An Argument I Cannot Win

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As many as three times a week, I am tempted to argue with my kids. But in that particular setting, I know it won’t do any good. It would be to start an argument I cannot win.

We try always to eat dinner together as a family, even if I have an evening meeting. Then, when I do have a meeting, and I get ready to leave, nobody is happy. I would rather stay home; they would rather I stay home.

Sometimes one of them says something like

You’re always gone at meetings. You never stay home with us.

I know this isn’t true. I am home at least a couple of nights a week!  And, what’s more, I know parents who aren’t able to come home for dinner with their families as often as I do. And I know parents who simply don’t come home, even if they are able.

But when my kids say those things, I don’t respond with reasons, or justification, or by attempting to prove to them that I am doing better than some parents. None of those things would help. None of those are arguments I could win.

Instead, I hug them again, tell them I love them, and encourage them to “make good choices” while I am gone. I think they understand when I have to go to a meeting, and I think I understand how they feel.

I am very sure arguing won’t make it any better. In fact, taking up a case against their wanting their dad to stay home would actually work against me. I don’t want to convince them that I should be going to meetings, and I especially don’t want to convince them that they shouldn’t miss me.

So I accept their love and offer mine in return. Which is probably almost always better than arguing.


I am NOT the (a) babysitter

Rachel has been out of the country for several days. She is leading a team from our Church on a mission trip in Belize. As other times she’s been away, I am humbled by the tasks required to parent alone.

And this is only for 1 week! And I have the incredible benefit of being married to a mom who has raised our kids in such a way that makes it a comparatively easy for me.

But let me make this as  clear as I can: I am not babysitting. I’m a dad.

Sometimes taking care of my own children is part of the title “dad.”

Not a few people have asked me, “How’s the babysitting?”

I don’t know: I’m not babysitting, I am being a parent. Actually providing care to my children goes with the territory. It’s in the job description.

Stories we tell more than once

A young woman asked me yesterday morning if I would preach/teach sometime on her favorite scripture.  The verse is Matthew 6:21: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (CEB)

The obvious take on this interprets treasure as money and material possessions. Consider this less obvious take.

Last Thursday I attended a memorial service for the mother of a young woman in our care. We arrived more than a half hour early for the service and so had the opportunity to meet quite a few people.  After making the rounds of greetings, I sat quickly, almost meditatively, appreciating the beauty of the small sanctuary where we gathered.

As I sat, I also listened.  Among the other things I heard, one thing stood out to me; the story told by a woman who had been the managing conservator for the deceased woman.  Her husband had been in the hospital for a couple of weeks. In fact, he had, just the day before, regained consciousness and thus had been moved from ICU into a “step-down” area.

I heard key words of this story at least half a dozen times.   Every time she greeted another person, she was asked how her husband was; thus the re-telling of the story.

At the meal offered following the service, I received the story myself.

I felt it was a privilege to her this woman tell the story of her care for her husband, even in the midst of grieving to loss of another for whom she had cared for so many years.

Back in the sanctuary, though, overhearing her tell the same story multiple times, I was reminded of the value of telling our stories to others.  It also struck me that some stories are worth telling more than once.

May we all have the grace to listen to one another’s stories – especially the once that need to be told more than once.

What do you believe is true about God?

We are working through a series this month on truth.  This past Sunday we focused on this question: “What do you believe is true about God?” I asked 20 or so of our young people and staff to answer the question ahead of time, and presented their answers in a video during worship.

The answers were generally what you would expect; what most of us would say. What do you believe is true about God?  That God is loving, kind, forgiving, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, etc.

My response (in sermon form) was this: if we say we believe these things to be true about God, why do we live as though we don’t really want much to do with God?

I contend that though we (most of us) know the right answers about the character of God – that God is loving, forgiving, faithful, etc., many of us have not really accepted these things as true ion the depth of our being.

Deep down, I’m afraid, many of us still imagine God to be distant and angry. We live as though this is true about God: “God would just as soon strike me dead as welcome me into heaven.”

Would it surprise you to know that 9 times in the Old Testament God is acknowledged as “slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”?  9 times – in the Old Testament!  That’s the part of the Bible that many people (some of you included) refer to with disdain, as though God used to be mean and angry, until Jesus came along.

Nope; God – the God we who follow Jesus – is slow to anger and abounding in love.

This is one thing that is true about God.  Rest in it today!