Being Wrong When You Are Right

Sometimes when you are right, you’re wrong.

It feels good when you know you are totally, undeniably right when heading into a confrontation with someone. You know you were wronged and you know that you can prove it without even a hint of doubt. Before you barge in like a scene from a movie ready to be your own hero, consider that while your case is airtight, your approach may not be.

There is more at stake in any argument than just being right or wrong; there is the relationship. Without the relationship this person’s offense might not have even matter in the first place and been dismissed as the other person’s ignorance. We are typically more offended by people we expect not to offend us because of our relationship with them. If that relationship and the restoration of that relationship matters to you at all then make sure your approach is also right.

Over the weekend, I was upset at something the coach had done to my daughter. It wasn’t a terrible thing but it was certainly unfair. I was tempted to a.) complain to the other parents and b.) let the coach know my frustration while I was still pretty angry. I’d like to report that in this particular incident I did neither. Look at that! I’m acting all adult-like! Instead, I sent her a text that shared my concern briefly (because wondering what someone wants to talk about is stressful) and asked when would be a good time to discuss the matter. She responded politely and we set up a time to talk—which we did a couple days later and it went great.

The relationship mattered and news flash: It Always Matters. “As far as it concerns you, live at peace with one another.” Romans 12:18. (While this verses is speaking to, how Christians should treat one another, there are other verses that talk about how we should also do this for everyone. I just appreciate how succinctly its stated in Romans.) If I had undermined my relationship with the coach it would affect my daughter, which would in turn effect her ability to grow and learn in the sport. It would have caused tension and stress at every subsequent interaction.

There is something beautiful about resolution in that when it’s done God’s way you can truly leave it behind you and move forward. Surprisingly that includes when the other party doesn’t care to reconcile, because God gives you a sense of peace for your effort to do things the right way.

The Bible says in Matthew that, “if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” What is the most wonderful outcome to a confrontation? Its not going to be you being more right than the other person; its going to be the complete restoration of the relationship.

Death By A Thousand Cuts

Two o’clock in the morning and my head is still pounding from a migraine that has dogged me since early the prior evening. I tried medicine, light and sound deprivation and sleep; nothing helped. I get migraines occasionally but very rarely do they hit this hard and take so long to resolve. The house was quiet and dark as I made my way to the kitchen to pour a glass of water. I stood leaning against the counter for a minute, but the magic of hydration did not help as fast as I had hoped.

Making my way back to my bed, I stepped over the boys who must have snuck into my room at some point and made themselves a small bed of blankets and pillows. The pressure in my head was still intense enough that it felt like my eyes would be pushed right out of my head. I began going back over the day before to see if I could discover the cause of my migraine, but that only brought up the things I was stressed about:
the email from Will’s teacher letting me know that he wasn’t doing well at all, the realization that I forgot to RSVP for the basketball banquet meaning Evie couldn’t go that night, the projects still needing attention at work, paperwork due to register Ronan for school, taxes, and well, the list just continues to grow from there.

As I sort through what I can, the quiet and the dark reveals a clarity that I can’t seem to find during the activity of my day. In my head the following conversation took place:

“Why do you persist at doing these things yourself?”
“I don’t do these things myself; Paul has the other side of this list.”
“But it’s more than the two of you can handle. Why do you have such a tight grip on these things?”
“Who can I ask for help? I have no family here and all my friends are just as busy.”
“Let these things go.”
“And FAIL! Let everyone down? No thank you!”
“Who said ‘fail’?”

And then relief, relief from the migraine that chewed away at the inside of my head, relief from the responsibilities far greater than my abilities settled the anxieties in the night.

“How do I let go, but not fail?”
“You know the answer.”

How relief and shame can share the same space is always a mystery contained inside the realization that God, who walks beside you through all of the emails, the phone calls, the bills, the meetings, has been politely extending the answer the entire time. How long would I go on ignoring it?

Without God these things multiple and to your heart, soul and mind they are death by a thousand cuts. Each cut allowing a little of your sanity and confidence to escape and threaten to part from you forever. My shame and misplaced pride responds, “Not those little things God. I can have this cleaned up in no time.” The Truth, “If you could, you would, but you can’t so you have not. Did I not say, ‘cast ALL your cares’?”

There is nothing so small that God can’t help you with and there is nothing so small that a thousand of them would not turn into a crushing burden. It took a migraine, a quiet night and a soft word spoken to my heart that I am not enough, but He is and He wants to carry all of it.

You Can Know Jesus! // Bill Ronning

We are not saved because of the things we do. We do the things we do because we are saved. We live out of thankfulness for what God has done for us. Trust Jesus is Savior. We’re saved because of what He has done for us. Seek God in prayer. Repent of your past. Call on the name of Christ. He is the only one who can save.  Now, walk by the power of God’s spirit. Now that you have accepted Christ as your savior, click here for some help on the next step, living out this decision. It’s free!

Fireside Christmas Story // The Perfect Christmas Pageant

You’ve probably been to a Christmas pageant, if not this year than in Christmas’ past. Just last week a video went viral of a little 2-year-old “sheep” who stole Baby Jesus right out of the manger. If you’re like us, moments like this are the best part of the program.

With all of the hustle and bustle in this week before Christmas, we thought we’d give you a chance to unwind a bit .. so settle in, cuddle up, grab a nice warm cup of coffee or cocoa, and listen to a Fireside Christmas Story with Uncle Peter.

This one is called The Perfect Christmas Pageant, and was originally published in Good Housekeeping Magazine in 1987.

The Perfect Christmas Pageant, by Rev. ML Lindvall

Last year I received a Christmas card from a former seminary classmate of mine. Inside the card was a letter – not one of those mimeographed Christmas letters in which people proudly share news of their children’s extraordinary achievements and their own various illnesses of the past year, but an honest-to-goodness letter, written to me personally. I sat down recently to reread this unusual piece of correspondence, and I want to share its contents with you here.

Dear Michael (it began), I accepted the call to that little church I told you about last winter – and yesterday was our annual children’s Christmas pageant. It was wonderful, but now that it’s over my blood pressure has probably dropped about 20 points.

The whole saga really begins 47 Christmases ago when Doris Peterson first directed the pageant, something she continued to do through seven pastors and who knows how many Christian Education Committees. Presidents came and went, three wars were fought, hundreds of children passed through Sunday school, and Doris Peterson directing her Christmas pageant was like a great rock in a turbulent sea.

I never saw one of Doris’s pageants (we’ve only been here since spring), but I’ve heard about them. They always had precisely nine characters, no more, no less: one Mary, one Joseph, three Wise Men, two shepherds, one angel and one narrator. The script was the Christmas story out of the King James Bible, which meant that two six-year-old shepherds had to learn to say “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

Doris’s goal was nothing less than perfection: perfect lines, perfect pacing, blocking, and enunciation – perfect everything. That is not easily achieved with little children, even with nine carefully selected ones. Critics said Doris would have worked with nine midget actors if she thought she could have gotten away with it.

Time and again people tried to get Doris to open things up so that every youngster who wanted a part could have one. “Doris,” they would say, “scripture says there was a heavenly host, not just one lonely angel.”

“Doris, why not have a few more shepherds, and then everybody could take part in the pageant?”

“Doris, if there were shepherds, there had to be sheep, too, right? We can make little sheep costumes.”

“No,” Doris would say. “When there are too many youngsters, there is no control.”

Early this fall, however, something happened. The Christian Education Committee included three mothers of last year’s rejected Marys, Josephs, shepherds and Wise Men. These young mothers passed the following motion: “Resolved: All children who wish to be in the Christmas pageant may do so. Parts will be found for them.”

Doris heard about it that night and was in my office the next morning at 9 A.M. sharp. “If those women know so much, let them be in charge,” she spit out. Before I could reply, she resigned as director of the pageant.

The pageant, as I said, was yesterday. The young mothers didn’t fall flat on their faces, but the program was, well, different from what everybody had come to expect over the past 46 years.

There must have been a dozen shepherds and 20 angels (a real heavenly host). And then there were the sheep – a couple dozen three, four, and five year olds who were dressed in fake sheepskin vests with woolly hoods and their dad’s socks, which were pulled up over their arms and legs.

Now, in your suburban Christmas pageants, I imagine sheep are well-behaved and fairly quiet. The only sheep suburban kids have ever seen are on the church-bulletin cover – quiet, grazing sheep who just stand there and look cute. But half of the kids in this church live on farms and they’ve seen real sheep. They know sheep wander around. They know that all sheep want to do is eat.

So, some of the sheep started doing an imitation of grazing behind the communion table. Some went to graze over by the choir and down the aisle. Some had donuts they found in the church parlor to make their grazing look more realistic. When the shepherds tried to herd them with their shepherds’ crooks, some of the sheep spooked and scattered, which is exactly what real sheep do.

Doris was watching all this from the last pew, and I could just see her from where I was sitting. She noticed me looking at her and lowered her head to hide a smirk.

The real climax of imprecision came, however, at the point of high drama when Mary and Joseph enter, Mary clutching a doll wrapped in a blue blanket. This year’s Mary, whose name was actually Mary, was taking the role with an intense and pious seriousness. Joseph was another story. He had gotten the part because he had been rejected from pageant participation by Doris more times than any other youngster in the church (and for good reason, some might say).

Anyway, Mary and Joseph were to walk on as the narrator read, “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem… to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child.”

At least this is what the narrator was supposed to read. It was what the narrator had read at the rehearsal. But one of the young mothers had observed that none of the children could really understand the English of the King James Bible, so they voted to switch to the Good News translation for the performance.

So, as Mary and Joseph entered, the narrator read, “Joseph went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant.” As the last word echoed through the P.A. system, our little Joseph froze in his tracks, gave Mary an incredulous look, then looked out at the congregation. “Pregnant? What do you mean, pregnant?” he asked.

This, of course, brought the house down. My wife, wiping tears from her eyes, leaned over to me and said, “You know, that may well be what Joseph actually said.”

Doris was now wearing a look that simply said, “I told you so.” But as the pageant wound into its concluding tableaux and the church lights were dimmed for the singing of Silent Night, a couple of magical, I would allow, miraculous things happened.

The sheep, when they were finished with their parts, bleated their way down a side aisle to sit in the last couple of pews and watch the end of the show. Doris suddenly found herself surrounded by a little herd. Then the church went dark, and we could all see what had been happening outside for the last hour. The first snow of winter was falling. Big, fat snowflakes floated down, covering everything with a white blanket. From both children and grown-ups, there was a group “Ahhh!”

We sang, “Silent night, Holy night, All is calm, All is bright.” Our voices were soft, and all the sheep were quiet, even the ones who were awake. Everybody looked at the snow. When the last verse of the carol finally died away, no one stirred for a long time. It wasn’t planned. We all just sat there and watched.

Then Minnie McDonnell broke the spell. She’s hard of hearing and always talks too loudly. She probably meant to whisper to her husband, but everybody heard. “Perfect,” she said. “Just perfect.”

And it was. It wasn’t perfect in the way Doris had tried to make her pageants perfect; it was perfect in the way God makes things perfect, the way He accepts our fumbling attempts at love and fairness and covers them with grace. Have a Merry Christmas, my friend.

Why We Move So Slowly

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”  Psalm 119:105

Will, Ronan and Arielle were running around the worship center as their dad and I were rehearsing for the upcoming service. In an effort to keep them occupied, I gave Will and Ronan our phones, encouraging them to use the flashlight to find “hidden treasures” in the rows of seats (keeps them busy, helps clean the church = win-win).

The house lights were down as dramatic music cued the beginning of my solemn monologue. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the flashlights in the bleacher seats as my three- and eight-year-old ran along the top row. Half way down, my two-year-old was trying to come down the stairs but instead of shining the flashlight on the path ahead, he was shining it in his face. “Dear Lord, please just don’t let him fall.” I looked back at my prompter and rushed through my lines, glancing over at every pause. Surely he will turn the light around instead of struggling to find the next step down.

Miraculously he remained uninjured—but he also only advanced two steps. The verse in Psalms about God’s word being a lamp to my feet came to mind.

And I wondered if I do this to Jesus. How often to I allow His light and wonder to shine in my face but not influence my choices? What’s the point of having a flashlight in a dark room if you never use it to help you find the places you could be going?

Jeremy Camp – The Answer Tour

Jeremy Camp

Capitol Recording Artist Jeremy Camp chats up P&S this morning to talk about The Answer Tour, an answer to prayer, & to crush Peter on the Morning Show Bible Challenge!

 

 

 

 

 

Back To School Tips

Back To School Tips

Sending kids back-to-school can be a tough time, for the kids & for mom & dad.  The American Academy of Pediatrics says there are a few things you can do to make it easier. We’ve included some of the top tips below.  You can get the rest here.

Before School Starts
  • Don’t wait until the first day of class to ask for help.  Schools are almost always open early to address concerns. You can even take kids in early to get a look at their classroom & locker.
  • Accentuate the positive!  They will see old friends & meet new ones.
  • Find a buddy your child can walk to school or ride on the bus with.
  • Drive your child to school on the first day – & maybe pick them up too.
  • Touch base with the new teacher.
  • Start the sleep/wake-up schedule a week or so ahead of time.
Backpack Safety
  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps & a padded back.
  • Pack light.
  • Always use both shoulder straps.
  • Adjust the pack so that the bottom sits at your child’s waist.
School Bus
  • Children should always board & exit at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
  • Make sure they walk where they can see the bus driver.
  • Look both ways before entering traffic.
Lunch
  • Make sure you check the cafeteria menus, which many schools post online.  That helps with planning.
  • Look into what is offered inside & outside of the cafeteria, including vending machines.
Homework & Study Habits
  • Create a good environment, including a consistent work space that’s quiet.
  • Schedule ample time for homework; build this time into extra-curricular activities.
  • Supervise computer & Internet use.

Jonny Diaz – Breathe

Driving home from work, you suddenly realize that one more stressor will put you right over the edge. It might be a terrible day at work or a stressful time with your kids but you feel the tightness in your neck and chest and rest seems so far away. So, what do you do in that instance? Well, Jonny Diaz would suggest that you breathe. Jonny faced fatherhood during a 40-city tour and the managing of his and his wife’s gym in Nashville. “We didn’t even have the baby yet, and I just felt so overwhelmed with everything life was throwing at me,” Jonny admits. Oh, and he had a quickly approaching deadline to turn in a new record but songwriting was stressing him out even more! What if he took the time, wrote a song and then it never made it on to the record?

“In some ways when I had to co-write, it was stressful, because I was like, ‘Man, I have to commit this entire day to writing a song, and I don’t even know if I’m going to use the song,’” Johnny recalls, looking back at the process. When he met with his fellow co-writers who asked what he had going on in his life that he could write about, Jonny admits that he downloaded on them. Realizing that he was not the only one who felt that way, they all put their heads together and wrote “Breathe”.

Alarm clock screaming bare feet hit the floor

It’s off to the races everybody out the door

I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, it’s a crazy life

“If I’m honest, I was just busy,” Jonny explains, “We had a new baby at home and so many things changing in our lives. But it was in that moment that I realized that I just needed to breath.”

When the stress is on the rise in my heart I feel you say just

Breathe, just breathe

Come and rest at my feet

And be, just be

Chaos calls but all you really need is to just breathe

“It’s not about just serving God,” Jonny reveals, “It’s more about knowing God.” He admits to being more of a Martha from Luke 10:38-42 and that sometimes he just needs to be a Mary and just sit at Jesus’ feet. “Knowing God needs to be at the pinnacle, the most important thing,” Johnny admits, “He’s not part of my life, He is my life.” Know that you can rest in Him and He has it all under control, no matter what you are going through.

Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to take it in fill your lungs

The peace of God that overcomes

Just breathe

So let your spirit rest

Lay down what’s good and find what’s best

Just breathe

Audio

Who is Going to Fight for You?

“We took some really big, scary steps to kind of make this happen,” is how Mike Grayson of Grayson Reed described the process where he and his wife, Molly Reed, decided to make their marriage a priority, even in their careers. He continued, “Molly and I, when we met, we were in our separate groups.  I was with Mike’s Chair and she was with City Harbor, and we were kind of ships in the night for the most part, kind of going majorly different directions around the country. We just knew that that wasn’t going to sustain us.” So they decided to make their marriage a priority in both of their lives, including their careers and parenting. Molly and Mike have a one-and-a-half-year-old baby girl at home that has opened their eyes to how important fighting for your family can be. “It is the hardest thing ever I will say that first,” Molly explains, “those first couple weeks when you’re like I thought I knew how to live without sleep, but she’s now one-and-a-half, and she is – she’s incredible.  She’s such a sweet silly little girl, and being a mother has taught me honestly how much God loves me.  That perspective everyone says when you’re a parent you’ll view God’s love in such a different way, and it’s been so true.  I couldn’t imagine not doing anything for this sweet girl and it just gives me chills to think that his love is even so much greater.”

Their new song Fight For You, outlines their real world perspective on the struggles of marriage and how they can be overcome.

“I know how to be your champion
I know what to say to build you up
And I know how to make you feel pretty
I know how make you feel love
Oh if you ever start to wonder whether it’s still true
Let me tell you once again what I said, when I said I do
I’m gonna fight for you”

“We are so passionate about family,” Molly shares, “and I’m not just saying this but family is life and we believe that marriage is the core of that and then raising children and grandchildren, all that, it just kind of trickles from there. And we – we’re like what an honor if God would use us to help inspire and challenge and I don’t know strengthen marriages, which in turn will affect families.” Mike adds, “One of the things that I’ve really been working on is when Molly’s getting ready in the morning and I’m like ‘wow, she’s beautiful’, actually saying that to her because, if I don’t, she’s not getting the benefit of that.  So being way more intentional with my words with Molly and then especially with our little girl because I feel that weight of what it means to be the father of a girl.”

So, no matter what you are fighting for today, keep Mike and Molly’s words in mind, “It’s worth

choosing each other and choosing love till the end.”