"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Jesus did not say that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children...what He said is that the kingdom of God will be filled with people like children. In other words, being a child does not automatically mean you go to heaven (ie: age of accountability...but that's another blog for another time)...but being like a child is what gets us into heaven.
I've always had a vague understanding of what this meant until baby Sophia was born. I have spent the last twelve days holding our brand new baby girl and being amazed by her utter reliance on mom and dad. When I hold her in my arms, I can't help but note how she is so extremely small, and weak, and fragile, and....helpless. Helpless is really the key word. She can't even hold her own head up straight. She's stuck wherever I lay her down and she can't even change her position if she's uncomfortable because her muscles and fine motor skills are not yet developed. When she is startled she can't protect herself, she can only jerk and flail her arms in an brief uncoordinated moment. She can't do anything. She can't feed herself, burp herself, change herself, swaddle herself. She brings nothing to the table. Nothing. But she can cry. And when she cries strong, safe arms swoop down and pick that little baby up out of whatever predicament is ailing her. Liliya and I love that small, helpless little girl with a deep and powerful love and we would do anything, give everything for her. All she needs to do is cry.
That is what Jesus means when He says that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. He is looking for people who know they bring nothing to the table; who do not rely on their own abilities...but who are weak, helpless, meek and humble. All we need to do is cry out to Him and He will swoop down as a loving Father to save His beloved child. That is it. Salvation is not complicated...all you need to do is open your mouth and cry.
Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, save me!”...The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. -Psalm 116
Sophia Lily Enfiedjian is born! We just got back home with our 7 lb bundle of joy! God was so good and faithful to us while we were in the hospital. He provided us with the most amazing, kind, and caring nurses anyone could ever ask for (a special thanks to Terri and Angie, you ladies were incredible). We are glad to be home and are going to spend some time adjusting to new family life. Thanks for all your prayers!
Holy moly! Liliya and I are about to have a baby in just a couple more days! Our life is about to change forever as we get ready for the birth of baby Sophia! We’re really excited and very ready and it’s been a long and awesome process of preperation! There have been a lot of lessons that I’ve learned over the last 9 months as I’ve watched my wife’s belly grow and stretch, but none of them have been as pogniant to me as this: The pregnancy process perfectly parallels the Christian’s present progress through life: from new birth to final glory. So bear with me as I try to stretch things a bit.
It starts with a seed...a spark. New life. Something miraculous and mysterious happens on the molecular level and new life comes into being. This life is simple and primitive in its’ first phase, but it quickly grows and progresses, accumulating new abilities. Soon, the ear drums develop and baby catches its’ first hearing of momma’s voice; the first hint at a greater reality beyond the placenta and umbilical chord. The womb is not her final destination, though she does not know it yet. Occasionally, things from this outside world press themselves upon baby’s simple, small sphere: a police siren, a barking dog, bright light shining through the window, a loving rub from an expectant papa...all evidences of this greater reality bumping into baby's world. Yet, the details of that reality remain scarce...and the instances happen with rarity, so baby settles back into her safe, soft little world thinking that this is all there is for her. In the mean time, all of the cells in her body are growing, expanding, pressing, preparing for their 'real life' in the ultimate reality. All of the things she will need to exist in the real world are being formed in her. Her senses are coming in: sight and smell; her skin is filling in with fat cells to keep her warm. The womb is not her home and her body is making sure it's prepared for its final state of existence. And so baby grows...and grows...and grows... and soon she has grown so much that there is no longer any room left for her in her once soft and spacious womb. She has been fully matured and it’s time for her to leave. Contractions begin. It is a traumatizing experience; frightful in every sense of the word. She is squeezed down and out of everything she's ever known and everything she is familiar with. She's pressed out of a tiny tube...out and into the light. Steady hands grab her, and light floods into her small pupils. Her lungs breathe in real air for the first time, doing what they were always intended to do. She has entered into the world she was created for...a world much more marvelous than should could have ever conceived or imagined. She is...Alive.
So, that is the process that I have got to experience for the last 9 months (well, most of it anyway). Everything my daughter is experiencing in the womb is preparing her for her ‘real’ life...for existing in the ultimate reality. The time in the womb...though in her mind is the end and the only state of being (because it is all she ever known), is in fact, only the preparation process for what she was actually created for. Let us always remember that our time in this world is simply a time of preperation for our true state of being...for our ultimate reality...a reality far more marvelous than we could ever dream up or imagine. I can't wait to see what it's like on the other side!
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"
I've been thinking a lot about our selfish, "me"-mentality when it comes to the gospel. Most of the thoughts stem from a lesson I taught to my Jr. Highers last week from 1 Timothy 2 where Paul says we should pray for ALL men, because God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. God wants ALL men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. God wants to bestow His blessing and benefits and goodness and kindness on ALL men. Why is it, then, that I so rarely think about "all men"? Why is it that we so often let the gospel stop with us? Why do we partake in the benefits and blessing of the gospel and neglect to share those blessings with others who so desperately need them? We forget that outside of our happy little Christian bubbles people are lost, confused, hurting, hungry, broken and blind. I live my happy little Christian life filled with joy and peace and purpose, and I completely forget that so many others continue on, wandering about in darkness, looking for a way out, only not quite sure where to find it. We don't think of the masses of humanity at the movie theater, or Six Flags, or the U2 concert as lost, as needy, as searching; but the truth of the matter is, they are. Each face in the crowd represents a different story of dispair, of hopelessness, of confusion, of meaninglessness. We forget about the business executives wandering down Wall Street trying to fill their life with something that'll never satisfy them. We forget about the single girls who fill up the bars on Friday night trying to find "love". We forget that outside of our nice, warm, loving, God-centered family, that there are families filled with violence and hatred, and screaming and pain, because they know no other way. We assume that everyone's lives are as good as ours. But they're not. We assume that everyone has the peace, and joy, and purpose that we have. But they don't. We have something that other people do not have. We have been recipients of God's grace, and we enjoy special benefits and blessings that most others do not. We know who we are, why we're here, and where we are headed. But so many others do not know the answers to these most fundamental questions. We have answers that people need and the hope that people long for. So I'm issuing a call. This is a call to again see humanity's lostness...This is a call to again pray for their salvation...that God would mend their broken hearts the way he has mended mine and yours...and this is a call to not only be recipients of God's grace, but distributers of it.
God speed, dear soldier.
Desiring greatness is not a sin. I think on some level, all of us desire to be great; to have power, presence, and influence that can be used for the Lord. Whether you want to be a great mom, a great soccer player, a great teacher, a great architect or a great musician, I don't believe these desires are wrong in and of themselves, but I believe they can become wrong when the desire to be great supplants the desire to be godly.
As a young pastor, I have a lot of men who I very much look up to. Every morning I go running and during my runs I listen to some of the world's best preachers: John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, James MacDonald, Matt Chandler and the like. I pick apart every aspect of their sermons: their speech, their cadence, their word choices, their pauses, their illustrations and their passion. I think, "Wow! These guys are incredible! They really know their stuff, they are passionate about God, they are great communicators of His truth, and they are effecting large numbers of people for the kingdom! I want to be like them!" In the bottom of my heart, I want to have a ministry like theirs and to be as effective as they are. But that's the problem...I want to be like them. My desire is to be like these great men...when in reality, the only reason these men are great, is because they are godly! The only reason these men are effective is because they earnestly desire to know and love the Lord. That is why God blesses them and entrusts them with awesome ministries; that is why they are able to speak boldly without the fear of man, that is why they have such effective ministries. They are great only because they are godly.
God has been really challenging me with this lately. I should not desire to be a great pastor...I should desire to be a great God-lover. I should not desire anything else but to know God, love God, and please God. If I desire anything else above that, I will sabotage all that God intends for me to be. He should be my greatest and highest longing. Love Him more than anything else, desire Him more than anything else. Truly, there is nothing greater than loving God and being in the center of His will; it is in this that we become great. True greatness comes only from godliness!
Seek first the kingdom of God....