“Saying YES to the dress”

Recently while serving as the parish Priest / Pastor of St. Margaret’s in Conway NH, I discussed the words of St. Paul in Colossians 3 regarding how to experience a ‘spiritual makeover’.

My wife and family loved watching the popular series “Say Yes to the Dress” (TLC cable) and despite my boredom with the topic and idea in general, I often watched along with the rest as drama after drama was displayed on the screen. Tears, fears, and frustrations were all put on vivid display as family after family struggled to agree on the best dress for each new bride to be. 

The process of trying on and shrugging off each new possible dress was agonizingly slow for me to watch, but the reactions from everyone involved was remarkably riveting. The expectations were so high for each new bride to find her ‘perfect’ fit and form, for her special – once in a lifetime – day.

So to the Kingdom of God and His bride the church. We are being asked to find our best fitting attire for our special day! Paul writes to the church at Colosse in chapter three to say these words….

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry…. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. “(ESV – Biblegateway.com) 

The language here is reminiscent of the idea of taking off “old” clothing and putting on “new” garments. The removal of the past and the putting on of the future, a metaphor for the Christian experience of ‘New Life’ in Christ.

Paul’s writing to the local church (ecclesia) to actively remove the old, and actively put on the new postures and traits of Christ. It’s more than an act of our wills though. God has given us the ‘capacity’ to act differently in the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are no longer stuck in our past habits and passions, instead we’ve been given a newness of life from the inside out.

The Christian has the ability to say ‘no’ to the old ways of our flesh, and say ‘yes’ to the new and Holy ways of Christ. It’s more than a change of attitude, it’s a change in our altitude. 

God’s life within us, begins to transform us from the innermost part of our hearts to our minds and will. The more time we spend in the presence of God and His people, the stronger the seed will grow, the less time we spend… the more dormant it will become.

When we look at the overall changes in our lives, and the significant movements from who we were… it’s encouraging. If we only focus on the tedious struggles of the here and now, we can get discouraged into believing we’re not really any different now than when we started this Christian journey of faith.

NOT SO.

God will finish the work He started in us. He will not fail us, and we can take renewed comfort in the fact that our salvation and renewal is not based on our best efforts or accomplishments along the way.

Instead we’re captured by the power of Grace and Redemption. It’s these truths that unlock our most stubborn hearts and renews our warped minds into something entirely new and fresh!

Parents and Grandparents, don’t be discouraged if you’re not seeing any apparent transformation in your offspring. God is still active and engaged in the process – deep under the surface. The seeds of faith and authenticity you’ve planted with your life will grow, and in time God’s promises will be seen and displayed. Be confident of the truth of God to grow in the most surprising of times.

SO… take the time to spend in reading a devotional and or scripture today. Invest in your own spiritual makeover, it may be time to let go of some old stuff and start putting on the new … it’s time to say “Yes” to the dress.

Peace out, Pastor B.

Sources and Links: 

Daily Lectio.net 

Daily Audio Bible 

 

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Day 4… Road Trip Revival. #iShineontheroad “Attitude at Altitude!”

Rolled into Dubois WY… snagging the last 2 rooms at the local Super 8. Dusty, dry and breezy. Temps in July were pushing 100F as we drove the 2 lane ribbon across the hazy, flat, high plains of eastern Wyoming. The sun lingered slow and low in the horizon… seven, eight… almost nine pm before we saw it start to slip over the distant ridge.

The Mountains!

The Mountains!

Sweaty, tired and butt numb we felt the miles. Wall SD to Dubois WY is only about 600 miles with a short detour to Mt.Rushmore NP, but it’s a good long 12 hours of travel. We crashed early and didn’t really notice the clear cool night emerging outside our windows.

We awoke to winter.

42F at 6:30am. My breath fogging the inside of our SUV. My naked legs one giant goose-bump of frigid skin.I had to dig out one of my light fleece pull-over’s to give my body some chance at finding warmth. The shock was complete. We had gone from the blazing heat of high summer sun to COLD.

A sixty degree temperature swing in 8 hours.

We were in the mountains and I couldn’t be happier. The cool / cold morning was such a relief. Felt like a peppermint patty embrace to my summer sweat soaked brain. No humidity, No sweating, No bugs. AWESOME !

As I look around to find someone else to share my jubilant happiness with… I only saw heaps of blankets and fetal postured freezing teens huddled in the back. Chattering teeth and groans quickly deflated me.

I confidently proclaimed the cold wouldn’t last! In fact, for sure by noon it would be bright and warm again, at least 80F with gorgeous mountain summer light. We were heading up the Wind River Valley to clip the edge of Grand Teton NP and push into Yellowstone! The grandest of them all. I had no idea it would turn out to be one of the coldest days possible for July. Snow flurries and sleet would be settled in by noon and would never allow temps to rise higher than 55F.

Tough Day

Tough Day

This led to some complaint and grumbling… but no one could deny the beauty of the mountain scenes before us and we toured the iconic spaces and places (Old Faithful, Yellowstone Falls, Buffalo on the plains etc…)of our oldest and grandest NP (in lower 48) with layers of shirts and jackets wrapping our unprepared limbs. As our altitude rose over 10,000 feet, our attitudes grew a bit short and over the long day of driving and stopping, shooting selfies, and dodging the hordes of tourists… some of us got very crabby 🙂

When we drove up and over the highest pass back to our cozy Super 8 rooms…. it began to snow big time. 3-4 Inches would pile up overnight. I shivered in my hiking shorts as we drove on. Smiling at the irony of it all.

I was the only one smiling. 

Tomorrow our days adventures would change the girls forever. But before the hope of dawn… we had to get through a very dark night.

By God’s grace…. we made it. But it was a tough road to ride.

Day 5 tomorrow; a BRAND NEW DAY.

drip drip drip… the power of persistence

Parents, are you tempted to throw in the towel with your tween?

I know… it’s overwhelmingly difficult sometimes to parent a hormone-soaked-storm like the typical teen or tween. They know how to push each exasperation button we have… and somehow avoid being responsible for “ANYTHING” from their school grades to the family shared, mobile, data-plan last month 🙂

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They disdain our “ancient” wisdom of 40 something as outright stupidity and live comfortable in the smug knowledge they are in fact… the geniuses. Cerebral giants who can barely tolerate our presence in their ‘homes’.  We call these crazies our kids and if you’re not careful… they can wear you down to the nub…

Or even worse, they might make you so exhausted… you give up! 

DO NOT GIVE UP ON THEM !

DO NOT STOP PARENTING

DO NOT STOP CAREFULLY KEEPING THE BOUNDARIES OF LIFE, LOVE, AND YOUR FAMILY INTACT !

Don’t stop praying, don’t stop sharing, don’t stop daring to believe in their hearts catching fire for Christ ! We underestimate our value, our power as parents ! Our kids get over 70 hours week of mainstream media ingested into their noggin and less than 3 hours of parent & pastor combined…

Poll after poll tells us that tweens (kids 7-13) and teens admit the opinions and ideas of their parents are THE SINGLE MOST INFLUENTIAL VOICE IN THEIR LIVES ! 

Be persistent !Untitled-111-980x613

It’s not up to us to convince… only God can change a heart or an attitude. But we as parents can be intentional about never – ever giving up on our kids. Of living out our faith values with honesty and persistence, day-in and day-out… like water on rock, over time… the water wins !

Pastor B.

Hitting the Wall…

Sometimes we just run out of gas.

Sometimes we’re doing so much for everyone else we forget to stop, and take care of ourselves.

As parents, Sometimes is always. 

livewellmagazine.org

livewellmagazine.org

Let me encourage you and myself to get off of the merry-go-round for 24 hours every now and again. We’re not meant to run at full speed all the time, we’re supposed to rest every seventh day.

We need to trust the world will survive our absence, to allow ourselves to slow down, and to refresh ourselves  as we disconnect for a few essential and irreplaceable hours each week.

If we don’t we’ll hit the wall. 

People become quite ugly when we ignore the wall.

Speaking openly here, when we refuse to slow down and rest, when we keep going on and on…. we’re risking our sanity.

Exhausted parents can create more problems than we solve when we valiantly soldier on without time to ourselves.

When was the last time you slept in ? If you just snorted, its past time to change things. 🙂

Inventory your life and it’s pace, find new places to say “NO” to today, and I encourage you to begin to say “YES” to yourself. I know it feels weird to put your own needs above others, but you’re not being selfish in this, your being wise.

Love you,

Pastor B.

Matthew 11:29 (ESV) – Biblegateway ;Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

That dreaded day arrives…

My father’s heart is hurting, my munchkinaroo is going to college.

When my oldest (Jessica) went last year… it was really hard, but she did so well – and grew up so fast as a college student, my fears for her quickly evaporated. She was ready to go when the time came and jumped out of her little nest into a University world with relative ease.

munchkinaroo 2006

munchkinaroo 2006

Munchkinaroo is different for me. My youngest daughter and middle child… at 18, she still likes to crawl up on my lap and watch movies, She loves to be home and hang out, cook and generally be daddy’s little girl. For me to consider her leaving home… that’s one of the big day’s in my parenting life that I’ve dreaded.

It’s every dad’s despair… the understanding that his little girl has grown up. To realize and recognize (not the same thing) the strength and maturity of our kids growing into adulthood and with it… greater freedom and responsibility. ( Yikes… I sound like a college brochure)

Still it’s true. Days we dread to face… I know when I pull away from her dorm on Thursday my eyes will be burning and my heart will stinging as I ride off and “LEAVE” her behind.

ALONE….

By Her self.

No one to protect her.

Vulnerable.

And while all of that may “seem” to be the case emotionally.. my pastor heart reminds me that we’re never alone, never by ourselves in the battle of life and we’re always being protected by our heavenly Father who keeps us from harm and directs our path to safety.

Rites of passage are never easy… but they are OH SO IMPORTANT.

Have courage fellow college dads… you are not alone, there is at least one other red-eyed father praying his guts out somewhere, surviving the pain and the joy of watching our child become an adult….

Bethany - 2013

Bethany – 2013

I can’t help but wonder how God feels when we grow up in our faith… Proudly cheering us on as we step out bravely into new life experiences and higher levels of trust. I wonder if he’s as proud of me as I am of my munchkinaroo ? … Applauding from a distance at the faith we grow and show to him, as parents…fathers, daughters and sons.

Peace out and pray for me… I’ll need it.

Pastor B.

Things God can’t do.

Funny title, serious subject.

Things that God can’t do… an odd thought for families of faith, but important stuff to remind ourselves regularly and make the extra effort to teach to our kids.

Passing it on… (image courtesy of diabetes.org)

1- God cannot LIE.

Hebrews 6:18 (ESV) – ” 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us…”

Titus 1:2 (ESV) – ” 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began”

2- God cannot break His WORD, PROMISES or COVENANT.

Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV) ”  Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,”

3- God cannot FAIL.

Isaiah 46:10 (ESV) ” 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’”

In a world where failure, compromise and broken promises are the “norm”… it’s important to surround ourselves with the powerful reminder of who God really is and how different His ways are from ours. It’s a temptation to translate our failures and the failings of those we love and rely on into our relationship with God.

Nothing could be further from the truth. God is infinite, perfect and incapable of falling short of exactly what we long for. We can trust in, rely on and believe for all our needs. He is unlike anyone or anything we know. He is GOD.

When your day starts to spin out of control… or your heart gets broken and your hopes are dashed… REMEMBER who you can truly place your trust in.

futurity.org

Teach these things to our children, bind them about our hearts and minds and whisper His promises to your loved ones when all seems lost. It is this confidence of salvation in one who cannot disappoint that gives us the ability to press on and pass it on.

May this simple reminder, help to lift and guard your hearts and minds on the long and often lonely journey of parenthood.

Love you all,

brad.

The Politics of Parenting…

So… picture the scene. I’m talking with my wife late at night, almost asleep and very drowsy. Covers are over my head, pillows are squished down just right and my eyelids feel like sawdust got wedged in them from a very long, trying day. My wife is explaining to me why it’s O.K. for our daughter to go out with some friends the following evening. I’m nodding slowly to myself as she quickly gets to the point. It’s alright with you honey isn’t it?… pause, slightly uncomfortable silence.

Now I have a choice. Wake myself up and really interact with my wife over this seemingly innocuous request, or give her my vague attempt at a “ummhummnn” and allow myself to submerge into a coma and leave all the parenting drama to her. What to do… I’m not wanting to fight a battle over this, but deep down I’m uneasy. On the other hand… if she goes with some friends, it’s technically not dating.

Crap. I pushed the covers back away from my almost unconscious cranium and slowly roll a bit to sit up.

Honey, I’m all for our daughter (who shall remain nameless) going to have some fun with her friends this friday, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with her going with that one young man (who shall remain nameless) who I don’t really know. I’ve seen him hanging out with her at the local coffee shop several times in the past week… all “coincidently”. I’m a little uneasy.

There, I said it. I had spoken up, I’m not going to be just another passive, pushover dad. By golly, I’m a man and in my home I’m the king. Nobody better mess with me or my daughters, I’ll knock his fool head off…

My wife, slowly looks at me and shakes her head back and forth as if to say… you wingnut, I know your just scared for your daughter growing up without you, but it’s time to start trusting her a little bit more now that she’s almost 17 and in her junior year of high school…. but she never says a word. She just says sweetly… O.K. I’ll let her know in the morning you said no.

I slowly re-arrange my six-foot four frame into our bed and gradually rediscover my comfy spot for some sleep. It’s slower to come this time. Thoughts pushing back my dream state a little longer. Was that the right response? Maybe I should trust her more… She IS after all almost a senior…it’s not that unreasonable….?

By dawn, it had become so clear to me. My daughter was a strong young woman, solid, balanced, full of wisdom and capable. I should trust her in this. She had earned it. So, I said cautiously… Honey, I’ve been thinking, I guess it would be ok for our daughter to join those other teens for some fun on friday night. But she’s got to be home by 11pm – no exceptions!  Wow, my wife can be so manipulative 🙂

My favorite quote for this blog post isn’t from the bible, but  from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”…. “The man may be the head of the house, but the wife is the neck and she can turn him anywhere she wants” LOL.

So true. So much for the politics of parenting. The battle’s always over before it even begins, the wife wins in the end. But it’s cool to know that she would do the same for me, now just gotta figure a time when I can be right about something with our kids… ?

Humorous, but accurate. Dad’s often don’t get kids like mom’s do, but God knew that when He came up with the awesome parenting strategy of having two distinctly different parents… male and female. One to balance the other, and one to be RIGHT!

PEACE OUT fellow Families of Faith.  

brad.