Helping Children Understand Easter

 

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Golgatha

This is an awesome time of the year!  The apex of history is the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection from the tomb (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Matthew 26:57-28:10; 1 Corinthians 15).  This event sets Jesus Christ and Christianity apart from ALL other religions around the world.

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Outside the Empty Tomb, January 19, 2017

How important that our children understand the truth about Christ and Easter.  There is no problem with enjoying eggs, candy, bunnies, and baskets, but our younger generation must know the truth, and Christ, Who is Truth.

My wife’s blog will help you accomplish this.  Be sure to take take to read and watch, Helping Children Understand Easter

The Cats in the Cradle

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Recently while running the dial on Sirius XM, I heard a song from my teen years sung by Harry Chapin entitled “The Cats in the Cradle.”

This heartbreaking song tells of a father and son who can’t schedule time to be with each other, and it serves as a warning against putting one’s career before family. The verses start out with a natural harmony and depict the tale of a father with his newborn son. Although dad gets the necessities of child rearing accomplished, he doesn’t allow himself to put in quality time with his son because of his career. Initially, this seems like no big deal because of his hectic and oblivious life working and paying bills.

The recurring verse has the son saying, “I’m gonna be like you Dad, you know I’m gonna be like you…”

Over time, both father and son grow into a switching of life roles. The father realizes his son’s ambitions of college, grades, and driving, and wants to spend more time with him, yet slowly grasps the reality that now his son has no time for such things. In the last verse, Chapin illustrates that the son is all grown up with a fast-paced job and kids of his own. In a glaring twist of roles, we see that the son now has no time to spend with his father. With a heavy heart, dad realizes that his boy has become just like him.  (Songfacts.com)

Dads, indeed, your sons are watching and learning you.

Making a connection with yesterday’s blogpost, may I ask you dads, are your sons growing up to be just like you when it comes to your relationship with God?

Will they sing in church like you do?

Will they open their Bible and take notes whenever the Word of God is preached like you do?

Will they be totally engaged in worship on Sundays like you are?

Will they be a man of prayer just like you?

Will they be a ready witness for Christ as you are?

Will they know the Word of God like you do?

Will they have the Word memorized like you do?

Will they be a surrendered servant for Christ just like you?

Will stand and testify of God’s grace, faithfulness and love like you do?

Will they be diligent to add to their original faith because you are?

Will they give diligence to make their calling and election sure because you do?

Will they?

Men, we must be all-out, surrendered men of God like Christ, Moses, Joseph, Joshua, Daniel, Paul, Barnabas, Peter, etc. Not only for the glory of God but for the sakes of our sons who are watching and taking their cues from us.

“The cats in the cradle,” and he will soon be gone.  Will he be just like you?

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Train up a child in the way he should go. (Proverbs 22:6a)

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. (Proverbs 23:24)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:11-12)

Family Friday – Invest in Time Away

Today, I’m sharing my wife’s post from her blog, refreshher.com. Marriage is a blessed grace gift from God that He created and directs. By grace, you invest in your marriage every day. My life is rich because of God’s grace and my gal!!!!

This week during our Valentine’s dinner, I pulled out a dating journal that my husband and I kept for quite a few years. We recorded lunch dates, overnighter’s, and weeks away that we were blessed to share during the years our girls were home. Wow! It was filled with special memories we had forgotten. But one thing rang true – we missed our girls while we were away, but those times alone helped shape our relationship. It made us better parents, and it made our marriage stronger.

We literally had to scrape together every dime to go on these outings, but it was so well worth it! I’m thankful we have that journal to remind us of the joy those times away were for us. Some dates were simply a shared ice cream cone, or a picnic lunch at a nearby park. As a matter of fact, most outings were minimized in extravagance, but maximized in enjoyment AND effectiveness! It was always profitable for our relaitonshhip.

For any married couple to spend time away together so they might invest in their relationship, will require an investment. That simply means it is costly.

  • It could require a financial investment. There are lots of things to do that don’t cost, but most overnighters aren’t free.
  • It will require time – time away from family, away from work and away from all other distrations.
  • It will require a willingness to get honest with one another so you both can make changes that are necessary.
  • The sacrifice of your pride is crucial so you can listen to your spouse without thinking about what you want to say.

After 36+ years of marriage, I would have to say that time away from pressures and demands – even for an hour – is time that helped build our marriage. It’s so easy to get on two separate tracks when things are so busy.

May I ask you – are you making a true effort to spend time with your spouse – just the two of you so you might talk in depth, pray together, have times of rest, laugh, strengthen one another in the daily grind, and pour into your marriage so you can both be ready to move forward?

Let me encourage you, if you’re wanting to share these times but your husband is reluctant, plan a short outing. Do something you know HE would love. Keep it lighthearted and encouraging. Pour into him. Bless him with what he needs. Pray about it, asking the Lord to make your time special. Keep doing these ittle outings and work your way into a weekend away. Allow the Lord to move in his heart.

God has a plan for your marriage and you can trust Him to make it what it needs to be. But again, time with just the two of your is one important ingredient. Even though there are no longer children in our home, my husband and I have to get away to really have time to talk and share uninterrupted. We still need it. We still love it!

Let me end by sharing some photos of the weekend Sweetheart Retreat my husband spoke at last weekend at The Wilds. It was a wonderful blessing to our hearts to gather with 80 couples and pour into their lives for two days! If you’ve never experienced a couples’ retreat at The Wilds, you don’t know what you’re missing! These pictures will give you an idea of the fun we shared!

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My favorite speaker!
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Fun Time is always full of the good medicine of laughter!!

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This baking skit…oh my!
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Old friends surprised us!
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Does this look like CAMP FOOD?!
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More old friends that blessed our time there!
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Love the bookstore!

Valentine’s day is behind us, but you live in your marriage every single day. Make the most of it by making investments that will benefit your relationship for years to come!

Refresh your marriage – Why not start planning now for an outing?

Who attends couples’ retreats? Where do you go?

Denise Signature 150 px

Come On In!

Hospitality Quote

“How in the world could I carry on a conversation with folks from India?  I don’t even like to talk.”

This was the transparent admission of a lady who had recently hosted a family in her home from a totally different land, speech, and culture.  As she shared her story, she quickly admitted that the evening was one of rich blessings!  During their meal together and discussion around the table, she and her husband learned of God’s work in a far off land; His answers to prayer; His working in the hearts of lost souls; His provision of peace, power, and protection; His encouragements to these precious servants of the Lord even in the most difficult of times.  She was more than glad she had stepped out of her comfort zone. Her invitation to “Come!” set the stage for some “unexpectedly happy results.”

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality (Romans 12:13).

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9).

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2).

In the Hebrews passage, the writer is not advocating hospitality on the off chance that one might happen to receive an angel as a guest but rather because God is pleased when believers are hospitable.  Sometimes unexpectedly happy results follow acts of hospitality.  It was highly esteemed in the ancient world and was certainly very important for Christians. Accommodations at inns was expensive, and in any case inns had a bad reputation.  But as Christian preachers traveled around, believers gave them lodging and so facilitated their mission.  Without hospitality in Christian homes, the spread of the faith would have been much more difficult. (The Expositors Bible Commentary, p.146)

You see, when you invite folks into your home, it’s not you or your house they need to see; it’s Jesus.  His invitation to you and everyone is always, “Come” (Matthew 11:28-30; 14:29; 19:14; Luke 6:47).  Therefore, in following Christ, you, too, say to others, “Come.” That invitation opens up another opportunity to share Christ and to live out the gospel.  Remember, Christ is the initiator in the invitation to come; therefore, you follow His lead and be the initiator in inviting others.

Have you recently taken the opportunity to host someone in your home? Have you prayed about it? Are you willing to trust in the grace of God to help you experience the joy of hospitality?  How about the next guest speaker or missionary who’s coming to your church?  (You want to really encourage the heart of your pastor?  Look at the church calendar to see when the next preacher or missionary will be at your local church.  Weeks in advance, tell your pastor you are more than glad to host them for a meal and/or provide their lodging!) What about the family that’s been visiting your church for the past couple of Sundays?  Thought about having your neighbor over for a cup of coffee?

Don’t be looking for an angel, but do remember “God is pleased when believers are hospitable.”

Come on in!

 

Sandwiches & Stories

“You used a Black & Decker drill to perform surgery on a man in jail?”  That was my response a few years ago as an OB-GYN doctor serving in medical missions in Africa told her story while we were gathered around our dining room table.  Even better was the fact that this man later came to believe in Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior (John 3:16; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-13).

This story was one of probably a thousand or more in my lifetime! Growing up in a pastor’s home provided many opportunities for evangelists, college presidents, pastors, and missionaries to put their feet under our kitchen table and/or sleep in our guest bedroom.

I can remember as a grade school aged boy sitting at the kitchen table after an evening church service listening to all kinds of ministry stories.  Those memories are also a part of my junior and senior high school days as well as college.

With eyes wide open and ears open even wider, those narratives told me that life was full of blessings, fun, hardships, trials, laughter, questions, burdens, answers to prayer, rich in Bible knowledge and application, and tears to name a few.  But no doubt about it, those stories from real Christians revealed a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ and an unshakable faith in an awesome, faithful, promise-keeping God!

Interesting enough, I did not learn until long after I had left home that it was my dad who invited most of those folks home.  My mom really did not like duty in the kitchen.  That was just not her “cup-of-tea.”  I share this to encourage you.  Our meals were usually very simple.  The table was not elaborately set.  Mom used what she had, and in our early days at home, that was not much.

You see, it was not the food at the table I remember or how the table was decorated that has left an indelible impression upon me.  Most assuredly, it was all those hours in the presence of simple servants of the Lord.

How grateful I am that many, many times, my folks would let me stay up on a school night way past bedtime to sit under the influence of such godly men and women.  The eternal influence in their eyes was always more important than the temporal influence.

May I encourage you to host missionaries, evangelists, preachers, and other servants of the Lord in your home?  How cool it is to have a faithful missionary from a far-away land while eating dessert share accounts of God’s grace, protection, and answers to prayer!  What an impact it is to listen to a preacher tell about a lost soul receiving Christ as his Savior or expound the Word while eating a grilled cheese sandwich!  Oh, how wonderful to hear a college president while enjoying a bowl of corn chowder share how the Lord provided the school’s needs at just the right time!

Parents, your children need to experience this!  They need to experience it often.

Prepare the guest room, fix some sandwiches and invite a servant of the Lord into your home.  By the way, be sure to open your ears, too!

Let Them Come to Me

kids salvation

This week my wife has written some extremely insightful, practical and helpful posts about the issue of children coming to Christ for salvation at an early age.  These writings would be extremely helpful for parents and anyone who works in children’s ministries.

Having received Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at the age of five, this is a subject very dear to my heart.

As a pastor, I have had the joy of seeing many children born again over the years.  How precious is a tender heart coming to Christ in simple faith, taking God at His Word.

Here are the links:

How to Tell If a Child Is Ready to Be Saved

What’s Wrong with Waiting Until a Child Is Older to be Saved

What if Your Child Doubts Their Salvation

Preparing a Child’s Heart to Know Christ

Motion Songs, Scripture Memory & Joy-Filled Believers

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Last night in prayer meeting, we shared in a family-friendly service.  After singing a couple of gospel songs, one by request, we had the kids up front leading the singing of some good, old children’s songs, two of which had motions.  It was fun to look back at the adults who were doing the motions as well, especially on singing “Only a Boy Named David.”

After singing “Boys and Girls for Jesus” we took prayer requests for the unsaved.  How precious to hear these children and adults mention their loved ones, friends, and neighbors’ names.  We then broke up into small groups with adults and children praying out loud for the lost.  How sweet to hold a 4 year old boy in my lap as he prayed in his own precious way, and it was not a short prayer either.

When we gathered back together, we sang the old gospel song, “I Love to Tell the Story.”

I’ve challenged our congregation to memorize Ephesians 4:1-16 over the next two months.  Hence, we then worked on 4:1-3 as a family or in small groups.  The drill was to say 4:1-3 five times aloud in unison as a group.  Then, one person in each group would take the lead in saying the passage leaving out words for the rest of the group to fill in.  This was a blast!  The laughter and joy of memorizing Scripture was so cool!  Then some of folks stood and recited 4:1-3 which was followed by encouraging applause.

We then took Ephesians 4:1 and broke it down word-for-word learning the meaning and the application.  How cool to watch everyone search through Ephesians 1-3 to find what Paul meant when he said in 4:1 to walk worthy of the vocation to which you are called.  The kids did a great job with their answers straight from Scripture.

What a precious time we had as a church family in community last night.

The ice cream treat with my wife and the sunset afterwards was an added blessing, too!

From a pastor’s heart,

Dale

Clippin’ Grace Coupons

The complete life of a believer in Christ is all about grace.  We deserve an eternity in hell because we are sinners under the wrath of God (Romans 3:9-30; Ephesians 2:1-3).  We are totally unrighteous (Romans 3:10).  But when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:9-13), God accepts us in Christ by His grace (Ephesians 1:6; 2:8-9).  From that point on, we live by God’s grace, we are sustained by God’s grace, and we are empowered to live for Him by grace as His disciple (Matthew 4:19; Luke 14:26-27, 33).

So, whenever I write this post about clippin’ grace coupons, it is my way of recognizing the truth of Ephesians 2:7, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  God is so very good to us, and sometimes like Andy Griffith would say, “Extreee good!”

Here’s a few grace  coupons God has allowed me to clip in the past two weeks.

Grace Coupon #1:  Running toward the sunrise at the beach

Denise and I love to get up early on vacation and watch the awesome display of God’s handiwork!  She walks, and I run.  What a time we have together!

Grace Coupon #2:  Seeing the elk at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountain Park

What a special treat to hike this area as well as Big Creek with a dear friend and fellow hiker, Rick Stoner!

Grace Coupon #3:  The Beauty of Cataloochee

Grace Coupon #4:  Singing in the Sun 2017

What a special treat to attend two nights and hear such groups as Mark Trammell Quartet, Brian Free & Assurance, The Talleys, Gold City, and Triumphant Quartet.  Better than the singing was the preaching of Evangelist C.T. Townsend and Dr. Herb Reavis and seeing many souls come to Christ!!  A special thank you to the Life FM for the great seats.

An unexpected blessing on the second night was to sit right behind a young girl from back home, her husband and their daughter.  Then, to find out that a dear friend of mine and his wife were a section over from us!  He and I have shouted, praised the Lord, wept, and rejoiced at many Southern Gospel concerts.

 

Grace Coupon #5:  Worshiping With Our Daughter & Son-in-Law, Whitney & Paul

Take a Vacation from the Lord

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Come on now.  Don’t deny it.  You’ve been thinking about that annual summer vacation to the beach, Disney World, Pigeon Forge, etc.  Vacations are a good thing.  We all need our physical, mental, and spiritual batteries recharged!

Question.  When you go on vacation, do you plan for those special daily times to build your relationship with the Lord?  Do you take your Bible, journals, and books so you can feed your soul? Can you say when you have returned that you and your family love the Lord more or less?  Do you research the area before you arrive to find a solid Bible preaching/teaching church where you and your family can worship on Sunday morning?

I will submit to you without reservation, the best parts of our vacations over the years have been our time in the mornings in the Word and prayer.  Vacation must not be a time to leave the Lord at home. Vacations should be a time where everyday distractions are removed, and you can enjoy His presence and His precepts!

I hear so often from so many that due to their work, school, recreation, and church schedules, they struggle to get time in the Word and prayer.  And believe it or not, it shows (I know by experience in my own life).  Vacation is a time for you to unplug from all the aforementioned things and be refreshed.  What better way to do so than to meet with Jesus everyday as an individual, as a couple and as a family.   Even Jesus Himself went apart from the crowd to meet with His Father (Matthew 14:23).

Furthermore, because you are in such a relaxed mode on vacation, that’s even more reason you need the Word of God to ward off the attacks of your flesh, the world and the devil.  I promise you, they never take a vacation.

And finally look at the effect the intake of the Word will have upon you:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.  (Psalm 19:7-11)

97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. 101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. 102 I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.  (Psalm 119:97-104)

So, as you plan for all the places you will eat, recreate, lodge and relax, be sure to seek Him first (Matthew 6:33).  By the way, He’s the One Who gives you the strength, provides the funds, and watches over you for your vacation.

Don’t take a vacation from the Lord when you are on your vacation!