Saturday, June 18, 2011

The House We're Building

Yesterday, I inherited bunk beds from someone in our church. We have been overwhelmed with how incredibly gracious and generous our church family has been. The donor was someone whose children have gotten a little older and were no longer using the bunk beds. They had unbunked the beds years ago and finally put them into storage. When we got them yesterday, there were some essential pieces of hardware missing for construction.

After my third and final trip to Home Depot, my wife sat down as I was putting the finishing touches on the beds. I am blessed with a wife who is full of wisdom, insight, empathy, and compassion. She gets me, thankfully, and always says the right thing to help me get over myself. In a moment of sheer brilliance, she said, "You know, when you have children, you're always building." I stopped, between drops of sweat, long enough to ponder her statement.

It's actually been gestating within me since she said it and I continue to think about the profoundness in that statement. She was specifically speaking to the fact that we are always physically building things: cribs, beds, playsets, bikes, toys, etc. My mind went beyond just the physical that we are building and moved to the internal, unseen things that we are building within our children. In that regard, we are constantly building as well, even when we don't realize it or admit it.

In light of my last post about the legacy that we leave, I think it's important to remember that parenting is building. We build up or we knock down. The things that we do and say can build up or tear down. Every word, every action, it almost amounts to something to our children. They watch us. They imitate us. They follow us. They want to be just like us...hopefully.

We have talked at church about building the church, not the building, but the people. We are moving into a new series entitled "Prayer. Action. Vigilance." next week, a study in the book of Nehemiah. Just like building the wall around Jerusalem, building people and children requires us to keep these three things in mind: prayer, action, and vigilance. Am I actively praying for my children? Am I staying actively involved with what they are getting into? Watching on TV? Taking in when we go out to the store? Am I staying vigilant of my own actions, words, and thoughts?

My wife is nearing her third trimester as we prepare ourselves to meet our little girl in September. Someone jokingly said that she is "growing a human." That's a true statement. It can easily be said that even after the baby is born, we continue to grow humans as we raise our children. I pray that I might raise the three children that God blessed me with to be people of integrity, discernment, and compassion. I pray that they might know the One who has extended us grace beyond measure. I pray that what I build in them will sustain the storms of life, built on the only foundation that is eternal: Jesus Christ.

May we take our duty to grow humans seriously. May God use us to form buildings that weather life's storms, building the church of tomorrow. God is the architect, we are the builders. May we continue to seek the architect and look at His plans.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

10 Years - Better Together

Today, I celebrate 10 years with my lovely wife, Carrie. In 10 years, we’ve been in 3 houses, in 3 states, in 3 different jobs. We have seen at least half a dozen friends and family members leave this earth. Our family has increased in number. We have seen God move in the midst of all of the highs and lows, ups and downs, mountains and valleys. Regardless of how difficult the situations that we have walked through, we have seen the hand of God moving in our midst. That is a humbling realization.

A friend and colleague of mine just celebrated his 10 year anniversary a few weeks ago. He shared some of his own insights with me and one thing he mentioned struck a chord with me. He and his wife had dinner with some friends who asked them what defined their first 10 years together. I began to think of that myself. How would I describe those 10 years to someone? What is a clear and concise picture of that for others?

I spent the last 2 weeks putting together a video of our first 10 years. It was an exercise in love and nostalgia. As I spent hours scanning and editing pictures and then deciding which pictures would make the cut, I shed tears of joy. I realized how blessed that I am and felt even more blessed that I was able to watch 10 years pass right before my eyes. Since I had a hard time editing everything down, the video ended up being 17 minutes long. It took 5 songs to get through all of the pictures and video clips that I had. Three of the songs were from our wedding day, one was a song that I have always liked that said things well, and the last defined these 10 years best: Better Together.

Oftentimes in our marriage, Carrie or I have decided to attempt things on our own. Whether it was stubbornness, selfishness, or just plain “not thinking,” I am not sure. The end result always seemed to be the same though: frustration. Whenever we would find ourselves at that point, we would always look at each other and say, “Don’t forget, we’re better together.”

Carrie’s strength and persistence is a daily picture of grace to me and all who see her. She tirelessly supports me and our boys. She is a quiet servant who willingly serves without receiving accolades and rewards. She has a load of wisdom that she is willing to share whenever asked. Her compassion far exceeds mine. She compliments me nicely, filling in the glaring gaps of my own gifts and personality. We’re better together.

I also know that together, we are better when we rely on God’s strength. There is no way that we would have gotten this far had we not relied on the One who created us, sustains us, forgives us, and saves us. He alone is the means of grace that allows us to journey together through this life. He alone is the One who gives us all that we need to walk through and survive.

Carrie and I are not perfect. I always do my best to let people know that. I thank God for grace and do my best to extend it to others often, especially considering that I need it extended to me twice as often. I am blessed by who she is to me and our children. I am blessed at being a part of her family, who loves me as one of their own. I am blessed that she is one of the least selfish people that I know.

I thank God for these 10 years. I pray that God grants us many more together.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I just finished reading through the book of Joshua and decided to keep going and entered into the book of Judges. Judges is one of the Old Testament books that would ensure that if a movie were ever made of the Bible it would not be G-rated, nor PG-rated, and most likely not even PG-13-rated. The story is heavy and there is tons of violence. There are tent posts through temples and men being stabbed who are so fat that their fat overtakes the knives thrust into them, to name a few.

But all that is inconsequential to what hit me as I read the second chapter this morning. In chapter 2, verse 10 jumped out at me. It had jumped out at me before, but considering some conversations that my wife and I have been having lately, it struck a particular chord with me. The New International Version reads, "After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel." The Contemporary English Version puts it in terms that are a little easier understood, "After a while the people of Joshua's generation died, and the next generation did not know the LORD or any of the things he had done for Israel."

As I read this verse, I came to the stark conclusion that we are always just one generation away from a complete ignorance of the faithfulness of God. If I hesitate to instill it into my children, then the likelihood of them thinking it is important to pass on to my grandchildren is low. So, what am I doing to make this happen? Am I promoting the extinction of faith within the Gibson family? I hope not.

Every night, we always ask our boys two questions, "What was your favorite part of the day?" and "what are you thankful for?" It's been interesting to see the growth in our four year old as he begins to understand the difference in valuable things. He understands that time spent with family and the family that you have are things to be thankful for. I hope and pray that they, along with the sister that will come along in a few months, will be able to not only hear that in our family, but see and witness it as well.

Do I live a life that makes it evident to my children that I believe that God has been faithful to every generation? Is it evident to them that I believe the very things that I sing about and preach about on Sunday mornings? If not, I might as well sit down and let somebody else do what I do. One of the greatest sources of accountability for me is my children and I am sure that will continue to be the case.

Judges 2:10 is highlighted in my Bible. I will continue to remind myself that if I don't give credit where credit is due and thank the Lord for his faithfulness, my children will be in danger of living lives apathetic towards the very One who created them. If I don't exhibit a value of thankfulness and gratefulness, a value for the community of faith, and a value of time set aside to corporately worship the One responsible for my life and breath, I shouldn't be surprised if, in a few years, they see the church as a building, old and irrelevant, rather than a people, a community, a spiritual force, set here on earth to pray and live Jesus' prayer for his father's will to come on earth as it is in heaven.

May our lives show the Lord to the next generation that they might see what he has done for us.