Start The Disciplines Early

So, as you may have noticed, the staff of Conversations Journal isn’t perfect. Well, maybe Gary and Joannah are, but I’m certainly not. And during editing season, I’m particularly distractible, apt to forget to return emails or show up to appointments. Which is all preamble to my sincere apology to blogger Valerie Hess for failing to publish her wonderful blog on how children have made an impact on her walk with God during the month of February—despite the fact that she got it to me on time. So, instead of depriving you, our readership, of this excellent piece, I’m sneaking it in now. Enjoy!

Tara Owens, Senior Editor

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Let The Little Children Come

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Mark 10:13-15

The snow is falling here in Colorado, at the rate of inches an hour, and many schools in the area have called a snow day. Snug indoors, I’m working away on the edits to the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Conversations Journal, Welcoming the Stranger, well aware that I’m a few days behind on introducing February’s blog topic to you, and wondering how to channel Bill Murray’s incessant do-overs from the movie “Groundhog Day.” Can I start February over?

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Brandon’s Praise

I met Brandon when he was a 6th-grader. He and his parents attended the church I pastored in Southern California. Brandon came into the world with Down Syndrome. I learned at the Monday morning ministry team meeting that several older boys had ganged up on Brandon in the schoolyard the Friday before. Almost a half hour passed before one of the yard attendants noticed him lying on the ground in the fetal position. If there were ever a person that least deserved that kind of treatment, it was Brandon. He did not have an evil bone in his body.

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Learning Childlike Faith

One Saturday when my daughter Mara was six I was being a “good dad,” watching TV with her. At one point, an Ad Council public service announcement came on. It talked about the dangers of cigarette smoking and how it had been found to cause cancer.

I was a smoker at the time, and I happened to have a cigarette lit when the announcement came on. Mara turned to me and asked: “Is that right, Dad? Is cigarette smoking bad for you?” “Yes,” I admitted. Next, Mara asked: “Then why are you smoking?”

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Seek to Serve

Recently I was doing lectio divina on Matt 18:1-5 where Jesus sets a child in the middle of the disciples who had been squabbling over who would be the greatest and tells them, “Be like this!” (Mark 9:33-37). I liked how instead of chiding them for their egotism, Jesus distracts them with the absurd idea of becoming like children, who were very lowly creatures in that culture, quasi-servants, in many cases. Why should these guys—gatekeepers to the latest and greatest prophet (Mt 17:24)—be like humble children?

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