Overwhelmed is a good word.

6675771445_c81ce29198_zOverwhelmed is a good word.

A little over a year ago my sweet wife and I had no idea what was coming.  In many ways I am glad that we did not know.  To this day there are things that I am quite certain we will not understand any time soon.  And that’s ok.

Today we find ourselves in awe of the ways in which God works in our lives.

Overwhelmed is a good word.

We have been overwhelmed by things outside of our “control.” Our recent memories are actually filled with words like concern, confusion, and at times… crushed.  I’m not sure that he realizes it, but our oldest son Nathan was great encouragement to our family when he said, “Even hard things are a matter of perspective… Where do we keep our focus?  On the difficulty or on the Lord?”

Overwhelmed is a good word.

Those overwhelming things have actually been the way God has been preparing us for major unexpected change.  When you finally recognize that God is in control (and not you) it is overwhelming to see His hand of providence, His unfolding purpose, and His plan for your life.

Did I mention that we are in awe of the ways in which God works in our lives?

We were not looking, we were not asking, and indeed we did not even realize that God was preparing us for a whole new chapter in our life.  Until now.  I have been asked and I have accepted the call to come and serve as the senior pastor of the South County Bible Church in south St. Louis County Missouri.

Overwhelmed is a good word.

We (our whole family) are excited about this new adventure.  We are thankful for the rich history and godly men who have served at SCBC.  We are eager to work with the team that God has in place and continues to build there.  We are overwhelmed by the goodness of the Lord, the grandeur of God, and the opportunity to serve Him.

 

“Overwhelmed” By Big Daddy Weave

I see the work of Your Hands

Galaxies spin in a Heavenly dance oh God

All that You are is so overwhelming

I hear the sound of Your Voice

All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise oh God

All that You are is so overwhelming

I delight myself in You

Captivated by Your beauty

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

I know the power of Your Cross

Forgiven and free forever You’ll be my God

And all that You’ve done is so overwhelming

I delight myself in You

In the Glory of Your Presence

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

And God I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

You are Beautiful, You are Beautiful

Oh God, there is no one more Beautiful

You are Beautiful, God you are the most Beautiful

You are Wonderful, You are Wonderful

Oh God, there is no one more Wonderful

You are Wonderful, God You are the most Wonderful

You are Glorious, You are Glorious

Oh God, there is no one more Glorious

You are Glorious, God you are the most Glorious

I delight myself in You

In the Glory of Your Presence

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

And God I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

There is no one more Beautiful

You are the most Beautiful

Songwriters: YOLANDA YVETTE ADAMS, RYAN KENT BELCHER, RODNEY L. EAST, ERROL W. JR. MCCALLA, MARCUS ECBY

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Family Fun

Our family always looks forward to putting our Christmas tree up together.  This year Jordan decided to do a few short videos to preserve the progress.

A Box of Chocolates

7098_dtEvery year around the holidays my grandmother would purchase Russell Stover boxes of assorted chocolates.  Lots of them.  (Wow, just thinking about this makes my mouth water.)  Anyway, she always had the chocolates out for family and friends who happened to stop by for a visit.

Motivated, of course, to help my grandmother resist these tiny temptations I would eat as many as possible on every visit.  I had actually become so familiar with these delightful sweets that I could identify them by color, shape, swirl, or just looking at the edges.  Of course the very best way to identify them was to  gently press your finger into the bottom of each one.

Those chocolates were amazing!  (I had to beat my sister to the box in order to get the good ones.)  Some of them had soft creamy centers and some had hard candy centers.  Some had peanut butter, some had caramel, and some had toffee.  Some of them even had peanuts, almonds, or walnuts in the center.

Now let’s be honest here. That pretty well describes any local church family.  Some people are hard, some people are soft, and some people are just nuts covered in chocolate!

One of the key strengths of the Church is that we are not all identical.  Why do I say strength?  Because the watching world looks at this local group of drastically different individuals and marvels at our unity and the deep affection we have for one another (see John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4).

How is this unity amidst such diversity possible?  It is only possibly through the blood of Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul said, “For in Him [Jesus Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).

Through the precious blood of Jesus Christ we now share the same heavenly Father (John 1:12-13), the same Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13), the same Body (the Church; Ephesians 1:22-23), the same heavenly Destiny (Revelation 21:1–4), and we share the same holy Calling (1 Peter 1:16)!

  • Do you know God’s peace? Romans 3:10-23; 5:8; 6:10-11, 23; 10:9-10, 13
  • If you DO know God’s peace: Romans 12:18; Romans 14:19; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:3; Colossians 3:15; James 3:18

Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Day!

fairfax-fare-egg-and-cheese-english-muffin-with-bacon-2Friday morning has become something of a special treat in our house.  It’s “Bacon, Egg, & Cheese (did I mention bacon?) Day”!  I did not intend for it to happen, but I have become the unofficial cook on Friday mornings.  Honestly, it just doesn’t get much better than a hot cup of coffee and sizzling bacon, so I’m not complaining!

On this particular morning however, three of our children are not feeling well, nobody in our house got much sleep, and everyone was exhausted.  Even my coffee seemed to be dragging its feet this morning.  It’s been a long week and nothing has really gone “as planned,” at all.

So there I was, bacon on the griddle, bread in the toaster, skillet warming, eggs ready and music playing in the background.  I even had Noah contentedly sitting in his bouncy seat so Jenny could take care of some laundry.  Picture perfect. Until…

The bacon wasn’t cooking, Caleb was coughing and begging, others were wandering around in the kitchen (in the way), a couple kids disappeared, and I even tripped over the baby’s seat, twice (he did not notice and he was not injured in any way).

Hannah let me know that I’d been turning the griddle down not up.  Grace informed me that she was “starving to death.”  The egg pan got too hot.  I burned the first round of toast.  Apparently there was even a lego controversy that morning; should the castle tower have a door or not?  Oh, and Caleb informed mommy that “daddy would not give him a drink of water.”

Eventually everyone did enjoy their, albeit crispy,“Bacon, Egg, & Cheese” breakfast.

Here is the point: Go and hug your wife (and your mom), tell her how amazing she is and how much you genuinely appreciate her.  Express your love and praise for her clearly and audibly.  Believe me, you do not do this enough.

Proverbs 31:28 “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

“Frozen” Cereal?

15833676258_80c302e68b_z 2Oh wow,  I just heard my dad’s voice, quoting my mother, coming out of my own mouth.  Nooooo!  It cannot be.  (*hanging my head and sighing audibly.)

So I went by the store on my way home the other day.  I was on a simple mission: go in, get a few items (on my list), get out, go home.  As I passed the end-cap of the aisle those mean grocery people had placed a gimmick-cereal there in order to grab the attention of little girls and soft-hearted fathers of little girls; Frozen.

Just to make sure the big softy could not refuse, the cereal was basically just a dumbed down version of Lucky Charms.  It only had two kinds of marshmallows “snow and ice crystals.”  I know…boring colors, right?

Oh yeah, and because Kellogg knows that dads have a hard time denying their daughters happiness, the box is smaller but costs just the same.  Thanks a lot Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven.  In my defense it does say, in all capital letters, right across the top of the box “Collector’s Edition”.

So now we’re sitting at the breakfast table with little people eating their Frozen cereal.  They are smiling, fully absorbed in the cartoon images on the box, and bouncing ever so slightly in their seats.  Then it happened.

“Stop eating the marshmallows with your fingers … you are going to eat all of your cereal, not just the colors.”  Aaaaaaahh!  My dad’s voice, my mom’s words, and my own mouth.  The only consolation is that I did not employ the “there are starving children in Africa” line.

Upon recovering from this echo from my childhood, three things quickly cross my mind:

  1. It is not the end of the world if the kids only eat the marshmallows.
  2. I am so thankful for my mom and dad (especially their patience).
  3. As a father I am always influencing my children, always.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger (bad influence), but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (good influence).”  Ephesians 6:4

Another Interesting Day

10392395_948072435205005_7364522351814597439_nOn Monday, January 26, at 1:55AM the newest addition to our family officially arrived.  In a moment of incredible joy, the kind that erupts with both tears and giggling, little Noah Charles Mitchell emerged to snuggle in his beautiful mommy’s arms.

I’m actually smiling (and fighting a tear) now.  I can’t help it!  There is nothing that compares with that image etched on my heart.  It’s just…powerful…and I am, thankful.

Upon bring our precious little Noah home we discovered that one of the other children has a runny nose, is coughing, and apparently didn’t mind sharing their germs.  So now three of the children have colds.  Man I wish somebody would have suggested that I invest in Huggies and Puffs twenty years ago!

As I hold Noah in one arm while using the other to type, Jenny is resting and the rest of the kids are just beginning to stir.  From the sounds echoing through our house, it’s going to be another interesting day.

Once again I am keenly aware of just how important my role is as a husband and a dad.  On this pre-dawn early morning there are two Scriptures capturing my attention:

1Peter 3:7 “…husbands, live with your wives in an UNDERSTANDING way, showing HONOR to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that YOUR PRAYERS may not be hindered.” (emphasis added intentionally!)

And Proverbs 20:7  “The righteous [dad] who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!

Do you want God to hear you when you pray?  Love your wife by being understanding and honoring to her.  Do you want your children to be blessed by God?  Seek God through Christ and practice integrity.

10955798_948164801862435_3138221462458336295_n

 

Christmas in Heaven

Golden-Christmas-ornaments-christmas-22229833-904-768I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights like heaven’s stars
Reflecting in the snow.

The sight is so spectacular
please wipe away that tear
for I am spending CHRISTMAS
WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear
but the sound of music can’t compare
with the CHRISTMAS CHOIR up here.

I have no words to tell you
of the JOY their voices bring
for it is beyond description
to HEAR THE ANGELS SING.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart
for I am spending CHRISTMAS
WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I can’t tell you of the SPLENDOR
or the PEACE here in this place
Can you just imagine CHRISTMAS
WITH OUR SAVIOR face to face?

I’ll ask him to lift your spirit
as I tell him of your love
so then PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER
as you lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful
and let your spirit sing
for I am spending CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN
and I’m walking WITH THE KING.

By Wanda Bencke

(Lysandra Kay Bencke was my thirteen year old handicapped daughter. On Christmas day 1997, Lysandra had a seizure and was in a coma for five days before she died. During those five days I wrote the poem “Christmas in Heaven”. I sent it out in a belated Christmas cards to friends and relatives that year. They also sent it on to other friends and relatives, thus the poem and the story behind it have been changed. )

By the way, you’re not Jesus.

authoritarian-parents-angry-father-scolding-boyRemember that time when your child (spouse or friend), sinned against you and you went to them with eloquent, pointed, correcting words, and they immediately saw their error, dropped to their knees, and apologized with repentant tears?

Wait!  That’s never happened to you either?  I have to correct my children for the same thing over and over and over.  Why don’t they get what I’m saying?  Maybe I need to say it differently, with more force, with more gentleness, with more scripture, with less scripture.  I just need to figure out the right combination of words, then they’ll get it.  Right?

OK, so, you may want to sit down at this point.  What I’m about to say may be hard to hear: We cannot change people.

One author put it like this: “Somewhere along the way, those of us gifted with words will receive a painful reminder that it is Jesus and not our explanations that can change a heart.  Words aren’t strings.  People aren’t puppets. Eloquent speech isn’t magic.”

Only Jesus can change a person’s heart.  We may have all the appropriate biblical ammunition, carefully crafted arguments, and even have righteousness on our side, but none of these things can change a person.

As a dad I can raise my voice, or slow down my words (as if I’m speaking to a foreigner), but none of these things will change my children.  My words don’t have the power to change their hearts.  Only Jesus can do that.

When tension rises in a relationship, we’re immediately confronted with the fact that we are not Jesus.  We cannot cause people to be convicted of their sins, no matter how eloquently or forcefully we speak.  Only Jesus can convict a person of their sins.  Only Jesus can change a person’s heart.

We need to spend more time asking Him to work.  Yes, I mean praying.  He must change our children.  He must work in our spouse.  He must soften our friend.  Trying to do the work of Jesus in the heart of others is both exhausting and frustrating.  I know, I’ve tried many times and failed every time.  We need to (must) let Jesus do his work in his time.

[See: Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 14:10; 15:5]

Day of Discovery

We have really been looking forward to this day!  After lengthy discussions (more like debates), emotional pleas (that sound like “I really want what I want”), and child-like logic (it has to be this way because I want it to be this way) we arrived at the doctors office for the ultra-sound.  The boys wanted another brother.  Hannah and Lydia wanted a little sister.  Grace wants, well, a baby.  And Caleb just wants his space on mommy’s lap, back.

To be honest the week leading up to our day of discovery was a little nerve racking.  I had to take my sweet wife to the doctor’s office twice for unscheduled visits.  It doesn’t really matter how small the matter, when you’re expecting and things are not right, they are just not right.  Thankfully everything was fine and all is well.

Well, the day arrived.  Drum roll please . . . . . We are having a baby boy!  Well, that’s what the doctor said when he looked at the black-n-white kaleidoscope-looking mini-screen that displays shapes, bones, organs, and gender specific anatomy.

Oh wait, I can see a tiny little face!

2014-08-28 14.52.19Incredible.

The drive home was very interesting.  We talked about how the other children would respond to the news. Joy-unleashed would be a good way to describe the atmosphere. That is, after explaining that there were no winners or losers in the “what do you think the baby is” game.

Somewhere along the road my delight intersected with my reality.  I have another son to love, train, equip, and launch into manhood.  Wow.

Something I read recently came to mind: “The family is supposed to be a training ground in loving authority.  It is a ‘ramping-up’ place that God has given us to learn love, respect, honor, obedience, and trust, in order to prepare us for relating to others and ultimately to God Himself.”

Again, wow.  I love being a dad!  Please Lord, help me to be a good dad.

Happy 21 Years!

photoMarriage is not about feelings (though feelings are a wonderful byproduct).
Marriage is not about “compatibility” (it’s about commitment & covenant).
Marriage is not about sexual intimacy (though marriage is where it is sweet and secure).

Marriage is about delighting in God’s Word.
Marriage is about exalting salvation through Christ alone.
Marriage is about honoring God (who designed the institution & defines the parameters).

Marriage is sacred.

Genesis 2:18, 21-24 “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Matthew 19:6 “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Ephesians 5:31-33 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Hebrews 13:4 “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

HAPPY 21 YEARS to my sweet wife … my delight … my joy … my best friend …

Jenny,
I honor you.
I adore you.
I praise God for you.
I LOVE YOU!

With all my heart,

Clegguart