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Number Two

Wait, what?  No, this post is not about THAT.  No, it is a different number two.  This is about my kid(s) and being a father.  No, still not about THAT.

I don’t believe I have shared this on here, but my wife is expecting another child due the beginning of next year. I shall refer to him as ID on here.  We have known about the coming of ID since late spring/early summer.  Now that it is late fall/early winter, I am ready to admit some of my mixed feelings about it all.

Now, please don’t get me wrong.  I am very excited about our second child. I really am.  We wanted to have another one for a while now.  It was awesome news to get to know that there was new life on the way.  This is what we have been hoping for.  Now that NB is a little older now, we are ready for another little one.

What has surprised me, however, is how different this pregnancy would be and how I would go through rollercoaster thoughts and emotions.  The pregnancy itself is fine, LA and ID are doing great.  What is different is how I am interacting with ID.

When LA was pregnant for our first son, I was excited. It consumed my thoughts a good bit.  I talked to him constantly.  I read to him (and LA) at night.  I dreamed about what he would be like.  I was connected.  I was zoned in.  There was great anticipation of being a daddy.  I couldn’t wait.  It was almost like he was already here in my mind even months before he was born.  I was so ready to start my trip into fatherhood.

With ID, it is so different.  I haven’t felt that way at all.  The excitement has been limited.  I haven’t talked to him much.  I haven’t read to at all except during the reading times with NB when both my wife and I are sitting with him.  I haven’t felt connected to him.  I haven’t dreamed much about what he would be like.  A lot of times I have just been scared that I would not connect with him at all because I am so connect to NB.  I just have no clue what it will be like to be the father of two, and there has not been great anticipation to start the journey of it this time.

I know a lot of the reasons behind why it has been this way, but that does not make it any easier.  I know a lot of the “thrill” is gone because we have been through it once before.  I know my attention is not on ID because I have a son to care for that is already here.  I know that the fear of connecting more with one child over the other is natural.  I know that I am not trying to think about what he will be like because I know that he will be who he will be and I will love him anyway.  I know all of this. But it is still hard on me not to have the same excitement.

It all changed a week ago.  LA and I went to the hospital for the preregistration class.  As we were watching a video of the process, rooms, and whatnot at the hospital, all of the feelings came back from when we went through this with NB.  The ended by showing pictures done by the in-hospital photographer, and the moment hit me with ID.  He is really coming.  He is really going to be in my arms in just a couple of months!  I am going to have another son.  It became real.  It became exciting.  It became all that it was the first pregnancy.  I am ID’s father, and I can’t wait to meet him!

This was further cemented in this past Wednesday.  One of my best friend’s wife had a baby.  We visited them in the hospital.  As I got to hold the new little one, the feelings of excitement grew about ID.  I am going to have another son to hold and love really soon!

I know I should have had these moments of clarity earlier.  At the very least, I should have had them at the ultrasound.  I didn’t.  I was still so unsure of what it will be like to have to children (I still am not sure what this will be like).  I was uncertain if I was going to be able to figure out how to split my attention.  I did not not how loving two kids equally yet different was going to work out.  I just did know what to think or feel.

I do now.  The resevior of love was tapped into.  I love NB.  I love ID.  They are my sons.  They are my responsibility.  They are my legacy.  They are my boys.  I don’t know what this all means completely.  But it is real.  I can’t wait for this adventure to start!

“Okay, Mr. OneCup, what is the God lesson?  I know you have one.”

I do.  It is simple.  Through this, God has given me one thought.  He loves me.  I am his son.  I do not have to worry about how he seems to be working in the lives of others…and by this I mean I do not have to be jealous or concerned that he is not working in my life exactly as he is for others.  I can trust that he loves me.  He cares for me.  His love for me is complete, even if it looks different than how he is working out his love in the lives of other Christians.  It is okay, I can trust him.  I can trust his love for me.  Just like I can love both NB and ID completely, wholly, equally, and different, he can do the same with his children.  And his love is pure, holy, and full of grace unlike my love can be here on Earth.

My Father in Heaven loves me, and I can trust that.  He proved it by letting his Son die for me.  He proved it by bringing him back from the dead as evidence of his acceptance of the sacrafice and his now acceptance of this sinner (me).  He proved it by sending the Spirit.  And the Spirit proves it to me every day.  I can trust in my Father’s love.

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The Prodigal Toddler and the Sad Daddy

Usually on Friday, I like to share stories about lessons I learned from my son.  I did not get a good chance to do this yesterday, but I today I am going to share a story FROM yesterday.

In earlier posts I have talked about getting to spend the summer with my son, NB (see the post, The Monitor and the Incredible Yelling Boy for the daddy-son summer and NB initials explanation).  Over the last two weeks the dynamic has been different.  Last week my wife’s mom was here.  She left on Sunday morning, and that afternoon he was passed off to my parents.  He was with them in the lower part of the state until last night.  His attention for the last couple of days has come from sources outside of Mommy and Daddy.  Okay, there are two better words for it.  He has been SPOILED ROTTEN.

It is probably needless to say that when he is gone for a week, LA and I really start to miss him and can’t wait for him to come back.  I start looking forward to the reunion about halfway into the week.  A part of my longing for being reunited is how he acts.  He is always so happy to see us.  And, because of the daddy-son bonding time over the summer, he usually runs to me first and then wants to be by my side most of the evening.  I love this!  What father wouldn’t?  This is a special time for me, even more so after this summer because he and I had so much fun and our bond is much deeper now.

Last night, the plan was to meet at Texas Roadhouse.  My parents drove up here and went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house, and then we all met there to eat and celebrate LA’s birthday.  I could not wait to get there and get the running-and-jumping-into-my-arms son treatment.  I was excited.  I picked LA up from work and we headed over there.

We went in, with me full of expectations.  We find my family waiting for a table.  I look for NB.  My parents say, “Look who it is!” to him.  He was hanging out with my brother.  He looks at us, gets down from his lap, walks over, and says, “Hi.”  Then he started to walk away.

There went to the wind from my daddy sails!

We both called him back and he gave LA a hug.  I picked him up and held him.  After about a minute he says, “I get down please?”

“NB, we haven’t seen each other in a week!”

“I want Uncle Tommm (he really holds out that M).”

I let him down.  Completely deflated now.

After two weeks of more than adequate spoiling from grandparents, I guess Mommy and Daddy weren’t that big of deal anymore.

It did get better throughout dinner.  Towards the end, he wanted to come sit between LA and I.  Once he did he kept wanting to put his arm around me and then he wanted LA to hold him (which was difficult in a booth and her being pregnant).  His wanting to be a part of Mommy and Daddy’s life returned…though he did cry when we left when he figured out that Grandma and Grampa were not coming with us and he was not going with them.

Needless to say, I was let down by the situation in the beginning.  His love for me and wanting to be near me is awesome.  I look forward to that when he was away.  It wasn’t fun to see that I wasn’t his “all” anymore.  I know that will come and go.  My feelings weren’t hurt, I was just let down from my expectations.

This whole thing, as most things do, brings me back to my relationship with God and reminds me of the story of the Prodigal Sons.  Yes, I know I pluralized it.  I have a new understanding of the parable, thanks to my church and a sermon I was asked to listen to by Timothy (Tim) Keller.  It is called, you guessed it, The Prodigal Sons.  I am going to BRIEFLY summarize it, but I highly recommend listening to the sermon.  He also has a book on it, which I haven’t read but have heard awesome things about, call The Prodigal God.

I almost wrote out the whole set of verses for the parable in Luke, but then I looked down at the word count.  Here is a link if you want to read it for yourself (which I always advise doing): Luke 15:11-32.

Basically, the story goes that there are two sons.  One decides he doesn’t want to live with the family and work the land.  He cashes in his inheritance and goes off and lives “wildly”…basically parties and “hangs out” with prostitutes.  The other brother stays home and works the land which will all be his one day, since the other brother is “out”.  Eventually, the younger bro runs out of cash and options.  He decides that working at home is not so bad and that he would try to go back and enlist as a servant.  He does.  Before he can get there, Daddy sees him, runs to him, clothes him, and throws a party…remember, all of this is now at the expense of the older brother’s future inheritance–whatever Dad spends now are things that he won’t get later.  While the party is going on, the father then goes out to meet the older son (who, like the younger was not at home at the time, but it was because he was out working and being the “good son”.  Daddy asks him why he doesn’t want to come in and enjoy the feast for his brother’s return.  All that “good boy” can do is complain that it isn’t fair.  He is doing all the right things and he doesn’t get a feast.  And then comes my favorite part.  I am going to quote this part.

“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

The older brother missed the point.  It was about enjoying the father’s company.  That is what was important.  A part of enjoying the father is celebrating and rejoicing in what makes him happy.  Both sons were lost.  The father sought them both out.  Only one came back to enjoy the father.

I lived the life of the older son.  It was to the point that I was not a Christian for most of my life, and I did not even know it.  God has done A LOT to cause many, many changes in my life and relationship to him, especially this year.  I am not going to get into my story now, but if you have not read My Time Travel Testimony, please do.  I love to share how Christ has changed my life.  In that post I tell my story about being the older brother and how God helped me learn how to “join the party” and to “enjoy the Father.”

Back to NB.  How beautiful it is for me when my son just wants to enjoy time with me.  I love it.  As a father, I need that.  Parenting is not easy.  “Raising up a child in the way he should go” drains all the life and energy you have.  But it is for a purpose.  I want NB to learn to enjoy his True Father one day.  I want him to go into the “party” and not let the world or his own goodness hold him back.

God has a secondary purpose for parenting, to point us to him.  To reveal his longing for us to enjoy him.  Everything here is a picture to point us to him.  Even if you are not a parent, think about your relationship to your parents.  What can that teach you about your relationship to God?

What do you think about this?  Are you a younger brother or an older brother?  What is holding you back from joining the party and enjoying the Father?  Can you relate to what this means?  Please leave comments.  If you have any questions about what I mean by enjoying God the Father or if that is a foreign idea to you, please comment with your email.  I won’t share the comment on here (I have to approve them all), but I will contact you.

If you haven’t, please think about becoming an email subscriber.  It is free, and you will get instant updates sent to your inbox.

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The Leaves That Left

Yesterday’s post was a bit heavy (and I know, a bit long).  I decided I probably ought to follow it up with some good news…in the form of a shorter post.  Luckily, God gave me a cool little epiphany moment on the way to church on Sunday.  Let me let you in on it.  Before you read this, if you haven’t read yesterday’s post go there first and read it then come back.

Welcome back!

Now, it all starts with the “Big Red Truck.”

I put quotations around that because that is the truck’s name in our house.  NB loves that truck.  He would ride in it anywhere and everywhere if he could.  When ever we go somewhere he always stands by the steps to our upper driveway and says, “Drive Big Red Tuck?”  He is always a bit disappointed when the answer is no.

This Sunday, I had to go to church early to help out with the children’s program.  When I told NB at breakfast that I was going in the Big Red Truck but he had to stay with Mommy and Nana (LA’s mom), his face fell.  I reassured him that we would take a ride in it soon, and he cheered up.

So, I get in the truck for a 15ish minute drive to church.  I have been home with NB most of the summer (I am a teacher with summers off), and so alone time driving is not something I have experienced in a while.  It is amazing how easy it is to hear him speak when you are alone in quiet (the radio doesn’t work) and how he can use the smallest thing to trigger a huge lesson.

You can’t drive much higher than 45 mph on most of the roads to church.  As I was riding down the road, I saw something out of the corner in of my eye through the rear view mirror.  When I went to get a closer look, it was gone.

A minute or so later, there it was again.  And once more, when I looked it was gone.

It happened once more, movement in the bed of the truck.  This time I looked up quick enough.  Leaves were moving all around the bed of the truck.  I was driving just fast enough to cause a cyclone of air back there.  Leaves from when we hauled some plants were caught in the cyclone.  What had caught my eye was not the spinning leaves, though.  I was seeing the leaves that got away.

Please allow me to drop some science on you for a second…I am a science teacher, that is my job.  What was happening in the back of the truck was the space between the cab and the gate caused air to get trapped.  The trapped air moves in a circle (cylcone…I like that word better).  This is by design.  The air cyclone moves slower than the air moving over the truck as it travels.  The faster air glances off of slower air, and this increases the aerodynamics (and the gas mileage) of the truck.

So anyway, I was watching the leaves as they spun (still watching the road, too) and more leaves escape.  As I was looking at this, God spoke to my heart, “That is you.”

“How?” I sliently thought.

Over the next couple of minutes, God showed me some of the sin cycles that I get caught up in.  The things that I am constantly fighting against.  The “snakes” that I so desperately need to clear out of my life (laziness and pride being cheif among these right now).  Then he reminded me that I am powerless to do this on my own.  I can’t win.  I am stuck.  On my own I will always be trapped, moving slowly in the cyclone of self…God’s fast moving love and grace just glances off and moves on.  I have to stop trying to stop the cycle on my own.  I have to let his kindness and love in.

When I do.  When I invite God into my struggles, through confession, I allow him to enter in.  The Spirit moves into my cyclone and  this allows me to break free.  Only through the power of the Spirit.  Only when I invite his grace in.  Only when I am honest before him.  This humbles me, breaks up the cycle, and this allows me to fly away.

Check out Romans 8:1-12.  I am just going to quote part of it, but read the rest on your own.

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)   And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life[d] because you have been made right with God.   The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”  Romans 8:9-11.

You can be free.  You can break the cycle.  Yes, we HAVE to work on getting rid of the “snakes” in our lives, but we also HAVE to know that we don’t have to do this alone.  We can’t.  Jesus died and was raised again.  That same power that raised him from the dead will break the chains that trap us in the sin cycle.  Please call out to him!  Please turn to God with whatever has you trapped.  Trust him.  He will help you break free.

A side note, tonight I was driving in the Big Red Truck tonight and going to church for a meeting.  On the way there and back, I kept seeing less and less leaves as more and more broke loose and got away.  There is hope!  God can break our sin cycles and free us from them one by one!

Did this speak to you?  Have you found freedom from sin cyclones by inviting God into your stuggle?  Tell me about it  You don’t have to get details…just talk about your freedom!

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Debt-Limits, Deficits, and the Paul Plan

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Before you skip this blog because you think it is going to be about politics, please consider reading.  Politics is not the point.  God gave me a pretty cool spiritual insight based on all of the debate going on in our government.  Please read on to the end…there is a point!

For those of you who may live under a rock, let me rehash the current dilemma in the Ole USA.  The government is currently running at a sizable deficit (fancy talk for more money being spent than is being brought in).  Though, most families in our country are living in a deficit, spending slightly more than we are making (i.e. credit card and loan payments being a reality), our country is spending a lot more than it is making.  Which brings us to the predicament that is eating up most of the “news hour” on any given station.

With a lot more money going out than coming in, just as I mentioned is the case for most American families, Uncle Sam (the US Government) has run up a large debt (in the sum of trillions of dollars) through borrowing money (like the aforementioned loans most families have to pay on).  The only problem is that our loan payments are compounding the “money going out” issue.  Roughly 40 cents of every dollar that goes to our government is sent back out as interest on the loans it has taken out, and that doesn’t count any money to pay off the debt or payments to other government programs and obligations.  To be able to pay all we need to pay, the government has to take out more loans and run up a bigger debt (which, yes you guessed it causes bigger payments to be paid and more interest owed).

At some point in US history (I am not sure when), Congress decided to put a “cap” on how much debt our country can have.  It takes an act of Congress to raise this “cap”.  This is the “debt limit” you keep hearing about.  The current debate is whether or not to raise this limit, how to increase revenues (money coming in), and how to cut spending (and everything that comes along with this).  The republicans want to increase the limit by the smallest possible increment, not raise any taxes, and drastically cut spending.  The democrats want to increase the limit as much as possible, raise taxes for revenues, and only cut spending on what can be done without affecting many people who rely on government programs.  I am not going to chime in on my thoughts on this, this is not my reason for writing today.

God used this whole government issue, along with something from the Bible, to speak to me in a pretty profound way this morning.  Okay, get your Bibles ready: Romans 3:9-19 and Romans 6 (yes, the whole chapter).

Here is the thing.  We are all up to our eyeballs in debt to God.  Sin (falling short of who God is and what he expects…or as Watchman Nee said it is the act of leaving God’s path) puts us at odds with God.  Sin makes us have to pay a price to be made right with him…the price to pay is our “debt”.  Every sin deepens the hole we have to dig out of.  Every time we “fall short” of who God is, we are even more indebted to him.

A lot of people think, “Alright, then I will just live right and do the right things from now on.”  This is a GREAT endevour…but it does nothing to make any of our “debt payments” to God.  Not sinning will only keep us from getting deeper into debt.  Even if you could spend the rest of your life as godly as God expects, you still have a price to pay.  The first half of Romans 6:23 says that, “The wage of sin is death.”  We owe God death.  You can’t pay for that by not sinning anymore.  You can’t.  And, unfortunately, the bad news is that even death does nothing to make us “right with God.”  It only pays our sin debt.

We can try to stop sinning, go to church, give all of our money to the poor, go to another country and tell others about Jesus, or anything else you can think of to try to balance your debt, but it won’t work.  The payment is still due and you aren’t impressing God.  The only way for the debt to be paid AND allow us to be right with God is for someone who doesn’t have to pay the debt for themselves to pay it for you.  To die for you.

Tadaa!  That is why Jesus, God’s son (fully God and fully man), had to come, live, and die for you.  He did not sin.  He did not have pay with death for his own sin, so his death can be a payment for your account.  And even better news, HE WAS SEPARATED FROM GOD FOR YOU.  Not only did he pay the debt, he took the “interest payment”.  His sacrafice allows you to be made right with God.

“Mr. OneCupof Joe Guy, how do you know this makes us right with God and ends our separation?”  I know because the tomb Jesus was laid in was empty a few days later.  Jesus was raised from the dead!!  This means the price was paid, punishment was carried out, and Jesus left the debtors prison with the keys in his hand!  All you have to do is put your faith in the fact that this is true!  Read the book of Romans and see for yourself!

Okay now back to the debt debate and to bring this all home and tie this one up.  This is where Romans 6 comes in as a whole.  Once we have put our faith in our debt being “balanced”, does that mean we can go on sinning and living like we did?  No, of course not (to quote Paul)!    We can’t keep running up the debt!  If we do, it was never balanced for us in the first place!  If we are truly free from our debt of sin (and the power it had over us), we will be changed.  We will live and “do the right things” because our hearts (and the Spirit now living there) will drive us to.  Our actions will be from internal motivation of acceptance by God and not the external motivation of trying to pay off our debt to him!

As for our country, who knows what is going to happen (well, God does), but I don’t think it is for me to obsess about.  I think I need to focus on the debt debate in my heart and life…and thank you, Jesus, it is not a long debate!  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Gospel and Faith

 

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