I know I sound like a jerk for even making the comparison, but just hear my out. And let me begin with sharing my personal situation. I grew up without Santa in part because my mom was still upset about being lied to as a child and in part because they were very religious and it's not about Santa. While I recognize that these are legit objections, I still felt robbed as a child. I was alone in my knowledge and therefore lack of excitement surrounding this magical part of Christmas. There was no wonder or mystery to contemplate. So I "do Santa" in my own way now, but due to my observations over the years and in light of recent events, the era of Santa might be over for my family.
But comparing the Santa system to Harvey Weinstein and the #metoo movement? Is that going too far? So tell me, which one isn't a fat beardy man with whom you have no relationship that holds all the power and promises to give you gifts if you're "good" or cut you out if you displease him? Which one is not surrounded by a web of lies, manipulation, and spies? For which one do you not have to cross your bodily boundaries to sit on their lap in order to get what you want? Who of these is not surrounded by a great number of people who guard and perpetuate his shameful "open-secret"?
I can't help but consider that Santa has turned into a bit of a groomer and a few other things that I don't want shaping my children. Is it bad enough to be that "buzz kill" mom? Let's look at it as it relates to what I value most in parenting my kids, in no particular order.
I believe the foundation of having a lasting influence in your child's life is founded on trust. For the parent this means building up a body of evidence that convinces your child that you are worthy of their trust. Taking advantage of their natural trust as a young child lays a groundwork for when they become older. I would imagine that the kids, who are so angry and hurt when they find out Santa isn't real, are not so mad about the end of the magic as they are about having been deceived by the people they trust most. And the age of figuring it out usually closely aligns with the developmental stage of beginning to question parents.
If I go to great lengths to deceive my child in the name of "fun" what does that say about what I value most? What kind of example is it? Is having fun a good excuse for lying? Or even worse, perhaps the best benefit of Santa to parents is the lingering threat of losing out on "gifts", on having a sad and left out Christmas day, and it's power to threaten them into good behavior. So the grooming begins, please a strange old man with great power and wealth, if you want gifts.
(to be continued)
No matter how good we talk about ourselves, our behaviors and attitudes are what reveal what's really in our hearts. The truth is that the good and bad things we do and say start with our thoughts. Who we really are is revealed when no one is watching. What we value becomes obvious when we face hard choices. God knows our thoughts, who we really are, and wants us to be the same whether or not someone else is watching. This is called having integrity. Integrity is important in relationships because it builds trust and creates closeness. A parent with integrity is a blessing to their child.
If we are not truthful about what we really think and feel, if we pretend to be better than we are, we are hypocrites. Hypocrites hide who they are and what they value most. They pretend to be good, lying in order to get other people will like them. They are overly proud and not worthy of trust. Research indicates that children start out believing all lies and bad, but learn over time that some lies are OK. And they learn to lie for the same reasons adults do. They do it to get out of trouble, to impress or protect someone, or to be polite. As parents, it's tempting to lie to get children to do what they should, but this destroys trust. It is a hollow victory and a decisive betrayal.
Jesus, known for revealing truth, shared this parable about integrity in Luke 10:30-35.
A man was going down the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Some robbers surrounded him, tore off his clothes, and beat him. Then they left him lying there on the ground almost dead.
It happened that a priest was going down that road. When he saw the man, he did not stop to help him. He walked away. Next, a holy man came near. He saw the hurt man, but he went around him. He would not stop to help him either. He just walked away.
Then a Samaritan man traveled down that road. (Samaritans were hated and considered criminals). He came to the place where the hurt man was lying. He saw the man and felt very sorry for him. The Samaritan went to the hurt man and poured olive oil and wine on his wounds (to help him). Then he covered the man’s wounds with cloth. He put the man on his donkey, and he took him to a hotel. There he cared for him. The next day, the man took out two silver coins and gave them to the hotel manager. He said, ‘Take care of this man. If you spend more money on him, I will pay it back to you when I come by again.'
The holy men were hypocrites. They pretended to be holy, but their actions showed that their hearts were not holy. These men who claimed to know God, did not love others or have care about their suffering. God is love. If you know God, you know love, and you care for others. When you have integrity, your actions match your words, even when you don't feel like doing it. This doesn't mean we need to be perfect, but humble and honest, especially about our failures. "Let your 'yes' be 'yes', and your 'no', 'no.'' The ugly truth is better than a pretty lie.
Living in such honesty requires great courage. Courage to be truthful, to reveal our weakness and failure, and to stand up for what's right in the face of pressure to do otherwise. Children need encouragement to be bold and defiant in the face of evil. They need courage to be honest about their failures. Telling children stories of when someone told bravely told the truth has been proven to be more effective for encouraging kids to be honest than cautionary tales about the dangers of lying. We can share these stories and help them to be honest by giving them confidence that we will be understanding with them in their weakness. We can give them courage, by offering them grace, help, and prayer in their time of need just as Jesus has done for us (Hebrews 4:15-16, Ephesians 3:12, James 5:16). And of course, we can be an example of courageous integrity in the way we live.
Practicing the way of Jesus
How might a response to a child who is having a meltdown encourage or discourage them towards authenticity and integrity?
What are your thoughts on Santa, the tooth fairy, and other cultural deceptions?
 Mark 7:20-23
 Proverbs 20:7
 I John 4:21
 I John 1:8
 Matthew 5:37
While it's true that children should honor and obey their parents, that doesn't mean that children should obey everyone. Obedience that pleases God means choosing to do what someone God has put in authority tells you to do because you trust and love God. Being obedient is not the same as doing good. Children need to be taught who to obey and who to disobey. Knowing what to do is called discernment, and it's important for kids to learn discernment in order to be safe and make good choices. Sometimes disobedience is the best choice. Brave heroes throughout history have disobeyed when someone told them to do wrong.
If you put too much focus on being obedient, a child might start to believe that obedience itself is the only thing that is important, not thinking about who or when to obey. They may start to obey only when you are watching, just so they look good. But in their hearts, they are not obedient. Their actions are not based on trust. They may care more about what they get for obeying, things like gifts, praise, and approval more than they care about doing what's right and being honest. Or they may care only about their own sense of safety and comfort, not wanting to face the pain of punishment. They learn to decide who to obey based on reward and punishment instead of trust and love.
Jesus the good shepherd told the following story about who to trust and why.
The man who does not enter the sheep pen by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The man who guards the door opens it for him. And the sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. He calls his own sheep, using their names, and he leads them out. He brings all of his sheep out. Then he goes ahead of them and leads them. They follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger. They will run away from him because they don’t know his voice.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. The worker who is paid to keep the sheep is different from the shepherd who owns them. So when the worker sees a wolf coming, he runs away and leaves the sheep alone. Then the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. The man runs away because he is only a paid worker. He does not really care for the sheep. My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me.
The sheep have learned to trust the shepherd. They trust him because he doesn't just tell them to go somewhere, he goes ahead of them and leads them by example. They trust him and know he is good because he doesn't run away from danger, but stays to defend the sheep when danger comes. He is willing to die for the sheep. The sheep have learned to trust the shepherd as good to them, and so they listen when the shepherd calls them.
Children taught to obey for fear or reward will follow anyone who offers either. But it is not safe to trust someone just because they appear to be a shepherd. The thief will rob them and lead them into danger. Even the hired worker, though he may be good will not protect and love them like the good shepherd.
It is more important that children learn who to obey based on trust and love. Then no other voice can pull them into danger with a threat or treat. No one can steal them away. They need to be reminded that God is always watching and that His opinion is more important than anyone else's opinion. No reward is better than the love of God, the Good Shepherd. Love overpowers fear.
 Ephesians 6:1-2, Colossians 3:20
 Philippians 2:8, John 14:15, Romans 6:17
 John 10:1-5, 11-13, 27
 I John 4:18
According to the Barna Research Group, 87% millennials who don’t go to church say they see Christians as judgmental. And they aren't wrong. Many of the most outspoken people who identify as Christians buy into the idea that speaking condemnation will somehow turn a sinner to God. But scripture declares otherwise. God made mercy His catalyst for repentance.
Mercy means to have compassion or forgiveness for someone who should be punished or could be treated harshly. When you are angry, you may want hurt the one who hurt you. But if you have mercy, you don't blame, shame, or punish, even if they deserve it. Mercy is undeserved forgiveness given at the will of the one, usually in authority, who has been wronged. If it is deserved, it is not mercy. Mercy sets the wrongdoer free from the fear punishment. As Jesus said, "I desire mercy not sacrifice."
Mercy does not mean pretending nothing is wrong. It doesn't condone evil, but it turns anger away from a person and towards the wrongdoing. If we have compassion for those under our care, we point out wrongdoing, explain why it's wrong, and what it cost. We help them to see the consequences without condemnation. We take the cost upon ourselves, not demanding anything of the other person whether payment or payback.
Jesus shared this parable about mercy.
A king decided to collect the money his servants owed him. One servant owed him thousands of dollars. He was not able to pay the king. So the king ordered that the servant and everything he owned be sold, even his wife and children. The money would be used to pay the king what the servant owed.
But the servant fell on his knees and begged, ‘Be patient with me. I will pay you everything I owe.’ The king felt sorry for him. So he told the servant he did not have to pay. He let him go free.
Later, that same servant found another servant who owed him a hundred dollars. He grabbed him around the neck and said, ‘Pay me the money you owe me!’
The other servant fell on his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me. I will pay you everything I owe.’
But the first servant refused to be patient. He had the servant put in jail until he could pay everything he owed. When the other servants saw what happened, they told the king everything that happened.
Then the king called his servant in and said, ‘You evil servant. You begged me to forgive your debt, and I said you did not have to pay anything! So you should have given that other man who serves with you the same mercy I gave you.’ The master was very angry, so he put the servant in jail to be punished. And he had to stay in jail until he could pay everything he owed.
Like the servant, as we have received mercy, so we are called to give mercy. Every wrong done to us provides an opportunity for us to demonstrate judgment or mercy. Mercy is better. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Having mercy on others builds them up in love. It tells them that your love and acceptance are not based on their behavior. On the contrary, we who are humble recognize that we share in their feelings, having been tempted and made poor choices ourselves. We too struggle against desires to do evil and know how it feels.
Love is made perfect by mercy. And the one who is forgiven much loves much in return.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor who had compassion for those being treated harshly, and so he died standing up against the Nazis. He shared this about mercy:
He gave me comfort, forgave all my errors and did not find me guilty of evil. When I was his enemy and did not respect his commandments, he treated me like a friend. When I did him wrong, he returned to me only goodness. I can hardly fathom why the Lord loves me in this way, why I am so dear to him. I cannot understand how he managed to and wanted to win my heart with his love, all I can say is: ‘I have received mercy.” 
 The Barna Research Group and The Fermi Project, “A New Generation Expresses its Skepticism and Frustration with Christianity,” September 2007.
 Romans 2:4, Romans 12:1-2
 Matthew 5:3-10
 I John 4:18, Hebrews 4:16
 Matthew 9:13, Matthew 12:7
 Matthew 18:15
 Matthew 18:23-34
 James 2:3
 Luke 7:47
 Romans 3:23
 Ephesians 2:1-4, Romans 7:15-25, Hebrews 4:15
 Luke 7:47
 "La fragilità del male, raccolta di scritti inediti" By Dietrich Bonhoffer
In John 18 we hear the story of Jesus' arrest. One of the themes is the issue of power -who has it, who tries to claim more than they have, and who gives theirs up
How Jesus asserts power
In John 18:3 Judas tries to assert his might with earthly powers: a detachment of soldiers, chief priests, and Pharisees carrying weapons. When they approached, Jesus went out to them and spoke first saying, "Who is it you want?" And when they said "Jesus of Nazareth" His next words sent them to the ground. "I am he." He then told them they could not take the disciples who were with him and they obeyed. Jesus went with them, not because of their authority, but taking "the cup the Father has given."
Again in John 18 before the high priest Annas and in John 19 before the political authority of Pilate Jesus responds to their violence and threats using great restraint by responding with few words and moments of chosen silence. He didn't need more. Jesus' authority wasn't threatened. He knew that the Father had put all things under his power. (John 13:3).
How the high priest asserts power
Jesus was brought before the religious authority, Annas a high priest, for questioning by a detachment of soldiers with weapons. The expression of power by the high priest is the threat of violence.
Jesus is questioned by Annas and an official of the high priest slaps Jesus across the face, an act of violence meant to remind Jesus of his "place."
How Peter asserts power
Peter met the detachment of soldiers and religious leaders with a sword, cutting off the ear of the high priest's servant. Jesus admonished him. Jesus has no need for violence. In the Gospel of Luke we learn that Jesus heals the servant.
Later Peter in fear of punishment himself by the powers of the high priest responded with lying and betrayal. He hid his true identity as a disciple of Jesus. Luke reveals that Jesus only needed to look at Peter to remind him that this was predicted. A move that sent Peter into tearful repentance.
How Pilate asserts power
In John 19 Jesus was received into Pilate's care. Before even meeting Pilate his officials did their best to strip him of his sense of authority by beating, slapping, and mocking him before a crowd.
Later Pilate used the threat of death to try to coerce Jesus saying, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus answers with truth, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. "
John says, that "From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting." Pilate was moved, but weakly. He gave up his power and handed Jesus over to the Jewish leaders as soon as they started threatening his position, saying that a friend to Jesus was an enemy to Caesar.
How should we assert our power?
All authority is given from God, but that doesn't make all authority righteous. Unrighteous authorities use the tools of the enemy - threats, lies, violence, fear, and shame to try to assert or defend their power and position.
As we see in Jesus, Godly authority is often exercised by the tongue whether from speaking or remaining silent. Sometimes the only reinforcement needed is a look. Jesus' real authority was never at stake. He gave up his power for a short while to reveal the full extent of his power so that we through faith can be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
All authority we have, He gives and can take away. We have no need for the use of threats, violence, fear, and shame. In Jesus, our power and position can't be taken, it isn't threatened. We have power over sin and power over our tongues. We have more power in Christ than most of us will ever make use of.
I was 16 years old sitting almost at the top of a small tree near Jinja, Uganda when my mission trip leader started the countdown: "10, 9, 8..." in a panicked scramble I lost my footing and fell about 6 feet landing flat on my side. The wind knocked out of me, I dragged myself up and hobbled through the door of the hut by "1" and was greeted wryly by the leader "Was it worth it?" Still breathless from the fall I fought back my tears and nodded yes. I had preserved the one hour a day I had as "privilege" to either take a cold shower in a door-less building or wash the two outfits I wasn't wearing using a bucket. But for me it wasn't the fear of losing a shower that drove me to choose obedience over my safety, it was the fear of the condemnation. And not just what I might experience from others in my public punishment. What I really feared was being whipped by my own sense of shame, which looked for any opportunity to shackle me in the chains of self-condemnation.
I don't believe this fear served a Godly purpose. Beyond our design there is Godly fear and unGodly fear. In Matt 10:28 Jesus says, "And Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather Fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Those who are perishing would do well to fear the One who has the power to throw them into hell, but there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
In Romans 8:15, Paul encourages us, "For you have not received the Spirit of bondage again to Fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Even when we fail, there is no need for flee or be paralyzed in fear, but instead we can run towards God in our time of need with confidence in His mercy and grace.
Fear is not a weapon God intended for use by Godly leadership, neither is a fearful follower perfected by fear. The Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus time demonstrated the pitfalls of being in bondage to fear and ruling by fear. They feared man over God, feared losing the admiration, power, and glory of their position. They judged and thought themselves higher than the people they were meant to serve. In fear they sought to destroy Jesus.
Jesus did not fear the religious leaders nor the people put under his care. He walked among the sick, sinful, demon possessed and otherwise condemned. He confronted the Pharisees in Matthew 9:13 "But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Jesus did not come wielding fear and judgement, but mercy and grace.
When I think of what might have been on that mission trip so many years ago, Oswald Chamber’s words come to mind, “The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship.” Our team did a good work, laying the foundation and building half of a building for the use of future ministry, but the work was done in an atmosphere of worldly fear. 1 John 4:18 states "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." Without that fear, I might have been perfected in love.
A large part of job of parenting is teaching. Teaching is like working in a garden. You don't plant one day and get fruit the next day. You plant, protect, water, and wait to see if good fruit comes from your efforts. Things like the weather, weeds, and type of soil affect how healthy a plant becomes. You can't control some things, like the weather, but you can help keep the soil it's planted in. Like a gardener, a parent must work and invest in the hopes of one day seeing fruit.
Jesus, who compared himself to a gardener, shared this parable about teaching.
A gardener went out to sow seed. While he was scattering the seed, some of it fell by the road. The birds came and ate all that seed. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where there was not enough dirt. It grew very fast there, because the soil was not deep. But when the sun rose, it burned the plants. The plants died because they did not have deep roots. Some other seed fell among thorny weeds. The weeds grew and stopped the good plants from growing. But some of the seed fell on good ground. There it grew and made grain. Some plants made 100 times more grain, some 60 times more, and some 30 times more.
The truth is like a seed and people are like the different kinds of soil. Here's what the parable means about the different kinds people the soil represents and how a teaching, like a seed, grows in each one.
1. The first type of soil is on the road. It has been stepped on so many times that it is hard. The truth can't sink into it. If your child's mind and heart are hard, afraid of being stepped on, any truth they hear won't sink in and grow. Left unprotected, it will be stolen away.
2. The second type of soil is the rocky ground. In rocky ground, there is a little bit of soft soil, so the truth starts growing. But the rocks keep the roots from growing strong and deep. The rocks are the parts of your kid that don't want the truth. So when your child goes through hard times, the truth that started to grow is too weak. It dies. It is no longer a part of them.
3. The third type of soil is full of weeds. The weeds are bad thinking(lie and bad ideas). The seed of truth lands there and grows alongside the bad thinking. The bad thinking, left unattended to, eventually takes over all of their thinking, like weeds slowly killing off the good teaching until it's gone and only bad ideas are left.
4. Finally there is the good soil. All children start life being good at learning. In fact, scientists have recently published several studies concluding that babies are "little scientists." For the truth to grow and be strong in children, they must welcome it and be willing to listen to it, like good soil taking in a seed and allowing it to take root.
As a parent you can't force them to believe the things you teach. But you can keep planting seeds of truth and working the soil to stay soft. You can uproot bad thinking and keep away those who would steal the truth from them. If you take care of the garden of their hearts and minds, they will grow strong in the truth.
 Matthew 13:37
 Matthew 13:3-8 (ERV, "gardener" substituted for farmer by the author)
 Luke 18:17
 Alison Gopnik, "Scientific Thinking in Young Children: Theoretical Advances, Empirical Research, and Policy Implications", SCIENCE28 SEP 2012 : 1623-1627
- From my upcoming book, "Parenting in Christ: Lessons from the Parables"
I am amazing
At being truly humble
You would be amazed
- Humility Haiku
Is it humble to try to teach humility? Probably not. Nevertheless, here goes. :)
Christ had a special esteem for the weak and lowly. Jesus welcomed children saying, “Allow the little children, and don’t forbid them to come to me; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to ones like these” (Matthew 19:14). He drew attention to the humility of children. "In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?' Jesus called a little child to himself, and set him in the middle of them, and said, 'Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven'” (Matthew 18:1-4). Jesus specifically taught us not to devalue or judge children, saying, "See that you don’t despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). God calls us to esteem children as Christ did, to value them as a good gift from God. "Behold, children are a heritage of Yahweh. The fruit of the womb is his reward" (Psalm 127:3). If we are humble towards children, they will learn humility by our example.
Teaching humility is difficult. The most impactful way is to be an example. Be a student of your child. Be slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). Direct your attention and theirs on being curious about and attentive to God and others. Teach them that every gift is from God and meant to be used to serve and honor others (I Peter 4:10). Boast in your weaknesses, confess your faults, and redirect personal glory towards God. Never humiliate your children, but help them navigate humiliation as an opportunity to challenge hidden pride and grow (Proverbs 11:2). Steer clear of competition and comparison. Direct their attention to the things of awe which point to the Creator. Recognize their efforts, but give God the praise for their qualities.
Scripture encourages humility. In Romans 12:3 Paul says, "For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith." And in Philippians Paul says, "Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3, HCSB). In I Corinthians 1, he points out that God chooses the weak and the lowly, to put to shame the things that are strong. And Paul lived in humility. "I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, HCSB).
Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. "Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:5-8). Christ-like humility means submitting to God and what He says about you - over your own or anyone else's opinions about yourself. When your confidence is in Christ alone, you are free to focus on others, treating them with elevated regard, honoring and serving them. In addition, humility is the virtue that begets all other good virtues. As St. Augustine said, "Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist, there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance."
- edited excerpt from Parenting in Christ
The other day I heard someone ask
“Didn’t Jesus say, ‘Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime’?”
The other responded, “Yeah…”
Well, the answer, I hope you know, is No! He didn’t say that! In fact, no one is sure of the actual source, but it has been most often credited to Lao Tzu, the Chinese founder of Taoism, about 2700 ish years ago.
This got me thinking, what other ideas and sayings might be floating out there wrongly attributed to God's words? Below are five sayings I've heard passed around by Christians, but only one is in the Bible. Guess which one. I’ll give you the answer at the end.
“God helps those who help themselves.”
“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
“Eat, drink and be merry”
“Forgive and forget”
Regardless of their true source, these pithy sayings can feel like handy tools for life, even mantras to live by. But as Christians we are not called to live by what sounds good, seems true, or is popular. We are called to live “on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). What we believe needs to be held to account by Scripture. We are called to judge arguments and every pretension against the knowledge of God and take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ. Jesus had a word for those who teach man's ideas as if they were from God, "hypocrites.”
As Jesus went about his ministry discipling and teaching, he separated man-made “holy” laws from the truth of God’s laws. God’s laws are not for us to give lip-service, begrudging obedience, or to perform mindless rituals. His laws reveal how things work in the Spiritual world, in His Kingdom. They are intended to change us from a mindset that the world revolves around us to a mindset that we are here to serve God and others.
This is not to say that practical rules like removing your shoes indoors, washing your hands, and not playing with fire aren’t valuable. These are rules for life, helpful rituals that keep us safe, healthy and enable us live in community, but they pale in comparison to the knowledge of God. Carpets will disintegrate, germs will die, fire will be quenched but God’s kingdom will endure for eternity. The rules of life protect our treasures on earth, but our minds should be focused on treasures in Heaven. Then, our hearts can be properly aligned to overflow with goodness in what we do and say. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The mind focused on the kingdom of self will be defensive, rebellious, frustrated, and self-seeking. The mind directed towards treasures in Heaven and the things of God, will be at rest, overflowing naturally with good behaviors, attitudes, and words.
So, back to the pithy sayings, here's the Bible verse, and the references for the rest.
The scripture is “Eat, drink and be merry”
As for the rest, here’s their true sources as best I could determine.
“God helps those who help themselves.”
-Poor Richard's Almanac by Benjamin Franklin
“Spare the rod, and spoil the child.”
-Hudibras (a satirical bawdy poem) by Samuel Butler
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
–Hebrew Proverb (unknown source)
“Forgive and forget”
–King Lear by Shakespeare
Be careful what rules and pithy sayings you attribute to God. Study scripture yourself, seek to know God and the wisdom He gives for life in His Kingdom.
"These people draw near to me with their mouth,
and honor me with their lips;
but their heart is far from me.
And in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrine rules made by men."
- Matthew 15:8-9
I didn't go on this trip looking for a life-changing experience, but it was still impactful to me to see the work God was doing in the church and in the community around the church. The pastors and member of the church shared their compelling testimonies and powerful ministries. Seeing how their faith impacted their community and attitude towards children was a beautiful testament that the God of love is the same across cultures, languages, and distances.
It was also uncomfortably humbling. But is being humbled ever painless? Here at home, being a mom means I do a lot of leading, decision making, and that what I say has weight. Joining a team of strangers and having to work and do most of the day together was sometimes difficult. I lost that sense of being valued that I have with friends and family at home. Though painful, it was good a reminder of how little I really am entitled to and how much I have to be grateful for.
We finished camp on Friday night and were on the way to the airport around 4 am the next morning. The 11 hour time difference and 20 hours in the air were more taxing on the way home. When I stepped out of the airport my first thought was how clean the air seemed (in Los Angeles!). I had some serious digestive problems and a bad ear infection. It took me a solid week to recover physically.
And I came back with something else, a conviction that it may be time to change some things up back at home. I am not entirely sure why, but I think it's in part because I saw how far a dollar could go just about anywhere else - especially Kyrgyzstan. For $40,000 they can build a large, beautiful hostel from the ground up on the property where the Oak House girls live. It will be a sustaining source of income for them and keep the Oak House open. To do something like that in Los Angeles would probably run about $5 million minimum. I think also the more relaxed, slow paced, and uncrowded life in Kyrgyzstan appealed to me. We don't plan to move to Kyrgyzstan, at least not yet, but I hope we can go back - maybe our entire family. None of the rest of my family has done a missions trip yet. I would love for them to meet and connect with the amazing people at the church in Kyrgyzstan and to experience God at work in another part of the world. I hope to return and continue those relationships, to be an encourager to my friends on other side of the world. We're staying in touch over social media.
We've made a decision as a family to pursue supporting foster care kids here at home. This probably means moving. My heart and prayers are still with the church, children, and ministries in Kyrgyzstan. I'm excited to see where God takes us next.