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“Some Privacy, Please.”

The other day my daughter, Macie, made a rather interesting request. It was interesting because she is only 2 1/2 years-old.

I had went into their room to get a couple of things as we were headed out the door. If you are a parent, you know the routine: “Get your socks and shoes on!” “No, you can’t wear pajamas to the graduation party!” “Stop fighting!”

As I tried to cross the threshold into their room, Macie was a couple steps ahead of me and had turned to close the door. I stopped her and proceeded into the room as she said:

“Dad, I need some privacy, please!”

I did not see that one coming so soon!


The Gospel Reorients All of Life

One of Heath Davis‘ passions is helping reorient the church to the overarching implications of the Gospel. Here is a recent post from Heath:

What is the gospel?

Social justice, community reform, personal morality should never be mistaken as the gospel itself. They are actually the IMPLICATIONS of the gospel fleshed out into our life and world. Social Justice, for instance, is a tentacle, an extension, an outworking of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A tentacle is an attachment…something that grows out of the core substance of something. Like we find on a jellyfish. . .the tentacles grow out of the core and are connected to the core, but only represent a part or an extension of the whole.

I think the same is true of the gospel. When we trace our behaviors, values, choices, thoughts back to their source, everything should be sourced in the essence of the gospel: that God is rebuilding his Kingdom precisely through His own incarnation, suffering death and resurrection on behalf of mankind.

So, feeding the poor, helping a handicapped person, saying “no” to sexual temptation, attending church, handling personal rejection, or spending money…all of these things become natural implications in our lives of coming into a right relationship with the living God through Jesus. All of these things are the implications, the tentacles, of the all-encompassing gospel of Jesus, but they are NOT in themselves the gospel. Historically, liberal Christianity has mistaken the gospel for social justice. Conservative Christianity has mistaken the gospel for personal morality. Both sides have drank different flavors of the same poison. Neither social justice, nor personal morality are the gospel. Both, however are both implications of the gospel at work, and should be tentacles in a gospel centered life. But, they are not the gospel themselves.

Our problem today, whether on the left or the right, is the need to embrace the gospel and then think through the profound implications of the the gospel. As, Tim Keller’s quote below goes on to say…a central problem in our lives stems from not thinking, perceiving, contemplating how the gospel reorients all of life. He writes:

“The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel–a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine. . . . Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel–seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church”.

via A Northwoods Life

Sari is 4 Today

Four years ago this morning, Sari Mae entered the world. The world has never been the same since – especially Amanda and I’s world! Sari brings much joy and laughter and independence into the Mavis family. It’s never a dull moment when she gets that twinkle in her eye and starts to giggle!

Happy Birthday, Sari!

Spelling Your Name

My daughter, Sari, is almost 4 years-old. I can’t believe how fast time flies! It seems like only yesterday that Amanda and I were childless and living the kidless life! My how things have changed!

Sari is a pretty smart young girl. Our daycare ladies tell us often how amazed they are at her mental progress and prowess (I’m sure they tell all the parents that, right?). Sari has been able to recognize her name for a while now, but it has been a recent phenomenon that she is able to spell and craft her name (like in the picture above).

In honor of her upcoming birthday and this milestone in her life, I thought I would dedicate today’s blog post to my oldest daughter, Sari. I’m proud to be your dad!


Last night I had to put Macie in time out for some reason. While I was putting her in her crib, Sari said something that Amanda told me when I returned to the kitchen:

“I don’t like Daddy, he likes to put things in time-out.”

“I better eat something…”

The other day we were driving in the car somewhere and Sari starts complaining about needing to eat something because she was hungry. We informed her that we didn’t have anything at the moment, to which she replied:

“I better eat something or I’ll be dead.”

The Walleye

On the way home from my Grandma’s 80th birthday party, Sari had to go to the bathroom.  We stopped at this gas station off of I-35.  As we pulled in to this place the girls yelled: “Look at the fish, daddy!”  For a second I thought we were in Hayward already, but then I remembered we were still about 2 hours away!

After we went to the bathroom, I took the girls over to the fish and we checked it out.  By the way, it was a model of the walleye that Paul Bunyan caught!

“I’m Potty-Trained!”

So we are still in Spokane (last day) and we were heading to a local aquatic park to go swimming with the girls.  Nana had to stop by her work to do a couple of things.  While the girls were playing in the lobby in their swimsuits a salesman came in and greeted us and the girls.

Feeling confident, I suppose, Sari proceeded to tell this friendly salesman: “I’m potty-trained!”  It was hilarious!  Not only Sari’s comment, but also the salesman’s: “Me too!”  Then Sari got shy again!

An Internet Fast (unintentional)

This wasn’t on purpose.  I love my cellphone.  It’s a smartphone that’s capable of fetching emails as well as simple internet searches and reading, in addition to calendaring, unlimited contacts and other “media-related” stuff.  Along with my wallet and keys, this phone is always in my pocket.

Not the last 3 days.  I was trying to make a call before we got into the motor home for our trip to Wenatchee, WA to go camping with my friends from college and my phone was locking up on me, so I set it in a compartment in the truck.  And for those of you who know what it’s like loading up the supplies it takes to take 2 toddlers on a 3 day trip away from home, you know how long and arduous it would take to transfer to the motor home.  It wasn’t until we were about 10 miles down the road that I was going to have Amanda look up our route on Google Maps on my phone, when I realized that I had left my phone in the truck.

Bummer.  I suppose I could have justified turning around and going back to get it, but that was silly because I didn’t really need it.  So basically, I didn’t have access to email and the internet for 3 days.  It was good for me.  I didn’t know or realize how “mentally”, “behaviorally”, and “habitually” I am connected to the internet.  It was good for me to experience this 3 day fast.  Weird and unsettling, but good for me.  It’s not that the INTERNET is bad.  My dependency on it is what is unhealthy and why it was so good for me to be away from it for a couple of days.

I wonder if these kind of experiences (intentional or unintentional) help reveal things about our character?  I wonder if we ever pay attention to these kinds of things?  Do you?  Is it worthwhile?

Mason & Haley’s Wedding

Last night, my brother-in-law, Mason, got married.  It was a grand event.  I got to perform/officiate the wedding ceremony.  While I’ve done a handful of weddings in my “pastoral” career so far, this one was special because it was family.  I can’t tell you how fun it was to have the “best seat in the house”!

Below, I’ve posted the “Words of Wisdom” that I shared with them:

I don’t think I realized it until it was too late.  But we are a dancing family.  If any of you have been to the Lake with the Mathis’ and been around when Aunt Mary cranks up the music, you know what I mean.  I remember thinking at some point, “Woah, what have I got myself into!”  You see, I’m a shy southern boy from Oklahoma, so this was a little out of my comfort zone.

And as bad of a dancer as I am, I’ve come to enjoy it.  Like their mother, both of my girls Sari (who’s 3) and Macie (who’s 1), love to dance.  All it takes is to cue up “Single Ladies” or some Taylor Swift song on the iPod and both the girls start moving and jumping around, and dancing!  Not even a shy southern boy can resist it when one of them reaches up for my hands to spin them around or jump with them.

Dancing.  My wife and I compare our marriage to dancing.

Dancing works great … just you and the one you love… until someone, or something, cuts in.

We all start off with great intentions about what we want marriage and this unique relationship to look like and how we want it to operate.  We sometimes think that nothing is going to cut in on this wonderful thing we have right now.  And while I don’t want to take away from the moment, the wisdom I am sure almost every married couple in the room would offer is: there will definitely be things that will cut in on your dance, your marriage.  It’s part of life.  There will be cut-ins.  The solution will be: how will you as a couple dancing through life together, how will you respond to these intentional and unintentional interruptions.  Like when one has to work a lot.  Or when family obligations or expectations collide.  What will the dance between the two of you look like as tensions enter in?

Don’t forget this day.  Don’t forget the vows you will speak here tonight.  Don’t forget the commitment you made right here at this spot, on this particular day, your 0 anniversary.  Don’t forget why you started dancing with each other in the first place.

Keep this partnership, keep this marriage sacred, and watch carefully what you allow to “cut” in and how you respond to it.

Dancing works great… just you and the one you love… until the song changes.

Dancing is funny to me because the song usually lasts give or take 4 minutes, then just when I’ve started to get the moves down, the song changes.  In our lives the music changes often doesn’t it?  Moods, expectations of each other, babies, jobs, kids, teenagers, hormones, money (or lack thereof), age, health.  Again, while we know that songs will change, life circumstances will change, we all grow up and mature, how are you as a newly minted dancing couple in this marriage, going to handle, together, these various changes?  Knowing that it is a song change really helps.  Knowing when moods shift is a helpful thing.  Knowing each other’s personality quirks is beneficial.  But there will be unexpected things that will happen in life that you did not, nor could not, anticipate.

So, make sure that you are both watchful, attentive, and intentional when the music of your lives change.  Talk to each other.  Communicate.  It really helps.

Dancing works great… just you and the one you love… because of your deep love and respect and affection for each other.

I’ve been around the two of you a bit and I love what I see.  I love seeing the sparkle in your eyes when you look at each other.  I love seeing how you care for each other.  I love seeing how you play and laugh together.

Enjoy the dancing, because it is good!  I know I’ve thoroughly enjoyed dancing with Amanda, and I know that you, Mason and Haley, will enjoy this intriguing dance of marriage together because it is good.

God made us to hunger and thirst for relationships, particularly a desire for relationship with Him as well as a desire for a dancing partner in life.

So dance well!

Mason & Haley

“My show is OFF!”

Back in December, Amanda and I decided to turn our TV satellite service off.  It saved us some money each month and it prevented me from watching it too much!  And because we live in a fairly remote area of the country, unless we have a rooftop antenna, we are not able to get even over-the-air TV.  So we don’t have anything!

It’s been a good and unsettling 7 months with no incoming video feed into our home.  Good in the sense that it has really enhanced our family life and has directed more of our attention toward the girls.  Unsettling in the sense that we are weird.  We didn’t do it for this reason, but it has been a little counter-cultural to not have TV.  People, mostly guys, look at me weird.  They tell me not to tell their wives because they’re worried they’ll be inspired!

I thought about this yesterday.  We just arrived in Spokane, WA for a couple of weeks of vacation while we attend Amanda’s brother’s wedding.  Sari loves the show “Dora the Explorer.”  Her Nana and Papa recorded some of these on their DVR so Sari could watch them on demand.  They fired one up for her and she settled in to watch her favorite show.  About 8 minutes into the episode, while the rest of us were downstairs, Sari starts screaming: “My shows OFF!  My shows OFF!”  Maybe she hit the wrong button on the remote.  Maybe the DVR only recorded part of the show and not the whole thing.  No.  It was a commercial!  Can you believe it?!  A commercial interrupted Sari’s TV show!

We had a good laugh, but then I started to think about that.  Because we don’t have a TV feed coming into our home we are semi-immune to advertisers and the endless stream of commercials that implicitly influence us.  Now there are other ways in our culture that we are influenced by companies and advertisers, but I was thinking specifically about our kids.  They are not inundated by a constant barrage of products and services directed at them.  I wonder what our 7 month fast from satellite TV has prevented… I wonder how this break has influenced them…

It’s definitely changed Sari’s expectation of a “Dora” watching experience!

What spills when you are jolted?

A famous preacher had a friend who was well known for his short temper.  One day, at a party, he asked this friend to help him serve some drinks.  The preacher himself poured the drinks, deliberately filling several of the glasses a bit too full.  He then passed the tray to his friend.  As they walked into the room to distribute the drinks, he accidentally-on-purpose bumped into the friend, causing the tray to jiggle and some of the drinks to slosh over the brim and spill.  ‘There you are, you see,’ said the preacher.  ‘When you’re jolted, what spills out is whatever is filling you.’  When you’re suddenly put to the test and don’t have the time to think about how you’re coming across, your real nature will come out.

After You Believe – N.T. Wright – The Transformation of Character – pg. 28

I’ve been thinking about myself lately.  Particularly when Sari or Macie does something “not good” and anger wells up inside of me… and not the good “parental” kind of anger… just mad anger.  I’m asking myself the question, why am I responding this way?  I wonder what is “filling me.”

And this is not just about short fuses, it is really about how our character comes out in every day life.  It is easy to force yourself to respond correctly in the moment (“just don’t get mad this time with Macie…”).  It’s quite another to TRAIN yourself to respond correctly/wisely/kingdom-of-God-like ALL THE TIME.  The author of the story above goes on to talk about how Christian character is slowly and deliberately formed over a long period of time so that whenever the moment of “crisis” comes, it is second nature to respond the way God wants… or more specifically the kingdom of God is made alive in us (“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” Matthew 6:10) as a witness to this world.

Interesting… I wonder if God “jolts” us to help us recognize what is “in” us?  And perhaps to correct or encourage what we are allowing to fill our hearts and minds.