Is Your Wife Raising Another Kid?

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Living in a house full of little boys is a lot of fun. Unless you happen to be married to one of them.

The childhood years keep getting extended. In some cultures, 12 was the age when boys became men. In today’s world, we are told that it’s somewhere around 32. That’s great if you’re in the business of selling video games and superhero bed sheets that fit king sized mattresses. But, like I said, it’s not so great if you’re a woman who happens to be married to one of those 32-year-old bundles of joy.

The man who really cares about his family will occasionally ask himself, and his wife, if he is being the man that his job calls for or if the only difference between him and his own kids is that he’s more advanced in potty training.

When you get home from work, does your wife feel a sense of relief that help has arrived or does she feel like the daycare just got one kid busier? Little boys expect to be waited on. A real man offers whatever services he can to his wife.

Does your family take a backseat to your dreams? Has your family basically become the single-parent variety while you pursue whatever other passion gets your heart beating faster? Little boys tend to think that the whole world revolves around whatever passion is driving them at the moment. A real man puts his family ahead of his hobbies.

When the dishes pile up and dinner is a little late, are you quick to criticize or do you jump in to serve? Little boys ask, “When is dinner going to be done?” Real men ask, “How can I help?”

Does your work end when you get home? Do you have a date every afternoon at 5 with your couch, your man cave or the outdoors? Have you convinced yourself that you’ve worked hard all day to earn some me time? Little boys shut it down for the day when one job is done. Real men know that no matter how hard their day was, when they get home their most important job is just beginning.

Have you bought into the lie that says, “If momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy?” Are you willing to be a leader and make tough decisions, even if those decisions are unpopular? Little boys usually shy away from conflict when it gets too thick. A real man makes the decision that’s best for his family, not his popularity or comfort level.

Does your wife exist only to meet your needs? Do you ever consider what you can do for her and how you can help her to grow? Every kid’s favorite word is mine. A real man knows that his wife really belongs to God and manages his relationship accordingly.

Is affection a way of life in your marriage or is it just something that you do when you want a little more from your wife in return? Is your wife losing the comparison game in your mind? The one that she may not even know that she is playing? The one that has her going against some Hollywood starlet, the new girl at work and the thousands of images downloaded on your computer? Have your kids ever seen you kiss or even hug your wife? Little boys never have much to do with real girls, preferring instead the fake ones in cartoons. A real man knows that there is no woman on earth better than the real woman he is married to.

At some point in our history, it became very uncool to be a real man. So men started going to salons for facials and therapists for better contact with their feminine side. It left us all confused. So in response, some overemphasized only certain aspects of manhood while completely ignoring the others. That left us with little boys who drive really big trucks and are great at making babies but who have no idea how to treat a woman or raise a family.

Being a real man doesn’t have a lot to do with your automobile preferences or hobbies. The real question of your manhood is answered in the day to day routine. Do you respect women? Do you love and lead your wife in a sacrificial way? Do you raise your kids or are you just one of them?

Gentlemen, it’s a tough job that we have.

It’s not a job for little boys.

It’s a job that calls for a real man.

What will be your answer?

How To Raise A Person Of Interest

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It’s been a while since we’ve had a good boogeyman.

Charles Manson is old and in jail. Jeffrey Dahmer is dead. Football players at Auburn are busy with their summer conditioning.

If the lack of creepy men roaming our neighborhoods and cities has left you feeling a bit down, fear not! You can always add more drama to our lives by raising your own little person of interest. All it takes is one simple step.

Disregard your child’s capacity for evil.

There’s this dog at the end of my street. She’s evil. When I walk in front of her house, she barks real loud and chases me with her teeth showing. The kid who lives there always says the same thing.

“She won’t bite.”

True. She won’t bite. But only because I can outrun her.

But if she was younger and faster, she would bite.

Humans can be the same way.

Some parents refuse to discipline their children until they’re old enough to walk. Or drive. Or join the military. Their reasoning sounds simple enough. Babies can’t do anything wrong. Just look at them. They’re so cute.

Simple. But wrong.

Babies lie. If you don’t believe me, put one in a crib and leave the room. (Editor’s Note: Only do this to your own baby. Don’t just find someone else’s baby and tell them that you need a baby for an experiment you read about on some pastor’s blog.) When you leave that room, there’s a good chance that your baby will cry. And not a cute cry. It will be more like the kind of cry you would expect if the baby woke up to see Charles Manson, or an Auburn player, standing next to his crib.

So you run in to check things out. You pick the baby up. Suddenly, all is right in the world.

Babies are cute. But they’re also liars. They get it from their parents.

Have you ever tried changing a baby’s diaper when she didn’t want to be changed? It’s like a wrestling match. And it’s not cute. It’s rebellion.

That doesn’t mean that you need to beat your baby. It just means that you need to realize her capacity for evil. Just because she can’t roll her eyes, huff and cuss at you doesn’t mean that she’s not trying to do those things. Never mistake inability for innocence.

Well, unless you’d like to see your kid on the news someday. And not for getting first place in the county-wide art contest. In that case, just ignore their cute rebellion until they turn 13. And then wonder where things went wrong.

Broken Down Blessings

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I didn’t really think anything the first time I saw the stain. Driveways have stains. Big deal. But then the stain started to grow. That’s when I knew that I had a problem. And this problem was leaking from gently used 1992 Toyota 4Runner.

I did what any self-respecting American male in my situation would do. I called a friend and asked him what was going on. Our conversation went a little like this.

“Hey, what’s it mean when stuff is pouring out from the front of my car?”

“Check the hose underneath the car. Is it tight?”

“Well, there’s a thing-a-ma-jigger clamped on to another thingy pretty tight.”

Nothing makes you feel less manly than using the word thingy in regards to an automobile. I’m pretty sure that my grandfather never said thingy. Ever. If Dale Sr. would have been there, I would have gotten a beating.

Leading up to all of this, I was feeling pretty confident. Less than an hour before, I was laying under another car. A minivan. A woman from California was pulling into my neighborhood with a tire that looked like it belonged on the side of the interstate.

I got out to help.

Before I did anything, I prayed. Not for her. For myself. And it wasn’t one of those out loud prayers either. This was the kind of prayer that’s best kept quiet.

“God, help me. Help me not to do something stupid. Help me not to kill myself. Or this woman’s minivan.”

If you’re a single mother of four young girls, the last thing you want to hear from the guy changing your tire on the side of the road is, “God, help me not to blow something up like last time.”

Half of my neighborhood stopped to check on us. I was afraid that they were going to check how long it took me to change this lady’s tire. Instead, they were just offering to help. They were just worried for this lady. And me. One neighbor, with tools much more equipped for the job than my roll of duct tape and a pocket knife, got out to help me. The woman from California stood on the side of the road and watched us change her tire while her four daughters played with my son.

When she drove off, I prayed again. Not for her. For myself. Quietly.

“God, please help that tire I just put on to stay put on. And if it doesn’t, please help this woman to forget where I live.”

For as far as I could see the lady’s minivan driving off, my prayer was answered. To date, there have been no legal notifications sent to my home regarding the improper changing of a tire.

Laying under my own car was much more difficult. A tire is one thing. A radiator thingy is quite another. There’s not even a mark to tell you where to put the duct tape. While I was under there, I thought it would look silly for me to immediately get back up. So I just stayed there underneath my leaking radiator and jiggled some wires.

That didn’t help.

Early the next morning, I dropped my problems off at my mechanic’s place. Less than an hour later, I got the call. I was nervous when the lady on the other end said my name. Her voice sounded kind of like the voice of the college math professor in my dreams when he tells me that I forgot to do an entire semester’s worth of work and that I’m still wearing my pajamas in front of the whole school. I was worried.

She said that my radiator looked fine.

The radiator hose was the problem.

“How much?” I asked with fear and trembling.

“Less than a hundred dollars.”

I was relieved. And then I thought about what that relief meant.

When I was a kid, my mom’s car broke down a lot. A hundred dollars worth of repairs would have devastated us. But when those repairs came, so did the people who were willing to help. I grew up witnessing these broken down blessings quite frequently. Then I thought about the woman from California with the shredded tire. Her van probably wasn’t even worth a hundred dollars. She told us that where she was from people would never stop to help her. Broken down blessings.

My car didn’t break down in a strange neighborhood on the other side of the continent with some weirdo working on it. It started leaking in my driveway. Usually, when something like that happens, I’m tempted to ask God why.

It’s funny but I never ask why he gives me the means to take care of these little problems.

“God why have you made it where a one hundred dollar radiator thingy is not financially devastating to my family? Why?! And why have you given me another car to use for taking my kids to soccer practice? Have you forgotten me?” saith the young pastor as he lamented in sackcloth and ashes. 

I tend to associate God’s blessings with getting something for free or not having to deal with inconveniences. Certainly, those blessings do exist. But there are also blessings in our difficulties. Broken down blessings. Sometimes those difficulties serve as good reminders of God’s faithfulness.

I don’t know what set of circumstances brought that woman and her daughters all the way across the country to Jackson, Georgia. Just like I don’t know why God allowed my radiator thingy to start leaking. Or why he allowed it to be easily repaired.

But I do know that God is good.

And with each new day comes a new flood of his mercies.

Sometimes it just takes a shredded tire and a leaking thingy to notice them.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 (ESV)

The Devil’s Diary

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

The day was great. It really was. Sundays are usually extra busy for me. Especially Easter Sundays. This one was no exception. I know that I’m not supposed to say this but there is a part of me that really does love Easter.

For a while now I’ve been paying extra close attention to one particular church. They really have been a nuisance to me. I long for the days when they return to their silly arguments about carpet color and this person not shaking hands with that person at some event. If last Sunday was any indication, those days may be closer than I first thought.

This church takes the Bible seriously. That’s a serious problem. But there are ways around it. So my team has been working hard to make sure that the church continues to think very highly of the Bible while at the same time not actually taking the time to apply what it says. A brilliant strategy, really! At the moment we are working on an older fellow who is campaigning diligently to have the Ten Commandments placed in the middle of the town square. On any given day, that man breaks seven or eight of those commandments and can’t name more than two of them. I love it!

But my finest piece of work involves another fight. This fight has nothing to do with liquor stores or that new gentleman’s club in town. It’s all pretty much contained within the church building. There are two families who hate each other because of something one said to another. Or was it about the other? It’s been so long, I can’t remember. All I know is that there is nothing more satisfying than a church full of people that can’t get along.

And the really good thing is that nobody knows why they can’t get along. So much time has passed and so many cruel words have been spoken that the hate has become a habit. Practically speaking, this particular church has three ordinances: baptism, communion and bitterness. Not a bad batting average, if I must say so. Especially when you consider how that bitterness has a way of canceling out the other two ordinances.

One of my servants has been working on a man who visited this church on Easter Sunday. He’s been curious about this gospel business so we’ve been working hard to keep him blinded. At first, we were worried about him visiting a church where people would talk and sing about sin, repentance and salvation. But just a few key conversations was all it took to turn the whole event into a dumpster fire with eternal consequences.

We made sure that as few people as possible spoke to this man. Those who did were rude, superficial or arrogant. But we did want to make sure that this man spoke to at least one family in this church. That would be our precious friends with the bitterness issues. They spent the first half of the service telling our man everything that they thought was wrong with this church.

We had ourselves quite a memorable party when our man got home from church and spoke to his mom during a big family lunch. She’s been trying to take our blinders off of him for quite some time. Her expectations were high.

You could see it on her face when she asked him the question.

“So what did you thing of the service?”

I was so happy to see this woman’s hope disappear with her son’s answer.

“It was okay but it’s just what I expected. The people all complain and fight with each other. Trust me on this, when I go out tonight, there will be no complaining or fighting. Just good times. Why bother with church when all they do is fight when I can just catch a sermon on TV every now and then and hang out at the club where it’s all love?”

Every Easter I’m reminded of that terrible day with the empty tomb. In a lot of churches, I’m reminded of my terrible future. But not in all of them. In a growing number of churches I’m reminded of why I do what I do. There really is no greater joy than seeing people who are searching for Jesus get turned away at the last second because of Jesus’ own supposed followers.

And I didn’t have to do anything spectacular. No blinking lights. No scary voices. Just a little bitterness between so-called brothers and sisters.

If things go my way, I’ll have that man with me tonight. And to think, we almost lost him. All it took to save the day was a visit to a church that was willing to let me do a little of my work. I love it when churches rent out their space and their people to me.

It really was a great day.

Calling It What It Is: Gay Marriage And Other Deceptions

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You can change the rules. That’s good. Sometimes rules need to be changed. But at some point, after one too many rule changes, you also need to change the name of the game.

Say you want to add instant replay to Major League Baseball games. Great. Suppose you also wanted to take away all of the bases and stop keeping score. Okay. Just don’t expect us to keep calling it baseball.

Marriage works the same way. The institution of marriage wasn’t invented by the GOP in the 1950s. It was invented by God. In a garden. Long before the creation of GLAAD, democrats, republicans and Fred Phelps.

Since that time, we have been hard at work with our rules committees trying to change  God’s creation into something a little more in tune with our liking. Adam failed to lead, Eve was eager to take his place and a crafty serpent was more than willing to take advantage of the resulting chaos. He’s still taking advantage.

It took some time, in this country at least, but the name of the game has officially been changed.

When our government began to sanction, and in many ways force you to agree with, gay marriage, they effectively removed the bases and stopped keeping score. We aren’t playing baseball anymore.

No government has the power to take what God has created, sanction the perversion of that creation at the point of a gun, and continue calling it the same thing. To put it another way, there is no such thing as gay marriage.

Along with our government’s new found soap box of love and acceptance for all, many in the church began waiving the white flag. Some conceded defeat and retreated back to their sanctuaries, afraid of being lumped in with Phelps and his kind. Others fully embraced the new game. They even brought Jesus into the argument, pointing out his frequent references to love along with his failure to directly mention anything about homosexuality. Interestingly, this same crowd is a little slower to reference Jesus’ words on hell, judgment, marriage and adultery. They also aren’t too quick to come to the defense of the likes of a Bernie Madoff or a Justin Bieber, saying that, “Jesus never directly addressed Ponzi schemes or out of control pop stars.” Play on! Love wins!

The committee on rules changes, it appears, likes to make changes that work to their advantage.

These changes go beyond the realm of marriage. It’s fascinating to hear politicians use phrases like, “protecting our freedom,” “Rule of Law” or “free society” as they continually change the rules of the game.

In a “free society” does the ruling class typically take the citizens whose freedoms they are entrusted to protect to court simply because those private citizens have a different idea of how to provide health insurance for their employees?

Does “protecting our freedom” usually involve bullying cattle ranchers, stealing land from farmers and slowly but surely taking away a citizen’s right to protect himself?

The rules have been changed. So much so that our leaders started playing a completely different game a long time ago.

People have always disagreed in this country. That’s a good thing. In a truly free society, there will be different ideas about taxes, jobs and military intervention. But what is happening now is more than simply different opinions on policies. That was the old game. There’s only one word that can adequately describe the new game.

Tyranny.

Isn’t that what we used to call it when we heard about this kind of thing happening in other countries and in other times? Why is it, now that we are playing this new game here in our country, that we fail to call it what it really is?

Words matter. I know, I know. People like to tell us that they don’t. But that’s just academic babble. Sit in a doctor’s office, have him look you in the eye and say the word cancer. Words matter. Even when we don’t want them too.

I don’t have all of the answers for how we should be playing this new game with its ever changing rules. But I know that Christians can’t retreat. We have to be bold with our love. Even when it’s hard. Even when our love is called hate. And as long as we’re sticking around, it would help, when confronted with the reality of this strange new game, if we started calling it what it is.

A Warning To The Eye Rollers

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The apartment was new. And it was clean. Much cleaner than our house. All my mother had to do was sign her name and we were moving in. But before she did that there was something else she wanted to do. She wanted to show me around the new place. She wanted to see what I thought.

Imagine Simon Cowell listening to Creed and Nickelback at the same time. That’s how critical I was. The rooms weren’t laid out right. The bathrooms were too small. And then there was the front door. The front door might as well have not even been there. There was just one little button on the doorknob to lock us in away from any evildoers wishing to do us harm.

“That looks real safe,” I said in my infinite teenage wisdom.

At first, my mother didn’t reply. She just looked at me. It was one of those looks that hurt much worse than any spanking because I could tell that she was the one who was hurt. Finally, she quietly responded.

“You know, I’m doing the best that I can here.”

I would have rather been beaten.

I was an eye roller. It seemed like every command my mother gave me served no other purpose than to get in my way. Most of the time I followed through with those commands. I obeyed. I was a good boy.

But I didn’t obey with the right heart. I didn’t honor my mother. I wasn’t such a good boy after all.

We eventually moved out of that apartment. It was in our next apartment where my mother found out that she was sick.

It was in the several other places that we lived afterwards where she would wake up screaming in the middle of the night because she was losing control of most of the muscles in her body. And it was in those places that her mind slowly started to go.

My aunt and my sister did the real work of caring for her. I tried my best. I drove her to the doctor occasionally. I carried her to her bed. I spent a few nights next to her in the hospital. And I tried to do it without rolling my eyes. I was learning how to honor my mother.

My wife and I were packing up our house one day. We weren’t moving. We were just going on vacation. Were. We were going on vacation.

My sister called and told me to get down to see my mom as fast as I could. By this time, my mom was living in a nursing home in middle Georgia. My wife and I sped to see her. We were about 20 minutes away when we got the call. She died.

I can’t remember the last words I said to her. But I’m glad that it wasn’t some critical comment about the house she did her best to provide for me.

A lot has been written and said about obedience. And that’s a good thing. But obedience is nothing more than camouflaged rebellion if it is not accompanied by honor. There will come a time when we no longer have to obey our parents. After my mom’s sickness got really bad and I was living on my own, she would call me and say some of the craziest things. I don’t know if it was the medicine or the disease but something was messing with her mind. She would tell me to do things that were impossible to obey.

I think that’s probably one of the toughest stages in life. The stage where you have to be the parent to your parent. The stage where you no longer have to obey. Where all you can do is honor.

Maybe I’m just getting too old. Or maybe some kids today really are getting bolder in how they talk to their parents. A while back I heard a kid talking to her mom like people talk about the bad guys on pro wrestling. And she was rolling her eyes. Just like I did.

I thought about my attitude towards my mother that day back in our new apartment. My mind jumped to my frantic drive to a middle Georgia nursing home only to miss saying goodbye to my mother by 20 minutes. I thought about how glad I was that, even though I didn’t get to say goodbye the way I wanted, at least we ended on good terms. Real good terms.

I interrupted that girl. I told her to watch the way that she talked to her mother because she never knew when her last goodbye would be. I hope it helped.

No matter how old you are, watch the way that you talk to and about your mom and dad. Last words don’t care about your calendar. You never know what or when those last words will be. But there is one thing that you can do between now and then, even if you happen to be passed the point of obeying.

Honor your father and mother.

You’ll be glad you did.

What The Children Of Busy Parents Need To Hear

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Busyness can be the undoing of a family. If we’re not prepared, our schedules can create a division in our household that puts each member at war with one another. But, with a little work and a lot of communication, a hectic calendar can be a friend of the family. Each event, even the ones we didn’t plan for, can be a reminder of what matters most.

I had to take my son to the hospital on Tuesday.

Nothing was wrong with him. It was just a crazy week for my family. Tuesday was my son’s day to play associate pastor. That meant that he had to go with me to visit someone in the hospital. And watch me prepare a sermon. And help me deliver cookies to a widow.

Our schedule was full but at least it was our schedule and not mine. We were together. But it can’t always be like that. Sometimes we have to leave our kids behind. Sometimes we just can’t be there for them.

Growing up, I was determined to always be there for my kids. Once I had kids, I quickly realized that such a goal was impossible to reach. Thankfully, I later realized that this wasn’t such a bad thing. If I’m always there for my kids, I’m most likely doing more harm than good.

Busyness doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But if it is to be a friend of the family, a lot of communication is required. There are things that the children of busy parents must hear.

“Later.”

It’s time for you to leave for work. In your daughter’s mind, it’s time for you to sit down and drink invisible tea. Something has to give. You decide to make a date. You promise to drink invisible tea with her after you get home from work. She isn’t exactly thrilled. You feel like the worst parent on the planet.

Relax. You’re not the worst parent on the planet. Just go to a dollar store when school gets out or watch your late local news and you’ll start to feel better about your parenting.

“Later”, as long as it isn’t used too often and assuming that you follow through with your promise, is a good word for your kids to hear. It reminds them of the importance of work. It demonstrates the value of making commitments and keeping those commitments. Perhaps most importantly, it reminds them that they are not God.

“Okay.”

Although your kids aren’t God, they still need to be reminded that they are important. And no matter how important your job is, your kids need to be shown that they are more important than your job.

This means taking them to work with you if you can. It means laying down in the floor to wrestle or change a doll’s diapers when you probably should have left 15 minutes ago. Obviously, this can’t happen all the time. But when it does, it teaches your kids a very important lesson. They matter to you. And that’s one of those lessons that is best taught by demonstration rather than lecture.

“I’m happy.”

Your job sure would be easier if you didn’t have a 6-year-old sitting next to you all day asking questions. And think of all of the work you could get done if you didn’t have to drop your daughter off at school by 8 or have your son at practice at 4:30. Go ahead, think about it. Stew over it. Dream about how easy life would be if your kids were grown and out on their own. And then just let the bitterness take over. Before too long, you just might get your wish. Just remember, that’s one of those non-refundable wishes.

There is a better way. Be happy. Tell your kids that you’re glad that you get to take them to school. Instead of showing them how busy you are and what a sacrifice you’re making by waiting in a car line, show them how much fun you have when you are with them.

Our culture puts a lot of emphasis on childhood self-esteem. We design buildings, write books and even preach sermons to tell kids that they matter. The results have been less than stellar. Maybe that’s because, despite all of our spending and talking, our kids still feel like they’re in our way.

If you really care about how your kid feels about himself, show him and let him know that you enjoy being around him.

“I’m sorry.”

Most of us have been on the wrong end of broken promises. We know that pain. We vow to never hurt our kids the way that we were hurt. But again, that can sometimes be a vow that is impossible to keep.

All parents, no matter what they tell you in their Facebook statuses, are sinners. We all mess up. We make promises and we break them, leaving us feeling guilty and our kids devastated. That’s when the damage control starts. We blame our schedule. We even blame our kids.

This cycle never works. It only leaves us feeling a little less guilty about our devastated and emotionally scarred children. Rather than healing, we simply conceal the wound with our excuses.

Real healing happens with repentance. It happens when we confess to our kids and to God that we blew it. Not only does this repair any wounds we helped to create, it also gives our children a guide to follow as they deal with their own sins. Taking their sins to their heavenly Father will be much easier for them when they see their earthly mother and father doing the same thing.

Your children know that you’re not perfect. Stop trying to convince them otherwise. Get a grip on the real condition of your heart and just say that you’re sorry.

At the end of every day, there will always be jobs left undone. Loving and guiding our children should never be one of them.

The Frightening Sound We Make When We Stop Singing In Church

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You’re not supposed to feel out of place at church. I did.

I couldn’t have been more than ten-years-old. I was about to sing my first and only solo. Man, I was nervous.

I still remember my line.

“Believing you can light up the sky.”

There were two other kids and an adult with me. We were supposed to be shepherds. Singing shepherds. The kind that only existed in church Christmas musicals from the 1980s.

The adult that was with us worked on the air for an Atlanta radio station. This was nothing for him. He had one of those golden voices that, no matter what he was saying, you knew that he was created for radio. And church Christmas musicals from the 1980s.

The other two kids were also designed for this sort of thing. They were a little older than me. I think that the girl had been taking singing lessons since she was in the womb. I’m not sure about the boy’s musical training. All I remember about him is that he had a perm. Boys with perms are great performers.

And then there was me. I just wanted to get this over with. I was tired of Saturday evening practices that cut into my pro wrestling viewing. I didn’t want to sing in public. I didn’t have a perm. I had no musical training.

Well, I guess I did have some musical training.

There were two ladies in charge of the kid’s choir at my church. Mrs. Scott and Mrs.Tingle taught me pretty much everything I know about singing. That’s not much. But what I learned, I still carry with me today, almost thirty years after my first and last official solo.

Mrs. Scott was very formal. I don’t think that she ever had a hair out of place. Mrs. Tingle was much older. Arthritis had gotten the best of her crooked fingers and hands. But, somehow, she still managed to play the piano. And for some reason, these two ladies saw fit to make me sing a solo in a Christmas play.

So there I was, waiting back stage for my musical debut. The radio guy was calm. The guy with the perm was, well, permy. Is that a word? But the girl, the one who I thought had been taking singing lessons since the womb, was nowhere to be found. Eventually, someone found her. In the bathroom. Sick.

This did wonders for my nerves. If Julie Andrews is throwing up, what should I be doing?

The show went on and I worked my way through the solo. When it was over, I went and sat with my mom. I’m sure that she was proud. Not proud in the sense of, “When they invent American Idol in a couple of decades, my son should try out.” It was more of a, “I can’t believe that he didn’t throw up all over himself” proud.

Last Sunday, just before I stood up to preach, I thought about that solo. There were kids all over our sanctuary’s stage, singing a song. None of them had a solo. None of them had a perm. But they were all singing. Together.

I still remember the words to their song.

“Ho – Ho – Hosanna! Everybody praise the Lord.”

Two of those kids were my sons. I was proud of them. And it wasn’t the, “I can’t believe that they didn’t throw up on themselves” kind of proud. I was proud to see them singing. They were learning the same lesson that I learned in my church when I was somewhere around their age.

Great truths are meant to be sung.

I haven’t intentionally sang a solo in church since that 1980s Christmas musical. But I have done a lot of singing. And every time I do, whether it’s an old hymn or a new song, I think about Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Tingle and all that they taught me.

Great truths are meant to be sung.

Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Tingle are in the church that I pastor. They’re much younger and they have different names. But their impact is still the same. They are the volunteers who are teaching kids how to worship Jesus. Most of the kids in our church may never grow up to be great performers. But they can grow up to be great worshipers. All because of what they learned from the ladies in their church.

At some point in our transition from childhood to adulthood, something frightening happens. We stop singing. It’s as if we believe that singing is just for kids and trained professionals. As if someone might get hurt if they try to sing without the proper credentials. And so we see congregations full of adults looking down at the floor and mumbling when it’s time to sing. That’s one of the most frightening sounds you’ll ever hear in a church building.

Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Tingle showed me a better way. Ladies in the church that I pastor are doing the same thing for our children. They are teaching more than music theory.

They are teaching that great truths are meant to be sung.

And it sounds beautiful.