bookmark_borderJuly 28th, 2023

Luke 15:1-2 CSB – All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

I think this verse often gets overlooked, but it’s a powerful summary of how Jesus intended us to be in relationships with others. The Pharisees and scribes were complaining that Jesus was *gasp* treating people with respect and dignity, even though those people were sinners. The attitude of the day, especially in Pharisee culture, was to reject anyone with any outward signs of sin. Somehow, that same attitude of the Pharisees has permeated modern Christian culture, and often times we’re enabling that attitude by not emulating Christ.

Several years ago, I was in a church where, about ten minutes before the service was to begin, a homeless man walked through the doors looking for help. His clothes were ragged, he wasn’t clean, and he was carrying a lot of his belongings with him in a backpack. Instead of welcoming the man with open arms and asking how we could help, he was treated with suspicion and led to a back room where one of the pastors could talk to him without the congregation having to involve themselves in the issue. I later found out that the man was just looking to go to church, and because of the suspicion of nearly everyone in the building, he was denied an opportunity to worship. We never saw him again. Honestly, though, and I’m not too proud to admit, I was suspicious of the man as well. He wasn’t someone we’d seen around, he didn’t look like one of us, and we were all thinking “Oh my, what will everyone think?” I was an enabler of this behavior, a behavior which I think is our default reaction a lot of times to things that aren’t familiar to us. However, Jesus, in the verse above, clearly shows us, by his own example, how we’re to form relationships with folks. We’re to welcome them and share what we have with them, whether it be our time, clothing, a meal, money, or whatever. By doing that, and with an attitude of hospitality, we are truly acting in the same grace and spirit of Christ.

bookmark_borderJuly 21st, 2023

Colossians 3:21 CSB – Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged.

As the father of two boys, this is a verse that I think of often, especially with them being so young. Anneke and I talk a lot about how to parent without breaking our children’s spirits because we want them to be strong adults. We’ve both seen too many instances of children whose parents have had them under their thumbs their entire lives resulting in the children not knowing how to live on their own or think for themselves. We want to be an encouragement to our children and give them an environment where they can thrive and feel safe to talk to us about anything, even if it’s something that may be taboo.

We’re still learning how to find the balance of discipline and freedom so that we don’t become parents who discourage or exasperate their children but also don’t allow our children to walk over us. When we grow older, and our kids are adults, we want them to want to hang out with us, do things with us, and share their lives with us. To that end, we include our children as much as possible in the mundane things in our lives, like emptying the dishwasher or cleaning a bathroom. They’re naturally interested in what we’re doing, and if we include them in those things, later, they’ll include us in their mundane things. Anneke is better at this than I am. I still sometimes get in a rush and will push Jack away when he wants to help with something. Six months ago, I was pushing him away every time and now it’s more like 1 in 4 times. So I’m getting better and it’s teaching me a level of patience that I didn’t know existed.