They Call Me Mr. H

They call me Mr. H. 

I'm a volunteer in my youngest's class. Their teacher, the amazing Mrs. B, is a kindergarten whisperer. I am sure of it. She posses super powers of instruction and order. Kindergarteners can not resist. Enamored as if spell bound. I can see why. She loves them. It shows.

Her own hyphenated surname demanded succinctness for the precious one’s continually calling it. She became Mrs. B. Over the weeks she has gently, with continual modeling, changed my moniker from “John Mark’s Dad” to “Mr. H.” And so I am.  

Yesterday morning I was about my normal volunteer routine. Writing stories for 15 minutes each with three boys. Improvement is evident. Their language skills. Their vocabulary. Their penmanship. I am blessed to observe these changes for just a few minutes each week with each young man. These encounters go something like this.

Little guy comes to my volunteer table. I stand, yet stoop, to give a man-worthy greeting. A fist bump. A high five. A hand shake. We settle into our stubby chairs. I ask him to read me the last story he wrote while assessing if I can decipher his words as he reads to me. Then we engage in Q&A to find a story we might write together. Once the topic is settled, we begin writing one “turtle talk” sounded out letter at a time. In 15 minutes we have recorded a real life story from their own unique kindergarten boy perspective. It’s delightful. 

And then: Lunch. I go too. And then: Recess! I play too. Tag and soccer and anything the kids wanna play. I make a daddyfied fool of myself. It is delightful. Really. 

Hearing, “Goodbye Mr. H,” ring out from little friend’s voices I felt thoroughly satisfied with life. So fortunate. I love my wife. I love my kids. I love my church. I love my town. And what have I done to merit such grace? I am so thoroughly blessed. 

A text, “Have you seen the news?” News app openned. Delight shattered. Sandy Hook Elementary. Newtown, Connecticut. Visceral response. Heart pounding. Mind racing. Face flushing. Spirit bursting. Eyes welling. Guilt crashing.

I was just in a kindergarten class. My son’s class. And then.

This. Monstrous. Unthinkable. This. Across the country yet so close to home.

Details I do not want to know. Grief I can not imagine. Lives forever changed. And a question to which no answer will ever be enough: Why? 

Our world contains wickedness. Our minds are capable of atrocities. Our hearts betray evil.

Yet this same world contains love. Minds to create solutions. Hearts breaking with compassion.

Come together, My Friends. Grief. Mourn. Wail. Pray. Comfort. Love.

Love others. Love them beyond what is natural. Love them as Christ giving himself. Love them to delight. Love them. And make a difference. To everyone you meet.

They call me Mr. H.

H is for heartbroken.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Coming Judgment

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—

a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.

Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste—
nothing escapes them.

They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.

With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.

At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
every face turns pale.

The words of Joel 2:1-6 NIV. Words of coming judgment. Words of warning terror.

Can you imagine such a sight? The sound? The foreboding? The devastation to follow? Locust plagues still occur today. One locust, commonly known as a grasshopper, is small thing. An inch or two long. Millions of locusts, however, are a devasting force. For acres and miles.

God loved His people, Judah. Yet His people, enjoying the prosperity of His blessing, had grown away from Him. Worship had become ritual. Life had become selfish.

In His everlasting, covenant love, God needed to capture the attention of His people. By His sovereign power, God brought a locust plague to do it. Inspired by God, Joel prophesied of a greater judgment coming, the Day of the Lord, with the plague of locust as his terrible, unavoidable illustration.

God’s judgment would be swift, thorough, and absolute. Every person—eldest to youngest, richest to poorest, positioned to humbled—would be effected (2:15-17). Every person should return to God (2:12-13). Every person should humble themselves before God in broken confession and genuine repentance. 

Then, in response to the genuine return of His people, God would relent of the judgment Joel warned of (2:18). Then, because of His grace, God would pout out His Spirit on people and everyone who calls on Him will be saved (2:28-32).

The Book of Joel is of uncertain date. With no kings or major events to tie it to. And Joel himself is a bit of a mystery. A common name with little other than his father’s name to describe him by. At three chapters and just 73 verse you can read it in about 10 minutes. Yet Joel still has a message of warning for us today.

When was the last time you endured some calamity, even tragedy, in your life? 

Did you turn your attention to having a right relationship with God in the midst of it?

God loves you enough that He will either allow or cause negative circumstances in order to turn you back toward Him. He is gracious and compassionate (2:13) and He will save (2:32). Return to him. Before judgment comes. 

This post, based on the Old Testament Book of Joel, is the second in a twelve-week survey series, Major Stuff from the Minor Prophets. To receive future posts automatically, please subscribe to the site via RSS or FeedBurner.

Stop Hiding

"One of the problems with pride is that we can see it so easily in others, but not in ourselves," writes Jerry Bridges.

Gregory Frizzell adds, "Pride is a subtle sin so easily overlooked... True revival always begins with deep humility and brokenness over sin."

How should I overcome my hidden pride to find humility and revival?

  • Assess myself honestly. Psalm 139:23-24 begs, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." God knows all our faults. We can't hide from him. Why don't we stop hiding from ourselves?
  • Seek true humility. Psalm 51:17 confesses, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." God gives grace to the humble.  Don't we need all the grace as we can get?
  • Identify with humanity. Ezra 9:6 laments, "O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens." We are part of a fallen race. Will you joining in confession together?
  • Confess wholeheartedly. 1 John 1:9 promises, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Naming it alone does not suffice. Turning from pride and sin, can't we give ourselves fully to God?

As we are broken and humble, we are moved to repentance and turning from sin, God offers gracious forgivenness, we expererience new freedom in Christ, that infuses us with greater love for God and others, resulting in more powerful worship of God, and bringing us to new depths of humility in His awesome presence. This is the cycle of revival.  A spiritual flywheel that gains momentum by the Holy Spirit as we continually lean in.

Hidden pride is powerful.

Sin has power in secret.

Sin exposed becomes powerless.

Stop hiding from yourself.

You are the only one you are fooling.

In Suffering

I am young.  I don't know much.

But I have learned.

God.  In His sovereignty.  Has purpose.

In suffering.

How have you suffered?

Hurting.  Broken.  Rejected.  Weak.  Anxious.  Humiliated.  Worried.  Mistreated.  Ridiculed.  Depressed. Insulted.  Ashamed.  Despised.  Questioned.  Downcast.  Sick.  Diseased.  Wrestling.  Discouraged. Sleepless. Slandered.  Exhausted.  Overcome.  Spent.  Done.

Suffering.  Each of them.

God.  Has purpose.

In suffering.

Walking through suffering with Christ & one another will draw us closer & make us stronger.  Closer & stronger than we ever dreamed.

Walking through suffering with Christ & one another will grow greater love within us.  Greater than we ever imagined.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.  Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)

Glory to God.

In suffering.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)

Glory to God.

In suffering.