A Teachable Moment . . . For Me

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A Cafe Press t-shirtWe have a teenager and we are working on the typical teenage stuff. Things like taking the trash down to the curb BEFORE the trash truck comes by. We’re trying to reinforce those life lessons that we all need to grapple with — like work before play. You know the stuff. Been there, done that. Right?

This morning we were going through the routine, “Did you do this? Have you done that?” And out of the blue it dawned on me that is exactly where God has me at the moment.

It was one of those crystal clear teachable moments but instead of me being the teacher, I was the student.

I heard that still small voice saying to me, “Tim, this is what I’ve been trying to teach you. Do the most important things first. Make ME first. Let all that other stuff follow after ME.” Seek ye first . . .

It wasn’t long before another thought occurred to me. Am I as patient and kind with my son as the LORD has been with me? How has by behavior and reactions reflected God’s behavior and reactions? Is my character reflecting God’s character? In the midst of trying to teach my son to do first things first am I also teaching him about the patience and kindness of his Heavenly Father?

Well I think we all know the answer to that question.

Now it’s time to repent and seek God’s grace to enable me to train my son the way our Heavenly Father is training me.

“Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy and loving-kindness, and teach me Your statutes.” — Psalm 119:124 (Amplified Bible)

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His hope is realized

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“But hope that is seen is not hope at all; for who hopes for what he already sees?” — Romans 8:24

My father-in-law, Joseph Ducanis, Sr., now sees his Hope. He no longer waits for it. It is not unseen any more. He no longer has hope because his hope has been realized. Paul says it is not hope if you see it. Dad Ducanis now sees, he stares and worships what was once hope but is now reality. He is with his Savior, Christ Jesus.

As I have been thinking about our study of hope and Dad’s passing, heaven has become more real to me. Jake, BJ’s 22 year old nephew, was waiting for Dad Ducanis when he arrived. They are not hopeful people any longer. They have no need to be. They are with Jesus.

I love the thought of Jake being with his granddad. The two of them waiting on the rest of us. Those of us who are left . . . still hoping.

LIFE AFTER HOME begins long before they leave

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I attended the Life After Home event with Dr. Tim Clydesdale over at Grace Point on Sunday night. It was really good. As I walked out afterward someone asked what stood out to me. Immediately I knew what it was. Didn’t have to think about it. Didn’t have to choose between my top two. The thing that stood out to me was that the best thing to do to help kids make wise and good choices, choices to pursue to Jesus when there is no one around making them do that — the best thing was . . .

for parents to live out their faith at home day in and day out as the kids are growing up.

Think about that. I think many parents think we have to make our kids go to camp, read the bible, pray, go, do, go and do. But the real burden lies on us as parents.

What are we doing? Is it in alignment with our words and the message of the Gospel? When Clydesdale said that I went into deep self-reflective mode! What have I been doing? What do I need to be doing? What do I have to stop doing? How are my actions and attitudes matching the message of Jesus? When my boys look at me, what do they see?

Finally, how much of what we are doing is spoon feeding our kids instead of teaching them to feed themselves? How do they begin to make their faith their own, instead of living in the shadow of my faith? How do we encourage them to actively engage in a walk of faith instead of going through the motions of accommodating my faith and wishes for them?

Bette and I are trying. Many parents I know are trying. But the rate that kids are walking away makes me think much of what we are doing is not working.

Parents, we are only stewards of the souls of our kids. One day we’ll give account for what we have done or not done to disciple them. I fear much of the burden will fall not on what we told them, but on how we lived in front of them.

If you want to hear the discussion for the “Live After Home” event click here.

Kids bring joy

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Proverbs is right. Our kids do bring joy to their parents! This morning I have especially appreciated the truth of those Proverbs.

Sitting in my living room enjoying the snow, reading my bible, typing out thoughts on my laptop. Then I hear something from the boys room at the top of the stairs. It is reading. Grant reading. Grant reading Proverbs 2. How cool that was for me to hear him reading on his own. May God embed His truth in that boy’s heart!

Then a while later, Owen has taken over their bedroom. He has his music on — loud. He pops out of his room and calls me, “Daddee” so I look up there to see what is going on. He smiles a giant smile and is trying his hardest to sing with the song. It was some children’s bible song. He was signing the words as he squeezed them out vocally as well. That hasn’t always happened! It was pure joy to listen to him!!

Finally, this week is a big week for Owen. He has been in an autistic support class this year. He has done well there. This week he will begin to attend a regular ed class for their morning meeting. If it goes well he will attend this 30 minute portion of the class two times each week. It is a GIANT step for him! We are eager to see how it works out!

Proverbs 26: Did you really mean that? part 1

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(Today’s post combines verses from chapter 26 & 27.)

“Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a clay pot.” (26:23)

“An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” (27:5-6)

“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” (27:9)

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (27:17)

My closest friends are those who will risk our friendship by sharing hard observations about myself with me. I want to be that friend to others as well. I want people to know that I will say what is right and true to them even if is unpleasant or risky. It seems some people are easier to be like this with than others. My goal is to be consistent with everyone. I’m not there yet.

I have lots of thoughts about these passages. I really want to grow in the principles they speak of. I have in many ways. I haven’t in others. My thoughts are so spread out on this. I can’t collect them. I have written several drafts to post but they all begin to go into circles and seem incoherent. The issue of candor, of honesty is full of passion for me. I feel that I have been burned by people who weren’t honest. I feel I have withheld honesty from others, thus burned them. I’ll have to meditate on this longer. Look for a follow up post in the coming days!

Proverbs 20: Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord

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You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
You may find yourself in another part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself; Well…How did I get here?

From “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads

“Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way?”
From Proverbs 20:24 (it’s very cool that Talking Heads and Proverbs fit nicely together!)

I don’t live in a shotgun shack, it’s called a townhouse. I do live in another part of the world, at least a different part of the world from Levelland, Texas. I have driven large automobiles, but right now it is the gray box of a car called a Scion Xb. I wouldn’t say my house is ‘beautiful’ but I really like it. My wife is beautiful!

How did I get here?

In January of ’85 I attended my brother’s wedding here in Bucks County. I was just finishing my undergrad work in marketing at Texas Tech University. I had spent the last three years wandering from God and having college fun. When I arrived for the wedding I learned that people at the church my brother attended had been praying for me to return to the Lord. That church was Crossing Community Church.

I enjoyed my bother’s friends. The church was different than any I had attended before. I didn’t know it but I met my future wife that week. (Bette gave me and some others a ride home after the wedding. She lived in the same building as my brother.) I didn’t know it but I had attended the church that I would one day pastor. Very weird! But so like God.

“How then can man understand his way?”

In the days immediately after that wedding I began to read my Bible again. I was drawn like never before. I stood in lines and read. I was reading all the time in all kinds of places.

I also began to journal again. As I was writing about what I was reading and asking questions about what it meant. I began to correspond with a key leader from CCC as well as a couple of other people at the church. God was doing something in my life, something I wasn’t quite sure how to understand – or if anyone else would understand.

Only a few weeks later I decided to test God and see what He was really up to. My hunch was that He was moving me from Lubbock, TX to Newtown, PA. I only knew two people in PA. I knew hundreds of people in TX. I didn’t know where to start finding a job in PA, I had job offers on the table in TX. All my family except my brother was in TX.

So I wrote in my journal that if indeed God was moving me to PA He had to make a way. I asked Him to do three things: Get me out of a job obligation gracefully; Get me a car that would make it all the way to PA; Get my father to give me his blessing. That was early February 1985. By mid-March all three were done!

I approached my boss at the time and explained that I was going to be leaving in a few months. She fired me on the spot. Item #1 complete!

My uncle sold me a car he had traded for, a 1980 Lincoln Versaille. Item #2 complete!

My father’s blessing. This was the one I never expected to happen. My dad was not happy my brother had left the country to live among the Yankees up North. It was common to hear some disparaging comment when the subject came up. At the time my dad lived 4 hours away. I made the trip out to see him and eventually brought up the idea of me moving. I anticipated a 15 round bout on the subject. His first words were, “If you think that’s what you need to do, then you need to do it.” I was shocked! Item #3 complete!

“Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord”

So God passed my test. He made a way when I didn’t think there was a way. He had ordained my steps.

I arrived in PA on Labor Day weekend 1985. In the 24 years God has still been ordaining my steps. I made plans that He changed. I thought we were going to work overseas. He changed that. I thought we would have the 2.3 kids, white picket fence, classic suburban lifestyle. He changed that. God has continued to guide my steps to paths I wouldn’t have chosen or didn’t know existed. I don’t understand how I got here. But I know that a completely faithful, loving, generous God has brought me to this place. And, if I have another 24 years to live, every step from now to then will be ordained by Him.

Proverbs 19: Lessons from Rednecks

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I had a list of things from this chapter to highlight but it seemed contrived. The real issue in chapter 19 that gets my attention is that of laziness. I really, really hate laziness. I have a hard time patronizing businesses where the employees just barely do their job. I don’t want to be associated with those who are accused of laziness. I don’t want to be accused of laziness. It is a quality handed down by my father and uncle. I worked for one or both of them for the first 15 years of my life. I have all kinds of endearing but unrepeatable sayings they taught me about how to work.

Neither of them were spiritual or godly so their values didn’t come from Scripture. But nonetheless those values fall in line with many proverbs. I can thank God for those two rednecks and the way they taught me “proverbial wisdom” although I doubt they ever read the Proverbs.

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