Tag Archives: family

Stops and Steps

Stops and Steps

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

Mark 6:31

 

“The stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord as well as his steps.”  —George Mueller

With summer break it is easy for parents to disengage, to go into autopilot and to lesson expectations for their children.  Taking a break is not the same thing as being lazy.  While taking a break is good, we should still have some basic Christian and family life expectations in our homes.

Here are some ideas for students this summer:

  • Take a break from school work, but keep reading the Bible.
  • Take a break from classes, but still attend Sunday School.
  • Take a break from Physical Education, but still exercise prayer and discernment.
  • Take a break from academic teachers, but never stop learning how to live from your parents.

Here are some ideas for parents this summer:

  • Keep structure in the home. While a little more relaxed there should still be a bedtime and wake up time and normal times for meals.
  • Communicate expectations concerning chores. Each child should have several jobs in the home that help you, that add value to them, and gives them a purpose and a role to fulfill in your home.
  • Have limits on media. Vegging out in front of a TV or a small media device for hours on end is unhealthy. Cultivate real people interaction.  Give play time outside.  Try a new sport.  Take a hike or a bike ride. Have friends come over to do more than play video games.  Get a ball and enjoy the weather.
  • Get several interesting books from the bookstore or the library and except your child to read 1 or 2 books during the summer months. Ensure the mind stays sharp!

My prayer is that you will have a safe, fun, and God-honoring summer break!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Teach the Tongue

Teach the Tongue

Powerful.  Life Changing. Incredible.  Sometimes, not saying anything is priceless!  How many times do our words, though seemingly innocent, get us into trouble, or hurt other people?  How many times do our words encourage, edify and help those around us?  How many Christians are really living like Proverbs teaches.

As the school year winds down, finals are administered, and teachers get a restful summer break, what have you and I learned during the school year.  When a family has school aged children the year seems to revolve around the school session schedule.  So, for this year, what have you learned?  Have math skills increased?  Has science and history been your thing?  How much better is your handwriting?

More importantly, what character traits have grown?  What spiritual steps have been taken this year?  What decisions for serving the Lord have you made?

Recently, our family was reading though proverbs and the following 2 verses stood out to me personally.

  • The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. Proverbs 16:23
  • Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.  Proverbs 17:7

What have you taught your mouth?  Taught what?  The wise man or woman, son or daughter, will teach his mouth to say only good things.  Not always will be win this battle, but again, the wise teacheth his mouth.  His lips are guided with learning.  No-one wants to talk the fool, or speak foolishly.  Verbal discipline is a requirement and expectation for the Christian life.

Notice how to not become a fool in Proverbs 17:7.  Excellent speech will not result in a person being a fool.  One paramount, pinnacle lesson each person must learn is the value of their words.  Empty speech, useless conversation, angry words, and bad themes to talk about are not worth talking about!   There are some things we should not waste our breath on!  Here are some ideas to help these verse be true in your life.

  1. Teach or control your mouth.  Take a breath before you speak.  Pray for God to help you say the right things to the right people, the right way, with the right attitude.
  2. Keep learning. Be around good speaking.  Avoid listening to cursing, gossip, or evil communication.  Be aware of the impact of social media and the “Friends” you follow have on you and your speaking.  The people we listen to and look to will inform our mind which in turn impacts what we say or do not say.
  3. Expect more.  Don’t allow negative, selfish, and evil speaking in your home.  Have excellent speech.  Make or create time to talking at the dinner table, in the car, and on the porch.  The more excellent speech that is expected, the least likely you and your children will be in becoming a fool.  Don’t allow useless talk in your home.
  4. Be upfront.  Notice how verse 7 says a person with lying lips will not become a prince.  It is not likely that a lying person is ever truly successful and like a prince in life.  It is less likely than a person who says good things to turn out to be a fool.
  5. Set down the phone.  I read recently that teenagers spend more time on their cell phone than they spend time with their parents. Texting, facebook, twitter, Instagram, video games, snap-chat and more has not increased real life talking!  Learn to set the phone or device down and carry on a real conversation with someone.  Teach yourself good conversation habits.

Make application in your own home and in your own life-stage.  How are you doing?  Have you taught your tongue yet?  It is an area that we must continue to learn and grow in.  We never arrive with our words.  Keep growing in excellent communication!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Teachers’ Difference

The Teachers’ Difference

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.  2 Timothy 2:24

During teacher appreciation week (which concludes today) I noticed several “thank-you” and notes of appreciation on social media.  Many people were lauding their teachers from childhood and high school.  Amazingly my name was listed in some of the postings.  Around 15 years ago, I had the opportunity to be a High School Science and Biology teacher.   I was blessed to see that one of my former students posted that I had made Chemistry/Biology “fun.”  I am encouraged that his perspective and recollection of our class created, not just head knowledge of a subject, but that he enjoyed and benefited from the classes.  In other words- he did not just get data, or knowledge, he also learned some things about life.  Christians can be joyful and live happy, healthy lives!

As Paul is writing to Pastor Timothy, he speaks about the servant of God being apt to teach.  This is definitely a quality that is needed in ministry and certainly in classrooms of any kind.  Teaching and learning is part of the plan God gave to mankind.  We even have a Bible written by God so we can learn of Him.  We must be able to read in order to study and read His Word.  Thank the Lord for education and learning!

Who taught you – English with thoughtfulness?  Who taught you – math with order and purpose?  Who taught you and motivated you for history – so that the bad parts of history are hopefully not repeated?  Be thankful for those teachers who took the time to teach in the classroom and made the effort to mold and shape you in civic and Christian ways.

All teachers make a difference.  Some seem to make more an impact, and others less.  Some teachers make a difference in areas other than merely the subject they are teaching.  All teachers make some kind of a difference.

Every student knows the strong points and weak points of the teacher.  Each student takes away specific memories from the classroom.  Some memories are fond and are good.  Other memories are difficult, or sad.  Sometimes what is etched in the student the most are not the lessons, but the deportment, cheerfulness, or encouraging nature of the teacher.  Teachers can and should be terrific motivators.

One word spoken harshly could define the teacher in the mind of a student.  One off the cuff remark could ruin a reputation of the teacher in the mind of the student.  One kind word could make an eternal difference in the life of a student.  One expression of care or interest can make a big difference.  Christians, who are also teachers, can even make an eternal impact because of the Gospel of Christ!

  • Teachers reading this – thank you for doing what you do!  What kind of difference will you make?  Good or bad?  A positive and encouraging or a discouraging difference?
  • Students (and former students) will you look back and be thankful for the joyful moments and also be thankful for even the difficult lessons you learned in the classroom from a teacher?

Truly, teachers could be considered “servants of the Lord.”  Teaching is definitely a calling.  Thank you for being a difference maker in the lives of so many.

 

 

8 Ways to Love Your Spouse

8 Ways to Love Your Spouse

I like the Reese hearts and the Russel Stover Chocolates.  My wife likes the chocolates and the red roses too.  Each Valentines day we are all reminded about the special relationships many of us are called by God to enjoy – marriage.  A happy and healthy marriage is possible!

If you and your spouse are having issues, do not wait to get help.  Please call me or another Christian counselor today.  Statistically I read some time ago that couples about to divorce wait 6 years too late to get counseling help.  Good news – your marriage perspective can change overnight with a little positive encouragement from a Christian counselor.

For today’s devotional, here are 8 Bible passages that when applied, can demonstrate love towards your spouse.

  1. Stay physically and emotionally faithful to your spouse alone.  This was declared on your wedding day.  Proverbs 5:15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.
  2. Celebrate spiritual, financial, educational, and relational victories. Throw a party for two, go out for coffee, or make a special meal. Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
  3. Be Happy. Happiness is not conditional on circumstances but on the attitude. Happiness is a choice.  Ecclesiastes 9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
  4. Blend everything you do and have together. Feelings, faith, friends, finances, etc. All these things should be combined. Matthew 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
  5. Choose to make the spiritually right decision. One of you is probably more spiritual than the other.  While the man should lovingly serve with Biblical leadership in the home, it is not always the case. Choose to have a positive, edifying spirit that will build up the other in the things of God. 1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
  6. Modify expectations while not letting any disappointments change you. He made a mess.  She was not ready for intimacy.  Don’t let circumstances become sources of bitterness.  Colossians 3:18-19 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
  7. Understand each other. Know how the other thinks. Know the likes and dislikes.  This is something of a challenge!  1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
  8. Value and treasure the person God gave to you. God gave you a special gift to have as a companion in life.  While some people are called to “singleness” the Lord gave you a “help meet.”  Treasure this gift with all of your heart.  Proverb 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Watch and the Ring

The Watch and the Ring

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  Genesis 1:27

I am thankful for my wife.  I am glad that she is different than me!  If we were identical in personality and physicality why would I need her?  Better yet – Why would she need me?

God made men and women with differences on purpose and it is these differences that add great variety and… value to an individual person.

The role of men and women in the home or in the church has nothing to do with value or worth and everything to do with function and role.  If a body has two heads we would know the body will have conflict and issues.  Dr. Adrian Rogers used to preach that a body with “two heads is a freak.”  For sure it is not natural, nor intended for a body to have 2 heads trying to tell the body what to do. Science fiction is just that- science fiction.  Some people want science fiction to be true in their marriage relationship or in their home or church.  It is just not healthy to have two heads vying to be in charge.

 

The head of the church is Jesus.  For order & structure in the home, God says the man is the “head.”  Study the New Testament book of Ephesians chapter 5.

Men, don’t let that go to your head; and women, don’t think that this structure excludes or devalues you.  “To whom much is given much is required.”  If a home succeeds or not – is a responsibility charged to the man. He is held accountable by the Lord.  Men are not to be dictators.  Leaders are to be servants. A husband should be bending over backward to make life easy for his wife.

This organizational structure contributes to a happy and healthy home where the “two” have truly become “one.”

Men and women are of equal value, even if their role and function is not the same.  Here is a valid example:

Recently, I was looking at my wrist watch and my wedding band, both of which my wife gave to me.  Both are made from shiny silver looking metal.  They are made of the same stuff but are different in form and function.

  • The wedding band’s function is to prove that I belong to Natalie.
  • The wrist watches’ function is to keep me “on time.”

While both are made of similar materials and have a different function and role in my life, the watch and the ring have the same value.  The retail value of either one is about $200.

Function and role does not determine value.  Each person in your home should be HIGHLY VALUED…

 

 

 

 

The Trees of Christmas

The Trees of Christmas

Do you enjoy decorating the Christmas tree?  Many people love them.  I like seeing the big ones in parks.  Our children have fun decorating our tree each year in our home.

We have a “Thanksgiving Tree” in our house as soon as November rolls around.  Then we re-decorate to make it our Christmas tree in December.  Use the same tree for nearly 2 months of the year.

Having family customs and traditions will make your home a place of special memories.  Your kids will love it and remember it.  Even if it is inconvenient for you, the memories will be worth it later.

The Christmas Story begins and ends with a tree. 

There are Several Trees in the Bible as we think about the Christmas Tree.

Our First Tree is in the Garden of Eden.

The Garden of Eden was full of Trees: Fur, Cedars, Chesnut, etc… :  Ezekiel message to Pharaoh included trees.  The King of Assyria was compared to these trees and Pharaoh was told he would become greater than these trees:  Ezekiel 31:8-9 says, The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chesnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. 9 I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him.  Pharaoh would also fall in his pride:  Ezekiel 31:18 To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that be slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.

The “Tree of Life” is mentioned in Genesis 2:9, And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

“The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” is also spoken of in Genesis 2:16-17.  God told Adam and Adam told Eve to not eat the fruit of this tree.  They could eat all the other tree fruit, except this one.

Eve was tempted by the Serpent and Adam chose to disobey the Lord.  They fell to the Temptation of the Tree:  Genesis 3:17 says,  And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

This resulted in SEPARATION from God: Genesis 3:2 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Much SORROW came about including being kicked out of the Garden of Eden: Genesis 3:24, So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Apparently, before sin, Adam could eat the fruit of the “Tree of Life.”  After sin – God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden so they could no longer eat the tree of life.

The Next Tree is in The Garden of Gethsemane.  

While not mentioned specifically, the Lord Jesus was praying to God the Father in the midst of a grove of Olive trees.  This location is the Mount of Olives.  There are many of the same trees alive today that were there when Jesus met with God the Father in prayer. The photo above is of one of those trees.

Matthew 26:36-39 tells us, Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

From Olive Oil to Olive Branches, much is symbolized in the Olive Tree.

  • A Symbol of Preservation. Genesis 8:11 declares, And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.  The Lord preserved the human race and the olive branch was a sign of hope that they survived the global flood and a new life was emerging following the flood.
  • A Symbol of Prosperity. Olive Oil;  we cook with it.  It is used in Old Testament ceremonies.  Even Candles (or lamps) were lit with it in the Old and New Testaments.
  • A Symbol of Peace. Olive Branch. Think United Nations logo.  There is an Olive Branch.

In the middle of the Olive Grove Jesus was making Preservation Possible, giving us the Prosperity of Heaven, and Praying for believers to have Peace with God.  Peace is possible only because of His blood that was shed on the third tree we will look at – the Golgotha Tree.  Because of the sin surrounding the first tree – an our own sin, Jesus came to earth to die on a tree.

Because of sin – we are at enmity against God.  In other words we are enemies towards God.  That is not a good place to be!  Observe the following:

  • John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
  • John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
  • 1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

 

The Third Tree is The Golgotha Tree; Otherwise known as “The Old Rugged Cross.”

  • Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
  • 1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
  • John 12:32-33 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

WE GO FULL CIRCLE.  We Begin with a Tree in the Garden of Eden,  We walked up the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed on His way to the Cross, and then– it was on that Old Rugged Tree – Jesus died for your sin.

  • The First tree was fashioned by God and sinfully visited by man.
  • The Last Tree was Fashioned by Man and selflessly visited by God.
  • The First Tree was Perfect and wonderful to see.
  • The Last Tree was splintered, ugly, and bloody – hard to look at.
  • The First tree opened mankind’s eyes to sin.
  • The Last Tree covers God’s eyes to our sin.
  • The first Tree was Adams Downfall.
  • The Last Tree was Jesus’s Death.
  • It was because of the First Tree That Jesus had to come to earth.
  • It is because of the Last Tree that we can go to Heaven.

After spending 3 entire days dead – Jesus rose again.  After dying on the cross, and paying the price for our sin – Jesus came out of the tomb.  Just as Jesus came the first time – He is coming again, a second time.

Believe in the First Coming of Jesus.  He came to die on the cross taking your sin.  Christmas time is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus who came to earth to make a way for you to be united with God.  Without Jesus we have no relationship or fellowship with God the Father.  While the first tree became the ruin of man, the last tree became the place of our salvation.

Why not accept Jesus by faith today?  Receive the free gift of eternal life.  It is free to us; yet paid for with the high price of the life of Jesus.

Don’t look at the Christmas Tree in your home the same way today.  Let it remind you of the first and last tree.  The Christmas Story begins and ends with a tree. 

 

 

 

How to Know You Are Not Thankful

How to Know You Are Not Thankful

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.  Psalm 106:1

For this posting, you may want to open your Bible to Psalm 106 to follow along in the text.

“A man writing at a post-office desk was approached by an elderly fellow who asked, “Sir, could I get you to address this postcard for me?”

The man did so gladly, and then agreed to another request, which was to write a message on the card, and to sign it. He then asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

The old fellow thought a moment, then said, “Yes. Add this at the end: ‘P.S. Please excuse the handwriting.”

All of us should be challenged with the idea of thankfulness. You can Become a thankful person today.  Early Israel is our example to learn from in Psalm 106.

Eight marks of thanklessness to the Lord include:

  • Forgetting the Mercy of God. 1-7
  • Lusting for More Stuff. 8-15
  • Envying Others’ Power. 16-23
  • Murmuring Behind Closed Doors. 25-26.
  • Making Idle Inventions. 28-29, 39

Please note that Inventions = deeds.  We can be very creative at evil action.  Our imagination can be dangerous. Imagination = “Framing of the Mind.” When we think of it – then our actions will follow:  See how these verses inform this truth:  Genesis 6:5, And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And in Psalm 81:12, So I gave them up unto their own hearts (“Imagination”) lust: and they walked in their own counsels.

Too Much Time on Our Hands could be the result of blessing or even the result of hard work.  When we abuse the time with evil, it is the product of an un-thankful heart.

“Idle Hands are the devils workshop.”  It is a true idea rooted in Bible truth. Voids of good activity are always filled with evil activity.  Fill your day with good actions.  Fill your heart with Bible Intention. Stage the platform of your life so that free time is used for good, not evil.

  1. It could be that being with other people prevents sin.
  2. It may be that reading the Bible prevents sin.
  3. It is possible that having routines and expectations could prevent sin.
  4. It is true that being thankful, daily, could prevent sin. “An Attitude of Gratitude” goes a long way.
  5. Idle inactivity often leads to idol activity!
  • Provoking Anger in Others. 29, 40, 32-33
  • Mixing Up Relationships. 34-36
  • Disregarding Human Life. 37-39

Check your life against this list of eight marks of thanklessness.  How did you do? You could get this right with God right now and have a fresh perspective on life.

 

WHAT should I DO about Un-thankfulness?  Good question.  Here are 3 helps:

  1. Stand for Right. 30-31
    1. Think Right. Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind (Imagination” in Hebrew) is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
    2. Do Right.  Phinehas was thinking right and therefore he did right.  As a result we know him even today as being a righteous man.  He was thankful to God so he was willing to stand for God and right.
  2. Seek Mercy. 44-46.  May the Lord not give us what we really deserve.  Remind yourself of His mercies each morning to help with your days perspectives.
  3. Say “Thank You.” 47-48.  In prayer – be purposefully thankful to God.

May the Lord help us to be a thankful people.  Not only in November – but in each day that He gives to us.  Be encouraged and challenged to live thankfully each day.

You can Become a thankful person today.