Acts 1: The Blessing of Obedience

The book of Acts or as it is often called, “The Acts of the Apostles” is actually all about the Lord Jesus Christ. We see here in the first chapter that The Lord has risen from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Before he leaves he gives the Apostles the charge to be witnesses (specifically of his resurrection) all over the world beginning in Jerusalem (See Acts 1:8).

This is where it gets interesting. The disciples aren’t from Jerusalem and Luke the author of Acts wants you to know that... Indeed two verses later (Acts 1:10) the angels address the Apostles as “Men of Galilee.” Then again just a few verses later the narrator (Luke) reminds the reader that the Apostles are not from Jerusalem because they went back to a room “where they were staying” (Acts 1:13).

I think this is important because Jesus has commanded them to wait there in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them (Acts 1:4). It seems like the natural bent of the disciples would not have been to stay in Jerusalem but head somewhere else (perhaps Galilee… Home). But never the less at the Lord’s command they stay, waiting for the Holy Spirit.

This reminds me of Luke 5:1-11 where Jesus first calls some of his disciples. He tells them to push back out into the water and fish again. Their natural inclination is not to do it…. they want to clean their nets. But never the less, at the word of Jesus they press out and drop the nets and pull in the biggest catch they had ever seen… It is interesting to note that it is just at that point that Jesus tells them that one day they will be fishing for men.

Now here Jesus has told them again to push out of their comfort zone and stay in the city. He will give them the Holy Spirit and they will be his Witnesses starting in the place He told them to go.

Prayer: Father, You are amazing! When these men obeyed you in the small things like casting out a net or staying in the city, you rewarded them with a real relationship with You and you invited them to be your witnesses all over the world. Today I’m reminded to be obedient to you in even the seemingly small things. I want my priorities to be a true reflection of your will. I surrender to you. Today I’m seeking YOUR Kingdom, YOUR Will and I give YOU my obedience. Help me to not to put confidence in the flesh, but trust your wisdom.

I need your help on a project

I’m trying out a new experiment.  Many of you are parents, grandparents,  teachers, counselors, youth pastors, stay at home moms, etc. who have invested countless hours in figuring out how to communicate with the children in your life.  I want to use your experience to add value to a talk I have coming up this weekend.  Here is a little bit of info about the talk…

  • The talk is about, “Communicating with Children.”
  • I have approximately 30 minutes
  • I won’t know the ages of children we are dealing with until the parents get in the room
  • I have countless resources on my book shelf, but I want to hear from you

Comment below, e-mail me (jonathan@calvaryofpensacola.org) or write a response on facebook.  Thanks for sharing.  I’ll share this as 3 separate blog posts next week with more substance to the outline.

4 tips for Hearing what your kids have to say

Hugs & High fives or other forms affirmation like smiling

Eye contact & other physical cues to let them know you are listening

Ask good questions

Rephrase to make sure you know what they are saying.

5 ways to BLESS your kids when you talk to them

Be Available

Level appropriate

Empathetic

Straight forward

Simple

5 Ways You don’t want to CURSE your children

Cut off your child while they are speaking

Undermine your own credibility by manipulating your children or being untrustworthy

Reduce Praise by adding Criticism

Shut down and stop communicating

Expect them to communicate on your level

1. What do you like or not like about this outline? What would you change, clarify, add, delete, etc? (you won’t hurt my feelings)

2. In your opinion what are the 3 most important things to remember about communicating with children no matter what their age?

3. What advice would you give to parents who have a desire to work on how they communicate with their kids?

3 Christmas Meditations on Being a Parent (Part 2)

2. Mary and Joseph Knew they would have to let go.

I wonder if knowing the destiny of Jesus (at least vaugly) effected the way that Mary and Joseph went about parenting? In a very real way they were forced to come to terms with letting him go.  Letting go can be one of the hardest parts about parenting.

I see parents who are clinging to their children and holding on too tight.  Sometimes this comes from a natural desire to protect their children from harm (there are other reasons).  No one wants to see their children hurt and or know that their child could be in danger.  Yet, some parents take this to an extreme by hampering their children from being able to  spread their own wings.  Sometimes we grow so accustomed to making decisions for our children, that we forget the goal of parenting is to train our children to make their own decisions.

Just like an archer has to let go of the arrow before it sails into the air and finds its mark, Parents are called on to release their children.  I think this happened in a very real way for Mary and Joseph.  They knew their was something special about Jesus from the start.  How do you raise the savior?

How would we parent differently if we knew the destiny of our children?  What if God called them to the heart of darkness a world away?  Would we be prepared to send them? Guide them? even direct them? My prayer is that he does call them there and that we are willing to let go and even send them.

To be honest each day I function on the edge of insanity.  Every time the road is wet and my wife and kids are in a car somewhere without me, I keep the phone close, praying that they are ok.  I could easily become compulsive about the safety of my children.  “No” could easily become the most dominant word in my vocabulary for no other reason than that “No” is safe.  But the joy of parenting isn’t found purely in seeking safety but in the risk of providing direction and  letting go.

A Few Thoughts on Fatherhood

Getting ready for kid number two in a few months has me reminiscing about fatherhood.  So I thought I would take a moment and share about how God prepared me for fatherhood the first go round.

My preparation for fatherhood began when I was a child watching my own father.  I was gifted to have a strong and capable dad.  I learned so much from him, even when he wasn’t looking.  I must have been a really good student of my father, because I catch myself saying things and acting just like him.  And that’s not bad, because I really love my dad and feel blessed to be his son.  I wonder if he knew he was teaching me about being a father?

Rebekah Writing in the Sand

Then there was the day that a friend of mine told me that he and his wife were going to have a baby.  We were memorizing scripture together and so we turned our hearts to Psalm 127.  We discussed the meaning of the Psalm and that day Psalm 127 began teaching me that children are a blessing. Though I was young, unmarried, and a long way from fatherhood, God used that psalm to shape my life.  I longed for the day that I would be a dad.

Along the way my job has afforded me the opportunity to watch parents in action.  I have been blessed to see some great parenting from discipline to discipleship.  I’ve learned a lot through the years by partnering with parents in student ministry.

Yet, nothing could have prepared me for the day when I was told I was going to be a dad.  In our marriage, it was something Avia and I were hoping for, but not exactly planning on quite so soon.  Yet there we were, newly-weds, five-months into marriage and Avia became aware that all was not as it used to be and took a special trip to the doctor.

One Wednesday night I came home to see my wife and in my chair there was a little teddy bear holding a pregnancy test.  Tears filled her eyes and then mine and then I quoted Psalm 127.  We were nervous.  We didn’t know what parenthood would be like, but we knew this was a blessing from God.

Nine months later I held my little girl in my arms for the first time.  I held her up and quoted this same Psalm over her and prayed and thanked the Lord for this blessing in our lives.  Then I dedicated her to the Lord and asked for guidance to be a godly father.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalms 127:1-5 ESV)