To the mom of the toddler who won’t stop crying on the plane…

I know it seems unbearable right now, with your toddler crying and you feeling like everyone is upset and frustrated with you and your kid. But that’s not what I’m feeling. I’m not mad at you at all. In fact, I’m sad. Not sad for you, sad for me. Your crying little boy reminds me of my own and the fact that my kids are almost grown. Believe it or not I’m actually a little envious.

I have so loved being a parent. I can’t believe this chapter of life is nearing its end. Our youngest son is graduating this year. It’s gone by so unbelievably fast. Like a paperback read far too quickly, I can sense the end of the story is near, as the number of pages remaining are far too thin in my hand. And I’m sad. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I started this book? Wasn’t it just yesterday I was hurling throw pillows at my boys as they ran across the living room squealing with joy? How can it be that my little man will never again jump off the top of the couch onto my back while I’ve got his brother pinned to the ground?” I remember wondering each time I tossed him up on my shoulders as he grew bigger and bigger, “Is this the last time I get to give one of my kids a piggy back ride? Somewhere along the line that last one finally did happen, and somehow I can’t remember it no matter how hard I try.  How is it possible that I’ll never have to threaten to pull the car over, or tell the boys to go to their room? When was the last time I made them apologize like they meant it? “Say it again.” “Say it again.” “Say it again!” “Now hug.”

How I loved reading a chapter of Narnia each night until they drifted off to sleep. How great was it to lay next to them in bed in the pitch dark and answer random questions that suddenly felt safe to ask? How wonderful to try to explain how big God is and how great His love for them.

There’s plenty I wish I had done differently. I wish I hadn’t been a workaholic for a few of those years. I wish I’d had family devotions more often. I wish I’d taken them to see their grandparents more. There were so many times I had no idea what to do, and it’s scary to think how much we actually winged this parenting thing. But I refuse to beat myself up for mistakes made, for opportunities lost. We did the best we could, with what we knew to do at the time. And somehow, the kids turned out okay. Even the teenage years were way better than advertised. It hasn’t been anywhere near the nightmare that others warned us about. In fact, it’s been exactly the opposite.  We’ve loved parenting; every chapter, every page of their childhood.

Now, I know that parenting doesn’t stop when the kids leave home. And I know there will likely be grandchildren in our house someday, with toys on the floor and smudges on the windows. And I suspect we will always have teenagers in our lives and in our home.  But let me grieve the ending of this story, just for a moment.  What a fantastic book.  And I can’t wait for the sequel.

And mom of the crying toddler? I hope you enjoy your story just as much as I did. Because it won’t be long till you’re sitting in my seat.



So the election didn’t go your way?

Me either. Most would label me a Conservative Christian. I live in Washington State. And believe it or not, after the election this week I may be living in the most liberal State in the Union. On Tuesday, Washington became one of only 3 states to approve gay marriage by a vote of the people (along with Maine and Maryland), one of only 2 states to approve recreational pot smoking (along with Colorado) and we are already one of only 3 states who made assisted suicide legal (along with Oregon and Montana). It’s the trifecta of liberalism today. We have all three and we are the only State to have even 2 of the 3. Yes, I voted anyway this week, and everything I voted for failed. Candidates, social issues, fiscal policies; everything.  Wait, come to think of it there was one race where I had to choose between a Democrat and a guy from the Green Party. I think I picked the winner in that one but honestly I’m not sure.

But I’m not angry. I’m not whining. And I’m not moving out of the country.

Honestly, I’m tired of reading the vitriol and the ignorant rants of disillusioned Conservative Christians since the election. And it’s so not helping our cause.

Why should we be shocked that the culture does not agree with us? Is this new? Exactly when did we become convinced that our job was to create heaven here on earth? Did we somehow believe we were supposed to create some sort of Theocracy?

If this is you, you are in good company, however. The disciples too, were of the same mindset. They thought Jesus had come to establish His kingdom here on earth. But they were wrong. Dead wrong. Acts 1:5-7  His Kingdom is an Eternal one, and it’s not here and now. If you were crushed by the results of the election then it’s possible that you have bought into the same deception as the disciples before the resurrection.

Forgive me, but I was under the impression that this is not our home.  That our citizenship lies elsewhere. That we are ambassadors in a strange land. I see myself as a missionary to a people who do not know the Lord, to a people who have rejected my God. I am trying to be a missionary to people whose opinions of Christians are being shaped by the stupidity being spouted by those who are fed up and disillusioned by the results of this election.

Stop it. Change your mindset. Remember that this place is not our home. We are strangers, foreigners, missionaries, ambassadors. I’m not saying give up. On the contrary, stand up for what you believe in. Vote. Engage with respect. But most of all show love to those who believe differently. How I long for the day when Christ-followers are known more for what we love rather than what we hate. Jesus himself said as much, that we should be known for our love. John 13:34-35

People mostly free associate a Christian as an old white guy, with a placard, standing on the steps of the courthouse shouting about something he hates. Things will never change in this country until we flip this. We must become known for how excellently we love instead of being known for the things we hate. We must change, and the change I’m talking about is a change in our actions and attitudes, not party affiliation.

We will never create heaven on earth, so stop trying. Disappointment comes from unmet expectations, or in this case unrealistic expectations. I challenge you to be missional instead. Christ’s mission was to “seek and to save the lost.” As a Christ follower we are to follow him in His mission. His mission becomes our mission. And if that’s the case, as missional people, where should we want to live? Where the lost are abundant!

Jesus called us to be salt, not a salt lick. If we all bunch together that’s exactly what we end up becoming, a salt lick. In effect, we have abandoned the rotting flesh that our saltiness can preserve, and are saying, “you can come to us if you decide you need salt.”

Again, I challenge you, if you live where there are a bunch of folks who don’t believe like you do, please don’t move. Stay put and be salty. Dig into your community, love on your neighbors who believe opposite of you… you will discover they are not the enemy. If on the other hand, you live where there are a high percentage of Christians, people who think and believe like you, I challenge you to be missional and MOVE. Leave the place of comfort and go to the place of challenge and mission.

And when you move, move to Ohio. 🙂

~Mark Moder

Here’s a couple of my related blogposts you might enjoy:

Youth Ministry is like Dog Years (multiply by 7).

Today is the 4th Anniversary of my journey with Youth Dynamics. And while 4 years doesn’t seem significant in relation to my 27 years of youth ministry, it is. Amazingly, 4 yrs is longer than I was on staff at Real Life, longer than I had Reach the Campus, longer than I coached youth pastors with Life On Life. In fact, only my tenure at New Life was longer. At each new job, I honestly always believed I would stay longer, kinda like I thought I would marry every girl I ever dated, but it just didn’t always work out they way I had hoped. As youth workers, often we are not in control of our own destiny. In a couple of situations, pastoral transitions were the impetus for me leaving, in others it was lack of finances; once it was a boss that had a different vision for my life than the Lord and I did. All but once I felt a sense of completion, like I had finished the work the Lord has asked me to do. But for the last 4 years I have been the guy in charge, and this seems to be a game-changer. Never again will change be foisted on me without my approval. I can stay as long as the Lord wants me to. This job is so complex, so diverse and feeds so many of the passions and drives the Lord has placed in me, I can see myself being here a long time. That being said, I never want that sense of comfort lull me to sleep. I’ve seen pastors stop working hard, who golf more than they should, who stop dreaming; who seem to be coasting.

This morning, I finished reading, “Unbroken” the fantastic true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was later a POW in WW2, who endured unspeakable atrocities. His story and stories like it, inspire me to keep going, to never give up. In track our coaches always used to say.. “run all the way through the finsh line.” Our bodies want to quit at times, but the Spirit compels us to continue. Resist the urge to pull up and coast at the end. Run it all the way through.

The mission of Christ should always compel us to work hard, to dream big and to remain focused on the prize, that is: eternity and taking as many as we can with us.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) –

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I hope in whatever posting the Lord has you in that you are encouraged today. That you continue to keep your resolve and your focus on the mission in front of you. And that you stay the course, all the way through to completion.


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