Tuesday, February 25, 2014

the dentist and the apology

It was time to make that call; a call that I dreaded making. Visiting the dentist was something that I managed to put off. Very easily. Too many hours of my childhood were spent restrained in the dentist chair trying to straighten my crooked teeth. I also avoided the dentist when I was pregnant and had a baby- which pretty much sums up the past ten years. Now with a painful, aching tooth I knew that I couldn't put off that appointment any longer.
This afternoon I found myself laying in the cold, sterile dentist chair. I told myself how great it felt to lay there and not feel one bit guilty for not moving. That warm, lazy feeling quickly vanished when I saw the dental assistant slip the dentist "the needle". I know that they try to make the pass so the patient cannot see the incoming needle, but there is no way to disguise something so long, sharp, and shinny. I closed my eyes and attempted to imagine myself gardening in a beautiful, blooming flower bed that was free of poison ivy. I was again jolted back to reality as my mouth filled up. I desperately needed to swallow but there was no graceful way to swallow with a big rubber thing forcing my mouth wide open. To top it off my right cheek was drooping in a lopsided way from the anesthetic. Staring into the mirror above my head I vainly tried to spot any runaway drool but the dentist's hands were in the way. Feeling vulnerable and embarrassed I resigned myself to the fact that it was going to take some pain and humility to rid myself of the tooth ache and receive a good cleaning.
I began to think of the ladies' bible study in our church. We have been studying "Pursuing Peace" by Robert Jones and the morning's discussion dealt with the proper and Biblical way of apologizing. This is the kind of apologizing that reflects wisdom and the author gave a list outlining the vital characteristics of an effective confession.

The "Seven A's of Confession"
1. Address everyone involved....The circle of confession must be as big as the circle of the offense. Consider who witnessed your sin and who has suffered because of your sin.
2. Avoid "if", "but", "maybe"...True confessions leave no room for doubt. By saying "if" you show that you really don't care how you hurt someone and your desire is to quickly resolve it in order to move on. "But" confessions fail to accept full responsibility and shift the blame by not taking ownership of the offense.
3. Admit specifically...Specific confession shows thoughtfulness, sincerity and sorrow. It sets a specific agenda for change.
4. Acknowledge the hurt...This means expressing sorrow for the way our sin has made life hard for the other person. You are not sorry for getting caught but instead you show regret for the hurt that my sin has had on the other person.
5. Accept the Consequences..This demonstrates our sincerity and shows the offended person that we are not asking forgiveness merely to avoid consequences. True repentance may require the repentant one to suffer the just consequences of his wrong choices. It might entail a loss of privileges or possessions and another consequence could be that the other person may be slow or even unwilling to forgive us.
6. Alter your behaviour...Explain how you intend to alter your behaviour. This involves being active in developing, voicing, and carrying out a plan to change our behaviour.
7. Ask for forgiveness and allow time...Asking does not mean demanding. Deep wounds are painful so allow time for the offended  to go to God asking for grace and wisdom.

I dreaded the dentist, just like I dread making an apology. I can put it off as long as possible, but the hurt will still be there, and the rot will only go deeper. I felt embarrassed and humbled as the dentist scrapped away the "bad stuff" and I listened intently as she gave me an action plan so that I could avoid this pain in the future. Apologizing demands humility and a heart determined to follow God's leading.
As I left the office, I felt lighter, happier, and relieved. A sincere apology can restore, revive, and replenish our relationships with God and others.

*the Seven A's of Confession can also aid us as we confess our sins to God
**"Pursuing Peace: A Christian's Guide for Handling Our Conflicts" by Robert D. Jones is a must read.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


* Here is the winter newsletter that I put together on behalf of our library committee for the members of our church. The topic... Books For Men

Books to challenge and equip you where God has placed you:

 “Disciplines of A Godly Man” by Kent Hughes  “An outstanding book devoted to the practical outworking of discipline on subjects like purity, marriage, prayer, the tongue, the mind, our work, leadership, ministry and many more.”

“What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him” by Byron Forrest Yawn  “Discover afresh the masculinity that pleases God, enriches marriages, and makes fatherhood the most rewarding occupation you’ll ever know.”

“The Hole in Our Holiness” by Kevin DeJong  “A book for those who are ready to take holiness seriously, ready to be more like Jesus, ready to live in light of the grace that produces godliness. This is a book about God’s power to help us grow in personal holiness and to enjoy the process of transformation.”

“A Neglected Grace: Family worship in the Christian Home” by Jason Helopoulos  “It is our joyful responsibility to lead our home in worshipping the Lord. In the history of the church, family worship has been one of the Christian family’s strongest characteristics. This is a wise, realistic, gospel-motivated (rather than guilt-driven) guide.”

“Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace” by Heath Lambert   The author identifies eight strategies, each based on the work of Christ, that give people locked in the grip of pornography both the fuel and the road map for change. Each chapter is grounded in grace and clearly articulates how to apply the gospel in practical ways. This book has been highly recommended by many including David Murray and Tim Challies. Whether you struggle yourself or are trying to help someone who struggles there is good news. Jesus Christ can, will, and does set people free from the power of pornography.

“Beyond Ordinary” by Justin and Trisha Davis  “The authors know all too well the dangers of settling for an ordinary marriage. Their own failure to recognize the warning signs almost resulted in the end of their marriage. They share the invaluable lessons they learned that helped them restore their relationship and transform their ordinary marriage into an extraordinary one. They praise God for breathing new life into a marriage that seemed to have reached the end.”

Books for your enjoyment and edification:

“Walking from East to West: God in the Shadow” Ravi Zacharias’ autobiography
“Sons of Hamas” by Mosab Hassan Yousef
“John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock” a biography by Iain Murray
“The Conviction To Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters” By Albert Mohler
“Amazing Dad: Letters from William Wilberforce to his Children”
Books by Eric Metaxas: “Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy”  -   “Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to end Slavery”  -  “7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness”

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

our cheerful little Caleb

Our cheerful little Caleb is a delight to our family. He quietly observes the comings and goings of our household and gives a big grin to his older brothers when they entertain him with their silly antics. He was one of our earliest walkers and caused many gasps when this little, bald, toothless babe came running into a room. We laughed at peoples astonished responses.
This is the first time that we have had a little one in the house with siblings being that much older. We have been able to watch the older brothers tenderly play with him, cheer at Caleb's accomplishments, and proudly show him off to strangers.We have also had to make new rules. "Only one boy in the playpen at a time with Caleb, do not take him out of his crib unless you ask first, and even though he is giggling when you twirl him around and around, when you let go he will topple over and bump his head." Just like all one year olds, Caleb has a little sensor that goes off as soon as the bathroom door has been left open. In two days we went through eleven rolls of toilet paper. We now have another rule. "Whomever leaves the bathroom door open has to clean up the aftermath." Now, for the most part, that problem has been solved. The boys fight over who can feed him his breakfast and bottle. When I suggested that there are diapers to be changed as well, they fled the room plugging their noses. 

There have been many opportunities to watch daddy plow the snow off of the driveway this winter!

 Ever since there have been little people in the home, the Christmas tree has been a no-go. This year we decorated a tree with branches out of reach for little curious hands.

One winter evening, I was reading to the three middle boys by the fireplace and Nate was sprawled out on the couch reading his own book. Caleb took his little rocking chair and dragged it into the middle of the room. He found a "big person's book" opened it up and started to "read." This was heart warming to watch but it also served as a lesson for all of us. He sees the good things and imitates that- but he also sees the bad things, hears the harsh tones and unkind words that might be spoken. Little ones imitate their older siblings. Children imitate their parents. What a responsibility for us as parents!

                                         We love our little guy with his sparkling blue eyes!