Why is God in Heaven? That’s the type of question that children have all the time. How do you answer them? Do you feel uncomfortable or unsure? Perhaps you have responded with the same type of canned answer you may have received as a child. Don’t feel bad, you are not alone. Most adults don’t like to admit that they aren’t always certain how to address these types of topics with children.
Bryan Popin, is a gospel artist, pianist, writer and producer dubbed “Little Boy Wonder” by the musical genius Stevie Wonder. His first life-changing prayer was at age 11. By age 18, he graduated from Bible School becoming a licensed Minister.
Bryan has written over 200 songs and earned a #1 spot on Billboard’s TopGospel Album last year. He was also honored at this year’s Annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards coming on the heels of receiving his first Stellar Award nomination earlier this year.
But despite his successes, undoubtedly one of his greatest titles next to being husband to his sweetheart Susan is being father to SIX children!
CFU: How do you explain that God is not make believe even though you cannot see Him?
BP: For me and my family it was always engraved in us at a young age, God was just part of our lives. We prayed together, talked about God openly and made sure that He was not just this BIG God out in space, but someone that cared about our feelings, our daily life, our thoughts, our faults, our hurts, our victories, our confusion, our pain… all of it.
BP: I always remember my Dad saying…”When you want to sit in that chair right there you do what, you just sit. You trust that the chair will hold you, the screws are tightened, the wood inside the cushion is not rotting and frail, but rather you don’t even think, you just trust.” We don’t see the wind, yet we feel it and know that that is called wind because we are taught it.
BP: There is beauty all around us. All of it is God’s creation. The mountains, hills, grass, oceans, lakes, sky, sun. Even, the small things we take for granted. Water, food, a chair to sit in. All of it is a blessing for us and to us. We must never take anything or anyone for granted.
BP: My wife and I teach all of our kids that God works through people. How people are different and that is God’s creativity. Our differences are beautiful. Culture is beautiful. Be open to let God use you, speak to you, work through you to be a help and blessing to someone or something.
Train Up a Child
BP: I think it’s really important to teach your children to pray at an early age. To have a real relationship with God. They will find God on their own through their own life experiences, but because it was engraved in them when they were young, they will run to God rather than away from God.
Why is God in Heaven?
CFU: Have your children ever asked why is God in Heaven?
BP: Yes, we have 6 kids lol! Ages 4 months, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 19. Usually what happens is 1 will ask a question and another will answer it, almost spot on. Not because they are so smart, but because we have spent the time to pray with them, teach them and show them the way.
Out of the Mouths of Babes
BP: My 3-year-old little man Joey, actually asked this question as he is more of our blunt, very open and curious child. Immediately my 9-year-old son Max, replies saying why do you think that God only lives in heaven? God lives in our hearts. Well… as a Dad who tries to do and say the right things, yet most def messes up more than I would like to… I was beyond proud of my kid at that moment!
God is Omnipresent
BP: I think it’s important to teach children that God is everywhere and is everything. He is not just in one state or one city or one building. He is bigger than that. He can be in TN and NY at the same time. He can speak to someone in California at the same time He speaks to someone in NJ. He works through people, uses those that are willing to hear His voice, take the time to spend with Him and be open to His will. He is a creative God. His beauty is everywhere. In people, in everything we see. The grass, dirt, sunset, sky, mountains in the horizon, ocean… His beauty and creativity is everywhere if you open your eyes to know that there is a creator and take the time to enjoy His creation.
BP: Heaven is definitely a real place. But, it is not the only place God dwells. Heaven is also not this earth that we live in.
Why Does God Take Our Loved Ones?
CFU: We tell children that God is good what about when He our loved ones die?
BP: This is never easy. Children usually ask things we adults struggle with and do not ask. For me, I’ve always been taught and known that the world we live in is not heaven. The world we live in is not just good. There is bad and evil in this world. Instead of blaming God for the bad/evil, I think it’s important to be thankful we have God. Through the pain, through the hurt, through the frustration, through the sadness. We have Jesus, the Holy Spirit to help us, comfort us and give us strength during these times and to also help prepare us for these times.
All Things Work Together for Good
BP: God is good, and God will use any circumstance or any situation, any failure, any hurt, any defeat or any loss that was meant to hurt us and HE will turn it around for His good. To help someone that is going through what we’ve gone through or to allow that situation to drive us or catapult us to a direction in life He wants us to pursue or shift us too.
BP: God is good, all the time. We live in a world that is not perfect. Only heaven is perfect. There is death, pain and loss on this earth. What are you going to do during this season or time in your life when you experience this death, pain and loss? It’s always important to mourn with those hurting or for those you cared about. God gave us feelings. After time, we must transform those feelings and our mind to speak life over our mind, our situation and our feelings. This is a daily lifestyle process. Speaking God’s word over our life, our children, our mind, our circumstances.
Armor of God
BP: I think one of the scariest things is to not know the word of God. It’s like going to war with no armor. There is so much more than just a relationship with God. There is a plan for your life and an outline to equip you along the process. The goal is to use what you’ve learned and know and apply it to your life and pass it on to your loved ones, family, children.
Do as I Say AND Do
CFU: How important is it for children to see adults worshipping God?
BP: I think it’s INCREDIBLY important.
I have been in full time music ministry now for 22 years. It’s all I’ve ever really done. From a teen to now a Dad with 6 kids lol! When I was a teen, I saw my wife, Susan, worshipping God at a church service conference. I was overwhelmed with not just her, but how wholeheartedly you would worship. Hands fully extended, smiling, crying, dancing. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Obviously, I had to know more about this woman and eventually marry her lol!
Like Mother, Like Daughter
BP: One time, during a church service, I remember looking down at Gigi, my 5-year-old daughter, her hands were fully extended and she was trying to worship like her Mommy. Eyes squinting as she would watch Momma, then close her eyes and worship, then open her eyes and look again at Momma!
BP: When I was in my teens I took piano lessons from a Julliard professor in NYC. He would ask me to play a classical piece that I never saw before. I would then ask him to please play it for me first. After I saw and heard him play it, I understood what it was supposed to look like, sound like and feel like. I could then almost play it as a copycat as he played it for me.
Action Speaks Louder Than Words
BP: Point being, if we don’t show our children the way, who will? If we don’t teach our children the way, then who will? We must not just teach our children from a book but show them with our actions as well. Both are important.
Memories of Dad
BP: One day I found out that my Dad served in special forces for the army when an old newspaper clipping fell from a high shelf as I was helping them move. My Dad never said anything about war, serving in the armed forces or anything to me while growing up as a kid. I picked his brain that day, asking him everything I could think of as I was so proud of him and thankful for his service. One thing he told me I will never forget… when or if a soldier was to lift their hands and surrender, it was the absolute last resort. It was letting the other party know that you are wholeheartedly theirs. You surrender your life, your heart, your ideas, your thoughts, letting everything go and place your life in their hands. Truly surrendering to what they want to do with your life.
BP: With that now engraved in my mind, every time I see someone worshipping with their hands lifted or I decide to lift my hands in worship… I remember this statement from my Dad. I used to question why people would lift their hands and what the point of it was. Never again.
CFU: Your children know that you are a singer, but do they understand that what Daddy does is not the same as mainstream entertainer/performers?
BP: My wife has taught all of our children that God uses Daddy to go to churches and help people by encouraging them through his music. That Daddy is in ministry and it is more of a calling.
BP: Usually when I pack up and leave, I hear my little 3-year-old Joey say…”Daddy, God wants you to go help people again?” They just know the calling on my life and what I do. Most times I try to take them one at a time, so they can see what ministry is about. So they can see with their own eyes what Daddy does. They help me with my CD’s at my product table, carry my keyboard, whatever they can do to help. More importantly, they spend quality time with me doing God’s work. They see how people are encouraged through the music and how it connects with people’s heart when they see how Jesus touches their life. How God uses the music as a tool to encourage people and how it brings people together. Oh yeah, and that church and ministry can be alive and fun too! I love what I do and want them to see that I love what I do.
Suffer Not the Children
BP: The last thing I want my children to do is suffer because my priorities are out of order. I learned this years ago, when I didn’t value the very things God had already blessed me with yet gave me the grace to restructure and reorder my life. I promised myself I would never let me family be negatively affected by ministry because I let them feel not important.