Monday, September 19, 2005


Jill spoke to us this morning about her grandfather and his influence on her life. Some of us knew more of the story, but when she visited him two weeks ago, he remembered her as if the bad days had never come. Dementia can be a gift.... She read to us from the Bible he had given her as a child, and it struck a chord. The Psalm she read, she could only read in King James--no matter how hard she tried, she would always remember it that way, in the innocence of simpler times.

When my sisters spoke of Grandaddy, they sometimes mentioned the hard times. They knew the stories about he and Dad that I had been shielded from--the stories that made Dad leave home. By the time I came along, his vigor was fading and the fire had dwindled. That's the way I remember him. Innocence and simpler times. When he died, Dad took me to the house and I went through his tools--the one thing I would most treasure and my cousins wouldn't desire. I know every tool in my toolbox and it's past. I know which ones came from his hands. I understand the marks on them and the stories they tell. I know his masonry hammer was sharpened on a grinder and the wheel ate into the handle. When I look at it, I always wonder if he did it, or some young carpenter sharpened it in haste...

When I use them, I feel connected to something bigger than me. I feel tied back to the hands of my fathers and I understand something within me. Those tools teach me about my own Dad and they teach me of his father and his father before him. They teach me why I love to work with my hands and how it came so naturally. My grandfather died in 1993. I had some time with him in the end. We talked about tools and such. He told me to get a hat that would cover my ears and he told Dad about the angel he saw. His hope in Christ carried through those last days. That hope carries my father and now it carries me. Our past winds back through time like a footpath in the woods--darting here and there through the trees. Few of us ever come to recognize the gift that it is and the story it will tell us if we quieten our hearts and walk along it's leaf strewn trail. I think God speaks to us through it--He tells us who we are.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Gilligan's Dead

I know it was last week, but I've been busy, and sick. I'm sad about Bob Denver. I grew up watching Gilligan's Island almost every day. It was the product of a simpler philosophy--a time when television didn't try to reflect reality. People watched tv to relax and laugh. No one then knew how much people would pay for in-depth profiles of sin and strife. Now, we're obsessed. Gilligan reminded me that we could choose something different to laugh at. Paul said it was shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. Yet I'm entertained by it... I'll miss Gilligan.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Discipline versus Discipleship

I started a conversation with our Family Pastor today about my sermon coming up Nov 20 and would love to have any insight you might offer as I prepare. He's been talking about the Shemah lately (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) and how the Israelites neglected to pass on the teachings of their ancestors.

There's a lot of work to do yet to study the passage itself, but this train of thought is compelling (at the moment).

Sermon Text: Colossians 3:20-21
20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

The conversation has been something like this (slightly edited):

I want to use the Shemah some for this sermon (at least, I'm leaning that way). I think the command to not exasperate, might be understood in the positive with DO disciple your children (your OWN children). Not only does North Dallas resemble pieces of this in the busyness of our culture, but those in the church tend to look to the church to disciple their children. Proverbs 1:8 actually says "do not forsake the Torah of your mother." Solomon's words here are referring back to the Shemah, given by God through Moses. Here, he is telling us to take the Torah (the law through Moses, the Shemah being the esseence) on as a necklace, as a garland. Jews used to wear the Shemah on their foreheads and tied around their arms. Solomon is playing with words and painting a picture of receiveing instruction from your parents (which assumes it is an essential part of who they are) like wearing the Shemah on your head. It's good, like a prized necklace. That's discipleship. Not exasperation.

I'm suprised at the number of parents who call us wanting us to disciple their kids. Certainly, we want them discipled and we do many, but the kids have to want it. I sometimes challenge the parents with, "I could show you how to do it. Would you be interested?"

I think there are some powerful insights to be had in transitioning from being an enforcer of rules to being a discipler.

Bruce: I like your sermon thoughts and I'd love to see you tie in discipline also if it fits.

I believe that the command "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" encompasses discipling and disciplining.

Maybe the trick is in the balancing of the two. We tend to get stuck on discipline alone and end up frustrating/exasperating our children. If we begin to take the challenge to train and coach we move out of this as they grow old enough. I need to see the Greek and see if the word for children carries any age connotation. If these are little children or young people.

The "children obey your parents in everything" part may keep me away from some of this (because it's not about discipleship or seeking their wisdom), but there may still be a connection. It's the magic bullet really, children who obey and parents who don't frustrate them... If we can give them something practical to walk away with that morning, we'll have done them a great service.