The Lenten season is about the sin that was the reason for the suffering and sacrifice of the Savior. It is about taking the time to reflect on why we all needed such a radical move of redemption, to confess the hold that sin still has on us, and to focus on opening our hands, in confession and submission, and letting go of sin once again. But as we do this, it is important to remember that the knowledge of sin is not a dark and nasty thing but a huge and wonderful blessing. If you are aware of your sin, you are aware of it only because you have been visited by amazing grace. Don’t resist that awareness. Silence your inner lawyer and all the self-defending arguments for your righteousness. Quit relieving your guilt by pointing a finger of blame at someone else. And stop telling yourself in the middle of a sermon that you know someone who really needs to hear it.
Welcome to the Surf Report for January 14, 2021
.: God :
My Bible reading plan for 2020 has carried over into 2021. I’ve got to finish up:
- 2 Kings
- 2 Chronicles
- 1 John
- 2 John
- 3 John
.: Life :
I’ve been sitting here scrolling through Facebook. Mindlessly, I scroll past former friends and acquaintances. Some have tried to monetize their lives, perhaps even create some sort of lifestyle brand; Some have tried their hands at homebuilding, while documenting how many kids they have on the side. Through the countless pictures, videos, and inspirational images of scripture, I have to wonder, does anybody care?
We put so much time into social media but what does it really give us?
More importantly, could I start a lifestyle brand? 🙂
.: Gaming :
I spent part of my Christmas break playing Ustwo Games Alba: A Wildlife Adventure on my iPad. I love it! I loved:
- Skipping around the island
- Taking pictures
- Enjoying the wildlife
- Being able to explore and chill at my own pace
So, what about you?
How did your Bible reading plan go for 2020? Did it bleed over, like mine, into 2021?
Play anything good lately? Read a fantastic book?
Let me know in the comments below.
“But with this change has also come a loss of male friendship—something which men everywhere will readily admit. Keeping close male friendships just seems hard. It is. Intimacy makes a bond, but we no longer have access to male intimacy because it seems sexual. We avoid it. We do not have strong bonds.”
Based on these truths, when parents approach a fantasy novel, our critical thinking should always precede our impulse to censor the story. Start by analyzing the story’s magic system to determine the source of power. Ask: Do the magicians seek to elevate themselves? Or do they wield their power in sacrifice and service to others? More importantly, does the story cause you, the reader, to desire to elevate yourself over others or even over God, the source of all real power?
You are probably now discovering what everyone else is discovering, the problems of 2020 have carried over into 2021. We are still dealing with COVID, masking up, and all of the little things that a pandemic brings. Here in East Texas, life has continued as pandemic normal. Which is to say that I’m still wearing a mask when going into businesses (thankfully though, not at work) and that I’m still beyond bothered by decisions this pandemic “forces” us to make.
In the midst of it all, be it 2020 or 2021, God is still in control. Beyond my annoyances (which are annoyances), He is still reigning.
In 2021, I hope that you’ll make the journey with my family and I. A journey were we can:
- Share what we love and what we don’t like
- Practice authenticity
- And continue writing on the topics of Faith, Life, and Video Games
8 The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged. – Deuteronomy 31:8 (CSB)
Welcome to the Surf Report for December 9, 2020.
.: God :
I’ve been teaching the junior high boys, at church, for over a month now. I find myself surprised. I think, walking into this, I had thought these kids would be on the same level (at least) of the adults I used to teach. Sadly, basic Bible reading and prayer (essentially a daily quiet time) are really hard for these kids. Be that these spiritual disciplines are perhaps not happening at home, I realize we have a lot of ground to cover. And yet, it is hard to teach the lesson at hand when you are fielding off-topic questions, off-the-wall thoughts, and just trying to create a general order in the room.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge of teaching this class. I don’t regret stepping down from teaching my adult Sunday school class. I just thought it would be easier.
Right now we are focusing on:
- Prayer – having one boy pray per week
- Reading – having the boys read the Bible in class
- Pushing the core theme of the lesson at hand
.: Life :
We got a dog! This is Gus.
Gus is a American Staffordshire Terrier (at least, that is what his official documents say). He is a good boy who enjoys having his belly rubbed.
.: Gaming :
Wyatt and I have been playing Star Wars Battlefront lately. Specifically the co-op hero battle matches that allow you to destroy one another. Oh yeah, we’ve also been playing Castle Crashers! I picked this one up on sale, and we’ve really been enjoying it.
That’s it for us. How about you? What have you been up to? Let me know in the comments below.
Be smart. Don’t spoil what you have. Don’t risk what you’ve got. Think of your son—play it safe. Protect him. Protect yourselves.
But they keep looking.
A sealed envelope. Do not open.
This child will destroy you.
“So what’s the point of family devotions? I wonder if it would be helpful to first consider the purpose it hasn’t served in my family. Family devotions has not been a means through which we have obeyed a specific law or fulfilled an explicit command. There is no commandment in either the Old Testament or the New that tells Christian families they must spend time reading and praying together each day. So we haven’t prioritized it for that reason.”
“How many of you have a personal quiet time?”
Crickets could be heard in the room.
“Any of you?”
Then, one of the boys spoke up.
“As part of my homeschooling curriculum, I have to do Bible in the mornings.”
I looked around the room, “Anyone besides Steven?”
< – – – – – – >
Parents, I teach junior high boys on Sunday mornings. The above is based on a real conversation we had a few weeks ago that left me dumbfounded.
We can bring our kids to church… but if we aren’t having them reading their Bibles, praying, having a personal quiet time, then they are hearing the Gospel one day a week. That’s one day to:
- Transform lives
One day to build fellow brothers in Christ up.
It is not enough.
A personal quiet time starts with one day, you, God, and His word. It morphs out of that one day to become multiple days where you spend time with Him.
All I can say is if you don’t read the Bible, start.
While I’m a little behind in my 5 Day Bible Reading Program, I continue plugging away. This morning, I came across these verses in the Book of Amos:
21 “I hate all your show and pretense—Amos 5:21-24 (NLT)
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
22 I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
23 Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
an endless river of righteous living.
Or as another translation puts verse 21:
I hate, I despise, your feasts!Amos 5:21 (CSB)
I can’t stand the stench
of your solemn assemblies.
Got me thinking about how we can come to a point, individually and as a Church, to where our worship of the Lord can become like a stench to Him caused by:
- Habitual sin
- Ongoing disobedience
- A stinky/unrepentant heart
Not exactly a place I want to be.
What have you been reading, in the Bible, lately?
I won’t ever forget watching The Fonz, water skiing in his leather jacket, jump over a small ocean corral of sharks. For years, I had heard of this “jump the shark” moment, but I could never have imagined just how random/stupid this stunt really was.
Our adoption journey had a jump the shark moment a few weeks ago. Our caseworker, despite knowing our adoption preferences, sent us the profile of a much older kid.
At first, I was okay with our case worker testing the waters. Sure, Tab and I could give this child a last name, a place to crash, and help them get ready for life. Sure, we could pack in all of the important life lessons, we would have taught them over the years, into one year of their life. I was okay with the idea of adopting a 17 year old–would especially like to look into this once our son is older–, until I wasn’t.
Our adoption process has been marked with friends and family making small comments that burrow deep under my skin. Comments such as:
- “Why don’t you do foster and adoption like we did? You’ll get a kid then.”
- “And we were told that we’d never get a child if we went the route that you have.”
- “You shouldn’t be frustrated, hurt, or angry over this process, God has this under control.”
- “Oh, I’ve heard horror stories about older kids being adopted.”
I don’t think that these comments are meant to be hurtful but they are.
I am forever thankful for those that ask us how the process is going. Those that are willing to listen and not necessarily push their way of doing things. God has brought good friends to walk alongside us on this journey.
I haven’t written as much on adoption lately because there hasn’t been much to say. Silence, from our caseworker, continues to be the norm. I have also felt God telling me to pray more and write/talk less about it. I’m sure there is a balance to that though.
If you think about my family, could you take a moment and pray with us? Every morning I wake up to see the room across the hall is empty. Someone is missing. Could you pray over that with me? That God would have His way. That we would be able to listen/discern the route we need to take. I’d really appreciate it.
I feel like I’ve been all over the map this month. July 2020 has been all about:
- Turning 39 year old / celebrating my birthday
- Playing all the games
- Continuing to read Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer (70%)
- As part of my reading through the Bible in a year plan, I read/finished: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Ecclesiastes, Titus, Philemon, and Jude
- And a sinus infection that won’t go away
Tabitha and Wyatt bought me Paper Mario: The Origami King for my birthday. So most of my gaming time has been spent working my way through an origami world with Mario. I’m loving the tight writing and unexpected moments of pure Nintendo delight.
Wyatt and I have been playing Injustice: Gods Among Us a bunch. Nothing like Superman kicking the snot out of Superman.
With some of my birthday money, I picked up:
- Battlefield 1
- Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
- Doom (2016)
I should note that Paper Mario has been consuming my gaming time, so I haven’t given much time to the above games. Soon though.
As a family, we have played a bunch of Throw Throw Burrito (think of the classic game Spoons but with a burrito war/fighting element where you chuck a burrito at fellow players. This game is super fun!
We also had a chance to sit down and play Disney Villainous, which I also got for my birthday. I like how you have your own character board/objective to complete while you also get to mess with fellow villains. Tab beat Wyatt and I with the Queen of Hearts (Wyatt played Captain Hook; I played Prince John). I can’t wait to play again.
My biggest project of all, this month, has been replacing all of the interior doors in the house. After this past weekend, I’m down to 4 doors needing to be replaced.
What have you been playing lately?
Let me know in the comments below.
A few weekends ago, I spent a Saturday morning working alongside some guys from church. As we cut down/removed trees from a member’s property, I looked around me and thought, “Where are all the younger guys?”
The guys who were working with me, the guys with their shiny trucks and fun power tool toys, were all in their mid-40’s to mid-60’s. Here they were, working away, moving chunks of tree as if they were younger dudes.
Part of me was in awe seeing these guys in action. Them being the hands and feet of Christ to a family who could no longer do this work on their own. Another part of me was troubled…
What happens when these guys can no longer do the work?
What happens when they pass on?
All I can think, is that I can learn from them and lead by example. I can invite those who are in my circles at church to come along on the adventure. Get some younger blood to sacrifice their time, to use their talents, to touch others for Christ.
Wyatt had a friend’s birthday party that morning. I told him that if not for the party, he would have been working with me:
- Chopping down the trees
- Hauling their tree-bodies away
- Being an example of the hands and feet of Christ to the world
Next time, my son. Next time.
Life is a journey. Make sure you’re listening to the right voices. Get godly counsel. Don’t only consider your own opinion, because the way of a fool is right in his own eyes. That means if you are doing something colossally foolish, it may seem perfectly logical to you. Even if you’ve invested a lot in the direction you’re going, progress might mean turning around. And if you get stuck, make sure you call someone reliable for help.
Can I admit that prayer is not one of my strong suits? I can read the Bible all day. I can teach through the Bible with ease. When it comes to prayer though, prayer is something that I have to work at.
Chuck Lawless posted “8 Ways I Pray for My Wife“. #5, on his list, is what stood out to me:
That God would maximize Pam’s incredible gift of hospitality—and that I would be fully supportive. I add that latter phrase because I’m an introvert while Pam’s an extrovert. I love seeing Pam’s joy when she serves others. I just need to love it more….
Tabitha also has an incredible gift of hospitality. A gift that I too push against with my introvert nature. I need to work on being supportive when Tab wants to invite others over. Even when that invite pushes me out of my comfort zone.
God has been speaking to me a lot about prayer these past couple of days. A friend posted a quote, to Facebook, that I’ve been thinking on:
The things you pray about are the things you trust God to handle. The things you neglect to pray about are the things you trust you can handle on your own. – H.B. Charles Jr.
Got me thinking about:
- How I’ll often talk more / write more on certain topics than pray over them.
- How there are some prayers I don’t think God will ever answer–me being honest here–, so I quit praying over them due to lack of answer.
- What type of spiritual legacy, I’m modeling, for my wife and son.
Tabitha has always told me that God answers prayer in 3 ways:
- Not Yet
Reminds me of how long I prayed for my wife before we even knew one another. How I went through years of thinking I’d never find someone. Only to meet Tabitha when I was least expecting.
Reminds me of our current adoption process. How I find the silence and slowness of the process to be heart breaking. But I realize also that I need to pray more over the process as God says not yet.
Prayer is that unused tool, on my spiritual tool belt, that I need to actively use more. Not use in order to get what I want, per se, but use to communicate with my Heavenly Father and deepen my relationship with Him.
How about you, do you find the spiritual discipline of prayer to be easy?