i’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart!

Children can bring out the absolute best and worst in us. Of course, by “us” I mean parents. But how often do we pause from the daily grind to consider what we bring out of them?

Children are sponges. They soak up everything they see and hear whether we like it or not. So…. what are we providing them in the way of character development, demeanor and attitude?

Arguably joy is lacking in adulthood. Why? Many reasons, but that isn’t the point. More importantly we struggle to share joy with our children and so fail to help them develop joy as a regular and good experience in life.

Stick with me on this.

The “Fruit of the Spirit” includes joy. This means that the lives of those living “The Life [of Christ]” should be full of joy. I don’t know about you, but this seems a bit like a “Sunday School” answer to the problem. Joy becomes difficult as a “Fruit” and discipline when it comes to living mundane, everyday life. There. I said it. It’s hard to live out joy. Ouch!

If I am not living out a joyful life, or at least trying, what am I developing in my children? Whatever it is, it’s not joy. Double ouch! I’m not sure about you, but I want my kids to know and experience joy, the true joy given by God, on a daily basis.

This requires intentionality [read: daily discipline]. I’m far from a perfect example, but I hope to become a better example of living a life of joy and developing joy in the lives of my children.

I’m starting by identifying and experiencing joy to the best I can on a daily basis and helping my kids do the same. I hope you will join me.

First Fruits: Here are a few ways we’ve seen and identified joy in our home since I started writing this blog post.

  • My daughter and wife helped cheer a friend up when she was sad (helping a friend find joy) and found creative ways to encourage her
  • My two sons found joy while playing on indoor playgrounds at Recreation Unlimited
  • I found joy in coming home to my family, nightly bath time routine with the kids and reading a book to them before bedtime. I also find joy in “Mommy-Daddy dinner” on Monday nights and making time to just be present in my marriage.

I’m already being reminded that joy isn’t limited to the big events of life (weddings, births, promotions, etc). Joy is about perspective and making the most of every opportunity to be present in the life God has given you. This removes the limitations of needing a reason for joy and sets the expectation for daily joy in any capacity.

-Nathaniel

Advertisements

not-so-random acts of kindness

20140119_180506

All hands on deck to make cookies and share coffee and creamer for Lauren’s office mates. We’ve been learning that small gestures can lead to big kingdom impact.

20140119_192618

– Nathaniel

(Nathaniel and his wife Kaleigh lead Koinonia, which has several young professionals who are always on the look-out for ways to connect with co-workers and share Christ’s love in a practical way.)

miraculous or just a coincidence?

Colossians 1:13 says, “The Father has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.”  The following is a glimpse at His great power and healing through a story from our Missional Community, Koinonia.

Miraculous. What exactly does that mean? I’ve been finding that my definition of miraculous continues to evolve. At one point, I would have told you that unexplainable healings, being raised from the dead, and turning water to wine were miracles (which they are), but this is an extraordinarily narrow view of the miraculous.

I recently had an opportunity to visit a friend in the hospital. For me, hospitals are a normal and comfortable environment because I’m a nurse. What was less comfortable was praying for my friend’s healing,  wisdom for the medical staff, and God’s peace to be evident in their home while standing next to him.

The next day my friend went home. Was this miraculous? Was it a coincidence? Does it even matter? As Christians we were promised that we would do everything Jesus did… and more. The last time I checked,  Jesus cared for the sick and asked for God’s kingdom to appear in their lives. Why shouldn’t we start there as well? What better way to do this than to put ourselves in an uncomfortable position and step out in faith.

-Nathaniel

“i think that you should talk to satan, too.”

I’m always in awe of how God speaks to children and in turn, adults are stretched, taught, and changed.  Here’s a story from one of our Missional Communities, Koinonia.

I was tucking my niece and nephew into bed on an ordinary Tuesday night. After the songs, drink and bedtime prayers, I was about to leave the room when my nephew (4 years old) told me he couldn’t sleep because he heard God and Satan talking.
“What are they talking about?” I asked.
“Satan is saying he is stronger and God is saying that He is stronger”
I didn’t grow up having bedtime conversations about spiritual warfare, so I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I asked him who was stronger and he confidently replied that God was stronger. I told him that the Bible says that Satan tells lots of lies, and one of those lies is that he is stronger than God. I then prayed again, thanking God that He is stronger. When I finished, he simply said, “I think you should talk to Satan too.”
In a split second, I heard my mind say both, “We don’t talk to Satan!” and “Yes, we do.” With trepidation, I spoke to Satan out loud, using the words that I recalled from Scripture. I bound him in Jesus’ name and told him that my nephew was a child of God and he must stop talking to him so he could rest. Not knowing exactly when to stop, I heard my nephew say, “I’m ready to sleep now.”
Even as I began speaking, I marveled at the fact that I was praying with an authority that I don’t usually practice. It is amazing how my boldness grows when I feel someone so innocent and precious is endangered. I can almost picture God rising up to defend me even as I stood up to defend my nephew. I play the events back in my mind and I’m reminded that God breaks into our world at unexpected times and uses the promptings of a child to inspire acts of faith.
Lauren - blog signature (Black BG)