The Day I Witnessed Freedom on the Dance Floor

Kid DancingWe went to a wedding a couple of weeks ago and we had a great time.  It’s always a beautiful thing to see two people come together, in love, with Christ at the center.

My youngest son, Will didn’t care much for the ceremony, the sitting and the waiting.  I guess you can’t blame him for that.  He was only concerned with one thing…….when the dancing would start.  The dude loves to dance.  Seriously, his little 2-year-old body is a never-ending ball of energy.

When the evening sky grew dim, the overhead lights became brighter and the temperature began to cool, it was time.  It was time to get down on the dance floor!

From the second the music started, to the second we left, the dude was cutting a rug like no one else.  Jump’n, jive’n, shake’n, spin’n, you name it, he made it happen.  He was a dancing machine and quite the popular fellow.

I found myself joining others in just staring at him, smiling, clapping and cheering him on.  There was something so simple and refreshing about observing him just being a kid, oblivious to the world around him, lost in the beats and the rhythms and the lights leaping off the floor.  He was free.  Perhaps our admiration of him had something to do with our own desire to let loose.

Dang, I want that kind of freedom.  As adults, I think we would all give our left arm for it.

Somewhere along the line, we lost the ability to fully relax, kick our feet up and just be ourselves….the once-common freedom that we had as kids seems to be buried beneath the responsibilities of life.

So we’re left searching for those moments of inspiration, sometimes vicariously through little kids.  Thank God for them.  They’re great teachers.

Sure, I’m partial to my little guy, but honestly, he inspires me.  Through all of the “why’s” and “how come’s” and “what kind’s” and “why not’s” lies an innocent, joy-filled heart that’s made of gold.

I think there’s a reason why God uses children as examples in the bible.  He wants us to be simple like them.  Not only in our faith, but in the way we question, in the way we interact, in the way we love and in the way we live…..maybe, just maybe, that’s the beginning of true freedom.

“For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.” – Matthew 18:3 (MSG)

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Living Out What We Believe

HelpingHave you ever read a great story, watched an inspiring movie or heard an amazing testimony that compelled you to take action in some way?  Maybe your perspective was changed.  Maybe you felt encouraged to take a leap of faith.  Maybe you felt empathy for someone or something because of your experience.

What you witnessed left you with the desire to act.  I would even venture to say that inwardly, you had no choice but to act, to change, to rest in the revelation.

For those of us who fall under the label of “Christians”, what does our faith look like?  Are we walking witnesses, trusting Jesus to guide our steps or are we tired and timid, wearing the name of Christ as clothing, easily removable at will.

I have been a Christian for a long time.  I was raised in the church and surrounded by “all things Christian” my whole life.  Becoming complacent is definitely something to watch when you’ve been around a belief structure so long.

It’s so easy to fall into the comfortable trap of doing Christian things, checking off the list for Christ.  Going through the motions without allowing the heart-change.

Unfortunately, I think there are many Christians who fall under this category.  Wandering around like a bunch of zombies, following tradition, rules and procedures, all the while, forgetting about their 1st love, Jesus Christ.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there.  Looking back, I was a judgemental jerk at times.  Using my bible as a weapon, not for love.  I’ve grown up since then, but I’m certainly not perfect either.

Here’s the thing, when we’ve been gripped by God’s love, it SHOULD transform us.  It SHOULD mold us.  It SHOULD flip our freaking worlds upside down!

I’m not saying that we suddenly become theologians or scholars or saints.  What happens is actually quite simple.  Our perspective is altered, our heart is more sensitive and our love for others increases.  Most importantly, our view of eternity and God Himself becomes more intimate and real.  It’s a supernatural thing, not a common sense thing.

What we need these days from Christians, more than ever, is conviction of the spirit and the courage to love boldly.  I speak for myself here.  It’s something that I pray for constantly.

By conviction, I mean the yearning or urging to live out what God has worked in.  To be a witness in our words AND deeds.  That’s the key.

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” – James 2:18 (NLT)

To clarify, it’s not just a do-good thing.  It’s a have-faith-in-Jesus-and-the-rest-will-follow kind of thing.  It comes naturally over time.

The world is dark.  Would YOU be bold enough to be the light that brings hope?  Would YOU be bold enough to be the love amidst the hate?  Would YOU be bold enough to share the story about a man named Jesus and why you have chosen to follow Him?

Faith without action is dead.  Action without faith is dead.  Let’s let others see Jesus’s imprint on our deeds, our words, in our lives and sparkling in our eyes.  It’s what we were created to do after all.

Let’s live up to the label we place on ourselves, by God’s grace.  Go get ’em.

God Bless,

Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing Ninjas on the Playground

SwingsetI’m really proud of my son, Ben.  He just started 1st grade and we all can’t be more excited for him.

Unfortunately, Ben had his first real experience with a bully.  This kid wouldn’t leave him alone…he called him names, made personal attacks, nagged him to death, etc.  I have to admit, I’ve envisioned myself hanging this little twerp by his underwear on the flag pole outside the school.  I know, I know, I need to calm down.  As a victim of bullying myself, it’s tough not to get heated.

Although I would never want my son to get pushed around, it’s been a great learning experience for all of us.  My lovely wife gave him some sound advice and I paraphrase: “sometimes, mean kids just need somebody to be nice to them.  Jesus was nice to mean people all the time.  Sometimes, that bully could even end up being your friend!”  Brilliant.  This great advice made for some deep dinner conversation.

A couple of days later, Ben blew my socks off.  He proudly called me at work to explain a conversation between himself and the twerp…..I mean kid  :).  They spoke in the bathroom at school.  Ben approached the kid and said something like “I’m sick of us fighting all the time.  Can we just be friends?”  The kid responded with a quick “yep.”  It was a simple exchange with profound results.

At recess, they played ninjas on the playground.  In Boy Land, that means that all is right in the world.  That some healing and acceptance has taken place.

Due to Ben’s love and grace, the kid has left him alone.  Apparently, he’s still causing trouble in other ways, but the direct harassment once focused on Ben is no longer there.  Most of the time,  love can be the best deterrent against negativity.  It’s pretty cool how God designed things.

My son inspires me.  I see Jesus in his eyes, in his demeanor, in his hands and in his feet.  I’m proud to be his dad.

God Bless,

Paul