Words – Speaking – Communicating

Small but powerful……..

Remember that kids rhyme – sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me? Whoever wrote that either lived on an island by themselves or was much stronger that I am!

Words are powerful –

Words have the potential to make someones day…… or crush someone in a split second.

Here’s what I have found to be true – we don’t know how powerful our words are. If someone says something we view as painful we perceive that we know their heart motivation. But…. if someone claims to be able to know why we said something we get defensive.

Let me offer 3 simple encouragements to you:

  1. Remember the tongue is powerful – James 3:2 ‘We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check‘. You may not mean for something to be hurtful but you also don’t know the full impact of your words. Your tongue is powerful – be careful….take a breath before speaking – are you in control of your tongue, with God’s help, or is your tongue out of control.
  2. The tongue can build up – If it’s true that we over exaggerate what people say to us then it is also true that we underestimate the impact of our positive words on others. There is such a shortage of people that simply encourage others. Look for ways to put somebody up, say thanks to your server next time you eat out, when someone helps you tell them you appreciate them, when you see a parent navigating their kids and the week’s grocery shopping quietly say as you pass “You are doing an amazing job’. The tongue has the power to build up….. but
  3. The tongue can tear down – Remember the last time someone called you an idiot? Remember how that made you feel? In the frustration of a moment words can fly from our mouths before we know it. You can’t ever take those words back. I remember when my daughter was just a toddler and I was having an argument with my wife. I won the argument and went in to another room, may daughter followed me and said (Gulp…) “Mum’s shut an idiot, isn’t she?”. What a fool I was!

Words are powerful……

Words can build up……

Words can tear down……

If there was ever an area we needed God’s help then it’s with our tongues. Pray with me that God will open our minds to how our words impact others and He will show us ways to speak words that build up!

My Dad and Covid-19 – Back to say a quick word of thanks……

Growing up in England, manners are huge. We learn early in life to say “please” and “thank you”. We had to call older people uncle / aunty as a sign of respect. It isn’t until I was older that I realized I had actual aunts and uncles and others who were simply older people I knew…..

One of the things I was taught is to always say “thank you”. Those two words seem so small at this time in my life. I wish there were levels of “thank you”. Maybe 3 levels: one for regular stuff, great stuff, and amazing stuff. Right now I want to say a level three “thank you” to God. 

When my dad was diagnosed with Covid-19 a few weeks ago I was shocked. The virus went from being an external thing to a very internal thing. Before my dad was diagnosed I didn’t know one single person who had been diagnosed. But now after my dad’s diagnosis the virus was very personal. 

My dad had been ill for quite a few weeks and continued to get worse and worse. His health was so poor that even with hospitals in England only taking emergency patients my dad was sent to a local hospital. As a routine process they tested my dad for Covid and the results came back positive. I will always remember that call from my sister with that news. As my sister talked it took my mind a few minutes to come to terms with what that actually means. My dad has Covid-19. My mind quickly rushed to how bad my dad’s health was already. I wondered early on if this was the time that God was going to take my dad home to heaven. To add another layer there were travel bans and restrictions. 

As a family we grew up going to church and praying regularly. But as you know you pray differently when you are desperate. You pray more often and you pray more deeply. So many people sent messages of support and joined us in praying. People from literally all over the world were praying for Tom Knight. There were Facebook posts, text messages, visits to my family, and even gifts brought. My mum has enough chocolate to even satisfy my appetite right now! Many were watching and waiting to see what was going to happen. Through this whole time my dad slept. When I spoke to him a few days ago he said he has very little memory of those weeks. As a family we often said “We are praying for the best but trying to prepare for the hardest”. 

My mum called the hospital twice a day to get updates. It was so hard for her especially not to be able to see him and be there for him. One time the staff offered to take the phone to my dad who was able to say a few words and he said “I’m really fighting, Joy”. As a policeman for years he had been in many situations but this one was truly a life or death battle. My dad was not going to quit when he had God with Him. 

My dad slowly improved over the coming weeks. I don’t know the exact percentage of people who have died from Covid that are my dad’s age with my dad’s health issues but I do know it’s a large percentage that doesn’t come through. God heard our prayers and decided my dad had more things to do. A couple of weeks ago he was released from the hospital to be quarantined in his nursing home. As he continued to recover his four kids were able to talk just for a few minutes to our dad. The first conversation I had with my dad was so very good. Thank you, God. Thank you.

Last week, as my dad continued to get stronger, our chats have gotten a little longer. He told me that through those weeks in the hospital that God was with him. In fact he said God was all he had as he fought this terrible virus. 

So I want to write this post to say two simple things 

  1. Thank you, God – THANK YOU!!
  2. God hears and answers our prayers – it may not always be the answer we want but know this – He does hear and He does answer 

Ephesians 3:20-21 – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

My dad has Covid – 5 things God is showing me # 5 – Don’t wait to say what needs to be said

I finished my last post with this challenge: “Life is short, live with that truth in mind”. 

If you have been reading my posts you know that I went through a time in my life where I didn’t want anything to do with God or the church.  I have been thinking about my dad a lot lately, as he wrestles with Covid.  

In my last post I said that “If I could tell my 19 year old self two things, this is what I would say: 

  1. Satisfaction – purpose – value – meaning can only be found in Jesus. This has to be right for every other part of my life to function as God intended it too.
  2. Life is far shorter than you think – live with that truth in mind every day. There won’t always be time to say the important things we need to say”.

How many times have you had an argument that got so heated that you walked away, maybe even slamming the door as you left. Think about the last time that happened to you. I’m guessing, like me, you had at least 3 things in your mind:

  1. You are right and they are wrong 
  2. You are so mad you could spit nails – (Is that an English saying?)
  3. There would always be time to fix this broken relationship. I will always have tomorrow. 

In these posts I have shared a lot about how my dad and I argued. Like most men we don’t talk naturally about feelings, disagreements or frustrations too much. We just move on and work to respect each other. That’s what my dad and I did for years. In fact it was decades. Then a few years ago I started reading some books as God worked in my soul to grow me and heal my soul. I needed forgiveness and I needed to forgive others. I had held on to bitterness aimed at my dad for years. I was an expert on his faults and extremely gracious about my own faults! God started to peel back the layers of arrogance and bitterness in my own heart. I knew I needed to tell my dad that I was sorry for all that I had done and said, especially those years of rebellion. One of the most lasting memories of that time is the memory of my parents crying downstairs after another argument. I consoled myself in the years to come that they were at fault, more than I was! 

God worked on my heart and showed the truth of Matthew 7:1-5. Look in the mirror and be an expert on my faults and not the faults of others. Even if you are only 1% wrong and the other person is 99% wrong, admit your part and seek forgiveness. I knew I needed to do that with my dad. I spent weeks landing what I wanted to say in just a few sentences. I carefully worked on what I was going to say so that there would be no hidden jabs but rather a saying of what I did wrong and how I was asking for forgiveness. 

God set up the perfect opportunity one day, I had a long drive and I knew that my dad would be home alone and so we could talk. I called and we talked through the staples of our usual conversations, family, the weather and of course our beloved soccer (football). I took a deep breath as I knew this was the time I needed to humble myself before my father. I started by saying “Dad, there’s something I’ve been meaning to say to you”. Before I could jump into my well rehearsed apology my dad interrupted. He said “before you start can I say one quick thing”. I sensed my frustration level growing. I thought to myself “Dad, let me talk. I want to say sorry…”. Then I thought to myself, I’m being arrogant again. So I quickly answered “Sure dad, go for it”. I thought he’d want to talk about the weather some more or something. But to my astonishment he said God had been working in his heart and he needed to apologize for all the stress he had directed at me. I almost crashed the car. Our great God had been working in both of our hearts at the same time. We chatted for the next few minutes and asked each other for forgiveness. We owned our sin and humbled ourselves to each other. My relationship with my dad was fixed in one conversation. I will treasure that conversation for the rest of my life. If God takes my dad through Covid or something else I will miss him like crazy but I will have peace. My dad and I are right with each other and we are both right with God. 

Here is the last of the 5 things God has been teaching me – say the things you need to say as you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Say sorry quickly and often – if you are going to be an expert on someone’s faults let those faults be your own, trust me, you have a bunch.
  2. Whenever you leave the house or end a phone call with those you love tell them you love them.
  3. Don’t underestimate the weight of a word of thanks or encouragement. 
  4. Conflict is going to happen because none of us is perfect, but approach the conflict with the shortness of life in mind. 

# 3 – Humility leads us to connect with other’s grief.

I think one of the most important prayers we can pray, especially with all that’s going on is this, God want are you trying to show us and leads us to in this time?

I recently heard the story of a young couple who moved into a new house. The young wife came downstairs the next morning and looked out of her window. She noticed her neighbor was hanging up her laundry to dry. She noticed that the laundry was still really dirty. As she was looking this young wife’s husband joined her and she pointed at her neighbor and said “that lady doesn’t know how to do her laundry, look at how dirty her clothes are”.

The next morning the same scenario played out again, and again the young wife commented on how badly her neighbor did her laundry. This same situation went on for almost a week. Then one morning everything changed.

The young wife came downstairs and looked out of her kitchen and once again saw her neighbor hanging her laundry out to dry. But this morning the laundry was spotlessly clean. The wife wondered how the neighbor had finally learnt how to do her laundry. Then the young wife’s husband joined her in looking out the window. She commented to her young husband about her neighbor and the husband turned to his young wife and simply said, “I washed the windows yesterday”.

All along the problem was not the neighbors ability to do her laundry, it was that the young wife’s perspective was blurred.

Can we humbly admit that maybe our perspective is blurred regarding race issues in our hearts and in Christ’s Church? Can we at least admit that this is our reality?

One of the first steps in moving past racial separation is the decision to grieve with those who grieve. Weep with those who weep. Let’s do what we can! Choose to care, to love and to support our brothers and sisters that are experiencing hurt, suffering injustice and encountering regular struggles.

A Christian’s response to racism in the church – # 2 – I growingly realize how my racial experiences or lack of experiences shape my convictions and perceptions

I have to be honest with that reality in order to really listen to others who have had very different experiences. I don’t want to minimize racial issues in the church just because I’ve only seen a few examples.

I love and appreciate my friends but to all who are quoting the numbers of African-American’s killed by other African-American’s you are missing the wider issue.

It’s not a comparison to validate a conclusion. When you post these articles / numbers all you are doing is saying don’t grieve with those who are hurting. Even one act of racism in the church is deeply grievous. My heart still weeps that our churches are so divided by race. That’s not a representation of heaven!

This time we are in now is an opportunity to cry for justice and equality. May that start in Christ’s Church. May that start with me and all Christians.

Let me illustrate this second point with a personal story. I serve with a mission that trains and equips pastors who are starting churches all over the world. A few months ago I went on a trip to Trinidad. We had an amazing time with about 25 leaders and pastors for several days. I didn’t think for a moment about our differences until someone pointed it out that they were from different ethnic backgrounds. They were my brothers and sisters in Christ and we had a blast seeing God work. But the thought struck me as I sat in the room with the 3 other amazing guys from the States who did the training that we were the minority here. Listen it’s hard to be different from the majority.

Lord, help me grow in humility, compassion and wisdom. Let me learn to lament with those who are hurt and mistreated.

Here’s my point today- Racism is real – even in the church.

Racism and Christianity #1

I am a white man – but I don’t speak for anyone but me

I am a Christian – but I don’t speak for any other Christians – just me –

I was born in England – and I grew up in a multi cultural area –
But I don’t speak for anyone else but me.

I have an adopted son – who’s African American (and btw one of fav people on God’s green earth) – but that said I don’t know much….

Felt led to share a few things on my blog that God is teaching me – hope this encourages others –

In my life – It’s not enough to claim Christ and not be racist –

I need to be radically loving in my anti-racism – to be a spreader of love and respect .

To daily love God and love others.

My dad has Covid – 5 things God is showing me – # 4 – Life is short – Life is a gift

My dad continues to slowly recover from the coronavirus. He has now been allowed to return to the nursing home he’s been living in for the last few years. Amazing!

Some who have recovered from Covid, who are about the same age as my dad, have taken 6-8 weeks to recover. Thanks for all who’ve responded with well-wishes and prayers. You have blessed and encouraged our family. My dad has improved to the point where he has been able to video call with a couple of my siblings and my mum. We are so thankful for God’s mercy and grace. My brother calls my dad Sherman now. He sure seems to be like a Sherman tank!

A disclaimer to start this post: I don’t feel old but I’m older than I have ever been. I am going to sound old with the focus of this post but I hope you get the point. Here’s the point of this post: Life is shorter than you think. When I was young my grandparents seemed to be 100 years old. Now I have adult kids, being a grandparent doesn’t seem very far off! 

When I was younger I made choices that showed that I perceived that my life would go on and on and on. I didn’t give the future a great deal of thought as I did what I wanted to do. As I have said before, when I was a teen I stopped going to church and thought I’d just walk away from my faith as I just wasn’t sure if I could believe in God anymore. Looking back now, that time in my life was less about a spiritual search and more about doing what I wanted to do. 

It was this decision that grew the tension in our home. My family went to church but I did not. I wanted independence, but I wasn’t able to support myself. I argued with my dad a lot. He stood for everything I wanted to get away from. Our relationship deteriorated to a point where our arguments turned physical. I don’t remember how it happened or what I was thinking but I was so mad at my dad one day that I wanted to punch him right in the face. 

Did you know that policemen, like my dad, are trained to respond to people that want to punch them? I guess I forgot that bit in my anger. I swung for him. I can’t believe that happened and my heart breaks for that decision now. Just so you know we have been totally restored in our relationship now, but more about that in my next post. 

I remember being so full of anger that I wanted to punch my dad, I remember swinging for him and I remember what happened next. One minute I was swinging; the next thing I knew I was face down – pinned by my dad. I was probably 19 so that would make my dad at that time really, really old. I couldn’t move and all my dear dad said was “Are you going to calm down now?”. Ahh, one of the worst times of my life, one of the most selfish, destructive decisions I have ever made. I said I was calm and he let me up to go for a walk to calm down. 

Fast forward what seems like 15 minutes and here we are today. My dad is in hospital with Covid and I’m thousands of miles away thinking about my dad. He wasn’t perfect but he did his best, he provided, he cared and he served our family. He taught me to drive, he taught me to work hard, he taught me what it meant to respect women – especially my mum and sisters! He taught me that going to church was what you should do no matter how you feel. I love my dad and it seems like yesterday we were kicking the soccer ball around (Football as we call it!). It seems such a short time ago that he walked me across busy streets and then started verbally teaching me about driving years before I would ever take the wheel. 

As a pastor for over 20 years I have sat with many dying people. Many have regrets. They made decisions, like I did, because they thought they’d have more time. But it’s true what they say “The older you get the faster time goes by”. This is the 4th thing God has led me to remember – Life is short. Life is a gift. God has given us families in part to remind us that we are all far from perfect. To teach us forgiveness and to teach us we need to do battle with the selfishness that lurks in us all. 

Let me close with this challenge – life is short, live with that truth in mind.

If I could tell my 19 year old self two things, this is what I would say: 

  1. Satisfaction – purpose – value – meaning can only be found in Jesus. This has to be right for every other part of my life to function as God intended it too.
  2. Life is far shorter than you think – live with that truth in mind every day. There won’t always be time to say the important things we need to say.

This leads me to the last of the 5 things God has been showing me – coming soon # 5 – of the 5 things God is showing me

My Dad has Covid – 5 things God is showing me # 3 – We need more than life can offer.

I grew up in a Christian family in Bristol, England. When I was little, going to church was as normal as going to school. My extended family all went to the same church. 

I distinctly remember the point as a child coming to realize that everyone didn’t grow up like me. Many people didn’t attend church. If I had to guess I would say that less than 5% of my friends attended church.

As I became a teen, I started to question my faith. I started to look at my friends and their lives and think they were having tons more fun than I was. The grass sure looked greener where they were. So as a 19 year old I jumped into doing whatever I wanted to do and I jumped in with both feet. I was looking for fun, meaning and the next rush. What I found was empty and pointless. I remember this one time I had had a few drinks and started to drive home on my motorbike. I approached a roundabout (circle) a little too quick. I was able to maintain control of my bike but it scared me to death. The grass wasn’t greener and I certainly wasn’t happy. God kept nudging at my soul. 

It was at the same time that I was running from God that my dad and I started to argue so much. He stood in the way of all I wanted to do. I don’t remember when the shift in our relationship happened but it was going downhill fast. I have thought about the meaningless stress I brought to my dad and my family. 

Writing this reminds me of what it was like to be a little kid with a dad who is also a policeman. He always seemed a bit like a superhero to me. I remember going to the shop with him to get his newspaper and some sweets (candy) for me. The walk wasn’t far but involved crossing a very busy four lane road. Sometimes the traffic would be going fast along this road. As we approached this road his hand would reach down from his side and take my little hand as we crossed. Of all the times we did this journey I never once was concerned about the approaching traffic. I trusted my dad completely.   

I am not sure where that respect and trust went as I got older, but one thing I do know: what I was looking for could not be found in anything the world had to offer. 

To tie this story and this 3rd point together, here is what I learned: nothing, I mean nothing in this life can satisfy what my soul yearns for like Jesus! No rush, no relationship, no job, no experience, and no achievements can come close to filling that hole that my soul had. That truth seems especially real in these weeks with my dad in hospital.

I am 3000+ miles away and there is basically a travel ban in place. So even if I could afford to fly back to England tomorrow I couldn’t see my family for 2 weeks! I wouldn’t be able to visit my dad as both the hospitals and the nursing homes are wisely not allowing visitors. But my hope for dad is not in his health but in our God. I asked him a few weeks ago when we last spoke if God took him home was he ready. He quickly said,  “Yes, absolutely.” 

My mum and dad – Joy and Tom

I asked myself after that conversation: when I am at that point would I have that same peace, confidence and security? In Jesus the answer is a clear yes, in doing my own thing and turning from God the answer is a clear no! 

I and, I am sure, you need more than this life can ever offer. We need hope for eternity, hope that there is something more to this life and what comes next. We need hope for a strength to help us that is beyond ourselves.

I honestly don’t know how people cope with life generally,especially times like these, without faith. I pray through these blogs that someone will be encouraged to ask God to help them understand all that He offers. 

John 10:10 (NIV) “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full

My dad has Covid – 5 things God is showing me # 2 – God is close –

My dad continues to be seriously ill but stable as he battles Covid: 19. My mum said this morning that they even had a little conversation which is huge progress!!

The first thing that God has been showing me through this time is that I can trust Him even when I don’t understand him. The second thing God is showing me during this time is that He is so close to those who trust him and who understand they really need Him. I have seen many people through the years go through very deep valleys and I’ve noticed over and over again the incredible peace these precious people demonstrate to those around them. I have often prayed that God would be so gracious as to fill me with that same peace when I go through difficult times. The last few years have been a season of almost constant change. My career path, with a clear sense of God’s leading, has been steady and clear. But over the last few years all of that has changed. I have said to numerous people, especially men, that we need to be careful not to allow what we do to identify who we sense we are. That’s easier to say to someone else than it is to understand it myself. But I can testify that, over the course of the last three years including my dad’s present illness, God has been so close. I love this verse in Psalm 34:  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 NIV). 

As I said in the first blog we are praying for God’s healing but trying to prepare for whatever God has in the coming days and weeks. As I also said in the first blog we have been sharing many stories about our precious dad. Not only did my dad rub his feet together in a truly unique way he also had a thoroughly unique sound and decibel level when he blew his nose. I remember a number of years ago my older sister had written a poem about my dad, and in that poem she said that when my dad blows his nose he could redirect shipping in the nearby Bristol channel. That channel separates where I grew up from Wales. That port near where I grew up is one of the busiest in Europe as it’s the central destination for car imports. I remember hearing the noise of my dad blowing his nose from one side of our church to the other, from one side of the house to the other, and even when he blew his nose inside the house when I was outside playing soccer with my friends. Even now as I write this that noise makes me smile and miss my dad a ton.

Several years ago I heard a pastor say when he was preaching about how God is close to those who trust him, that the greater the trial the greater the grace of God. That has certainly been my experience, especially, in the last week. I yearn for every family going through a deep trialto know and experience that grace coming from the close presence of Almighty God. I have to confess that I am certainly not the manufacturer of that peace and grace. Left to my own natural devices, I have a tendency to worry. So for me to say that, right now as I write this, I feel the closeness of God is a testimony of the greatness and the glory of God and not anything to do with me. 

God sent Jesus to allow us to be forgiven of our sins and to be restored in our relationship with God. The closeness of God comes at the cost of Jesus’ shed blood. Jesus demonstrated his deity by his miracles and by his teaching. The grace of God is evidenced by the gift that is Jesus. Grace is defined as God giving to us what we don’t deserve. I am so thankful that in this season my loving Father is with me. As it says in Psalm 23 verse four, “I will fear no evil for you are with me”. I can write this blog this morning and testify to anyone who will read this that the greater the trial the greater the grace of God. If my God heals my dad I will worship him and thank him for another day. But if God calls my dad home I will worship God for the eternal security that Jesus purchased for my dad and for me at the cross. 

Psalm 23:1-4 (NIV) 

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

    He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

    he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths

    for his name’s sake. 

Even though I walk

    through the darkest valley,

I will fear no evil,

    for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

    they comfort me.

My dad has CoVid 19 – 5 things God is showing me

I grew up in England and moved to the United States over 20 years ago. All of my extended family still live in England. I am so grateful for technology that allows us to stay in touch even with the 6 hour time difference. 

On Tuesday, May 11, I woke up and checked my phone and there was a message from my younger sister saying, “please can you call me I have an update about dad?” It’s one of those messages where you know the person doesn’t want to worry you but you’re naturally concerned until you’ve spoken to them. My dad has been ill for many weeks now and we were wondering what was going on as he has a number of health issues. My sister gave me the update that my dad  tested positive for COVID-19. I was driving at the time and had to pull off the highway to get my head around that news. Up until that point I didn’t know anybody that had the virus. I knew several people that had lost their jobs, but now the virus was closer and more powerful in our family’s life than ever before.

One of the first things I did when I heard this news was pray. It was a prayer that communicated my heart of shock, sadness, and concern for my family. Even though I have lived in this country for over 20 years, my family in England felt a million miles away. My hyper brain started to think about what might happen to my dad, how my family would do, how I felt unable to help them, and how it would be just about impossible to fly back. As a believer in Jesus Christ we testify that we not only believe in Jesus but that we also trust Him. There are several times in all of our lives when that decision is the very hope that we are holding onto. I need to remember who God is, what God is able to do, and, what was probably the hardest part of my faith at this point,  that God is trustworthy even when I don’t understand what he is doing.

In the last few years I have found journaling and blogging really helps me process my faith and my life. I felt led to blog about this ongoing journey. I don’t write as one who has all the answers. I write as one who is sad about my dad, who is missing my family, and who is wrestling with God’s purposes in all this.

As a family we have talked a lot over the last week. Part of those conversations has been to share funny stories and memories. These times really help us care for each other. I remember talking to my mum last week and saying that as a young child I remember my dad with his feet on a foot cushion trying to take a nap. My dad was a policeman my whole life growing up and would often come home very tired. My dad also liked nylon socks. I do not like nylon socks. In fact nylon socks send a current down my spine to this day. The reason for the adverse reaction to such a benign item is that my dad as he napped, used to rub his feet together wearing nylon socks. He did this over and over. I remember as a child often wondering if he did it long enough that I would start to see a glow between his feet. It is the memory of that noise from his feet being rubbed together that is sending a current down spine right now as I’m writing this. I love my dad and now as a father myself, with children that laugh at me, it makes me appreciate so much the gift that family is to us. 

I have been thinking a lot about my faith and I wanted to share with you 5 things that God has been teaching me through this journey. Let me start with the first thing God has been showing me: 

# 1 – I can trust God even when I don’t understand Him. 

I want to understand what God is doing with my dad, but I don’t. He is stable but he is also really ill. He isn’t strong enough to have a ventilator but is strong enough to have been at the point of being seriously ill with several health challenges, for the last few years. One of my family members said my dad has 9 lives. I think she may be right.

My mum and dad!

As a pastor I am supposed to have answers. But at this time there isn’t a specific answer – I don’t know if my dad will recover. I don’t know what God’s plan is at this point, but I choose to trust every moment of every day. I am praying for the best and trying to prepare for the hardest. I am starting to more fully understand that I can fully trust God even when I don’t fully understand him. The reason is that, while I may not understand exactly what He’s planning or His purposes is with my dad or even with this virus globally, I do know enough about God from his word to understand who he is and what he is able to do. My pastor says it well when he describes the triangle of trust. On one corner of that triangle is the understanding that God is all-powerful, on the second corner is the understanding that God is all-knowing, and on the final corner of the triangle is the truth that God is all-loving. He is my rock in the situation. As a son of a human father who is seriously ill my heart is sad and concerned for my dad, but as a son of the King I choose to trust God. 

I have recently compiled a playlist with every single worship song that I know. That playlist has many artists and includes 764 songs and, if I played it continuously, would last over 70 hours. For me at this time, worship is not just something that I do on a Sunday morning, it’s the source of my hope, the encouragement for my soul, and the reminder of who it is I choose to trust.

Isaiah 43:1-7 –

But now, this is what the Lord says—

    he who created you, Jacob,

    he who formed you, Israel:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,

    I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

    they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

    you will not be burned;

    the flames will not set you ablaze.

3 For I am the Lord your God,

    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

I give Egypt for your ransom,

    Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.

4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,

    and because I love you,

I will give people in exchange for you,

    nations in exchange for your life.

5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

    I will bring your children from the east

    and gather you from the west.

6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’

    and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’

Bring my sons from afar

    and my daughters from the ends of the earth—

7 everyone who is called by my name,

    whom I created for my glory,

    whom I formed and made.”

My dad’s name is Tom and we would value your prayers. We are also praying that someone comes to know the hope we have as a family and that hope onto which my dad is holding. He told me about that security he feels a few weeks ago when we spoke last.

Parenting Teens: Thought # 4 – Prayer

This might be the single most powerful piece that shapes your teen: praying for them. Trusting God to do what you can not do. Asking the all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God to save, guide, direct and protect your teen! 

Think about this verse: I Thessalonians 5:17 “pray continually”. Does this mean that we shouldn’t eat, drink, or work? Does this mean no more church or fun activities? Of course not! This means that in all things and at all times, we must pray. It means when you are stressed, you should pray. When you are grateful, you should pray. When your teen makes you laugh hysterically, you should pray. It means that when your teen makes you want to pull your hair out one by one, you should pray. It means when they make awesome choices and terrible ones, you should pray. 

It means that you pray about everything. Here’s a few thoughts but certainly not an exhaustive list in no particular order of priority: 

  • Pray for their choices 
  • Pray for their friends
  • Pray for protection 
  • Pray for their purity
  • Pray for their salvation 
  • Pray for their spiritual growth
  • Pray for their future spouse
  • Pray for their health 
  • Pray for their humility 
  • Pray for them to learn as much as they can from school 
  • Pray for God’s will for their lives to be their heart’s desire
  • Pray for your heart to be selfless and sacrificial as you parent them
  • Pray that you won’t be tempted to build your life around them but understand your job is to lead them into God-focused independence
  • Pray that you will love them more than you love yourself
  • Pray for patience 
  • Pray for patience 
  • And once again….pray for patience
  • Pray for them every time you think about them
  • Pray for them when you don’t know what to say
  • Pray for them when you know the right thing to say but your heart isn’t right
  • Pray that they will be satisfied in God first and foremost
  • Pray they would know every moment of every day, that God loves them so much He died for them

If there is anything more powerful than praying for your teen, then in 13 + years of ministry and 13 + years of parenting teens, I don’t know what it is. Praying does what I could never do. Prayer asks the one who knows all to move. What a great privilege it is to pray for our teens. 

May God stir a desire in you to lean into this in a more motivated way than perhaps you have ever done before.