What Baby Talk Tells Us About Spiritual Growth

What are the steps of spiritual growth? Let’s take a look at the steps of baby growth. This is a list of development milestones in our daughter (applies equally to our son):

1. Feeds herself
2. Clothes herself
3. Speaks
4. Walks

She started feeding herself at one year old.

Clothing was a bit more complicated: she could take off her clothes at about nine months, but putting on her clothes at about two years. She was a little Houdini, getting out of everything including her last essential item, the loaded nappy. It’s not a pretty sight when a baby decides to throw her loaded nappy out the cot! As soon as she could button and zip with her little finger, she was not only clothing herself, but picking out matching colors and giving me fashion advice, “Do you want to wear this one, Papa? Do you want to wear the blue one? Do you want to wear the short sleeves?”

She started signing to us at about ten months Continue reading

The Job Description of a Child – Part 2

There comes a golden moment when you as a parent can step back and bask in the joy of having birthed and raised a helpful human being. When was that moment was for us? When Alexis began, on her own accord, without any prompting on our part, to voluntarily take care of her little brother Austin.

When Austin cried and didn’t stop, I would mutter to myself, as many fathers do, “Why is Austin crying?” I, of course, didn’t expect any rational answer back from this self-imposed quiz. Babies can’t tell us why they are crying. Some mothers have the ability to discern between the cries of hunger from the cries of poo from the cries of wee. I don’t possess that gift. So it came as a genuine surprise when once I muttered out loud, “Why is Austin crying?” and a clear, sharp voice of a three year old girl responded, “Austin’s crying because he’s poo-pooed in his nappy. We have to change him.” Uh…May be I should check his nappy. Thanks, 3 year old mum! And before I could get to the nappy drawer, Alexis’ little feet were scurrying across the carpet in our bedroom, they arrived at the chest of drawers where we keep nappies, and she pulled out all the right equipement: a cloth for him to lay on, wet baby wipes, and a fresh new nappy – the right one, too, not her size, but his size. What a delight to watch her grow up, and by that I mean, what a delight to see she volunteered to help.

The next golden moment in parenting came when we were on our way to church one day. Two babies strapped in their individual baby seats, Mama driving, and Papa going over his notes to preach on a weekend service. Inevitably there would be some noise from the back seats which would demand my attention. “Papa, can I have a drink?” is the usual one from Alexis. High-pitched squeaks of hunger from Austin meant he could no longer tolerate the 40 minute drive to church without milk. Well, one day there was silence…no noise. This gave me great peace for a while until I perturbed myself with the question, “Why is it unusually quiet back there?” Expecting to find a need I’d have to meet, I turned around to view the back seats, only to find baby Alexis feeding baby Austin with a milk bottle. I turned around to ask my wife, “Can she do that?” Now I think, “Is that even legal?” I mean, she was perfectly strapped in and all, but she was only 3 years old. But what I meant at the time was, “Can a 3 year old be so helpful?” She patiently held the baby milk bottle over Austin until he nearly finished the content. “Can a 3 year old be so responsible without being asked?” When your child proves that she can, it is an unforgettable moment. You thank God He made you a parent!

What are the landmarks in human maturity? Continue reading

The Job Description of a Child

We need clearly defined roles in every organization, whether private or public, business or non-profit. A church is no different. Whether a church grows or stagnates depends on everyone knowing “my job and your job”. Note carefully it’s not enough to know “my job” alone. If you don’t know what someone else’s job is, you might expect them to do something they’re not supposed to do or called or equipped to do; worse, you might be neglecting what you are supposed to do because you assumed someone else would do it. We’ve all heard this little story:

This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and
Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought Anybody could have done it, but
Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

One reason churches don’t grow is that Everybody is waiting for Somebody to do the job, and the person who ends up doing too much is the Pastor. An exhausted pastor is not the sign of a spiritual pastor or a healthy church. So what’s “my job, your job”? The model I adopt for the church is taken from our home. In my house, every member clearly has a role. Everybody, of course, should walk in love. That’s a given for a healthy climate. What is unique to each of our roles? I as a husband and father protect, provide, and lead. This is not anybody else’s job. This is my job.

What is my children’s job? Besides loving Papa, Mama and each other, they have an important role that’s summarized in one word: HELP. Continue reading

Men in Black 3 – The 3 Essential Elements of a Good Story

Went to see Men in Black 3 yesterday. I expected quality Hollywood entertainment and was not disappointed. Will Smith performed well alongside his new acting partner Josh Brolin, who played the role of younger Agent K. There was humor, even a tear-jerking moment. They kept a good twist for this third installment. (I won’t be the one to give it away and spoil it for you.) Listen for the closing song: Pitbull’s “Back in Time” remake of Mickey and Sylvia’s “Love is Strange,” a fun song originally and cool as a rap remix.

Like all truly universally good movies and messages, it contains the essential elements of the Gospel:
1) good overcoming evil in the end (yes, it’s predictable, but so are non-Hollywood movies. Their “alternative” is nothing flash… they simply have somebody good dying or losing at the end),
2) faith – somebody has to trust another somebody whom most people would think ridiculous to believe in. This is the essential element of a good story, faith in somebody! In this movie the Colonel had to trust these agents from a super secret organization which exists to stop an alien invasion. Come to think of it, it’s kind of cool to believe in Jesus whom many other refuse to believe in. It’s cool to believe Someone whom most people think ridiculous to believe in, but He turns out to be the Hero.
3) sacrifice – a story without sacrifice just isn’t a good story. Somebody has to pay the price for our freedom. You guessed it, that’s Jesus! Like in this movie, most of the world is completely oblivious to the person who sacrificed to save the world for them. People go on living without realizing who has done so much for them, while a select few is in the know.

Christians, we believe the greatest story ever told, we know the greatest secret ever kept, and we have the greatest Hero who ever lived and gave His life for the world!

Littering is Sin

As I travel in developing countries I notice how much dirtier they are than Christian countries. Here is my inspired thought.

We have a problem defining what is sin because we really don’t have a concept of what Heaven is. Heaven is a perfect place, the kind of perfect that each of us would truly enjoy, no crime, criminals, poverty, pain, stinky smells or noisy traffics. It is an environment filled with love, beauty, grace and giving. A place with no stress and no sin.

Now how would one go about defining the qualifications to enter this place? God has done a pretty good job with the 10 Commandments. But somehow religion has done us a disservice by misconstruing the Law: Pharisees justify their violations of the Law, bending the law and finding ways around the law. For instance, most people today really believe they are a pretty good person because “I haven’t killed anybody”. Jesus dealt with this misapplication of the Law by teaching, “You heard it said that you shall not murder, but I say to you if you hate anyone or ever call anyone a name, you’re already a murderer in your heart!” John added, “No murderer has eternal life.” You see, no one will hate anyone in Heaven, so no hater can ever be allowed in Heaven. Simple logic.

The Bible examples are perfect and it’s impossible to improve on them, but for the exercise of modernizing an old lesson to a new audience, I’d like to take you into my imaginary world for a moment. Pretend with me that I am the gatekeeper of Heaven for a moment, and I get to choose the qualifications for entry. I would make one of my modern commandments very simple: thou shalt not litter. Continue reading

Science and Life

I am not a scientist by profession, but I did study university level chemistry and biology, finishing top of both classes. Science, if it is honest, is just one way of studying what God has made. It helps us know God more, but it is certainly not the only way of looking at the universe or knowing God. Even Einstein said, “God is subtle,” meaning God rewards those who think deeply and search for Him diligently. Hebrews 11:6 says “He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him.” As I think about science, I think about God. As I think about God, my ability to reason fulfills its raison d’etre. More thoughts to follow…

Health Lessons

One of the benefits of travel is learning about how different cultures keep healthy. What i am finding out as i travel more places, meet more people, and generally get older is that nearly everything the modern media tells us is a lie!

Contrary to modern assumptions, people from traditional cultures are not backward and ignorant of what’s good for them. They often experience less health challenges than the so-called educated people of the West. This should come to us as no surprise if we just consider all the toxic chemicals that we educated people put into our hair, on our gums, under our arms, in our homes, and even in our water and foods.

Traditional culture doesn’t even need secret remedies to give them an advantage over our commercialized culture. If we simply stopped using, spraying, rubbing and eating synthetic chemicals, we would be instantly healthier. But traditional culture does offer some great forgotten solutions and neglected remedies. I will share more with us as I think of them from my past travels, or as I encounter them in my future travels.

Although I am not your doctor, I am my own doctor. I need to be an expert about my own health because nobody cares about my health more than I, and because so much advice I’ve received from medical professionals in the past have been utterly wrong.

I’ve proven it in my own life that I can remain healthy while traveling, eating exotic foods, and changing climates drastically from country to country. People comment that I look young and I feel young. So I am not offering you medical advice; I am simply recording my advice to myself. These things helped me and my family. You decide what to do about your own body.