On Missing and Being Missed

I haven’t written extensively about it here, but over the last ten weeks or so, I have been laid up with pain from a pinched nerve in my back.  For the last two-and-a-half months, I have been virtually bed-ridden.  I have missed church, missed work, missed birthdays, and missed normal day-to-day interaction outside of my immediate family.  Through it all, God has proven himself gracious, sufficient and always in control.  That, however, is a post for another day.

This is not a post about the pain or the missed time, this is a post about going back.  You see, Sunday was my first real day back at church teaching God’s kids.  Of all the things I missed while I was laid up, teaching children’s ministry and running games in AWANA were at the top of my list, and I couldn’t wait to get back to doing both.  More than even that though, I was looking forward just to getting back into active community with those I minister alongside and those who are part of my local church.

But, something happened this weekend that really struck me.  I attend a fairly large church (around 2,000 people), and I was absolutely taken aback by the number of people who approached me to ask how I was doing and see if I was feeling better.  What astounded me even more than that was the number of them that I didn’t even really know personally.  Even more astounding yet were the number of kids (from Kindergarten through Fifth grade) who came up to me to tell me that they had missed me and that they were glad I was back.  Many even asked how my back was doing.  It really was heart warming for me to see and feel how God’s community works and cares for one another.

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My 2010 Reading List

Inspired by Kenny Conley (as always), and his post “My 2010 Reading List,” I thought I would put together my own reading list for 2010.  I love to read, but I tend to go through stages throughout the year.  There are months where all I read is my Bible, and there are period where I read insatiably.  I usually have many books going at the same time. I hope to accomplish two things by posting it here:

  1. It will help me to organize my thoughts and have a plan for what I intend to read; and
  2. I hope it will help to ease my wife’s concern that I continue to buy tons and tons of books and never read them.  See, honey, I have a plan!

So, here is what I plan to be reading in 2010:

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Happy Birthday to Me!

BirthdayToday is my birthday (yesterday by the time you are reading this).  I turned 37 years old.  Now, I’m not much of a birthday person.  I don’t tend to make a big deal about my birthday, but I started to think about where I am in my life these days.  As I started to put two and two together, I realized that this year marks a couple of milestones:

  1. I will have been married 10 years this coming September.
  2. Next year will be my 20th High School reunion.
  3. I graduated from The Ohio University 15 years ago this past June – Go Bobcats!
  4. We are starting to experience the “lasts” in our family as my youngest son turned two this summer.
  5. My oldest son reaching the legal driving age this past June – pray for us.
  6. I have been part of God’s family for roughly 6 ½ years now and actively involved in a church for about five of those.

I don’t mind getting older – really!  I figure age is a sign of experience and maturity, and I have the grey hair to prove it these days.  I actually got a hair cut on my birthday, and I was struck by exactly how much gray hair fell to the ground during that process. Anyhow, when I started to look back on where I’ve come from and where I am these days, a couple of birthday observations came to mind which I thought I would share with you all:

  1. I am old enough now and know enough to know that I still have a lot to learn.
  2. Other than the Bible, I have found that God teaches me more about himself and my relationship with him through my children and the children I work with at church than in any other way.
  3. I used to focus on my kids to the detriment of my marriage.  Now I realize that focusing on my marriage in the greatest gift that I can give my kids.
  4. 37 Candles creates quite a light and a fire hazard!
  5. When I first started to investigate Christianity, God put me in a great Bible believing and teaching church which didn’t have all the trapping I associated with what I would have called “blind sheep” at the time.  There was no worship music (rarely anyhow), there was no formal membership, and the teachings were done more in the form of lectures than preaching.  It was exactly what I needed at the time.  I think anything else would have scared me away.  We have since left that church and are now part of another Bible believing and teaching church.  This one, however, is a little bit different.  There is worship music before every celebration, and it is one of the most edifying things I do every week.  We also recently became members of the church – the first time in my life I have ever been a member of a church.  As I look back, I am amazed at how God works in the little things and the details.  The things I now cherish as a maturing Christian probably would have scared me a way in the beginning, and God put me in exactly the right place at the right time!
  6. Now that I have four kids of my own, I have a deeper appreciation for what my Dad had to do to raise me and my three brothers by himself for years.
  7. Kids have a way of keeping you humble.  It’s hard to be proud when you’re wiping a poopy butt.
  8. When things don’t turn out the way we want them to, we should accept that God knows what is best for us and look forward to what he has planned.
  9. Loving our kids means that they will not always be happy with us.
  10. The saying “it is more blessed to give than receive” applies to a lot more than Christmastime and a lot more than presents.
  11. Time is precious, and we should be careful not to waste a second.
  12. I used to live by the mantra that “You can do anything you put your mind to.”  Now I live by Matthew 19:26 – “With God all things are possible.”  He has a lot better track record than I do!
  13. I don’t mind being 37, but I find that I don’t really think of myself as being that old.  Somehow, in my own mind, I’m still 26 or 27.
  14. I am still divesting myself of boxes full of stuff from back when I tried to find happiness in things rather than in God.
  15. As a parent, one of the most satisfying moments in life comes when your kids are getting along and helping one another.
  16. Every breath and every birthday is given to us by the grace of God!
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Dear God…You Rock! Amen!

This is the prayer my two year old says every night before he goes to be.  It’s actually kind of a second prayer as his bedtime prayer usually goes something like:

Thank you Jesus for this day.  Amen. You Rock. Amen.

I don’t specifically remember teaching it to him.  I may have at some point, but he has adopted it as his standard way of ending prayers.  And, when he says it, it is always with a smile and a giggle.  “You Rock, Amen!”  We were saying prayers last night, I was struck by how simple and profound those three words are!  How often in our prayers as adults do we focus on the problems of our lives and our day to the exclusion of the glory of God?  How often do we plead with God for those things we want in our lives without stopping to reflect on hoe great the God is that we serve?  How often do we pray just because we feel like we should rather and not realize that prayer is a gift given to us by the grace of God?  How often do we miss out on the joy of prayer because of our misperception of God?

Yes, God – YOU DO ROCK!  And, I pray that we would never forget it!

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ABC’s of Children’s Ministry

abcs

I was reading a blog article recently from one of my favorite blogs on the ABC’s of salvation.  The inspired me to put together this ABC’s of Children’s Ministry.  I had to resist the urge to write more for each letter, so you may see future posts about some of these! J

A is for ACTIVE.  Many kids learn best when they are ACTIVE.

B is for BOYSBOYS present some of the greatest challenges and some of the greatest rewards.

C is for CREATIVE.  God created us in his image.  So, even those of us who are “craft-challenged” are CREATIVE on some level.  Take advantage of that creativity in your Children’s Ministry.

D is for DEDICATION. A good Children’s Ministry volunteer must be DEDICATED to the greater goal.

E is for EXPECTATIONS.  We must have high EXPECTATIONS for our kids.  To have anything less sells them short.

F is for FUN.  Our time with kids must be FUN to keep them wanting more.

G is for GIRLSGIRLS may be easier as a general rule, but there are always exceptions.

H is for HUMOR.  Kids like to laugh.  Engage them in age appropriate HUMOR.

I is for INTELLIGENT.  Just because they’re kids doesn’t mean they are not INTELLIGENT.  Never underestimate the kids in your room.

J is for JESUS. At the center of any successful Children’s Ministry is CHRIST.

K is for KIDS.  The reason we do what we do is because of KIDS, and we should never forget that they belong to God.

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Someday

ClockOK, so during my recap of my Go Dark week (Http://waynestocks.com/2009/07/25/going-dark-the-recap/) I mentioned that I had written a poem during one of my drives to work.  OK, I didn’t actually write it during the drive.  I came up with it during the drive and wrote it down later.  Maybe I never should have mentioned it, but since I did, here it is.  I call it:

Someday

God was around before the start of days.
And he created man on the sixth day.
Man sinned and fell on a fateful day.
Then man rejected God for a lot of days.
So, God dwelt amongst them for a few days.
Jesus died on the cross on a bad day.
He rose and conquered death on the third day.
And he went back up to heaven after forty days.
Now, we still sin against him every day,
But he’ll be coming back again someday.
So, it’s time to get right with him today.
So we can live with him past the end of days.

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