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Archive for the ‘Mothers/Moms/Mommas/Mama’ Category

This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man” (human). Genesis 5:1-2 (NIV)

 

Men can’t have babies, God blessed women with that ability. Now I have heard women wish that men would have to go through pregnancy and childbirth because it would change them, humble them, look at life and the world a little different, and I suppose it surely would. The mere ability to sire and conceive a child does not make one good parent, a good Mom or Dad, that takes embracing the ability and responsibilities of motherhood and fatherhood. Too many children are born every day to men and women who like part A (the conceiving activity) and have no interest in part B (the Mom/Dad responsibility). But God has always meant for A and B to be inseparable, it is our selfishness and the brokenness of our world that far too often separates the two.

 

Children are blessed when someone takes on the responsibility of mothering and fathering them, conversely their lives are much more difficult without either, in fact far too many children never see the light of day wherever and whenever A is divorced from B. B (a Mother’s and a Father’s heart) seeks life, abundant life for their children and children in general. Did you notice in the scripture above that God made people male and female, with the ability to reproduce, to be Fathers/Dads and Mothers/Moms and that God blessed them as such. I can’t help but think that God meant for that blessing of his to continue, for them to be blessed together, for their family to be blessed, their children to be blessed, for their grandchildren to be blessed, for generations they would never see to be blessed. Ask yourself, “How important is mothering and fathering the way God has intended it for blessing to flow from generation to generation?”

 

Having a baby changes a woman’s body, being a Mom changes her heart. Pregnancy will leave stretchmarks on the body, parenting will leave stretchmarks on the heart, the mind, and the soul of both Mom and Dad. Having a baby is a nine-month process, being a Mom or Dad is lifelong. From what I am told and what I have observed, pregnancy and birth is challenging, uncomfortable, and painful. From my own experience I know that being a parent is challenging, uncomfortable, and often painful far longer. How many tears wept for their children will run down the faces of Moms and Dads and drip to the ground around the world today? How many oceans could be filled with the tears of Moms and Dads shed throughout the ages? On the flipside, how much goodness, how much joy, how much blessing will be dished out today by good Moms and Dads? How much blessing has the world seen and experienced because of women and men who have been willing to be Moms and Dads, who care enough to fully engage, who dare to dream blessing for their children, their children’s children, the children of our world. I challenge you to never divorce A from B, to make up your mind to be all that God has enabled you to be in regard to children, to be someone who funnels life and unloads boatloads of the blessing of God.

 

Happy Mothers’ Day. To God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

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Take a minute and go to the nearest bath or restroom and look in a mirror and open your mouth and examine that wiggly, moist muscle living behind your teeth. – (Did you do it? Or have you decided to just sit there and read on?) –  In many ways it is stronger than all of the rest of your muscles combined, With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” James 3:9-10 (ESV).

Family is another place where the power to bless or curse reside. In fact there are few things that affect us more deeply and profoundly than the blessings and/or curses of our families. Family can and should be like a sweet slice of heaven, a haven of happiness, but all too often it is like a putrid plate of hell, a hall of horrors. Often it is a mixture of, somewhere between the two, but how much doo-doo baked into a brownie makes it unpalatable?

Everyone reading this p-note is someone’s daughter or son, but not everyone is glad to be someone’s daughter or son. Many reading this are someone’s Mom or Dad and not at all happy how things are working/have worked out. All the members of a family have the power to bless or curse. Children can love and honor their parents and make them glad. Parents can love, bless, and raise the children right. But neither can do it without love, our power to bless diminishes with every choice that is contrary to love.

Both blessings and curses have the power to perpetuate. Love births love, generosity inspires generosity, kindness fuels kindness, hate conceives hate, violence begets violence, injustice cries for revenge, pain likes to bite. But it is our choosing that can both break the chain of blessing or end the cycle of sin and its curses.

It is not difficult to figure out which side God is on. The cross of Christ is about redemption, about reconciliation, and about forgiveness, regarding our individual relationship with God and being part of his family, but it is also about the redemption and restoration of the human condition and relationships. God in Christ is able to break the strongest curse, heal the deepest wounds, loosen the heaviest chains.

The book of Genesis ends with a family that is broken, dysfunctional, painful, fake, full of bad blood, secrets, and rotten history. It was meant to enjoy God’s promises, fulfill God’s purposes, and experience God’s blessing, but they settled for jealousy, betrayal, lies, and superficiality. They were much better at cursing than blessing. They were flushing both their own potential as well as God’s wisdom and help. That family was self-destructing. Except that one of them, Joseph, realized that he had both the power to bless and the power to curse and he chose the former over the latter. He decided to bless where he was cursed. He chose to orient himself on and rely on God who knows how to redeem, restore, reconcile, and forgive. He decided to love. And guess who was on his side helping him? “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” Genesis 50:20 (ESV)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NIV).

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 (NLT)

 I learned something this week (no snide comments needed): Don’t delay Granny when she is wanting to see her newborn grandson. I am telling you this is serious business. Who knew? And why wasn’t I told?

There is something incredibly amazing about holding a newborn baby. That totally helpless, completely dependent little person has already expanded history. He has grown the love of his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and nephew. We, his family, have been entrusted with him, we bear lifelong responsibility towards him. It would be unthinkable to discard him, it would wrong not to love him, take care of him, meet his needs, have noble dreams for his future.

His little amazingness didn’t start at 5:30 AM on Monday morning. The Biologist, the theologian, modern medicine, and his parents all know when little Grady’s life began – the very instant he was conceived. He, like us, didn’t begin his life subhuman with a need to acquire humanness and personhood somewhere along the way. From the moment he was conceived, we, his parents, his family, his doctor, his community, his country never have had any legitimate freedom to see him and treat him as anything but a human being, a full member of the human race. We bear individual and collective responsibility to love him. The second greatest commandment of God has applied to Grady, and every other human being, from the moment his DNA fingerprint existed.

Someone challenged Jesus Christ on this demand of God for us to love our neighbor as ourselves. “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29), he asked in order “to justify himself.” Jesus’ reply was what is now known as the story of the “Good Samaritan.” Jesus made it plain that the man, a lawyer, was asking the wrong question. Wrong questions lead to wrong answers. Wrong questions are convenient when you want to skirt the real issues. According to God, to Jesus, “Am I a loving neighbor?” “Am I responding to people placed in front of me with compassion, with care, with mercy, with a willingness to take time, to meet their needs?” When you ask those questions the issues of inconvenience, disruption, bad timing, etc. go right out of the window. The command to “love your neighbor as yourself” does not exclude pregnancy. In fact, no one will ever encounter a more vulnerable, dependent person than a child in the womb. That little girl’s or boy’s life depends on the mother keeping the second most important commandment, on his mother to love her/him as herself. It depends on us as a people to apply the same commandment to every human being, to ask the right questions, and to encourage and support every woman who choses love.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

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“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” Proverbs 13:22a (NASB)

We are going to leave something to our kids, it is not a matter of if but of what. Leaving them something good and worthwhile requires we recognize how important that is and the determination to do something about it, that in turn requires the determination to be good ourselves because we usually produce what we are, or as Jesus put it, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” Matthew 12:35 (NIV). It is tough to hear it that bluntly, isn’t it? So what will your children inherit? Not just financially but culturally, ethically, intellectually, and spiritually? Are we passing an inheritance of blessing, of how to think, how to be, how to act, how to care, and how to worship?

Good doesn’t just happen; you have to work on good. Ordinary, mediocre, messes just happen, but good takes concentrated and sustained effort. You have to want good, practice good; excellence and blessing rarely just happen. You only get an inheritance if someone didn’t spend it all, if someone was smart, if someone saved, if someone cared enough to pass something on. To a good man/woman that’s important, to good parents and grandparents that’s important.

To be good, to do good, to pass good things on you have to know what is good, good has a definition. Good was good before we came along and good will still be good after we are gone. Good is not arbitrary, it is constant, it is eternal, it finds its roots in the reality and truth of God. We, the parents, the grandparents, our children, and grandchildren have the ability to alter the meaning of good (which far too often renders good no good) but ultimately we will be held accountable to God’s definition of good. Thus the wise man, the wise woman, wise parents will be careful to pass on a spiritual inheritance even more than a material inheritance. Our kids are not blessed if they are rich and godless, if they are wealthy and wicked, if they have the “good” life but are immoral, if they have opportunity but don’t perceive it as a means to care about others and to glorify God.

A good and sizeable inheritance enables, it gives future generations a head start, that’s why good men and women work on leaving one to their children and grandchildren. This is why we should care about politics, the national debt, justice, hatred and bigotry regardless which flag it hides behind, violence, education, personal responsibility, wickedness, freedom, education, values, morality, and our responsibility before and accountability to God.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4 (NIV).

“For what does it profit a man (woman, child, son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter) to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36 (NASB).

Let’s leave our children and grandchildren an awesome inheritance, one that God would applaud.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

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I need my Momma,” was the frequent, often sobbing request of one of our children.

Once, in the middle of the night Susie poked me awake and said, “It’s your turn.” So I crawled out of bed to tend to one of our “cute,” screaming treasures. The moment she saw it was me and not her Mom she demanded, “I want Mommy!!!” needless to say, things deteriorated from there.

On his way into this world our first child got his head stuck in the birth canal. After 24 hours of labor ordeals Susie was still holding it together remarkably well, even when the doctor told her that it’s time for a C-section she didn’t crack, but when her Mom came into the room she broke out in tears because sometimes you just really need your Mom, your Mommy, your Momma, your Mama. Everybody ends up needing a Mom sometime.

God called my tuckered out Mama home over 26 years ago, I can’t tell you how much I still feel her influence, how much I still miss her, that there are moments when I so wish for her. I believe that’s good thing, it is a testimony that she got her mothering right, that she blessed her boys.

I wonder if my Mama felt the same way, there were incredibly difficult things that came my Mama’s way after her Mom, Oma, died? I imagine so, because Oma was every bit as good at sowing Mama blessings as my Mom was. She was committed, selfless, loving, and godly; the kind of Mom you look for when you need comfort, hope, encouragement, direction, and love.

The very best thing my Mama lived out and passed on is her dependence on God, because in life there are things that rock and overwhelm even the best of moms, sometimes you just need God, his love, his wisdom, his strength, his guidance, his comfort, his touch, his presence.

My Mama is a precious and keeping memory, but God through Christ is a present and eternal reality. My Mama loved us well, God loves me better still. My Mama is an abiding blessing, God is the one who gave her to me. My Mama knew how limited she was and how almighty God is. My Mama had dreams for her boys, none more important than for us to walk with God. My Mama knew her mothering was important, she also knew we needed to learn to yearn for and lean on God’s presence more than her own. Only God can say, Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for I am with you; my rod and my staff, they comfort will comfort you” (Psalm 23:4).

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

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Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27 (NIV)

We are told that from the time Jesus was born his Mama, Mary, did a lot of “pondering,” a lot of wondering, being amazed at this child and what God was doing (Luke 2:19). I think a lot of people have wondered and pondered with her. Think about it. A baby, a child is amazing in and of itself, but some kids take it to extraordinary levels. Some are geniuses, some are monkeys, some are sweetness personified, some are “Lausbuben” (rascals, they give their Mama’s not much time for pondering but lots of reasons for worrying. If you’re wondering how I know- just trust me), and one was God incarnate. That’s the one Mary got. Can you imagine a toddler, grade schooler, teenager, young man who never sins? What kind of difficulties did that cause in the home, with his siblings?

At age 12 he went missing. When his worried parents finally found him he was confounding the brightest, best educated minds in Jerusalem. What surprises me is that they didn’t get on him, they didn’t whoop him (they whooped kids back then). By that age his Mom and Dad obviously thought he had very good reasons for whatever he did. At twelve I didn’t have good reasons for a lot of things I did and was on a path of having fewer and fewer good reasons for whatever I did.

Can you imagine how much joy and delight Jesus brought to his Mom and Dad? Kids can do that. Of course they can tear your heart out too. One thing I wish is that I would have grieved my Mama less.

Can you fathom the sense and weight of responsibility of having the assignment to bring up the Son of God? Wouldn’t that automatically shift you into the overprotective gear? There is enough to worry about in raising children without that kind of pressure?

How did Mary end up at the foot of the cross, at the execution of her son? Did she follow him around? Did they meet up because it was Passover? We don’t know, but we do know that one of the last things Jesus did is make sure his Mama was taken care of. I wonder if she pondered that too. I wonder if Mary, who knew a lot about costly obedience to God, ever imagined that obedience to God’s will could be this costly, this painful, and so horrific? Can you imagine what was happening to her heart?

Guess who was there, looking right at him, when Jesus felt forsaken by even God the Father? Mary, his Mama. And Jesus made sure that someone would take care of her.

We are blessed by what kind of Mama Mary was. Jesus was blessed by her. Being a great and godly Mom is still costly, still requires surrender to God’s will, still involves being there, and still requires a pondering heart. Mary couldn’t do what Jesus did, but no one standing there had invested more than she.

Happy Mothers’ Day, keep investing.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

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My Mama has been with Jesus for over 24 years and I miss her still. This July I will be back in my hometown, Heiningen/Germany, visit her grave, and wish she was still among the living. I would love to eat some more of her cooking, for her and my children to know each other, to sit out on the veranda for Kaffee und Kuchen, to laugh and sing together, to reminisce and bask in that incredible love between us.

My Mama’s love, my love for her has not waned. It is as strong, as precious, as wonderful and beautiful as it has ever been. It has not ceased to blossom and bless. It is not a relic, not just a memory, but it is alive. I think it is so because her love was real, uncomplicated, constant, free of manipulation, and sweet – so very sweet. This love she lavished on us, poured into us, and cultivated in our hearts was not fragile, or fickle, and above all it was without fear, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, …” 1 John 4:18 (NIV).

I know this is not everyone’s Mothers’ Day reality and I know my Mama was blessed with terrific Mom and Dad herself, but the loving has to start somewhere and if didn’t begin with us we have to decide to continue the love we received. Life, health, my Dad, and we her sons did not make it easy for my Mama. She could have easily felt sorry for herself, become bitter, complained, repaid evil for evil, decided that it was time to make life about herself. But she didn’t, she chose to love, and love some more. She believed that’s what God would want her do, what following Christ meant. She was right.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV). My Mama’s love was healing, just the memory of it is like aloe vera on a burn. It brought sanity into insanity, perspective to chaos, forgiveness to bitterness and hate. She refused to add to the sins, she wanted to be part of the crew who made the pile smaller, cover up the stink, and grow flowers on the wasteland of sins. And she did, I still get to pick them every day. Thank you Mama, you bless me still.

Happy Mothers’ Day, to God be all glory, Pastor Hans

 

 

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