Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring's Stage

The morning is still- a scent of promise in the air. Under a canopy of blue skies birds chorus, and flit, and fly. They dip and dive, high on the wing, carrying twigs and feathers and leaves. Do they know it is spring? The stage is set...the scenery is prepared. The backdrops are ready. The props are in place. The robin holds the baton. Ta da! Let the play begin! Spring...the season of new life, where dramas of nest building and bulb blooming and tree budding begin to unfold on Earth's stage. And the director of this drama watches and smiles, because there is always something new to be seen.
Are you busy, like the birds? What new thing are you working on? Are you spring cleaning? Painting? Replacing windows? Tidying the yard? Getting highlights? Buying a new outfit? Losing weight?
Spring is hard work. But we are not the only ones who are busy. Behind the scenes, God is at work in us and for us, yearning to make all things new. Every morning we meet, every day we walk through, every moment we encounter, God is at work, renewing, replenishing, spring cleaning on the inside- making us new. For us, the season of spring comes not just once a year, but every single day.

Click here for an object lesson for children on how God Loves Making Us New.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Real Enemy...

My brother's cups of tea tasted great, but he had one annoying habit. He used to fill that cup until it was absolutely overflowing. I couldn't carry it from counter to table because hot tea would spill from the edges and onto the floor. It was as if he had no concept of when to stop pouring. He must have learned that from God.
I think about God, standing in heaven's kitchen, holding a gigantic pitcher, from which pours a never ending supply of love, and forgiveness, and joy, and hope, to all those who are willing to bring their cups to the table. And therein lies the problem. In order for us to be filled with God's best, we must bring an empty cup. But mine is already full...of fear, or anxiety, or confusion, or busyness. And aren't they the real enemies at the table? When I am filled with those things, it leaves me no room for anything else.
And this is what I learn...we cannot teach our children how to come to the table emptied of the world's worries, and ready to be filled with God's greatness, if we do not know how to do that ourselves. But if we can learn that secret, then what a feast we will share! We will sit at a table where our enemies are conquered, and where the host is One who has no concept of when to stop pouring.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies
You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Psalm 23: 5

Monday, April 15, 2013

Are Smartphones Really Smart?

For the longest time I resisted the temptation to own a smartphone. Despite the recommendations of my children, my colleagues, the television, and the billboards I passed every day, I was happy with my chunky little flip phone. I didn't understand the word 'app' or know the difference between a smartphone and an iPhone. But now that I carry a smartphone in my pocket, I don't know how I ever lived without one. Suddenly, the world is at my fingertips. I no longer have to wait until I get home to check my email. I don't need to carry a camera around my neck, a map book in my car, or a stack of coupons that I clipped from the newspaper. My smartphone does it all. That little gadget is my constant companion... I carry it wherever I go...and I am not the only one- the world is carrying smartphones too.
But as clever as the GPS on my smartphone is, it cannot guide me to heaven. As fast as I can get my questions answered by searching Google, it cannot give me the answers I crave by searching God. And so I have to find a way to carry God in my pocket too, to keep God as accessible as my smartphone, and to rely on God as much as I rely on that little gadget. And as technology advances, we have to find a way to encourage our children to do the same. Imagine how much difference it would make in the world if we pulled a Bible out of our pockets as often as we pull out our phones...or turned to God in prayer rather than turned to Google. Smartphones are only smart if we can sometimes turn them off, and turn to God instead.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Power of a Pine Cone

The longer I share my home with a two year old the more I am beginning to understand what Jesus meant when he said Unless you become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Xander, my little grandson, has the ability to laugh at absolutely nothing and to take pleasure in even the tiniest details of the world around him. He wakes up laughing- ready to dive into a new day filled with wonder and beauty. He is enchanted by the simplest of things: the sound of his cereal popping as the milk is poured, the sight of tiny insignificant sticks strewn all over the lawn, the sound of a sneeze, or the feel of dry oatmeal as he lifts it and watches if fall through his fingers. When we are out walking, it is Xander who spots the bird on the roof, or the cat asleep in the window. He sees every pine cone on the floor and laughs hysterically when the ones we have collected do a dance in the tray of his stroller as we bump up and down the pavement. And it is these little things, these tiny things, that fill him with so much joy and leave me wondering how I became so blind to beauty.
Pause today. Notice the beauty all around. Look into the eyes of a child and wonder at the world together... because when we can look at the world through their eyes, we must surely be seeing a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven.