The Best Christmas Gift

This is the 15th and final of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys. Come back Monday for our summer series as we trace the life of the Apostle Paul. But first, another Christmas story …

Another Christmas has quickly passed. As always, over and over we hear the “Christian Christmas Warning” – WARNING: Forgetting the reason for the season may be hazardous to your spiritual health!

Come on, I thought; play a new tune. But I must admit, when it comes to the boys, I worry about their perceptions and life-long memories of the content of our Christmas celebrations.

At home we try various means of getting the boys to think bigger than simply about boxes under a tree. We had devotions with an advent wreath and Christmas tree. Our emphasis was continually upon giving and giving and serving and helping and singing and more giving, etc. All of this emphasis requires time – lots of time for shopping and making crafts and baking cookies. Diana does most of this with the kids, but as always, I have to take them for the annual “let’s buy mommy some presents” Christmas shopping marathon.

We safely arrived at the Palmer Mall and got into the store without anyone bouncing off a car in the parking lot. Forming a human chain, we weaved our way through the thousands of shoppers to the housewares department in hopes of finding something that Diana does not already possess. Finally at our destination, the boys looked at me and said, “Daddy, we’ve got to go to the bathroom—badly!” What could I do? So off we went, through the store, out into the mall in search of the elusive men’s room. Finding it, using it, and returning from it too over 30 minutes of valuable shopping time.

At last, back in the department shore’s housewares section we started our search. Seconds later my attention was grabbed by Benjamin’s cries of pain. He was walking behind me with his head down, not looking where he was going, and ran into the corner of a shelf. Well, you know how kids’ heads bleed, and you know what color Ben’s hair is. What a mess! After soaking several tissues we were able to commence our search and return home without further incident. I just love Christmas shopping.

As I said, singing is a big part of our Christmas efforts. We have sung a lot as a family and the kids worked hard on learning the Children’s Choir musical. Aaron learned the entire composition and can even quote all of the speaking parts. He sat in the front row with us when the program was presented and sang the entire thing with the choir. Nathan was confident as well. He said, “If Heath would get sick, Karen would ask me to take his place.”  I said, “Really? Did she say that?”  “No,” he said, “I just know she would because she knows that I know it better than anyone else.”

If you were at the kids’ concert at the new mall, you know that Benjamin “stole the show.” But not in the way a parent would wish. After rehearsing that morning, he had endured all of the singing he could stand for one day. And when the program started, he was front and center acting bored, frowning, rolling his eyes, yawning, and looking like he was ready to fall asleep on his feet. I was standing near some shoppers who said, “Look at the little blonde-haired boy in the front. Boy, he’s a bad one, I wonder if his parents are here to see him?”  Hmm.

I was pleased that the boys didn’t have a present-receiving fixation, at least until Christmas Eve when the “gift-giving-gimmies” hit hard. I even thought of camping under the tree to prevent “sooner” activities in the early morning. About 5:00 a.m. I heard a thump downstairs. Could it be Santa? Or just a boy up early? It turned out to be a firewood log that dropped, but it showed me I was suspicious of the kids. I was wondering if our efforts were getting through. Were the boys enjoying the season for the right reason?

About 8:00 a.m. Diana and I were awakened suddenly by a bell. By our bed stood three little carolers clad in pajamas. In unison they sang with gusto “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” They sang several verses and did two more songs for us. As I saw that their first thoughts on this day were upon the birth of Christ, tears of joy ran down my face. I hugged each one and told them it was the best Christmas present I ever received. If I had gone back to bed and skipped the rest of the Christmas Day, it would have been a success and remembered as one of the best holidays ever!

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The Shopping Ordeal

This is the 14th of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys. This actually includes two writings – one for Christmas and then a followup story from January of that year …

It stares me in the face. It haunts me day and night. I can run, but I can’t hide. It will certainly catch me as it always does every year.

No, it is not the ghost of Christmas, but rather the knowledge that I shall once again have to take all three boys shopping for a Christmas present for mommy! God deliver me! I thought about going the catalog route.

But the idea is not simply that mommy gets a present, but rather that the boys think actively about giving more than receiving.

So, soon (like on the 23rd or 24th) I’ll bundle them up and off we’ll go to the mall or some place to look for something to buy mommy. My ideas are only slightly more defined than their thoughts. They are so excited to buy something that they’ll push for the first thing inside the door, which could be anything from a garden tractor to hunting boots.

I know, I shouldn’t feel so sorry for myself. After all, Diana takes them shopping all of the time. Actually, that is why I dread it so much. Shopping with three little boys is quite an experience. Let me quote from my wife’s journal …

10/7/88 – Today was a typical shopping trip with Nathan, Benjamin and Aaron. We went to Hillcrest Mall. Once inside the door at Orr’s Department Store, Nathan and Ben made a mad dash through the cosmetics department, toward the escalators. Once upstairs, they began the game of hide and seek in the racks of the clothing department. Later, they got lost in the dressing rooms. When we went down the escalator, Benjamin ran ahead and got off, got back on and tried to run up the steps, fell, causing a massive pileup at the bottom.

We went on to Woolworths where Benjamin got lost and started crying. I could hear him, but could not see him. I felt too silly to yell something out to him.

At Superfresh, they played their normal games of bumper carts, etc. No injuries to ourselves or other shoppers. But, coming out of the store, Aaron tripped and fell. Benjamin was daydreaming and fell on top of him. We made it home without further incident.

See what I mean? And that was just a “normal” trip. Just think what it is like when they are excited about buying presents for mommy.

But we will go, because I believe that it is important to teach them about giving. But why? Why do we give others presents at Christmas? Tradition! That is a correct answer but not a particularly biblical one.

What I am telling my boys is that there are two main reasons. We do it because the wise men established a pattern with their gifts to the newborn king. But more than that, we do it because Christ is God’s gift to man. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”

…. From the next newsletter ….

Since the last newsletter, everyone has been asking me if I took the boys shopping yet to by presents for mommy. Yes, we went yesterday (12/22) and it really was fun. I even brought home the same number of boys I took.

Our tree is surrounded with gifts, and now comes the job of holding the boys off until the 25th. Each morning the guys go downstairs early to count how many presents there are and to see if their haul is increasing. They carry them around, but they are really not very good at intelligently guessing what is inside.

Diana and I should be so uninformed! The kids simply don’t have the capacity to keep a secret. They constantly bring to me their present for me and challenge me to guess what is inside. Nathan will agree with anything I suggest, but not the younger two! A couple of days ago I guessed that there was an aardvark inside. Nathan said, “Yep, that’s right!”  But Benjamin looked at him sternly and retorted, “It is not an Ortfort, Nathan; it’s a sander machine!”  So much for suspense.

We four men in the house were trying to buy cookie sheets for Diana. We found them at one store, but upon unanimous consensus felt that we should look for some larger sheets. We never found any, so after taking the boys home I went back to buy two of the originals. Later, when I arrived home with the bag, Aaron and Diana greeted me at the door where Aaron said, “Are those the cookie sheets for mommy?” Diana said, “Oh well, I’ll act surprised.”

What has struck me most in the past week is how differently Diana and I think about this season as compared to the boys. The guys can’t wait for Christmas to come and their days go by very slowly. We panic at the realization of how close Christmas is and how quickly time races toward it.

That is an anomaly of life. The older you get, the faster the time goes by and the more you realize that life is very short. As the Scriptures say, we need to redeem the time for the days are evil.”

The cycles of life are good for us. Imagine if there were no years to mark the advance of time. Opportunities would not exist to evaluate the past year and make new commitments to truly become more like Christ.

The Heat of Temptation

This is the 13th of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys …

As most of you know, our family recently went on a brief vacation trip to Boston. We hit all the major landmarks of the city and area – Bunker Hill, the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s house, the Freedom Trail, Plymouth Rock, etc.

As we were returning to New Jersey, we asked the boys what three things they liked most about our vacation. Benjamin and Aaron – being too young to anticipate what we probably wanted to hear – spoke out honestly. “We liked eating in the restaurants, riding on the subway trains, and staying in the motel,” they said.

But Nathan, the consummate politician sweetly responded, “I really liked the historical sites the most.”

HA!! Sure you did!

I know for sure what Nathan liked least on our vacation. It was something he ate at a Chili’s Restaurant. Chili’s was one of our favorite Texas eateries during the Dallas Seminary years. We haven’t been to one in years, so when we saw a Chili’s on Cape Cod, the car just pulled us off the road and into the lot.

You need to understand that Nathan is typical of many people born in Texas – a bit arrogant about their roots! Nathan constantly reminds us of the “nationality” of his birth and how he is going to live in the Lone Star State someday. The kid sees himself as a true son of Texas. It drive me a bit nuts! He even likes the Rangers baseball team!

Diana and I ordered cheese nachos, which are traditionally served with a slice of jalapeno (super-hot) pepper in the middle. Diana was removing the peppers and laying them aside. So I said to Nathan, “You know Nathan, real Texans eat those peppers for snacks.” And he said, “Well I’m a real Texan so let me try one.” He did, and it wasn’t too bad. He even claimed it tasted good. So he took several more, threw them into his mouth and took a big bite.

Suddenly his eyes began to water, he started moaning loudly and quickly drank a glass of water. Then he reached across the table and grabbed Benjamin’s water, then Aaron’s, and then ours. As he cried, the waitress brought him more and more water. I felt badly for him but had to laugh at the same time – it was a sight! After a while the fire was extinguished, but he sure suffered in the process.

Sometimes Christian people are tempted to be something other than what they really are. We feel high-pressured by the world around us to take a taste of an item we are told is “hot.” Not heeding the warning, we try it. Often, the first taste is quite nice. But the further we go, the more the heat builds, and soon we have been burned by our foolishness. In time, and with the Lord’s forgiving assistance, the effects of the fire can be remedied. But oh the pain during the process.

Let us be a people that learn and run from those “hot” temptations of the world system. In a sense, it does us well to be “cool” in Christ.

The Little Boy’s Mite

This is the 12th of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys …

As most of you know, our family recently went on a brief vacation trip to Boston. We hit all the major landmarks of the city and area – Bunker Hill, the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s house, the Freedom Trail, Plymouth Rock, etc.

As we were returning to New Jersey, we asked the boys what three things they liked most about our vacation. Benjamin and Aaron – being too young to anticipate what we probably wanted to hear – spoke out honestly. “We liked eating in the restaurants, riding on the subway trains, and staying in the motel,” they said.

But Nathan, the consummate politician sweetly responded, “I really liked the historical sites the most.”

HA!! Sure you did!

I know for sure what Nathan liked least on our vacation. It was something he ate at a Chile’s Restaurant. Chile’s was one of our favorite Texas eateries during the Dallas Seminary years. We haven’t been to one in years, so when we saw a Chile’s on Cape Cod, the car just pulled us off the road and into the lot.

You need to understand that Nathan is typical of many people born in Texas – a bit arrogant about their roots! Nathan constantly reminds us of the “nationality” of his birth and how he is going to live in the Lone Star State someday. The kid sees himself as a true son of Texas. It drive me a bit nuts! He even likes the Rangers baseball team!

Diana and I ordered cheese nachos, which are traditionally served with a slice of jalapeno (super-hot) pepper in the middle. Diana was removing the peppers and laying them aside. So I said to Nathan, “You know Nathan, real Texans eat those peppers for snacks.” And he said, “Well I’m a real Texan so let me try one.” He did, and it wasn’t too bad. He even claimed it tasted good. So he took several more, threw them into his mouth and too a big bite.

Suddenly his eyes began to water, he started moaning loudly and quickly drank a glass of water. Then he reached across the table and grabbed Benjamin’s water, then Aaron’s, and then ours. As he cried, the waitress brought him more and more water. I felt badly for him but had to laugh at the same time – it was a sight! After a while the fire was extinguished, but he sure suffered in the process.

Sometimes Christian people are tempted to be something other than what they really are. We feel high-pressured by the world around us to take a taste of an item we are told is “hot.” Not heeding the warning, we try it. Often, the first taste is quite nice. But the further we go, the more the heat builds, and soon we have been burned by our foolishness. In time, and with the Lord’s forgiving assistance, the effects of the fire can be remedied. But oh the pain during the process.

Let us be a people that learn and run from those “hot” temptations of the world system. In a sense, it does us well to be “cool” in Christ.

The Raccoon and the Devil

This is the 11th of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys …

Like I said, “Oh well, what’s another boy?” Actually, this is good to have a new little one coming along to say funny things that I can write about. I have noticed that as my first three get older, they say and do much less that is really funny.

I thought it would be a nice fatherly type of thing to do to give Diana a break with baby Jesse and take my three older boys camping overnight. So, the day after Labor Day we packed the gear in the car and took off for High Point State Park.

The kids thought it was great, and I’ll even admit that it was a good time with them. It is amazing how dirty three boys can get in just 24 hours in the woods. When we came home the next day, I stopped at a Dairy Queen with the guys. The waitress looked at us and said, “You guys look like you’ve been camping.” I thought, “Oh, do we really look that bad?”

Just as I figured, the campground was rather sparsely used the day we went. There were only a few others in tents around the lake. I am sure that before the previous evening the campground had been nightly filled with happy campers and their inevitable garbage. What a great place for raccoons! 

Yes, it was just after dark, as we were finishing our hot dogs and getting the marshmallows out, that the first masked bandit rustled through the weeds. Soon, more eyes pierced the darkness, reflecting only the glow of the camp fire. These guys were hungry, and their summer bull market of feasting opportunities had crashed.

“Three sloppy little boys!” said one coon to the other. “Yeah, what an opportunity,” replied the second. “We’re going to eat well tonight. There’s no way that middle-sized blonde kid isn’t going to drop at least one hot dog on the ground! Look! There it goes … what’d I tell ya? … Oh gross, his father is making him put it back in the roll!”  “Drat,” said the first. “But look over at the fire … yeah … right near the youngest kid’s foot; it’s a marshmallow! Go, make a break for it!”

Suddenly a scream from Aaron pierced the darkness. Fearing that he had fallen into the fire, I rushed to him. Through the wailing he stammered something like, “wa oush esh thesh eeech desst yesh!!!”  Nathan translated: “He said that a raccoon was right by his feet.” Calming just a bit, Aaron said, “He wanted to bite me and give me ray-di-bees!”

“I’m so tired. Please daddy, please, can we go to bed now?” pleaded Benjamin. “Yes please, let’s just get into the tent,” whimpered Aaron.

It was time for fatherly action! I took the basin of warm dish water and scored a direct hit. The soaked raccoon raced up the nearest tree to dry off, and we had enough peace to finish our chores.

The next morning I took our trash to the dumpster, opened the lid, and there was our raccoon, fast asleep.

As much as I tried to get rid of that raccoon, he was always there, nearby. A couple of times I thought he had been chased away, but he kept coming back.

It reminds me of the sin nature. It is never really entirely gone. It haunts us around the fringes of our lives – seeking an opportunity to take advantage – a weak moment when we are not paying attention. And even when the sun rises on a new day of the spiritual commitment, we must not think that the flesh is far away. It is just catching a few winks until a darker time descends once again.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.”

Inevitability of Change

This is the 10th of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys …

I am completely backed against the wall for time as I sit and write. In fact, I told Karen Smith (church secretary) that I was going to just write something quick rather than the usual thing about my boys. But then Karen reminded me that this is probably my last shot a “3” sons article.

Someone asked what I would name the article after the baby came, and I said, “Life with My Four Sons.” Yes, my faith is gone, although you may continue to pray pink! Liz Stott had a good idea in the event of a girl. She said I could call the column “Life with My Three Brothers” and write it from the perspective of Bethany (that’s the baby’s name – boy or girl!).

My sister in Baltimore is having the boys visit her for some vacation time this summer. Aaron was crying the other night and said, “What if my brothers go away and grow up before the baby comes and then I won’t have anybody to play with!”

Once again, our lives are going to change. We’ve been out of diapers for a long time!

But change is inevitable. In fact, it is the way it should be. We are constantly to be changing, to be becoming more like Christ.

Change can be painful. We like to hang on to what we are comfortable with and know. It takes faith to step out into what is new and different.

I thank all of you who have stuck with us in these days of inevitable change at First Baptist. All we have is the future; the past is already gone. But we have Christ to guide us, so the future in that light is not nearly so fearful. He is our goal, and yet at the same time is our strength – we cannot fail.

(The reference to change at the church was because the long-term senior pastor had recently departed to take on a missions agency leadership position. I would later become the senior pastor for four more years before moving to Maryland, but that was not entirely anticipated at the time of this writing. And here we are in Maryland with a pastoral change of sorts – Chris getting married tomorrow. But churches are bigger and more lasting than the cast of characters who pastor them and come and go.)

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball

This is the 9th of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys …

Most of you know how much I like baseball. This is really quite remarkable since my little league experience was a disaster. My first experiences with baseball were so bad that you would think I’d hate the game for life. In my first two years, I never once touched the ball with the bat. I was the other team’s favorite player.

Nathan is now the same age I was for my first year of little league, and he is on his first hardball team. He is even playing on the same field I did 27 years ago. He recently played in his first game, and I was so nervous I hardly sat down at all on the folding chair I brought.

Pitch one – swing and a miss. Oh no, I thought, he has Buchmanitis (and acute disorder wherein the eyes, arms, and hands do not function in rhythmic order pertaining to the striking of spherical projectiles).

Pitch two – swing and a massive foul ball that struck the backstop with great force. A small sense of relief came over me – that’s more than I ever did. Yeah. That’s what I can tell him if he misses the next pitch.

Pitch three – Another foul tip … just barely.

Pitch four – Solid contact! A massive shot!  I yelled, “Run Nathan Run!”  At last the ball was retrieved by the pitcher, but not before Nathan had crossed the bag at first base. It was a hit, fair and square. He eventually scored, and with the smile of a World Series champion … for he had accomplished more than his dad ever did at that age.

I’m sure there are times when God looks at us something like a nervous father. He wants us to do well. In life and service, He desires that we “hit” and “score.” But we so often feel that He should do it all for us, as if He were our permanent pinch hitter and pinch runner. But just as I didn’t step in and do it for Nathan, God will not always step in and fix it all for us. He will provide the encouragement and give us skills we need, but our responsibility is to be faithful with what we have been given and to develop our talents for His glory.

How’s your batting practice coming?

We are God’s T-Ball Team

This is the 8th of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys …

We have reached another milestone in our family life that again sounds a chime on the ever advancing clock of my own life. Nathan is now a little league ballplayer.

Frankly, this is one of the things that I have most looked forward to as a father of little boys – the day that my guys would begin their athletic careers. And most of you know about my personal theology of baseball – that it was created by God early in the book of Genesis and will appear again in its perfect form in the eternal state. It is God’s favorite game (which is why He does not care that much about what happens to the Cowboys).

Actually, I’ve gotten more than I bargained for this season with Harmony Township T-Ball. A man called and asked if I would be a helper. He called back and asked if I would be an assistant coach. The third time he called, he told me that there were too many kids for one team and I was needed to coach the new second team.

Really, it has been a great experience and a marvelous opportunity to meet many unbelievers. BUT, T-Ball is no place for a connoisseur of the world’s greatest sport. Me watching T-Ball is like Charles Stanley listening to Rodney Dangerfield preach, or like Luciano Pavarotti listening to Johnny Cash attempt to sing “The Marriage of Figaro.”

The typical batter may actually hit the ball on the third or fourth swing. When this happens, coaches and parents from all directions begin yelling orders to their players. Inevitably, the ball goes between the legs of the first defensive player, who has no idea what is happening anyhow because he is standing there thinking about balloons. The second defensive player falls down in front of the ball, stopping its progress somewhere beneath his body. All of the other players (who are not looking longingly at the younger children on the nearby playground equipment) make a dash to be the first to pick up the ball for the throw to first base. However, the winner is unable to muster much of a toss since he is surround by angry players who lost the scramble. As the throw slowly rolls in the general direction of first base, the batter is now heading into third base. No problem however, because the runner at first base when the ball was hit is still there, not realizing that a play is in progress, as he was thinking about flying kites at the beach. As the coaches retrieve the ball and establish order, everyone else congratulates all of the players for their brilliant effort. Sometimes it gets so wild that there is no way to intervene and stop it – you just have to laugh and wait until they are done.

God must look at our actions sometimes and watch us seriously attempt the game of life, only to laugh at our silly plays and futile efforts. I fear that many times in church life we are trying to get the runner at first base when the real play to be made is at third!

Just as it takes time to learn the game of baseball and practice to play it well, so also the Christian life takes time and experience to succeed. The Scriptures say that we should study to show ourselves approved unto God. In baseball talk, this means that we must be a student of the game, learning and applying all that we can so that we strike out less and make fewer errors in the field.

Isn’t that much like our goals in the Christian life – to strike out less and make fewer errors? Let us be students of the game and students of the Book.

Good Gifts from Dad

This is the 7th of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys …

Wives, if you think you’ve got a difficult husband situation, you should put yourselves in Diana’s shoes for just a moment.

Our dog – the ugly white one that I didn’t like very much – just disappeared one day early in January. We never found any information as to what happened. The kids were a bit upset, and I’ll admit I even missed seeing the dog run out to greet me when I pull into the driveway.

I was checking the SPCA about once a week to see if the critter might show up there. After several weeks with no success, a cage of nice little beagle-type puppies caught my eye. After about a good 15 to 20 seconds of consideration, I reached in, grabbed the one closest to the door, paid $15 and brought it home in a brown grocery bag.

On the way home it began to dawn upon me that Diana might not appreciate the surprise quite as much as the boys. I needed help, so I stopped at the church office to solicit some prayer support from the secretary. I was also interested in securing overnight arrangements in the event that I would be sent to the doghouse sooner than the puppy.

I called the family together, and even before the kids opened the bag to see what was inside, Diana’s lips were formed into a hard, thin line. Her head was drooped, her eyes rolled upward, and she was inhaling a long, deep breath. I could tell you more, but this is an article on life with my three sons, not life with my long-enduring and forgiving wife.

The boys flipped out – it was great! Every night, they come to me and hug me and thank me for bringing them the puppy. And it is the puppy now that stands in need of prayer – a moment of peace is difficult to come by for this dog.

It was a delight for me to give the boys a good gift that they liked so much. In Matthew 7:7-11 we read that God, our heavenly father, is more ready to give good gifts to his children than we loving, yet imperfect fathers are willing to give good gifts to our children. We earthly fathers have our imperfections, our self-centeredness. We are “evil.”  God, having no imperfections, is even more ready to give good gifts to his children.

We should therefore, with all of the spontaneity of a child, ask for what we want; and beyond that we may expect that we have a wise Father who will love us and give it to us if it is good for us to have.

Shifting Blame – It’s a Natural Kid Thing

This is the 6th of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys …

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is for little children to admit that they have done something wrong?

At our house, it is always “my brother” who was wrong. It is always the other guy who “took that away from me” or “hit me first.”

Even at age two they are able to shift the blame for a fault. Aaron has the same habit as his older brothers of helping himself to the cookies and crackers in the pantry (the all-time most frequently-committed crime in our house).

One day after getting into the cheerios and wheat chex he got his animal friends out, lined them up, and then gave them a mommy-like lecture … “Why did you make this mess; I’m going to spank your bottom!”

Around that same time he took Diana’s face firmly in his hands and sternly said, “Look at me, were you a bad boy; did you get the crackers out?”

Surely though, none of you will be surprised to hear that Benjamin has been the worst for getting food out of the pantry, refrigerator, freezer, etc. He has been spanked innumerable times for these capers. What I can’t believe about him is that when he sees you coming at him, he will quickly stuff as much as he can in his mouth before the spanking hits.

One day I went to our chest freezer in the cellar and found a bag of thawed chicken parts on the lid. An investigation of three local suspects yielded nothing. I took them to the basement and to the scene of the crime, where Benjamin accidentally confessed by saying, “That felt like a bag of bones yesterday.”

At the supper table, Nathan is a typical little boy with the bad habit of wiping his hands on his pants. Diana was particularly concerned one night recently when we had beets with the meal. Sure enough, the dirty hands headed under the table and Diana said, “Nathan, did you just wipe your hands on your pants?” And he said, “No mommy, I really didn’t.” She said, “Yes you did, I saw you do it!”  Nathan said, “I really didn’t because I wiped them on the chair!”

Nathan can also at times make profound theological observations. Not long ago he had a mild head cold, which for Nathan is a major disease (he has been incredibly healthy and in fact has not missed a Wednesday night Awana meeting in three years). He was frustrated with constantly having to blow his nose and said, “I wish Adam and Eve had never sinned because then we wouldn’t get colds!”

Speaking of Adam and Eve, not only were they the first sinners, but they were also the first to shift the blame for what they had done. Adam blamed the “woman you gave me” and Eve blamed the serpent.

David went for months with unconfessed sin, knowing it was wrong, yet unwilling to face it. He couldn’t get away from it, saying, “My sin is ever before me.” But in time, David faced his sin, confessed it, and experienced God’s forgiveness.

Theologically, confession is agreeing with God as to the nature of sin – calling it what it is – seeing it as God sees it.

How very often though we are like little children – unwilling to face our wrong and call it what it is: sin.