Friday, January 31, 2014

What are your Children Worth?

I'm definitely not talking about literally selling your children, but I'm posing the question of, "What is worth more to you, your friendship with your children or your parenthood to your children?"

Out of my personal experience, from my parents and now being a parent, I can say that I would take parenthood over friendship. In itself friendship with your child is not a bad thing, and there are elements of friendship that are healthy for parents to have in the relationship with their children. But if it is more important for you to be your child's friend than it is to be their parent, then  we as parents have to get over ourselves and understand that this is not a worldly social order set into motion, but a God-ordained placement that we have been blessed with to train up and raise disciples.

I can say that I love my parents, and that we can have conversations about almost everything. I can think back 15 years ago, when it was the worst thing ever to be friends with your parents, and now appreciate how my parents didn't go over the top to try to be my friend over being my parent. I can think of things that we shared in a friendship way, but at the same time I respected them more than I did my "friends" at that time in my life.  I'm not saying by any means that I am perfect, or that my parents were/are perfect. But God placed me into my family for me to become the man/father that I am today.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us to "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. (NASB) This come right after Proverbs 22:1 which explains godly character to us: "A good name is to be more desired that great wealth, Favor is better that silver and gold. (NASB)

Solomon was reminding us that we are exhibit godly character so that when we "raise" our children (not befriend) they will take on godly characteristics as they grow. Ultimately so that they will gain favor. First from God, Second from man.  Jesus Himself did this. Luke 2:52 tells us: And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor of God and man.(NASB) It it was important for Jesus himself to receive earthly guidance so that He would keep the favor of God and men around Him, then why wouldn't it be important for our children?

When we choose to be their friend, over being their parent then we are actively telling God "Your model isn't good enough for my family." How arrogant can we be? We all want the best for our children, but we have to stop thinking that we know best. We have to rely on the fact that God knows best. If we want to show godly character and to model having God's favor, then we need to fully surrender ourselves to the Lord so our children will have a living,breathing model of obedience.

Are your children worth the price of your obedience? My question ought to be "Is Christ's sacrifice deserving of your obedience?"  I say YES! When our children see us model a lifestyle that is anything other than obedient, they see "Christians" set a standard for themselves, and their families. This is one reason that our local churches are dying. Thom Rainer, is quoted in saying, "When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the Gospel, the church is dying." When we put what we want over what God's redemptive story tells us then we are wrong on the greatest level.

I am not the greatest parent by any means, but I desire to be obedient to the Lord. I desire for my children to come into a relationship with the Lord, and be obedient to he call that He puts on their lives. Then I can call Rani, my sister in Christ. I can call Andrew & Jonas my brothers in Christ. And when we are before The Throne of Christ, then we can not focus on parenthood, or friendship but focus on Christ!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Da' Butch

Today my Grandfather, Hubert Baldwin Scrivener, would have been 98 years old. He has passed on to glory. And today I remembered a lot of great memories of my Da' Butch.

I can remember driving lessons at age 11, learning how to shoot marbles on the carpet in the den, learning the importance of a dollar, and photographing weddings together.

But some of the most memorable things I can remember with my Da' Butch were him sharing his passions with not only me, but with the whole family. Da' Butch had a passion for life and genuinely wanted to help people.

His passion for Mississippi State University was one that I haven't seen matched yet. I know that he would have loved watching them play this past baseball season. I can remember countless days of going to the games at MSU and he taking the time to make sure that if we needed to go to the restroom, or go to the concession stand he would miss the next at bat to do so.

I can remember coming to Maben, MS and spending weekends with my grandparents and getting to tinker in the shop or like we called it "Down Below" since it was down the hill from the house. Building birdhouses, or coin banks from old Post Office boxes, even building a windmill when I was 13. We weren't building houses but we were building memories.

Another memory I have is going on trips with he and my granny. Whether it was a Post Master's Convention, Lions club trip, or family reunion we always a great time. Loading up in that Lincoln towncar and heading out to our destination.

Actually 2 of my earliest memories are from traveling with my grandparents:
1) Traveling to Hawaii in 1982, I was 2 years old but I remember swimming in the ocean with my dad. Then he says "look there is Da' Butch and Granny." I look on the beach, and they are walking out on the patio area, dressed in a 3 piece suit there He was waving at me. I can still remember like it was yesterday, taking off as fast as I could and falling face first in the sand. I jump up, jump back in the water to wash off, and head back up the beachfront to the patio. I remember as soon as I got close, my Da' Butch knelt down and picked me up. A wet/sandy little boy didn't know that he was ruining his grandfather's suit, but Da' Butch didn't care.

2) Traveling to San Francisco, from Mississippi in the Lincoln. Six people, 1 car, cross-country trip. I can remember seeing the Grand Canyon on the way out, the Fisherman's Wharf , and being locked in solitary confinement while touring Alcatraz.

These were some great memories, but in the last few years of his life I can remember introducing my first 2 children to Da' Butch. My kids don't remember him, but they keep a picture of him in their rooms, from when they got to meet him.

I could write a book on my Da' Butch just from the stories that he would tell. We all loved him very much, and miss him. But I know that he wouldn't want us missing him, he would want us doing the best we could and enjoying the life that God had given us.

Me and Da' Butch at the windmill,  Spring 2008  15 years after construction

Rani with Da' Butch, Fall 2008

Me, Dad, Andrew, & Da' Butch, Christmas 2009

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Vacation Bible School Part 1

When I was 9 years old I was attending Vacation Bible School in Chester, MS. This was from the large urging of my Mamaw, Catherine Jenkins. Mamaw was going make sure we were in VBS, and she is largely responsible for the man I am today. I'm not here to say that my mamaw was perfect, no one is. But she loved King Jesus, and she wanted her children & grandchildren to know Him.

I can't speak for my cousins, or my brother & sister, but I can only give testimony to the witness I saw lived out in front of me.

My mamaw was the "Snack Lady" at VBS. When I say she was the "Snack Lady" Chester Baptist Church had more than one gracious soul working in the kitchen each year on those hot, humid Mississippi June weeks for VBS. This was way before all the incredible themes, that have been thought up, had been added to the VBS curriculum. I can remember coming in, saying our pledges, and singing songs like America the Beautiful and Onward Christian Soldiers. I can remember the crafts just saying "VBS" or "CBC" for Chester Baptist Church.Looking back some of the simplest things that I can remember being apart of, but no matter how simple Jesus still used them to bring Himself glory. Even..... the "Snack Lady."

I know that my mamaw's job at VBS wasn't one that "taught the Bible classes" or "led opening assembly" but she was happy to serve, and showed Jesus to a lot of little kids, who were probably so absorbed in their own little world that they were too bust to say "thank you" for the cherry/grape kool aid, and the butter cookies (you know the ones you can put on your fingers.)

Just giving out those 4-5 cookies, and an 8oz cup of kool aid was being the hands and feet of Jesus. It's servants like my mamaw that remind me that being "The Church" is a huge part in glorifying Jesus. This example that she lived out in front of me is a major part of why I have missed only 2 Summers of VBS since 1990. On Wednesday of that week of 1990, I was listening to my Pastor, Bro. Rob Faulk, proclaim the Gospel through Matthew 7. Preaching about how narrow is the way to a life with Christ, and how the broad path is like a "6 lane highway", "It looks nice but leads to death." I talked with Bro. Rob later that day, and knew that if I died that day, that I would be separated from God for eternity. I can remember praying to Jesus, and receiving Him as my Savior that Wednesday morning. The greatest thing next to knowing that I has Christ as my Savior was the hug I got from my mamaw. She had been working in the kitchen all morning, and didn't see me raise my hand during the morning prayer. But that didn't mean she wasn't apart of the work Christ was doing at Chester Baptist Church, or in my life that morning.

Why is VBS so important to me? Because I have seen the power of Christ radically change my life & the lives of others during VBS. Not only children, but teenagers and adults as well. It is my prayer that everyone that serves in VBS will be a witness to each person that comes through the doors of the church. Whether its Chester Baptist Church, or your church around the corner.

Friday, June 21, 2013

"The Road to Omaha"


My entire life I have been a Mississippi State fan. No matter what sport, whether we were predicted to win the conference, or to lose every game. I, like many others, have been there. But one thing at MSU that has been woven into the very DNA of me and my family is, Baseball. God knew what He was doing when he placed me in this world. He has given me great opportunities to witness many unforgettable things, and to be a part of "The Road to Omaha."

I can remember the 1985 season, sitting in the wooden grandstand, eating roasted peanuts watching Clark, Palmerio, Thigpen, and Brantley anchor a team that everyone thought would go to the end of the road at Omaha. But as everything worked out, they came home short of even playing in the championship game.
My parents made sure we were at the games, and my grandfather made sure that we had a seat to sit in and peanuts to eat. I know that there are MSU fans out there that are older, and have been through even more disappointments, and victories than I have. But my grandfather Hubert Scrivener "Butch" to those who knew him, loved Mississippi State University and would have already booked the rooms for Monday if he were still alive.

Butch is the reason that Maroon & White is a staple in my household, along with my parents, brother, and sister's lives as well. I thought everyone had a maroon blazer to wear, and a maroon car to drive, fortunately I inherited one of each.

I can't help but believe there are many other stories similar to mine out there, and that is just one step on "The Road to Omaha." I now live in North Carolina, and continually "go to bat" for MSU, and the SEC in general when interacting with many sports fans here. So my attendance at home games is somewhat scarce,but I know that my family is faithful to Section F, Row 6 of Polk-Dement Stadium.

I can remember my dad getting us out of school early, to catch mid-week games. Following the team to Hawaii in 1989 (watching Pete Young, Burke Masters, Tommy Raffo, & many more race motor scooters in the hotel parking lot), and then on to Omaha in 1990. Being a part of the 5 Million fans, helping break attendance records, driving to Hoover, attending baseball camps, & watching Masters crush that famous Grand Slam, are all a part of "The Road to Omaha."  Bearing the blistering, cold spring games and catching games when traveling home from Seminary in more recent years might be routine to some but it's memories to me. It's a bond that the true STATE fan can understand. It's just one more step on "The Road to Omaha.

I thought every coach should be coaching from 3rd, and get in an umpire's face almost every game. Even encouraging the ump to throw him out so his team could get a fire lit under them. Ron Polk, you are still The MAN! (and strangely aware of the weather at all times.) He's part of the foundation of "The Road to Omaha" for Mississippi State & Coach John Cohen.


           Coach Polk with Jeffery Rea                               Coach Polk getting his point across

                                                Coach Cohen following in good footsteps

I got to hear my parents and sister talk about the experience of being a foster family for the out-of-state players, when there was a foster program. Having players like Brad Corley, Brad Jones, Jeffery Rea, and Ed Easley come and share a meal with you. Also during this time, getting to hear my sister brag about her and my mom trekking to Omaha in 2007 to cheer on her friend Mitch Moreland and my dad getting to umpire inner squad games. It's all about the legacy that is Mississippi State Baseball. 

                      My Sister with: Jeffery Rea, Coach Polk, & Mitch Moreland, 2007 CWS

Then over the past few weeks getting to experience "The Dudes" journeying back on that long, hard road to Omaha. With nail-biting games, manly facial hair, and an electricity that has had not only Starkville juiced up, but the entire State of Mississippi. Thanks to modern technology (ESPN Watch, & an Iphone) even a family wedding couldn't keep last Saturday's game out of reach. It's ok my brother-in-law appreciated all the updates I could give him. It was only fitting that the happy couple was exiting as Hunter Renfroe sealed Oregon State's fate with the final out. Just one step further toward Omaha.

                       A shot from my sister's seats during the MSU vs. Indiana game, 2013 CWS

And now as Monday getting closer, and as  my college roommate texts me to tell me he's headed out to Omaha on Sunday the end of the road is drawing near. So whether we are ringing our cowbells in Rosenblatt (J/K) or in North Carolina, we have all been apart of that road and it's been incredible to watch. (and hear my sister brag, again, about traveling to Omaha personally this year.)

But as great as this has been to watch I was thrilled to see a post from Matt Jolley this past week, where God has been radically changing lives amongst the Diamond Dogs. Check it out if you haven't Diamond Dogs Discipleship. It reminds me that, no matter how many games I go to, how many pitches Johnathan Holder throws, or Wes Rea sends over the fences. God has given these boys a great opportunity that we have be privileged to witness & it's for His glory that they play and the most important thing that they could ever do is to come into a relationship with Him.

So if you've been there for every step down "The Road to Omaha" you can understand the familiarity with some of the things I've mentioned. But as Matt wrote in his article the most important thing that we can do on this "Road to Omaha" is: Please pray for God's Word to continue to grow in the hearts of everyone involved on this team and for His will to be done in their lives, on and off the field!

As much as I'm going to teach my children "Go Dawgs" "Maroon.....White" and my desire for them to be a part of  "The Road to Omaha" I want them to know Christ, and grow in His likeness.

Future Bulldog

Monday, February 11, 2013

Love Part 1

As we are well underway into the month of February, the theme of "Love" is on the minds of most people. I started a series at church this past Wednesday entitled:

Last Wednesday we looked at part 1, The Love of God, the Love for God:
We focused in on some way of "How" God shows us His love:
(these are in no way the only ways that God shows His love, but these are the areas He has pressed on my heart for the students I get the awesome privilege to be around every Wednesday night)
How He Loves:
1. He loves us first- John tells us in 1 John 4:8-10, that God Himself is love, and without Him there can be no love. So we could even really dive off the theological diving board and say that Love was the first thing created. Wait, God always was so..... We could stay in that discussion for a while, though it would be uplifting and true, it would be time-consuming.
2. He loves us Fully - Romans 5:8 tells us that even while we were still sinning, neck-deep dying in sin, He loved us. It totally backs us that He loved us first, but it even makes it better knowing that before I could even imagine about loving anything He loved me. This verse blows my mind every time I read it!
3. He loves us Forever - John 3:16 Probably the most well-known verse of scripture, not only re-emphasizes how much He loves us, but how long he will love us. He wants us to spend eternity with Him. And verse 17 shows us that He desires that all come to know Him, that the WORLD would be saved.
In approaching a simple view of God's love, it is easy to see how His love has the power to overwhelm us no matter how it can be described.
On our end of things........
When we think of love we, more times than not, think of ourselves.
1. We love ourselves - Philippians 2:3-4 & Ephesians 5:29 both remind us of how selfish we are. We don't have to be told to love ourselves, we obviously have to be encouraged not to fall into that self-love. All the way from the fall of man, till now we have no problem of love us. If we are truly going to "love" then we have to have God in our lives. There can be no "L.O.V.E." it is "L.U.V as my preacher used to say. It's just not of God.
2. We love our stuff - This fits into loving ourselves, but we can make a whole separate category for our stuff. Just like ,"The Rich, Young Ruler" in Mark 10:17-22 we don't want to give up our "stuff" for the sake of Christ. We may be a Christian but we have become accustomed to things and we get comfortable, so we try to justify not giving them up.  The bad part of this, if we are not careful we will actually try to flip the tables and blame God for us not wanting to give up our stuff to follow Him. How messed up is that? But we attempt to justify our situation with the answer, "I haven't had the Holy Spirit lead me that way." God has given us the Holy Spirit to be our helper, to help us understand what HIS WORD says. If we are solely leaning on our interpretation of the Holy Spirit we are still relying on man's heart to decide.  There comes a time in a Christian's life where we totally surrender everything we have to God, because He is our all.
3. We love our Savior? - Do we love God with everything that we have, as Jesus told us what the most important commandment in Mark 12:29-31. Do we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind & strength? Does His love overflow out of our lives to the point that we ooze Jesus out of our pores?
If our answer is a resounding "Yes!" to we do love our Savior then we have gotten totally over ourselves and all of our stuff. So many times the things that hold us back from unconditionally loving the Father are such trivial things.
We mush camp out in Romans 8:37-38 There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. NOTHING.

Do we love like that?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Worship 1.0

Over the past 14-15 years I have off & on tried to define worship. More times than not I've attempted to put worship in a nice, shiny box and say, "Look, this is what worship is!" At the same time over the past 14-15 years the Holy Spirit has been convicting me that I don't get it either.

This has been a subject that I've tried to compartmentalize but realistically I do know that you can't compartmentalize worship. I've read books, listened to pod casts, bought the latest worship music, all in attempt to try and get a better grasp on how I can better define worship.

Several books that have helped me, somewhat, shape a definition of worship would be:
The Unquenchable worshipper by Matt Redman
Facedown by Matt Redman
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney

Worship: The Ultimate Priority by John MacArthur

While Redman is looking primarily through the lens of leading worship for thousands of people he still doesn't let that blind him to the element of personal worship that one can't separate from one's life.

Whitney, in his Spiritual Disciplines book, looks at the different aspects of worship.
This is where I have camped out and I am going to continue to camp out for a good portion of my study of worship.

MacArthur, really dives off into more of the theology of worship. He does this is a way of drawing you in and really taking a deeper look at how we need to be more intentional with our worship.

I have come to understand that Worship is a lifestyle. For each of us it starts when our eyes open in the morning and continues through out the day with everything that we do.

Matt Redman defines worship, roughly, as : A response from our heart to God.

For one reason or another that has stuck with me over the years. Simple, yes, but it has for some reason stayed packed in my grey matter.

I definitely think that he is on to something, but I don't think that worship can be defined in a one sentence tag line. I'm not bashing Matt Redman by any means, he is by far one of my favorite worship leaders. What I'm attempting to relay is that we as finite man, try over and over again to not only put God in a box, but we try and often succeed to put our side of the relationship with Him in a box.

We say that our worship can only be a certain way, that worship songs can only be one style, or one genre for that matter. If we haven't already we have to get the notion that worship is a "thing" worship is a lifestyle. Do we worship God in every aspect of our lives?

Worship derives from the old English word "worthship". Something of great worth. Something that is worth adoration, glory.

Why do we expect God to "give" us some kind of experience when we gather corporately, if we aren't living out lives of worth for Him?

We aren't willing to give up anything most of the time. We want everything we can get our hands on, and minds wrapped around. We want stuff, experiences, knowledge,etc... but we aren't willing to sacrifice anything on our part to take in all that God has in store for us. Why?

If we get down to the meat of it, we can see the same in Genesis 3, when the serpent deceived woman, and sin came into the world. The pride of wanting, without giving something up is still ingrained in every single person on the planet.

When we come to grasps that God wants the best for us, and listen to the Holy Spirit's calling we give up the pride that we can handle this world on our own, and realize that we need Him more than ever.

When we say that we are "worthy" of anything, we are adorning ourselves in worship.
Are we worthy of an education?
Are we worthy of a good paying job?
Are we Worthy of a great car?

If we are calling ourselves children of the King, then how can we sit here and say that we are "worthy" of anything. He is worthy of all honor, glory, praise. And until we can not only acknowledge that, but practice that in our lives. Then we may have the knowledge of it, but we don't believe it.

Do I believe that God helps people get an education, jobs, and cars? Yes, but why? If the reason is for anything other that His Glory, His Worth, then we've missed the picture.

Do I believe that I've defined worship? No  Do I believe that I live every aspect of my life to the Glory of God? No

But I do believe that Matt Redman is right in that worship is a response from our heart to God. We either tell Him everyday that He is worthy of all of our worship, or we tell Him something else deserves that worth.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You've Got a Friend in Me

Anyone from 7th - 12th grade and a few years either side of that recognizes the song lyric "You've Got a Friend in Me" from any of the Toy Story movies. In themselves they are pretty good entertainment, and they leave us with that statement of friendship that either we can relate to or we can struggle with.

Throughout history we (man) attach ourselves to people that are our peers and whether we are only tied to them because we share a classroom with them for the better part of our lives, or we share backyards with them through our childhood; we call them our friends.

Neither one of these two scenarios are bad in themselves, but if we really look at the Biblical model that we should take we should look within the home first and foremost.

Now I know that some people might try to argue, "Well my home life isn't great, I don't have great example that I can follow." Point taken. Obviously that observation has been made, and you've come to the point of acknowledging you need a better example. You wouldn't know that what you live in is a bad example if you haven't already witnessed a good example. Go to that good example.
There might be a family that you can connect with better than you own, great! I'm not telling you to abandon your family, but I am saying that if Godly counsel is not in your home, look for it the closest place you can find it.

Now parents this is for you: We are called to Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

That means that our relationship with our children has to be one that we know what is going on with them, we have to know their needs, their dreams, their struggles. And the hard part of that we may not can do anything about it. We may not can help fulfill those dreams, defeat those struggles, or meet those needs, but we serve a God who can.

Dad and mom, we are called to "Train" not raise, or rear even. (Which I know that rear is correct grammer) If we call on the Lord as our King, we are called to train our children up. So many times we just throw the blame of what they do against the scale of their age, and what does that do? It takes the blame off of us. What if we took responsibility for our child's actions, answered for them, and we had to pay the penalty? In our opinion that would royally stink. But that is what God is telling us through His word. He is telling us that it is our responsibility to teach our children how to live, and we do that by preparing them to be worshipers of the King.

Some of you parents might not relate to this. Some of you may say, I didn't get that as a child. Fine, you didn't get it, but you say that you are a Christian now. Then follow the word now!
2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if we are in Christ, know Him as Lord in a personal way, then we are a new creature through Him. Everything before that doesn't matter anymore. So if you were raised in a Christian home, but you are a Christian parent you are under obligation to pour into your child the ways of the Lord, not the ways of your parents no matter if they are Mr. Deacon, and Mrs. GA's or Mr. Drunk, and Mrs. Harlot.

We have to befriend our children, where they come to us before the run to their peers when they need guidance. Most people think that if we need to befriend our children it means that we need to entertain them, and their friends. Or we need to try to impress them with our style, or what we allow them to do/get away with. It doesn't matter what age, children will always be able to entertain themselves, and we need to impress in them the things of God, and guide them in the ways of God. We have to take every opportunity to pour into them the ways of God, rooted in the word of God. And going back to the statement I made about tossing blame on the age scale, the term Teenager is less than 100 years old. Technically my grandparents where never teenagers, according to society. (It was used in around 1938 for the first time during the Great Depression) Before that we used more of a Biblical model from childhood to manhood/womanhood.

We as society have tossed the idea of Training our children to be Biblical men and women. That is why they would rather go to talk to their friends that they make outside the home about their struggles, their needs, their dreams.

We need to win our children back to training them to be men and women for the Kingdom.

There are 2 resources that I have found that would be a good help, other than the Bible of course:

Raising a Modern-Day Joseph - Larry Fowler
Parenting with a Kingdom Purpose - Ken Hemphill & Richard Ross