This. This is how I feel.

Ross King has been a very favorite of ours since our college days. He led the worship at a large group gathering we loved. We’ve followed him and bought every album he’s ever put out since. He’s honest, humble, and so articulate. Here’s a song from his most recent album that is spot. on.

My Identifiers

In the Summer of 2013 I found myself in a position where for so long I had been working towards finding funding from a donor for the church plant and when God gave us that, everything went public. The 48 hours afterwards were exciting, but then I felt between two worlds. I was still a youth pastor for Redeemer and I was now laboring as a Church Planter for Manhattan. I was torn between these two mentalities and identities. What was hard to keep in focus was that neither of these identities were my true identity. That as a Child of God.

I am a damned sinner destined for glory because of  my gracious savior. If I can know that in my heart moment by moment then life can be lived well. If not, I’ll waste it.

So as I thought about my primary identifier I also thought about what else identifies me, this is my list of identities I recognize in myself:
Christian: I wasn’t born with this identity, I was reborn with it.  This is my primary and most important identifier. The rest could disappear and so long as I had this one still I’m ok. This is the one that will last through eternity, the one that assures the forgiveness of my sin and my place in the family of God forever. It means most basically that Jesus bought me with his own life. He has given me faith to believe that Jesus is my savior and I am now a follower of Jesus, who is my king.

Man: I have male anatomy and I was made by God to show forth masculine characteristics as God, and not culture, defines them. This provides me a role in marriage, in society, in the church, in relation to women and other men. It’s an identity my culture wants to erase and one which my culture leads me to often feel shame for, but it is a God given identity that goes beyond mere anatomy. It means I must lead in places God has placed me, it means I must protect those who can’t protect themselves and offer care and compassion to those who need it.

Son: I am the son of Henry Harrison Hough from Charleston, Missouri. I am also the son of Vicki Sue Anderson from Toledo, Ohio. My dad is a traveling speaker who uses labradors as a visual illustration for obedience. My mother has been a sixth grade English teacher since I myself was in the sixth grade.

Brother: I have two older brothers who I love deeply. I am often saddened by the distance between us both physically and relationally. I am a brother which ties me to these guys for the rest of our lives no matter how alike or different we are. They are both medical doctors making me the least educated child with my M.Div. Truth is I’m secretly (not so secret anymore) really impressed by them being doctors.

Step Brother: I also have a fantastic step brother named Matt. He’s a gifted musician and uses his gifts to assist the people of God with worship in Houston. He challenged my next identity at first and I resented him for it, but quickly came around to consider him a true brother despite my placing him in a separate identifier.

Youngest: I am the youngest of three boys. I grew up the youngest which gave me the nurturing experience of being the youngest. That means I couldn’t tie my shoe until like 3rd grade, wet the bed way too long, learned about sex before my peers and basically everyone did everything for me most of my life leaving me forever less capable of functioning like an adult. My job as the youngest was very simple: Be funny and tattle on people.

Husband: This is one my favorite identifiers. I am the husband of Laura Elaine Hough, the most amazing girl I’ve ever met. We aren’t big on public expression of affection for each other cause that sort of thing makes people gag and if I’m honest when people gush about their spouse on Facebook I question how real the words are. Now to break my own rule, I love Laura soooo much, I love being her husband because she is everything I dreamed a wife could be and I really mean that. As a husband I am called to care for my wife, to lead her and nourish her, to protect her and provide for her. She makes all my husband responsibilities an absolute joy to fulfill. One of the best bits of advice I can give is marry well. Marry a sibling in Christ (the “in Christ” distinction is important unless you’re in Arkansas) and walk through life together.

Father: We have three children. Beckham, Sadie Piper and Berkley Boo. Being a father is hard. It means playing games that just aren’t fun (and some which are), it means disciplining and nurturing when already tired. It means discipleship of a child whose ability to think and interact is changing nearly every day. Being a father is fulfilling though, I love to talk with them and care for them and laugh at them; and hugs from a child are pretty much the greatest thing ever. I remember the joy of being a father when I come home and the crazies run to me with huge hugs.

Hough – Family name means something. With it come positives and negatives, it’s a shared identity that, people assume I’m like others who also are identified as Houghs. My own life also serves to redefine the name going forward. I like the name, I liked in sports being called exclusively Hough, even most of the girls I knew used to call me just Hough. It connected me to Charlie Hough which gave me a love for the Knuckleball and it now connects us to Julianne Hough and Derek Hough who are dancers and actors.

Ex Youth Pastor: This identifier is often one of a cheesy guy with too much caffeine. It doesn’t garner much respect from anyone and seen by some as the bane of the church today. I however found it was a fantastic role to serve the Kingdom of God. Though it Laura and I have made so many great relationships with students and families and seen them grow and mature. There is such joy in this that though I’ve never loved the title and prefer the role we serve in today I do miss the opportunity to have this role in the lives of students and families at Redeemer. As time has gone by I’ve also found this to be one of the more heartbreaking identifiers as we see students we care about grow up and struggle.

Teacher: I only half own up to this title. On our second day in Kansas I was given two different classes to teach, that year it was 7th and 8th grade Bible. I taught every year since then. My last year I only taught four days a week, two 75 minute classes, two 50 minute classes. Teaching is both miserable and fantastic. Trying to teach students who don’t care at all because of apathy or only care about their grade is depressing. But seeing some of those same students come alive and care or teaching those who wish to learn is an absolute rush. It’s been one of the more time consuming parts of my life for seven years, but I was glad to have the experience and I think it put my seminary training to good use.

Astros Fan: This is one of the dumber identifiers. I am a fan of the Houston Astros. In fact my earliest memories include cheering for the bright rainbow version of the Astros. It is a memory of mine connected to my grandfather who like the Astros as well. Currently being an astros fan is a bit embarrassing with how bad they are, but they are my team and I love to root for them. They have a number of Christians on the team which make me all the more excited to see these guys mature as players and people.

Soccer Fan: This used to put me in a tiny little sub group of people, but each year the number of soccer fans seems to grow. I follow and support the Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City, Manchester United and still have a soft spot for FC Dallas. I miss playing the game.

Bicyclist: I grew up riding bikes, but I’m really in the seventh year since rediscovering the joy of bicycling. I like to ride for adventure, not sport which is why I call myself a bicyclist and not a cyclist. I also refer to my Bicycle as a Country Cross Bike and it has a name. You will never find spandex on me, that’s my way of showing love for neighbor. I love bicycling and find it to be like therapy to just get out and ride.

Counting Crows Fan: This one honestly doesn’t seem to fit me. I don’t really like rock music, but I can sing along to nearly every song the Counting Crows have ever performed. I discovered them in High School and then rediscovered them in college and have been obsessed ever since.

Obsessive: I tend to get obsessive about subjects or products or teams or food and then learn everything there is to learn about them before moving on to something else. I wish this wasn’t how I functioned, but it is. I used to think everyone functioned this way until Tony Felich helped me understand I’m messed up.

Texan: This is my nationality. Some claim their Irish or Italian or Russian ancestry, ours is Texan. I’m not sure my children realize it isn’t really a nation. Seriously.  To be fair, it was a country from 1836 to 1845 and it has functioned like a country to this day with it’s own electric grid and general autonomy so I feel quite justified in this. I am one of those people who loves America, but really I am a Texan first and foremost. However, we love being missionaries to the United States and have no intentions of every returning to the homeland.

Weird: I think most people are weird and like the title of being such. So the question isn’t so much are you weird, but how are you weird? You learn this from what people comment about you. Wearing soccer socks on Sundays under my nice pants I’ve been told is weird. Putting half and half with sweetener in my tea is apparently not a normal practice. Wandering around town at times in a Monk Robe is apparently not normal. Also the joy I get from awkward situations I’ve been told is a little strange. So that’s that.

Church Planter: This is a new identifier, like youth pastor it has a bunch of cheesy associations with it that I’ll try to avoid. Like I won’t call you “buddy” or tell you how we need to “just love on people” or  explain how we need to “live incarnational lives” because let’s be honest, unless you start as God you can’t come down as a man.  I do like the title though, the work it points to is one of amazing purpose and value for the town of Manhattan and the kingdom of God. I love it because it puts us in a place of utter dependence on God to provide in every way. It’s scary and I often feel unskilled for this role and ill equipped for this role, but it is an identification I’m excited to continue to grow into.

Pastor: This is the day to day function of a church planter. It’s administration, and serving, it’s praying for the congregation and those we hope God will work salvation in. It’s making bulletins and preparing sermons. It’s lonely at times, it comes with a weight that I never understood as an assistant pastor, although I used to think I understood. It’s constant second guessing, it’s depressing when people under our care struggle. It’s sweet fellowship with those who minister along side us.

I love to know other people’s identifiers, if you have put them down in writing let me know, I’d love to read them.

In The End

JJ Heller has a song called In the End with lyrics that are amazing for sitting and listening to while you think about the life you live. Read them below, listen here. Then go read Ecclesiastes in your Bible (right after Psalms and Proverbs).

“In The End”

Oh this silly heart of mine
Looking for new things to buy
Nothing really satisfies
In the end, in the end
Greed is making fools of us
Waging war betraying trust
Empires only fade to dust
In the end, in the end

Safety is not for sale.
(You can not buy peace of mind)
Earthly defenses fail
(There’s nothing new under the sky)
Build your kingdom all your life
And say goodbye
In the end, in the end

Have I forgotten how to wait
Providence won’t hesitate
Seldom early never late
In the end, in the end

Safety is not for sale.
(You can not buy peace of mind)
Earthly defenses fail
(There’s nothing new under the sky)
Build your kingdom all your life
And say goodbye
In the end

Vanity, vanity
Don’t lie to me
Vanity, vanity
You’re not fooling me

Safety is not for sale.
(You can not buy peace of mind)
Earthly defenses fail
(There’s nothing new under the sky)
Build your kingdom all your life
And say goodbye
Build your kingdom all your life
And say goodbye
In the end

What I Learned From Dance

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“Dance, Shine” was the name of the Bate’s Dance Studio end of the year performance last weekend. It was truly amazing. I’ve seen dance before, but last Friday night dance challenged my thinking in new ways. Ways that make me want to live different. Better.

I’ll start with the biggest thing that stood out. There three types of dancers.

1. Those who know the steps and do them. They seem worried about falling out of step or making a mistake. Maybe just a little too aware of the audience watching them.

2. Those who feel the music. They move with the beat and rhythm and seem absolutely unconcerned with a huge theatre of watching eyes. These are the dancers that make me want to dance.

3. The third group, which the majority seem to be, are those who are in and out of the music, there are parts of the dance that they know and do and there are parts of the dance that they know so well that they let go and just embrace the dance for awhile.

I see this as analogous to our spiritual walks.

1. There are those who know the steps of Christianity: what words to use and not use, what behaviors to abstain from, they know words that sound like prayer and watching from the outside they are in step enough to be a part of the chorus. The effort is appreciated, but the dance of Christianity looks difficult and taxing.

2. Then there are those whose walk with Christ is like the dancer who feels the music. They flow with Scripture and prayer pours out naturally, they aren’t struggling to grow in grace, it’s a simple rhythm of their life and these are the Christians that make me want to dance.

3. Most of us are the third group, there are times and aspects of our Christian life that we feel the music and those times are the greatest times of our life, but we also find ourselves in a dance we don’t know that well and we’re much too aware of the eyes watching us. We want only to fit in and not screw up.

These ideas and many others blew my mind Friday night, but then we went back on Saturday night to watch the younger children perform. This added a new layer, because I realized none of these little children felt the music. They were funny, they were cute, they did a fantastic job, but they didn’t feel the music. I realized that it took people like Heidi teaching them over many years to get to them to the point that these older girls were at where they begin to feel the music. It’s real life discipleship.

This reminded me in a  visual way how beautiful the fruit of discipleship can be. I feel encouraged to teach our children to feel the music; to not just know the steps of what it means to follow Christ, but to go after Him with joy and real knowledge, that there is grace in missteps. I am thankful for dance today and my prayer is that God would free me from fear of failure so that I might not not simply know the steps of Christianity but feel the music that is His grace and dance the dance of faith.

Other things I learned. 

A. The opening number was an amazing Gospel Choir version of This Little Light of Me. It was awesome. Glorifying God in the arts doesn’t have to be cheesy or in a Christian venue, in fact I think it was better outside of a “Christian” venue.

B. There was a song (The Bridge by Cloverton) that included a real bridge . I wish you all could see this dance, may be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. The second night the first thing I did when we got the program was look to see if it would happen again. I was disappointed that it was not begin redone. The images of salvation and rescue challenged my mind to to try to understand it. It just seemed to have layers of meaning and I didn’t know that existed in dance.

C. I’ve always been surprised how the Church in history has at times looked at dance as evil. Footloose comes to mind. I went one semester to a Baptist college where in 1999 dance was still forbidden. Square Dance, Two Step, Swing Dance, Line Dance, all dance. Yet we see in Scripture dance spoken of in wonderful ways. Just like most things dance can be put into practice in shameful ways, but that should not result in the good gift of God being shamed outright.

In Psalm 30:11 we learn that God has turned the sadness of mourning into the the joy of dancing.  “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,”

In Psalm 149:3 their praise of God included dancing of some sort.  “Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!”

When I did a search on dance the most surprising discovery was Luke 15:25. This is the well known story of the prodigal son. The son leaves home, wastes his inheritance on pleasure and finds himself eating with pigs. He eventually goes back to his father’s house and confessing his unworthiness to be included asks for a place among the servants. Instead the father welcomes him and throws a celebration at his return. We read in the following verse, “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.” There was dancing at the celebration of the returning child. There was dancing because there was joy, because the father showed grace the people danced. Except the jealous older brother who hated that grace was poured out on the younger brother. I think maybe we dance too little and I am a bit concerned that it might be because we don’t celebrate the grace of God enough. Let us feel the music and dance.

A great book cause I can stand to learn a thing or two about being a godly girl…

Here’s how I found this book. I saw this picture:

Melissa is a high school and college friend whom I wish we lived closer to. I think we would be great girl friends and fun couple friends with her and her husband, Beau. They have amazing hearts for Christ and His kingdom and a great Christian worldview in all of their lives. Alas, we do not live close. So we stalk keep up with her and her family via their blog. (This is actually her flying to Hawaii to live there for 6 months!)

Back to my point. The book, Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother (by Carolyn Mahaney), was not mentioned in her post, but since I respect her love and walk with Christ, I noticed her book. Now that I think about it, this story does make us sound kind of stalker-ish.

This book changed the way I see my role as a wife and mom. It was convicting and challenging and edifying. It’s not a self-help book, but a very biblical and practical expounding upon Titus 2:3-5

 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled,pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Carolyn Mahaney (CJ Mahaney’s wife) breaks down these verses into 7 chapters as she works her way though this passage. Here are the chapters and a few (of the oh so many) things that I loved in each one.

1. The Delight of Loving My Husband

“Scripture’s mandate to love our husbands involves far more than merely doing household chores. We are required to love them with nothing less than a passionate, tender, affectionate kind of love.”

She also reminds us that woman was “created to be our husband’s helper (Genesis 2:18: Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.), not our children’s mother. Certainly we are to love, care for and nurture our children, but this love is to flow out of a lifestyle that is first and foremost committed to helping our husbands. Our husbands should always remain first in our hearts and in our care.”

2. The Blessings of Loving My Children

“JC Ryle offered the following admonition, ‘This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arragement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, “How will this affect their souls?”‘”

3. The Safety of Self-Control

“It is erroneous to think that if our behavior is exemplary, then it doesn’t matter how we think and feel. What we allow to govern our feelings and occupy our thoughts will sooner or later determine our behavior. Sinful thoughts and sinful feelings lead to sinful behavior.”

“We are tempted to think we don’t have time to meet with God…Meeting with God each day is a way of acknowledging that we are totally dependent  upon His grace…When we meet with God, we can find peace  in the midst of trying circumstances, an eternal perspective where we have lost sight of the truth, and power to fight our battle against sin.

4. The Pleasure of Purity        

“In Romans 13:14 we read: ‘Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.’ In response to this verse, each of us needs to ask: When, where and with whom are we most tempted to accommodate our flesh and gratify its desires?”

She also gives and expounds on “Three Principles for ‘Grade A’ Passion”: Be Attractive, Be Available and Be Anticipatory.

5.  The Honor of Working at Home

“Whenever we contemplate opportunities outside of the home, we must first consider what consequences they might have on our families…We can easily determine what we should do and how we should do it by asking ourselves: ‘What will most help my husband?'”

“‘Working at home’ means we are to function as the home manager- taking full ownership for all the domestic duties of the household.” I love this example she gives: “Imitating this woman’s model (Proverbs 31), Sarah Edwards, the wife of the eighteenth-century preacher Jonathan Edwards, managed her household with careful and thorough diligence. One day Dr. Edwards emerged from this studies and asked his wife: ‘Isn’t it about time for the hay to be cut?’ To which Sarah was able to respond, ‘It’s been in the barn for two weeks.’ Sarah created a world here her husband could fulfill his God-given duties without being concerned for the domestic tasks of the home. We should aspire to do likewise.”

6. The Rewards of Kindness

Carolyn discusses both hinderances to kindness (anger, bitterness and judging) and scripture’s solutions for them and also encourages us to be women (and gives practical ways to become) renown for praying, greeting, listening, encouraging and planning.

7. The Beauty of Submission

“In every New Testament passage that addresses the role of the wife to the husband, we find this edict to submit (Eph 5:22-24; Col 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1-5)”

“Submission was not our husband’s idea, and neither are they responsible to enforce it.”

Submission involves respect also (1 Peter 3:6). “The definition of the Greek word for ‘respect’ means to be in awe of, to revere, or to treat as someone special.’ Is that how we act towards our husbands? Do we respect them with our words, tone of voice, countenance and body language?”

 

This book taught me that at the heart of my role as a wife and mother is the gospel. Do all these things so “that the word of God may not be reviled.” (Titus 2:5)

I can’t encourage you more to read this book. She expounds so thoroughly and biblically on this text. Also, a side note: If or when you have daughters, read it with them. Teach them now what it looks like to be a godly woman. This not only prepares them for marriage, it helps prepare them in that life-changing decision of whom to marry.

God Does

Tomahawk Creek Indian Creek Trail in Kansas City

Recently we took the kids on a long bike ride along the trails in our city. Laura drags the girls in a buggy and Beckham is attached to me on a sort of half bike device. He can pedal to help move our three wheeled device or he can ride and effectively become dead weight.

While we were out the other day though he learned that Laura really liked the downhill portions of the trail. Coasting is easier than peddling. At some points when we would come to a downhill portion Beckham would shout out to his mom that he made her another downhill. He’d wave his hand and make an odd little sound and then inform mom that he had accomplished the very difficult task of making the back side of a hill.

This got me thinking because in this case it was obvious that God made the hills, we were just riding over them while Beckham took credit for something he didn’t really accomplish. I talked with Becks about this just to be certain he knew he was pretending and not actually believing he was making the downhills.

But who talks to bankers, to investors, to entrepreneurs, to pastors, to engineers, to mothers, teachers and every other profession that is dependent upon God for success? Do pastors know that their churches growing is not because of them? Do people know that it God who grows your business, who gives your team victory, who raises Godly children and grants intellectual ability to design everything that must be designed?

This is not to take away from hard work or brilliant ideas, but to remind us all to remember that God is working in every aspect of our lives. When we have success, God should be praised. When we fail, God should be treasured. When we set out to do anything do so with prayer and knowledge that God in his sovereignty may give us good success or fiasco like failure. Let us give honor to whom honor is due, (Romans 13:7), in this case, God.

Let us not forget that in all our endeavors, in all our plans, it is ultimately God working. Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

 

Woodlands Church: Oh That Christ Would Be Central.

Fellowship of Woodlands, seriously

A few years ago we visited Fellowship of the Woodlands (apparently they go by Woodlands Church now) when we were visiting Houston. They still send us advertisements and to be honest it is one of those things that breaks my heart. It’s clean, it’s safe, it’s entertaining, but it is not much of a church in the sense that Christ and the Gospel is central. I know that is judgmental, but I do believe it is a fair assessment.

So I’ll rejoice in the fact that even in this “church” God is saving people from their sin as the come to believe the Gospel. (“Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.” Philippians 1:18).

What is highly disappointing is that this “church” which has been highly successful in terms of numbers rarely speaks of Jesus and that is what we saw in this Christmas advertisement below that we received today. Notice they do encourage you to make this Christmas meaningful. Also notice that nowhere in this advertisement is the name Jesus or Christ or Bible or Gospel or Son of God or Word of God mentioned.

You are encouraged to get on the bandwagon with 40,000 other people. There will be real snow and live animals and a Winter Wonderland and even Santa’s Workshop. There will be a Powerful and Creative Christmas Celebration, but what is the point of this? It’s Spiritual Consumerism and it’s just sad. I know Redeemer has it’s flaws as well, I don’t deny that, but I am certain that Jesus Christ is who we worship and the Gospel is proclaimed and the Word of God is preached. For that I am grateful. And I pray that God would transform churches like the Woodlands into places that make Christ the center of everything, just as I pray that God would always make Redeemer more about Christ and the Gospel lived out each passing year.

 

Fellowship of Woodlands, seriouslyFellowship of Woodlands, seriouslyFellowship of Woodlands, seriously

Family Worship: Hough style

What is Family Worship?

Family worship is time set aside to love, adore, and enjoy our Heavenly Father in our homes and with our families.

Who is Family Worship for?

Everyone! If you belong to Christ, He desires us to know the joy of spending time with Him daily. While it will look different based on the ages and make up of your family it is for everyone. For children, parents, couples, singles, grandparents, empty-nesters, anyone who is a child of the King!

When and where should we have Family worship?

Do your best to schedule a regular time. Make it part of your routine. That way, everyone who participates will know when it is supposed to happen. Do it as many days as possible without making it legalistic.

Some good times are: First thing in the morning, immediately after Dinner or before bedtime.

How do we do Family Worship?

1. How do I know what to do? Use your experience on Sunday mornings to guide you in worshipping at home. The elements of worship taken from Sunday mornings into our home are call to worship, praise, prayer, and reading and learning the scriptures. Be flexible in adapting the provided guide to suit the needs of your family. Family Worship also offers the opportunity to ask questions, give prayer requests, and have discussion in ways which do not happen in corporate worship. So while Sunday morning worship will be a guide, in your home, with children worship is a bit crazier.

2. How long should it take? As short as 5 minutes or as long as 15. However, if your family loves to go longer, then go longer!

3. How do I deal with wiggly children? Make parts of Family Worship wiggly! Move while you are singing, act out the scripture reading (our children love this!). Be creative and your children will love it, ask other families for good ideas. Be sure to teach the discipline of listening, “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight,” Proverbs 4:1. Do be patient, they will wiggle, but make this a time they will enjoy.


It has really been such a sweet time for our family. Here’s a post Brian put on the Graze (RPC’s youth blog) about Family Worship.

Family Worship Binder: We made a Green Binder that contains this document (PDF) in it as a guide. It also has pictures of our extended family and other people we pray for on a weekly basis. That way the children can point to pick who they are praying for and have a visual reminder of it.

We think family worship can be intimidating, really mostly because we didn’t know where to even start. Neither of us grew up doing this with our families, so it’s all new to us. We are learning as we go, but hope some of this will help others in their desire to worship daily as a family.

Every evening looks different!

We have the “Catechism Seat” – just someplace fun to sit while you get quizzed!

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Here’s SP at two doing her’s with Momo one night and getting stuck at “doing what He commands.” Oh the irony of a 2 year old being hung up on that!

We also review their Sunday School lessons from the last week, but then we spend the majority of the week learning what they are going to be taught this Sunday. We kept all of the sheets that they get sent home from Sunday School with, so now we have a complete set and know what next week’s lesson is. Beckham has moved up now, but his teachers are always more than willing to give us the quarter’s lessons up front to help us.

We’ve found that acting the story out is the best way to get young kids to understand…and pay attention. One of us gathers “supplies” at the beginning of the week. We have a stick horse that is sometimes a horse, sometimes a donkey, swords and shields, helmets, blankets, baskets, play food, band-aids, Cheerios (when you need manna). Anything that aids in getting the point across.

This is SP as Goliath.

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And Becks as David! (aww, this is an old pic, look how little Berks is!)

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Becks after cutting off Goliath’s head.

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SP as the angel at Jesus’ tomb (the closet). Berks was just in “the tomb”

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Sometimes we recruit helpers (aka Hat has Goliath):

Before Christmas we did the Advent Tree for Family Worship

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We needed a way to distinguish God’s people from the Egyptians one night. This is what Brian came up with!

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Here’s Jericho!



Leaves and Our Sin

I love it when General Revelation illustrates Special Revelation. Last summer I saw how weeds paralleled sin in my life. I used this illustration in a sermon on Romans 8:12-16 I called Stupid Weeds. Yesterday while Laura and I were picking up leaves we once again thought to sin in our lives. Just like weeds, we also hate leaves once they leave the tree. It’s given me some deep social ethics to ponder. Such as: am I responsible for picking up all the leaves from our tree or just picking up the leaves in our yard? We have a big tree of unknown type in our front yard. It is the first to lose its leaves every year. They turn yellow, they fall and our yard looks like it is covered in golden snow. Then the wind blows, my bright yellow leaves are three houses down and since only our tree is shedding there is no doubt to whom these leaves belong. Am I to go three doors down to collect my tree’s leaves? I’ll leave you to ponder the answer to that. Our thoughts on leaves was in regard to sanctification. We know God desires that we be sanctified, which means, “to make holy.” We see that in 1 Thessalonians 4:3–5,

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;”

God desires that we be sanctified. God gives the victory in this battle; not our strength, but His. Anyway, as we raked Laura was frustrated that there were still leaves on the ground right where she had just raked. It was better, but it wasn’t perfect like she wished it was. Adding frustration to that was the continual falling of new leaves. It made the battle seem endless.

All illustrations (aside from those in Bible) breakdown and have their short comings, this one is no exception. What we did see is this:

Daily: Our battle with sin never ends, it keeps showing up, right after we battle/rake one area it comes again and we must rake/battle again. We must battle sin in our life daily.

Imperfect: Our sanctification is not perfect, it won’t be perfect until Christ returns (Spring?). As soon as we rake we see that the rake missed smaller leaves. But it’s better, the battle keeps the leaves from overtaking our yard. We can see our grass again.

Fight Now: The longer we wait to rake, the more our leaves affect those around us. Even those three doors down from us, our leaves become their leaves.

Public vs Private: This morning at breakfast a student asked if we had raked the backyard yet. We hadn’t and it was then that we realized that we raked the front yard because it was public. The neighbors see our front yard. Sin can be like that, we will battle public sin, sin that is observable by others, with greater priority than sin that can be hidden in the backyard.

Community: It was much easier to pick up the leaves when Laura and I worked together towards that same goal. Two rakes, someone to hold the bag, etc. We battle sin better in community as well.

Bad Company: Unfortunately, Beckham and Berkley showed us that having people who had a different goal in mind made our fight more difficult. We would make piles, they would jump, swim, dig, throw and skatter piles. “Bad company corrupts good morals,” 1 Corinthians 15:33.

Just a few thoughts, obviously the illustration breaks down because we power the rake and in sanctification the power is superior, it is gospel applied by the Holy Spirit. This image does gives me a desire and a hope to that day when we will dwell in glorified bodies that no longer sin. When the “not yet” becomes “now.”

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The night we were reminded we are merely mists

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

Sadie Piper got up to go the bathroom one evening and while she was in the bathroom, also got into the allergy medicine. When I walked in she was using the little cup to drink it. It was a Costco-size one and when I grabbed it from her, o how I prayed it was almost full.

It wasn’t.

It was almost empty. After two parents both panicked, I remembered Lara sent me the poison control number (that her mom sent her and told her to post on her fridge, thanks Janie!). Unfortunately, neither of us actually posted it on our fridges, but it did remind me what to do first.

Brian Googled it and here’s what comes up right away:


Thank you Google for doing that. And please, please learn from our mistakes and put this in your phone!! A lot of time could have been wasted if we had had to turn on a computer and wait, praise God we didn’t (and thank God for Macs! 🙂 )!

Poison control said to give her lots of water to dilute it and watch her closely all night. SP saw the fear in us and heard the pleading in our voices as we prayed for her and she was very compliant.

God was merciful to Sadie Piper that night, above and beyond the mercy He extends to her daily. If she had taken as much of any other allergy medicine it would have shut her body down…quickly. If I had not walked past the bathroom, she would have quietly gone back to bed and we would not have known she had it in her system.

He was merciful to us to let us keep her…for as long as He ordains we do.

We were reminded that we are invincible until God decides otherwise.

We pray we hold our children loosely before God. They are HIS. He created them and did NOT turn over ownership. We are merely stewards.

“You saw me before I was born.
      Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
   Every moment was laid out
      before a single day had passed.”

Psalm 139:16

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We were also reminded that “you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14

Practically, we also learned to ALWAYS make sure the lid is closed AND locked. This was completely my fault, I just didn’t close it all the way.

We assumed they knew better than to get into medicine, but that’s not a wise assumption at all. (SP has since had VERY serious “medicine not given to you by Mommy or Daddy will kill you” talks. They worked cause she’s scared to even touch them now!)

We are sinful and inadequate parents. We are thankful for a God who is not either of those.