The scrambled egg incident…

It was a few months ago when I was awoken by my five-year old whispering.  “Daddy, I’m hungry.  I want some scrambled eggs.”  To which I replied, “O.K. little man, I’ll get up and make you scrambled eggs.”  Without any hesitation he responded, “No, I want to make the eggs.”

I was surprised, to say the least.  However, perhaps I shouldn’t have been.  He and his younger brother have been assisting me in the kitchen for years now.  They know where many of our common ingredients and utensils are.  They have helped me add ingredients to bowls (including cracking eggs).  They have helped me mix ingredients.  They have assisted by putting oil in pans and pouring mixtures in to be cooked.  They have learned how to carefully stir,  flip and remove foods with the use of a spatula.  In retrospect, I had gradually taught them all of the parts required to prepare a few dishes on the stove top all by themselves.  Now, on this otherwise quite normal morning, my five-year old woke up and thought to himself, “I know how to make scrambled eggs all by myself.”  And that was exactly what he wanted to do. With just a bit of supervision and encouragement along the way.

I followed him downstairs and watched as he went to get the step stool and turn on the stove.  “This one?”  he asked as he reached for the knob to turn on the burner.  “Yes, that one.”  I responded.  “What number?  Here?”  he asked.  “Number 6.  Yes, that’s good.”  I answered.  He proceeded to take out the eggs and a bowl.  He added a little salt and water into the eggs and mixed them.  He poured some olive oil in the pan and then added the eggs.  He gently mixed the eggs around in the pan and flipped them over.  Finally,he got out a plate, put it next to the stove and scooped the eggs onto his plate.  I took a little taste of the eggs my little chef had prepared.  They were good.  He thought so too.

While this is not the first life skill our children have learned, this skill seems so…grown up.  In fact I know many adults who could not make scrambled eggs nearly as well as my little man.  Am I proud of him? Absolutely!  But as I think about the fact that he has been so well schooled in this skill, I find myself asking what other abilities I am instilling.  I am pretty sure that I have said this before, but I think it is worth saying again.  Our children are our apprentices in life.  They may not end up doing what we do for a living, but they are learning how to live through our raising of them.  Through our presence and our absence, through our intentional and unintentional influence, they are being shaped into their futures.  They will follow our lead or they will wander from the lack thereof.

My prayer is that just as my eldest has begun to learn the art of cookery, our children will grow in their capacity to practice their trust in God each day.   If the scrambled egg incident has taught me anything it is that a great way to lead them to this goal is to invite them to observe and then participate with me as I follow Jesus.   I can let them repeat after me as I pray and then ask them to offer their prayers.  I can invite them along as I help others and then encourage them to do the same in their own lives.  When they need to be forgiven I can share with them how much I love them and how much God loves them, and what He did for them in Christ, and then encourage them to do the same when others need forgiveness.  By inviting them to observe and then join me in trusting God, I may find myself waking up one day to one of our kids saying, “Daddy, I have a problem.  I don’t know how to solve it.  Will you come pray with me?”


Forgiveness is tough! And you might think it should be easier with those you love and live with every day, but those are sometimes the hardest people to forgive.  It’s all those familiar little and not so little ways they fail us every day, time and time again, that start to wear on us.  Sometimes it is those little things that we find the hardest to let go of.  But forgiveness is a huge part of what is means to be a follower of Christ.

Many people see church going folk as hypocrites; as holier than thou types.  And unfortunately there are many of those among our ranks.  However, we are not supposed to be that way.  We are supposed to be humble…caring…forgiving.  Our faith is all about God’s desire and capacity to forgive us and to reverse the effects of all that we have screwed up in the world and our lives.  Just as we trust in God’s desire and ability to forgive us – a fact that is made clear in the ministry of Jesus – followers of Jesus are to extend that same forgiveness to those who have hurt them.  We are called to forgive from the heart all who have hurt us.  Can it be said anymore plainly than it is in the prayer Jesus taught, “Forgive  us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” 

Remember Jesus took the penalty of your sins, of your parents’ sins, of your spouse’s sins, of your children’s sins, of your ex best friends sins, of your sworn enemies sins.  He took it all.  That is the message we have been given to proclaim and live out in the world.  And that means not simply sitting back and watching the people who have hurt us squirm, and suffer as God passes judgment on them.  Forgiving from the heart is about letting them know they have forgiveness.  Not just from God but from you. Put simply, forgiveness is about giving undeserved pardon in response to wrongs done and right actions not being done.  That’s it.  It is undeserved.  It cannot be earned.  It cannot be paid back.  It is free and clear. 

I forgive you…They are easy words to say.  Say them with me.  “I forgive you…” but it is not nearly as easy to do sometimes.  Maybe you have been hurt in ways you can’t even bring yourself to say.  Maybe it was by somebody close to you.  A family member or friend.  Someone you thought you could trust.  Or maybe you have been hurt by someone you hardly even know but what they did hurt so much that you just cannot find it in your heart to forgive them. 

I know what that feels like.  I remember a time in my life when I found myself praying to God night after night that He would help me forgive someone who deep down inside I hated – someone who I wanted to see suffer for the heartache they cause me and others I cared about.   Hear what I am saying.  Forgiving is not easy.  But God’s Word is clear.  As His people – people who know what it is to be forgiven – we are called to forgive others their sins just as we have been forgiven. 

Over the past few months I have seen and heard many, many…too many heart breaking stories of betrayal, abandonment, lies and deception.  People’s lives are being destroyed as people victimize each other.  But what is worse in my eyes than the fact that people are hurting each other, is the fact that’s people seem so unwilling to freely offer forgiveness to others.  Grudges are held for weeks and months and even years and lifetimes.  Judgment is passed, forgiveness withheld and emotional wounds don’t even have the chance to leave scars.  They just stay on the surface of our emotions as festering open sores, waiting to be bumped up against and infected.  In stead of working for reconciliation we assign blame and seek vengeance.  We want pay back. 

Forgiveness is not forgiveness if it has to be earned by the one who has sinned.  Forgiveness is only forgiveness if it is given out of love.  Forgiveness is only forgiveness when payment of the sin is taken on by someone other than the sinner.  This is what Jesus meant when He said “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He meant forgive them and pray that they turn from their hurtful ways so that they might receive the forgiveness being freely offered to them.

Forgiveness does not mean that we make light of sin.  It doesn’t mean that sin is “ok.”  Forgiveness never means that you accept the sin.  Sin is always unacceptable.  Forgiveness does not turn a blind eye to the sin someone is committing.   Forgiveness speaks the truth in love.  It says, “What you are doing is wrong.  But I love you and want to be in relationship with you.  So, I will not hold your past sins against you.  Now stop sinning.” We do not excuse someone who is in sin.  We speak the truth to them in love.  We call them out on their sin and we offer them peace with us and God through Christ.  We invite them back into right relationship with us.

In light of our sin the ultimate way God shows love for us is through forgiveness.  If I had to sum up the whole of Scripture.  I don’t think I could do any better than to quote Ephesians 4:32  “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” 

Below are some quotes I found on the net baout forgiveness that I particularly liked.  Hope you enjoy them.

It’s said in Hollywood that you should always forgive your enemies – because you never know when you’ll have to work with them. Lana Turner.

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them. Bruce Lee

It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own. Jessamyn West

It takes one person to forgive, it takes two people to be reunited. Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is the remission of sins. For it is by this that what has been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again. Saint Augustine

Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again. Dag Hammarskjold

Forgiveness is like faith. You have to keep reviving it. Mason Cooley

Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

 A mistake is always forgivable, rarely excusable and always unacceptable. Robert Fripp

 Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on. Alice Duer Miller

To be social is to be forgiving. Robert Frost

There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” Bryant H. McGill.

Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life. George MacDonald

Forgiveness is the final form of love. Reinhold Niebuhr

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. William Blake

The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world. Marianne Williamson

routines + community + customs = culture

I was doing so well when I started my blog but going on trips and getting caught up in various other activities removed me from the few routines I had established.  Well, I am back and I have added a few new routines to my life.

You would think that as a pastor I would be very good about my personal devotional life.  While it is almost impossible for me not to ponder Scripture and the deep issues of life on a daily basis, I have found it difficult to set a regular time that is devoted to being in the Word and prayer.  Well, that has changed as of late.

A little over 3 weeks ago I began going every weekday morning to a local McDonald’s at 6:30 a.m. for morning oatmeal and a 30min. morning devotion.  I have a little daily devotion book that I like to use called Living the Gospel Life. I’ve invited various people to come and join me whenever it fits into there schedules.  Eight different people have joined me at least once and three people join me at least once weekly so far.  Some days I am the only one who goes.

At first it bothered me a little when I was the only one to show up, as it was my original intent that this would be a way to help form community between some of the folks I know.  However, I very quickly realized that whether or not others were joining me I had begun a new routine for myself.  I now have a time and a place that is set apart at least five days a week for being in the Word, in prayer and for considering how my trust in Christ can influence my daily life.

In the mean time I am going to keep inviting folks to join me.  As others accept my invitation into this and other routines a community will form.  As this community forms we will establish customs.  As customs develop we will find that we have created a new culture.

This is what happened in the early Church as described in Acts 2:42 and following.  People got together daily and learned from those who lived with Jesus.  But they didn’t just “go to church” together.  They lived life together.  They had meals with each other regularly.  But it wasn’t just a social club either.  They made a habit of helping each other and those in need in the ways they were able to.  But it wasn’t just some philanthropic organization.  They didn’t just choose a cause and try to address it.  They sought God’s direction in all things.  They prayed together.  They prayed for each other and for others.  They were a blessing to one another and to those around them.  And as they formed this new culture many others were drawn to them and through them to faith in Christ.

Despite what the title of this article may imply, there is not a prescribed formula for sharing faith.  The title is really just an short way for me to remind myself and others that we are creatures of habit.  The habits we form good or bad will result in the culture of our lives and of those we influence.  If you invite people into your routines, what you put at the center of your routines will end up in the center of your shared culture.  I pray that Christ’s identity and teachings would be at the center of your routines, and that you would invite others to join you as you develop a new culture.

Living Forever, Now,

Pastor Michael James Grannis

our little echo box…

As I have mentioned before, our second son is our middle child.  And he is in many ways a classic Mr. Middle (I would like to take this moment to mention that both my wife and I are middle children…my wife much more classically so).  Mr. Middle was learning to talk when his elder brother was beginning a phase of fleeing into large crowds and wide open spaces.  These situations tended to evoke sharp outbursts from either or both of us parents.  There were many days filled with terror and/or frustration.  Those days were soon followed by many more days of embarrassment as our little Mr. Number Two quickly became our family echo box.  His first full sentence very well might have been “Come back here, right now!” (Yelled, of course, in a very stern voice at his older brother.) 

As he has aged Mr. Middle has added many more of our greatest hits to his collection of echoed phrases.   We are not prone to profanity, cursing or swearing , so we have not had to deal much if at all with vulgarity.  Nevertheless, it is a bit disconcerting when your three-year-old turns tyrannical in the midst of a morning temper tantrum, screaming, “Dadda, stop saying that!  I do NOT appreciate this!  That is NOT a good idea! Stop it, right now!”  While I want our children to learn to listen well and obey rules, I also want them to learn to respect authority and be respectful and respectable to others when they are in positions of authority. 

I doubt that our children would be able to eloquently articulate their philosophy of the role of authority in home and society.  But the echoes of my little Mr. Middle speak volumes.  And sad to say I don’t always like what I hear.  It’s not so much what I hear him saying (i.e. what I hear him echoing from my wife and myself ).  It is the tone he uses when he says what he says that bothers me. 

My wife likes to say that we are not raising children, rather we are raising future adults.  That serves as a reminder that how we treat them now will shape their understanding of who they are and how they are to relate to others.  If we show them that power and authority is grounded in yelling and anger then that will be their view of authority.  If we seek to lovingly show them the difference between right and wrong, and teach them the value of seeking and giving forgiveness, then I’d like to think their view of authority will be shaped in much more positive ways.  Rather than learning that orders must be barked and authority feared or detested, they will learn to practice wisdom, reason, self-sacrifice and reconciliation.  These are things worth respecting, not to mention marks of true influence and authority. 

I am happy to say that our little echo box doesn’t just go around all day yelling at his siblings (or his parents).  In fact the most common thing he says to me and the rest of our family is said in a whisper.  Every day (between 10 and 100 times a day) in a soft, sweet voice I hear something like this:

“Come here, Dadda.  I have a secret to tell you…I love you.  Was that a good secret?  Ok, now you tell me a secret.” 

I love you too, little man.

life in the prairie…

So a few days ago our family had the joy of celebrating our eldest’s 5th birthday.  Since my wife and I have been trying to be responsible adults recently, we have been limiting our spending and trying to increase our debt pay down rate.  After having successfully paid off our credit cards we are now working on the loan on our minivan (thank you very much, Dave Ramsey).   Anyway, we were wondering what to do for our eldest on his birthday.  We wanted to avoid the costs associated with throwing a big party and were not really wanting to accumulate tons more stuff to trip over in our home. 

A while back I determined that the perfect birthday treat would be to go bowling at an actual bowling alley.  He loves “playing bowling” on Wii whenever we go to my moms. Last year he got a couple home bowling sets, which we combined and put to good use in our basement.  One of his favorite videos is a Curious George DVD with an episode about bowling.  And I recalled the wonder in his eyes when he saw the bowling lanes at Pinstripes earlier this year (Pinstripes is an in door lawn bowling and bowling establishment…we attended my friend Joe’s birthday party in the lawn bowling section, much to my eldest’s disappointment).

We invited a few local friends and family to join us on this inaugural bowling outing, but due to the first snowfall of the year (a birthday treat in and of itself) it ended up being just our household.   We had a great time! Our 3 yr. old did something I thought impossible.  On one of his turns he actually rolled the ball so slowly that it stopped and then began to roll backwards.  The boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Our eldest bowled a respectable 95 (not bad for a first time bowler…and one point better than my wife I might add).

So, here we are half a week after our mountain high bowling excursion and every day since then I have heard a soft, sweet, but insistent request to go bowling again.  He’ll say, “I want to go bowling.”  To which I’ll say something like, “No, it’s not time to go bowling, little man.  It’s time to clean up our toys, and then it’s lunch time, and then it’s time to take a rest.”  To which his reply is something like. “Ok…It’s time to clean up, and eat lunch and take a rest and then we go bowling.”  He really is quite persistent.

Every time he asks (or insists) that we go bowling it breaks my heart.  I would love to just drop everything and go bowling whenever he asks.  But it is practically not an opption schedule wise.  Not to mention it would end up nickel and diming our budget to debt (sorry, I like puns).   

As I look to the future I’m sure that there will be other “bowling outings” through the years; things that we can splurge on but can’t do every day.  These exciting mountain top occasions are great, but unfortunately most of life is lived in “the prairie.”  It is easy to feel like I am letting him down every time I say no to “playing bowling.”  However, I know that apart from the mountain high times my wife and I have instilled in him plenty of reasons to know we love him.  

He’s experienced that love through the 5 plus years of his life we have spent caring for him day and night.   It’s weighed out in the tens of thousands of pounds of diapers (and pull-ups) we’ve changed.   This love  has grown out of all of the funny faces we’ve made at each other…and the meals we’ve shared…and the games we’ve played…and bath times antics over the years.  He knows it from the worn and torn pages of the books we’ve read countless times.  It’s the product of all the prayers we’ve said together and all the songs we’ve sung before going to bed.   It is reinforced in our daily lives lived in “the prairie.”   And despite our shortcomings as parents or our limitations as responsible adults, he knows we love him even when we don’t go bowling.   On second thought, it is not all that unfortunate that our son’s knowledge of our love for him isn’t based solely on mountaintop experiences. 

Life in the prairie might not always be as fun and exciting (although it certainly can be a lot of fun), but when you come down off the mountain there is little better than taking a warm bubble bath and putting on  some Spiderman PJs, to cuddle up with mom or dad and read a few books before going to bed.  May God bless us with peace, joy and love no matter what our elevation in life.

Deep recall

I have been blessed with a wonderful family.  My wife and I celebrated 10 yrs of marriage this past summer.  In just a few days our eldest will turn 5.  Our middle (3yrs old) insists he wants to be the oldest and biggest and first and strongest…when it comes to pretty much everything.  Our youngest is just starting to get into the mix of it all.

So, our eldest is the first to do most stuff (as is I suppose the expected way of things).  Since he was 2 our eldest has been able to spell his name (a feat many adults have trouble with as his name is not too common).  We actually made up a cheer that we would chant in the car in order to help him learn how to spell his name.  I can still hear every time he spells his name that he is spelling it in rhythm with the cheer.

It reminds me of an experience in spelling I had as a young lad.  I remember learning a song as a child called I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.  The last line of the song says, “And I will L-I-V-E-  E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y.”  Well the result was that as I grew up I always had to quickly sing the last line of that song to myself if I was trying to spell the word “eternally.”  Like my son and his name cheer I could not think of the word outside of the context in which it was learned.  I am calling this kind of association a “deep recall.” While I am no longer bound to that sing-songy mental spellcheck, I do get transported back to childhood chapels every time I think of that song.

So this begs the question in my mind:  What kinds of deep recalls are my wife and I instilling in the minds of our children?  What automatic associations are they going to have with certain words…with certain practices…with certain places?  Will they like being in Christian community…singing, reading, praying, etc?  What kind of humor are we encouraging or supporting?  What kinds of behaviors are they picking up from us?

Our children are very different and yet it seems to me that much of who each one is becoming is just a variation or magnification of who we are around them.  They are learning who to be from us for better or worse, regardless of our intentions.  They are our apprentices in life and are looking to us as masters in how to live.   When I realize this I pray that my practice of living is worth learning from and it makes me want to change those things in me that I know are not worth their study in living.  Whether with our children or whoever is looking to us as examples in life may God guide us all and give us strength through His Word, so that we may do this life training well.