Lessons From My Son …. “No Enemies”

robins_of_batman_by_vvvviola-d387yglMy son and ¬†I read a lot together.. I think if you are a dad , the second most important thing you can do for your kids is read to them -(I will address the MOST important thing in a later entry here ūüėČ … There are many reasons for this ¬†,but mainly , for me – it’s just something he and I get to do. ¬†= Father/son time… You can’t replace the value of the time you give your kids , trust me I know this first hand … There will never be time for “make up time” in the future , ¬†if you¬†don’t make the¬†¬†time now. Being a preacher , I get pulled in a lot of different directions at odd hours ¬†– not only do you work all week on sermons ,class lessons and bibles studies with others , but you are also a counselor to those who need it , a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.. Its’ the most demanding job I have ever have ¬†and I love it ¬†– ¬†but I would never trade being “The Best Preacher in the World” ¬†for “Worst Father Ever”… Balance is key and so reading with him is that balance .It does me good ,and it does him good – Therefore if one plus one equals two – it must be GOOD.

One of the things we really enjoy reading is comic books. For the most part we stick to The Batman story lines , especially The Robin story line.. We love that there are 4 of them who have all become heroes in their own right , trained by ¬†the “Best of ¬†the Best” – which also serves as a great¬†metaphor¬†for fathers training their sons to be men . For this reason ,among others , ¬† I’m convinced ,boys need heroes. ¬†As a growing boy , your imagination plays a primary role¬† in developing your own identity . It helps shape your ideals and perspectives – to help the weak and stop the evil of the world.. I realize full well , that this is also what the bible teaches so couple that knowledge with the¬†imagination¬†of ¬†a 6-year-old boy ? What you get ¬†then is an unstoppable force ¬†that will grow with him as he grows ¬†, and becomes his character. Heroism or Altruism is what is at the core of every good hero – it’s selflessness¬†personified¬†.. and it flies in the face of all who promote humanism ¬†and the survival of the fittest. If ¬†survival of the fittest were true , there would be NO HEROES… Think about it.

A world with no heroes would be hard to imagine…but what about a world with no enemies? ¬†That’s¬†actually how life is in the beginning – we aren’t born with enemies.. They are something we create over the course of our lives due to our beliefs , our convictions ¬†and what we are willing to fight for.. To you and I ,this makes sense…This is the world we live in because it is the world we have chosen to allow to exist. We have allowed it to exist because ¬†ultimately , we are SELFISH. This might be a little oversimplified but it goes kind of like ¬†-” We want what we want¬†¬†…and we want you to want it too.. and if you don’t ,then we are enemies”¬†… So how can we know what want is good or not? How can we know if what we want is right or not? How can we know if we are standing up for the right things?¬†ISN’T¬†THERE A STANDARD SOMEWHERE ,WITH THESE THINGS WRITTEN IN IT?… (Maybe you have picked up on my sarcasm?)

But to a 6-year-old boy , the only enemies he worries about are the ones  he battles in the backyard and the ones we read about our comic books. .. The idea of enemies actually being real was completely foreign to my son until recently..

One night ¬†while we preparing dinner , the news had been left on and while I don’t remember the exact topic of discussion , there was an angry mob burning ¬†The American Flag and screaming “Death to America”. Like most things with Kole , he thought about this for a while before saying anything but ¬†that night at comic time ¬†, he brought it up. ¬†“Why do those people hate us Daddy?”… “What people”?… “You know on the T.V”… After a few moments of thought , I finally¬†remembered. ¬†The fact that it took me that long to remember what he was talking about should speak volumes to us all just how numbed we are to much of the evil in this world ,but not Kole..it clearly bothered him.. “Oh , those people” ¬†I responded , “They think we are wrong about a lot of things” ¬†… “What things” he said… ¬†“Like what we believe about God ,the Bible ¬†and Jesus… and the way people act in America “… after a very short pause for thought he asked the $40,000 dollar question. ¬†With total and complete sincerity he asked me – ¬†“Are they RIGHT?”… ¬†A few seconds pass… “No , son , not about everything. There is no doubt in my mind that the Bible is the Word of God , and I believe everything that is said in it. So no we are not wrong about ¬†what we believe about God”… What about the other thing? you know they way people act in America?”… “They may be right on a few of those point son ,but we don’t live like that”…”but why¬†doesn’t¬†everybody else? – would that mean that we would have fewer enemies”… I don’t know all the “why’s” that people have for not living like the bible teaches us to live son , I just know that they have their excuses and for them that’s enough..” “But doesn’t that mean that they are also God’s enemy?”… ” It does” I replied quietly….

He waited for about a minute and then said “Well that’s not very smart… I don’t ever want enemies..especially not God , cause he could blow up your town ¬†, or something!”…. At this point , all I could do was laugh!!! ¬†“Yes indeed son , he could”…

I love my son’s heart.. I love that it bothers him when something¬†isn’t¬†right , and he wants to fix it… That he doesn’t want anyone to be enemies with each other or God..But ¬†, I know ¬†that very desire within him will create enemies in his life . Standing for the right ¬†always will.. Jesus said in John 15:18 “that if the world hates us , it’s because it hated him first”… I hope these words will comfort my son as he grows into a man…and I hope he will stay true to his roots ¬†– his hero boots – and remember the time of “No Enemies”

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Lessons from My Son … “Seeing though his Eyes”

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J. Oswald Sander¬†was quoted¬†saying¬†‚ÄúEyes that look are common‚Ķ Eyes that see are rare.‚ÄĚ … Rare indeed , except through the eyes of a¬†6-year-old¬†boy…

As I have¬†before¬†mentioned , since he was born, I have preached many sermons inspired by my son. His honesty and innocence have helped me to remember how to see the world that I have forgotten how to see and quite often , I am completely humbled by the most simple of gestures… This particular example involves Carlos. Carlos (pictured with both my kids on the infamous “Werewolf trip )¬†is ¬†related¬†to me by blood – the blood of Christ. A few months after being baptized into Christ and becoming a Christian after a teen even at our house in Atlanta ¬†, he came to live with us ..It was about ¬†a year and a half ago during a time when I¬†wasn’t¬†preaching¬†full-time¬†¬†,but running a construction company.. He had previously lived with my¬†sister-in-law¬†and was friends with all my nephews so technically, he was already family… But Kole made that¬†official .

One night as I was reading to Kole , he stopped me ¬† – as he usually will ¬†, to ask me the most random questions … ¬†Most of the time it’s stuff like¬†” Daddy , what does lava feel like on your skin?”¬†or¬†“Daddy , ¬†how do other cats warn other cats that dogs are coming?… Because they¬†can’t¬†talk!…. or can they?”¬†I don’t mind him stopping me to ask these questions , I actually look forward to it !… I love how his little mind is at work and usually leave the room pondering to myself ” Man…. what DOES lava feel like on your skin?“…At any rate , I try my best to answer his questions the best I can and then we move on… I asked him one night where he comes up with these questions..his reply was “I dunno , I just SEE this stuff “… This monumental statement was immediately followed by the question” Daddy – Can YOU see what I see?”¬†…

After a pause I humbly whispered back through a tear ” I wish “..

But one night he asked me a question that changed ¬†our relationship with Carlos – permanently .. As I was reading he stopped me with his usually “Daddy”… not knowing the next for sure what he was going to say , I eagerly awaited the randomness – “Yea Bud” I replied…After a few seconds of pondering he asked –

“Is Carlos my brother?”…

Many things begin to happen inside me , primarily my heart melting.. I ask my self why would he think that? He is old enough to remember when Carlos first came to stay with us , that he¬†hasn’t¬†been here his whole ¬†life , why would he think that? … ¬†After a few seconds of asking ” why” ,these petty questions are quickly¬†squelched¬†when what should have been the obvious answer finally presents itself –¬†He asks me this question because he already looks to Carlos as a brother and loves him like one¬†!–¬†¬†Why?¬†¬†–¬†Because Carlos loves HIM that way!¬†Since day one, Carlos has always given time to Kole ¬†– to play with him ,talk to him , read to him and yes – ¬† even answer 30¬†bazillion¬†of¬†Koles¬†questions. Carlos was ALREADY living as his brother , so why¬†wouldn’t¬†Kole ask me that??

There will always be a place in this family for Carlos – Kole saw to that… ¬†But that is a different blog for a different day.

My son , though he is only 6 ,continues to give me the perspective that I should have on most things. The blog entries that will follow this one will all deal with his observations that helped me realize, that I was seeing wrong… Jesus says plainly in¬†Mathew 18 verse 3¬†‚ÄúTruly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I believe in part – this is why..

The morning ritual at our house is pretty simple – we all get up, slowly make our way to the kitchen where coffee¬†can be¬†administered to those who need it , breakfast¬†can be¬†served to those that eat it , and our day can begin with a little conversation(hopefully) from all the kids , yes even Carlos (though he is 23 ūüėČ ¬†)…This morning as ¬†Carlos¬†came out for coffee , Kole ¬†– who was diligently eating his¬†cereal¬†jumps down from he bar , runs over¬†to¬†him and threw ¬†his arms around Carlos and said “I love you Carlos ,sometimes for NO REASON”…Carlos¬†hadn’t¬†been anywhere for Kole to miss him so much , so why all the excitement to see Carlos this morning? What reason would he have to excitedly proclaim his love for his brother?..

Then , like most things Рthe blatantly obvious hits me again..Once more , my son has been the teacher and I have been the student.. DO WE REALLY NEED A REASON TO LOVE EACH OTHER ?

1 John 4 :7-8¬†says” Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love”…

There is no question – my son¬†KNOWS¬†God as he also¬†KNOWS LOVE¬†… And I have been joyfully reminded of how we¬†ALL¬†should be¬†¬†– once more through the eyes of my son…

Thank you Lord for allowing me to have Kole and for him sharing his Lions heart with the world…. There is no doubt ¬†, I am BLESSED.

I will always try to live so that I am the person my son sees … ¬†ūüėČ

Read 1 John 3:11-24

Lessons from my son , “The Werewolf”

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If you know me , then you know it is no secret how much I love my family . I have a beautiful wife who glows inside and out with all that is good about a woman… she is Godly first and for reasons I still can’t see – she chose me , and I am thankful. She also gave two of the most precious gifts that can be given – My kids. My daughter is well on her way to becoming the same kind of woman that my wife is ,but even before now – her very life breathed purpose back into mine when I was but a shell of a man. Between the love of her and her mother , they helped me realize my need for God and gave me the drive¬†necessary¬†to seek him until that drive became my own… I have told her several times that she saved my life , and when she bats her lashes and says” I love you daddy” ¬†–¬†she still does…

My son was a game changer in my life. When we found out we were having a boy , I was terrified… I¬†wasn’t¬†sure that I was going to be able to properly raise a boy and teach him to be a man… After all ¬†, my only parenting experience was with a girl and not having much of a father figure growing up ,the word “inadequate”¬†doesn’t¬†even begin to describe my self-image at that time… But ¬†, he was coming none the less and I was just going to just have to figure it out.

A good friend ,who has now passed but was the closest thing to a father to me gave me some great words for my¬†uncertainty – he said “Have Faith , God will do the rest”¬†..

The rest of the story would go as you may imagine – he is born ,we adjust and begin¬†figuring¬†things out – life resumes.. But one thing is very different. My son ,¬†unbeknownst to him obviously ,begins to teach me.. For all the time that I am worrying about guiding him into manhood and teaching him vital lessons for life – he , with his own little life begins to teach me the simple yet powerful lessons that can’t be taught on paper , but shown through ones life – by their heart…

The next few entries in this blog will be about my son and the lessons he continues to teach me. I have Preached many sermons inspired by him , as he inspires me daily.. What I’m about to share with you just happened yesterday ¬†–¬†but began a years and a half ago..

It was the week before Thanksgiving ¬†, and we had planned a family vacation to Gatlinburg Tennessee . On the drive up from Atlanta ,where we lived at the time ¬†, we were discussing the current fad of “Vampires and Werewolves” and if they really existed , which one each of us would be due to the various powers each one possessed. My son Kole , chose to be a werewolf. He liked the idea of being a wolf and roaming about in the night howling at the moon etc..

Later in the drive , he confided in us all that ¬†“He really was a Werewolf”. Intrigued we all replied with “Really?!!”.. You could see his little eyes light up as he could tell we were interested and excited about this. He went on to tell us with his creative little mind of all his adventures as he would climb out of his bedroom window at night and do ,as he put it -” Werewolf Stuff”. We all got a great kick out of the whole thing and it certainly made the ride go by a lot faster..

We spent the rest of the weekend playing into the idea of Kole being a werewolf as he converted all his cousins into his dark secret… other than the occasional mention over time though , the Werewolf bit ,like most childhood things seemed to fade into obscurity. I had all but forgotten about it..until yesterday.

After returning from the gym , I was greeted at my office door by Kole with a quick hug and a “Hey daddy”. I sat down at my desk and began to go through my stuff and I noticed him standing there with his hands¬†clasped¬†together . “Whats up bud”? I said.. He replied”Daddy , I need to tell you something”.. “Ok ,shoot” I replied.. after a second or two , he shook his head and hands and moaned “ugh , this is hard!” with a great ¬†deal frustration and anxiety… Ok , now I’m all in – ¬†this kind of reaction from him usually ¬†only happens when he breaks something of MINE… , So I gently put my hands on his shoulders and quietly tell him “It’s ok son , just tell me” … He takes in a deep breath and then exhaled his confession….

“Daddy , I’m not really a Werewolf”…

Relieved ¬†, he collapses into my arms…

At this moment , many things are going on in my head and heart. My first reaction was to bust out in laughter ,mainly because I had totally forgotten about him even making this claim of him even being one.. but I hold it back ¬†– mainly because I don’t want to make light of what has actually happened here… My 6-year-old son has , in his own mind , felt the sting of¬†CONSCIOUS¬† From his perspective , he has carried this burden for a year and a half and at some point realized that what he said¬†wasn’t¬†true , that he in fact was not a Werewolf! Although non of us ,his¬†audience¬† took it for more than it was worth (a then 5-year-old little boy and his imagination) – he took it as he was being dishonest , and needed to come clean.

I just held him.

Now ,not only am I fighting back laughter ,but tears…

As I held him , I let him know that it was ok – that we all knew ¬†he¬†wasn’t¬†really a Werewolf and that I was proud of him – not because he¬†wasn’t¬†a Werewolf ,but because he is well on his way to becoming ¬†a MAN… A Godly MAN.. A man who realizes when he has error in life¬†,no matter how slight – and MAKES IT RIGHT. A man who teaches with his own life , through the actions of his heart…

The kind of man who I hoped I’d be able to teach him to be..The kind of man I am still trying to be… But today ,like many others before – My son was the teacher and I was the student…

Thank you Kole. Thank you for having the heart of a LION ¬†, and not a Werewolf ūüėČ

Our great and mighty God ¬†shows us himself ¬†often , if we are only willing to look. As I worried about being able to teach my son to be a good man , a friend told me to “Have faith ¬†– God¬†¬†will do the rest” … With that same faith , not only is my son going to be a good man ,but God has shown me that my son ¬†is going to help me be one too.

Oh God , give us hearts like Lions – Strong to defend and protect ,but tender enough to be pricked by our¬†conscious , knowing you are there with your hands on our shoulders ¬†, whispering to us – ¬†“Just tell me “…

We know you are faithful… Help US to be.

Hebrews 10:22

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”