Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Children (page 1 of 3)

Finding Peace

As I peek my head around the corner and look down to the end of the dark hallway I’m able to see what made the noise. From the bedroom emerges a little girl. She’s got a blanket in one hand and her favourite stuffy gripped tight to her body with the other. Her hair is dishevelled; a mess that only a sleeping toddler could make.

When she spots me, she shuffles down the hallway with purpose. Without making any eye contact, she presses her body up close against my leg while I finish brushing my teeth. She waits for me and doesn’t move.

Stacey has been out of town on a mom getaway-planning-shopping retreat for the past couple of nights. I’m not sure why this particular child is up at this particular point of the night, but I know we’re all a little zapped from the feeling of just not having mom around.

I finish brushing my teeth and begin the inquisition.

‘Why are you up? Are you scared? Did something happen? Do you need to use the toilet? Are you thirsty? Do you feel sick?’

No answer. No eye contact. Just pressing against me and hugging my leg. No words.

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The Simplest of Lessons

Hard Days

It’s been a hard few days for one of my daughters in particular. For whatever reason, she has decided that now is an appropriate time to disregard her parents’ instructions. She is testing. Hard.

The consequences have grown increasingly severe for her and the tears have been many. The prayers by mom and dad have increased. We’ve asked lots of times, ‘How certain are we that we’re doing the right thing?’ as we try to shepherd her little heart.

We trust God to give grace through this season, as he always has when our kids have gone through stretches like this before. Each daughter is different and the disobedience of each one is different, but God’s grace has always carried us through and we believe it will this time too.

Simple Truth

But one thing has stuck out to me through these past few days. It’s astounding to me how simple the lesson is that our daughter needs to learn. It’s as easy of a concept as they come. She can repeat it after us: It goes well for you when you obey and it goes poorly for you when you don’t.

Or, as we ask our five-year old, ‘When you disobey are you trying to be happy? Do you end up happier when you obey or when you disobey? ‘

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Netflix, Patience, Parenting, and the Gospel

The other day Stacey and I had some family friends over. Since the day was hot and the kids had been outside for the whole day we wanted to give them some ‘down time’ in the basement, where it was cool and they could calm down for a little.

I suggested a couple of the DVDs that we had, but there was no consensus among the children. Then one of the kids just said, ‘Let’s watch something on Netflix!’ I don’t know why it surprised me. After all, our own kids watch things on Netflix fairly regularly, but coming from a child in another family it just hit me how quickly kids become familiar with new technology and new opportunities for entertainment.

Apparently kids aren’t alone, either. Last month (June 2012), Netflix streamed over 1 billion hours of programming into households around the world. That is a lot of entertainment. it puts Netflix at the forefront of all entertainment products and providers in our world today.

The Evolution of Entertainment Eliminates Waiting

Remember cassette tapes? Remember how we used to have try to fast forward and rewind to find our songs? Remember the frustration of getting a video from the rental store, only to find out that the last person had not remembered to ‘be kind and please rewind’? How frustrating to have to wait to watch your movie while the tape rewound! Or how about watching TV shows before PVRs? Remember when we used to have to wait for commercials to be done instead of just fast-forwarding through them?

So technology advanced and with the advent of DVDs and CDs there was no more rewinding. No more waiting. And with PVRs, even waiting through those little breaks in the middle of your entertainment is removed.

And Netflix is the next stage in that entertainment evolution that eliminates the ‘weak gene’ of waiting. Any show, any movie, any time, no waiting.
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Proverbs 4 Through A Different Lens

Seeing the Obvious

It doesn’t take the hermeneutical genius of Don Carson to realize that the first several chapters of Proverbs emphasize wisdom. That much even I can pick up on. But in the past, I’ve always read these chapters as the ‘son’ who is called to gain wisdom.

And, to be sure, that is what I need to hear:

Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honour you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
(Proverbs 4:5-9 ESV)

But now that my kids are getting older and approaching the age when they will go to school and need to begin making decisions on their own, I’m seeing these passages through a new lens. I’m beginning to see myself as the ‘father’ in Proverbs 1-9 as well as the son.

But Wait, There’s More…

The other night as I was reading through the same chapter (Proverbs 4), I began to contemplate my parenting. I read this and got reflective:
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A Hope That’s Greater Than ‘Getting Kony’

This post is taken from the ‘New Hope Uganda’ website. I hope it affects you with the same sense of true hope that it gave me. Justice is essential, but only forgiveness brings freedom in a truly broken world.

This below response video cost $0 to make. There is no kit for sale. No bracelet to wear. No poster to put up. There is no one to make famous.

Charles is a former abducted child soldier who through the grace of God has chosen to forgive his captors rather than seek revenge. We believe that the weapon that will change the issue of Kony and the many children affected by his atrocities is the releasing power of forgiveness.

You may wonder if we believe Kony should be brought to justice. Absolutely! We praise God that Invisible Children has helped bring these atrocities into the light once again, and we pray that this campaign will help end Kony’s efforts to steal, kill and destroy. But more importantly is the transformation only God can bring to the lives of the numerous children scarred by the actions of Kony and the LRA. Truthfully, if healing and forgiveness doesn’t take precedence in the hearts of these former child soldiers, then we can expect revenge and hatred to rule and Kony’s own victims to rise up in his place.

HT: JT

Subduing My Realm

** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **

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According to Chandler

A little while ago I wrote a post about some sermons on manhood from Matt Chandler. My reflections for today, on being a man, are largely taken from the content of the first sermon in that series: Defining Masculinity. If you are a man or know a man, I highly recommend you give it a listen.

Farmer & Field

Chandler helped me by setting our identity as men in the creation account of Genesis 1-2. As he describes the narrative unfolding, he details how God creates the whole wild world, with a beautifully ordered garden (Eden), then places man in the middle of the garden and says, ‘Now make the rest of the world like this.’

Obviously there’s more to the story than that, but the simplicity of that perspective was helpful for me. He laid out the inner competitiveness and creativeness and ambition in man (which drives the rat race the whole world ’round) within the framework of ‘subduing’ and ‘ordering’ and ‘ruling over’ the created world. That’s what we were created for, and that’s what drives us as men, whether we know it or not.

The trouble, of course, is that in Genesis 3 man didn’t keep his world in order, but allowed chaos and disorder to rule (beginning with his own relationship with his wife when he abdicated his authority position when she was being tempted). The result of Adam’s disobedience is that now the whole world falls into complete disorder (including his own heart). All is subject to futility.

His work will be hard, and filled with failure. But he is still called to it nonetheless. And, as Chandler draws out, even the futility becomes evidence of God’s grace to us as the futility of our work is what drives us to call out to God for his mercy in the gospel.

A Guiding Framework

What has been so helpful to me is the guiding framework that this gives to my life as a man. As a man, I am charged with bringing order to my world. I must subdue my realm. So when I don’t know what to do, what decisions to make, what direction to take for my family, or my church, I fall back on this thought: I cam called to set all things in order. All things that are under my charge should be under my control.

And when I lack motivation to mow the lawn, discipline my kids, make things right with my wife, or make peace between relationships in the church, I remember that it is the calling of a man to subdue his realm, to put all things in order. Yes, there are challenges, frustrations, and failures, but having this simple, unifying direction for my life has been helpful.

The Big Biblical Picture

Of course this is all very simple. And yet, somehow, I spent the first 30 years of my life not really having the penny drop.

God created the world and ‘ordered’ it. He commanded man, his ‘son’, made in his image, to bring all things under submission to him. But after the first Adam and every man after him failed, a second Adam, the True Image of God had to come, to inherit all authority (Matt 28.19-20), and by his death and resurrection to have all things subjected to him. The end of this creation will come …

when [Jesus] delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15.24-28)

So the beginning is Adam called to subdue his realm, but failing. The end of the story is the second Adam reigning over all things, subduing even death — the greatest enemy. And we men are called now to live in the in between, still living with the futility of the curse all around us, but called by God to bring peace and order as we reign with Christ and bring his rule to pass, even now.

From cover to cover the Bible calls me to subdue my realm. That sounds like a manly challenge. May God give grace to make me faithful and diligent.

My Kids

** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **

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I love my children. I absolutely delight in them. There are so many reasons why; I thought I’d list just a few.

1. They Reflect Me

Okay, this sounds really bad. But I see myself in my kids, and that makes me love them. That’s natural. That’s what all parents love to see. To be honest, I think that’s why parents often think their own kids are the cutest… because they look like the parents! I’ve always thought to myself, ‘How narcissistic is that!

But then I got to thinking about that. Why do parents take so much delight in having children who look like them? Because our heavenly Father delights in having children who look like him. And because we bear his image (even now in a distorted way) we have his heart-impulses. When I see myself in my kids or my wife in my kids and my heart warms toward them, now it doesn’t make me think I’m narcissistic so much as it turns my mind to my God who created me in his image and who finds delight in me resembling him (really, this is at the heart of the gospel!). And it makes me hope I can train my kids to reflect their heavenly Father… not just their earthly one.

2. They Don’t Reflect Me

Here’s the funny thing about kids. Even though they’re fallen and depraved, there is still a sense of innocence and purity about them; they are willing to receive and believe what they hear with all their hearts. They trust. They forgive. They are willing to be comforted by words of truth. They believe the best about people and love with all their unbroken hearts. That doesn’t reflect me. I’m stubborn and heart-hearted, slow to forgive, slow to believe, slow to respond to truth. I’m jaded when it comes to people; it is easier to look at other people as ‘sinners’ than it is ‘image-bearers.’ Jesus commended children as those to whom we should look to know how to receive his kingdom. It’s not hard to see why. My kids are not perfect — far from it. But they do show me how I should love and trust my God and love and trust others.

3. They Give Me An Excuse to Be a Kid

I often ‘joke’ about this, but it’s true. I love being a kid. Playing, running, climbing trees, telling crazy imaginary stories… I love it! But if I did that on my own, people would think I’m weird — even more so than they already do! So I’m glad my kids give me an excuse to still be a kid. I love playing with them.

4. They Show Me My Weaknesses

Inasmuch as God calls me to father like he is a father to me, my children provide me with ample opportunities to show the world that I am not my heavenly Father. I fall so far short. He is so patient with me; my impulse is to chastise right away. He is so loving with me; my impulse is to be harsh with them. He is so wise in the dispensations of his providence, leading me in ways that I will grow; I give so little foresight to the ways I lead my children. He sacrificed his most treasured possession for me; I ask my four year-old when she’ll get a job and start helping to pay some bills. He is endlessly kind; I get grouchy at the drop of a hat when my kids won’t eat, sleep, or jump right when I say. He is always available; I’m so often distracted. There is no doubt about it: my kids show me my need for grace every single day.

5. They Are Ever-Present Accountability

And not just because they’ll point out every single thing you do that they’re not allowed to do (‘Daddy, “stupid” is a bad word!’; ‘Daddy, how come you are having two bowls of ice cream?’ ‘Daddy, we’re not allowed to climb up there like that!’). They’re also a source of accountability because everything I do and say now is filtered through the grid of, ‘What example am I setting for them?’ and ‘Is this the kind of husband I want my girls to look for?’ That little check keeps me on the straight-and-narrow many times.

6. They Make Me Laugh Like Crazy

People have actually commented to me that being in my house is like living in a sitcom. A lot of days I can’t disagree. I laugh pretty hard in my home. It is full of joy and I have my children to thank for that.

7. They Help Me Understand Women

I had no sisters growing up. As a young man I clearly had no idea how to understand the first thing about women. So God made me live with four of them. One of the things I’ve learned about girls is that they’re definitely female from the time they’re born on up. I’ve had to grow in my understanding of how the fairer sex thinks, learns, interacts, expresses love, receives love, hears correction, processes reality, experiences the world… the list goes on and on. My girls have (I think) helped me to understand women better. I love them for that.

8. They Bring Me to My Knees

They make me pray. My heart is immediately broken before my God when I think of those three tender little souls. I am quickly moved to pray, casting all my cares on my Father, casting all my hope for their protection, for their future, for their little hearts on him. They make me desperate, which makes me pray, which makes me love them more.

9. They Make Me Love More

I could go on all day, but I’ll end here. They make me love my them: their smiles, their joys, the way they look to me for care and guidance, their little quirks. They make me love my wife: as I watch her care for them and treasure them and bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, I grow in my love for her. They make me love my God: Who am I that I should be blessed with such wonderful little blessings as them? I am a man too blessed for words. They increase my love a hundredfold.

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