A Parent’s Best Gift

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Let’s go back to the Sears Christmas Wish Book I mentioned yesterday.  So many memories..

Here’s a few of them:

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Wow! A banana seat bicycle!  Pop a wheelie!
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Can you taste it?
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This was serious right here!!

How many times I would pour over the pages of the catalog, mark what I wanted, then proceed to my mom and dad and say, “You know what I want for Christmas?”  And how many times did I hear them say, “We can’t afford that.”

What could they afford?  The same thing that every parent can afford—time.

When I survey Scripture, I see God’s instructions to parents taking time not money.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

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

  • To train, discipline (which is teaching, instructing, and correcting) and nurturing takes time.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

  • Often children get into trouble because they are just crying out for someone to pay them some attention. They want to know where you will draw the line.  It takes time to teach what is right, what is wrong, what to do to stay right, and what will happen if we choose to go our own way.

Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

  • Please note again the meaning of discipline and the need to take time to be diligent to fulfill the complete picture of discipline/discipleship. If a child does need a spanking, it should not be a quick strike out of anger, but a time of loving correction and training.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9        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.

  • Once again, you cannot teach, train and disciple on the run. It is your lifestyle.  It takes time.

Parents, your greatest investment on this earth will be your children.  They don’t need you to buy them things to make up for where you have failed.  They need your love, attention, character-training, and fun times.  They need you to teach them the Word of God.  They need to hear how you came to salvation.  They need you to pray with them.  They need you to make spiritual applications of life with them throughout the day.  They need you to teach them how to work, how to eat, how to be hospitable, how to serve others, how to talk, how to be a blessing to others, how to make their beds, how to get up and make the day count, how to cook, how to do life in general by the grace of God.

They need you.  They need you every day.

Parents, this Christmas, rather than spending so much money, spend a lot of your time.  Give your children something that will eclipse that banana-seat bicycle.  Give them the best gift—your time; give them you.

I Want an iPad for Christmas

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Christmas is four days away?  Seriously?  It seems like just yesterday that we celebrated Christmas 2015!  Of course, the older you get, the faster time seems to slide by.  Also, retailers help us get cranked up for Christmas in August each year. So, here we are just days away!

My wife and I have always loved Christmas since our earliest recollections.  My, how I remember waiting for the mailman to deliver the Sears & Roebuck Christmas Wish Book.  By the time December 25th rolled around, it was well-worn with many dog-eared pages.

One of my all-time favorite gifts was in the fourth grade . . . an electric football set with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.  The quarterback could even throw a felt football.  If you hit your receiver with the football, it was a completion!

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Another huge favorite was the seeming miles of Hot Wheel track, supped-up Hot Wheel cars and a Hot Wheel power house to send those cars tearing around the track.  I can still hear ‘em!

Oh how I loved the snowfalls of Christmas in southeast Ohio and West Virginia.  One Christmas in Bluefield, it snowed a foot by Christmas morning!  What a time we had building sled runs and just wearing it out!

Those were simple, innocent Christmases that are etched in my mind and thought of with great joy and thanksgiving.

This Christmas, I am fearful that many parents will unknowingly give their children and teens a gift that could turn simple, innocent Christmases and lives into sinful, indecent, regret-filled Christmases and lifestyles.  Please take time to read the following blog post and take heed.  I am begging you to do so!!

Please Do Not Give Them Porn for Christmas

Seeing Double

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Once-a-month, our church serves the homeless a lunch meal in downtown Johnson City, TN, at the Melting Pot.  One of the blessings of this journey to and from town is being accompanied by a young teen boy who attends our church and lives near us.  I love to watch him because when I do, I am seeing double.  Double?  Yes, his father.  His dad is a faithful servant of the Lord, a “full-blown” engineer at a local plant, an intentional man, one who runs from anything that would even give the impression of feminine, and dearly loves his family.  When I watch his 13 year old son, I see a young man thinking like his dad, walking like his dad, dressing like his dad, talking like his dad, and . . . I am not surprised.  He is also the firstborn and looks up to his dad.

When someone looks at you, who do they see?  Paul said it so well in 1 Corinthians 11:1, Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.  How natural it is for children to act like their parents and other family members because of their natural birth and so much time spent in their presence.  How really natural it should be for those of us who have had a spiritual birth (John 3:1-17) to imitate Christ because He lives in us, and we spend time with Him in prayer, in worship, in singing, and in the memorization and meditation of the Word of God.

Colossians 1:27 – Christ in you, the hope of glory.

2 Corinthians 3:18- But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Truth is, only when a dad is imitating Christ should he be able to say to his family, “Imitate me.”  And, our desire to be like Christ should be so genuine that it creates a thirst in our family to imitate Christ. Just as exposure to the sun makes people acknowledge your tan, our exposure to the Son, Jesus Christ, should cause others to recognize Who we are imitating, Who means the most to us, and Who we are seeking first (Matthew 6:33).

Are the folks around you seeing double?

You must abide in Christ in heaven before you can descend with heavenly ability to act for Him down here. The great secret of all blessing is to come from the Lord.  Most Christians go to Him. (A. J. Gordon)

School Cancelled Again?!?!?!?!

Odessa Waters Video

Odessa has become a star via her daily video rants and raves.  She is a hoot!  After viewing this video and reading many posts on Facebook, I have to ask parents, “Why did you have children in the first place?”  Let me get right to the point, and with a saddened and concerned heart.  Is it really that bad for your children to be home from school for several days?

Here’s several reasons why it is a blessing to have your children home from school due to the weather:

  • These are valuable opportunities for you to instruct your children in the Word of God, to pray with them, to sing with them, and to go over their Sunday School lesson with them.
  • These are precious opportunities to do crafts, teach them how to bake cookies (and eat them!), help do some spring cleaning, and/or rearrange the furniture in their room.
  • These are fun opportunities to play outdoors. Go sledding. Make snow cream.  Roll in the snow and make a snow angel.  Build a snowman.  Take a bunch of photos. Make a ton of memories.
  • These are priceless opportunities for you to give your children your undivided attention. Many of their behavioral problems are due to you be so preoccupied with your phone or ipad.  Turn them off. Listen and talk to your children.  Ask questions.
  • These are treasurable opportunities for you to influence your children, watch them learn, and see them grow rather than the daycare worker or school teacher seeing all the “firsts” and telling you about it later on.
  • These are beloved opportunities to pretend. Build a blanket fort and camp out. Eat your lunch under the tent; maybe even sleep there with your pretend fire glowing through the night.   Or, for supper, pretend you own a restaurant and teach your children how to set a table, serve others, and act at a restaurant.  Or, pretend you are having church and let your children preach, lead singing, receive the offering, etc.

There’s one important aspect to the success of these precious opportunities—-PLANNING.  Yes, it’s a whole lot easier to watch Frozen for the 1,237th time or to spend hours mindlessly surfing Facebook or the internet while your children “get on your very last nerve!”  Let me say, I understand children can be rambunctious and parade their old sin nature for all to see, but most of their misbehavior is a lack of loving, caring, patient training and discipline that needs to come from you.

So, don’t squander these awesome opportunities because you are not getting to do what you want to do.  Serve your children.  Love them.  Teach them. Hold them.  They will be gone before you know it.  God gave you children to enjoy and edify, not to endure.

Say, what do you have planned for tomorrow if you hear that school has been cancelled?   (Btw, you and your kids should be so disappointed that school is back in session because of the cool plans you have made!!)

The Making of a Man

Last Tuesday’s blog was the first entry in the weekly series entitled, “The Making of a Man.”  As I said in that blog post, January 6, my heart’s desire is to see us be genuine, Spirit-filled, Christlike, servant leaders . . . men of God.  Obviously, to do so, we MUST be in the Word of God on a daily basis reading the Word and letting it read us.  Also, I mentioned that oft-repeated statement, “Leaders are readers.”  So, in today’s post, I want to share some book titles that have impacted me in my relationship with Christ, my wife, my children, my ministry and life in general.  Many of these books can still be purchased in book form, or as many of us do today, you can get the Kindle edition.  Men, let’s read the Bible first, and then let’s read other good books so we can be made a man of God!

Disciplines of a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes

“The Christian leader’s vision of God makes all the difference in his life” (p.163).  I have read this book several times and have even used it with deacons and men’s meetings.

Disciplines – Kindle Edition

 

The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, Hans Finzel

“Top-flight leaders really aren’t born, they learn by trial and error.” (p.18)

“My greatest fear is that our best days were our past days.  I loathe the thought that we should fade into irrelevance” (p.71).

Top Ten Mistakes – Kindle Edition

 

The Masculine Mandate:  God’s Calling to Men, Richard D. Phillips

“It is virtually impossible to find a man greatly used by God who is not strongly devoted to prayer.” (p. 39)

“God intends for man to have a [wife] who bears God’s image along with man, and who with man can look upward to God and live for Him.” (p. 58)

Chapter Five, “Man as Shepherd-Lord,” is an excellent read.

Masculine Mandate – Kindle Edition

 

Power Through Prayer, E.M. Bounds

Here’s a little book that every man of God must read!!  A classic.

Power Through Prayer – Kindle Edition

 

There are many, many others, but these are just a few.  I’ll share more in later posts.  Men, let’s take the challenge to read, to share, to grow, and to make a difference for Christ wherever we live!

Cat-Fights and Conflicts

My wife and I had just left the veterinarian’s office with our cat, Liza Jane, safely tucked in a towel and content in my wife’s arms. Despite the trauma of two shots and a cold table to lie on, she was in purr-mode.  I had earlier announced to Denise that I would go across the street to the dry cleaners.  As I drove past a car parked near the row of stores, I saw two individuals tussling in the front seat.  I thought for a moment they were just having a bit of good-natured fun.  I parked right in front of the cleaners, got out, and then saw there was nothing good-natured about this situation.  Here was a girl in her 20’s and a woman in her late 50’s-early 60’s havin’ at it!  Hay-makers were being thrown, hair was being pulled, profanity was being slurred, and the older woman was prevailing.   I walked over and commanded them to stop, or I would call the police.  Finally, they ceased their foolishness. I really didn’t count on leaving the vet’s office to see a real live “cat-fight!” Once I had their attention, I began to share the gospel with them, to which the young girl said in an angry, loud voice, “I am a Christian!” which was echoed by the older woman as well.  Wow!  Really?

This was such a sad scene.  I told my wife on our way back to the country, “This is how many, many people across America handle their problems—fighting, arguing, name-calling, and raising their voices at each other.”  Sadly this includes husbands, wives, children, family members, co-workers, drivers, football players, etc.  My heart breaks to think of what really goes on behind the closed curtained windows of so many homes in our land as well as other places.

Where does this come from?  As in every case of life, you have to go to the Word of God for the answer.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (James 4:1-3).

Have you ever been in a conflict?  Have you ever dealt with unmet expectations?  Have you been wronged, mistreated, in a fight, in a marital conflict, in a church misunderstanding, in a shoving match, in a family dispute, had someone cut you off in traffic, etc?  I plead with you to take some time and work your way through this linked study seen below.  As you dig into the Word and answer the questions, you will see the root of the issue, understand the remedy and see how to make biblical changes through the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God.

Getting To the Heart of Conflict

The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Searching my own heart, grateful for my sweet wife, and . . . petting Liza Jane.

Friday’s Findings

Being Content with Saying No to Truly Good Opportunities –Here is an excellent read from Randy Alcorn that would help all of us who struggle with saying “no” to good things in our lives, especially those of us who are perpetual “doers.”

Four Stewardship Habits to Teach Your ChildrenParents, please read and apply!  In a “give me, give me, take, take, entitlement world,” your children need to know God’s plans and priorities.

A Word About Men & Marriage – “Gentlemen: You are not boys. Women are not objects. Christ is most assuredly King.”

One of the Reasons I Have Always Loved Coming Home for Over 33 Years – My wife’s blog post from yesterday.

The WildsOne of the best ministries on the planet since 1969!!

Friday’s Findings

As always, here’s a list of links found through the week that may be of help to you to instruct, encourage, strengthen and/or bring a chuckle to your day.

The Needed Couples Retreat – Here’s some thoughts about the need for couples retreats as well as addressing some possible objections.  Anyone recognize the water falls?

What the Election Reveals About Us – An excellent post in view of Tuesday’s national elections.

Doing Hard Things – Every older teen and college & career guy/gal needs to read this.  Excellent, biblical advice for our day!   I linked this during the week on my Facebook page.  Parents, make sure you read it and your teens read it.  Perhaps, read it together at supper.

Why Every Christian Needs a Church Home

The Manhunt – One of my favorite Andy Griffith episodes.  Sit back, relax and enjoy.

Thank you so much for reading my blog.  I am truly grateful that you take the time to do so.  These writing and links are from my heart.  If I can encourage you, point you to Christ, help you, strengthen you, or just put a smile on your face, this blog has been successful.  Thanks for reading!!

Trick or Truth

The first time I can remember observing Halloween, I was five years old. How excited I was to wear my Yogi Bear costume, knock on our neighbor’s doors, receive candy, and then go eat candy! To me it was a simple evening of clean enjoyment. My parents made it that way. Instead of making an issue out of it, they just made sure it was an evening given to what was right.

Much has changed in 50 years. That’s why I am sharing two very well-written articles on the subject of Halloween. The balanced approach of John MacArthur’s writing is informative, practical, and spot on. David Mathis’ article adds to the first, but turns our thoughts in a direction that will make us think and hopefully understand, “The gospel changes everything!” Please be sure to read each article in its entirety.

Christians and Halloween – John MacArthur

Sent Into the Harvest – Halloween On Mission – David Mathis

I’m sure you will handle Halloween as you believe is right before the Lord. These two articles say what is in my heart, give the basic reasons for what we do at Boones Creek Bible Church, and why, if I am able (due to recent surgery) will be going door-to-door to GIVE out GOSPEL tracts and a GIFT to my neighbors. Oh, by the way, if you are wondering, I’ve grown out of my Yogi Bear costume. 🙂

 

Friday’s Findings

Why I Stand With the Five Houston PastorsPaul Chappell’s spot-on post about the sermons subpoena in Houston.

Christian Guide for Reading the NewsZach Franklin gives us a redemptive way to read to all the bad news in the world in print and through social media.

Millennials Want Something Real, Not Just Hashtags and Twitter

Why You May Be Tempted To Neglect Your ChurchEncouragement and insight on the need of getting back on the team!

Five Bad Substitutes For DisciplineExcellent counsel for parents!

Red Skelton’s Pledge of AllegianceA classic.  I remember watching him when I was young.