Posts Tagged: Children

A Pitch-Back Baseball Training Aid, The Sabbath, & the Happiest Moment of My Day!

A story that leads to the happiest moment of my day:

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After much pleading I bought Dayton a pitch back baseball training aid today. He said he wanted it because he wanted “to practice [his] baseball catching.”

It was $20, so on the condition, my exact words, “he practice EVERY SINGLE DAY” I bought it.

Well I have to say I was impressed immediately after I put it together; he & his little brother spent close to an hour playing with it.

Then after dinner outside (we live in California 😉 ), he spent another hour practicing.

It was during this second stint of practice as I was sitting at the computer working on something and watching the boys through the window that I saw Dayton suddenly stop and he came running into the house.

Dayton ran up to me baseball mitt and ball in hand–I noticed a concerned, maybe even distressed look on his face and then these words flowed out of his mouth,

“Daddy I will practice all the other days I promise; but I don’t want to practice baseball on the Sabbath.”

I smiled gently though inside I was absolutely beaming!

I said, “Dayton I think that is a good idea. Thank you for correcting & reminding me.”

He got a big ‘ole smile on his face and ran back outside to play some more.

He made a deal with his Dad, he was concerned about breaking the deal, but he was willing to do it for his convictions on the Sabbath. Even though I would have told him I didn’t mean Sabbath too, he didn’t know that. All he knew was that he told his Dad he would practice every day, but then his little 5 year old mind remembered that he had a more important Dad that asked him to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy…” And to Dayton without anyone prompting him, practicing baseball and keeping Sabbath holy didn’t jive and so he had to break the deal with me. His face showed this concerned him, but his convictions were more important.

He didn’t ask, he said, “”Daddy I will practice all the other days I promise; but I don’t want to practice baseball on The Sabbath.”

Sorrows & Grief

Tonight as I was snuggling with my two year old son, Landon, & we were going through our usual routine, “Daddy snuggle me just 2 more minutes,” and ultimately me conceding at least once or twice, the thought suddenly popped into my head,

“How am I going to handle it when a girl someday breaks this kids heart?”

Random! I know!

But there it was, a dreadful thought! I began to remember when I got my heart broken. I was a Sophomore in college, I got a phone call, if there is such a thing as “Dear John” phone calls that was it…I was dumped. I didn’t see it coming & I was heart broken. It was close to 1 a.m., but one of the first things I did was call my parents. My mom answered, I could tell I woke-her-up. “Mom,” I sputtered, “Chad what’s wrong?” “Mom, (Name withheld for protection since this individual may never want to admit to dating me:)) just broke-up with me!” I said through sobs.

Landon is two, he won’t even date for 15 years, but I found myself saddened at just the thought of that potential call.

And maybe it’s because I’m a preacher, but everything turns into a Spiritual nugget; & this was no exception.

Because while I was pondering and sorrowing over my two year old son’s future heart break at the hands of some woman whom fails to see how awesome he is! 🙂

This text popped into my mind,

“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” –Isaiah 53:3

And suddenly I understood it differently.

In the past I have seen this sorrow and this grief directly related to the emotional and physical torment Jesus personally went through on this earth; and maybe that is still what this text is primarily saying.

But tonight as a Dad worrying about his son’s hypothetical heartbreak and the ensuing phone call I will receive at 1 in the morning, I saw Jesus as sorrowful and grief stricken because He loves me so much that every hurt I have, He intimately felt and feels.

Before I had kids I never saw anything sorrowful or even painful about the life of a toddler. Now my heart hurts when I see my kids wounded physically and emotionally. I’m a man of sorrows & acquainted with the griefs of toddlers because I love them so much!

And one day if we are still on this planet, I will be sorrowful & grief stricken for pre-adolescent children, and then I will feel the sorrow & grief of teenagers, I will feel the sorrow & grief of getting dumped…not because I’ve been dumped…but because I have a son that has received that “Dear John” phone call.

Jesus loves me more than I love my kids, no wonder He is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; when my heart breaks, His heart breaks.

My Mom got me through that phone call, but I later learned that when she hung-up her and my Dad shed a few tears of their own.

Why?

Because that is the essence of loving parents, our sorrow is their sorrow, our grief is their grief.

Our sorrow is His sorrow. Our grief is His grief.

We Can’t Change For Our Kids

If I’m honest I believed that when I had kids there would be certain things I would just stop doing, and certain things I would automatically start doing. Why? Because haven’t you heard, “kids change everything.”

While in many ways that is true, “kids do change everything,” there are many ways in which folk think their kids will change things, but ultimately, “Kids have changed nothing.”

Before I was a parent I said, “once I have kids we will have family worship every day.” Well I’ve had kids for four years now, and we don’t have family worship every day. We do read our boys individually the Bible each night, and we do pray with them many times throughout the day, but sitting down as a family unit for worship on a daily basis consistently, it hasn’t happened.

I’ve heard future parents say, “I’ll quit drinking,” “I’ll quit smoking,” “I’ll go to church regularly” etc., “once I have kids.” But I’ve discovered in so many cases like my example above, it usually doesn’t happen.

Grandparents will say, “I think you’ll see our kids a lot more involved in church once they have children of their own.” And yet so often this isn’t the case.

Why?

Because if a person is waiting for a kid in their life to change them, more often than not they aren’t going to change, at least not drastically!

If I could give expecting parents or folk that are contemplating having children one day a little advice: If you want to be different for your kids, then CHANGE NOW!

You see ultimatley kids can’t change us, we are inherently selfish, impatient, angst ridden individuals. Yes kids can temper those things some, but they can’t ultimately change us.

There is only one source of change and that is through Jesus Christ–

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,” –Titus 3:3-6

It is not through a relationship with our children that any of us will be saved or changed, but through a relationship with Jesus our Savior.

Even if a person “changes” for the sake of their kids, if these “changes” are simply in the context of having children then these changes are deceiving and of no ultimate value. They are prosthetic changes

If the premise of an individuals changes are “their children” then that is not a change that is lasting it is in fact the height of hypocrisy.

The term hypocrite in the Bible came from the Greek word “hypokrites” which was an individual that was an actor, “playing a role” for another. 

Isn’t a parent that sets standards and goes through the motion of being involved in church and practicing certain Judeo-Christian principles simply for the good of their children without truly embracing them in their own hearts are they not playing a role? Hypokrites? Actors?

How many parents have raised children being involved, active in the church, setting high standards in their homes, only to see their children go off to college or begin their own adult lives and those same parents are no longer involved in church, no longer practicing the standards they had practiced while raising their children? Was the change then through Jesus or the children, and if it was through the children then couldn’t we term that hypocrisy–playing a role for another?

And then the question has to be asked what is being communicated to the adult children, when the parents that had rasied them one way are living a completely different way? They’ll think their parents have changed, but the more probable reality is that their parents were never truly “changed from the inside out.”

I’m discovering in myself that I can’t change for my kids, nor can my kids change me. If I do change in these ways then it is just hypocrisy, it is what Jesus described to the pharisees as a whitewashed tomb, “beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Mt. 23:27)

Potential parents…

Expecting parents…

Parents of young children…

Parents of teenagers…

Parents of adult children…

Grandparents…

                             Let us all change…

                                                            Not for our kids…

                                                                                         Because we love Jesus!

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.” -1 Corinthians 16:13, 14

Los Banos Is Blessed

Well I never thought it would be so, but Los Banos will always have a special place in my heart! It is a place I’ve passed through many times with not much thought, other than this is a good place to go to the bathroom 🙂 But September 17, 2012 it became the birthplace of my third son (no name at this time).

We had gone to Gilroy Gardens for my oldest son Dayton’s 4th birthday. Dayton’s birthday is actually October 2nd, but since Christina’s due date was October 6th we decided to do a family birthday outing early. And a great family day we had!!! My parents, Christina’s parents, of course our boys, and one of our nieces, enjoyed a nice full day.

Then as we were heading over Pacheco Pass from Gilroy back towards the 99 & home Christina informed me, “my contractions are 4 minutes apart.” She then began to search on her iphone and said, “the hospital in Los Banos has a birthing center.”

And so 1 day shy of three weeks early on September 17 @ 1:22 in the morning our third beautiful boy was born and Los Banos is forever a blessed place!

(I noticed they have a population of over 35,000 people here and just one Adventist church of 200. Maybe we’ll have to help plant a church here someday as a thank you! :))

Our boy weighed in at 7 lb he measures 21 inches. The lightest and the tallest of our boys at birth.

He was quick to eat and quick to pee, all good signs.

We don’t have a name yet, after all we were supposed to have another three weeks.

But whatever his name becomes we know that:

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the sons of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;” –Psalm 127:3-5a

Please pray for all of our sons Dayton soon to be 4, Landon 2, & Baby Boy Stuart #3 may they all be mighty warriors in the hands of their Savior!

Thank you Los Banos, the bathroom stop, for now being a blessed stop in our journey of life!

The Ark Kids

The Greatest Evangelists of the Ark (our church plant) have been…

Oh What a Mom!

“The mother is a teacher, and to a great extent she moulds the character of her children.” (Ellen White, Signs of the Times, July, 1889).

The Porn Pandemic

We have a porn pandemic in this country! 12% of all websites on the internet are pornography. There is so much of it the government is making a listing for it, like .com, .org, .tv, there is now .xxx. Many people of older generations are oblivious to this crisis, but it is a crisis: 90% of children ages 8-16 have viewed porn. I personally wished I could have even made it to the age of 8! I was first exposed to pornography by a drunk, now deceased adult that thought it would be funny to show me graphic pornography at the age of 4. 30 years later I have no other media images in my head from that time of my life, but those still exist! Why? Because porn is evasive and corrosive to the mind!

There are those in our society that say Porn is no big deal, they even take the position well pretty much all males look at porn so “don’t worry about it”. Well I would have to say on one part of that I agree, I believe most men at one point or another have viewed pornography, but the majority does NOT determine morality. From my personal world view the scriptures determine morality:

“Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.” –Romans 13:13

We are told to walk properly and that walking properly includes avoiding LUST. Well for those of you that may not know porn is a breeding ground for LUST! There are many other texts throughout the Bible that admonish allowing our minds to be filled with lustful thoughts and yet when individuals view porn, that is indeed the singular purpose.

Porn is a pandemic! But it goes beyond porn! Our society is a sexually saturated society!  In the old days the idea was protect your kids from all sexual images, now we must simply train our kids to avoid the worst of those images (i.e. 12-17 year old boys are the largest consumers of porn), because it is absolutely impossible for them not to see a billboard, a magazine ad, etc..

I remember I was about 7 years old, we were visiting some friends that had two older daughters. They were probably in their late teens, maybe even college age. On this occasion I happened to walk into a room where one of them was changing. She wasn’t naked, she was in pants and had a bra on, but I remember it being a huge deal, and getting yelled at. Why? Because to see a girl in her unmentionables was not appropriate for any man that was not her husband.

Well times sure have changed! My sons or their dad can’t walk through the mall without being exposed to Victoria Secrets (not so secret really), Abercrombie, Fredericks of Hollywood. Now as an adult I understand the need to avert my eyes to look away, but as a 3 or 4 or 5 year old boy that is probably a much more difficult thing to do.

My oldest boy often times when he is with me will point out blondes and say, “Daddy they look like Mommy” (even when they don’t at all, but the hair color is the same). We drive to Fresno and there is a billboard of a strip joint with a blonde on it…I always try to distract him with the trains on the other side because I don’t want him seeing the advertisement for the strip club, and saying, “she looks like Mommy.” I don’t want that image in his head.

Because, yes those images are bad too! You see we’ve begun to worry so much about graphic pornography that we’ve not realized the tempting images in our own homes. Images that are in your every day magazines and on your TV’s that the men in your home (although we shouldn’t just put the pandemic on men: 1-6 women struggle with a porn addiction), and your children are seeing these images and these images can be just as addictive to a young or an already susceptible mind. As a child we didn’t have pornography in our house, we didn’t have a computer where I could find porn, we didn’t have cable TV that I might “happen” upon it, but we did have Victoria Secret Catalogs and Cosmo magazine, etc.. Nothing that most would give any mind to, but they were for me dangerous ground.

Can I suggest to all families out there that you get rid of even those little things in your home! For my parents they didn’t know I had seen porn at such a young age, they didn’t know that I was already struggling with those things early in life…you just didn’t share stuff like that…I am sure there are many parents out there that don’t know the fight their children and or there spouses have to control their minds, and these small little things don’t help.

Early in our marriage I made a comment to Christina about it not being good for me to see even those Victoria Secret catalogs. I know that my wife has bought things from Victoria Secrets and I know when you buy something there you often get the catalog, and I know we used to get the catalog. But can I tell you since I told Christina that these images weren’t good for me 6 plus years ago, I have never seen a catalog or anything like it in our home. If she gets them she must throw them out! I am appreciative to my wife for that. Which leads me to some steps that we can all take in dealing with this pandemic.

First while we are on the topic. Women, although sometimes it needs to be men as well, help to protect your husbands (or wives for men)! How can you do this? Well most women I know, especially in the church world hate the thought of their husbands looking at porn and yet in the movies they watch, in the TV shows they watch, in the magazines they have around the home, they are desensitizing the mind to being open to such things. The male mind that is already susceptible due to exposure in the past, will have a hard time NOT having these things be triggers in their lives for further and darker actions.

Women can also help their husbands, by not treating them like pariahs if they do struggle. Something I have learned about sin through the years, when buried it has more time for the roots to grow so that later it sprouts a destructive weed! We bury things because we are embarrassed and are scared that we will not be loved if we share our challenges. So wives and or husbands love your spouse in a way that they will feel they can be open and honest not just with this struggle, but in all struggles.

Protect your children! Both parents. No computers in places that are not in a public setting! No TV’s in rooms. Let me tell you why real quick on this one with a story from my childhood. Let me start by saying I believe the devil wants to destroy our kids! And he’ll do whatever he can to try and expose our kids to dangerous and damaging things. Between the ages of 12 to about 15 I had a TV in my room. Now we didn’t have anything by that time but basic cable. No premium channels, no extras just the basic network stations, and a few extra channels like USA and Prime Ticket (to watch my Lakers:)). Anyway one night late I was flipping through to get to Nick at Nite, I loved the old shows, “The Many Loves of Doby Gillis”, “My Three Sons”, “The Patty Duke show,” etc. And as I am flipping there is a fuzzy channel, but immediately something catches my eye I notice through the fuzz a naked woman…

Well I couldn’t see her very well, but do you want to bet that I went back and checked that channel on several occassions. Only to find fuzz everytime, until one night…there was a perfectly clear picture, porn! And for three or so nights I had free graphic porn. I honestly believe with all my heart the devil made that happen! And for that reason alone, my kids will never have TVs in their rooms. You may say, “that is overreacting, or what are the odds really?” Well with the devil the odds for the bad increase dramatically! He wants our kids!

Encourage your children to be honest with you and also to feel that they can say and share ANYTHING. When i was shown porn at the age of 4 by an adult. And when in my early teen years an older woman watched porn with me. No one ever said to me, “DON’T TELL ANYONE ABOUT THIS.” I was never given that admonition. I just instinctively knew it was wrong and therefore kept my mouth shut. It takes a very strong and CLOSE relationship for your kids to be able to break through those natural barriers and share. So please, build those relationships with your kids! And when they do share something, don’t blow it off as no big deal, it is a big deal to them or they wouldn’t have shared it! And also don’t overreact like it is the end of the world. If your kid tells you that they saw porn on the computer and you run over yank it out of the wall and smash it to bits on the ground, they probably aren’t going to share next time! Oh and don’t start bawling profusely! Waterworks don’t help kids share either!

For those like me that have experienced levels of abuse or maybe just by their own doing have exposed themselves to stuff like this and now it has a hold on them. It may be necessary to seek help! That is OKAY! It is not weakness to need help. I am a very strong, strong believer in Therapists, Counselors, Psychologists, etc.. Get help! And I am one that personally believes it is better to get help from a professional than to just have your buddy or even your spouse help you. Why? Because with a buddy or a spouse there is always that temptation to “hide” or to make yourself “look better than you are.”

And for all of us, I believe the greatest help in this pandemic is Jesus! We need to spend less time in the things of the world and more time doing the things of God. Not as a way to escape or deny our problems, but as an avenue by which to reshape and rehabilitate our minds.

I recently was speaking with an individual that had been battling this issue for decades. But finally over the last several years there has been a level of victory. You know what they told me finally did it, that they just began to spend inordinate (at least inordinate to their previous history) amounts of time just falling in love with Jesus through the study of the Bible and prayer.  Getting rid of things they used to watch and do, instead giving that time fully to Jesus, His work, and His Word.

The Bible tells us this,

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” –Psalm 119:11

We can’t simply take something out of our lives, we must fill that gap with something else. So fill your brains with the Word of God. Memorize scripture, hide it in your heart; allow God to provide a level of protection, healing, and victory that ultimately can only come through Him!

In closing I want to say to folk out there that may struggle with this pandemic! Jesus loves you this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong they are WEAK, but HE is STRONG! Yes Jesus loves you, yes Jesus loves you, yes Jesus loves you, the Bible tells me so!

You may hate yourself and see yourself as awful. But what I read in the Bible and what I have experienced in my life (as one that walks with the definite limp of sin) Jesus loves you and sees you as His beautiful and glorious child. He already died for you on the cross, accept that gift and let Him work out the junk in your life in His way, in His time!

If you are someone that is a member of my church, I want you to know as well. Your sin whether this or any other doesn’t matter to me, you are still welcome and loved at our church! I hate all sin, not just the secret ones! I hate sin because I love the people I see these sins destroying. So please be a part of the family, don’t hide, let us love you, pray for you, and journey with you!

Thanks for reading y’all. Let us all pray that through the power of God we will fight the good fight and finish the race.

 

 

 

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