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Parenting 101 Part 3

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

In the last couple articles, I’ve discussed Christian parenting.  It’s been tough to write because as I write, I learn.  And what I’ve learned is that I’m struggling with this parenthood things as much as the next person.  When stacking up my strategy or successes in parenting against God’s model, I’m extremely weak.  We covered basic expectations in Part 1.  We covered some basic “how to’s” given from Moses out of Deuteronomy in Part 2.  This time let’s go one step further.  Baby steps!

God wants us to raise kids who love and know Him.  In order to do that, we need to be constantly reminding them of God’s ways.  How many times have you said, “Put that down!”  Moses’ instructions were to write God’s ways on doors, door posts, gates, walls…to talk about them all the time…and to tie them to our foreheads and hands.  OK, so some of you are asking the question, “How in world do I do that?  Posters?  Tattoos?”

I’ve got some simple answers.  I’m not sure how easy this will be to implement if you’re not used to it…but they are simple ideas.  And…..they are from the Bible.  Smile, we’re in this together.  First idea is simple.  And yes, it’s posters.  Haha…some of you didn’t expect that.  Here’s the idea.  Our little brains need reminders.  We forget easy.  That’s one reason we have the Lord’s Supper.  Sometimes we get caught in the rut of continually going through the same routine each and every day.  Sometimes we forget why we do things.  Posters, pictures, and notes taped to the wall help remind us.  3M found this to be true when they started making millions of dollars by selling pre-stickied pieces of paper called “sticky notes.”  What a concept!  There are some awesome artists who burn or carve scriptures into wood (P. Graham Dunn).  Does the name Thomas Kinkade ring a bell?  We love the beauty of the items these and other artists put out, but the hope is that the truth painted, sculpted or carved and hung on our walls will burn itself into our soul.  Moses’ big fear was that we’d forget about God.  My wife has become notorious about printing quotes and verses out and taping them to our door frames and bathroom mirrors.  Why?  So we’ll remember.  How many of us post and repost inspiration and scripture as our Facebook status update?  How many of us Tweet God’s truth on a regular basis?  We need reminders of God’s truth so when we’re up against temptation or inside of a dark time, we can remember the Truth.

So with all of that said, let’s just take Moses’ suggestion literally.  Let’s set ourselves up to remember.  We know we’re forgetful.  We just need to be proactive.  You don’t have to go out and buy a $100 piece of art work.  Just get out a piece of paper and a marker, write down a verse that you think God wants you to remember, and tape it to the fridge, or porch door, or to the dash board of the car.

Second…and this will be a tougher one for many of us.  Get to know your Bible.  Help your kids get to know their Bible.  It’s long been a rite of passage for a child to receive their first Bible.  But how many of our kids carry it daily…read it daily…even know where it is daily?  I know my kids have trouble with that.  Know why?  Because dad does too.  They will do what they see.  How many of us have our kids carry their Bibles to church services on Sunday but then forget about them the rest of the week?  My hand is raised…guilty.  I think this one starts with us as parents.  We need to be “meditating on His word…”  That’s from Psalm 1:2…the rest of the verse says “day and night.”  That’ll rearrange your schedule won’t it.  But the beginning of that verse starts by saying this, “Blessed is the man/woman who…”  Is that something we can do?  Heck yes!  And Satan will fight every step we try.  He will approve of our every excuse.  “I can’t understand it.”  “I’m too busy.”  “I already go to services.”  “I’ll just use the pew Bible.”

The question comes down to this.  Are you willing to fight for what you know God wants in your life?  Are you willing to fight for what you know God wants for your kids?  Will you do things that this world might consider radical or weird?  Are you willing?  We have a church family that spans the globe.  We’re not alone.  Hold on together…encourage each other…pray for each other.  That’s what the family is for.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

 

PART 1

PART 2

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Approaching Christmas

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Approaching Christmas

Our culture has this odd approach to Christmas nowadays.  There’s political correctness being argued in every corner.  Mass consumerism is rampant.  As the numbers of separated families continue to rise, arguments over who gets who for the big morning abound.  I just had a young teenage lady in my office in tears wondering how she can make everyone in her ‘two homes’ happy.  There are even expectations for families who consider themselves healthy.  There are traditions to uphold.  There are certain cookies to bake.  Budgets are stretched while kids hand catalogs with circled wishes to their parents.  It seems to me that Christmas is full of pressure.  Do you ever feel like that?  Do you now feel like that?

A couple years ago I jumped into an argument of ‘posts’ with person who doesn’t believe in God.  Christmas was just a day off to him.  He was and I assume still is a thought writer…a blogger.  His approach then was to criticize all Christians for using Christmas trees and outside lights.  We were not living up to our true traditional worship.  He saw Christians caught up as much as anyone else in the consumerism of the day.  He also believed that Christmas should not be a national holiday nor should schools, hospitals, government buildings, or city parks show anything that would help someone celebrate the season…because the base holiday of the season is Christmas.

I asked him if, because I put up a tree or outside lights, that I love Jesus less.  He answered that he didn’t mean people like me.  That was funny.  I also asked him if my show of joy for the season should be private or public.  He said that I should be respectful of other beliefs and carefully trod what I say so not to offend.  His joy for not believing was very public, but he was very against Christmas being public.  His contention was that because it is religious, it should be private, personal and quietly held.  Wow.  More pressure on us believers.  I’m sure you’ve heard and seen similar things in the news or your workplace.  He did get me thinking though about how people really see my celebration.

Is this an article to argue (voice raised here), “Our Rights as American Citizens!”?  No, not at all.  I’m simply writing for my own reasons.  I’m finding that it feels like I’m in the middle of a tornado watching all the expectations, political correctness, busyness, things to do and buy fly around me in whirlwind fashion.  Something inside me wonders … as Christians, do we really celebrate the new born king?

Luke 1:46-55 records a song.  It’s Mary’s song she sang while talking with her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist.  The NIV translates the Mary’s Merry Christmas greeting as, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”  Luke 2:14 records the shepherds crying out their holiday greeting as, “Glory to God in the highest…”  It’s later recorded in the same chapter that the shepherds went and told everyone they saw about what they were blessed to witness….and all were amazed (2:17).  I’m wondering if we’re so far removed from the history of what really happened that we’ve lost the real joy.  By ‘real joy’ I mean that we now have a way to Heaven.  Are we allowing the frustrations and pressures and consumerism and expectations and political correctness to steal away the joy that Mary and the shepherds once had?  Can we still have that same joy?  Can we have the same joy that caused Simeon to say, “…you can now dismiss your servant in peace…” after seeing the baby Jesus?  Can we still have the joy that caused the shepherds to tell…key word is tell…many people about their joy?

Are lights and trees ok?  Is Santa ok?  Are children’s Christmas lists ok?  Are big ham dinners with homemade cookies and hot chocolate ok?  Let’s say that I’ve had a change of heart.  I love that stuff.  Lots of people do.  Many celebrate the season not really knowing why the season is celebrated.  However, do I, in the midst of hanging outdoor wreaths and wrapping presents, proclaim glory to the promised king?  I guess it comes down to this.  If people see me celebrate, but all they see are the tree lights or the shirt tie that plays “Little Drummer Boy” or the antlers that fit on my dog’s head, then I’m off base.  As a believer, I’m a priest carrying the promise of salvation to the world (1 Peter 2:9).  What better time do we have to celebrate publicly with smiles and joy?  This is the time we can celebrate as a church family, worldwide, that our savior was born.  We have forgiveness!

So, I don’t write this for those who don’t believe.  I write this for me, a believer, who sometimes gets stuck in the rut of the “holidays” and forgets that I’ve been both privileged and entrusted with a message that truly is the best news anyone has ever received.  It’s not mine to keep.  It’s His story…for me to give away.

 

Oh come let us adore Him,

ed

 

PS – Just thinking out loud here.  On Easter Sunday many Christians greet each other with “He is risen!” to which the response, “He is risen indeed!” is given.  Let’s start something new just for the sake of newness and as a reminder.  How about, “He has been born!”  “He has been born indeed!”  : 0 )

God Owns It All

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it… Psalm 24:1

We are simply stewards of what we have been given.  Thats how it started in the beginning in the garden of Eden.  Nothing has changed, except our sinfulness. 

How does your, our, my sinfulness get in the way of being great stewards of what God brings to us or allows us to have?

What do we need to change?

Authority

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

***

A Department of Water Resources representative stops at a Texas ranch and talks with an old rancher. He tells the rancher, “I need to inspect your ranch for your water allocation.”

The old rancher says, “Okay, but don’t go in that field over there.”

The Water representative says, “Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me.. See this card? This card means I am allowed to go WHEREVER I WISH on any agricultural land. No questions asked or answered. Have I made myself clear? Do you understand?”

The old rancher nods politely and goes about his chores.

Later, the old rancher hears loud screams and sees the Water Rep running for his life. And close behind is the rancher’s bull. The bull is gaining with every step.

The Rep is clearly terrified, so the old rancher immediately throws down his tools, runs to the fence and yells at the top of his lungs…..

“Your card! Show him your card!”

***

When we think of authority, what do we often picture?  Our world, I believe, has kind of fogged our trust in anyone with authority.  Many times, if you watch or listen to the news, stories about people who have abused their authority seem to fill the airtime.  You know why this is true?  It’s because we’re all human.  When we find someone who seems to speak or lead or teach with authority…and we can trust them…it might seem abnormal.  We are human and we have sin as our nature.

The closing statement to the section of Scripture known as The Sermon on the Mount says that the people saw Jesus as someone who spoke with authority.  This statement is also written for comparison.  The people who have been listening to Jesus speak had ‘authorities.’  They were their teachers of The Law.  The law mentioned is the Law of Moses.  These people probably had good intentions…giving them the benefit of the doubt…but were seen as people with just human authority.  The verse states the crowds were amazed at Jesus authority.  What they just heard might have been similar to what they had heard before…but they were hearing it from the ultimate source.  They were hearing it from the author.

Do you, when you read or study God’s word, think you are receiving it as though it is coming straight from the mouth of the Lord?  When you hold your Bible, do you feel as though you are really holding the holiest stories and commands on the planet?

Here’s what we see in the Old Testament.  Nehemiah, in chapter 8 of his book, records that as Ezra opened God’s Word at the appointed worship time, the people stood.  As he began to read the people bowed with their faces to the ground.  They knew that God’s word…God’s authority…was present.  Not through Ezra…but through the Word.  In 2 Kings we read of when the high priest of the time found The Book of the Law while cleaning a room in the Temple.  This was their Bible!  They had gone on with “worship” and “sacrifice” in ritual…doing things that temple people do (that church people do) forgetting about God’s holy word.  When Hilkiah, the high priest, brought the book of the law to his king and read it to him, the king responded by tearing his robes in repentance.  He realized that they had walked away from their authority.  King Josiah, remembering who actually reigns in authority over all the earth, began to clean house.  That’s about the best two word phrase I can come up with.  The king cleaned house fully knowing that the consequences of forgetting God’s authority were already in play.  He knew that God was not happy and things were going to happen because of that…but he cleaned house anyway.   He pressed his people, God’s chosen nation/family, to return to their Lord and His ways only.  Josiah recognized divine authority and responded.  Ezra recognized God’s divine authority…and so did the Israelites…and they responded.

The people who listened to Jesus’ sermon here in Matthew recognized something different about this man.  It might have been similar words He was speaking, but as Matthew writes, a sense of amazement was in the air.  I remember watching The Passion of the Christ movie in the theater with friends from church.  After the last scene was over, there was compete silence in the theater.  It was eerie.  It was like we had just revisited the crucifixion…personally.  I can imagine Jesus wrapping up the story about the wise man and the foolish man, walking off the stone he was preaching from, as people stood and stared with jaws hanging open.  There probably were a couple people who wanted to cheer and clap.  Maybe a few others shouted an Amen or something similar.  But the Bible says that a sense of amazement hung over the crowd.  This was not normal.  This was different.  Their teachers spoke great things … these words were great things spoken by someone completely different.

How do you respond when you read or hear God’s word?  Know what the crowds did?  The next chapter begins with “…large crowds followed him.”  They wanted more.  They wanted to be close.  They wanted to be with this authority figure.  One man, figuring out who Jesus was, and asked to be healed…and he was at Christ’s word.  When you realize you haven’t been following God’s authority, do you respond with a sense of awe and repentance and amazement?  Does it help you clean house?  Does is cause you to want to follow closer and more often?  Does it cause you to reach out to Jesus and ask for help and healing and forgiveness?  I struggle here too.  But let’s be real for just one short sentence.  It should.

Each and every day in our own lives we respond to and respect authority.  Our job.  Traffic signs.  Tax law.  Federal and State government.  We all obey rules and follow through on things that ‘authorities’ above us hand down.  These people and entities are authorities in our lives…and the Bible says for us to follow the authorities placed over us as much as we can within the boundaries of obeying God.  But these authorities are human.  God has placed or allowed them to be in power over us for a season…for a time.  But God’s authority is over the universe.  It is over our very lives.  How do we respect and respond to Him?  It’s a question we need to think about each day.  How we think about God and His authority directly relates to how we live our lives, how we speak our words, what we do to and for other people.  If we see God as our ultimate authority, the author of our Bible, it would be noticeable.  Do your friends and family, without a doubt, know who you believe in and how much you believe?  Has God’s authority changed who you are?

Here’s some questions for growth:

  • Do you know where your Bible is right now?
  • When is the last time you read it with amazement…as though you were reading it and God was speaking to you directly?  What did He say?
  • Does realizing this help you want to approach the God of the Universe in a new way?  How?
  • What changes will you make this week to approach and stand before the ultimate Judge recognizing the authority He has?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

Who He is. Who we are not.

August 4, 2011 Leave a comment

****

A man went on a nature
walk. A bear began to chase him, so he climbed a tree.

As he was climbing he
slipped down into the bear’s arms.

He prayed “Lord let
this be a Christian bear.”

The bear said “Lord
thank you for this food.”

****

The last message that we’ll focus on is
on a part of Jesus’ model prayer that many of us have memorized.
However, if you read a translation other than the KJV, you’ll find
that its not there.  Our focus is on Matthew 6:13B.  It’s often
referred to as a doxology.  Simply put, most scholars agree that this
ending verse was not spoken by Jesus as He ended this prayer of
example.

I could go into all the details, but
for the sake of keeping this a short article, I’ll just say the
following things.  The earliest (oldest) and most trusted documents
used to translate our present day Bible do not contain this part of
verse 13.  However, some old documents and texts…not as old but
still trusted as reliable…do contain it.  Therefore, most of our
Bible translations don’t contain it, but some have placed it in this
part of Matthew with a footnote saying something like “not
contained in earliest texts.”

Ok…what’s this mean for us?  Do we
forget about it or dig in?  I vote for the dig in.  You may remember
that when we first began this study on this prayer, I wrote about our
approach to God…and how a proper approach is explained by Jesus in
the first words of this prayer.  Jesus’ words give us a humble
approach, lifting up God’s holy name while signifying who His is and
what we are not.  He is holy and in heaven.  We are in need of
forgiveness and creatures needing forgiveness.

This doxology, as many call verse 13,
was probably an ending to prayer…any prayer, that Jews commonly
recited before saying the Amen.  That’s all.  Jesus, being a Jew
himself, had probably recited this doxology or something similar many
times as He prayed in the Temple.  One article I read stated that
Jesus probably didn’t say it hear because it was basically understood
among the Jewish people He was talking to.

So if this is the case, should we throw
it out?  I don’t think so.  This phrase is simply a reminder of what
is at the beginning of this model prayer.  It is also a phrase
similar to passages found in other parts of the Bible such as 1
Chronicles 29:11.

When we say it as we recite the prayer,
we are ending our prayer much like many Hebrews/Jewish people end any
prayer they are praying.  Good thing?  Here’s how I see it.  As Jesus
taugh us a proper approach to the Creator of all things, we here have
a proper ending.  We simply close the prayer restating who He is and
what is His and in doing so, our position in all things.  The Kingdom
is His.  All the power is His.  And all glory should be given to Him.
Why not say this as a closing reminder for us?

The final word is the common ‘Amen.’
Have you ever wondered where that came from?  Why do we always say
“amen” at the end of our prayers?  Well, it simply is a Hebrew
word that means ‘so be it.’  It isn’t just a period at the end of the
last sentence you speak.  It is a word of affirmation.  In this
prayer, it means…my paraphrase of course…All is yours Lord, and I
agree with that truth.

Friends, this is just another reminder
of who we talk to when we pray.  It’s another reminder of our
nature…sinful.  It is a reminder of what we’re a part of and our
purpose.  We are a part of the Kingdom and we we to give all the
glory to Him.

Repeated Questions for reflection:

  • How do you approach God in your
    prayers?
  • Do your words match your
    heart/soul language?  Meaning…is your heart as humble as the words
    you repeat from Jesus’ model?
  • If you don’t feel it yet, act it
    out as though you do…most times the feelings follow.

PS – If you’re familiar with the
Narnia movies, I’m reminded of the small Narnian who Lucy helps save
from drowning in one of the movies.  At first, all he knows of Aslan
the Lion (the character symbolizing God in the story) is from
stories.  As he gets to know the 4 kings and queens of Narnia,
representing us in many ways, he begins to understand that they have
seen and been with Aslan…but not yet trusting…still he likes them
and has given his duty to them.  By the end of the movie, he believes
and even comes face to face with the Creator and is bowing humbly as
he finally realizes the truth.  Act as though this is true, even
though you don’t feel it yet, and slowly God does reveal.  Now this
doesn’t mean that simply reciting this prayer is going to get you
closer to God.  What I mean is that God will know whether you are
truly searching for Him and reward you adequately and in His time.

love, serve, spread the Word,

ed

John Maxwell on Forgiveness

July 14, 2011 1 comment

Please go to http://johnmaxwellteam.com for more information on how to sign up for John Maxwell’s daily thoughts.

Meditate on wisdom lately?

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

King Solomon has been considered the wisest man who ever lived, next to Christ.  Solomon, early on, had been given the right to make a request of God.  He asked God for wisdom…which in itself is a very wise choice.  Through his life as King over Israel, Solomon’s power grew through his use and manipulation of wisdom.  Let’s say that he was wise, but didn’t stay grounded in the principles of  his Creator.  Towards the end of life, Solomon writes and writes about what he has learned through his life.  He’s made mistakes and lived by want and greed rather than need and purpose.  We have the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes that show a human that has 20/20 hindsight through God’s eyes.  It would do all of us good to regularly visit these books for our daily lives.

Wisdom can be given as advice, but it is ultimately up to the receiver to put it into action or neglect it.  Conduct is up to us.  Most of us have some wisdom, maybe a lot of wisdom.  Many of us don’t live up to our learning and experience though.  Our choices of behavior, speech and thought keep us trapped in a box of habits that continually lead us in a path away from our God and His perfect plans for our lives.

A few Proverbs that you might have read or forgotten, but none the less will be helpful to you this month…and ultimately for the rest of your life.

  • Proverbs 2:11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.
  • Proverbs 3:3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
  • Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
  • Proverbs 3:31 Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways.
  • Proverbs 4:24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
  • Proverbs 6:6-8 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander,
    no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
  • Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
  • Proverbs 10:4 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
  • Proverbs 10:8 The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.
  • Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.
  • Proverbs 10:18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.
  • Proverbs 10:20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.
  • Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
  • Proverbs 11:7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

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