Michael Spencer never wrote a book about parenting, dealing with issues related to raising children and teens in a Christian environment. If he had, he would have written that forming Christian identity is a better course in the long run than programming Christian behavior. This podcast episode explores some of those issues.
The dad joke. We all grew up with them but only in recent years has that became an actually term. We can probably credit Twitter and Facebook hash tags for adding to our vocabulary nomenclature we never realized we needed. Father’s Day is coming up and I’m here to speak out in defense of the dad joke. Continue reading
I know what you’re thinking: the stress of working in full time ministry with a 14 month old at home has finally caused me to crack. I reached a breaking point if my sermon is on changing diapers. It’s not as bad as all that. Let me explain.
Last week I preached this sermon on Galatians 4. It’s about God adopting us into his family. I had three well-defined points, as a good Baptist preacher should. Today I preached that same sermon for our students in their Sunday a.m. chapel service. I can’t take for granted that 6-12 graders know their Bible stories that way my church congregation does. I cut some of the scripture citations and needed a more colorful analogy or two. The first point in the sermon is that we are naturally the enemies of God. He says “Do this” and instead we do that. Adam and Eve are the first example, and not much has changed since. I talked about how cute Johannah is; all our students know this to be true. But when we’re changing a diaper, sometimes she quits being so cute. If she sits up, rolls over, or otherwise tries to escape then everything takes longer. We have to do things twice; or three times. The students all smiled, nodded and laughed. Then I pointed out that in my history class some of them are the same way. I have to repeat myself and/or do things twice. Sometimes three times. That’s our nature.
It gets worse. God sent his Son. Like the father of the prodigal, God waits and watches down the road for us to come home. The prodigal son (Luke 15) spent a fortune on good food, good wine and loose women. Eventually he hit rock bottom, and desired the same slop that he fed pigs. He had to learn that lesson the hard way. You couldn’t have told him any different, and if the father had come looking for him any sooner, he would have ran as fast as he could in the other direction. We were all wallowing (or are still wallowing) in our own filth. We are slaves to sin, whatever sin you want to fill in the blank with. If my daughter Johannah has filled her diaper, then she is basically sitting there in her own mess. She stinks. Yet when I reach for her she runs away. She ducks and dodges. Her natural impulse is to escape the diaper change. Are we any different? We wallow in our filthy sin, in our own mess, and push God away even as he wants to clean us.
God loved us when we were unlovable. That’s the Gospel. And if you have kids, had kids, or know parents with new kids, fell free to preach the Gospel according to dirty diapers.
Adopted by God, a 3 point sermon from Galatians 4
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. – Galatians 4:1-7
We are by nature the enemies of God. Ever since the Garden of Eden, humanity has been prone to do the opposite of whatever it is God wants us to do. Jesus describes us in John 8 as being slaves of sin. It is easily witnessed throughout the history of God’s people in the Old Testament, the struggles of Paul with his own sin nature, and for that mature the course of all history. While in a general sense we are all belong to God, our natural state is like that of the prodigal son. God is watching and waiting for us to come down the road where he will welcome us with open arms. Continue reading
While it’s true that the whole Bible is about Jesus, what we know about his life on earth is found in four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The story of his birth (Christmas) is only recorded in two of those, Matthew and Luke. What we know about his childhood is very limited, basically one paragraph in Luke 2. Yet even in this short story Jesus provides us with an example we can learn from. Continue reading
Let me tell you about a little thing we do twice a year called Parents’ Night Out. My wife and I are the sponsors of an organization called Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM, formerly known as Baptist Student Union). We were looking for a ministry opportunity that teenage youth could be a part of. Since we are a school, not a church, some of the construction projects and work days that youth groups normally do are not a good idea. We needed something that 9-12 graders could do to benefit the community, develop leadership, and nurture a servant like heart. Enter my wife Teresa. Continue reading