Christian Identity Leans into Something Lasting Like “Planting Trees” by Andrew Peterson


We chose the spot
We dug the hole
We laid the maples in the ground
To have and holdAs autumn falls
To winters sleep
We pray that somehow in the spring
The roots grow deep

And many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn, hmm

He took a plane
To Africa
He gathered up into his arms
An orphan son

So many years from now
Long after we are gone
This tree will spread its branches out
And bless the dawn

So sit down and write that letter
Sign up and join the fight
Sink in to all that matters
Step out into the light

Let go of all that’s passing
Lift up the least of these
Lean into something lasting
Planting trees, hmm, yeah

She rises up
As morning breaks
She moves among these rooms alone
Before we wake

And her heart is so full
It overflows
She waters us with love
And the children grow

So many years from now
Long after we are gone
These trees will spread their branches out
And bless the dawn

These trees will spread their branches out
And bless someone, hmm

Parents are Given by God to Children

We don’t choose our parents, and therefore our names and identity are given to us. Our identity isn’t a matter of merit, and hard to accept and impossible to resist. Whatever challenges I had with embracing the identity God gave me, I found that part of that struggle was accepting the parents He gave me. Now I laugh at my struggles to embrace them and myself, and love them as my dear parents. Indeed, I miss them terribly.

I wish I could have known my mother when she was a child. IMG_0213Here is a picture of her as a little, adorable girl.

The more I understand her story, the more compassion and understanding I have for her. Her father died when she was twelve years old. Poverty threatened to take away her privileges, but she remarkably won a scholarship to Lake Forrest College near Chicago where she met my father after his WWII service in the Navy.

This is a romantic (funny, too, for my Dad was always humoring her) picture of my parents together, IMG_0216engaged to be married.

They had six children, and I was the last one (no comment :). They loved each other until their end. I was privileged to lead them to faith in Christ during their final years of life when I was only in my 30s. I preached and officiated their funerals, (my first two funerals of many as a pastor).

Have you ever gazed at your parents’ old pictures in a way that forced you to embrace who you are? Who they are? It is a process during adulthood where points in time become clarifying moments.

God is the Ocean of Enjoyment

“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper end; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. IMG_0171To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”

Jonathan Edwards, Sermon and Discourses, Volume 17, 1730-1733

Five Ways to Invest in the Lives of the Next Generation’s Sense of Identity in Christ

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—” Deuteronomy 4:9

~ This is grandson Micah, son of Nathaniel, son of Robert, son of John, son of Samuel, son of Isaac, son of William, son of John Smart, son of John G. Smart, son of John (1720s Scotland).IMG_3462

In the above passage it as if the Lord is saying to me: “Papa, just make certain you stay alert to your calling. Keep a close watch over yourself. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen of God’s doings. Don’t let your heart wander off on later years. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and eleven grandchildren.”

Growing older teaches me that I am not in control, but God is. I keep loosing a sense of control over children and time and health, but that doesn’t mean I am loosing a sense of self-control about my purpose and calling to invest in the lives of the next generations.

Five Ways to Invest in the Lives of the Next Generation:

  1. Take the initiative to bless your children by taking each son and daughter on a “date.” Last year I took each son for an overnight to a cabin, and this year took each to a MLB game. I gave each daughter the book From Fear to Freedom to read and discuss over dinner in a fine restaurant.
  1. Offer to watch the grandchildren for a night or two so that your children may renew their marriage and find refreshment from the milieu of busy lives.
  1. Plan an annual vacation for the family to gather each year at a familiar place. We always go to a beach near Santa Rosa, Florida & stay in a townhouse (now two) to spend the week together. We swim, eat out together, and have a skit night. Of course it is difficult for all five of our children’s families to attend every year, but the invitation stands open.
  1. Listen to them. My wife reminds of this all the time, since our adult children are wise and probably do not need a lot of advice. They do appreciate a listening ear.

5. Help them in the times of transitions – moving, new house jobs,    graduations, new babies, and especially times of great trial.

Okay six, not five. Begin a Life-On-Life-Missional-Discipleship group with five younger men or women, and meet one one one during the week with each, for bible study-equipping-accountability-scripture memory-and prayer.

A Page on Identity from Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

Danish Philosopher-Theologian Soren Kierkegaard’s Definitions of “Sin”

  • “Sin is: in despair not wanting to be oneself before God. . . . Faith is: that the self in being itself and wanting to be itself is grounded transparently in God” (The Sickness Unto Death, 1849, 162).

  • “Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from him” (TRFG, 162).
  • “Sin is building our identities and self-worth on anything other than God” (162).
  • “It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship to God” (162).
  • “[Kierkegaard means that] everyone gets their identity, their sense of being distinct and valuable, from somewhere or something . . .“Sin is the making of good things into ultimate things” ” (162).