Prayer Is Not My Strong Suit

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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.
Photo by Peggy Paulson on Unsplash

Tabitha has always told me that God answers prayer in 3 ways:

  • Yes
  • No
  • 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?

Making Room

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We often treat our children as if they are invaders in our home. Pillagers of our everyday items (free kitchen cabinet content removal) and destroyers of all that is good (throwing ALL media off shelves onto the floor). I don’t think much about it now, but Tabitha and I fought against the invader mentality. Instead, we invited our son into our spaces.

The Cabinet Battle

When Wyatt was little, he liked opening the kitchen cabinets and throwing the cabinet contents out onto the floor. Typical little kid stuff. Tupperware, pots and pans, you name it, all over the floor to trip on. Our Solution: Tabitha gave Wyatt his own kitchen cabinet. A place where we could intentionally put just a few things for him to pull out. This created a boundary we could enforce, as all the other kitchen cabinets were off limits. A small mental shift that made our lives much easier in those early years.

Bottom Line: Invite your children into the kitchen, let them play in their cabinet while you cook.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Welcome to the Living Room

Most kids have all of their toys in their bedrooms. As Wyatt grew older, we set up all of his toys in a corner of our living room. At this stage, he liked to be near us while he played. With his toys in the living room, he would:
  • Walk over and play with us for a moment. I could easily eat some plastic cheese and then he would move on.
  • Grab us to come play cars on his large car mat.
This set up allowed his bedroom to solely become his sleep room. With his toys in the living room, we could watch, play, and still go about our business. A win for him and us!
Bottom Line: This one might drive some of you nuts… having your children’s stuff out in the open. Trust me though, with the toys out you play more. Who cares if you have guests over and they realize that you have children (This one was hard on me. Thankful for my sweet wife for helping me through this.).
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

They Grow Up

Over the weekend, we created a new space for Wyatt. A place where he can hang out when friends come over. Tab and I took half of our mud room and :
  • Put some carpet square samples from work down to define his space. We’ve found that the carpet squares work great as area rugs with a little Gorilla Tape holding them together.
  • Bought some bean bag chairs.
  • And put a TV/DVD player for gaming and movies. (I will note that nothing is connected to the internet in his space. All about smart parenting, people.)

Make Room

I watch other parents fight the kitchen cabinet battles; I watch some of them act as if they can erase any trace of having children in their home (I hate homes that feel like museums… another blog post though.). I can tell you that there is an easier way to fight the “invader”, include them in your spaces. Make room for your children.

Becoming a Welcoming Church

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Over the past year and a half, my church has been in the process of evaluating guest experience. A process that has brought about:

  • A multilayered greeter ministry
  • Clear campus-wide wayfinding signage
  • Rebranding/refreshing of both the church logo and website
  • As well as a bunch of other small adjustments (ease of giving, etc.)

I recently came across Thom S. Rainer’s Becoming a Welcoming Church due to a clever video I saw on Facebook.

Becoming a Welcoming Church is a short book (6 chapters) that focuses on the church’s Biblical mandate towards hospitality.

Always be eager to practice hospitality. – Romans 12:13b

What I loved about Becoming a Welcoming Church, is Thom’s laid-back writing style. He lazer focuses on issues he has come across and offers helpful solutions on:

  • Church Signage
  • Church Safety
  • Being a Clean Church (literally)
  • Greeters
  • Welcome Centers

Thom also repeatedly hammers down on the need for accurate and updated information on the church web site, which he calls the front door of the church.

I loved how Thom talks about the importance of having a doctrinal statement on the church web site (this was a conversation I had with my church when refreshing the site):

Lack of clarity about beliefs or doctrine. Not all guests will check this important item, but many will. Churches should not hesitate to share with clarity what they believe, particularly their core beliefs. Some of the most effective means to communicate doctrine begin with a simple link on the home page that says: “What We Believe.” Those who choose to view the doctrinal statement can click to a full page of the church’s basic beliefs. You may lose as many as half of your potential guests without this item. (Location 549)

I also appreciated his story on having greeters arrive early:

Arriving too late; leaving too early. Mike became the second greeter at my rural church in southern Indiana. He was blown away I asked him to serve. Our service started at 11:00 a.m. (surprise!), but Mike was always outside ready to greet by 10:30 a.m., even if no one had yet arrived. I told Mike he did not have to be in his greeter role that early. He disagreed. In fact, he kind of chastised me. “Pastor,” he said sternly, “I was serving in this spot when Hank arrived a few months ago. We started a great conversation. He began to feel okay about coming into the church. And you know the rest of the story. Hank got saved a few weeks later.” Mike paused for a moment. The intensity in his expression was strong. “So,” he continued. “If getting here a few minutes early makes a difference in someone’s eternity, I think it’s a small price to pay.” (Location 873)

My quick read of Becoming a Welcoming Church was an excellent reminder of the process my church has been working through. After reading, I can now see a few areas for improvement (web site related) that I hope to remedy. Great book if you are looking to evaluate your church’s guest experience. The “Church Facility Audit” and “Secret Guest Survey”, that are provided in the back of the book, are helpful tools as well.