Archives For Family

At the dinner table tonight, we experienced something profound, and profoundly lacking in our lives. As we enjoyed some Mexican takeout, we asked our kids to share about their favorite events in life so far. After each family member chimed in, we proceeded with round 2 of favorites. Then round 3, and round 4. Everything from favorite food to favorite chores were talked about, and there was no shortage of commentary and attention grabbing interaction.

But then the conversation slightly changed when one of our children mentioned something that his brother was good at. I decided to go with it, this time asking each of our children to think of something they could say to each other, affirming something they are particularly gifted in or excel at doing. One by one, they began sharing things how their brother is good at baseball, their sister is good at dancing, their mom is a good teacher, and dad is good at walking the dog and picking up his poop. For a good 10-15 minutes, we just took time affirm the virtues and blessings of having each other in our lives.

Sadly, as a leader in our family, I have not shepherded our conversations to learn the grace of affirmation. I call it “grace” because it is contrary to our human nature. Our sinful nature wants to receive the praise, not give it. In an attitude of pride, we want to be the center of attention rather than having a spirit of humility and make others more important than ourselves. Only grace, only Jesus can cause us to get over ourselves to focus on the beauty and blessing of the community we are so privileged to enjoy.

I have been deeply convicted tonight to lead our family better, to shepherd our conversations by grace to edify and build each other up. Enough complaining and whining and tattling. Enough looking for each others’ faults and highlighting our failures. It is time to highlight God’s grace and look for each others’ virtues. And say it out loud. Say it to each other, looking in their eyes, connecting our heart to theirs, and knowing the sincerity of the words are trustworthy and true.

If we can train each other to practice the grace of affirmation, how much different would our lives be? How would it impact how our children treat one another? How would it change the community we live in? Not just our family but our neighbors and church family? No matter how difficult a person may be, how down they may be on life, how different they are from you or me, they are made in the image of God with dignity, worth, and value. Though marred by sin, there is yet something beautiful despite their brokenness. While not denying the brokenness, can we yet learn to look for the beauty reflecting the handiwork of their Creator?

So in repentance, I am learning from my children, and in doing so, looking to lead them better by affirming one another and cultivating conversations littered with blessings rather than being defined by the curse of sin and brokenness. With God’s help, we will be a family that will focus on what is right with each other than what is wrong. Not as an attempt to prove our righteousness or goodness, but to point to the righteousness and goodness of the gospel freely given through the life and death of Jesus Christ, breathing in His perfect obedience, and breathing out a life directed to glad submission to His sovereign reign and rule in our lives.

Let’s make disciples of Jesus, beginning with our children, and in our families, cultivate a community marked by affirming grace, whether common or covenant. I believe we will love God and love our neighbors better when we do.

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Since Crossway made it free for Kindle, I’ve been browsing through Randy Newman’s book, Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Your Family Members, Your Close Friends, and Others You Know Well.  This is an incredibly important topic as I have come to find it harder to share the gospel with family members as it is with an unknown person in my community.  I imagine this is true for most if not all Christians.

In the conclusion of his introductory chapter, Newman provides four steps for sharing the gospel with your family. I though they were very thoughtful and practical.  Check them out.

1.  If you don’t already have one, develop a system for prayer for your family.  Perhaps you can set aside a section in a prayer journal.

2.  Begin your prayers for your family with thanksgiving.  This may be more difficult for some people than others.  Regardless of your family’s well-being, thank God for the family you have and all the accompanying benefits you can identify.

3.  You may need to include prayers of confession as well–confession of your lack of love for your family, your idolatry of control in trying to change them, your reliance on your ability to convict them of their sin instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to do that, your coldheartedness, haughtiness, and self-righteousness, etc.  Ask the Holy Spirit to shine his light of truth on your darkness of sin.

4.  If you haven’t already done so, “come out of the closet” as a Christian to your family.  Pray for gentle words and a gracious demeanor mixed with bold confidence. . . . Aim for your announcement to be informational rather than evangelistic.  You can trust God to open evangelistic doors later.

#3 nailed me.

One thing I might add, especially if you have a large family: look for opportunities in the course of the day when it is not so hectic where you might be able to enjoy a sustained conversation with a family member who is not a Christian.  In a large group setting, conversations tend to stay on a superficial level, but if you can get alone with one or two family members for 10-15 minutes or longer, you will have a greater opportunity of magnetizing the conversation to the gospel and how Jesus has changed, and is changing your life.

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Hershey

Tim Brister —  August 2, 2011 — 4 Comments

I was a young, immature 18 year-old kid fresh out of the house in my first year of college when I walked into my hometown pet store to meet a whimpering puppy who I would take home with me.  That puppy would spend the next 14 years of my life with me, numbering every year of my adulthood life, and this morning she was laid to rest.

The crazy thing about Hershey is that I have more memories of her than I do of just about any person in my life.  She was with me in the formative years of college life, sat next to me as I struggled through the many deep, deep valleys, and was in more ways that I can imagine a gift from God.  In the 14 years of her life, she lived with every member of my family, including my brother while a student at University of Alabama, my grandparents in their dying days to serve as a companion when they were too weak to get out of the house, and my parents who littered their refrigerator door with dozens and dozens of pictures of her.  Almost everyone who came into my life over the past 14 years knew and loved her, but none more than my own family.

One funny story about Hershey has to do with when we moved down here to Cape Coral.  While in Louisville, I really got into photography, so I took tons of photos of Hershey (see below for examples), and I posted them on my Flickr page.  Since these photos were public, anyone could view them not only on Flickr but on any image search engine.  One of Hershey’s photos went viral and became one of the most popular searched photos for a Pomeranian.  So when we moved to Cape Coral, we needed to find a new dog groomer.  When we entered the store to pick up Hershey, lo and behold here was an 8×10 print out of her on the wall of the store! One might think this was because they wanted customers to think she was one of their clients (when she lived in Louisville), and then she actually became one! But if you’re asking me, they probably posted it because she was that famous. :)

Hershey had an unusual personality for a Pomeranian.  In her early years, she was quite stingy with my pillow, and when I would demand for more she would make up for that by resting her back on my head.  Upon entering the house, she would run laps around the living room in absolute glee that made me feel like the most important person in the world.  She wasn’t a dog who could do many tricks (largely my fault), but she made up for that in the way she loved.  If Hershey had the ability to talk, she would be able to tell you more about my life than any other person (except my wife).  But I guess that’s what makes dogs such good companions.  They don’t talk, they just listen.  And they make us laugh and feel loved.

I honestly could not have asked for a better dog and companion for the past 14 years of my life.  Thank you Lord for providing a great companion and friend to love me and my family.

Find Me on FridayTell Me I Am BeautifulSomebody Got a Haircut!Mrs. Hershey 2Dad Would You Leave Me Alone?!Did You Say Outside?
Hershey Chillin'Hershey JazzedChillin' on BedMerry Christmas! - From HersheyPuppy Dog EyesYum More Treats Please
What You Lookin' At?That Face . . .Can I Get A Yawn?Will You Please Scratch My Belly?Oh Dad, Not Now!Spike!
Lick It OffI Want It Now!FacialI Wanna Play!Pirked UpWill Somebody Dry Me Off?
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Starting this Sunday, Grace will be spending the next 12 weeks on Gospel-Centered Family by Tim Chester and Ed Moll.  I was really looking forward to teaching it, but after meeting with my fellow pastors, I am transitioning to focus more on leadership development and growing our church family in the areas of gospel, community, and mission.  A couple of weeks ago, I took some time to jot down some ways that the functional centrality of the gospel in the family impacts the church.

1.  Discipline in the home facilitates gospel mission.

When parents are intentional and consistent in shepherding the hearts of their children and applying appropriate formative and corrective discipline to their lives, they are freed up to communicate the gospel to others and even have their children join them in the process.  However, undisciplined children often sideline parents seeking to live on mission because of their unruly behavior (maintenance).  When the gospel is not functioning in the home, it becomes very difficult to put it only display in the community.  In anything you do, discipline brings freedom, and in the case with children, parents who are skillful in raising their children will likely be more engaged and effective on mission together.

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POTW :: Swingin

Tim Brister —  April 9, 2010 — Leave a comment

View in Flickr (See it LARGE)

View in Flickr (See it LARGE)

Aiden had his first shot at the neighborhood swings, and needless to say, he loved it.  I’ve had some sweet moments with the boys this week, and I pray that I will always have front-row seats to watch them grow up.

My heart has been heavy all week with the passing of Michael Spencer.  I’m glad he is with Jesus.  Please continue to pray for his wife Denise, his children, and those whom he ministered to in Oneida, KY.

For those heading to 2010 Together for the Gospel in Louisville, I look forward to (re)connecting with many of you.  The Band of Bloggers gathering is ready to go with over 2,400 books ready to be given away, but more importantly spending time with a couple hundred gospel-centered folk discussing a very important topic (Internet Idolatry and Gospel Fidelity).  I’m looking forward to a great time next week.

Speaking of next week, I will probably not be able blog much due to a packed schedule, but I will try to give regular updates on twitter (including pics) and toss up more photos on Flickr.

Grace and peace.

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POTW :: Miromar

Tim Brister —  April 2, 2010 — 1 Comment

View in Flickr (See it LARGE)

View in Flickr (see it LARGE)

I suppose I’m not the only who is experiencing crazy moments this time of the year.  Lots going on.  The photos above are from a much-needed family outing to Miromar Outlets. My wife loved getting good deals kiddos. Nolan loved it because they had monster water fountains everywhere. I loved it because I got to race the two-seater stroller around on a gorgeous afternoon.

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POTW :: Tubing

Tim Brister —  March 26, 2010 — Leave a comment

View in Flickr (See it LARGE)

View in Flickr (See it LARGE)

Yesterday morning, my wife and I took our 10-month-old son to the hospital to have tubes put into his ears.  He has had ear infections since mid-January, and over the course of the past three months fluid has continued to develop and worsen in his little ears.  From the testimony of others we are hopeful that this procedure will cause a dramatic difference in his health and sleep (and our sleep as well!).

Another exciting first was big brother’s first spend-the-night as a result of the early procedure.  From what I was told, Nolan was walking around the Ascol house, calling out “Oh Pastor Tom!” in his high pitched voice. Nolan is still working that John Deere tractor around the house like a man on a mission. The only thing that seems to be stopping him is the battery life and occasional shrub action.

The 2010 Band of Bloggers is right around the corner, and next week I will be revealing all the little goodies each attender will be receiving.  There is still room, though it is filling up fast.  I will go ahead and say it here first that each person will walk away with over $200 in books/resources. But shhh, that’s our little secret. Register now!

On the Grace front, we are voting on the continued development of our community group emphasis by providing more structure for sharing life together and learning to live as missionaries in our own communities.  Over the past five months, we have seen considerable growth in attendance (50% increase) and are working heard to develop a more effective process for assimilation and follow-up of those who are being engaged with the gospel.  Please pray for us if you think about it.

There’s so much more random stuff to mention, but it’ll have to wait for another week.  May the grace of God abound to you through the triumphant work of Jesus on the cross and in your heart.

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POTW :: Back Again

Tim Brister —  March 20, 2010 — Leave a comment

View in Flickr (See it LARGE)

View in Flickr (See it LARGE)

Man, it has been probably a year or more since I have done a POTW.  As much as I love photography, it has been one of those things that gets laid aside when you have these two little ones by your side. :)  For those who do not know, I usually give a little personal update in my POTW posts.  And as far as photos go, the majority of them will be coming from my iPhone, so the picture quality will not be great.

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