Respecting Daddy

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

No matter how much we love our spouse; there will inevitability be times of disagreement. Disagreements are a normal part of a relationship. No one ever expected two human beings to agree on everything.

It becomes a problem when we are disrespectful in our disagreements…. Especially when little eyes and ears are in the room.

Name calling.

Belittling.

Raised voices and harsh tones.

No matter how hurt or upset you may feel, nothing qualifies disrespect to or from your spouse. In fact, I believe it to be quite healthy for children to witness a respectful disagreement between their mommy and daddy every once in a while.

The bible speaks very clearly in Ephesians 4:29 about how to use our mouths when we are experiencing a disagreement: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Encouragement.

Respect.

Calm voices.

If your child can see and hear that you respect your husband even when you disagree, they’ll be more inclined to respect the both of you when they disagree with you. If you want your kids to “honor [their] father and mother” (Exodus 20:12a), you had better be prepared to honour and respect each other as well.

How can you work on better respecting your spouse during times of disagreement? How can you better show your support while aiming to reach a point of resolution?

Father God, Thank Your for Your wisdom. Thank You that You care enough for us to want the very best for our families. I pray for my mouth, and for the mouths of my sister-friends, please anoint them this moment and remove any unwholesome talk from their mouth. Replace any negative and destructive words with words that build up; words that edify. I ask these things in Your precious and holy name, amen.

Ditching My Hate For Wait

Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Wait for The Lord; be strong and take heart and WAIT for The Lord!” Psalm 27:14

I start getting jittery when I’m doing research online and the Internet is slow, or when I ask my hubby to take out the garbage and it’s not done an hour later, or when I know a box from home has been sent in the mail and I have to wait a week to peek inside, or even when I have prayed for something and don’t hear an instant answer. I struggle with having patience….they don’t come easy for me!

In our hurry-up, need it, gotta-have-it-now culture, it’s so easy to think we should not have to wait. That way of thinking comes naturally as we are bombarded with short-cuts in all aspects of our every day life. Just take a moment and ponder our reality: in just a few moments I will click “publish” and thousands of you out there will instantly be free to read this post, in seconds we can know the weather anywhere around the globe because of Internet technology, by the click of a button we can pre-warm our vehicles while we scurry around the house getting ready for work, we can move dinner from the freezer to the table in 5 minutes thanks to microwaves, we can even eliminate a trip to the mall and shop from almost anywhere online! No wonder waiting is hard!!!

If we allow it, our waiting will bring us to an intimate knowledge of God, one that we would not have if ‘the wait’ was eliminated. Have you ever heard yourself asking “Why did God allow this to happen to me?!

God does not ignore the cries of his children. King David cried out, begged and pleaded with God for help, intervention and defence throughout the Psalms. God never let him down.

Our waiting has purpose.

What a great example King David’s life is for ‘waiting.’ Waiting is more comforting and less difficult when we allow God in to do his work during the waiting season. When we are more open to see how faithful He is to bring His plans for our lives into fullness, our children will too see this and treasure God’s faithfulness.

I love the saying “If he will bring you to it, he will bring you through it.” I’ve seen very real examples of that in my ministry as well as many other times life. How faithful and true our God is!!!

God, Please help me with ‘the wait.’ Please remind me that there is divine purpose for this period of time that I so want to resist. I want to wait well. I want to be patient as You bring Your plans for my life into fullness. I can’t do this life without You. In Your name, Amen.

Keeping Secrets

Written by: Margaret Connolly

Have you ever had to keep a secret? It’s not always easy. Recently my 9 year old daughter asked me if keeping a secret was a sin. She asked me if it was okay not to tell me something that a friend had told her. I asked her whether keeping the secret would harm or hurt someone else and she said no, so I advised her not to break her friends trust. A few days later she mentioned that her friend was scared to tell her Mother about what had happened because it involved a piece of jewelry that was special to her Mom. It was then that I told my daughter that she should probably encourage her friend to come clean with her Mom. Through this whole ordeal, I was impressed that my daughter never did tell me the complete details of the secret as she had promised her friend that she wouldn’t tell.

A few years ago I felt the sting of betrayal when a secret of mine was shared without my permission. The person I had confided in thought it would be helpful to share this with a prayer group, but this prayer group consisted of people that I hadn’t wanted to share this particular information with. I felt exposed and angry, though the friend I had originally shared my secret with didn’t see the harm in her actions. In this sad situation, the trust of a secret was turned into an opportunity to gossip, as I soon found out when my ‘secret’ was shared around to an even wider circle of people.

I’ve also had many people share very deep, dark secrets with me. I had a friend confide in me about her husband’s infidelity; another time it was a friend who struggled with an addiction to pornography. More recently, an acquaintance asked if she could share with me about an emotional affair that she was beginning to find herself embroiled in. I take this confidence very seriously, though I also understand how hard it can be to keep private information, private. The temptation to gossip is often there and can be hard to resist.

So, when my daughter came home and asked me if it was a sin to keep a secret, it made me wonder what the Bible says about secrets? Surely, God keeps secrets from us! As we know, there are many things that He says He won’t reveal to us, and things that are on a sort of ‘need to know’ basis. How about Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden? He didn’t tell them WHY they shouldn’t touch the fruit, just that they shouldn’t. There are countless times in the Bible when secrets are kept for good and for not-so-good reasons. Even Jesus instructed the two blind men that he healed in Matthew Chapter 9 not to tell anyone what He had done. The one common denominator in the Bible on this theme though, is that gossiping or slandering another is always wrong: “Whoever slanders his neighbour in secret, Him will I put to silence” Psalm 101:5

The Bible also talks about how impossible it is to keep secrets from God, and that there really isn’t any point in trying. He expects us to reveal His secrets to Him if they require repentance, but even when they don’t, He knows what’s going on with us anyway!

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” Proverbs 28:13

I believe that God will honour us for keeping secrets for other people, though encouraging them to repent and offering to pray for them if the secret involves sinful behaviour. In the cases where I was made privy to very private, potentially damaging information there was always a temptation to run and tell someone. Knowing it wasn’t my place to do so, I didn’t break the trust of those who had confided in me. I did, however, pray with and for that person and encourage them to seek help. In these tricky and ‘secretive’ situations, I think that is the best we can do. And, be careful who you dish your dirt too .. you never know who won’t be able to resist the urge to gossip!

How Will We Respond?

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

Life. Aw life! It comes with many twists and turns, moments of excitement and times of deep sorrow, along with events that both sideswipe and pleasantly surprise. We take the good with the bad, hope for the best, and cherish the simple things. A baby’s giggle brightens our day and a grandparent’s last breath overshadows our happiness. It clamours on with many seasons of the heart and opportunities to grow in character.

It is a well-known fact that we have no control over what happens to us in this life, but we do have control over how we respond. It’s inevitable that “bad things” will come our way; trials, tribulations and the sort. We have no choice in this, but we do have choice in the actions that follow and must recognize God’s sovereignty in the midst of our struggles. In choosing how to respond, trust in our Lord is paramount.

“If we choose to trust God, then we will develop perseverance and faith will grow.” James 1:3

Our hearts naturally drift toward complaint, worry, fear and anger when the rough times come. These conditions often become the unwanted patterns of behaviour, thoughts, and actions. To withstand this we must surrender to God’s sovereignty in all situations and trust Him implicitly for the outcomes. Trust EVICTS these conditions from our heart. They cannot co-exist. One will inevitably push out the other and without trust we cannot weather the storms of life!

The story of Abraham in the Bible is truly fascinating. A man, who faced so many trials in his journey on this earth, yet was an incredible example of faith and trust in his God…Our God! At one point, Abraham was COMMANDED by God to leave the comfort, familiarity and safety of his home and surroundings. To simply trust God and move out from all that he knew and loved into a land filled with trial and danger. He was given the dream of the Promised Land from God and told to GO! He took his then very elderly wife, he being an old man himself, and began the journey forward. No questions asked. He simply obeyed his Lord and stepped out into the unknown, trusting every step of the way.

The Israelites, however, show us the opposite pattern of mistrust and reliance on the flesh. Abraham was their spiritual forefather and his “journey of trust” their spiritual inheritance. But they chose to respond with resistance and cultivated the very undesirable traits of complaint, worry, fear and anger. Because of this they were stuck in a 40-year pattern of wandering aimlessly through the dessert, a symbol of the spiritual wasteland in their lives.

Daughters, life is a gift not to be taken for granted. Some days are wonderful and exciting and rewarding. Some days are horrible and discouraging and unforgiving. The tides of life will ebb and flow with incredible unpredictability. But one thing remains. God is sovereign and we can trust Him. We must choose each day how we will respond and we must choose to trust Him in order to live above the waves!

Church Leaders are not Experts in Everything

Written by: Nathan Hill

Having been a pastor for over a decade, I have experienced my fair share of odd requests for guidance from families and individuals. In fact, you might be surprised at some of the things I have been asked. It is as though people expect that by virtue of being a pastor I have insider knowledge on divorce law/lawyers, the ethics of reproductive technology, parenting kids, parenting teenagers, marriage counselling, handling conflict with in-laws, how to invest money, what school options are best (i.e., private, home schooling, public)…and so many other things.

Oddly enough, my seminary training involved biblical studies, Greek, preaching and communication, theology, spiritual disciplines, music, pastoral visitation, and just enough counselling and family therapy to know when I am in over my head. That’s all she wrote folks! And, truth be told, pastors should not be experts in all of the other areas (and neither should they pretend to be!), and congregants should not expect that their pastors are expert in anything other than what they have been called to do: preach the bible and provide practical wisdom for life from a biblical worldview.

So, if you were to ask me about divorce, I would open the Scriptures and direct you to Matthew 5:32 & 19:9 as well as 1 Corinthians 7. If you were to ask about reproductive technology, I would remind you of the inherent value in all of human life and that we are known and identified by God as persons even in the womb (Psalm 139:16, Jeremiah 1:5). If you ask me how to handle conflict, I’d direct you to Matthew 18. If you ask about parenting, I’d remind you that God is quick to love, slow to anger. Jesus was firm on his kingdom principles, but loved people despite their actions. He pointed people in the right direction, saying go and sin no more. Even those who were to backstab him were still permitted a place around his table during meals. He never turned his back, offered lots of consistent correctives, and at the end of the day some of his closest people walked away from him—which was their choice and not a failure on Jesus’ part.

Basically, we point you to Jesus. That’s all we’ve got, and scripture tells us that is actually enough. Please do not expect us to be scientists, pharmacists, doctors, lawyers, human resources consultants, business-minded entrepreneurs, or professional counsellors—some of us have training in some of those areas, but we are not experts because our professional practice is pastoring and that is primarily what you will get. And when we pretend to know more than we really do…just smile, graciously thank us, and ask us to pray for you. That should help get us back on track☺.

A Season for Everything

Written by: Christianne Williams

My kids have always wanted to have pets. This began at an early age when our two oldest boys, then 2 and 4, received Beta fish for a Christmas gift. They would talk to their fish, read to them, stare at them, one day I even caught one of them right before he took the fish out of the tank to pet him. It didn’t matter that these slippery little creatures had no fur or paws, they were tiny friends to our boys. Now, at that young age our boys weren’t the best at following the proper feeding guidelines, so it was either a feast or famine if they were left to accomplish this task on their own.

I would always check on Gordie and Spike, to make sure there had been food added or to ‘fish out’ some if too much had been dumped. One morning while I was checking on them I noticed that Gordie was swimming close to the top, a little too close, and upon further inspection I noticed that he was belly up. I knew our son would be so disappointed by this, I didn’t know how to break the news to him, and I really wanted to avoid this conversation about loss. So, after I knew my husband would have arrived in his office, I snuck into the bathroom and called.

When I had him on the line, I whispered, “We have a problem, Gordie’s dead. You have to stop at the new one before he notices.” There was a huge gasp from the other end of the phone and a very loud and concerned, “WHAT??” followed. My husband sounded so upset, more that I think my son would’ve been. It baffled me. And then I knew….his uncle was also named Gordie and I hadn’t distinguished between which one I was speaking of.

He stopped listening after the first part of my declaration and was now panicking thinking something had happened to a family member.

Once we got the whole matter cleared up, he agreed to my plan to do the whole switcheroo to save our son the disappointment of loss. I left the dead fish in the tank all day, just hoping that neither boy would ask why Gordie was looking like that, and we made it through. When my husband came through the door, I occupied the boys while he made the exchange, and then we went on with our week. Our son never knew the difference, and we actually had three different Gordie’s and a couple of Spike’s.

Looking back on that event, as well as a few others, I feel we let our little ones down. The bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens; a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build. A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, at time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

As parents, we wanted to shield them from the hurt but we missed the opportunity to teach them a valuable lesson about life. These verses in Ecclesiastes show us that there truly is a season for everything and that all of these things are in God’s control. We will experience most, or most likely all, of these things in our lives, and we will have opportunities to teach our children that they are normal processes and God is with us through them all. It important to seek God’s council in all things so that we can gain wisdom in how to respond to the situations we face so that we can exhibit Godly character, one that our kids will inherit. My prayer is that in the future I will be aware of the eyes watching me and the messages I’m sending, so that my kids will be able to fully trust God with their lives.

He loves me; He loves me not

Written by: Cindy Morrone

If we take just a minute and quiet all the distractions around us, I know we could all come up with moments of sacredness.

Those occasions that are even better than a hallmark movie.

Those times when we realize there is something beyond ourselves.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

A baby being born. An unexplainable recovery from a dire illness. Freedom from addiction. The return of your prodigal child. A narrow escape from an accident. Provision when the numbers don’t add up. Knowing a love so profound it’s not humanly possible.

I remember a time when one of our daughters was younger and very ill. We had been up all night with her.

It seemed that she was doing better through the night but as soon as my husband left for work in the early morning, her congestion became so much worse and her breathing became labored. I started to panic.

We had earlier called for professional help and they recommended that if her congestion became any worse to bring her into the bathroom with closed doors and run a warm shower.

Taking the medical advice, I brought her into the bathroom and did as recommended.

As the warm vapour enveloped us, my thoughts ran wild. Sitting with her in my arms, feeling her every breath, I willed her breathing to regulate. I prayed desperately.

In that moment, I couldn’t imagine loving her more. I was overcome by my love for her.

And in that moment God spoke to me,……..me! He didn’t speak to me in an audible voice but it was an impression; a thought that didn’t come from me.

As much as you love your daughter, I love you more. For me, this was a sacred moment. I caught a glimpse of God’s love for us; it’s unimaginable; incomprehensible.

Writing a Father’s Day post is most difficult for me. I know this is for many reasons but the crucial reason is because I truly don’t ‘get’ how much God loves me; me.

My notion of how much He loves me is tainted by earthly experiences of being loved and giving love as sin-filled others. A broken promise, hurtful words, selfish motives, unmet expectations to name a few.

On this Father’s Day beloved, may we know with ever increasing realization God’s love for us. May this knowing envelope us and breathe new life into all our areas affected by fatherhood.

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close Psalm 27:10 New Living Translation

Parenting and Monotony

Written by: Rev. Phil Aud

Several years ago my wife and I were leading worship for a week of camp at Lakeshore’s Family Camp in Cobourg, Ontario. My oldest daughter, Soleil, was four or five at the time. She was still waking up early in those days and the two of us would head over to the cafeteria for an early breakfast. One of those mornings we decided to go for a walk near the lake and eventually found a park bench to sit on and watch the water. After sitting there for a while Soleil asked, “Are those fairies?” I had no idea what she was talking about. She pointed left, towards the water, and said “Over there. Are those fairies?” I still didn’t have a clue but continued to look. Finally I saw it. It was the sun reflecting on the moving water. It was beautiful and–I don’t know a manly way to say this–it totally looked like little flying fairies. I saw sun and water. She saw fairies.

As I later thought back about that morning I was reminded of some writings of G. K. Chesterton. Chesterton reflected that while ‘nature’ often repeated itself, it was far from boring. In his book “Orthodoxy” he wrote: “The repetition in Nature seemed sometimes to be an excited repetition…The grass seemed signalling to me with all its fingers at once; the crowded stars seemed bent upon being understood.”

Some people see wind and grass while others, like Chesterton, see fingers signaling to them. Once when my son was sick, he insisted that my wife carry him to sit with her on the back porch. He was drawn by the trees. We have a lot of large trees in our backyard that sway like wild men when the wind picks up. The sound of the leaves rustling is mesmerizing. But while out there he talked about the trees ‘waving their arms.’ Maybe he was right. The great prophet Isaiah wrote about the mountains and hills bursting into song, and about the trees clapping their hands (Isaiah 55:12).

So what keeps us from seeing the world the way our kids see it? Chesterton says it’s monotony. More specifically, it’s our view of monotony. We tire of the “same old, same old.” We thrive on what’s novel and new. As we all know by now, anytime we acquire something new it’s already old and disappointing. We’ve been trained to find monotony draining. But children haven’t submitted to this training yet.

“Because children have abounding vitality,” writes Chesterton, “because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.”

What if we’ve stopped really looking at the beauty around us and have lost the mystery of creation because we’re always looking for something novel? Chesterton would asks, what if things repeat themselves because they want to? Because God wants them to? “It may be that He [God] has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE.”

I’ve never forgotten Chesterton’s idea about our sin causing us to becoming older than our Father. I can think of at least two things that all of this can teach us about parenting.

First, it is obviously part of our job as parents is to help our children grow up. But I think we are supposed to help them grow up in a specific way. We should guide them as they acquire skills to navigate through the world and make hard choices. The Apostle Paul talks about the importance of “putting away childish things” (I Corinthians 13:11). But these words of Paul need to be heard along side Jesus’ words which tell us that unless we become like “a little child” we will “never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). We must help our children grow up, but must be careful that we don’t train them to grow up in such a way as to grow older than our Father. I think this is possible. I was moved upon reading about how one of my favourite Jewish scholars, Abraham Heschel, upon entering the woods would always put on his dark hat. One of his friends, Shlomo Beillis, asked him why he always wore this hat in the forest. He responded, “‘I don’t know if you will understand. To me a forest is a holy place, and a Jew does not enter a holy place without covering his head!’”. Herschel was a great thinker, but he retained his childlike wonder. In fact, the book I just quoted from is titled “Abraham Joshua Hescel, Philosopher of Wonder” (by Maurice S. Friedman). Perhaps the words ‘philosopher’ and ‘wonder’ can, in fact, be set side-by-side, just like Jesus’ and Paul’s words. Isn’t this what we should be after for our children? To see them grow, become wise, and yet keep the wonder?

The second thing that this can perhaps teach us is that there is beauty in the monotony of parenting. I confess that I can far too often become older than my Father in this regard. But I don’t want to. I want to catch the beauty in the everyday things that my children do that I will one day, far too soon, miss. Let’s not become too old to say to our children, “Do it again! Do it again! Do it again!”

 

Phil loves connecting with people through story, songwriting and coffee. Phil, his wife Marisa, and their three kids are Canadian transplants to the American South. Phil serves as the worship Pastor at Trinity Church located South of Atlanta.

 

Honouring Dad

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

My sister and I used to always bicker over who got to sit in the seat (in the car) behind our mom. I’m sure in a desperate attempt to cease the endless arguing, my dad bent down one day and said something simple, yet life-changing, to me. “Honey, why don’t you sit behind Daddy today?! You can be my girl!”

From that day on my seat was the seat behind Dad’s, and I claimed it very proudly!

Growing up my dad was not only my hero, but my best friend. Oftentimes you could find both of our heads under a car, hands filled with grease, chatting the Saturday sun away. We had similar habits, shared an identical birthmark and laughed at the same jokes! Being ‘his girl’ was simply who I was created to be.

Through the years my dad has become an invaluable source of strength to me. When situations in life arise that leave me feeling heartbroken, lonely, or anxious; I always know who I can call to get an encouraging and positive answer: Dad. He can lift my spirits with just a few simple words, even from 2500 kilometres away; and those words will without a doubt be directing me to The Lord.

I’ve watched my dad endure some pretty tough situations in my lifetime. Multiple layoffs, financial hardship, loss, and several medical illnesses often leaving him vulnerable and hurting. Never once did I hear him complain; instead he always directed his focus on The Lord and praised Him through every circumstance. As a parent he not only directs me to The Lord, he lives his life as a rich example of such behaviour.

I only pray that I can be as big of a blessing to my children, as my parents were (and are) to me! I will always be ‘your girl’, Dad, no matter how old I am, or how far away I may be.

Save my seat, ok?

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!