Jase Baptism

 

As weekends go, this one was huge.

We celebrated my oldest son’s high school graduation on Friday, and my dad’s 75th birthday on Sunday. Both are big milestones. Both were worthy of a big hoo-rah party.

But in the larger economy, neither of those compared to the celebration of my youngest son’s baptism. The first two marked achievements in this life. The latter tipped the scale towards another life.

Jase became a believer a little over two years ago when he was just nine years old. At the time, the notion of baptism freaked him out. Getting drenched in a room full of people? Not his thing. And so, we talked about it. Encouraged him towards it. Helped explain the obedience of it. And finally, the decision became his, not ours.

Sunday, of course, was not the day Jase became a Christ follower. But it pointed to that day in a big, loud, public way. It was a chance for his church family to celebrate what his earthly family had already been celebrating.

And my, what a celebration it was.

I had the amazing privilege of baptizing my 12 year old son as my brother. My tears mingled with the water in the tank. He was able to proclaim his faith in Jesus, his belief in him and him alone for salvation, and his promise to go wherever Jesus may send him in the future.

Evangelicals are fond of saying that they want their kids to have boring testimonies. I’ve said it, too. What we mean by that is we want to see our kids come to Jesus early…not wandering through life sowing wild oats before “settling down” in the faith.

But every testimony is far from boring, because ultimately our story isn’t about what we’ve done or not done. It’s about what Jesus has done for us. Jesus – perfect, sinless, righteous Jesus – took on the sins of a nine year old and exchanged them for his own holiness. Jesus – fully divine, fully human Jesus – gives a forty year old father the ability to rise and walk another day. It’s not about the worthiness of my son or the worthiness he sees in his daddy, it’s about the worthiness we both see in Jesus.

Boring testimony? Nope. Recognizing the miracle that is offered to us through salvation is anything but boring. Merriem and I recognize that just because our kids grow up in a Christian home doesn’t mean that they’ll be Christians. We understand that regardless of what we do (or sadly, what we more often don’t do) to point them to Jesus, it’s still the work of Jesus. It’s still his sacrifice. It’s still his mercy. It’s still his Spirit that draws us.

I’m thankful that 3/4 of our kids have placed their faith in Jesus. I’m praying that our youngest will come to that knowledge early. And I’m hopeful that at the end of the weekend, we weren’t celebrating the baptism of Jase.

We were celebrating the finished work of Jesus.

 

 

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Surreal.

That’s the only word that can describe the feeling in our house today.

Our oldest…our firstborn…the kid who made us parents will be walking across a stage tonight to get his high school diploma.

I couldn’t be prouder of the man my child has become. He’s got a work ethic like nobody’s business, he’s got a servant’s heart, and he has a passion for Jesus. (You can read more about him on this post I wrote when he hit eighteen.)

Today marks yet another in a series of major transitions. We no longer have a high schooler, we have a rising college freshman. There’s a third adult living under our roof. He’s no longer a tax credit. He’s my friend.

Happy graduation day, Jacob. I love you.

 

 

Five Facts About Multisite Churches That Should Impact All Churches(via @RichBirch) None of these findings are particularly surprising, but they’re all a good reminder for all of us. How do our churches measure up on the metrics?

68% of multisite churches stated they have a formal leadership development process.

At it’s core it would appear that thriving multisite churches are leadership development machines … they are able to find more volunteers and staff to lead their ever expanding ministries. Critical to this process is the ability to develop leaders. How is your church tackling the leadership development process? Is it written down? Does it have a leader and a budget? It’s going to be need to formal to meet the need of reaching your community.

Five Quick Tips For Lasting Customer Service(via @FastCompany) Whether you’re a CEO or a shepherd, this’ll help you in the quest to connect.

1. USE THE RIGHT TERM.
First, I don’t call people clients, or even customers. At my companies we refer to them as “guests,” and we are their host. We are always happy to see them and strive to make their time with each of us a great experience.

You Haven’t Seen A Big Brother Like This, Ever(via @Cheezburger) If you can watch this without weeping, you have no soul.

(click for photo credit)

(click for photo credit)

It’s no secret that humor is kind of a big deal to me. My kids learned early on that if they were in trouble but could make me laugh, their punishment would be 17% less severe.

And I love the fact that all of my kids have a very unique slice of their own humor personalities. Jacob is the unsuspecting dry wit. Jase is the 11 year old, still-feeling-out-his-humor-roots-so-lets-just-make-up-weird-stuff guy. Haven is three. Everything she does is either infuriating or hilarious.

And then there’s Austin: the kid who has kept us laughing from day one. Today we flashback to one of my favorite Austin stories.

Austin [running out of his room at bedtime]: My short are making SPARKS!

Merriem: They’re what?

Austin:  SPARKS!  They’re making SPARKS!  When I got in bed and pulled the covers up, there were blue sparks everywhere!

Merriem: That’s just static.  It’s fine.  Go to bed.

Austin: But it’s SPARKS!

Read the rest of the story here. (Trust me. You wanna.)

At Chick-fil-A, HATCH comes first – even before the chicken or the egg(via @robertvadams) My friend Bob Adams gives us a behind the scenes tour of Chick-fil-A’s new innovation center. How are you thinking ahead in the guest service experience?

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If you’re going to innovate in ministry, you will have to find ways to identify the fledgling innovators in your church and then find ways to support some of their seemingly crazy ideas.

Five things we expect (and rarely get) from conference sessions(via @360connext) Good stuff here. If you are a part of organizing, leading, or speaking at conferences, these are great things to keep in mind.

Ensure content isn’t completely redundant. If speakers keep saying “well I guess Joe already covered this,” that’s not the presenter’s fault. Planners and organizers should know who is presenting what and how it can benefit the audience.

Things I’ve said to my children(via @NathanRipperger) Yep. Guilty.

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(click the photo for the entire list)

 

Jacob 1

 

My firstborn turns 18 today. Yep, you read that right. I had to go back and read that first sentence a few times, myself.

I’ll never forget that brilliantly sunny day in a tiny community hospital when I was fulfilling all of the stereotypical “first dad” routines: pacing, fidgeting, perspiring, and fighting the urge to pass out cold on the floor (that’d already happened once before during the first trimester, anyway).

And then…Jacob was born. I remember holding my son, staring at his face, counting those fingers and toes, praying over him, and being struck with the glorious wonder of human life.

Eighteen years later, I’m still overcome with that wonder sometimes. I marvel at the grace of a God who allowed us to be Jacob’s parents. I’m stunned by the stewardship we’ve been given, to try and fail, try and fail, try and fail to be the perfect parents. I’m thankful for the realization that it’s not about our perfection (or lack thereof) as parents, but the ability to simply try to point him to Jesus.

I’m thankful for a little boy that’s grown to be a man.

I’m thankful for his servant’s heart: the dozen little things he does every day without taking credit for it.

I’m thankful for his work ethic: most weeks he works full-time hours in a part time position. He loves his job at the Christian Chicken, and it shows.

I’m thankful for his sense of humor: he’s got an extremely dry wit that’ll catch you off guard and nearly always makes me laugh.

I’m thankful for his love for his brothers: regardless of the torture he’s dished out on my other two sons, he loves ’em.

I’m thankful for his love for his sister: three years ago I watched him welcome Haven into our home, and I’ve watched him adore her ever since (the feeling is mutual).

I’m thankful for his protective nature: he takes care of his mama. Regardless of his teasing, she knows her baby loves her.

I’m thankful for his missional heart: last year he took his first mission trip to Baltimore. This summer he’ll spend a month working with university students in Southeast Asia. I wish I’d had that commitment at his age.

I’m thankful for his friendship: the older he gets, the more I like him. Not because he’s my son, but because he’s my friend.

I’m thankful for Jesus: after 18 years, I realize that all I did was buy diapers and put groceries in his belly. Jesus did the heavy lifting, and he’s making him look more like him every day.

Happy 18th, Jacob.

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(Remember kiddies, if you’re new to T34A, click on the bold print to see the original article.)

Ravi Zacharias on Postmodern Architecture(via @_MichaelKelley) File this under A for “awwwww snap.”

He said, “This is America’s first postmodern building.”

I was startled for a moment and I said, “What is a postmodern building?”

He said, “Well, the architect said that he designed this building with no design in mind. When the architect was asked, ‘Why?’ he said, ‘If life itself is capricious, why should our buildings have any design and any meaning?’ So he has pillars that have no purpose. He has stairways that go nowhere. He has a senseless building built and somebody has paid for it.”

Who Would Be Surprised? (via @thisissethsblog) If you’re a leader (of employees, of volunteers, of guests, of your family), what are you doing to deliver the goods?

Surprise comes from defying expectations. Sometimes, we have the negative surprises that come from missing those expectations, but in fact, those negative surprises are part of the process of exceeding them… if you’re not prepared to live with a disappointment, you can’t be in the business of seeking delight.

Dad pre-writes over 800 daily notes for his daughter because he’s not going to make it(via @22words) I dare you to make it through this without weeping.

Statistically speaking, Garth has about an 8% chance of surviving another five years. This means the odds of him seeing his daughter Emma graduate from high school are very low.

But he’s not going to let that keep him from being with her through those years…

Since Emma was in second grade, Garth has been writing her little notes for her lunchbox. Whether it’s an encouraging comment or an inspiring quote, Emma always opens her lunch to find her napkin contains a special thought from dad.

And now, since he almost certainly won’t be able continue this tradition with Emma for as long as he’d hoped, Garth has pre-written enough Napkin Notes to get his little girl through high school…

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Yes, I recognize the irony in having a flashback post that tells you not to look back, but work with me here, people.

Wednesday was a first at our household.  After weeks of begging, I finally relented and let my 12 year old hop on the riding mower and mow the lawn.  I had mowed all the tough parts…he had no trees, no flowerbeds, no sidewalks to maneuver…just one huge rectangular spot of grass.  Up.  Down.  Back.  Forth.  It was simple, really.  I gave him a quick tutorial about how he needed to use the front right tire as a guide.  Watch the tire.  Keep it lined up with the strip that needs to be cut.  Watch the tire.  Watch the tire.  Austin, what did I say?  Watch the tire.  There was no way he could fail.

Read the entire original post here.

Outside-In Approach to Design and ROI of Patient Experiences(via @Zhecho_BeyondP) It’s a long article, but there are nuggets in there well worth the read. What can a hospital’s MRI machine teach you about your weekend guest experience?

Dietz went in and designed an experience to appeal to children and overcome the feeling of “fear”. He and his team created “the adventure series”. Before the child goes to the scanner room, it will be told that it’s about to go on an adventure. Doug’s team then redecorated the room so it looks like the kid is about to step into a “canoe” and to be careful not to “rock the boat” and if it stayed still it may even see fish jumping on top of the boat. The design also made use of other human senses e.g. smell and sound. They injected water and lavender smells in the room and as they had painted a waterfall on the wall they played the distant soft sound of water running which we all know is calming. In a word they designed a complete experience.

Automating Small Decisions(via @trenttsd) Like life hacks? Here’s the reason they work:

…our lives are full of decisions and our minds can only successfully handle so many of them in a given time period. Once we reach that cap, we become more and more subject to “decision fatigue.” The decision making parts of our mind are tired and thus are more susceptible to making errors when making little decisions.

Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow(via @LaughingSquid) Yep…I’m a proud child of the 70’s. And yep…I had one of these. You kids can keep your GameBoxes and XBoys. I’ll take Milky and her milk pills any old day…literally minutes of by-yourself-enjoyment.

Delight the weird(via @ThisIsSethsBlog) How does this apply to the “overlooked and outsiders” that visit your church on the weekend?

…it’s not everyone who wants a cup of coffee. Some want a cup of tea, or a cup of herbal tea, and those folks are used to being ignored, or handed an old Lipton tea bag, or something boring.

What if you had thirty varieties for them to choose from?

Dear “Daddy” in Seat 16C(via @GoTeamKate) I wanna be like this guy when I grow up.

You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat.  You could have ignored her.  You could have given me that ‘smile’ that I despise because it means; ‘manage your child please.’  You did none of that.  You engaged Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles.  She could never really answer your questions but she was so enamored by you that she keep eye contact and joint attention on the items you were asking her about.  I watched and smiled.  I made a few polite offers to distract her, but you would have none of it.

Man famous for dancing with raccoon is running for governor of Tennessee(via @22words) I love my home state. Anybody remember Basil Marceaux?