IImagine for a moment Jesus on the cross, an injustice. It looks like Jesus needs help. He needs someone to take him down from the cross, to bind him up. But what about the Roman soldiers? What about the bystanders? Fight them? Kill them? What about their families, their children, their children's children, and all future generations.
The world isn't simple. Solving the world's problems, and solving our own problems isn't as simple as tidying a room, putting the lego in the right boxes, making the bed. The world is a knot. Not a nice, neat, ordered know, but a headphones in your pocket, wires in your bag sort of knot. Everything loops through everything else. It's a knot through time too; our actions affect our children, and our grandchildren. Every sin mixes it up a little further.
You can't unpick a knot by yanking on it, by swinging it about, by getting angry with it. We solve a knot by understanding it, and then, applying exactly the right forces in exactly the right places, in the right order.
Like Jesus on the cross. He looked like he needed help, but actually, it was us who needed help, and he was providing it. Exactly the right action at exactly the right time creates a Church, which inspires the generations. We can't comprehend even a little bit of the puzzle.
So if you're called to do something, don't say "I'll do it tomorrow." It might be the right force but in the wrong place.
I was walking to the station this morning on my way to a meeting. I had my nice suit and my imaginary bank balance, and I was on my way to sort out some technology for some people. I was going to tender for a contract, and I was pretty sure I was going to get it.
I suddenly caught myself feeling like a big shot.
And then, looking down, I realised how ridiculous I must look to God. A tiny little man. I can't even make a new hair grow on my head. I can't even live without the air that God made for me to breathe. Without the warmth of God's sunshine, and a million other things that I will never know.
And then it occurred to me that I am not a big shot. God is a big shot. I am just some preening, self important little child, who, for some reason, the almighty God tolerates.
And then it occurred to me again that no - that isn't our God at all. A cosmic boss who makes the universe and puts up with our foolishness because for some reason, against all sound judgement, he chooses to love us.
That isn't out God at all.
Our God isn't a God of swagger and big talk. Our God gets down low amongst us, in amongst the dirt and the snot and the faeces. He gets in, even though his clothes get dirty and bloody. Even though he dies.
Our God isn't a big shot, and neither am I.
In a park near our house is a big tree with dense, low-hanging branches. A climbing tree.
Ever since my kids were little I've encouraged them to go high, to balance on things, to try to get places. When they were young I would hold their hands. Now they leave me far behind.
In the park, my eldest climbed right up until the branches started to get thin, as high as he judged safe. He has fantastic upper body strength, partly because he climbs so many trees.
My middle son climbed a little way up. Not as high as the eldest, but still a good way, enough to break a leg if he fell. Enough to get a good view over the fields.
At the bottom most branch of the tree there was another child, and a mother. He was a little older than my youngest, maybe 7 or 8. The mother stood at the bottom of the tree and instructed him, with a worried look on her face not to climb any higher than the first branch.
The boy looked up at my kids, up in the sky amongst the buds with the view out over the field. Then he looked sad and scared and climbed down to his mother.
In the short term, she was being sensible, she was keeping her child safe. But in the long term?
Are you molding leaders? Brave and fearless men and women with the courage to challenge and try?
Who are you raising your kids to be?
Noah got so drunk he passed out in their tent. He lay naked and drunk where his children could find him.
Noah's behaviour was disgraceful, but it was his grandson Canaan who bore the curse for it, and all of Israel: Noah's descendents, who paid the price.
Sin is generational. If you behave disgracefully you are cursing your children, and your children's children, whether you mean to or not. If you sin in secret, you are lying to your family. Secrets and lies divide us, they split families, they are a curse on your children.
You do not belong to yourself.
As a father, you no longer belong to yourself, if you ever did. You are no longer an island. The way you act in public and secret affects you, it affects your children, it affects your relationship with God. Have no secrets.
Being a leader means being a servant to all.
Homework can be a chore. It can be isolating for the child and frustrating for the parents w watching them put it off. So at the Johnson house we've been experimenting to see how awesome we can make homework time.
Case 1: the castle project
My youngest son had a project on castles, so we actually went to a castle.
We took photos of things he found interesting. He dictated captions for the photos and I noted them down. He choose a medieval coin from the gift shop. Then we went home and put the whole thing into a Google doc together.
Why it worked
- We has a reason to go out on a cold day.
- My son got to be the center of attention.
- Family time.
- Homework got done.
Case 2. Maths in a restaurant.
Possibly inspired by this, my wife had a brilliant idea: I would take my eldest son to chess club, then afterwards take him out to a restaurant and do his maths homework with him.
We ended up at Café Rouge. I got us a big table so we could sit side by side and lay out his homework. He had a minute steak with chips. He got to use a proper steak knife and have a glass of Orangina, which he loves. It was exactly the sort of thing that he likes, and something that we hardly ever do because my littlest girl can't sit nicely in a restaurant yet.
Between courses we looked at his homework: powers of 10, and a few equations.
Once we were done we used the rest of the paper to draw pictures of radio telescopes. It was a pretty successful evening. We went home happy, having bonded over shared experiences. Plus the homework was out of the way and my son had leveled up his maths.
Why it worked
- The homework gave us a job to do. As men, we communicate better when we have a shared project to work on. I can't just chat about nothing.
- My son got to hang out in a proper restaurant and experience being be a grown up.
- Sons need fathers.
Do you have any tips for homework time?
I was offered a contract recently. The pay was excellent and the work easy. Moreover it came at a time of need. This small contract, just one week, would pay our mortgage for the month, and clear an old credit card debt.
I would be able to put food on the table and take time off afterwards to spend with the kids.
There was one problem, the client wanted me to train them up so that they could build an online gambling platform. Online gambling wrecks lives and destroys families.
There are times when sin can look very attractive, when it comes dressed up in respectable clothes. When it looks sweet and desirable. I wanted to take the contract, I wanted to have that easy money. I wanted my credit card paid off. I wanted my family secure and provided for.
And at the time, I was reading this:
Then the lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; It desires to have you, but you must rule over it" - Genesis 4:6-7
I went to pray at a church round the corner from my office (I have to jump over a wall to get there). I asked God if he would give me another contract if I turned this one down. I could feel his amusement as he refused to give me any promises. I knew what the right thing to do was.
I didn't take it. And you know what? We were fine.
Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it.
Have you been tempted by something that seemed right but wasn't? Leave a comment below. Or you can boost this post and help evangelise Facebook with a simple "amen".