Favorite Tweets for May

Sender's busy course load
 I hope you had a great month. Another school year gone by!

Here are some great thoughts from others:

PatrickShealy3 vital truths The Church needs to be always proclaiming: 1)Holiness of God 2) Sinfulness of man and 3)The Gospel of grace for all of life.

TMProject"Mentors win by showing up." -

ChurchCurmudgeonEver been to a homeschool girls' soccer game? The parents sound like they're screaming a sermon outline. Faith! Hope! Charity! GRAAAACE!

JimGaffigan:  There should be a children's song "If you're happy and you know it, keep it to yourself and let your Dad sleep."

EdAllianceFACT: a high school dropout will earn $260,000 less than hs grads and $800,000 less than college grads in their lifetime.

chalmerscenterFikkert: Poverty alleviation is about people and a highly relational process not just projects and products.
mitchmillermeYouth leaders, fill parents with the hope that God is going to work in their students heart. Parents want that hope.

And here are some that I wrote:

"Without the intervention of caring mentors, fatherless children often miss out on their God-given potential."

I just had to stop a drunk guy from getting on the swings ride with all these little kids.

"If a teacher doesn't have the love of reading, the class can't catch it from her." Jim Trelease

Me: "What brought you to SC? A job change?" Dude: "Yes. I work for Verizon." Me: "Oh. So you're mobile?"

AT&T has had the worst customer service I've ever had. (That includes Charter.) 10 phone calls so far, & still a 1/2-done job.

No, . You don't need to dial "9" to use our landline phone. We have a home, not an office.

The speaker of this breakout session just said, "One thing I do do ..."  

Told my high school students that I'd trade grades for free babysitting. #joking #notreally 

A(nother) New Plan for the Blogs

Have you noticed how consistently I've posted on this blog. Each month in 2012, I've had exactly 13 posts per month. Most of this consistency has been due to last fall's New Plan for the Blog, which included these two main ideas:
  1. Changing my blogging schedule, as far as frequency and topics.
  2. Moving everything to a single, self-hosted website.
Step 1? Done. Check. Finished. Step 2? Not so much.

Regarding #2, I've piddled around with the new site, and probably just need to dedicate a big chunk of time to getting it done, but I just haven't chosen to make that time. Maybe I'll get re-motivated.

But, until then, I am going to change my blogging schedule again. I've been more and more impassioned and focused about writing about Allendale, versus the parenting topics that I started writing about when I launched this blog.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still impassioned about equipping others (especially parents) to disciple their children in light of the gospel, but I find myself more often than not thinking about that mission in the context of Allendale. Additionally, with our summer programming, I want to make sure I give regular updates about what we are doing.

That being said, here's my new general writing schedule:
  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday (Mission: Allendale):  This summer, I'll try to give weekly updates on Mondays, and I will also provide more thoughts and resources on topics such as poverty and education, two key issues in this community.
  • Tuesday, Thursday (A Different Way):  I'll continue to write on topics such as parenting and child discipleship, plus give examples and updates on what we are doing as a family.
  • Other:  I will continue to write at least monthly for Kidmin1124 (though I was slack for a few months), and I hope to have some occasional guest posts on other blogs.
If you haven't done so, I'd like you to subscribe to any of these blogs, either by email subscription or RSS reader. Thanks for reading, and for those who leave comments.

**image courtesy of Gangplank HQ via flickr

Memorial Day

I'm taking the day off from blogging. I hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends. Be sure to take time to remember those that have fought for this country. I'm proud that in my and my wife's families, we have multiple grandfathers who served overseas during World War II.
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home
God bless America, My home sweet home.
**image courtesy of linder6580 via sxc.hu

Truth, Lies, and Satan

It is easy to see through a outright lie, and to refute it. If someone offered you a cigarette and said it was good for your health, you would immediate know that was false.

But where it gets difficult is when the person who is trying to convince you of something bases his case on truth. Then, once you are "hooked," he might twist things a little. But almost never will he come out with a bold-faced lie that you could easily disprove.

That is how Satan works, starting in Genesis 3. Notice that he doesn't come right out to Eve and say, "God doesn't love you." He asks some questions, leaves out a few details, misrepresents what God actually said. But he lets Eve herself come to the lying conclusion.

Teach your children that this is how Satan works. Make sure they know that Satan is the father of lies, but that he knows the truth (James 2:19), and he will subtly twist the truth.

Satan won't come right out and make your child doubt your love, or God's love. But he will keep reminding your child about all those desires that were not met.

Satan won't come right out and tell your child that she is not valuable. But he will remind her of those comments made by those other girls.

Satan won't come right out and convince your child to sin against God. But he will try to convince him that those temptations will bring your son pleasure (and he is right).
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."  (Ephesians 6:12)

Related Links:

image courtesy of Mattox via sxc.hu

Should Christians Believe in Evolution?

My views on evolution have, well, evolved. All through my childhood and teenage years, I believed that life today existed as a result of small changes over time. These changes caused bacteria to evolve into plants and animals, sea creatures to evolved into land animals, and monkeys to evolved into humans. Why? Because that's what I was taught, it seemed to make sense, and I had no reason to believe otherwise.

Even after I became a Christ-follower, I still believe in this process of evolution. I remember taking  Introduction to Biology my Junior year, and studying this topic, and that a friend (and brother in Christ) said to me, "I can't believe that we are forced to learn this junk, when it's not true." I gave a non-committal answer, since I still believed in evolution.

But then I figured that I didn't want to go by what any "expert" said -- whether that was a textbook or a pastor. I wanted to study it for myself, and come to my own conclusions. I read books by Josh McDowell, Philip Johnson, and Michael Behe.

I learned a lot, but two things jumped out at me:
  1. The case for evolution (as in organisms growing more complex by a series of small changes over time) is not as solid as I had always thought.
  2. The very word evolution can mean different things.
This second point is crucial. Because it means that someone saying, "Evolution is completely true" is both right and wrong. And it also means that someone saying "Evolution is not at all true" is also both right and wrong.

That's why I love Should Christians Believe in Evolution? by Will Little. In this article, he explains distinctions among four core definitions of evolution, and compares each of those to what the Bible teaches.

Here are some other snippets from his post, which reflect his honesty and humility:
  • "Christians have absolutely nothing to fear from scientific discoveries."
  • "It appears to me that modern evidence does suggest that natural selection acting on genetic changes . . . can alter populations to the point of producing new species."
  • "To be honest, I still have more to learn and I'm open to having this clarified."
Be sure to read the full article.

Related Links:

Called to Serve in Children's Ministry

My friend Julia Price was asked to share her story with others at a Grace Church Children's Ministry Volunteer Appreciation event. With her permission, I am re-posting what she wrote. What she left out was that I think we basically shanghaied her into serving. I guess we knew what a blessing it was going to be before she did. Yeah, let's think that.

Julia is full of zest, hunger (for food and for correcting grammar), and love for others. Besides serving in Children's Ministry, she's also babysat for us for free. Well, it was either for free, or I still owe her $20.

Thanks for sharing your beautiful story, your tender heart, and your servant's life.

A few years ago, i answered a call to teach in Children's Ministry on Saturday nights. I was placed in the Clown Fish class (2-3 year olds). There were nights of utter chaos. Nights of being late to Big Group because of dirty diapers and potty training. Nights of a teacher learning about balance. Learning patience. There were nights when I left feeling like I was nothing more than a babysitter with a well-thought-out lesson plan. Nights I questioned whether anything I read, anything I said, any craft I glued/stapled/stickered was sinking in.

I doubted, I questioned, I worried.

But I loved, laughed, danced, sang, and hugged, too. A lot.

So at the end of the year, I asked to be promoted with that crazy crew. We moved on to Sea Turtles. And then on to Kiwis.

At times it felt those years were much of the same – only we were all just a year or two older and wiser.  But there was much, much more going on: I watched the kids learn to write their names, to use scissors and the stapler, to peel and stick their own stickers. (Oh, the joy!) I watched them come to know one another by name and to learn my name. I found myself partnering with their parents in various areas.  Community was forming right before our eyes.

And now we are Blue Jays.

Now they can write more than just their names. They can read. They enthusiastically volunteer to read or recite the memory verse each week. And they actually remember the passages now. They ask questions.  They want to understand and want know more. I am seeing them wrestle with and come to love the Word of God.

Admittedly, sometimes we're still late to Big Group, but not because of dirty diapers or potty training, like the old days. Now it's because the students themselves are reading the Bible story (which takes a little bit longer than when I do). Or because we are wrapped up in a prayer circle, thanking God for the blessings in our lives or confessing our sins. Children talking to God. A good reason to be late.   

This past November, we were teaching a unit about the prophets. One Saturday night, my group of five and six year olds were listening to me tell the story of Isaiah. They heard me read,
Then God said from heaven, “Who will take a message to the people?” And Isaiah, who had seen that God was the greatest Holy King said, “Here I am. Send me." It’s like he raised his hand and said, “God, please pick me.” [Isa. 6:8]
I stopped speaking. I silently re-read those words. I've seen them many times before, but this time, there was a weight to them I'd never felt before.

We've all been asked the same question. We've all been called to take a message to the people. And those of us in Grace’s Children’s Ministry have all raised our hands and said, "here I am. Send me." And have committed to taking The Message to the youngest of His people.

And we can rest assured that it is, indeed, sinking in.

Related Links:

Time Magazine Cover: Another Perspective

I really hate to put the picture of this cover on this blog. I hope I don't get labeled an adult website.

But I figured I needed to include this photo, for the discussion at hand. I mean, if you were out of the country, or on another planet, for the past week, you probably haven't heard about the controversy over this cover photo, or in the article inside.

But debating the issue of "attachment parenting" is not why I'm writing this post. I have one question that I'd like you to answer.

When this boy is 15 and someone shows him this picture, what is he going to think?

Who is "Mom (or Dad) Enough" to answer?

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Can you tell which one is my kid?

Sender is playing baseball (actually, T-ball) this year in Allendale. We gave all three the option to play, but only he was completely excited about it.

He has never been on an organized team before. Of course, he had lots of sports experiences through the Boys & Girls Club (in 2011) and with our spring break soccer camp.

We signed up late, so there was already a coach, but I volunteered to jump in and help out. It has been great for him to play and meet new kids (besides the two kids on the team that we already knew), and I've enjoyed meeting other children and parents, too.

Here are some pics from some of the action so far:

First time trying on the uniform.

Warming up before the first game.

About to score.

Loves playing in the dirt.

Sometimes we don't focus . . .

. . . and sometimes we do.

Everyone runs laps after the game. To wear them out?

Related Link:

Moms Need to Give Respect

Making her Mother's Day presen
Moms -- your day is over. Now it's back to reality.

I am thankful for my wife, who partners with me, nurtures our family (and others), and who pours herself out in ministry. She does all this because she loves Jesus.

And I'm thankful for all the moms who do the same. In light of that, here are a couple of articles that give practical ways for moms to respect their children. Be sure to read the full posts.

  1. Set Jesus as the standard
  2. Pray for them and over them
  3. Watch your tone
  4. Let them make decisions
  5. Serve them
  6. Teach them to serve you
  7. No secrets
  8. Name sin Biblically
  9. Name character Biblically
  10. Let consequences fall on their heads

  1. Lavish her with love
  2. Help her to learn submission
  3. Teach her to tame her emotions
  4. Differentiate between truth and lies
  5. Involved Dad
  6. Emphasize inner beauty
  7. Develop her voice
  8. Model female friendships
  9. Name sin Biblically
  10. Name character Biblically

If you like these, you may also like these previous posts:

"How Do You Know That Jesus Is Real?"

Over a year ago, my son Elijah asked me this question:

"How do you know that Jesus is real? I'm not doubting it. But I'm just wondering how do you know."

First off, I told him that I love these questions (like a couple of years earlier when he asked me how we know that God is real), and I love his honesty.

The question here has to do with history, and it was the same type of question that led me to faith in Christ in 1995. As I told my biology class when we studied the origin of life, we can't prove anything in history by experimental tests. This is true whether we are talking about George Washington, Julius Caesar, the Crusades, or Jesus.

If we can't rely on experiments, then how, in fact do we know something is true in history. We can look at three things, for starters:
  • Testimonies of witnesses
  • Sources that recorded and passed on information
  • Changed lives of those who experienced that event or person
Without going into too much detail (after all, I was talking to a 6 year old), I explained that I looked at two main reasons that I believe that Jesus was (and is) real:
  1. Testimonies and sources about Jesus' life, death, and then His empty tomb.
  2. Changed lives of the disciples who were with Him.
With these two reasons, the best explanation I could come with is that Jesus really did  live, He really did die, and -- most importantly -- He really did rise again. And my experience today solidifies those conclusions I made years ago.

Ultimately, following Jesus is a risk, but it's worth it. And if we take those steps of faith, the Spirit will lead us to keep maturing in Him, as we are changed from the inside out. And as we are changed and as God uses us, it will help our faith grow and grow.

Related Links:

Devotional Reading

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that nearly every day I post a quote from Oswald Chambers, from the book My Utmost for His Highest.

I usually read a selection in addition to my regular Bible reading. And instead of following it day-by-day, I'm just working my way through this devotional over the last year-and-a-half.

Chambers' writings have been challenging for me, helping me realize that I too often seek God's blessings and God's will, instead of simply pursuing God Himself. His blessings are meant to be an effect of a relationship with Him, not the purpose of a relationship. I need to be reminded regularly that God's main desire for me is to draw near to Him.

Now that I am almost done with this book, I'm considering using another devotional-type book as part of morning time with God. Here are some thoughts:
Do you have any books that you'd recommend? You can let me know in the comments.


image courtesy of Amazon.com

Mother's Day Ideas

image courtesy of MeiTeng via sxc.hu
This year, the Arts Center in Allendale had a craft day, where kids can make their moms gifts for Mother's Day. I took our three kids (total cost = $5), and I consider my Mother's Day shopping to be done.

Last year, before Mother's Day, I recommended these candles. I didn't buy any, but I think Joanna's Mother's Day was so much more special. That night, I wrote a post called 13 Reasons My Wife Had a Great Mother's Day. Well, maybe "great" was an overstatement. A better description might be "unique."

Moms -- What are you hoping for this Mother's Day?

Dads -- What are you planning for her?

By the way, it would be a cruel trick if some Dad anonymously put that he has this big surprise in the works, and then all the Moms would be wondering if they would be the lucky recipient.

And for another video honoring moms, here's a good concept from P&G.

Related Links:

Kids Who Forgive Too Quickly, or Too Slowly

Do you have a child that can shrug off almost any offense? Do you have one that seems to hold on to every hurt? We have at least one of each (still trying to figure out the tendency of our third child).

Be sure to recognize that either situation can be a strength and an area of weakness. Both of these types of personalities need an equal amount of repentant faith on behalf of the child, and an equal amount of grace and redemption by Jesus.

Forgiving Too Quickly
When Child A (remaining nameless, for now) is sinned against, this child usually is able to forgive and forget (well, forget at least). Being able to go back to life as normal is definitely a benefit, as peace is soon restored.

But just because "peace" is apparent, does not mean that the matter has been resolved. The danger of not dealing with the issue with intentionality is that some underlying bitterness may remain. When you can forgive and forget based on your own ability, that is not trusting in Jesus.

Additionally, Child A is also usually just as flippant when Child A is the offender. A quick "I'm sorry" does not indicate a heart that is repentant, especially if the behavior is habitual. We need to help move our children from the offense, to sorrow, to repentance.

When a child "cares too little" about offenses (whether they are the offender or the one offended), they may be missing an opportunity to experience true forgiveness (as the giver or as the receiver). Just as it takes the grace of God to repent, it also takes the same work of the Spirit to forgive. The goal must not be to just get back to a false peace, but to grow in one's faith and trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Not Forgiving Enough
On the other end of the extreme is Child B. This child will hold on to sins. What I appreciate about Child B is the apparent deep sorrow over what the child has done to hurt someone else. Child B's heart is deeply disturbed by this child's own sin.

What concerns me in this case is that Child B has a hard time trusting in Christ's forgiveness. I want this child to fully rejoice in the fact that Jesus promises to forgive our confessed sins (I John 1:9). And I can more easily relate to this child, as I struggle with guilt as well.

Additionally, Child B has a harder time forgiving others when sinned against. This hardness of heart is just as much of a lack of faith as when the child fails trust in Christ's forgiveness. Instead, we need to forgive others completely, just as Jesus did for us (Ephesians 4:32).

For more reading, check out Biblical Parenting vs Gospel Parenting.

Do you have a child who forgives "too quickly," or finds it hard to forgive (whether himself or others)?  

Related Link:

**image courtesy of libni via sxc.hu

Do You Think Education Is This Valuable?

Every one of my students who sleeps in class or who refuses to do their homework should see how much this grandmother values education.

But to be honest, I'm not sure I value education this much easy. It's interesting to speculate on this grandmother's motivation. She believes that education offers the most hope for her granddaughter's life. 

That's just the point to consider. What do you think is most important for your kids? And what would you be willing to do to see that happen?