A Day Off In Brussels

I must be honest, it’s hard to get a day off at times. As a pastor, you’re kind of always ‘on call’ in case something comes up. Of course, there are times to leave the mobile phone at home, or turn it off, though I’m not always good at that. But it is hard to get that day off each week, during the week. You kinda have to fight for it. I don’t want anybody to play a sad song for me. I’m just writing a short blog entry about a day off that I did get and I thought I might start off with the reality of how it can be difficult to get that beloved day off.

I usually try and take Tuesdays off. You’d think Monday would be a good day to take off, and it would after giving so much on Sunday. But I have Dutch lessons starting at 9.00am every Monday morning. Not a good way to start your day off! Plus, there are little tasks and other such things that come up from the Sunday, which I try and tackle in the afternoons. Thus, I try and make Tuesday that day off.

But this week it wasn’t possible. But I did get to take Thursday off. I’m still getting used to not ‘working’ while everyone else is. It’s just weird waking up late on a day when everyone else is waking up early. But oh well.

Cook N BookSo, on Thursday I went into the city of Brussels (I live about 10 km south of the city). And I went to one of my favourite little combo cafe and book shops – Cook ‘N Book. It’s about the closest thing Brussels has to a Barnes & Noble, which I do enjoy very very much.

And while I sometimes wish there was a Barnes & Noble in Brussels, I am kind of glad there isn’t one. It keeps things more European, which makes sense with this being Europe. It’s nice to experience Europe’s culture in Europe, not America’s culture in Europe.

So, I arrived at Cook ‘N Book about midday (12.00pm) and went straight to the English book section. Thankfully they have such a section since I only speak juste un petit peu French (just a little bit). Remember, I am working on my Dutch-Flemish for now. One language is enough!

I pulled Dan Brown’s new book, The Lost Symbol, and headed straight for a table for lunch. I had been wanting to purchase the book since it came out, but thought I could wait until the The Lost Symbolpaperback for a cheaper price. Plus I was reading three other books at the time. But, after finishing up a fiction book I had been working through for the past few weeks, and trying to treat myself to a day off, I thought I will go ahead and fork out the 21 euros for the hardback copy.

So, I spent the next couple of hours eating an Italian club, sipping on a Coca-cola, and reading the first 50 pages of Dan Brown’s novel. And I took things slow in that little time slot. I savoured the time there. Of course, it was all followed up by a coffee. And the Europeans know how to make strong coffee (I think my spoon could stand up in the coffee by itself).

I kind of want to make some initial comments on Dan Brown’s novel now, but I think I will wait until I finish it and just post up a review of the full book in a few weeks. So stay tuned…

In all, I’m glad I had a day off in Brussels. It wasn’t anything special by most people’s standards, but it was just what I needed and love to do. For me, when you combine books and coffee, the Spirit can really start to flow.

My Son In The Sun

Just a couple of weeks ago, my family and I went to Florida. Obviously, part of that trip would include hanging out on the beach.

Well, here below is a picture of my three month old son chillin’ on the beach. Of course, we kept him out of the sun – in a baby tent in the shade. Hope you smile from this pic.

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Father of Your Son

caleb 170Being on holiday, I have had extra time to spend with my new little son, Caleb. Holding, talking with (well, he doesn’t talk back), rocking, observing every little nuance of his development, and much more.

I tell you, it’s quite interesting when you begin to see yourself in your son, even when he is only just coming up to three months old. First off, it starts with the closeness in our physical features. I did not realise how much he truly looked like I did when I was his age until we opened an old photo album at my parents house. It’s almost as if he at three months and me at three months are identical twins. And both of us looked so similar at only three weeks as well.

My own dad jokes at the tragedy of such likeness, but I think it quite amazing. My wife has just reminded me how happy she is that Caleb looks like me. The only thing is that Caleb has blue eyes and I have hazel eyes.

But also, even in that physical likeness, it’s not just staring at an old picture and seeing the similarity. It just happened today, on holiday in Florida, while starring at him in his rocking swing. Of course, I don’t really know all the details about myself at that age, but I have seen the pictures and videos. And I see the likeness. It reminds me of these words I read in Genesis:

When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. (Genesis 5:3)

Thankfully, I fathered my first son at 30 instead of 130 years old.

In all this, my desire continues to grow for seeing him shaped into the son he should be. We gave him the middle name Benjamin as a prophetic statement, if you will, of the relationship I desired for us two to have together. I yearn to have a close relationship with him throughout our days together, starting now and up until I pass on.

But I also know there are things in me that I don’t want him to take up. I am looking to be changed myself, see God break those unwanted things, all to spare Caleb of experiencing them and embracing them himself. But I know that it won’t be perfect. I don’t say that in an overly negative and defeated sense. But I just know I live in this age, a fallen world where sin is real and many times it gets the best of me.

But, I also take comfort in knowing that I am the father of my son. Caleb is my son. He is in my likeness and in my image – a healthy thing, something God designed. But, as a son of the Father, I want to help teach my son how to be a son of the Father.

Our Father smiles at what he has done in making Caleb the son of Scott and Scott the father of Caleb. But, in all, I want to impart the heart of Father God to my son. And if I can do that, I know I will have done the greatest thing a father can do.

Thank you for such a son, Father.

On Holiday

I am officially on holiday for two weeks, or vacation for my American friends. So, I don’t suppose I will be able to post much while I am away.

I posted this picture below the last time I was away for an extended period, so I thought I would leave it again and hopefully get a chuckle or two from people.

Feel free to leave any comments if you so desire.

The Naming of Our Son

As I wrote in my last article, our first child was born to us on 21 June 2009, Father’s Day in both America and the UK (I’m from the US and my wife is from England).

His name: Caleb Benjamin Lencke.

It’s always interesting to hear how the naming of a child comes about. Some name their children with names that have been in the family for generations. Others name their children with a more unique and original sounding name, which can become fascinating. And, of course, there are a plethora of other reasons. None are invalid, but just a variety of ways we come to name our children.

I wanted to share how we came to the name our son Caleb Benjamin.

It was quite ironic that Cat and I always had a girl’s name in mind when it came to children. For some reason it was just a little easier. But with a boy’s name, it was much more difficult. It took us a few months to really come to a conclusion. I had prayed a few times that, if God had a specific name for our son, He would make that name known. Not to overspiritualise everything, but I simply desired to hear the heart of God for our son. The reason for this?

Well, in Biblical times, the naming of someone was quite important. One didn’t simply choose a name for the sake of choosing a name. There was a sort of prophetic significance being proclaimed as the child was donned with the particular name. We see this in the naming of Eve (Genesis 3:20), Cain (Genesis 4:1), Noah (Genesis 5:28-29), the renaming of Abraham (Genesis 17:5), and so forth and so on through Scripture.

Naming someone was important, because, as I said, it was a prophetic statement over the life of that person. The greatest example would probably be Jesus (or Yeshua in Hebrew). The name simply means, ‘Yahweh saves.’ And that is what Christ came to do – usher in the saving and redeeming kingdom rule of God amongst humanity so that they may be reconciled back to the Father. Hence, we refer to Jesus as Saviour.

In regards to the first name of our son, most would be aware that Caleb was somewhat of a significant figure in the Old Testament times. He did not reach the recognition of a Noah, Abraham or Moses, but he had a unique role amongst God’s people after their miraculous exodus from Egypt.

We are first introduced to Caleb in Numbers 13 and 14. Numbers is not the most prolific of texts in the Bible, meaning we would rather read the Gospels, or Psalms, or Romans, etc. But I think the overall message of Numbers is a very relevant statement for the church today. But that is for another article sometime down the line.

But while Caleb was introduced in Numbers, my main recollection was of what happened near the end of his life mid-way through the book of Joshua. I had remembered Caleb as a strong man all the way to the end of his life. Matter of fact, he and Joshua were the only two from the older generation that had come out of Egypt who were allowed to enter the Promised Land of Canaan (see Numbers 14:30). Everyone else had died out in their 40-year wanderings in the wilderness, a judgment from God for their continual hard-hearted disbelief and complaining.

So being one of only two from the original group that was able to receive the promises of God, I had remembered him as a strong and faithful man even to end of his days. And this is confirmed in Joshua 14:6-15. Specifically, I was re-reading the story this morning and found these words quite encouraging:

10 And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. (Joshua 14:10-11)

 

And it was that last part of vs11 that had stayed with me: ‘my strength now is as my strength was then.’ Here was an 85-year old man still going strong in God, a man still persevering to the end. That is what I had remembered most about Caleb. And, therefore, in naming our son Caleb, I was making a declaration over his life that he would be one that would persevere and stay strong in God even to the end, all by the grace and strength of the intimate and Almighty One.

But recently, I have been reading through the book of Numbers, which is, as I said, where we are actually introduced to Caleb. In Numbers 13, we read that the LORD had commanded Moses to send twelve spies into the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, to survey the land in preparation for entering it. After this 40-day excursion, the twelve spies returned to give a report to the people of Israel. Ten of the spies confirmed it was a really good land (flowing with milk and honey), but this was overshadowed by their report that there were some serious obstacles in regards to the people who presently occupied the land. Thus, they were gripped with fear and they were unable to believe that they could successfully take what God had promised to them. (I sense another article/sermon here, but on we go…)

After the negative response of the ten of these spies, we read these subsequent words about Caleb:

But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30)

 

When I read those words of Caleb, my heart lept with joy. I was holding my son, who was in a deep sleep, while I was reading this passage. First of all, Caleb quieted the people. This brought to mind a man of grace and wisdom, seeing he was able to quiet a very large group of people. But, even more, I prayed over him that he would be one that would always know that, in God, ‘we are well able to overcome it.’

This simple phrase also brings to mind the well-known passage of the New Testament:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

 

Therefore, I was declaring these words of Caleb over our son. In Christ, our son is to overcome in all adversity. As Paul stated, we are a people that are more than conquerors.

Finally, I was also strongly encouraged by these words about Caleb as found just one chapter later in Numbers 14:

But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. (Numbers 14:24)

These were the words that had caught my wife’s eyes, that Caleb had a different spirit. Caleb was marked by a spirit after the heart of God, willing to follow His heart fully. This could really only be imparted by the Spirit of God.

And so I was also able to pray these words over my son as he lay asleep in my arms yesterday, that he would be one of a different spirit. When others do not see a way forward, he would see a way forward in God. When other people react in ungodly ways, he would respond with godly wisdom and grace. When others are pursuing those things that are not of the kingdom of God, he would be marked by that different spirit to passionately seek first the kingdom and its righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

Lastly, how did we come about the name Benjamin?

This also is a very well known name, in the Scriptures and in general life. Each of us probably know five different Benjamins (or Ben for short). But the reason why this name was chosen is that the literal translation of the Hebrew name is ‘son of the right hand’. In Hebrew, Ben means ‘son of’ and yamin mean ‘right hand’.

Therefore, this was a declaration about the relationship that would exist between myself and my son. He would be the son of the (or my) right hand. I want to build towards a close, intimate, fatherly relationship with my son. I want our relationship to consist of sharing life together, sharing conversation, sharing fun times, sharing hard times, sharing laughs, sharing tears, sharing guy times, and so much more. Thus, Caleb Benjamin was to be the son of my right hand.

So this is what we have prayed, even prophesied, over our son. We are exited to see this little one formed into the image of Jesus through the whole journey of life. This will by no means be ‘easy’, but it will definitely be life-changing. I can only imagine that we will learn so much about God’s father-love through the raising of our son. In the end, God might teach us more through our son than He will ever use us to teach Caleb. And I will be ok with that. But it will be an epic experience for all.

We are truly elated to begin this journey with Caleb Benjamin Lencke.