Bittersweet

Supply lines are incredibly important. Tim Cook revolutionized the supply lines at Apple helping make it into the amazingly successful consumer electronics company it is today. In the military, wars have been won and lost because of supply line issues. If the front line gets too far ahead of their supply line, their progress will be slowed dramatically. If the supplies get too far ahead, they risk vulnerability and capture by the enemy. Continue reading “Bittersweet”

Identity

This morning, Paula and I loaded up the kids in the car and headed over to a couple’s house who are in our small group. We spent the morning helping them finish packing for a cross country move. They are using one of those pods that get dropped off in your driveway and you fill it up. Two other families from our small group came and helped. We all loaded up the pod with everything that they had packed in less time than expected. We finished well before lunch, and we got the joy of being a blessing to some dear friends one more time before they move away.

My mind was awash with so many things. I had to compartmentalize so much of what was going on in my head in hopes of gaining better focus on the task at hand. Since Paula and I have moved at least 13 times in our nearly 16 years of marriage, we’ve gotten pretty good at moving over the years. I was reflecting about the events of the day when I realized something about how the way the day went in respect to the kids.

They were quite well behaved today, and we often receive praise for their good behavior. A trait that I pray continues for years to come. But the thing I noticed while reflecting on the day was how I watch them. I’m like a hawk, even with my compartmentalized thinking on the task at hand, I am watching to make sure they are performing up to snuff. If they get out of line, I pounce on them verbally to make sure they notice what is going on and shift their behavior to fit the occasion. “How is what you are doing helping with what we are currently doing?” “Are you being helpful right now?” With so much work to do, and with their young capable bodies, I wanted to make sure they were assisting. Even my youngest helped holding doors open and shuffling boxes from the garage to the loading area and into the pod.

They all did a great job, but as I look back I have a few things I need to critique, and they have nothing to do with my kids and everything to do with me.

Why is it that I watch them like a hawk? My quickest response is that as their father, I am responsible for helping mold and guide them to send them out in life. Pointing out their faults is important to help them learn and grow from their mistakes and errors. No one would argue with this answer. It is a good answer. If I’m honest, this is only half of the truth, and it may just be the attractive facade of the truth.

The ugly core of the truth is that I take their behavior, good and bad, to be a reflection of my identity. If they are behaving well, then I get to look good. If they are not behaving well, then I look bad.

The reality is that heir behavior is not an overflow of my heart, it is an overflow of their own hearts, and I can’t control what is going on in their hearts. God is the creator of their hearts, and knows their inmost being better than I do. (Psalm 139:13-16) Their heart motives are between themselves and God. My role as their parent is to help point them to Christ in everything, behavior included. The problem is that so much of the time, however, I do it because I don’t want them to make me look bad. This reality then, casts light on the true condition of my own heart. I’m an idolator, and the idol on the throne of my heart, when I do things with this motive, is a graven image of Jonathan Davis. I want to look good, and I’m using my kids to make that happen.

I need to be pointing myself to Christ in these situations. I need my heart changing to be more like Christ’s, and continually becoming a new creation. (2 Corinthians 3:18) The Gospel of Jesus gives me freedom to find my identity in what He did on the cross, saving me from my sin and putting his righteousness upon me. In this gracious freedom, I don’t have to be a slave to finding my identity in how my kids are behaving at any given moment.

Once the log is out of my own eye (Matthew 7:3-5) and I’ve got my identity right, then I can help show them the amazing grace of what Jesus did for their sins too.

Raise

“You need a raise.”

“I need what?”

“You need a raise.”

This was a new conversation for me to have. We’ve struggled with money before, and more money would mean getting out of debt faster, but this really seemed to come out of left field. Suddenly we don’t make enough money? We’ve survived on less than half of what I make now, and I’d keep working here even if they cut my pay, but then again, I love this job, so my judgment is clouded. My wife’s argument is that I’ve been working hard for four years and it’s time for a raise. I think I could predict how the conversation will go if I were to bring it up and maybe I should, but then again, maybe I shouldn’t

As with most conflict, the issue that is brought up is rarely the real issue. Something deeper is at stake. I’ve been gone from home for most evenings the past two weeks on an install. I also have been dedicating a great deal of my free time to other activities.
I’ve been doing all these good things, but perhaps, I’ve been forsaking some primary things. My time in the word and prayer for the past couple of weeks hasn’t been where it needs to be. I haven’t spent time with my kids like I should, and my wife thinks I’m someone between a distant cousin and an all-out stranger.

Does this sound familiar? Sure it does, it’s called life as a Technical Director.
I didn’t make a vow before God and witnesses to work for my boss as hard as I possibly could for the rest of my life. I made a covenant with God and my wife. She’s an amazing gift and beyond what I deserve. I made a commitment to her to love her as Christ loves the church. Legitimizing family neglect because of ministry is heresy.

My first ministry is to my wife and kids. I’m their pastor before any other call God has put on my life. When my relationships at home start to suffer because of ministry, I’m sacrificing my family on the altar of pride. I’m worshiping in the temple of work and getting things done, rather than taking joy in the wife of my youth and finding my satisfaction in my relationship with Christ. You might bring up the argument that ministry is service to Christ, and you’re right, but let me remind you about what David wrote in Psalm 51…

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. (Psalm 51:15-16 ESV)

David knew about sacrifice, but he also knew a ritualistic act couldn’t save him. Look at verse 17.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17 ESV)

David saw in his own heart that he was far from God, and God showed him the solution. A broken spirit and a contrite heart were greater than the blood of goats and lambs. Abiding in Christ, living a Christian life, and serving the church is about a heart relationship.
I need to care for my family above my work because this relational care is the model that Christ has given us of how he loves his church. If I love Christ’s church, then I’ll live out the best model I can of Christ’s love for it, beginning with my wife, followed by my children, and continuing to my neighbors.

The only way for me to live this out effectively is by letting it all be an overflow of my relationship with Jesus. So where does my job fit into this whole equation? The things that I love to do, making audio, video, and lighting merge into a beautiful looking and sounding invitation into experiencing God’s glory, is also an overflow. But it has to come after a properly cared for family or it’s just work and an idol of my own making.

Let’s show Christ our undying affection, and find our complete satisfaction in him through prayer and the word. Let’s take the overflow of that relationship and lavish it on our families, and THEN let’s work as unto the Lord with the strength he supplies to his everlasting glory. This joy is more than money can buy, and no raise would be enough for me to give up the great joy of serving God through leading my family.

Trapped

From the archives:

Even with the best of intentions it is so easy to wind up someplace that you never intended to go.  A wrong turn, missing an exit, bad directions, or just poor planning often lead us to places we never wanted to be.  My son Joel, when he was a toddler was spending one day as he normally did, exploring every corner of our house. As he was wandering around he found a cabinet door in the kitchen that he was able to open. What he discovered behind it was more exciting than he imagined. An empty shelf that disappeared beyond his vision. For little Joel, it was an unexplored cavern ripe with possibilities and adventure. Sometimes we see things that catch our attention like that. What we don’t expect is to get stuck, or trapped in a mess of our own making. We work and stress, trying to escape our circumstance but are often unable to save ourselves. That’s when we have to cry our for help. That’s what Joel ended up having to do too. Paula heard his cry and rescued him from his self created snare. Perhaps, you’re like little Joel, just exploring around, wanting to see what is around that next corner, only to find yourself stuck, alone, in the dark, crying for help. I think we are all like that sometimes.  We take a wrong turn and realize before we know what happened that we aren’t where we ought to be, and we cry out to our Father in heaven.  Sometimes we often forget is that He had His eyes on us all along, and has been reaching for us the whole time.

Psalm 40:2

 

Vows

What makes me a good husband? Public perception? The right deeds? Keeping vows? Jesus said that even sinful thought is as bad as committing the deed. Can a bad wife have a good husband? Can a good husband have a bad wife? Being a good husband is not good enough.  The world’s standards are not God’s, and no matter how many people of the world count me as a good husband, my wife included, their measure is not the one I need to live up to, but that of God.  I want to glorify God in my role as a husband.  In order for my wife to be the best wife she can be, I need to be the best husband I can be. Continue reading “Vows”