This post is meaningless! Daily Discipleship Weekend Podcast

This weekend, I thought I would shake things up. Here is a brief message (audio only) of what I learned as I walked through Ecclesiastes the last three days.

Enjoy.


This post is part of a series called “Daily Discipleship: One year (or less) through the Bible.” For the previous post, click here, and for the whole project in one place, click here.

 

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Whay My Toddler Taught Me About How People Grow

Today was the best kind of Saturday morning. I woke up first and started reading through the Psalms. Our smiley toddler then greeted me before we turned on some Saturday cartoons, all while Mal (and Clara!) had a much needed sleep in.

A recent favorite in our house is Daniel Tiger, a cartoonized homage to Mr. Rodgers’ “Land of Make Believe,” which follows the children of all our favorite childhood puppets. Every episode features a jingle to teach the lesson of the day. In a 20 minute episode, the jingle may play 30 or so times, reinforcing it in the minds of the children. Fred Rodgers’ uncanny ability to step into the mind of a child and relate to the challenges of growing up has found a voice in a new generation.

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A couple of weeks ago, I noticed the influence of the show when Cade showed new resilience and determination on the playground, singing, “If you keep trying, you’ll get better.” Sure enough, he kept trying and made it all the way up the slide. My toddler who almost always gives up on physical tasks too easily, was heartened by Daniel Tiger’s little jingle.

Fast forward back to today, when Daniel Tiger was on, teaching the importance of saying goodbye to fun things, “That was fun but now it’s done.” As the show came to a close, I found myself singing along, when Cade looked at me from across the room and said, “Sometimes that is really hard for me.”

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“What is?” I had clearly overlooked the fact that this may have sunken in.

“Stopping playing when I’m having fun.”

Wow! The simple nature of a truth conveyed and repeated caused our three-year-old to do genuine, real introspective reflection.

While I was marveling at the simplicity and beauty of the moment, Bible in my lap, I realizecd that the Christian devotional life is the same way. Truth conveyed and repeated brings introspective reflection, and then change.

How People Grow

Romans 12:2 says that our patterns of living should be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” Ephesians 4:23 says the same thing, then launches into all the ways our “new life” should look different from our “old life.” This is, in fact, the primary theme of Ephesians 4-6, and the difference between the Old and New finds its roots in our minds being renewed. Paul describes non-believers as being “blind, darkened in understanding,” with “hardened and callous hearts,” and that their ignorance (his words, not mine) is the result of being alienated from God.

This sounds harsh in our culture, but I’m just the messenger. Paul is saying that when people process, interpret and think about the world without adequately taking God into account, they are incapable of seeing the world rightly (because God is part of the picture).

We grow when we allow the Holy Spirit (and the writings he inspired) to change our minds and the very processes by which we think about things.

Just like Cade and the repetitive Jingles by Daniel Tiger, this “renewal of mind” only happens through frequent exposure to the Word. We see themes pop up over and over. Truth conveyed and repeated brings reflection and change. Faced with the same truth over and over again, we are forced into either obedience or obstinance, stubbornness or submission.

If you are depending on your pastor’s weekly sermon to transform your life, you will likely be sorely disappointed; even the most gifted communicator cannot give you the kind of pure exposure to God’s Word that we get when we set aside time every day to read it for ourselves. Likewise, devotional books are okay, but they offer a verse of Scripture and a lot of someone’s ramblings.

Calling “devotional” reading, “Bible Study,” is like calling Capri Sun “fruit juice.” It may contain traces of the genuine, but it doesn’t compare to squeezing your own oranges and relishing in the orchard-fresh real deal.

I leave this reflection about growth, minds transformed by repetitive exposure to the Word, and obedience, with the very text I was reading as this Saturday Morning scene transpired. Here is Psalm 19, starting in v. 7:

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
The Testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether;
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his [own] errors?
Declare me innocent from [my own] hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servants also from presumptuous sins,
Let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer

David knew he would not be able to pray for, or even be aware of, every sin he would commit. He prayed for the Lord’s word, and wisdom, and precepts, and commandment, to keep him from “presumptuous sins.” Through this process, his actions changed (“the words of my mouth”), but also his character and his desires (“the meditation of my heart.”)

Truth conveyed and repeated brings reflection and change.

May our attitude be David’s in verses 7-11, and our prayer be verses 12-14.

NickSig

5 Ways to Protect Your Kids from Online Pornography (and other threats)

When my son gets a little older and starts playing sports, I think I’m going to give him a bottle of prescription pain pills.

I’ll tell him to use them responsibly, but what he does with them is his business. After all, he’ll be eight or so by then, and he needs to learn how to handle responsibility. Plus, considering pills are not damaging in themselves, it’s all in how you use them. I want him to make good choices, and people only learn from their mistakes, right? It’s the world they’re growing up in. Someday they’ll grow up and (in the “real world”) a doctor will prescribe them pills for pain. They need to know how to use them.

You’ve got to let your kids be their own people, after all. Continue reading

A Toddler, Duplos and the Pride of a Father

Exciting examples of engineering excellence. That’s what I see when I watch my 22-month old son play with blocks. His affinity for building began early, and blocks have now become his favorite toys. I’d wager that we could throw out almost all other toys and he would hardly notice. Duplo blocks are king.

The other day I was sitting next to our son on the floor, blocks strewn about, looking more like a WWII bombing zone than anything with a form. Of course, the chaos of it is what makes it fun. As I sat there and watched our architect-in-training try to make sense of the craziness before us, he decided to engage me in his work.

“Look, Daddy!”

What he held out was a rudimentary structure with blocks out of place and almost certainly substantial stability issues. It was clear he had a low regard for building codes. But in that moment, there is only one response a father could give:

“Oooooooh, I see that! I’m proud of you!”

His face lit up and he smiled his big, gappy, toddler-toothed smile at me, and he said simply (but with an unmistakable satisfaction), “Uh-huh!”

Yep, Dad being proud of him was not only appreciated, it was expected. Praise from Daddy was so satisfying that for the next ten minutes, with every block or two, he would hold out his tower and a similar exchange would follow. It never seemed to get old to him.

Nor did it get old to me. With each step along the way, I saw him learning new skills, trying new things, and basking in the approval of his father. He was entirely in the moment, not concerned with other things, fully confident that his dad would take care of any needs he had. He had a genuine desire to please me.

And as I sat there, the world’s worst construction inspector, I saw again one of my favorite things about being a parent. The way kids are with their parents teaches us so much about how God wishes we would be with Him.

Just as my child desires to hear me say I’m pleased with him, God wants that to be the leading desire in our lives.

Just as my son built what he could, with what skills he has, and had no shame with the fact that it was yet imperfect, God wants us to be the same with him: putting our all into pleasing him and having no shame when we still are imperfect.

Just as I expect for Cade’s abilities to grow over time, for him to keep trying new things and to keep moving the bar because he will have grown and matured, so God expects us to grow continually closer to him, to continue pleasing him by living lives that increase in grace, love and holiness.

Just as my love for my son won’t change if he doesn’t grow as I think he should, God’s love for us doesn’t change simply because we fall a step or two back from time to time.

We don’t expect skyscrapers from novices. God doesn’t expect perfection, especially from those who are toddlers in the faith.

So all we can do is to aim to please him, building our “godliness” skills, one duplo block at a time, each step of the way laying our lives before him, saying, “Look, Daddy!” If we’ve been genuine, he will smile and say, “I see that! I’m proud of you!”