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
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Hairbrush Hero

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The Crisis: I was sitting quietly at my computer enjoying a cup of coffee and contemplating the deep things of God when Lydia approached me with sadness and fear. “Daddy,” she said, “Have you seen my little pink hairbrush?” Do you have any idea how much hair-brushing is required in a house that contains four females? Wow.

Initial response: I admit it. I was not very gallant in my response to the hairbrush crisis. In fact I was rather brutish. “Sweetheart,” I said, “Daddy doesn’t use your brush and daddy did not have your hairbrush. Now you go find it like mommy said.”

The interruption: Grace tapping my arm, waiting, tapping, waiting, “daddy,” waiting, tapping. Lydia walks away head down, disheartened, and unable to solve the mystery of the missing hairbrush. I finally looked at Grace and said, “Yes Grace. What is it?” “Umm. Daddy,” she says, tilting her sweet little face to one side. “Yes Grace. I’m busy. What do you need?” Grace, “Umm. Do I look pretty daddy?” Sigh. “Yes sweetie. You look pretty.”

The Hunt for Red October: OK, so I didn’t really organize the entire Russian fleet of nuclear submarines to find the hairbrush. Actually, I didn’t even get up from my coffee and computer. About an hour later I happen to be walking down the hall and saw the little brush underneath a chair against the wall. I have to be honest, I walked on by shaking my head and leaving it lay.

An opportunity lost, recovered: Another thirty minutes past and I overheard the troubled voice of little Lydia trying to explain that the little pink hairbrush was gone. Jenny, being much more considerate than I had been, responded with encouragement and counsel. In that moment I remembered seeing the hairbrush!

The moment:  I leapt from my seat (not really), swept little Lydia into my arms (yes I did), whisked her to the top of the stairs like a knight in shining armor (in my head), crawled on my hands and knees under the chair, recovered the brush, and on one knee held forth the little pink brush to my now elated little girl. Hero.

You don’t have to defeat all of the host of Mordor in order to be a blessing to your family. You don’t have to be a Jedi Knight to be a hero to your wife and kids. You just need to give them your time, attention, and affection. You know, act like you like them.

Points to ponder: Psalm 127:3; Deuteronomy 6:7-9; Ephesians 5:25; 1 Peter 3:7

“They’re Birds!”

The month of August is a great time to head out into the timber and check your Deer stand, shooting lanes, and game trails. On one particularly warm day my oldest son Nathan, youngest son Josiah, and myself decided we needed to head to grandpa’s farm in order to do just that! On the way there Josiah asked four or five times “Daddy, can we stop by grandpa’s apple tree?” I guess you can’t check your stand without a few apples to munch along the way.

As we made our way across the field I was in teaching mode. I wanted the boys to notice everything; the direction of the wind, the sounds we could hear, any trails, and any wildlife we could spot on the way in. As we made our way down the hill and across a little hay-field Nathan said, “Dad. Look at all those geese!” I looked up at the sky just in time to see what Nathan was now pointing at. I said, “Wow, there sure are a lot of ‘em up there. But I don’t think they’re geese.” Nathan asked, “What are they?” and I responded, “I don’t know.” At this point Josiah who was working his way through his third apple and had not even raised his head to look up at the sky said, “They’re birds.”

Sometimes the simplicity and complexity of children is just the right dose of reality! Thinking about that day still brings a smile to my face. We knew they were not geese and thanks to Josiah we knew for certain that they were absolutely birds. What a joy and great blessing our children really are to us!

In a study conducted several years ago, sociologists Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck of Harvard University tried to identify the crucial factors in Juvenile Delinquency. They developed a test by which they could predict the future delinquency of children five or six-years-old. Their follow-up tests, four years later, proved to be ninety percent accurate. They determined that the four necessary factors to prevent delinquency are:

  1. The Father’s Discipline: Discipline must be firm, fair, and consistent.
  2. The Mother’s Supervision: A mother must know where her children are and what they’re doing at all times, and be with them as much as possible.
  3. The Father and Mother’s Affection: Children need to see love demonstrated between the father and mother, and have it physically demonstrated to them.
  4. The Family’s Cohesiveness: The family must spend time together.

Deuteronomy 6:7-9 “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Notice that this practice is an imperative: YOU SHALL TEACH THEM. Second, the process is simple: TALK. Not preach, scold, cajole, pound it into them, or dump on them. This is to be a natural a part of our daily life, natural and unforced, it is to just flow into every part of life. The key to this is really whether or not you can see God in every part of life. If you do, so will your children. If God stays at church or when you prepare a lecture, they will compartmentalize Him right out of their social life, private life, sports life, dressing life, recreation life and every other part of their lives. As one great old saint said, ‘There’s no difference between the sacred in the secular’. That’s basically what Moses is saying: Just let God flow into all of life.

Are you praying for your children? Are you teaching them the Word of God? Do you pray with your children? Do you model good choices? How much time and attention do you give to your children?

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  3 John 1:4

Clegguart Mitchell