Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pasta Pastor

We are having a contest with my teenagers that should prove interesting. Tomorrow they will turn in pasta likenesses of me in an effort to win Newsboys Tickets. I know that there are at least 3 entries so far. I've actually seen one, and it is the bomb. I'll post pictures of the entries here. We have an independent judge coming in to decide which entry looks the most like me! After I post the pictures, you can get in on the voting, as well, so check back Thursday morning for the pics.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Big Trouble Can Come, too.

The "birthday season" has arrived. Saturday before last, we had two to attend. Last Saturday was another. There are more looming on the horizon. But last Saturday was a 2 for 1 party. Two of Jeremiah's classmates were having parties at Chuck E. Cheese. I happen to like Chuck E. Cheese because they don't let the kids leave without a parent, and you can see the whole place from the right seat, so the kids can run wild while I read or write (or sleep for that matter). Our Chuck E. Cheese has a new Hampton Inn next door with a STRONG Wi-Fi signal so I can actually be online while we're there. So, we showed up at Noon for the party and made our way through the ocean of children to the back corner where the parties were taking place. As we made our way back there I saw one of Rick's parents (he's one of the little boys that Jeremiah led to Christ last Thursday). That's when the feeling of trepidation hit. My mind raced as I thought of all the possible responses a parent could have to what had happened with her son at school. And most of the responses I could imagine were mildly negative to highly volatile. Am I about to get a smack down Cheerleader mom style in Chuck E. Cheese? Damage control kicked in as she made eye contact with me and headed my way (insert ominous music here).

She came over and told me that something had happened on Wednesday or Thursday of last week. I told her I was sure it was Thursday. Well, her son had gotten into the car after school that day and proceeded to tell her that he "became a Christian today." She responded to him by saying, "Well, that's nice, Honey. We're all Christians," and continued on with her check list of things she needed to get done. Rick stopped her thoughts, though, when he said, "No, really. I'm not going to Hell now. I said a prayer and gave Jesus my life and I am a REAL Christian now." As she is telling me this, I am just waiting for the "Who do you think you are..." or the "How dare you..." But she stops and tells me how grateful they are for Jeremiah and that a wonderful thing has happened. It turns out that they are all excited about Rick. His grandfather is a pastor and he's excited, too. She finishes her conversation with me telling me how excited Rick is and how he is going to be bringing his Bible to school to read with Jeremiah, and that they are grateful for Jeremiah.

I made a couple of observations afterward that I think are paramount.
1. What if her response had been negative? What would I have done? I hope that I would have been gracious and still maintained the positive of the whole encounter; and that is that a little boy came to Jesus last week. I'm sure that my kids will cause some trouble as they further the kingdom. This encounter, although a hugely positive encounter, reminded me of the reality that trouble from spreading the Gospel is coming and I need to be ready.

2. Rick's mom responded to him by saying, "We're all Christians." I've made an assumption with this family that they are believers based on the fact that they attend church on a regular basis. They are VERY nice people. Rick's dad is very outgoing and just a joy to be around. All that to say, however, if they think that everyone is a Christian, then maybe they are not and I need to be speaking Gospel truth into their lives, as well. With Rick coming to Jesus, it's the perfect time to start that conversation.

3. A more general observation I made was that not everyone will respond to the Gospel in a negative way. That's a no brainer...but you'd be surprised at how many times you make the assumption that people only respond negatively to the Gospel. I am always prepared for people to balk at the thought of Jesus, but some people actually respond in a positive way and that I need to expect both reactions, and not just the negative.

So, what are you waiting for? Go cause some trouble and be blessed by the good that will come of it!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Big things and little packages...

Last Wednesday night, Jeremiah (my 7 year old) and I were riding home in my truck when he asked me if I thought his teachers would let him take his Bible to recess.

"I'm not sure, bud. Why?" was my reply.

His response was thoughtful, "Well, I realized tonight that I am not spreading God's Word like I should be."

Now, you've got to understand that this kind of conversation is normal with Jeremiah. He thinks things thru. Sometimes that keeps him from focusing on the task at hand because he has not resolved an earlier issue in his mind. I have to say that I really look forward to these talks, and could tell that a real deep conversation was about to ensue.

"Could you write down the words I prayed when I became a Christian?" he continued.

My response was one of encouragement, "Well, I can. But can you tell me what you prayed about that night?" He and Cayla (then 5 but now 6) had come to me a few months ago to tell me they were ready to follow Christ and understood their need for Him. They just needed me to "help them with the words."

"Well," he said, "I told Jesus He could have my life and that I needed him to wash my sins away. And I thanked Him for dieing on the cross for me so I could live with Him forever."

"Can you remember that and make it into a prayer?" I continued.

"I think so." he said, as he thought for a moment. "Dad, could you just help me by writing down the words on a skinny piece of paper I can keep in my pocket so I can remember them better? I want to share Jesus with my friends and if you could write that down it would help me remember."

"Sure, buddy. I can do that."

We got home, ate a quick dinner, and headed for his room to do our devotional time and pray. We do that every night that I am home. During our time of prayer, I mentioned Jeremiah's friends to the Lord, and asked Him to give Jeremiah the right words and the right opportunity. At that point, Jeremiah hid his face. His posture indicated that he was crying...

So I asked, "What's wrong, Jeremiah?"

He just buried his face in his pillow, obviously embarrassed that he was crying.

"It's okay to cry for your friends, son. As a matter of fact, it's a very good thing that you are crying for your friends," I whispered as I scooped him up in my arms. He was in his boxer-briefs with Spiderman on them, tightly gripping his stuffed dog, Scruffy. "I wish more people would weep for their lost friends."

"I want them to know Jesus," he sobbed in response.

I took his little chin in my hand and gently turned his head until our eyes met. He quickly wiped the tears away as he did that little "stutter breath" that children do when they are crying. As he looked me square in the eye, I again whispered to him, "I am proud of you. We all should be moved for our friends like you are. God has laid your friends on your heart for a reason."

"I know," he quivered. "And I am going to share Jesus with them tomorrow."

He said his prayer, and on this night, he included his lost friends by name, asking Jesus to help them be saved. As he said, "Amen," I tucked him in, bent over and kissed him on the forehead, and whispered, "I'm proud of you. I love you. Thank you for inspiring me."

"I love you, too, Daddy. You're welcome."

Big things come in little packages.

The next morning, yesterday morning, he reminded me that he needed me to write out a prayer for him to use when he talks to his friends about Jesus. "I want to make sure I know how to help them pray," he added to his reminder. So, I wrote out the prayer that he and Cayla had prayed. I wrote it in bite-sized phrases so that Jeremiah could have them "repeat after him," as he put it. And off to school he went.

All day yesterday I anxiously awaited a phone call from the school telling me that Jeremiah was in trouble for what he'd gone to do that day. I could just imagine it, "Mr. Bishop. You can not send Jeremiah to school with a prayer in his pocket trying to save his friends. It's just not appropriate." It never came.

Caryn and I picked them up at 3 that afternoon, and took them to the Mall for a soda and a pretzel. As we sat and ate our pretzels, I asked Jeremiah how it had gone at school that day. He immediately perked up.

"It went GREAT! Brian and Rick repeated after me and became Christians today."

"Really?" I asked. "How did you get to that point?"

"Oh, that was easy. I just asked them if they wanted to become Christians and give their life to Jesus. They both said yes, so I led them in the prayer you wrote for me. Rick was really excited afterward! It was cool."

And now it was my turn to weep. He really gets it, even more so than I do. It really is easy. Really. I pictured the whole conversation in my mind: Three little boys sitting at lunch, Jeremiah leading them as they pray. And I was deeply moved as I realized that Jeremiah, at age 7, had just done more for the kingdom than some people will do in their lifetime. He had just led more people to Christ than 90% of "Christians" will in their time here on earth. And I was overwhelmed by it and grateful. God has blessed us with GREAT kids. We don't deserve them. If anything, I deserve what I heard my mom say OVER AND OVER again when I was a kid..."I hope your kids treat you like this."

Today, Jeremiah will be talking with some more friends about Jesus. And he is going to talk to Brian and Rick about getting together and reading the Bible at recess once a week or something to that end.

"What if they don't have Bibles, Dad? Can we get them one?"

"Yes, bud. We can get them Bibles if they need them."

He knows that he is supposed to be spreading God's Word. He gets the fact that means he is to share with the lost and teach the found. And he's doing both. Pray for my little barbarian as he and his hordes begin to overrun the school! Revival is coming. A great big revival is coming and it's packaged in tiny little boys and girls who are going to one day save the universe!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Conversation

I realized something the other day. I was filling out a short bio sheet about myself and it asked about my hobbies and interests. I listed Tae Kwon Do, Paintball, hockey, reading, music, and a few other things. Then I paused...I do all of those things, and look forward to them, but it didn't really capture the essence of what I am about. That's the point of the question, right? It's supposed to give people a feel for the "color" of your life. So I really got to thinking about what get's me most excited. What is it that I immediately call home to talk to Caryn about? I discovered my real hobby; it's conversations. I love to talk to people. Whether it's over coffee, lunch, or during tae kwon do, it's a lot more fun when you have someone to talk to while you eat or play. It's a lot more engaging to read if you will have someone to talk to about what you read. Sure, these are some of the activities I enjoy, but the one I enjoy the most (and have for years) just popped up and slapped me in the face! How could I miss it? I love to talk to people. If you ever need to talk, give me a call. I truly would love to talk to you!