Tag Archives: Family

We Are Family

Friends, all I know to tell you is that I have now had the privilege to meet one glittering jewel of a young blogger. Courtney’s blog is called 1 Timothy 4:12 Girl, and she is certainly “an example of the believers, in word, in conversation…” I’m excited to have her write a guest post for me. And in case you didn’t get it, she’s still a teenager!!


What does it mean to be a family?

Ask ten different people and you’ll get ten different answers.

To some, it’s the parents and siblings that they were raised with. To others, it’s their current family unit that they’ve created for themselves, through marriage and procreation. Still to others, it’s a grandparent or relative who raised them.

familypic.jpgFamily is a concept that is embedded deep within the human heart. We all long for a place to belong and feel at home.

A place to kick off our shoes after a long day.

A place where we can be fully ourselves—quirks and all.

A place to love and be loved.

Society tells us that family is limited to those related to us through blood or marriage.

The Bible on the other hand, tells a different story. When ­asked about His brothers and mother in the book of Matthew, Jesus turns previously held assumptions about family upside-down.

“Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” (Matthew 12:48-50)

Jesus broadens the definition of family to include every believer who has been washed in the blood of Christ and saved by God’s amazing grace.

You are my brother. I am your sister. We are one giant family connected through the blood of Christ. Whatever your experience with your biological family, you have the guarantee of a family in Christ. This concept is reinforced throughout the New Testament, as familial language is repetitively used (1 Timothy 5:1-2, Hebrews 13:1, Philemon 1:15-16). The Bible even goes into detail about how to live this out, instructing us time and time again to love one and other and walk with fellow believers through times of trouble.

We live in a world that is starving for love. Look no further than the local news station to find that divisions between people are running rampant. This should not be so among believers. If we want to love a broken world, we must start by loving each other. Despite our many differences, we are one in Christ. This point is presented beautifully in Galatians 3:28. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Imagine how amazing our witness for Christ would be if we truly lived out Jesus’ vision for believers. I have seen the concept of family practiced vividly in the Christian blogging world and pray that this becomes a reality worldwide. No one should ever feel left out in the body of Christ. The first thing that a person should know when the walk through the doors of our churches is that they are loved. When Jesus hung on the cross, His arms were spread wide open, embracing everyone willing to come and follow Him. We are called to live as a reflection of that, and live out God’s radical love here on earth as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Connected as one big, crazy, awesome, beautiful family of believers. 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, Christianity, community, Love of God, Relationships and Family

Happy 16th Birthday, Haley!

Sweet Sixteen

Today (July 28th) my youngest daughter, Haley, turns sixteen. I am so happy for her, but it does make me feel old.

Haley has always been the serious one, the only baby in the family who would look at the photographer trying to make her laugh and say with an expression, “Are you serious?” No joke, if you were to look back at all of our girls’ baby pictures, Haley is the only one who very rarely smiled. Thankfully, she got the smile to working.

image

But Haley is not longer a baby  – she’s sixteen. That’s 16. That’s driver’s license age. That’s the same age as Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles (although I have no idea how old Molly was when it was filmed). Am I ready for my serious little baby girl to ride around with a 20-something in his daddy’s Rolls Royce?

Uhmm… No. I’m not.

The Birth Announcement

Do you want to know how I first heard about Haley? Sure you do, or you’d quit reading.

Sixteen years ago I was working in Hopkinsville, Kentucky at Fuqua-Hinton Funeral Home, while my wife and other two daughters were still in Chattanooga. My wife had been trying to find a way to tell me she was expecting, but could never track me down. Finally, I was stopped by an older, Lurch-like funeral home worker as I was coming out of my office.

“Anthony, I need to tell you something… You need to sit down.”

“What’s going on?” I asked with a little curiosity.

Looking down at me with little expression and with a matter-of-fact tone he said, “You’re wife called. She’s pregnant. You’re going to have a baby.”

Yeah, that’s how I found out.

The Wildcat

July 4th at the park.

July 4th at the park.

In case you didn’t get it, Haley was born in Kentucky, so that makes her a Wildcat. Now, she is not a big Kentucky Wildcat fan, or anything, but the name fits, that’s for sure.

Haley is anything but placid. Haley is as matter-of-fact as the funeral home where I worked, always serious, even when she’s having fun. But Haley is no one to be trifled with; she’s a gun-loving, knife-wielding, fish-catching, John Deere-riding kind of girl with an a hankering for action.

Haley loves to dress up with an elegance that rivals Grace Kelly, but give her half-a-chance and she’ll get down and dirty picking weeds out of mulch and hauling rock with a wheelbarrow. As a matter of fact, she’s a little entrepreneur: she’s started her own little business called “Hard-Work’n Southern Girl.”

Doing the hard work, like her grandpa and great-granddaddy before her.

Doing the hard work, like her grandpa and great-granddaddy before her.

Boldness

But if there is anything about Haley that makes me most proud is her boldness; Haley is fearless when it comes to approaching people. This trait can be especially useful when trying to sell a box full of my books to total strangers. Haley has no problem walking up to someone and offering them a flyer, asking them to buy a book, or walking up to a total stranger in need of help and offering hers.

Haley helping after stormWhen a storm comes through our community and blows down trees that block the road, Haley is the first to look for ways to help a neighbor…even when the neighbor looks a little scary and has a chainsaw (my wife took the picture – she stayed in the car while Haley got out and helped).

But it’s when she is bold about her faith in Jesus…when she walks up to a stranger and invites him to church… when she’s waiting in line somewhere and finds a reason to offer them one of my business cards and says, “You should come hear my dad preach”… when she wants to help out in the projects where the children of drug dealers need Bibles…

When she’s taken life’s tragedies and her own brokenness as an opportunity to make things right for others who’ve also been wounded and hurt…

When she reaches out to the unloved, the unlovely, the friendless, and the forgotten…because that’s what Jesus would do…

THAT is what makes me the proudest dad in the world.

November, 2015

Volleyball Banquet, November 2015

Happy birthday, Haley! I love you!!

Celebrating the b-day at Summit @ Bryan College. We brought roses :-) Katie, is on the right.

Celebrating the b-day at Summit @ Bryan College. We brought roses🙂 Katie, is on the right. Can you pick out Sean McDowell in the upper left corner?

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Filed under Parenting, Relationships and Family

Where Will You Praise Him?

“Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.” – Psalm 111:1

Are you imitating the words of King David in Psalm 111:1?

You can’t do it in front of a television while watching your favorite preacher.

You can’t do it at the ball field watching your favorite child.

You can’t do it sitting in your boat waiting for a bite.

You can’t do it while doing laundry.

You can’t do it reading a devotional while drinking your morning coffee.

You can’t do it while listening to the radio as you make pancakes.

You can’t do it in a hotel room while on vacation.

You can’t do it taking a morning run.

You can’t do it out in the forest while waiting for a 10-point buck to walk by.

You can’t do it in your bed on your only day off.

So, how does one imitate the words of David in Psalm 111:1?

Simple. You go to church.

Hope to see you there!

church glad to go

 

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Filed under Church, community

Blogger’s Bed and Breakfast

Bed & Breakfast

Once again the Blogger’s Bed & Breakfast (well, more like Blogger’s Inflatable & Breakfast) was pleased to entertain guests from far-off lands. As a matter of fact, those who came to visit were from way out in Missouriland, a place up in the northern territory.

Amazingly, our guests had no problem adapting to our civilized ways. They socialized without insulting our genteel sensibilities even once (I mean, you never know how Yankees will react to Southern hospitality)!

Actually, we were pleased to have Everett, Heather, and Emerson Mertens stay with us last night. They were on there way to Florida (Southern Yankee territory) and it just made sense for them to stop here for a spell in Chattanooga.

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Me, Everett, Nugget, Valerie (my wife), Heather, Katie (my daughter), Emmy, and Haley (my daughter)

Bloggers

Heather Mertens is a blogger that I met online several years ago, and I had the chance to meet them for lunch when they passed through once before. But what an awesome, fun time it was this time around to have them come have dinner with us, stay overnight, and then eat breakfast before heading back out.

Like I’ve written before, bloggers are real people; it’s wonderful when we can actually meet in person, set aside the keyboards, and talk face-to-face. And in this case, it was our whole families sitting around the table, sharing a couple of meals, and fellowshipping like Christians everywhere should do… over food😉

There’s always an invitation!

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Filed under blogging, Christian Unity, Food, Relationships and Family

Monday Morning Music

Sunday Singing

Sunday morning my daughter Katie and I sang a song before I preached. Unfortunately, my wife’s cell phone cut off half-way through the song, so we didn’t get to capture the moment on video.

Sunday evening we had special guests to speak, and they wanted to hear Katie sing something, so we sang the song again (nothing wrong with repeating something). Again, we tried to record it, but things happened – like sour notes and I dropped my pick.

So, determined to make a video, Katie, Haley, and I went back to the church late last night and recorded the song. That’s what I wanted to share with you this morning🙂

Oh, What A Savior Is Mine!

I don’t know who wrote this song, or how old it is, but it’s one that I love. It was the perfect song to sing before preaching about Jesus.

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Filed under Christianity, music

Two-Decade Daughter

Happy Birthday!

Yes, happy Birthday to my middle daughter, Katie Marie! She has been two decades in this world.

20 years ago I witnessed firsthand the miracle of birth. I did not get sick, or faint, or anything like that. Actually, I held it all together, along with a 35mm camera and an 8mm handheld Sony video recorder (at least I think that’s what I used). I would describe some other things I had to do, but that’s another story entirely.

My wife was wonderful through the whole process of Katie’s birth, never once insinuating anything negative regarding the marital status of my parents at the time of my birth. All she did was scream, sweat, and puuuuuuuush. I know, because I told her to. And then out came the perpetual smiler.

It was Katie’s day of birth, and I remember it well…at least the parts my mind has not blocked.

Katie with nephewdog Henry

Katie with nephewdog Henry

Happy Reminder Day!

Katie’s 20th birthday is also a day to be reminded how old I am getting (just me; my wife doesn’t age). Twenty years ago I was in my late 20’s and had just gotten my first non-bag cell phone (an Erickson flip phone). I could touch my toes with ease, wear smaller sizes of pants, and brush my hair. Now the only hair I brush is on my face and coming out my ears.

The fact that my little baby girl is now 20 is also a horrible reminder of how fast time passes by. It seems just yesterday she was crawling around in a diaper, carrying her bottle around in her mouth as her tiny teeth were latched on to the nipple, looking like a deformed white baby elephant. Her favorite word was “ball,” and as she learned to sing, the word “milk” got inserted at random into every song: “Jesus loves me…milk…this I know, for the Bible…milk…”

College girl selfie.

College girl selfie.

Now Katie is a beautiful young woman who drinks from a straw and rarely crawls around on the floor. These days she looks nothing like a baby elephant, but more like sunshine that blinks. She sings all the time now, too – without mentioning milk.  And, fortunately, she changes her own… she dresses herself.

And she loves Jesus🙂

Time flies, doesn’t it?

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Filed under Parenting

“Real” Men of God

Genuine Articles

This past weekend I went with my wife to a retreat/conference for bivocational pastors and their wives. It was sponsored by the Tennessee Baptist Convention and was held in Pigeon Forge, TN.

Believe it or not, not all pastors fly jets, have mansions, drive new cars, or wear $1,000 suits. Most pastors drive used cars, live modestly, fly only when they have to, and get their suits only when they’re on sale.

Even though the pastors most people see on television have thousands of members in their churches, the average size of the typical congregation is only in the 80’s or less. The average pastor has to work a second job, does not have a secretary, and can’t afford a personal hair stylist.

The men I spent time with last weekend were the real deal: humble, hardworking, men of God. They were the real deal, the genuine article.

Genuine People

One thing that people tend to forget is that pastors are people, too. They have families, bills, and a list of their own issues. They have problems like the rest of everybody, it’s just that it’s hard to share them with the congregations they serve.

A lot of people accuse Christians of thinking we have it all together, but we don’t. As a matter of fact, what makes us better pastors is when God allows us to go through struggles and trials and all the associated pain in order for us to have first-hand knowledge of His grace.

On the first night of the conference I attended, in a breakout session for the men, one particular pastor poured his heart out about his wayward 19-year-old son. He wept as he said, “What I need is some hope.” It didn’t take long before this brother, this wounded spiritual warrior, was brought up to the front of the room. There, as he knelt beside a table, the rest of us wept with him, prayed with him, and encouraged him.

How did we encourage him? It’s because we were real people fighting some of the same battles, feeling some of the same hurts, and he knew he was not alone.

praying pastors

THESE are the REAL pastors. These are the real deal. These are NOT the men wanting your money; they’re the ones who’d give you their last dollar. These are the men who care for your souls. These are the real men of God you should get behind and support.

I am so thankful to the TBC and all those who made this minister’s and wives retreat possible. I’m also thankful for the grace of God. We are not alone, even when no one else will stand with us.

But when we do stand, and kneel, and weep, and rejoice with each other…oh, what a formidable force we are!


 

“Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. “ – 1 Peter 5:2-4 HCSB

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Filed under ministry, Parenting, Preaching, Southern Baptist, Struggles and Trials