The tooth of the matter

Last night my daughter lost her first tooth.  It was an exciting moment.  The tooth had been loose for quite some time.  It wobbled while she talked.  She moved it back and forth with her tongue.  It had become so loose in the last week or so that I couldn’t figure out how it was staying in her mouth at all.  But as I put her to bed last night, the weeks of anticipation finally climaxed and the tooth came out.  She was so excited.  She jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom mirror so she could look at the new gap in her smile.  She ran down stairs to show her mom.

I know it is silly, but I was a bit emotional.  I was emotional because she was so excited about it, and that was touching to me in some way.  I was emotional because it seems like just yesterday my wife and I were excited that her teeth were starting to come in and it reminded me how quickly time passes.  I was emotional because it reminded me of how temporary all of this is.

Jesus warned us about how temporary things are. In Luke 21:33 he says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away.”   Jesus was not trying to simply remind us that things won’t last forever, he was trying to direct our focus to what will.  If he had left things right there it would be a bit depressing, but he went on to say, “my words shall not pass away.”

I can get pretty sentimental about the passing of time.  So much so that a child’s tooth falling out causes me to tear up.  I think it is good to be aware of how quickly time passes. But instead of allowing it to stir up sadness in my heart, I am going to allow it to be a reminder of what is permanent and of my need for His Word.

lovely

Yesterday I heard my 3 year old daughter sing “Jesus loves me.”  I love listening to her belt out a tune.  I just stood and listened to her sing the familiar song, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…”  She was doing awesome, she had the right melody and all the right words.  The only time she had any trouble was when she got to the part that ordinarily affirms Jesus’ love and the line “yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me…” is repeated.  At that point she began to sing a less confident version, “I guess Jesus loves me, I guess Jesus loves me…”  I laughed to myself over how similar the two sound and how easily the mistake could be made.

After thinking about it for a bit, though, the mistake became less cute and more sad.  My little girl’s rendition of the song is probably a more accurate portrayal of most people’s faith in God’s love for them. As Christians we talk about God’s love a great deal.  “Smile, God loves you!”  We see it on Sunday School material, t-shirts, pencils, and bumper stickers. And it’s true, God does love you! It is easy to proclaim God’s love for someone else.  But when it comes to God loving us, we aren’t so quick on the draw.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.”  I have a theory. If the enemy can place doubts in our mind about God’s love for us, then he can keep us from genuinely loving others and God.  “We love because He first loved us.”  My love for God and others flows out of the fact that God loves me.  Once I begin to doubt God’s love for me the flow is stopped.  I am left to offer God and others my own love; a shallow love that I have to muster up and is based on my will power.  The only thing needed to short cicuit this whole flow of love is a little doubt in our own “lovability.”  Comparing yourself to others, dwelling on past mistakes or even a little false humility can be enough to raise questions in one’s mind about just how lovable they are to God.  No matter how it gets in, once it is in, doubt will rob you of  enjoying the fact that God loves YOU. It will also keep you from being able to respond to His love by loving Him in return and loving others. However, we have authentic, genuine, overflowing love to share when, in faith, we confidently accept that, “yes, Jesus loves me.

Why do I love? Because He first loved ME!

defrag

Have you ever felt fragmented?   I have.  It feels like you are divided into a hundred different roles? (parent, spouse, sibling, friend, employee, student, neighbor, co-worker, home owner…..)

Each role carrying it’s own set of obligations and responsibilities; pay the mortgage, register the car, call the insurance company, when is our anniversary again? mow the yard, get groceries, file taxes, what’s going on at my kid’s school?

This was one of those mornings for me.  I felt so overwhelmed with all that I need to get done  that I didn’t even know which direction my first step should be in.

I like simple.  Life, however, seems to trend towards the complex.  I am thankful that when life works itself up into a frenzy, my ultimate purposes are spelled out clearly and simply.  Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”  When I start to feel fragmented, verses like this one offer the clarity that I need.  Whether I am taking care of things at work, spending time with my kids or mowing my lawn my purposes are the same; be just, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, 
 what God is looking for in men and women.
 It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, 
and don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.” Micah 6:8 – The Message

sow what?

I am about to head to the local greenhouse and select some plants and seeds for my garden.  This year’s garden will include cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, carrots, and lettuce.  The bulk of the space in my garden will be dedicated to my absolute favorite though, hot peppers!   I eat them on almost everything.  I will can some and freeze some and try to ration them out so I can eat them all year long.  Right now I am dangerously low.  I only have 1 jar left of last year’s peppers, but I have a plan.

This year I will plant more hot peppers because I want more hot peppers.  There is a direct correlation between how much I plant and how much I end up harvesting.  Pretty simple, right? It is a very obvious  relationship when discussing gardening but we sometimes lose site of this truth in other areas of our lives.  Besides holding true in my desire and quest for more peppers, it also holds true in my spiritual life.  What I sow will determine what I reap and how I sow will determine how I reap it.

Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

2 Corinthians 9:6 “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

I will invest more money, time, and energy in one area of my garden so that my harvest will be greater in that same area.

What would you like to harvest? Get sowing!