Grace And The Disaster On The Front Pew

8149424252_bd82b278ac_o

I’m usually not good at predictions.

But I nailed this one.

My wife was helping out somewhere else in the sanctuary. I was preaching. And my kids were by themselves on the front row for the whole service. That’s usually not a problem. It’s happened before. But this particular Sunday morning was unique. Our church was taking the Lord’s Supper and, for my kids, there would be no parents around helping them to handle the elements.

I quietly predicted disaster.

Like I said, I nailed it.

The bread came by without incident. My two sons sat just one row in front of me as I led the service. I could see their tiny, probably not very clean fingers, navigating their way through the plate. My sincerest apologies to all of the folks who came after them. The boys both grabbed their bread and waited patiently. There was no throwing or choking. Just reverence. I was proud. But we were only halfway there.

When the juice came around there was a problem with the exchange between one kid and the other. I was sitting right there. I saw it happen as if it were in slow motion. But, just like when you realize a half a second too late that you’re about to get in a wreck, there was nothing I could do. The whole plate of little juice glasses did not spill but there were enough that did.

Two thoughts immediately came to mind.

First, after nearly 40 years spent in church, I finally realized why every Baptist church has dark red carpet. I always thought it was because of some hidden Bible code. It’s not. It’s for moments like this one. The dark red juice blended in quite nicely with the dark red carpet.

My second thought was that I was glad that we’re not Catholic. Catholics believe that the elements of the Lord’s Supper actually turn into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. I don’t know much about pastors in Catholic churches but I’m sure that they get in a lot of trouble when their kids spill something that serious on the carpet. Wait. See, I told you that I don’t know a lot about Catholic pastors. Never mind.

While I was sitting there contemplating Baptist carpet and Catholic tradition, things were still falling apart on the front row. My kids were scrambling for tissues they could use to clean up their mess. When they found none, they took their search outside of the sanctuary. Both boys. And then one of them came back in. And then he left again. And then they returned to the scene of the crime.

By this time I had quit thinking about carpet and Catholics and started asking God to forgive me for my impure thoughts. And boy were they impure.

I was angry. But I wasn’t angry because my sons were rebelling. They weren’t. I was angry because I was afraid of what people might think about me. I wanted to correct my sons loudly and publicly so that everyone could say something like, “See, that preacher knows how to handle business!”

We don’t take the Lord’s Supper because of tradition. We take it because Jesus told us to do it in remembrance of him and the work he did on our behalf by dying on the cross and rising from the grave (Luke 22:19).

Thankfully, by God’s grace, I remembered all of that before I created an even bigger disaster.

Things finally settled down with the preacher’s kids on the front row and the service closed out without the roof falling in. On the way out to our car, my son was solemn. He told me that he was sorry for what had happened during the quiet of the Lord’s Supper.

By this time, the grace of God had already taken over the law that was in my heart.

I told my son that it was okay. There was an accident and he and his brother did the best they could to make it right. I told him that next time they needed to remember that there are other worshipers around and we need to do all we can not to distract them.

He understood.

Life moved on.

Our kids need our discipline. What they don’t need is our wrath. And they don’t need parents who care more about impressing a crowd than shaping their own children. Yes, our kids need to be corrected. And sometimes that correction needs to be firm. But there always needs to be grace.

We take the Lord’s Supper the first Sunday of every month at our church. The next time we take it I will remember. I’ll remember the cross where my Father gave his Son to rescue me from my sins. But I’ll also remember the pew where I was reminded that demonstrating grace to others didn’t stop at the cross. Recipients of grace should be the greatest distributors of it.

If you ever come to visit our church and you look hard enough around the front row, you’ll see a spot in the dark red carpet. The pastor’s kids put it there. Like their father, they’re not perfect. But, like their father, they carry with them a different spot.

That’s the spot of the blood of Jesus that has washed away our sins.

And it’s a spot that gives us all the grace we need for each new day.

image credit

Ten Things You Need To Know About Georgia

6827525992_ca9dc56040_o

Every single body of water in the state, including swimming pools, is where the movie Deliverance was filmed. Of course, no one knows for sure where in Georgia it was filmed but if it’s ever discovered that they made it in North Carolina, the entire state of Georgia will cease to exist.

If a man uses his hand to swat away a gnat, he’s from the northern part of the state. If a man can carry on a perfectly good conversation with ten thousand gnats swarming around his face, he’s from the southern part of the state. If a man doesn’t know what a gnat is, he’s from Atlanta and should not be trusted.

For people who live in Atlanta, there are four parts of the state – Inside the Perimeter, Outside the Perimeter, the lake and South Georgia. So by their geography, Turner Field is in south Georgia. That’s why the Braves are moving. To get away from all of the gnats.

Bo Duke gets thirteen percent of the popular vote whenever there’s an election for governor.

The top three college football programs in the state are as follows.

1.) The University of Georgia

2.) Georgia Southern

3.) Valdosta High School

Duck Dynasty is fake. The moon landing is questionable. Professional wrestling is 100% real.

If you live in a small town and you can’t find your teenage son, he’s hanging out in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot.

Tomatoes are not bought. They’re grown in the backyard or in a bucket on the front porch. You don’t buy peaches at the store. Your cousin brings you over a few when he gets off of work at Lane’s. The best watermelons are bought off of a trailer on the side of the road.

Everyone goes to church. It’s not that they’re religious or anything. It’s just that they can’t play on the church softball team if they don’t show up every Sunday.

Most famous country music singers from Georgia have no idea what a gnat is.

image credit

Do You Have Parent’s Syndrome?

21422229066_c364ed2f24_o

Parent’s Syndrome is a serious disease. Okay, it’s not really all that serious. And okay, it’s not even really a disease. I just made it up about 15 seconds ago. But I think that’s probably true of at least 78% of the drug commercials you see on TV and whoever is selling that stuff is making a lot of money. So as a service to you, and also in hopes of making a lot of money like the pharmaceutical companies, here are 15 signs that you suffer from Parent’s Syndrome.

  1. If you frequently walk into a room and forget why you walked into that room because you had to stop on the way to mend a broken heart that just lost a hard fought game, you are suffering from Parent’s Syndrome. Either that or you live in the Georgia Tech athletic dormitory.
  2. If you would rather have a tooth pulled in the back of a stranger’s van than step on a Lego, you know what it’s like to suffer from Parent’s Syndrome.
  3. If you call sleeping in waking up at 7:15 in the morning, you have Parent’s Syndrome.
  4. If 63% of your friends know you as Billy’s Dad rather than your actual name, you have Parent’s Syndrome.
  5. If you are a male over the age of 20 and you can recite the lyrics to two or more Taylor Swift songs, you have Parent’s Syndrome.
  6. If you frequently use the words stinky, passy, binky and boo boo you have Parent’s Syndrome.
  7. If you and your spouse have ever gone to Wal-Mart without the kids and considered that a pretty hot date, you have a Level 3, Double Urgent case of Parent’s Syndrome.
  8. If you’ve ever used the phrase, “Who wants to go to Bee-Bop’s house?” you have Parent’s Syndrome.
  9. If you’ve ever put your kids in the bathtub and told them to  scrub for a few hours until they get real clean while daddy watches the football game, you have Parent’s Syndrome. And no, I’ve never done this. You can’t prove anything.
  10. If you can drive your car at the top legal speed on a major highway while tying your child’s shoe, you are a high functioning sufferer of Parent’s Syndrome.
  11. You suffer from Parent’s Syndrome if you’ve ever said, “No you cannot have a cookie for breakfast. Now be quiet and eat your Pop Tart and pizza!”
  12. If you’ve ever been awakened in the middle of the night by a small child standing over your bed, poking you in the face, you have Parent’s Syndrome. Either that or you need to move to a new neighborhood.
  13. If you’ve ever thought that your friends were mad at you because they bought your kids drums for Christmas, you have Parent’s Syndrome.
  14. If you know what it’s like to have another person blow his nose on the shirt that you are currently wearing, you have Parent’s Syndrome.
  15. And finally, if you’ve ever used a wire coat hanger to fish a stuffed animal out of a toilet, you have Parent’s Syndrome.

As it turns out, there is no medication for Parent’s Syndrome. So much for my big pay day. But this disease does have a cure. Over time, as your kids grow into adults and move into their own houses, the symptoms of Parent’s Syndrome will go away. But, in my medical opinion, you shouldn’t waste your time waiting on that day to arrive. Parent’s Syndrome is the best disease anyone could ever have.

image credit

Observations On Puppy Bowl

I spent some time before Super Bowl 50 watching something called Puppy Bowl. Sadly, I can’t get those wasted minutes back but here are a few quick observations.

  1. I hate to be the one to rain on the parade here but Puppy Bowl is just a few small steps away from a full on dog fighting ring. And as if that wasn’t enough, they even have chickens for cheerleaders. Does anyone know if Mike Vick had something to do with this show?
  2. I have no idea what poor choices one has to make in life to find himself as the referee of Puppy Bowl but every parent should do all that they can to protect their children from such a career.
  3. At one point, the game had to be stopped when one of the dogs had an accident on the field. Referees had to do the exact same thing for the Atlanta Falcons at least six times during the previous season.
  4. I did the math and figured out that Team Fluff would probably beat Georgia Tech’s football team by at least 3 touchdowns.

I wasn’t a Puppy Bowl fan at first but as I gave it more consideration I came to realize that the show was actually a community service of sorts. All of the dogs end up getting adopted and the show gives disgruntled Cowboys fans something to look forward to somewhere around week four of the NFL season when their team is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.