Good Reads: The 2013 Edition

Here are the ten best books I read in 2013.

10. Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson

This is the very gritty yet inspiring true story about the only survivor of Operation Redwing, the largest loss of life in SEAL history.

“They weren’t completing each task as it came, living for the day. They had allowed themselves to live in dread of the pain and anguish to come. And he’d told us never to do that, just to take it hour by hour and forget the future. Keep going until you’re secured.”

9. In Christ Alone, Sinclair Ferguson

The short chapters in this book make it excellent for devotional reading. If Ferguson wrote it, you need to read it.

“Here are wonders upon wonders: the Strong One is weak; the Infinite One lies in a manger; the Prince of Life dies; the Crucified One lives; the Humiliated One is glorified.”

8. The Cross and Christian Ministry, D.A. Carson

This is a very thorough and practical book that should be required reading for any minister.

“Rather, he is roundly condemning that kind of judging that simply writes a Christian leader off because he does not neatly fit into my camp or because he appears to compete with my preferred guru or because he is not in my pocket.”

7. Tactics, Gregory Koukl

This is a very helpful guide for those wishing to engage others with an opposing viewpoint. The message for Christians is simple: Question the questioner and the truth is on your side.

“We have ignored one of the first rules of engagement: Never make a frontal assault on a superior force.”

6. 1984, George Orwell

Read this book and you’ll never watch the news the same again.

“The heresy of heresies was common sense.”

5. A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm, Phillip Keller

Keller does a good job of taking perhaps the most familiar passage of scripture and reminding us that it is so much more than poetic. It is real life truth packed in a real life analogy.

“In the course of time I came to realize that nothing so quieted and reassured the sheep as to see me in the field. The presence of their master and owner and protector put them at ease as nothing else could do, and this applied day and night.”

4. Happy, Happy, Happy – Phil Robertson and Mark Schlabach

Phil and Mark make for an excellent storytelling team. This is a great redemptive story.

“In other words, it wasn’t like my love for the Almighty was contingent upon whether the blessings came or not. My prayer was always: ‘Lord, if you bless me, I’ll thank You; but if you don’t, I’ll be thankful for what I have. I have plenty. I’m in good shape.'”

3. David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell

This is the most interesting book I read in 2013. With intriguing stories and impeccable research, Gladwell challenges the reader to be more creative and crafty when trying to stand up when the odds are against you.

“An innovator who has brilliant ideas but lacks the discipline and persistence to arry them out is merely a dreamer.”

2. My Cross to Bear – Gregg Allman with Alan Light

This is by no means a Christian book but it does an excellent job of showing the despair that comes with excess. Allman knew excess. And he knows despair. After reading his story I wanted to go share the gospel with him. This book is both fascinating and sad.

“The thing is, you can’t go out there and look for the right one, because all you’ll find is the wrong thing, and it will do nothing but hurt you. I learned that the hard way – a few times.”

1. Death by Living – N.D. Wilson

This book is an excellent reminder to live without fear, pursue a legacy and die all used up.

“There is a school of American thought that suggests we are supposed to live furiously and foolishly when young, slave away pointlessly when adults, and then coast into low-impact activity as soon as financially possible. Isn’t that just a kiss on the lips (from a dog). The truth is that a life well lived is always lived on a rising scale of difficulty.”

Merry Christmas.

Happy New Year.

See you in 2014.

Friendly Fire: The Hunting Of Phil Robertson

Phil Robertson is under attack. Sure, there’s the obvious attack from the gay lobby because of his comments in GQ. But he’s also being attacked from a rather unlikely source.

His own brothers and sisters in the faith.

It happens often. Some regular guy makes a theological splash in the deep end of the pool. Maybe it’s a college student with a spoken word viral video regarding religion. In this case, it’s a Louisiana duck hunter with an opinion on homosexuality.

In either case, a group of Christian celebrities waits to pounce. It doesn’t matter if there’s nothing particularly wrong with what the person said. The Christian Celebrity Police still deem it necessary to remind us of a few things.

Here’s a basic summary of their thoughts regarding the untrained spokesman, in this case, Phil Robertson.

“Phil Robertson didn’t do as good of a job at representing Jesus as, oh, I don’t know, maybe… Me!”

The thinking here seems to be that only those people with lots of initials after their names, a few books published under their name (even if they didn’t write said book) and a winsome personality are qualified to speak when culture and theology cross paths. Heaven forbid someone with grease underneath their fingernails engage the culture with the gospel.

The Christian Celebrity Police don’t stop there. They have another reminder for us when something like this starts grabbing headlines. Here’s how it goes.

Step One: Phil Robertson gets censured by A&E for his views on homosexuality.

Step Two: Fans of Phil Robertson are outraged.

Step Three: The Christian Celebrity Police step in to remind us that, “people in a war torn village in Afghanistan could not care less about this scandal” or “people died and went to hell while you were upset about A&E.”

This is John Acuff’s Jesus Juke on steroids. Where does it end? Surely they know that people died and went to hell while they were reminding us that people died and went to hell during our outrage at the Robertson situation. Should we, therefore, not worry about other non-theological issues because they distract us from those who are going to hell and the indifferent people in Afghan villages?

“Man! The neighbor’s kids busted out my front windshield again. That’s the second time this month.”

“Get over it. Do you realize how many people went to hell while you were worrying about your non-gospel-centered windshield? Besides, do you think that the people in war torn villages in Afghanistan care about your windshield?”

Phil Robertson is not perfect. Far from it. But God, in his sovereignty and for his good purposes, chose to give Phil this platform. He has done it to other imperfect men and women before. People like Abraham, Esther and Peter. And, until the return of Christ, he will allow other imperfect men and women to represent him.

In the meantime, Phil Robertson is living what he believes. He’s not shying away from the parts of the Bible that are a bit too difficult for our hedonistic culture to digest. Maybe that’s something the qualified experts can learn from Phil.

Sometimes, we can be so winsome in our engagement of cultural issues that we cease saying anything worth listening too. All because we’re afraid of being viewed as being homophobic or insensitive.

But, as recent history has shown us, all one has to do in order to earn themselves a scarlet letter is simply to restate what the Bible says about homosexuality. The gay lobby is sure to fire back.

Sadly, so are some of our own brothers and sisters.

—–

Click here to see comments made by Al Mohler and Russell Moore in the wake of Robertson’s comments. Both men appeared on CNN and both did an excellent job of representing Christ and defending their brother.

I Predict 2014

It’s that time again when we look back on the year that was. 2013. But it’s also time to look ahead to the year that will be. In case you learned your math in a Clayton County Public School, that would be the year 2014.

Here are my predictions.

Healthcare

You or someone you know will have to go to the doctor. Let’s just say that it’s for an upper respiratory infection. When you enter the crowded office a voice from behind the sliding glass window will tell you to be seated and wait for further instructions.

You manage to squeeze in next to a guy with an gunshot wound to the lower leg and a lady with her pet chicken. You figure that this is going to take a while.

A lady walks out from the back and you expect her to call a name. She doesn’t. Instead she pulls out a big glass bowl with a bunch of paper in it. She informs the room that she will be drawing two names. Before making her random selection she says, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

This doesn’t make you feel very good.

You start to get up to leave, opting for a home remedy, when she calls out your name. And then the name of the lady with the chicken. Relieved, you sit back down only to find out that you have to fight the lady with the chicken on national television for the rights to the last antibiotic in the office.

The Lesson To Be Learned: If you don’t want to end up in a fight to the death in a doctor’s office against some lady and her chicken, take as much vitamin C as you can and stay away from any website with an address ending in .gov.

The President

President Obama will get caught. This scandal looks like the one that will finally do him in. Nobody can possibly get away with driving a car with ten malnourished baby seals caged in the back and a bumper sticker that says, “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Myself… 15 Times.”

No one except the president.

Here’s how it goes down.

America: “Mr. President, please explain why you were driving a car with ten malnourished baby seals caged in the back and a bumper sticker that says, ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Myself… 15 Times.'”

President Obama: “Hey look at that pretty bird.”

America: “Pretty bird. Pretty bird. Here, pretty bird.”

The Lesson To Be Learned: Do not look at the bird. Ever. It’s a trick.

Quick Hits

Some guy you’ve never heard of will get kicked off of your favorite college football team for making terroristic threats, beating up a nun and poisoning the water supply for three different counties. But don’t worry. He’ll land on his feet as the quarterback for Auburn and win a national championship.

At least once a week you’ll flip through all 521 of your channels and discover that there is nothing on.

Miley Cyrus will do something weird. Weird enough to make the weird thing she did last year look as normal as apple pie.

Here’s to a happy 2014.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

The Year Of No Complaining

If you’re a leader in a church, 2014 can be a complaint free year. Here’s all you have to do.

1. Forget about missions.

If you focus on world missions, some people will complain that you’re neglecting the needs here. If you focus only on the needs here, there will be complaints about the lack of a focus regarding international missions. The solution is obvious. Don’t do either one. Call it the path of least resistance. Doesn’t the Bible say something about taking that path? It doesn’t matter. It sounds biblical.

Of course, you may have to deal with a few people complaining about your church’s lack of zeal when it comes to missions. But those people aren’t many. And they can find someplace else to go to church.

2. Do everything you can to please as many people as you can.

“You can’t please all the people all of the time.”

That obviously wasn’t in the Bible. Of course you can. You just have to try harder. And make a few minor compromises. And sell your soul. But the selling of your soul can buy you a lot of praise.

3. Remember the musical gods.

People of different tastes, colors and backgrounds obviously weren’t meant to worship together. I mean, that would just be weird. So play to that when you plan out your service schedule. Here’s an example.

8:00 – Service for emerging white adults who still listen to Coldplay and like watercolor art

9:30 – Service for those white adults who prefer more twang to their worship and think that the people at the 8:00 service might be going to hell.

11:00 – Traditional service for white adults who prefer organs and are relatively certain that they are the only ones going to heaven.

See what I did there? That’s called diversity and I’m sure that it’s just a small sample of what heaven will be like. Just remember, people should never be forced to deal with something they don’t like. This is America, for crying out loud. And in America, we all have the right to be happy. Now I’m sure that’s in the Bible. Somewhere.

4. Sit back and enjoy the quiet.

Just a few miles from where I sit there is a church where there is absolutely no complaining. No one fights over what style of music is played on Sundays. No one worries about losing their favorite spot. No one gripes about the pastor preaching too much past 12:00. And there’s plenty of parking.

That’s because no one is there anymore.

Church leader, if you want that to be your church in a few years, try as hard as you can to make 2014 the year of no complaining. Avoid the difficult decisions for the popular ones. Try to make everyone happy. Do everything you can to keep your job.

But just remember, when your job on earth is over, you won’t stand before a power-hungry personnel committee that acts like the church belongs to them. No, you’ll stand before the church’s real pastor.

Jesus.

The Head of the Church.

He never called you to take the path of least resistance. He may even call you to get fired for obeying him. But not everyone is willing to go that far. Only those who care more about Jesus’ opinion than man’s opinion.

How I Lost My Teeth

I can’t talk at the moment.

There’s something like toilet paper crammed in my mouth.

I’m bleeding.

And missing four teeth.

I guess that’s what I get for telling the cashier at Wal-Mart that professional wrestling is fake.

Actually, I just had my wisdom teeth removed. My dentist said that it was time. I nodded in agreement. But on the inside I was thinking that maybe I’d get it done sometime around the year 2032. Upon further review I realized that waiting much longer might mean me trying to log on to the government’s broken website and eventually having my teeth extracted in the back of a van owned by some guy named Vinny. So I decided to go ahead and get rid of my teeth as soon as possible.

The oral surgeon recommended that I have general anesthesia. That is, he wanted me to be knocked out. The same thing they do to you when they remove your liver or give you a new hip. I figure that there are two reasons for this.

1.) More drugs means more money.

2.) If I’m knocked out, he doesn’t have to worry about me jumping up in the middle of the procedure and starting a fight like a Wal-Mart cashier that just found out that wrestling is fake.

But I opted for the local anesthesia. That is, I remained awake with some sort of a numbing agent in my head. There was one reason for this.

1.) Have you ever seen one of those episodes of Dateline NBC where doctors mess around with patients while they’re unconscious? One of my life goals is to never appear on Dateline NBC.

Sorry, Doc.

I brought headphones with me. Someone told me to do this in order to keep my mind off the fact that there is a circular saw in the back of my mouth. That sounded like good advice.

The only problem was picking the right music. You don’t want something too mellow. Beethoven wasn’t concerned with covering up the sounds of circular saws when he composed Moonlight Sonata. But you also don’t want to go too heavy. Metallica might send the wrong message. I went with rap.

Before we got started, the lady asked me if I wanted any gas to help me to relax.

By this time, a 15-foot needle had already been inserted into my jaw. Numerous times. My mouth was too relaxed to say no thanks. But I tried my best.

“No gas, please.”

You’d be surprised how many times a day my wife says that to me.

And so began the digging. It was nothing like what I expected. The oral surgeon shook my head around like one might do while trying to remove the last drop of ketchup from the bottle. I turned up the music. And started to wonder if maybe I should have taken some of that gas.

Right about then the surgeon’s assistant said something to me. I couldn’t hear because my music was too loud. I’m sure everyone in the building would have preferred Moonlight Sonata. As I turned down the volume, I expected the worst.

“Sir, the police are here and they would like to talk to you about the volume of your music.”

“Sir, something is happening to your teeth like we’ve never seen before. Nurse Rockinghammer, get the catheter. Quickly!”

But it was nothing like that. She told me that the procedure was over. I wanted to hug the oral surgeon but he wouldn’t let me. So I just gave him a thumbs up.

On my way to the car all I could think about was spitting. I got to the parking lot and let lose. Sort of. The spit never really let go. It just sort of hung on to my lip, refusing to leave the comfort of my newly renovated mouth. And then a car drove by. There’s no better advertising for your dental office than a guy standing in the parking lot with four feet of red spit hanging from his bottom lip.

Sorry, Doc.

Driving home, it was like the radio DJs knew that I had just had a mild numbing agent put inside of my head. They played a continuous stream of Pink Floyd and The Doors. That was the first time any of those songs every made any sense to me. I contemplated hurrying home to watch The Wizard of Oz before my medicine wore off.

But I settled for professional wrestling instead.

Killing Santa

A few things about this global warming video from Greenpeace.

1. Santa looks an awful lot like Fidel Castro. Coincidence?

2. It makes me laugh when I hear Santa say “Putin.”

3. Instead of trying to scare us, why doesn’t Santa just move his operations to eastern Antarctica where they just had a temperature reading of -135.8? Better yet, why not just move to Philadelphia where they recently played a football game in the middle of a blizzard? Maybe he’s a Giant’s fan.

4. Once President Obama finds out that he’s been put on the naughty list, Santa should expect a visit from the IRS. And the NSA. And the DHS.

Either way you look at it, I guess Christmas really is in trouble this year.

Do Your Kids Get In Your Way?

Nothing will put you in the Christmas spirit quite like the sound of your kids fighting with each other. Especially when they’re fighting over baby Jesus from the nativity set. Now that’s what the season is all about.

This weekend both of my sons have small parts in the children’s Christmas play at church. The oldest one has to say, “And the government shall be upon his shoulder.” I’ve spent the last month trying to convince him to say, “And the gubmunt shall be upon his shoulder.” He’s not having it.

“Dad, I don’t know.”

He’s afraid he’ll get in trouble.

I told him that I’m the pastor. And pastor’s kids get to do whatever they want. It’s in the Bible somewhere. I think.

It’s different with the youngest. My wife and I are just praying that he can make it through the whole play without disrobing and dancing like Iggy Pop. Our fingers are crossed.

When I was a kid the best part of Christmas was the week leading up to it. I loved the anticipation. And, no matter what I got, there was always sort of a let down when the 26th came. Everything always seemed to go by too fast.

Time still moves fast. Maybe even quicker than it did when I was a kid. And raising my own kids can be tough. Especially in those ironic moments when they fight over Jesus. I think that there were three times last week when I thought I was having a stroke. Is that normal? Good.

It’s easy to wish time away. To sort of will it to move faster. As strange as it seems, it can be easy to get our wish. All we have to do is retreat from the sounds of children fighting and hide in our phone or our work. Anything to get away from the sound of four-year-olds fighting over the baby Jesus. And the next thing we know, those four-year-olds are in their 30s and you’re wishing you could hold them again. That wish never comes true. You can’t go back.

That’s why it’s important to enjoy the moment. Even when it’s loud. Even when you think your kids are giving you a stroke. One day you’ll wish that you could come back to it. And you won’t be able to.

When my firstborn son was about two years old a church sent me a letter and asked my wife and I to come for an interview. They were considering me to be their next pastor. I was finishing school in Kentucky and we were broke. Needless to say, we were excited. The church was in Alabama and they offered to fly us out for the weekend. Just the two of us. Leave the kid at home. They didn’t want him to get in the way.

But aren’t our kids supposed to get in our way? There’s no one in the world better at reminding you what’s really important than your own kids. Usually they have to get in your way to do that.

I never took that trip to Alabama. There just wasn’t a good vibe. Instead, I interviewed with a smaller church in Georgia. We met at a restaurant. My kid was there with us. While we were waiting on our table he was growing restless. It was getting hard to keep him under control. Finally, I lost him. By the time I caught him, it was too late. He was crawling up on the lap of one of the people who would be interviewing me. But he wasn’t in the way. That’s when I knew that this was a good church.

This Sunday, before that same church, he’ll say, “And the government shall be upon his shoulder.”

And my other son will sing his song and maybe even end up dancing like Iggy Pop.

I just hope that he keeps his clothes on.

The Selfie Generation And The Savior King

I don’t have any pictures of my grandfather.

All I have is images in my head. Like the time when he cut his hand really bad while sharpening a lawn mower blade. Or the time when he cut his face while he was putting tree limbs on the back of his old Datsun pick-up truck. There is blood in both scenes. But no tears. He barely flinched.

There are also the stories he told me from his time in the south Pacific during World War II. The nights in trenches when he was too afraid to sleep because he didn’t trust the guy who was on guard duty. And the time when his intuition payed off and he killed an enemy soldier who was creeping up behind the sleeping night watchman. Again, no pictures.

Most people my age don’t have very many pictures of their grandparents. Sure, there’s the occasional family portrait. But no action shots. I guess our grandparents were too busy with all of the action to stop and take pictures of themselves.

Several days ago we learned that selfie was named the word of the year for 2013. Scroll through your news feed and you’ll see why. People love to take pictures of themselves. And maybe that would be okay if those people were standing next to Big Foot. Or even with a few friends. But they never are. They’re sitting in their car. Or standing in front of the mirror. And in almost every picture the girls have their lips puffed out. The guys usually look like they were given a wedgie at the exact moment the picture was taken.

Selfies aren’t confined to bathroom mirrors and automobiles. They’ve even become the norm at funerals. There was once space on the Internet devoted to such a thing. Earlier this week, world leaders did it as they mourned the passing of Nelson Mandela.

All of these pictures come together to form a collage. A collage where selfie is probably the most appropriate term for a generation that wants the world to know that they have arrived. A generation that wants to be seen. And remembered.

All of this stands in contrast to a not so silent night in Bethlehem. Joseph and his young wife were in a stable. Shepherds wouldn’t come until later. It would take even longer for the wise men to arrive. The animals and the sounds and smells that accompany them were there. For the moment, that was it.

And then came the Christ child.

He could have come at anytime. Halftime of the Super Bowl. Or the year when selfies were all the rage. Imagine the publicity.

But instead, God ordained that his Son would be born as a man in a time when there were no cameras. In a town where there was no room for an expecting couple. In a kingdom where there was no room for the real King.

The adoration eventually came when an army of angels disturbed the peace of a silent night to tell some shepherds that a Savior had been born. And later on, those wise men would reach their destination and worship the King in person. All while an evil ruler was trying to kill him.

2000 years have passed. And we don’t have any pictures of that night. But we carry the images in our heads. Believers carry the message and its impact in their hearts. That’s usually how it works with the really important events.

One day, after our smart phones all die and the digital universe gets wiped clean, the pictures will be gone. And we won’t care too much about the picture we took of ourselves in front of a mirror or at a funeral.

One day, either as an act of worship or defeat, every knee will bow before Christ the Lord (Philippians 2:9-11).

The one who came to save us.

From ourselves.

Does The Virgin Birth Really Matter? A Parental Parable

Christmas is under attack. But it’s not what you think. The real threat isn’t from the school systems that outlaw nativity scenes. It’s more covert than that. It comes from those claiming to be followers of Christ. Those who say that the virgin birth of Jesus is no big deal.

Well, does the virgin birth really matter? And if so, why?

Imagine that you are the parent of a teenager. A wild teenager. The type that you would find on The Maury Show. One that smokes weed at the breakfast table and sneaks out of the house on a regular basis, sometimes not returning for a day or two. Your heart breaks at each disrespectful word that he directs your way. Your fears consume you as you wonder where his reckless lifestyle will lead him.

You’ve tried everything. The parenting class at church only helped a little. That commercial on the radio where the guy promises to change your child’s behavior in one minute or less turned out to be a scam. You can’t afford an in-home drill instructor. Maury won’t return your calls. All of the other ideas you’ve had are illegal. There seems to be no hope.

So you decide to go to friends for advice and any kind of support you can get.

You explain your situation to your neighbor. Your feel encouraged as she nods along with you. Maybe your situation isn’t as dire as you thought. Maybe other parents are facing the same problems that you are. Finally there seems to be some hope. But you have to ask one question.

“So what did you guys do? How did you finally get control of your kid?”

“Control? We gave up on that years ago. Mainly we just drink. A lot. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my morning vodka.”

You leave feeling more discouraged than ever. But there are other friends to consult.

The lady at work says that she understands what you’re going through. She even seems to sympathize with your struggles. So much so that she barely lets you get started telling your story before she interrupts with her own.

“I know exactly how you feel. Our little Sammy came home the other day with, now get this, a 93 on his math test. We were furious! So we told him that he would only get to serve food at the homeless shelter three days this week instead of his preferred four. That’ll show him. And what was your problem again?”

That was like having a conversation with someone from another planet. Now you really feel like a terrible parent.

But there’s another friend who loves you enough to notice what’s been going on. She calls and listens to your story. At the appropriate times, she interjects with her own hardships from the days when her kids were teenagers. It’s encouraging to hear that it wasn’t always easy for this seemingly perfect parent. And it’s even more encouraging once you consider the character and integrity of your friend’s now grown children. For the first time you feel hopeful. All because you talked to someone who has been there. Someone who has been there and survived with honors.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV)

When we take our concerns to the Father, we do so through Jesus Christ, God’s perfect Son. Immanuel. God with us.

God.

With us.

Unlike the parent who has given up and turned to the bottle, he is God. Because he was born of a virgin, he is free from Adam’s guilt. When Adam was tempted, he gave in and, as a result, was forced to leave the garden. When Jesus was tempted, he remained pure and, as a result, forced Satan to go away from him.

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan!” Matthew 4:10a (ESV)

But in his perfection, Christ is not like the parent who is so out of touch with reality and leaves us feeling even more beaten down. Along with being an actual human being, he remained God. He was tempted in every way that we are. But without sin. Therefore, he sympathizes with us in our weaknesses. But he does so as one who has already conquered those weaknesses.

This is why the virgin birth matters. So that in living with us Jesus could free us from slavery to Satan (Hebrews 2:14) by living a perfect life, dying in our place and coming back from the grave. All of this is lost without the virgin birth. If Jesus’ birth is not “from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20) but the result of two of Adam’s children, he’s just another dead sinner like us. And studies show that dead men are terrible at bringing other dead men back to life. But because God did the seemingly impossible, we can look back to the manger and see more than just another baby.

He is God.

And he is with us.

Regurgitating Proverbs 31

It was somewhere around 2:00 in the morning when I heard the door open. It used to take a lot more than that to wake me up. Not anymore. I stayed in bed, anticipating what, if anything, I would hear next. That’s when I heard the footsteps. I braced myself. But it wasn’t enough to prepare me for the sound that came next – vomit splattering all over our kitchen floor.

My wife and I both jumped out of bed and assumed our positions. She started gathering towels for cleaning. I stood next to my son while he finished throwing up. When he was done, I assumed the role of cleaning. My wife took over with the comforting. We didn’t say a word. We were like a trained team of first responders.

As a father, I’ve grown to expect nights like these. They don’t happen often. Maybe once a year. There are only a few weeks left in this year. We were due. So none of this amazed me. None of it, that is, until my wife pulled out the Lysol can.

I’ve been on this planet for almost 40 years and I don’t think that I’ve ever bought a can of Lysol. Nothing against Lysol. It does a fine job of covering up odors. But hey, isn’t that one of the benefits of having kids – blaming your odors on them?

Lysol does more than cover up odors. It’s supposed to kill bacteria too. 99.9% of it. The kind that likes to linger for a few days after a kid throws up on the kitchen floor.

As my wife was spraying away all of that bacteria I thought about another woman.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27 (ESV)

And then I thought about myself. If it weren’t for my wife, I would have been walking all over our house searching for the Lysol that I never bought, wondering if orange juice was a worthy substitute for bacteria removal. But that wasn’t the case. She looks after the ways of her household.

There’s a lot of pressure on women. Especially mothers. Social media has a way of making some feel like failures because they don’t knit diapers for their baby, harvest their own wheat for their homemade bread, do 37 pull-ups and lead a Bible study down at the women’s penitentiary, all before 9 on the first three Tuesday mornings of the month. And, if not careful, even Proverbs 31 can seem like just another list of impossible burdens.

Thankfully, God’s grace is sufficient. And it’s usually seen in the millions of small areas of our lives. The seemingly insignificant parts of our day that we would never devote to a status update. Things like having a can of Lysol ready.

I won’t be surprised in a few days if I’m awakened again by the sound of a door opening. Followed by frantic footsteps. And then the sounds of sickness. After all, the only things kids are really good at sharing are their germs. They especially like to share them with their mother.

The one who lays next to them all through the night.

The one who cleans up after them.

The one who gives them the kind of comfort that only a mother can.

The one who sprays the house down with Lysol, killing 99.9% of the bacteria that her son has spread all over the house.

The one who knows that the remaining percentage will probably find it’s way to her.

And the one who would do it all over again.

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.   Proverbs 31:28 (ESV)