Tag Archives: develop

3 Lessons From George Washington

Recently I have been reading about the life of George Washington.  His incredible story continues to motivate and shape the direction of many people today.  His famous speech delivered to The Continental Congress, once nominated to be the first Commander in Chief, is worth repeating today for its sincerity and humility.

He said in part:  “But, lest some unlucky event should happen, unfavourable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered, by every Gentleman in the room, that I, this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.”

His speech echoes what Paul wrote in Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 

So what does the newly appointed general do as he sets out to create an army and organize a rag-tag group of farmers and family men into an army to fight England?  He does three things from which we can learn from today and apply to our spiritual lives.

  1. He orders new uniforms.  Since the British uniforms are red, he chooses blue for the American “patriots.”   Identifying what side you are on is good for battles and for the spiritual battle we are in as Christians.   What team are you on?  Jesus said in Luke 11:23, He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.  Is it clear to yourself and to those around you that you are a Christian?  I think of being baptized and then being faithful in the life of your church as a sort of uniform that everyone can see.  Have you followed the Lord in believer’s baptism after you received Jesus for salvation?  And is your participation in church life a definite mark that you are on “Team Jesus?”  Do you “gather” with Jesus or scatter?
  2. The second thing Washington does is write up a will.  He ensures that his wife and other relatives know what to do in the event that he does not come back from battle.  Certainly a will is good financial advice for us and we should have wills in place today.  In a more practical way, Washington revealed by planning a will that he was ready to give his life for his country.  Truly, our lives are also on the line because we love Jesus.  in Luke 9:23, Jesus is teaching and says, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  No matter the cost: job, finances, business, friendships, relationships, fame, athletics, art, etc. We should be willing to lay all that aside for Jesus.  Washington was “All In.”  Are you “All In” in your walk and worship of Jesus?
  3. General Washington also ordered copies of several military books.  Getting a uniform for the troops was not going to be enough to win against the British.  He needed to read about military tactics and disciplines for soldiers, etc.  He studied what he needed to know to be as successful as humanly possible in his undertaking of being the Commander in Chief.  I wonder if you and I read and study as much as we should to be successful in the Christian life?  Paul told Timothy to study the Word.  2 Timothy 2:15 commands, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

There are many good books that are Bible based to help with areas of life in which all of us need help!  Here are several examples to take to heart and consider:

  • Books for relationships; how to be a good friend, what to look for in a potential mate, what does the Bible teach about dating, etc.
  • Books for marriage; communication, commitment, intimacy, and more.
  • Books for parenting; developing your child in adolescence, spiritual formation, parenting with purpose, and gaining the heart of your teenager.
  • Books for teens; there are many good books I recommend you to have you tween and teenagers read as they begin to navigate choices, friendships, and the opposite gender!
  • Books for growth; so many good books have been written on prayer, Bible Study, and how to have  closer walk with the Lord.  Daily devotional books, Christian magazines, and other Christian books should be something that we utilize.
  • Books for finances; most people could have more money and do more good with money if they knew the best ways to manage it.  A person who is not disciplined enough to read a book about fiances is probably not going to be disciplined enough with his money to be considered by God a “good steward.”  Convicting thought.

Some people do not like to read.  Most of us fight the natural response to “study.”  Study is hard work.  Study does require reading.  If Washington took his role so serious that he ordered some books to improve his skills, certainly, we can follow his example to read a few books a year to further develop our Christianity, our home life, and the direction of our life.  After all, when you really think about it – we are in a battle too.  A Spiritual Battle.

Ultimately, the underdog Americans won against the superior forces of England because it was the will of God.  In incredible ways from the timing of travel to the delay of weather, to the involvement of other nations, and even the apathy of some of the British towards the Patriots, the Lord caused a nation to be born.  Many Americans were praying.  The leaders were seeking the Lord.  God did the impossible and He accomplished His will through George Washington and others who were willing to be in the right place at the right time.  God can use humble people.  God will continue use people who are willing to learn, grow, and take serious the Christian life – to perform His will even today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Letting God Grow You

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”   Hebrews 13:20-21

The Lord may use any and every circumstance or situation that may arise in your life to nurture your faith, grow your convictions, or develop your spiritual life.  The good events and the bad events can be orchestrated by God to bring about something good in your heart and life.  Think Job, Joseph, and Paul.  Each of these men endured incredible hardship – and were better men for it.

While we do not like to go through hardship, sometimes the furnace of affliction, the discomfort of pain, and the heartbreak of suffering will cause us to change, and even create more of a desire for the Lord.  A helpful verse is 1 Peter 1:7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ…”

The following are the same Greek words for “Make you perfect” from the passage above.  These verses, could be precise illustration and application of how the Lord wants to grow you.

He wants to REPAIR YOUR LIFE. Matthew 4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets and he called them.

Just like a broken net, rope coming unraveled through means or use, work, and fighting the outdoor elements, our lives are many times broken.  Our purpose, usefulness, and reason for living is sometimes called into question.  Our lives can go through seasons of despair and even disrepair.  We need to Lord to repair what the hardships of life have broken.

He wants to RESTORE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS. Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Life is full of choices.  The choices have either consequences or blessing.  Depending on the choice, there may be a need for restoration.  Pride is the root source of “people problems.”  While interacting with others, a personal “fault” or sin may be one sided – or only in the other person.  When they confess their sin and repent of it (change their life) we need to be ready to restore.  True restoration results in a relationship not being the same as before – but better than before the sin or issue.

If there is someone that has sinned against you, they may or may not know it.  If there is no sin, but you have bad feelings toward the person, as the Lord for His grace to change your heart – and your thoughts so the relationship can be restored.

He wants to REFINE YOUR FAITH. 1 Thessalonians 3:10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

Paul prayed a lot for his friends in Thessalonica.  He really wanted to travel to their city and see them again.  But his prayer did not stop for hoping to see them again.  He also prayed that the Lord would grow, or “perfect” their faith.  Paul was asking God to refine the faith of each Christian in the church at Thessalonica.

Is your faith being “refined?”  Are the circumstances you are in just something you complain about?  Or do you pray for God’s will to happen and for the situation to turn out to bring glory to God?

Will you see God “grow you” more in this new year?  Will you allow the Lord to repair, restore, and refine your life?

Remember the classic definition of insanity?  “Insanity is to do the same thing over and over while hoping for a different result.”   We can do better than that from day to day, month to month, and year to year in our Christian life.  Don’t just go through the motions.  Be real.  Have a genuine walk with Jesus.  Let God grow you.

Let Jesus make some changes in your life in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Suggestions for Students

Screen Suggestions for Students

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Philippians 4:5

Screen suggestions for students, well, perhaps more for the parents of students.  All of us have noticed the exponential leap of digital devices creeping into our lives.  I like the new devices.  The digital things, screens of all sizes, and new tech can be terrific.  But at some point, we can have too much of a good thing.

Paul was telling the believers at Philippi that moderation should clearly be part of their lives.  We can go overboard – even with good things.  Balance is needed in every area of the Christian life.  If we are not careful the stuff we have will control us!

Here are some ideas to help moderate the tech stuff of life:

  1. Ensure your child gets a full night of rest, have a media basket for all the cell phones and connected devices to rest at night.  The temptation to communicate, surf, and feed possible addictions become less when a device is not accessible at night.  Even if music or other things are used on a device to help a child go to sleep, it seems like a short-sighted fix.  We should avoid being dependent on anything or anyone other than Jesus and His Word.
  2. Increase your child’s GPA; get rid of the smart phone.  With an increase of smart device use, the need for learning and knowing stuff for yourself tends to decrease.  A study came out recently suggesting that students learn better from print on paper books.  Even the talented people who create these devices and software do not allow their kids to have much screen time.  They buy their kids printed books.
  3. Work on social skills.  When children are visiting your home, have a phone basket for the phones to go in.  Have you noticed that with all the social media that people are actually less social in real life settings?
  4. Teach your children the sacredness of worship by instructing them to not play on devices while at the church building.  Turn them off.  A print Bible has less possible distractions than a digital one.
  5. Some have gone back to flip phones or what I call “dumb phones.”  These phones revert back to the whole reason for a phone to begin with – calling and texting.  It is good for children to know how to use devices without letting those devices control them.
  6. We do allow our kids to have “tablet time” but it is limited with time increments and we do not only monitor, but we know all of the programs that we have installed on those devices.  Parents cannot be too careful in guiding their children to enable and equip them for making right decisions.
  7. Much of these principles can be applied to video games and screens of any size as well.

I hope these suggestions will help you find a healthy balance.  Do you have several others?  Post them here and they may be re-posted for others to see…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting the New School Year Right

Starting the New School Year Right

The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.  Proverbs 21:5

You may enjoy this humorous story as much as I did:  “A college freshman was giving her friend a tour of the college she attended. She pointed out the various recreational sights in the area and the numerous places for eating out. When they returned to the dorm, the freshman reminded her visiting friend that they needed to be quiet because her roommates were studying. Before they entered the room she whispered to her friend, “All they do is study. Honestly, I don’t even know why they came to college.””  (Ministry127)

It was Francis Bacon who said: “Crafty men condemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them.”  We must be wise in our approach to the new school year.  Thinking and planning ahead is commended in the Scripture.  The person who is diligent in his thoughts will have results that end in plenty.  Nearly all of us would want not only “passing grades” but “excelling grades” for each class we take!

Apply this truth of diligence to the education department of your life and you can learn how to become successful in your pursuit of learning in this new school year.  Go for more than an “A+.”  These truths can work no matter if you are entering kindergarten or college.

Whether a student or a parent of a student, this list will help you think through the start of the new year to enable you to “Start the New School Year Right.”

  • Have a Good Attitude. Attitude is of paramount importance as you plan for a new school year.  Whether you have 0 or 15 years of schooling, each year is new and different.  There can be some intimidation that comes with new teachers, new subjects, and new classmates.  Speak with enthusiasm about the new school year.  Talk openly of fears, then resolve to have Bible faith to face those fears and move past them.  Avoid those who speak ill of teachers, class, or school.  Don’t listen to them.   Focus on the positives and be consistent to speak often of the great potential for learning and growing.  Good attitudes are reflected in our words and actions.  Your effort in studies is affected by your attitude.  Have a good attitude and purpose to look forward to each school day.
  • Have Personal Discipline. Leave early for class.  If school starts at 8:10 AM.  Plan to arrive at 8:00 AM.  If it takes you 20 minutes to drive to school, leave 30 minutes early.  Much of the hasty, rushing feeling and frustration on the first day can be avoided by being more disciplined with your time and when you actually leave the house or dorm room to make it to class.
  • Have a Healthy Breakfast. You have heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  Not only does it help maintain metabolism and even fights against obesity, breakfast can stimulate the mind and get the “thinking juices” going after a night of sleep and “fasting.”  Breaking the fast is important to the developing mind and body.  Inattentiveness, sleepiness and attitudes are all affected in a positive way when a healthy breakfast has been enjoyed.
  • Have a Devotional Time. Take a few moments to pray for each day to be the best day of this school year.  Read some Scripture and meditate on the Bible verses you have read to help encourage you and to guide your learning ethic and relational skills throughout the school day.  Dedicate your pursuit of learning to the Lord each day.
  • Have a Flexible Spirit. Not everything will go as planned.  That is all right!  God is still in control and He will help you through each day.  Things will come up that delay you, sidetrack you, and even slow you down from reaching your daily goals.  If you stop and focus on the distractions, then you will not achieve the learning that you need for that day.  Be flexible, and then learn how to refocus.

Those who rush thoughtlessly to the classroom may make a passing grade, but they may not learn all that they could have if they do not have these principles guiding them.  Many people come up short in knowledge because they do not think, plan, and execute their plan for success in the classroom.

You can do better than merely get a good grade on paper.  Ask the Lord to help you start the new school year right.  Then go on to have the best year in school that you have ever had!

Time And Growth

Time And Growth

Recently I read about an incident that occurred back in 2004.  A fight broke out among the residents of a nursing home in their dining hall.  One man was playing with the lettuce in the serving line with his bare hands.  From that a fight ensued.  A 62-year-old and an 86-year-old started to trade “punches.”  Then a 79-year-old was bitten in the arm.  The mother of the 62-year-old man was cut in the arm and a 92-year-old man was shoved to the floor as other residents ran away from the dining hall.

The point of sharing this story is that time and age does not ensure a person grows “out of” anger issues.  We cannot hope that one day the wrath of a person is appeased because he or she becomes a certain age.  The only way to grow out of any sin – is to grow more like Jesus.  What we do in and with our time, is more important than how much time has expired.

Ephesians 4 clearly teaches how to replace the sin with righteousness and goodness.  God can help you grow in these areas!

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Please observe the first sin listed: Bitterness.  Wrath, anger, clamour (outcry of grief), evil speaking (vile and blaspheme), and malice (badness) are all a result of the first sin: Bitterness.

Bitterness leads to faulty vision, angry thinking, and heated words.  Time does not heal bitterness.  Jesus alone can heal bitterness.

A life submitted to God will bring the hurts, pains, resentments, and seeds of bitterness to God and let God take care of them.  When we hold onto our “rights,” our pride, and our bitter spirit, the bitterness sprouts up into a garden of deceit, pain, and turmoil that chokes out all the positive things God is doing in our lives.  Nurturing bitterness ensures a garden of sin and grief is cultivated in a person’s life.

Replace the bitterness with forgiveness.  Replace the anger and wrath with kindness. Replace the harsh words with tenderheartedness.

While some people seem to “mellow out” over time, it is not just because of the passing of days. Time alone is not enough to grow out of sin and to find healing from the control of sin.  Growing in Jesus and learning to follow his example of love, compassion, and forgiveness is the only way to see victory over the sin of bitterness and anger.  What we do with the time God gives to grow closer to Him is what really counts.

 

 

 

Making the Teacher Happy

Making the Teacher Happy

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. Luke 2:52

It makes sense to me.  Want good grades?  Want to not earn demerits?  Want to not be punished by your parents for wrong doing while at school?  Then make it a goal to “make the teacher happy.”

Don’t get this wrong.  Just about every week, the news tells us about impropriety and immorality between a teacher and student.  That is not how to make the teacher happy.  Making the teacher happy in the sense of gaining their favor in the classroom is something that should be expected.  Earning the esteem and admiration of the teacher should be like “second nature” to a student.

Here are some ideas to gain the favor of the teacher, earn good grades, and to become a more complete boy or girl for Jesus.  Parents, these are expectations you should have for your son/daughter.

  1. Work on your attitude. A student with a good attitude can do anything and become anyone that God wants him to be.  A student with a rotten attitude will not be able to achieve all God wants – because of the bad attitude.  As a parent, this is the most important area to work on.  If an attitude is demanding, selfish, reluctant, pushy, sarcastic, or manipulative, then the student is heading for a disastrous life unless there is an intervention.  Parents, work together with the teacher to remedy the attitude.  Rules do not make a bad attitude – a rebellious heart makes a bad attitude.  Attitude is a choice of the heart – not the circumstances. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  And Jesus said in Matthew 15:18, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.”  The attitude, good or bad, is a reflection of the heart.
  2. Know the score. Each student should know what is expected in each class.  Jr High and Sr High school students rotate between classes and teachers and there will be variations of expectations in each class.  The student should learn each nuance and expectation and adjust accordingly.  If the student does not know what is expected, he should ask for clarification.  For example: One teacher may want the student to sit more straight in the chair, while another teacher looks for the students name to be printed on the top right (instead of to the left) of an assignment.
  3. Think before you speak. The classroom interaction should remain positive and encouraging.  When a teacher corrects a child, it is not the same thing as disciplining a child.  For example: a student is disrupting the class and talking out of turn.  When the teacher says: “Stop talking” – she has offered correction – not punishment.  The embarrassment of being called out may impact the student, but no discipline has happened. If the student talks back by giving an excuse for disobeying the rules, then he should be punished for acting and speaking the rebellion in his heart.  Demerits and detention are examples of punishment.  When correction is noted and told the parent and when actually discipline talks place in school, I believe it is best that the parents follows up with their own personal discipline and punishment at home.  Students misbehaving at school are a reflection of the parenting, or lack of parenting in the home. Parents are advised to train their children to “think before they speak.”
  4. Respect everyone. A student does not have to understand a rule, just agree to live by it.  Institutional rules are not intended to be morally right or wrong, but to give order and structure to the organization.  Disobeying a rule is morally wrong, even when the rule has no moral bearing.  A majority of rules in a school have to do with respecting other people.  In this era of education, most people are focused on individual rights.  Surprisingly, some Christians have also adopted this humanistic philosophy.  The Bible and traditional education is more focused on the rights of others.  For example, an clothing outfit that is distracting to others is ruled against in order to not interfere with the learning of the other students.  Another example – talking and disrupting class with sarcastic remarks is not allowed so that other students are able to focus on their studies.  Teach your student to be considerate of others when he comes to the classroom.
  5. Expect more. Many parents allow their child to talk back, complain until the parent changes his mind, and even manipulate the decisions of the parents with emotional instability, constant nagging, and a persistent bad attitude.  I encourage you to expect more and demand less.  Expect more of a submissive attitude and demand less negative talking.  When complaining starts – stop it. When a sour expression glosses over the face – stop it.  Expect more. When teachers and others in authority inform there is a problem – get to the root of the problem – the heart.  Defending a student, making up excuses, or taking sides will not help develop the heart of the student for the Lord.  Dross is never removed from the gold until the heat is applied.  Just like gold, a student will not be worth much in life if all the dross and impurities of a bad attitude and selfish life are removed.  It is ultimately the student’s choice, but a parent, like the goldsmith, can make a big difference.
  6. Honor God. Each student wanting to honor the Lord willingly submits to the authority and the education the Lord has called him to.  While a student may not have a “paying” job, the Lord has called each student to the “full time job” of learning.  It is hard work to focus, pay attention to detail, write papers, and study for tests.  Being a student is a “Calling” with lifelong implications and dividends.  If a student does not develop good study habits, personal disciplining relationships with authority and peers, and make decisions that honor God while in his youth – it is much harder to learn it later in life.  Thank the Lord for many who have been saved, or saved people who have been restored to fellowship later in life.  But think of the years wasted, the relationships ruined, and the witness for Christ diminished during that time.  Help your student to honor God today.

By the Way:  The Jewish boys would become a “son of the commandment” at age 13.  In the years before age 13, the parents would do all they could to help the boy mature and develop into a respectable and responsible young man.  That is the context of Jesus “increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”  Mary and Joseph taught their boys before age 13 to put God first in their lives.  Parents, you do not have much time to help your student learn to “Be” and to “Do” right.

Learn to make your teacher happy. It will cause your educational years to be both enjoyable and productive.

 

 

 

 

 

Overnight Success

Overnight Success

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:3

Mushrooms can grow fast! Because of the way they absorb moisture, some mushrooms appear to grow overnight!  Then in the heat of the day they shrivel back down.  Some mushrooms will instantly shrink when confronted with a rain storm.   Trees connected to a good water source however grow – but at a much slower rate.  Their growth is not stunted by the heat, wind, rain or elements. Christian men and women should desire to be “like a tree…”

We all want to live blessed and happy lives.  We hope to see the Lord prosper and provide all our needs.  Most of us want even more than merely our needs met.  Many Christians want overnight success.  They want to be in the fast track to “success.”  In the Bible, success is not the next promotion, the next vocation, the next location to live or the next vacation.  Success is not the bank account, the number of friends, or the amount of “free” time you may have.  Golf courses and ball games do not even factor in.

Success in the Bible is being more like Jesus.  The Lord told Joshua to study the Bible to achieve and live a successful life.  Joshua 1:8 says, This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Since being successful is being more like Jesus, we must find ways to grow, develop, become disciplined, and have a strong desire to be more like Him.  There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity. The legendary, winning, and Christian basketball coach John Wooden said: “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. So don’t look for the quick, big improvement. Seek the small improvements one day at a time – that’s the only way progress happens – and when that kind of progress happens, it lasts.”

Determine each day to be more like Christ.  Perhaps the best place to start is a spirit of humility.  No Christian will ever succeed at the Christian life without first banishing pride from his life.  Speaking of Jesus, Philippians 2:8 says, And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

  • What is your plan for growth?  You must have a plan.
  • What personal discipline needs to be defined and applied?
  • How is your meditation (Bible reading and prayer) going?

Spiritual growth is like the tree planted by the rivers of water.  Do you want God’s blessings in life?  Do you want to live a happy Christian life?  Are you desiring to be more like Jesus?  It will take daily time, daily effort and daily commitment to being more like Jesus.