I distinctly remember the first time I called 9-1-1 from my home phone (a landline at the time). In our late 20’s, my wife and I had a 2-year-old daughter in anaphylactic shock after eating a snack. At the time, I didn’t even know what that was. But what I did know was my daughter was in trouble. She had hives all over her body, swollen lips, and a swollen tongue, and was confused and frightened, as were her parents. Stripped down to her diaper, I remember holding her up in my hands, raised to the sky like The Lion King. I wanted to make sure that the sirens of the nearby fire truck knew exactly which driveway was in desperate need of help.
After a shot of epinephrine, our daughter was doing much better in a matter of minutes. It took much longer for Mom and Dad! It obviously changed our lives substantially from that day forward. We identified a couple of potentially deadly food allergies, along with dozens of other concerning allergies. We always made sure that an EpiPen followed our daughter around. We had to become an expert in reading labels. We rarely went out to eat (friendly on the budget and waistline). To her credit, my daughter Brooklyn seemed to take it all in stride. Despite missing out on tons of tasty treats she saw her friends eating, she was rarely bitter or angry. A steady supply of substitute Skittles also helped.
Now finishing her second year of college at Northwest Nazarene University, she texted me and Mrs. K. a picture this week of her first taste of Sushi. She was so excited to be carefully expanding her dietary horizons. The young woman she is becoming, of whom we are very proud of, was shaped very much by her childhood challenges. I know in heaven, if there is food to be eaten, she will want to enjoy some peanut butter for the first time!
The apostle Paul had some unknown “thorn in His flesh.” It was significant enough that He asked God to take it away from Him multiple times. But God confirmed that His “grace was sufficient” for all of Paul’s needs. In fact, He revealed that “God’s power is made perfect in our weakness!” When Paul heard that, he began to “gladly rejoice in his weaknesses, so that Christ’s power could rest upon him.”
All of our children have their own unique weaknesses. What an opportunity to allow God to use them for His good! May we help our children to understand the immeasurable power of God. As they embrace their weaknesses, and allow God’s power to work through them as a result, Jesus Christ becomes not only their Savior, but their Lord as well!
I love road trips. Whether it's a vacation or driving to see family, it’s a nice change of pace. When I’m driving, I love the time to simply think, listen to a podcast, or enjoy some music. Playing games and chatting with the family is also a blast. But when I’m not driving, there is only one thing I like to do.
This creates a little friction as my wife only wants to drive if I will talk with her and keep her awake. What I like about sleeping on road trips is the time portal it puts you into. You close your eyes, and then the next thing you know, you are at your destination!
The disciples were on a road trip once, though it was in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. The waters were getting rough, and Jesus was not in any passenger seat. Then the disciples saw him approaching the boat, walking on water. He told them not to be afraid and jumped in the boat with them. In the book of John, he writes that once Jesus climbed in, the boat immediately reached the shore across the lake.
Wow! How many times have you been on a long road trip and wished the same? Wouldn’t it be great to pick up Jesus walking along the highway, and once He closed the door, your car was at its destination!
I think this story is recorded for us for many reasons. So often, we go on journeys in our lives, short and long, and forget to invite Jesus to go with us. Especially when the going gets rough, and the waves begin to crash, we tend to lean on things of this world. But when we bring Jesus into our troubles, in His perfect timing, we reach the correct destination much more quickly.
Inviting Jesus into our journeys requires a relationship with Him. If we only talk to him when we are in crisis, our relationship is shaky, not on solid ground. But spending time with Him on a regular basis, in the good times and the bad, builds a solid foundation. When this closeness exists, Jesus is no longer a hitchhiker but a constant passenger.
And when I hand over driving duties to Him, maybe then I can get some sleep!
While it seems spring has not yet sprung, the produce aisle at the grocery store is showing new signs of life. Due to the advancement of global shipping, “fresh” produce is often available year-round. But our taste buds still know the difference between fruit that has ripened in a dark shipping container rather than grown a state away and shipped the next day.
Usually, my eyes can also see the difference, but not always. How disappointing it can be to bite into a large bright red strawberry only to realize the inside does not match the outside! Various methods can be used to produce their eye-pleasing exterior, though the ripeness of the strawberry is still lacking.
We so often can do this as teachers and parents with our children. We are fond of methods that produce a shiny presentable exterior. As both a parent and an educator, well-behaved children make me feel proud to think that I am doing a good job. But just like the disappointment of an artificial strawberry, artificial fruit in the lives of our children is equally disappointing.
Fruit cannot ripen from the outside in but from the inside out. Our discipleship training should always focus on heart transformation above behavior modification. Behavior modification is often necessary in the moment for simple safety and respectful order. But lasting good works, the good works that God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in, must come from the heart.
Just like truly ripe fruit takes time, true heart transformation also takes time. Time to slow down, invest in the moment, reference God’s truths, and train up our children in the way they should go. And while fruit from the vine is seasonal, discipleship training should be continuous in our homes, classrooms, and hallways.
“Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
We did it! Three unique mission trips, in three different countries, with 137 high school students, staff, and parents. We are ready to celebrate! Come join us Monday, April 10th at 7 pm in our Sanctuary for a 1-hour celebration. We will provide brief summaries of all three trips, along with personal testimonies and pictures. Come hear how God is moving in His Kingdom and in the hearts of our students!