If you follow me at all on social media you probably know a couple things about me.
I am always posting pictures of my sons
I love pizza
I travel a lot
This past week I had the opportunity to speak at a conference called Hydrate in Augusta, GA. The conference had a couple hundred pastors and I had privilege of sharing Logos Bible Software and how Logos can really revolutionize sermon and teaching preparation for ministry leaders. The morning before my session Pete Wilson (Lead Pastor at Crosspoint church, Nashville) spoke. He did a great job but the one thing that he said in a Q/A has been running through my mind constantly.
“Your company or church could find a replacement for you in an instant, but your kids have only one dad”
Initially, this was a bit offensive. In my mind I began to justify the immense value that I bring to my job and the church and then instantly it hit me. Who cares about the value I bring to my job or church if my two boys don’t know dad. If you are like me, the motivation to excel in all areas of life is driven by a deep desire to honor God and provide for my family. But in pursuit of good things, if we are not careful, we can single handedly bring significant damage to the relationships and areas of our life that we cherish the most.
For me, the resolution to this challenge is simply priorities. It would be easy to list them out and feel satisfied like something massive was just accomplished. But unless it is lived out we will continue in a very dangerous cycle.
Transparency and action is key in breaking the cycle.
“…Five years is a long time and every time I have gone to India, something significant has always changed. Things don’t stay the same and at times it can be shocking to see how much change can occur. In my mind, India should have stayed frozen the way I left it five years ago…”
For the majority of my life I have always lived in culturally diverse places. For instance, as a child my closest friends were Filipino, Chinese, African American, Cambodian, Mexican, and even a couple white guys :-). My memories of summer consist primarily of delicious food. You name it, one of our friends had a grandma who could make it.
Fast forward twenty years I look around and see myself in an intercultural marriage. I love it. We have two amazingly handsome half Indian half white boys and we live in Washington. One unexpected challenge that we faced was the realization that an intercultural marriage was not the norm for many here. While I am unable to express the intentions of the looks that we have received, I can say with confidence the primary look that my wife and I get when walking in the city of Bellingham is confusion.
To be honest, I think my wife may have one of the best perspectives of what we have experienced and she shares about it on her blog – almostindianwife.com. Check it out and feel free to leave a comment or question in regards to any questions that you may have!
Being a parent is hard. I’ll be honest, there are some days that I think that its impossible. Here’s some more honesty, I see my wife balancing five different things and the kids and I’m amazed. I can balance five or six different projects at work and it comes naturally to me. Throw one of my boys in the mix and everything comes crashing down. I think parenting is really just another way that God brings humility to his people.
To make matters even more intense, over the past three months my travel schedule has been insane. Here’s a quick snapshot:
Orange County, CA
Mt. Union, PA
Kansas City, MO
Dallas Fort Worth, TX
Las Angelas, CA
While I get to work with some amazing ministries, see awesome cities, and eat great food, the one thing that is always hard is being away from my family. It’s amazing how much my boys change in just two weeks.
With Liam Brittany and I had been very intentional in making sure we put him to bed with a Bible story and praying. When Liam was younger we would just pray for him and I always ended each prayer with…”In Jesus name…Amen”. When Liam started talking he surprised us one day when I said, “In Jesus name” and he finished by yelling..AMEN! We loved it! We get to live right next to our aunt and uncle and cousins, so dinner time prayer always ended in Liam finishing off after “In Jesus Name” with amen. A couple weeks ago we noticed that during prayer time Liam would put his hands together to get ready for prayer. We didn’t teach him to do this, so it took somewhat surprised us. I loved the fact that he took prayer time seriously. And then this week for the first time we told Liam it was prayer time and before I could begin he started going into the prayer on his own. He prayed for everyone and everything, even the water and salt shaker. Words really can’t do justice to the moment, so I thought I’d share a video clip of Liam Praying.
Liam praying with Momma and Levi
As I was thinking about how big my boy is getting, I realized a couple really important aspects of parenting that I hope will encourage you.
Be intentional – We received some great advice early on from our pastor back in California. He encouraged us to be intentional about the things that were important to us. My earliest memories are of my mom having my brother and sister kneel down and spend time in prayer. At the time I hated it. It was boring. But my mom’s intentionality instilled a value in me that is being played out as I parent and raise my own son (Deuteronomy 4:9).
Start as early as possible – As a youth pastor i’ve heard and been apart of a lot off discussions in regards to when is the “right age” to start focusing on Christianity with kids. My experience as a parent says its from day one. Pray over you child when they are in the womb. Pray with your child when they are born (Matthew 19:13). These values will be embedded in the memories of your children. As you show value to them, they will value them.
Take risks and enjoy the moment – Don’t be afraid to ask your kids to pray. And when they do pray, celebrate the moment. Encourage them! Reinforce the power of prayer and your joy in your children as they grow in their walk with the Lord.
There’s no doubt that parenting is hard. In fact, as I finish this post Liam just spilled water all over the floor. But the joy of parenting, specifically, seeing your children grow in their love and affections for Jesus is so worth it.
“And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart,”
One of the most important things to me is that my boys know who Jesus is. Part of knowing who Jesus is requires us to study and dive into what he did in the scriptures. What we find is a Jesus who is committed to the work of the Father. In Mark 3:5 we also see Jesus responding to the Pharisees that highlights his humanity. One of the great mysteries of theology is that Jesus is both fully man and God. This mystery should lead us into worship of our great God. In Mark 3:5 we see that Jesus feels two common human emotions “anger” and grief”. Jesus has human emotions, and feels deeply. Diving into the Greek text (thanks to Logos 5 for the research help!) we see that the Greek word “Syllypeo” is being translated as the word “grieved”. This word literally means to feel sympathy. When referring to anger, the greek word “Orge” is being used which refers to relatively strong displeasure with a focus on the emotion anger.
In this one sentence we see Jesus expressing two seemingly opposite emotions. Jesus was angry with the Pharisees for their insensitivity to suffering while also grieving over the condition of their hearts. Jesus’ anger and grief teaches me the following.
Don’t forget the Gospel – While these religious leaders are consumed with hatred for Christ and waiting for the opportune moment attack, they miss their calling. As the religious leaders it is their responsibility to represent God. To do His will and care for others. It’s easy for us to get consumed with things that pull us away from Gospel.
Do good – Jesus asks if its right to do good or harm, to save or to kill. In the very next verses Jesus answers this question with an action. He restores the mans hand. It’s simple, do good. Start with your family, your wife, husband, children, mom, dad, and siblings. Do good in your community (including the neighbors you try to avoid cause they annoy you). Be a reflection of the Gospel of Christ.
Over the last 3 months my travel schedule has been pretty intense. I’ve done close to 20,000 miles and have traveled coast to coast on several occasions. Sure, my Twitter and Facebook feed gets filled up with cool places, amazing people, and some great food. Traveling can also be hard. For example, this last time I traveled, I caught my almost two year old son Liam trying to hide my suitcase. When I asked him what he was doing he said, “No dadda, no more plane”.
I shared this story with some friends at the last conference I was at and my buddy Duke Dejong gave me a great idea. Whenever Duke travels he has a toy alien that goes with him everywhere. Duke’s kids love keeping up with all the places that the alien goes. When I shared this with my wife, we decided to do something similar.
And so, we introduce you to Horton. Liam loves Horton Hears a Who. Liam is also half Indian. We thought, why not incorporate both things into one? And so, we have Horton who was made in India. Literally, made in India. Stay tuned for Hortons travels and adventures! Next up is the Jesus Culture event in L.A!