Sermon Seeds: It Starts At Home

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The other day Asher and I went through the drive through at Burger King after school. This restaurant only uses their front window. The back window serves no real purpose—except for a glimpse into the inner workings.

As we waited in line, we watched a young man pealing and preparing onions. He didn’t appear to be enjoying the job. He grimaced as he pealed and sliced.

My heart went out to him. I’m not a fan of onion pealing, either.

But I love the image when it applies to understanding scripture. I relish the opportunities to pull back the outer (obvious) layers to discover the deeper meanings so I can come closer to the heart of God.

Looking at this text has pushed me to do that.

My online research seemed mired in studies that barely scraped the surface. The messages and commentary revealed a free-for-all of “Listen up, Kiddo, and do what your parents tell you.”

That can’t be the only reason.

Keep in mind these commands were given as God was seeking to develop the identity and community of his chosen people. The Spirit of the Law is God protecting and growing his people.

So God starts by making sure his people have laid the groundwork in their relationship: no other gods, no idols, carrying his name well, and resting in him. This fifth command is the transition from focus on their vertical relationship with him to the outer-workings of their relationships with others.

And it all begins at home.

The home is the place where we need to learn how to live and deal with others. Our relationship with our parents is a reflection of our relationship with God, and with authority in general.

The question that inevitably rises comes in the form of an objection or excuse: “But you don’t know how crumby my parents were.” “My dad left—I don’t have a father to honor.”  “My mom is just a drug abusing whore.”

I get it. My parents were alcoholics—albeit functioning, but complete with all the baggage that goes with. I grew up with the emotional uncertainty and the psychological scars.

In college, and later during my years of Clinical Pastoral Education, I came to realize God provided godly men and women who stood in the gap for me when my parents couldn’t. Some of them appeared as Girl Scout Leaders, or the parents of friends. Others were the spiritual leaders of Choirs and Folk Groups, and youth leaders at church.

And here, my friends, where the Church needs to perk up its ears—especially in our world today. Now, as much or more than ever, the church needs to lean in and live out the instruction to care for the widows and orphans. They are all around us and our responsibility is clear: we are family and we need accept the responsibility of getting this right.

May it never be said of the church: I have no spiritual fathers or mothers there.

There is no honor in that at all.

Book Review: Two Mothers And Their 60-Year Secret

Family secrets. What family doesn’t have them?

The secret in this family in many ways went to the graves with the women who made the promise never to tell. The story begins with an unwed pregnancy that was the answer to someone else’s prayers. Both women agreed to never speak of the arrangement they had made.

This is the story of one woman’s journey to discover her DNA, but resulted in so much greater a blessing. The journey takes many turns, and appears to often come to an end. It is not a quick journey, there are several detours and shut-downs along the way.

The book is not long and is written in a very engaging way. I can see how it would be a great encouragement to anyone on this kind of quest. All the way through, the author describes how her faith enabled her to persevere while she waited for answers and trusted when no answers were available.

I appreciated the pictures that the author included at the end of the book. It was like putting faces to friends. And it was particularly encouraging to see the smiles and obvious love experienced by all.

I would recommend this book.

You can purchase the book here
for your Kindle.

You can purchase the book here
in paperback.

I received a copy of this book to read and review.

Advent 4: Family

One of the things that has always bothered me about the Christmas story is the whole “no room in the inn” thing.

Because of the census, Joseph takes Mary to Bethlehem. The image I always got was that they arrived after dark. I had this image of a family pulling into a town on vacation needing a place to stay.

Then one Christmas it dawned on me: Joseph took Mary to his hometown, the town where his family originated. So if you go to the town where family is why would you be looking for an inn? Wouldn’t you just go to cousin Samuel’s house and bunk down there? I mean, come on. Picture it: Joseph and his obviously very pregnant wife roll into town–you would think that someone would at least let them crash in a corner of the living room.

But no. And I began to wonder why. And then I wondered if it was because of his very expectant wife. Joseph could have dismissed Mary and probably should have in the eyes of his family. He got himself into this mess, let him take care of it.

Family. We do some pretty odd and even hurtful things to one another. There is so much talk about dysfunctional families these days that I sometimes wonder what a functional family really looks like.

As I have read the story of God’s people in the Word, I have found many stories of fractured families. I think of Moses, Abraham, Joseph and his brothers, Jacob and Esau, David and his brothers, and then David and his children. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Throughout each of these situations I see God working to try and restore relationships. We were created for relationship–with God and with each other.

What a gift it would be and what joy we could find if in this season of Advent we would mind the heart of God and seek to restore broken relationships, whether they are in our family or amongst our friends. Or maybe in the family we call the church.

No one should have to sleep in a barn when family is nearby. Let’s allow the God’s love and grace to remove the dysfunction so we can better function relationally and bring honor and glory to him.

Thanksgiving Thanks

I’m full of thanks for family, food, and football. I’m thankful that my daughters and grandchildren will be in my home today. I’m thankful that I am married to a man who loves to cook and is really, really good at it. And it goes without saying how happy I am to enjoy football with my family.

I’m blessed. I know it and I’m thank-full.

Day 8: Thankyouverymuch

Funny thing happened on the way to the blog post…I sat at my computer, hands on keyboard, fingers primed to type out my thoughts, and…I suddenly was overwhemed with gratitude. The very thought of pick one thing to be thankful for this morning seemed utterly absurd. There was litterally a flood of things that came to mind. So just awash in the awareness of how blessed my life is. And to top it off…I was awakened over an hour early by the dogs needing an emergency potty run. That might have set the course of my day into a downward spiral, but instead I have been most productive: in housework, administrative necessities, and writing. I’m really quite into it and don’t want to stop, but I have an appointment to get my teeth cleaned (another not favorite thing in my life, and yet I find myself grateful even for this).

Here are a pics that make me smile…just things that came to mind this morning…things I am thankful for:

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<img src="Saying Goodbye” alt=”” />

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And with that, I’m off to the dentist and to get my replacement driver’s lisence. TTFN

A Letter to My Daughter

Today my older daughter turns 30. Still struggling to wrap my brain around that one. As I thought about that, I remembered her birth day and wrote her a letter…

Hi.
Last night I was thinking about you, about your birthday, and about your birth day. You so didn’t want to come out! You were late. The doctor decided since I was having serious bronchitis that it was time to induce. They hooked me up to a pitosin drip around 4:30 in the afternoon and then broke my water about 6:15PM.

At that time the hospital in Norwalk didn’t have birthing rooms. The labor and delivery area was set up with around 8 beds, separated by curtains—no real privacy. I decided right there and then that I wasn’t going to be screaming or yelling during delivery.

Since it was Monday night, your dad and I decided to watch one of our favorite shows, ‘That’s Incredible.’ I will never forget that because that night they had a story on there about a woman in a Central American country who had over 50 children. There were several multiple births, but even still, I struggled to imagine it. But I sure wasn’t going to follow in her footsteps.

The only other show I remember was some war movie your dad was watching that I finally got him to change off of because I couldn’t stand the noise of the gun fights or all the blood.

The only “assistance” I got was a pain shot, not an epidural. It didn’t help much. At around 4:00AM I wanted to start pushing, but wasn’t cervix wasn’t ready, so it was like you were just banging your head. It’s why your poor little head was so bruised. You looked like a really ripe peach. I felt so bad.

Finally, at 8:42AM you made your appearance. You were the biggest baby in the nursery. Everyone loved your chubby cheeks. You were also one of the best babies in the nursery. Instantly you made me the proud Mama!

The way the OB dept. was set up I had to share a room. The lady I shared the room with got a big kick out of telling people she was sharing the room with a minister. She had her baby by c-section and she weighed around 7lbs. One time when they brought us our babies they tried to give me her baby, as if I wouldn’t know my baby. I had memorized everything about you. No one could have slipped one up on me.

The other thing I remember is just sitting in my bed and talking, singing, and praying over you. And weeping, tears of joy and thankfulness. I felt so blessed. And I still do.

I don’t know how you are 30. I don’t feel old enough for you to be that old. But I treasure each year we’ve had together and hope we get 30 more. We’ll carry on the scrabble tradition, games, laughter, and lots and lots of love.

Love you tremendously and fiercely #1,
MMMT (Stands for Mom, Mom, Mom, Tina–I’m not always the easiest person to get the attention of…)