After a short break, Feast of FamMin is back, encouraging all of us as we spend time together with our kids!

Feast 019 :: How To Spell “Love”

I recently heard something multiple times, and it gave me pause. The quote (and I wish I could tell you who said it, but I also think it may be a widely used saying) was this:

“How do children spell ‘love?’ T-I-M-E.”

When it comes to parenting, there is no substitution for time with your children. Facetime isn’t the same. Super-fun experiences aren’t the same. Vacations at exotic locations (unless it leads to time together) don’t accomplish it either. What children need is time together with YOU. And while, of course, there are seasons of busyness at work or illness or other reasons why there can’t be full dedication to parenting, making your presence the rule rather than the exception is what makes weathering these other, “off” seasons possible.

Parenting as Leadership, Leadership as Discipleship

Another way to consider spelling “love” is through the lens of leadership. Andy Stanley who leads Northpoint Ministries in Atlanta often harps on this belief that as a leader, you should, as much as possible, do what only you can do. In doing so, you bring the greatest value to your organization. The same could be said of your family. While someone else could fill out that form, or complete that task, or whatever, there is only one person that your kids call “Dad.” There is only one person who is “Mom.” What only you can do is be there for your kids, to provide a kind of parent-love that only you can provide.

But of course, as followers of Jesus, it must go another step further than that. Being with our kids is important, but the reason it’s important is because being with our kids is the best way to love them by discipling them.

Jesus is our example (as always) on this. Consider this subtle but profound statement from John 3:22 (NIV) “After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them…and baptized.”

Here’s the beautiful irony. In the timeline of John’s gospel, this follows John 3:16-17 – the succinct message of the gospel the world needed to hear – and John 3:19-21 which talks about walking in the light and being the light. And after these huge, profound truths get shared, what do they do next? They retreat and spend time together.

There’s not doubt in my mind that this time together wasn’t just (wasn’t ONLY) watching movies, or skipping rocks, or staring at the stars. This time together included important conversations about important things because Jesus was spending time with them in order to disciple them. He spent time teaching them, examining God’s word with them, gently correcting them, asking them questions about heavenly things. And then, after some were convinced and determined to live as followers of this teacher, he baptized them. And you know Jesus isn’t going to baptize someone without some meaningful conversation first!

Now What?

Your kids will never spend time in the Judean countryside with Jesus, but they can spend some time you as the ambassador for Jesus. So, what can you do to spend real, intentional, eternally-focused time together with your kids this week? It’s the thing that only YOU can do.

Until the next Feast,

Brian Martin

PS – For anyone who calls Calvary home, please join us on Sunday, Oct 27 for our annual meeting (and meal). More info here.

The world of social media certainly has its down sides, but there are also redeeming qualities as well. For me, I find inspiration and wisdom in unexpected places, or from people with whom I haven’t connected for a long time.

In just such an encounter, I was reading online earlier this year and came across the writings of an old friend of mine from college. I was drawn into a blog article she wrote and thought about using it as inspiration for a future Feast post. But then I realized…I certainly couldn’t say it any better than she did.

To wet your whistle just a little, this quote jumped out at me: What we pay attention to matters because paying attention is a form of worship.” Indeed it is.

So please, enjoy the words and thoughtfulness of the article my friend Laura wrote here.

Until the next Feast,

Brian

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Last month, we established that the foundation of love is sacrifice. (If you need a refresher, just scroll down!) Being a parent is, by its very nature, a sacrificial act, and therefore, a loving act. Without sacrifice, there is no love. On the flip side, the foundation of all hate and apathy is selfishness…and selfishness is the source of all kinds of problems, and all kinds of sin.

However, in this second part of our examination of sacrifice and love, I want to consider a subtle but important consideration about sacrifice and selfishness that families, and especially parents, can easily fall into. Let’s start by examining the following passage from Matthew 5:43-48 in light of our own families:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Enemies + Sacrifice

Loving one’s enemies was…a crazy, outlandish idea in the time of Jesus. Maybe ESPECIALLY from a Jewish man, right? I mean, how many times had their lands been invaded, their people enslaved, their woman and children captured. There were a lot of hostile enemies, and they had done terrible, unspeakable things. Our enemies today…are NOTHING compared to what Jesus was actually referring to. But this is actually a heart issue at its core. Your enemy is anyone whom you have something against.

All that said, I want to focus on this idea in verse 46: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” Based on our previously stated notion, I want to rephrase that for the sake of our discussion: “If you sacrifice for those who sacrifice for you, what reward will you get?”

Hmm. Here’s my point: I hope you honor your spouse and love your kids. It is your duty, honor, and stewardship to do all of those things. However, I think there is a danger and a trap lurking within the ways we love and serve our families. I call it the shift from “me-selfishness” to “we-selfishness.”

Me-Selfishness to We-Selfishness

See, if someone only works for himself to buy himself things and gain his own reputation, we all see him as selfish and it’s fairly obvious. However culturally speaking, if that same person works to “provide” for his family, buys his family lots of nice things, and improves his family’s reputation, he’s considered a hero. But should it be so? In one way, yes. To provide for your family is a good and God-honoring thing. On the other hand, what is the motivation of that man deep down?

We-Selfishness feels, well, less selfish than Me-Selfishness. But if I make sure my kids are in every activity they want to be in just so I look good…isn’t that just a thinly veiled form of selfishness? Or if I want my wife to be well-dressed so people see me as successful because of what she wears…you get the idea. The point is this: we all need to check our naturally-selfish hearts for our real motivation behind these actions. They are not always as pure-hearted as they may appear to others.

Generosity Inhibitor

Secondly, we need to consider how our We-Selfishness is inhibiting our ability to be generous to those who really need it. “Sacrificing” so my kid can update their cell phone to the latest model, but not actually sacrificing for those who need it (or for my enemies) isn’t real sacrifice at all, is it? As the passage says, even the pagans do that. And it certainly isn’t teaching my children to point their generosity toward others instead of toward our family. And, it’s not helping point our friends and neighbors toward the gospel, which, at its core is self-sacrificial for enemies, right?

What I’m Not Saying About Sacrifice

Parenting always involves self-sacrifice (if you’re doing it right). But, it can also create this sneaky trap of We-Selfishness that Satan would love nothing more than to drag you into.

I don’t mean to create a false dichotomy here. It’s not serve your family OR others. I just think sometimes we deny how inversely connected those two things can be when it comes to generosity. Meaning, we often choose generosity toward our family – who we love and enjoy – over the truly biblical response of serving the poor, oppressed, hungry, orphans, widows, and enemies. What we must do is let one inform the other, not let one substitute for the other.

Now What?

I think a great exercise would be to sit down as a family and ask this question: What is something we love that we could sacrifice that would help us be more generous to someone we know?

Because remember, without sacrifice, there can be no love. All love requires sacrifice. And Jesus tells us to love, and therefore to sacrifice, not just for those we love, but also for those who are against us or those who we do not know. That, according to Jesus, is how love and sacrifice come together.

Until the next Feast,

-Brian

P.S. – Our next big church even is VBS! To sign up your kids going into grades K-6, click here. To sign up to volunteer, click here. It’s one of the best weeks of the year!

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