But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. (James 5:12)
James 5:12 has a long history in my life. It was perhaps the first verse of the Bible that my mom shared with me in my adult years during a time I was willing to listen.
With James being the half brother of Jesus, he must have heard Jesus preaching the word over and over, observed Jesus perfection and closeness to God the Father, and witnessed Jesus perform numerous miracles. Growing up in a Godly home, observing the Sabbath, obeying the laws of Moses, and having Jesus Christ as a sibling would surely equate to immediate conversion to becoming a Christ follower right? Nope.
For not even his brothers believed in him. (John 7:5)
As Jillian mentioned in an earlier post, James became an ambassador for Christ only after the resurrection. All signs pointed to Jesus as the Christ through the entire life of James but his eyes weren’t opened and his heart just didn’t believe right away.
I compare this to those of us who grew up in a home where there was christian teaching and regular church attendance, but we don’t come to a true faith in Jesus until later in life. This post isn’t about all of the reasons why it took me so long; it is about the fact that there were many seeds planted over the years by someone who cared, and at least not all of those seeds were lost. I’m so thankful that while I may not have fully believed, I knew there was some deep down truth to be sought.
Thanks mom for never giving up on me, and more importantly for being a christian leader, teacher, and humble servant. This post was written on Mother’s Day 2016 and is dedicated to you.
My mom taught me many valuable life lessons, some that she probably doesn’t realize she taught me and some that I don’t realize came from her.
Here are just a few of the things that stand out that I learned from my mom. Of course this is not a comprehensive list, nor are they written in any order of importance, but just the first main themes that came to mind:
- She’d remind me, “tell the truth Jon…” More important than this being a rule to be obeyed, she taught me why it is so important. That when lying, it is nearly impossible to regain someone’s trust. Fortunately my loving, caring mom taught me this at a young age so that I didn’t have to learn it the hard way.
- She was relentless in teaching me the proper usage of “to, too, and two” and “their, they’re, there”, etc. Please don’t blame her for any of my grammatical mistakes or shortcomings; those are all on me. You might say, “seriously, number two on the list is spelling and grammar?” Well, the most important lesson learned wasn’t actually the subject matter. The most valuable lesson in this was that she instilled in me a desire for precision and accuracy. Much of the success in my ability to generate income for my family goes back to this. I’ve made a living over the last twenty years assessing the preciseness and accuracy of computer software systems, seeking to identify small nuances and patterns that can result in major problems.
- She has been a visible example of a Christ follower and prayer warrior for most of her life. Having this influence in the home where I grew up set the foundation for my life in eternity with our creator. For any moms out there reading this wondering if your children will ever turn it around and follow Jesus, I have two things to say. Don’t stop praying, and don’t give up.
- My mom didn’t teach me how to cook as much as she taught me something more important. She taught me why I should cook, and she taught me the art of cooking rather than the science. Why cook? To serve others, to create something new, to collaborate with someone, and to talk and bond in the process. As for the art: My mom has this amazing ability to throw a bunch of seemingly random ingredients together and make a meal taste amazing. She taught me to experiment with food, and while I possess a giant stack of cookbooks and subscribe to cooking related magazines, I rarely follow the recipes. My wife loves it when I play “test kitchen” in our home, and I love it too.
- Love one another. When my sisters and I didn’t get along, my mom didn’t go the punishment route. She insisted that we treat each other with love and kindness; she rightfully mandated that we “get along”. In other words, “figure it out”, there is a solution, but you have to work together. It means compromise, compassion, patience, and love. This mandate has greatly shaped my parenting skills. Our boys realize that human relationships can be hard, but we that they cannot give up on each other. I pray that this is a principle that transforms their own marriages and children for generations to come.