Take a moment to reflect on the myriad of influences and
messages we receive in a given day. How do these forces shape you and those you
A recent study indicated that busy parents who believed that they spend 15 minutes with their children each day were actually spending a lot less than that in terms of interacting with and influencing their hearts and minds. This was closer to 37 seconds than 15 minutes. This ought to be a warning to all of us about what we allow to enter our homes, schools and media devices.
There are many belief systems that are influencing us as a
society, as well as families and most certainly our children. TV shows, movies,
music, teachers, friends, the media. Each of these carry assumptions. Some are
obvious while others are perhaps a little under the radar. We can’t unwatch
something we saw on TV. Children are exposed to things in this generation of
media that is way and above greater than past generations. On the topic of
faith, some are clear and concise. Others are exerting a subtle positive or negative
influence. Just think of the many distractions alluring us away from what we
know to be acceptable and true.
At LHCC, we conduct scholastic interventions. All our family
interactions are intended to be social and ones that uplift, encourage and
provide hope. We also exert a spiritual influence through prayers, bible
lessons by doing and saying what we believe Jesus would have us emulate.
We are indeed grateful for the joy and privilege of
gracefully nurturing children’s hearts towards God. In addition, any
opportunities to instill similar behaviors in our own lives is worth noting, as
we encourage others to do the same. Let us remain vigilant in doing good, so
that the evil one not get a foothold.
“Continue in what you have learned … how from infancy you
have known the Holy Scriptures” 2 Timothy 3:14-15.
This past Tuesday, the LHCC family came together to honor me with a post-program dinner celebration of my birthday. I am very grateful for their kindness and generosity in providing a meal to feed 5,000 … literally. The Hispanic culture dictates that all family meals are a pot luck. Everyone contributes something tasty and the volunteers are always the guests of honor for their generous time commitments. Our families are grateful for the help they get as well as their children. Reflecting upon this joyous occasion, I wondered what it would be like to be grateful like that every day, birthdays or no birthdays…
Brennan Manning in his book Ruthless Trust posed the question of whether the primal sin of the first couple mentioned in the bible was ingratitude. Even before they were deceived and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree.
I believe that people who have known tough life and death situations, suffering and know what it is like to need something so bad they will do anything to get it, have had to draw upon trust or something like it, to find joy in their lives. They have literally had to swim upstream against the odds. The poor give larger proportions of their income to charity than the rich, because they know what it is like to have needs seemingly beyond their means.
If you are reading this then surely you have much more to be grateful for. Living in a first world country with plenty of clothes, a warm home and one maybe two cars. I have much to be grateful if I consider how much better off we are than many struggling for survival each and every day. Let me use this reminder to count my blessings every day and to praise God for blessing me abundantly and most assuredly more than I deserve.
Are you crazy busy? More to do than hours in a day to get it all done? Might we take a time out? Read on for a simple challenge this week …
A recent LHCC summer blog post called out neighboring as an art. We shared this concept with our LHCC families this past summer and the results are in. Summer camper families grew closer. Volunteers got to build deeper relationships with families and children. Parents invited other parents to our program and we got to enjoy an end of summer celebration together. It was awesome.
When serving our neighbors, are we trying to look good or do good? Inviting others to our program or opening our homes to others is a great way to show hospitality. Weary people may join us to share a meal and conversation and hopefully leave feeling refueled and refreshed. It can be stressful and awkward for both hosts and guests. We get worked up, tidying up and fed up, focusing perhaps on appearance rather than good ol’ southern hospitality.
In Luke 10, Jesus pointed this out to Martha when her sister Mary was feasting more on the friendship than faffing about the food. Christian hospitality has more to do with good fellowship than good food. In the book Crazy Busy, the author points out that there is a fine line between care and cumber. Less ado would serve better. “Feed people, not your pride.”
How about a little challenge for the coming week:
Slow down your hurried life. Go out of your way to greet and chat to a neighbor.
Be present with our family ( aka put down the phone?), and
Make time for daily meditation and devotion. 15 to 20 minutes, tops. This might just be the one thing strong enough to pull you away from your busyness, so you can be intentional about becoming a good neighbor.
Peace to you, take it easy and have a Mary-like week
When you think wisdom, do you envision an old man with grey hair sitting on a stool imparting his worldly knowledge? Perhaps someone you know who has lived a long time, gained experience and therefore acquired untold insights that have resulted in what we call wisdom?
Franklin said: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy,
wealthy, and wise”. It is a saying that is viewed as a commonsensical
proverb. This proverb actually originated long before Franklin’s time. It was
seen in print as early as 1496, in a piece called “The Treatise of Fishing with
an Angle” where it is referred to as an old English proverb: Also, whoever
wishes to practice the sport of angling, he must rise early, which is profitable
to a man in this way. That is, to wit: most for the welfare of his soul. For it
will cause him to be holy, and for the health of his body. For it will cause
him to be well, also for the increase of his goods, for it will make him rich.
As the old English proverb says: “Whoever will rise early shall be holy,
healthy, and happy.”
wife, Caren, gifted me this Christmas with a “Wisdom for Each Day”
inspirational quote calendar. She must surely think I need it, right? Well, who
would turn down a daily dose of wise counsel from a trusted theologian and man
of God like Rev. Billy Graham, along with its numerous quotes from the holy scriptures?
also recently came across an excellent read called Gospel Fluency, that
contains a remarkably insightful chapter near the end on growing in love and
wisdom. The book concludes with the premise that wisdom doesn’t actually come
from our education after all.
my study I have learned that wisdom isn’t just increased knowledge. As the book
illuminates, knowledge without grace leads to pride, and pride leads to
destruction in our lives and the lives of others. Wisdom is knowledge applied
so that we do the right thing, at the right time, with the right motive, in the
right way. I like that perspective a lot. Knowing what to do at the right time,
and having our motives in check is an improvement on merely having the
knowledge. To expand upon this truth, wisdom is gracious, loving, kind and
the new testament, Paul instructs the church in Colossae: “Walk in wisdom
toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be
gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each
person.” Colossians 4:5-6. Wisdom is a gift and all who have it are a blessing.
I reflect upon the past six years with Learning Help Centers of Charlotte, and all
the relationships we have established, I contemplate the many ways to help the communities
and families we serve through LHCC. There are many opportunities to collaborate
with community partners, donors and volunteers. If we get it somewhat right, we
will enjoy another beneficial year for everyone. We can do our tiny part to
enhance the lives of all community members, who cross our paths, in the two regions
of the city we call the “ends of the crescent”.
for one, can and will take heed of the wisdom insights gleaned from my latest
read. I also eagerly anticipate the wisdom truth reminders contained in my new daily
devotional calendar. One of my goals this coming year, is to gain greater perspective
and also seek wisdom, by firstly praying and secondly, being present, rather
than simply doing what I usually do. Might I rather seek to walk in wisdom, and
show care and kindness, toward others, as I endeavor to be loving, gracious and
gentle, just as Jesus modeled for all of us. This is the wisdom that I will
aspire to acquire in 2019!
Wisdom perspectives and
comments adapted from Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt chapter 15, Grow in
Love and Wisdom, pg. 197