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Your Family is Your Treasure 

A friend of mine gave me this word some years ago:  “Your family is your treasure.”  It referred to my immediate family.  I’ve often thought about it, and God has used it to keep my on the right path.  Sometimes I get too busy with the work that I love, and forget my family that I love even more. 

Last week I was in Cannon Beach for the annual gathering of worship leaders from the western U.S. (This year we were joined by several friends from other nations, as well). As always, it was a great time in God’s presence with old and new friends.  After four decades in the Vineyard, I’ve had so many precious experiences with this family of God.  When I see them, I’m reminded of God’s amazing goodness to me. What a privilege to be a part of this God-begotten community. 

This week, I couldn’t help but think, this family is my treasure.  I also thought about the counterfeit treasures that lure me, namely, finding affirmation through my music.  It’s human nature to want and need love and affirmation.  Where do we really get it?  From our Father and our family. 

What our hearts really long for is relationship with God and our family.  But, in this world of American Idol and The Voice, we often look for fulfillment through receiving recognition for our gifts.  But it’s just an illusion.  Sure, we get strokes when we do our thing on stage, but it doesn’t last.  We’re in for a huge let-down if we depend on the praises of people for our happiness.  Our idols always disappoint us. 

True friendship with God and our family members is such a beautiful thing—it’s completely unconditional.  What we gain from friendship and fellowship is affirmation...being with people who enjoy being with us.  We get the feeling, "I belong here!  These people love me and like me!  I don't have to strive or performfor acceptance.  I don't have to prove anything." 

So, remember what your true treasures are.  Be content to be a friend of God and included in his household of sons and daughters.   Cherish and savor the friendships God has given you.

The Miracle of Birth  

On January 31, around 7:00 pm, my daughter-in-law felt the beginning of labor pains.  My wife, who is a licensed midwife here in British Columbia, quietly sprang into action, making preparations for the birth.  For the past several months, the plan was for Shannon to give birth in our bedroom, for more space. 

It was very exciting as Shannon’s birth pangs increased in intensity and many family members gathered to wait and offer support.  My 2-year old granddaughter, Azélia, sat with my two daughters, along with several other women, mostly Parks. 

Around midnight, I went to sleep in my downstairs office for a few hours, intermittently being woken to the sound of groaning from upstairs.  At 2:30 am, I heard the sounds of pain turn to bursts of laughter.  I thought, “This is a good sign!”  So I went upstairs and heard the good news that Zebedee Park was now among us! 

What a miracle to see little Zebedee: a perfectly formed baby boy, wide-eyed and calmly looking around the room.  Holding him to my chest, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s gift to our family.  There were complications with Shannon’s first birth, so this fast and healthy delivery was especially sweet. 

I have a grandson!  It doesn’t matter how many times I’m around a newborn—I’m in awe every time.  Having a granddaughter was amazing, now our joy is doubled.  Looking around the room at my daughters and daughters-in-law, I thought about the grandbabies in our future…with eight of our own children, I wonder what the final tally will eventually be?! 

God keeps giving us blessings we don’t deserve and haven’t earned: that’s his grace.  At times like this, I think about what is most important in life:  loving the people that are close to me.  The busy-ness of life is briefly suspended as we gather to cherish the precious moment of a new birth.

Touch Heaven Everyday            

I can remember sitting in my room of the fraternity at UCLA as a college freshman.  I was a new Christian.  I was reading the Bible and it was like someone was sitting there talking to me.  Up until then, my ‘story’ consisted of loving sports, playing guitar and being a good student so I could eventually get a good job.  Then I became part of God’s story.  The adventure was just beginning and it was exciting. 

I grew up playing the guitar as recreation.  Then it became truly re-creational.  The creative Holy Spirit was renewing me through the creative act of making music.  It was like going from black and white to full-color with surround-sound.  A fourth dimension opened up.  As I kid, I only wanted to play guitar.  I wasn’t interested in singing.   Then music became a vehicle for expressing adoration and being with a Person.  I finally had a reason to sing.  I was singing to a person.  Through the gift of music, the Holy Spirit opened the eyes of my heart to see Jesus (John 15:26). The worship-life is all about knowing a Person. 

My wife Linda describes her conversion: “Meeting Jesus was like coming to life; I was dead then I was alive; I was totally blind and not aware of being blind and suddenly I could see.  Like a baby being born, moving from one world into another.  I love singing about this transformation.” 

In a sense, every time we worship God, we are re-living our conversion experience.  We don’t always have a great epiphany, but when we reach for God’s kingdom that is near us, we touch heaven.  For this reason, I try to worship through music at least a little bit everyday.  I often don’t feel like doing it, but when I worship, I am always refreshed, even if only gently.  I need to touch heaven everyday.