbing trees, going to the beach, birthday presents, the first day at school, losing teeth, gaining friends, growing up and having crushes and sports practices and school projects.

The fears, the break downs, the mistakes and struggles, loneliness, family issues and losing loved ones, bad grades and detentions, all of the tears and hurts and band-aids. 

This thought really hit me just now: children are really important. Just as looking back on childhood can be both sweet and bitter, looking ahead to the children of the future can be a mixture of both hope and uncertainty. I don’t have any children, but lately I have become more and more aware of just how joyful, sobering, and maybe scary it is to raise a kid (or multiple).

In the break room at work, some coworkers were discussing how they did not want to get married for a long time. One guy mentioned he would wait until 50 so that he could get the most out of his life until then. Although we try to hide it, most of us get a glimpse of the weight of our decisions when we think about how they could affect a future spouse or family down the line. And for me, I think I have become a lot more governed by fear than hope recently. I want that to change.

I think currently our world has become increasingly unimpressed and too busy to be focused on children. But they are our future. Just as my generation will be dealing for the next few decades with the issues left to us by our parents, so our children will be dealing with our failures and hang-ups.

Here’s a look at how many children are being born nowadays and where: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Countriesbyfertilityrate.svg

I think that to some extent we are all children who have not fully grown up. We have a difficult time getting over things that we dealt with as children, and we are afraid that our children will have to deal with that same pain.

But remember that beautifully child-ish nature you had when you were younger? The world was brighter and you were more curious, but not in order to prove things wrong but just to discover new things. You were so ready to learn and so hungry for love and attention.

Yes, we were and still are prone to fear and anxiety, but as we grew up we were much more likely to settle with accepting the fears and hiding behind masks to ignore them.

I am grateful to have a hope past this seemingly dim outlook. There is good news for us, and for children both now and in the future. I want to fall more in love with the one who said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” (Matthew 19:14)

Apparently God’s kingdom “belongs to such as these.”

Jesus called a little child to him, and placed the child among [his disciples, who were with him]. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (Matthew 18:2-5)

I really believe this Jesus is our hope. Both for us “children who have not fully grown up”, and the ones who will come after us. God was not afraid to have children and to call us his own. So I don’t want to be afraid to be his child, and to follow his example by taking care of the children he puts in my life.

I hope you’ll join me. Because children are so important.

Redemption

Redemption. One of my favorite things!

Mike Patz

Ruth_BackgroundReligion without redemption is dangerous.

Futile.

Exhausting.

Frustrating.

Disillusioning.

Crippling.

I need more than a code of ethics; I need redemption. You need more than improved morality; you need redemption. We need more than a cause to keep us busy; we need redemption.

I can’t quite put into words how deeply this word is marking me.

Redemption.

It’s music to my ears. It’s light at the end of my tunnel. It’s when you’re watching a movie and the dark music in a minor key subtly makes it’s shift. And you somehow know. Things are about to change.

All these other no-redemption talking heads have mastered the art of saying nothing. It’s time we did something about that. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”

Redemption is healing. Redemption is a soul-resurrection. Redemption calls things forth that did not previously exist. With people who do not deserve it. With…

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When my heart w…

When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

– Psalm 73:21-28

[His patience and generosity never ceases to amaze me.]

The Eagle’s New Clothes

The Eagle’s New Clothes

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalms 103:2-5 NKJV)

Wow! All of that sounds too good to be true – but what if God really is like that? What if he really does give us more than we could ever ask for or deserve, and just because he wants to? This has really been getting me lately, so when I read this passage from the Bible recently, the last sentence (which is bolded above) really got me scratching my head. How is an eagle’s youth renewed?

Well, Google helped a bit, and I found this blog post from a bird-watcher/theologian: http://leesbird.com/2009/09/25/b-o-b-eagle-renewal/

What really got me the most from the blogger’s insights is that an eagle’s feathers are completely changed out multiple times in its life, and each change suits the season of life that the bird is in.

This correlates to our lives, too. A very popular saying of our day is that we need to accept people “just the way they are.” And, like most sayings, it definitely has some truth to it. As a Christian, I have to be extremely grateful that God accepts me “just the way I am.” I would have no hope otherwise, because He is a holy (completely perfect, spotless) God and without a mediator I am completely separated from him (actually we all are – Romans 3:23) because of my sin and disobedience to his perfect ways. As humans, I think it is also very valuable and important to not have prejudice against each other since we all are in the same boat and have a common ground – life on this earth.

But there is another side to this “coin.” A good parent fully accepts and loves his/her child “just as they are.” But what good parent would want to see their child in diapers and eating baby food for the rest of their lives? You see, to generously accept someone and to also desire for them to improve and become greater is not antithetical. God desires for me to change and mold and mature, but that does not mean he loves me any less right now or will love me any more down the line during my “growing process.”

Just like the eagle, we each need to start over (sometimes from scratch) in our lives, especially in our relationship with God. And the good thing is, he gives us everything we need so that we can go with him to the place he’s preparing for us. Yes, there are things and habits in my life I need to give up. There are “old feathers” I need to take off and “new ones” I need to put on. There might be attitude changes that need to occur, my mind probably needs to be transformed, and there could be relationships that need to begin, be broken off, or mended. But our God leads us in these things not because he’s doing a big science experiment, but because he truly wants what is best for us as his beloved creations, and he knows how to get us there.

Please stop believing the lie that “you can just get by” with how you’re doing right now. God’s not trying to say that he doesn’t love you, he just doesn’t want you to be wearing diapers anymore. Let him do some growing up and maturing work in your life.

Or maybe you don’t believe God and yet you’ve still read all the way to this point. Yes, the God who created the universe really does love you. He “shed” his divinity and “put on” humanity, when he sent his son Jesus Christ to earth, born as a baby boy 2000 years ago. And, after living perfectly for 33 years then he took on all our sin and shame and sickness and all our “old feathers” when he was unfairly betrayed and killed on a wooden cross, being accused as a criminal though he did nothing wrong. And then he was risen from the dead three days later and is alive forever more and is coming back to earth soon to bring all those who trust in him to the place he’s preparing for us in heaven. It’s sort of like he’s giving us accept him as the boss of our lives a whole new set of eagle feathers that we could never deserve. Just like we need to be dressed correctly to be admitted into the fancy dinner party, we each need a new “plumage” (coat of feathers) in order to get into the eternal kingdom of God.

So here’s to some plumage changes so that our youth can be renewed like the eagle’s, both in this life and in the one to come!