As many parents can attest, it is not easy to raise faithful children in this fallen world. We pray for them, we read the Bible to them, and memorize scripture with them. We take them to small group, youth group, AWANA, church camp. And we wonder….. is it enough? Is there some formula that if we follow it our children will grow to be people who love and serve Jesus?
In her book, “Mere Motherhood”, Cindy Rollins writes:
“It seemed that I had worked passionately for nineteen years on a beautiful product and, in the end, he had become something entirely different than I intended. I did not recognize him at all. How could I go on creating beautiful pottery pieces if they weren't going to turn out as I had intended or hoped? Until one day I had an epiphany. I was not the potter. A potter was shaping my children, but it was not me. . .My son was not my product. He was the work of a great artist: the Creator of all.”
Our children are not our product and no, there isn’t a formula. And the responsibility is not ours alone to carry as their parents. Our children will have a crisis of faith. They should experience a crisis of faith. During those years when they have one foot in childhood and one in adulthood are critical times in a person’s faith. These young adults must continue to hear the Truth spoken to them. They need to doubt and know that God can handle their doubt. They need to mess up and know that their Savior still loves them. They need experiences to help them fully understand all the lessons they have hidden in their heart since childhood.
My prayer is for each of my children to have those experiences that grow their faith. To do so they must go. Go outside our home and outside our home church. They need to see the world as Jesus sees it: fallen and worthy of love. They need to take hold of a personal relationship with Jesus. I pray and encourage my newly adult children to complete a YWAM Discipleship Training School. To plant their feet firmly on a foundation of faith that is truly their own. To pursue God in any situation from any corner of the world. I pray they can quiet the noise of the world’s culture and hear God’s call to their life and how He wants to use each one of His children to His glory.
In the meantime we parents can have peace and know that our children are only on loan to us from God the Creator. It is he who it is who is forming our children as vessels for His use. We can rely on the wisdom of God’s Holy Spirit to guide us.
Mwen te gen chans poum te ede yon timoun ki te malad semen sa, e sa te fe anpil enpak sou mwen… pou fason mwen te we manman li tap priye ak la fwa pou li, pou fasonm te we anpil lot moun tap fe menm bagay la tou. Men youn nan bagay ke mwen vle soulinye nan istwa sa se “Lè nap priye, se pou nou fel ak lafwa, pou nou rekonet ke se nan men BonDye tout bagay ye, se pa pou nou fèl ak perèz. Menm jan manman sa te fel pou pitit li a… m te we koman lafwa li te mennen pitit li a jis nan elikopte sa ki tap vin pranl pou mennen li nan lopital, sa te stresan anpil paske pitit la pat ka respire san machin oksijèn sa, e nan moman sa nou te rete 30 minit chaj nan oksijèn nan pou li te etèn. men mwen te we ak de je mwen koman BonDye Gran, m te we le nou Mete lafwa nou nan BonDye koman sa ka ye pou nou…
Mwen swete ou fe menm jan an, kontinye mete lafwa ou nan BonDye menm si ou pa konprann anyen. paske moun ki gen viw nan men’l lan li konprann e konnen tout bagay.
mwen vle patage avek nou enpe de sa Bondye te fe nan lavi m Kek semen avan peti gwoup dans mwen an te komanse , mwen tap priye epi mande Bondye pou voye moun li vle pou vini Nan Gwoup dans lan ,kek semen avan tout Bagay komanse, mwen te gen selman 4 moun kite di wi yo vle vini. mwen tap priye e di Bondye 4 moun selman pap sifi epi la menm mwen te vinn santi mwen dekouraje mwen pat gen pasyans pou te tann sa mwen te mande Bondye a, tou ide mwen te gen nan tet mwen se map bay vag ak tout bagay, apre sa mwen pran desizyon an pou vay vag. Yon semen avan tout bagay komanse ,nou menm staff yo nou reyini ansanm pou priye pou peti gwoup yo. Avan yo te Priye mwen di nan reyinyon an mwen deside anile Gwoup dans lan yo te di mwen Pou kisa epi mwen te ba yo rezon kife mwen vle bay vag yo te priye avek mwen ankourajem .Mwen te jwen yon pawol kite rekonfotem kisa “ Bondye pa bezwen kantite men ,se kalite ki konte pou li , epi mwen te soumet tout Bagay bay Bondye. nan lot semen nan yon jeudi pandan mwen nan peti gwoup angle a, mwen te we plis ke 20 jen ki vini epi gen youn nan yo ki di mwen ,Mwen vini ak tout moun sa yo pou ou ,pou gwoup dans la. mwen te vreman sezi nan demen mwen jwen 26 moun antou ki vini nan gwoup la ,sou 4 moun mwen te mete espwa youn nan yo pat vini mwen te vreman sezi apre sa mwen di Bondye mesi anpil pou Pwovizyon e mwen mande li padon deske mwen tap doute ke li se moun ki tap fe pwovizyon moun pou mwen, mwen te aprann pou m te lage tout anzyetem yo bay Bondye epi lap pran swen m ,mwen telman gen moun kounya, mwen pa gen espas pou nou reyini nou te obliye al fe repetisyon nan lari a devan lakay nou an. Pou rezon sa map di nou toujou kwe nan Bondye nenpot jan sa ta ye
I was supposed to have written this yesterday, but today is not yesterday. Today is today and that’s rad. Today I get to say yes to being a disciple of Jesus once more, without apathy and confusion... today. Today, about 30 minutes ago actually, I was watching this TV show about Jesus called The Chosen while chopping potatoes for dinner when a scene where Jesus asks Peter and Andrew to follow him came on. For some reason I started weeping, to the point of potato chopping ineptitude. I get to follow Jesus regardless of my overarching, general ineptitude at life! I get to follow the kindest, most loving, most righteous dude/God that walked the Earth! And not only up mountains with fantastic views but in gnarly, gross valleys too. Right now I’m kind of in one of these said valleys because last week we had an outreach team of 18 people here at the house and I’m an extrovert, so it was spectacular, but now we have no team... sad. That week was a mountain of mountains. Last week was one of those drawn out epiphanies where God says “this right here... you’re made for this”. I had the pleasure of leading half of the team while we painted our house for two days and then did outreach for another two, and I loved nearly every second of it despite the tagalong fatigue. I was also in charge of 13 guys transporting mattresses a block away to sleep at a school with no electricity some days and no water others, and it was a joy. That James 1:2 kind of joy to be specific, struggle bus with no AC, no seatbelts, and wooden benches headed towards Jesus’ crib kind of joy. I had the pleasure of befriending new people in love with Yeshua, and I had the pleasure of going out into the neighborhood and spreading the love of Christ and inviting people into our home for small groups; I had the pleasure to pray for healing over those bedridden at a nearby hospital and, I had the pleasure to ascend a mountain with these new friends to see a natural wonder of Haiti. I also saw an owl!
But that was last week, not today. What am I doing today? Making dinner for my YWAM family, doing some projects around the yard and writing this blog post. In comparison to last week, this sounds paltry and mundane, but it’s not. I also am reading Daniel, WOW, Daniel is *chef’s kiss* bellissimo! I also get to pray and peel onions with the Holy Spirit in my chest, so this is not mundane; this is not paltry nor is it a meager portion of life. This is beautiful and I don’t want to miss this week because my head is in last week. I want to say “Thank You Jesus, you friend o’ mine for being here with me for all time”!
Below is a poem, A poem that I wrote!
sometimes you struggle to live where you live home is an inaccessible sentiment the house is a shell of belonging and you’re detached your pillow likes to tell you you’re just visiting your internal clock wishes it’d click faster your dreams drown out your now they drown you too
other times you bloom bear fruit sweeter than poryè it seems right now you’re closer to The Groom but He was here the whole time He was here
He graced you with a smile and a laugh more than one really showed you joy, busted open the lapse
These past couple months of starting a new ministry have been absolutely terrifying. I had heard from many people in the past, over and over again that it would be scary, but hearing about it and experiencing it are two different things. Like the difference between watching a play on tv and actually seeing it in person or seeing a mountain vs. hiking its summit.
There are a million and one things that have worried me these past couple months, but I'll try to be respectful of your time and limit this post to the top three. Here are the three things I'd say have scared me the most these past couple months and the imperfect way I've been trying to deal with each.
Relationship and Communication
Starting up this new ministry with my wife as co-director has been challenging. Not because we have different directions and plans, but because I am absolutely terrible at communication. SOOOO often I want to be able to just give a quick answer or make the decision on something. "Get this many of that thing" "Yea this is our policy on that subject" "Here's the timeframe for that happening." It is super easy to make all the decisions without consulting my co-director and in a way shut her out of that process of leading this ministry with me. You can imagine how that lack of communication on my part can be a strain on our relationship. The reason this scares me is that I don't want to be that guy who loses his family on account of his new organization or business. No one ever says they wished they worked more when lying on their death bed nor do they say they wished they missed that little league game to spend time at the office.
Now I'll be honest here. I've really not done as much to deal with this. Instead, it is my wife who is leading the charge to make sure I don't leave her out and for that I am so grateful to her. Instead of harboring resentment in her heart toward me she decided to speak up and tell me what I was doing. The first step to fixing something is admitting you have the problem and it's so hard to know I was causing the problem without her speaking up. She is a communication queen and a very good one at that.
No, this is not a ploy to ask for donations to the campus! It is just that finances for a new ministry, in a new city, with a new staff are worrisome. How many hours of generator time do I get from a gallon of gasoline? How much money could we save on gas if we had a wind turbine? How long is this pack of toilet paper going to last us? Are all questions that I ask myself every day. The fear doesn't come from a lack of faith that God won't take care of us. I'm not afraid of us running out of food or anything. The fear for me more comes from the constant decisions around money that need to be made. Meaning I realize that there will never be a day where we have more money than ideas for using it and there will never be a day that we have every ministry tool that we want. So the analysis and decision making is in constant motion in my head. Trying to balance staff comfort, ministry costs, availability of things in the local market, upcoming plans, and future risk all against the finite number that's showed in our accounting software. Phew! That kind of wheels turning makes you tired and worried.
So how have I dealt with it? First, I take time every day to just chill. I realize it's not the ultra spiritual answer you would expect from a missionary. But taking even 30 minutes a day to not "be the boss" and feeling the weight of being in charge is just so gosh darn nice. Playing a video game or watching some funny YouTube videos with the kids have all been great things that make me feel like a regular person. (Look up Lord of the Rings orcs with regular voices. Funniest thing I've seen this past week) The second thing I would say is that reminding myself that ministry is about people and not things is super helpful too. We don't have the latest and greatest THINGS and that is ok. What we do have is the latest and greatest PEOPLE and the eternal and greatest GOD. People did ministry before the technology we have today. People preached before microphones, taught before whiteboards, and took the Gospel to the nations before cars. The people are what matter not the tech behind them.
Despite trying not to be stressed, founding a new organization is still stressful. (It's really too bad that we don't live in a perfect world where nothing bad ever happens and things go exactly as you plan them!) The stress gets compounded with the fact that we live where we work! There is no "clocking out" and no "work-life balance." We eat dinner on the same table that we do ministry on and have meetings on the balcony next to the kids' bedroom. That stress gets carried in our body and, like it or not, affects our health. I've experienced plenty of headaches, stomach pains, and back pain since moving here. I even lost about 5 lbs the first week of living here. (Don't worry, everyone's amazing cooking skills has helped taper that off to healthier levels) With every new ache and pain I start to think "Is this the symptom of something more serious?" "If I got sick, how would this brand-new ministry still be ok without me?"
And this is where I'm still working on dealing with the fear. I've never been physically fit, but I do realize that staying in shape definitely helps with the stress. So if you've made it this far down the blog, please send me your suggestions on things I can do to make sure I am regularly exercising. Bonus points if it's something that is not going to have me jumping around the house and waking up the kids!
To quickly wrap up here. Kudos to you all that have started something new! That have persisted through the fear and worry and made something where there wasn't something before. I have a new found appreciation for what you had to do to make that a reality! Thank you for going first and being an example to the rest of us.
The two pictures you see here are taken from our campus balcony here in Haiti. We have been blessed with a pretty sweet view right?
Now take a look at the pictures again, this time however try to find out what sets them apart from each other. Do you see it? They are almost the exact same picture, except for one sole difference, the focus changes. You may ask, “why is that important?”
It’s important because our focus dictates what is most valuable to us, what we’re striving for.
Think about this….
When you change what you are choosing to focus on, your perspective on everything completely changes!
Okay, get ready because we are about to go down an analogy rabbit trail….
You can clearly see that there are 3 trees in each of these pictures. Now let's say that the tree in the middle represents Jesus and the kingdom of heaven and the two other trees and surrounding area represent this world, our circumstances, other people, basically everything but our Messiah.
In the picture on the right you see that the tree in the middle is blurry and everything surrounding it is in focus. This makes the picture a bit chaotic and overwhelming.
Now, the picture on the left clearly draws our gaze to the middle tree. Everything else has become a blur and the only thing that really seems to matter is Jesus and his Kingdom.
Are you starting to follow….
When you change what you are choosing to focus on, your perspective on everything completely changes!
So, the point of this whole analogy is that when you choose to put your focus on Jesus everything in the world is still there, but it is not as overwhelming or prominent, it doesn’t steal our full attention, it takes a backseat. However when we choose to focus on everything else; this world, our circumstances, our finances, our jobs, other people, etc, the one thing that is actually important becomes blurry and then we have trouble.
This sounds great and all but that's just it, “it sounds great.”. Putting this into practice is a completely different and challenging story. This is something I deeply desire!
I want to completely focus on Jesus all the time, but in reality I don’t. Things are always way better when Jesus has my full attention, so why is this so hard? Well let me tell you, we are human and no matter how much effort we expend to keep Jesus at the forefront we are prone to forget, and forget often. So sad day, we cannot be perfect at this and this, and Satan jumps at the opportunity to cut through the frame, leaving us confused and misguided. Why is it this way? God wants to see us choose him over and over again. As mentioned in Romans 7 it’s only by the grace of God that we are saved from our wretched flesh. He gives us new eyes and new perspective, new focus and fixation, we can learn and seek God and he can help us become better by focusing in on him first, giving him our full attention over and over again. What a good savior we have, who is full of grace and patience. Our God is love, so it only makes sense that his desire for us is to receive love and return it. So, allow yourself to fully reside in the love of Christ, and in doing so refocus on Him.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;