POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monagha

Youth Sports - Part 2

Good morning friends. Yesterday I posted an article about engagement with youth sports. That essay was edited by my brilliant 14-year-old daughter who is a great writer in her own right. 

Later yesterday afternoon that same sweet girl suffered a crushing injury on the soccer field snapping both her tibia and her fibia in her lower right leg.

This too has taught us much about God, his kindness and some terrible pain and utter sadness. Yesterday as we rode in the ambulance she asked me to read her the Psalms so her heart would be drawn to the Lord and her heart at peace in the midst of the pain and the crazy. I read to her the 63rd Psalm: 

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

- Psalm 63:1-8

My little girl is a beautiful soul. Today we will have some reconstructive surgery where the rod will be placed in her tibia. Please pray for us in the days ahead and all of those who surround us…church, family and our soccer community. We are all praying that the Lord would use everything to express his grace and glory to many. 

Love in Christ, for the Monaghan Home Team

Reid  

Books I enjoyed in 2015

The Bible says that of "the making of many books there is no end and much study is a weariness of the flesh." (Ecclesiastes 12:12) In other words, there are many words not worth reading. Certainly the words of the wise and the Words of God are the guides of life and there are many books not worth the bits and bytes they are produced in. Yet there are some good ones to read. Here are a few of the books where I found some joy this past year.

The Bible

I've been reading and teaching in a few main biblical texts in the most of 2015

My continued love of history and creative Non Fiction dominated my audiobook reading again this year and continues to be my favorite genre of music to listen to ;-). The following were fantastic reads in 2015. All my car, exercise and yard work time is occupied with these sorts of friends...and a few podcasts.

In terms of explicitly Christian market books I enjoyed the following...

Power of Change in 2016

Friends, 

As many of you may be aware, Kasey and I will be transitioning with our family out of New Jersey in the summer of 2016. We thank the Lord for all he has used us for in the Garden State and the Northeast during the last seven or so years. You can read the letter we shared with our church to catch you up to date here. We are thankful for our Jacob's Well  family and are so looking forward to all they will do in service of our King in New Jersey. We are thankful to continue to serve and remain connected with both Jacob's Well and The Acts 29 Network in fruitful partnership for many years to come.

As we look towards the future there are some changes coming to Power of Change. Beginning in 1996 Power of Change (POC) was the name of our newsletter to our supporters of our ministry with Athletes in Action. POC then became the domain and name of our web site when powerofchange.org rolled out. It morphed into a blog format and will soon undergo its most significant change yet. Power of Change will be birthed as a ministry to impact and influence the coming generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Over the first half of 2016 we will be working on incorporating and relocating our family to Blacksburg, VA which was our home from 1998-2004. We will base our ministry there as we move forward in God's calling. It is our hope to serve in some specific ways in the years ahead should God give grace.  Blacksburg is a university town which is home to Virginia Tech and will also allow me to base close to family as I serve broadly in ministry. 

We are currently in the midst of work to brand, incorporate, file for 501c3 status and build the proper systems to support the ministry. We are also praying and dreaming about how the Lord may use us in days ahead.  Check on the branding work my good friend Weylon Smith has already completed for us. Pretty sweet.

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Colors and Application

Colors and Application

We are also quite exhausted as we finish up our 20th year of full time ministry together. We need to rest and refresh a bit and that is one of our objectives for late 2016 as we get things moving with Power of Change. Much more to come in terms of details and vision for sure but we are thankful for God's grace, humbled by his call and looking forward to the journey ahead. The power of change lies with the power of God and we are still hung up on he who is the truth and his Kingdom that is to come. 

If you are interested in being on our mailing list, supporting the work and keeping in touch, drop us a note here and I'll add you to the email list.

Much love and grace in Christ

Reid, on behalf of the Monaghan Home Team

 

Walking with the Little Ones - Parenting in the Toddler Years Part 3 - Presence

Part 3 - Presence

Photo by Photodisc/Photodisc / Getty Images

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series we’ve taken a look at why both “discipline” and “instruction” are essential to leading little ones. At a young age discipline needs to be established so that children understand boundaries, basic household rules and the order of good authority that God has placed in the home. We don’t discipline to punish, we discipline to shape, guide and create an environment for discipleship. When our homes have order, not fear or a punitive culture, the possibility to teach and instruct becomes a wonderful opportunity.

At the start of this series we used an acronym to make it memorable DTPL (G) – which pretty much means nothing other than Discipline, Teaching, Presence and Love (Grace). In Part 3 I want us to look at the third letter, P, which stands for “presence.”

In the Bible we find God revealed to us as “Father” and us his daughters and sons by faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit forms the fellowship of the church which is one big family of families with God himself being our head and leader. One of the things we find in both the Old and New Testaments, and throughout church history, is that God is present with his people. Consider this short smattering of verses to simply serve as a small illustration of the massive biblical theme of the presence of God:

Old Testament

  • God with our first parents in the garden (Genesis 1-2)
  • Sin as separation from God (Genesis 3)
  • Pillar of Fire, Cloud – God with and leading his people (Exodus 13, 14)
  • The ancient tabernacle – the presence of God among the people in the camp (Exodus 26)
  • Moses’ confidence was only if the presence of God went with the people (Exodus 33:12-16)
  • Promise of presence – I will be their God, they shall be my people (Ezekiel 37:15-28)
  • The Temple – where God’s presence dwelled (2 Chronicles 5)

New Testament

  • Jesus was called Emmanuel – God with us (Matthew 1)
  • The Word became Flesh – The Son of God dwelling/tabernacling with humanity as one of us (John 1:1-3, 14)
  • Jesus the New Temple (Mark 11)
  • The Church as a place of presence (Ephesians 2:11-22, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
  • The Communion Table as a place of presence and fellowship (1 Corinthians 10:14-22, Revelation 3:20)
  • He is with us in his mission (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:4, 5)
  • The Kingdom of Heaven – The dwelling place of God in man (Revelation 21:3)

The promises of God are that he will be with us!!! His presence leads us, His presence assures us, His presence shows us love and grace, His presence guides us, His presence disciplines us, His presence convicts us and His presence allows us to trust his heart when we don’t understand our present circumstances.

I say all this to make one central point about parenting. The Fatherhood of God is an up close and personal reality for the believer. Parenting should be an up close, personal reality for families with kids.

Our kids need to know their Mom and Dad as they are discipled and taught. Parents should desire to win the hearts of their children when they are young, not lose them because we are always scurrying around for anything and everything. What I want to say next I want to say clearly but gently. Our culture has also bought into a stupid idea that if we can get “quality time” together then our families will be close, connected and fruitful. The problem is in our definition. The truth is that quality time IS quantity time. To know their Mommy and Daddy, children need to be with you and not simply for half an hour a week. If your kids don’t know your hearts, you will not have quality “forced quick time” with them. In fact, without time given to your kids, they will not want to be with you. As they get older, they will find better things to do than “quality time” with ole Mom and Dad. Fathers, be with your kids often and intentionally from the time they are young. I have two kids who are now in middle school and we are very close. Why? Because we have been since day one. I’ve made sure that I’m around for them.

We live in a world where we must work and work hard in the hustle and bustle of the east coast. Moms and Dads both are running hard and fast to juggle work, kids activities, schooling options and serving others in ministry and mission. Finding time to listen to kids, be into what they are into, to give focus to their faces and not to our phones is a huge challenge. DO IT! Without presence our voices grow small, our kids’ opinions of us weaken and our opportunity to be guides who give wisdom are diminished over time. A few quick ideas to close.

Finding a Place with Your Kids

Expose them to your Loves – when your kids are young do things that you love with them. Expose them to your heart, your hobbies and the quirkiness of what is uniquely you. It’s no coincidence that our kids like sports, reading books, audiobooks, country music (wife did that), marvel comic universe (not DC haters but it is superior), asking questions, sci-fi and fantasy movies.

Follow their Loves Fully – Your kids will take up interests of their own that you never cared for or wouldn’t choose yourself. Follow those interests any way. Play with LEGOS, ponies, trains named Thomas and cuties from the littlest pet shop. Read about dinosaurs and clone wars and talk about whether Yoda can really beat Vader. Listen to the musical instruments, listen to stories about fish caught with Grandpa and hear about the books you wouldn’t read and delight in their delight in these things. You might even learn to love something you previously hated…like soccer. ;-)

Listen, Listen, Listen – My daughters have more words than I could ever imagine. I’m there to listen to anything and everything. Yes, it takes patience and focus and sometimes it’s just hard for the old man to keep up, but I want to hear what’s going on with the kiddos. My son wants to talk about what dinosaur is the toughest and who would win in T-Rex vs Raptor fights. I’m in – I’m in to listen. This does mean putting down the phone and unplugging from work and social media to hear the hearts of your kids. If you are present, you can listen.

Do Stuff with them – We go to practices, school plays, movies, meals out together and all sorts of activities. Just this summer I’ve ridden roller coasters until I’m green with one and laid around and chilled with another just to spend some time together.

Apologize and Repent – Kids need to know you are sorry when you mess up and see your own repentance and faith in life. If you are distracted, working too much, ignoring your kids and simply there but not there with them…apologize, repent, do different. I’ve found that husbands and wives can help one another in seeing that one or the other needs time with the kids or a particular kid. You are not perfect, you’ll have your face in the phone too much. Just own it and move forward together. 

Debrief Life in the Moments God Supplies – There are moments in life where God gives time with the little ones to debrief, teach and exhort and encourage. After an emotional disappointment, after a disagreement with a sibling or another kid, after they’ve been told no about something, before a game or heading home from first day in school. There are precious moments that are teachable.

Being present with your kids early and often in life means that you have been through the ups and downs of the world of KIDdom so that you are a trusted and wise voice. Later on your little ones will hit many life transitions. They will go to school, hit puberty, transitions to middle, high school and college, deal with the drama of “dating”, choosing a spouse and maybe having their own kids. If you’ve been present in the game from the start you’ll have the potential of a relationship with them through it.

When my oldest hit her teen years we had a very clear re-definition of our relationship. I told her my role is shifting to being a guide as she makes more and more of her own choices. We have watched a lot of Bear Grylls’ Man vs Wild over the years so I gave her this metaphor. Life is like Bear hanging on a tree limb going down a white water rapid filled river. Because he is wise he knows the water flow that shows a boulder is under the surface or where deep swirling undertow currents reside. Life is like heading down that river. I’m just going to point things out to you as you are making your way. There’s a big rock coming up, watch out for that swirling eddy! You will make choices, I’m here to help as a guide who loves you. Trust my voice, I will trust yours. Let’s do this.

Be present my friends. God is here for us. He has placed us here for the little ones. Love them well.

Part four will focus on the L(G) or the Love/Grace function. The most important parenting principles of all. Until next time…stay in the game with your kids.

Jupiter Hammon - A First Among Poets

JUPITER HAMMON (1711-1806)

GOING FIRST

To say someone was one of the first to do something is a pretty big deal. To say someone was the first American of African descent to do something in our country is a really big deal. Many times those who are the first in this way are said to break a color barrier as African Americans were required to play by different rules, subject to different laws and under extreme prejudice and injustice for centuries on this continent. In preparing this brief biographical sketch on a man from the earliest days of America I was saddened that I knew more about Jackie Robinson than Jupiter Hammon. If you know not either Jackie or Jupiter, I’m happy you are taking the time to hear of Mr. Hammon first. 

BASIC BIOGRAPHY

Jupiter Hammon lived his life as the owned property of other human beings. He lived through the era of imperial rule in the Americas, through the revolutionary days into the earliest dawn of the United States.  He lived not far from us here in New Jersey growing up and living most of his life on Long Island, NY. He lived his entire life as a slave in the service of the Lloyd family. The Lloyds were a wealthy household and Hammon served as a tutor to children as well as a business clerk and bookkeeper. 1 Hammon was educated by Harvard graduate Nehemiah Bull and a missionary named Daniel Denton. 2 Though a slave in the temporal and natural sense of the word he was, however, possessed by another master as he saw his life ultimately belonging to Jesus Christ. His dedication to the Lord was demonstrated by his taking on extra work simply to earn money to purchase his own Bible. It was this book that occupied so much of his thought, heart and devotion and it is reflected throughout his work.The Lord he loved inspired him to write poetry. His work was so compelling that he became one of the first published African American authors in North America in 1769.4  

HAMMON’S WORKS 

Hammon’s best known works are An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penitential Cries 5 and his Address to the Negroes in the State of New York. The former was the poem which was his first published work in 1769. The latter as it was his most enduring and wide read address. An Evening Thought is a clear and resounding work of gospel clarity and devotion. Hammon was a convert to Jesus through the spiritual awakenings in the colonies in the 1730s and 1740s. 7 In a day when black people were seen by many as inferior to their European masters, Hammon’s thoughts drew his readers up to our common creator, judge and savior Jesus Christ. Hammon wrote in such a way that people were apparently doubtful that his work was the product of a slave. Even his printers included a disclaimer which was published as a header to his most famous work “An address to the Negroes in the State of New York.” The disclaimer read as follows in the original. 

hammon_disclaimer.PNG
As this address is wrote in a better style than could be expected from a slave, so maybe ready to doubt the genuineness of the production. The author, as he informs in the title page, is a servant of Mr. Lloyd, and has been remarkable for his Fidelity and abstinence from those vices, which he warns his brother in against. The manuscript wrote in his own hand, is in our possession. We have made no material alterations in it, except in the spelling, which we found needed considerable correction. 8 

HAMMON ON SLAVERY 

Hammon’s views of slavery may sound strange for some of us to understand. In his address to his fellow African Americans in New York, he shared that his desire was to remain as a servant to his masters. He expressed he had no desire to be free though he encouraged others towards freedom if they could gain it honestly.9 This however must be coupled with a few observations. First, Hammon apparently had a good relationship and situation with the Lloyd family of Long Island. It seemed they both viewed and treated him as a trusted part of their household and family. Furthermore, he seemed to have held two truths in tension. First, how slaves should relate to their earthly masters and second, whether or not people were morally right in taking others as slaves. He viewed the latter as morally evil while encouraging those who were slaves to show honor and obedience to their masters. For example, in his “Address to the Negroes” we read the following doubt of the institution’s morality, while affirming the honoring of masters.  He wrote:

 “Now whether it is right, and lawful in the sight of God, for them to make slaves of us or not, I am certain that while we are slaves it is our duty to obey our masters, in all their lawful commands, and mind them unless we are bid to do what we know to be sin, or forbidden in God’s word.” 10  

Finally, a more recently discovered manuscript makes it resoundingly clear that Hammon viewed slavery as “a manmade evil.” 11 Many of his works were also published by the Quakers a group firmly on the side of the full abolition of the institute of slavery in America. 

THINGS I LEARNED

In reading Hammon’s work I learned a few things and was impacted in several ways.  First, Hammon was a realist about the fallenness of this word astutely observing that “I have had more experience in the world than most of you, and I have seen a great deal of the vanity, and wickedness of it.” 12 Second, even though he existed under a system of utter injustice and slavery he did not see that as a reason to sin and disobey God. It seems he understood the Lord Jesus who taught us to love our neighbors and even our enemies. He even gave fellow slaves counsel on how following the Lord, doing right and honoring others, and not stealing would be of more benefit to them than sinning against a harsh master. He condemned theft and being unfaithful to others in the strongest of terms.13 Third, he put the honor of God and God’s name above all.  His exhortation against swearing or taking God’s name in vain was unambiguous. He even dissuaded those who would use the example of swearing white masters as an excuse for their language. He reminded them that there is a higher authority always with each of us: “God is greater than all other beings, and him we are bound to obey. To him we will give an account for every idle word we speak.”14  Finally, though he desired freedom for the coming generation of black people in America, he continued to point to the great reality of spiritual and eternal freedom as the greatest concern.  I think he just dropped the mic after this one: “We cannot be happy if we are ever to so free, or ever so rich, while we are servants of sin and slaves to Satan.”15

It is clear from reading Hammon’s poetry and addresses that he was first and foremost concerned with the Kingdom of God and people coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He even encouraged freed blacks in his day to use their new freedom for the study of the Bible and to promote of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To the freedmen he said plainly “You have more time to read God’s holy word, and to take care of the salvation of your souls. Let me beg of you to spend your time in this way, or it will be better for you, if you had always been slaves.” Whether this was said as hyperbole or simply from a strong set of eternal values, Hammon saw the preeminence of Christ and his Kingdom.  This comes through pointedly in his first published poem which begins with these words:

SALVATION comes by Jesus Christ alone, 
The only Son of God; 
Redemption now to every one, 
That love his holy Word. 
Dear Jesus we would fly to Thee, 
And leave off every Sin, 
Thy tender Mercy well agree; 
Salvation from our King. 
Salvation comes now from the Lord, 
Our victorious King; 
His holy Name be well ador'd, 
Salvation surely bring. 
Dear Jesus give thy Spirit now, 
Thy Grace to every Nation, 
That han't the Lord to whom we bow, 
The Author of Salvation.
Dear Jesus unto Thee we cry, 
Give us thy Preparation; 
Turn not away thy tender Eye; 
We seek thy true Salvation.

We do seek the same King today that he so strongly pointed his world to in America’s early days. 

Lord, do Give us thy preparation,
Reid S. Monaghan

Notes

  1. Nancy I. Sanders, America’s Black Founders, Revolutionary Heroes and Early Leaders, 26. 
  2. Henry Louis Gates Jr, African American Lives, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), Kindle edition, location 18342.
  3. Sanders, 26.
  4. Gates, kindle edition, location 18396.
  5. Jupiter Hammon, An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penitential Cries, Available online at http://xtf.lib.virginia.edu/xtf/view?docId=chadwyck_aap/uvaGenText/tei/chaap_D046.xml
  6. Jupiter Hammon, Address to the Negroes in the State of New York. 1787. Sabin Americana, Print Editions 1500-1926.
  7. Gates, kindle edition, 18360.
  8. Preface to Hammon, Address to the Negroes in the State of New York. 1787.
  9. Hammon, 13.
  10. Hammon, 7.
  11. Bridget Lewis “UT ARLINGTON PROFESSOR, GRADUATE STUDENT DISCOVER POEM WRITTEN BY 18TH CENTURY SLAVE FROM NEW YORK”, http://www.uta.edu/news/releases/2013/02/Jupiter%20Hammon%20poem.php. Published on Feb 5, 2013. Accessed Feb 25, 2013.
  12. Hammon, 7.
  13. Hammon, 8, 9.
  14. Hammon, 12.
  15. Hammon, 19. 
  16. An Evening Thought