Tag Archives: grow

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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

As Dumb As A Cow

As Dumb as a Cow

Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish.

Proverbs 12:1

No one wants to be known as being dumb. Foolish. Or especially stupid.  However, some of us are living as if we really are dumb.  The following are unpleasant statements: “You are as dumb as a donkey!”  or “You are as stupid as a dog.”

What about being as dumb as a cow? That is what this proverb is speaking about.  While loving instruction and knowledge will bring about the wisdom of God for daily living; he that hates reproof is as dumb as a cow.

The Hebrew term for “brutish” is a term associated with “cattle brutishness; stupid: brutish, foolish.” “Brutish” according to Merriam Webster is “Resembling, befitting, or typical of a brute or beast.”

Our extended family have farms and I frequented my grandparents farm while growing up.  The cows down on the farm are good at several things:  They can walk.  They can lay down.  They can find water in the creek or pond.  They can identify grass.  They can eat grass.  They can follow the hay wagon with the dried grass in it.  They can sleep standing up.  They can even make “cow patties.”  It is cool how a cow can swat at flies with its tail!  They can do these things every day for their entire life. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  I mostly like it when the cow becomes a cheeseburger, but that is something they are not capable of by themselves!

The point is – an animal – a cow is not that smart.  They are creatures of habit with limited ability.  God made them that way and that is OK.   They have simple minds that focus on the most basic things of life.  They are fulfilling their role in the pattern of life that God established.

The problem is that when human beings act like cows, we are demeaning our humanity, defacing our image of the Lord, and dishonoring the God Who made us.  We act as dumb as cows when we refuse instruction.  God expects so much more from the pinnacle of His creation – you and I.

The word “reproof” is used here.  Reproof is a form of chastisement or correction.  For example, when we correct our children of wrong thinking or wrong actions, we are helping them develop thinking and actions that reflect godliness, instead of reflecting cows!

Ask yourself several questions:

  • Have I learned all that God wants me to learn?
  • Do I have room to grow?
  • Do I get angry when someone points out how I can do or be better?
  • How will I grow and develop in Bible wisdom?

Just saying “I want to grow” is good, but you need more specifics in your path to growing.  Reading 3-5 chapters of the Bible, setting aside time to pray, determining to not only attend, but participate in the services of your church.  (We have 4 growth opportunities each week: Sunday School, Sunday Morning Worship, Sunday Evening Praise, and Wednesday Prayer and Bible Study.)

When people talk to you about things to “do better” or challenge you to “Grow” in an area, do not take offense to that – learn, embrace, and become more like Jesus.  Don’t be a cow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We All Start Somewhere

We all Start Somewhere

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:                  1 Peter 2:2

John Maxwell tells this astute story: “A group of tourists visiting a picturesque village walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked him, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.”

Whether you have been saved 4 days, 4 months, 4 years, or 44 years, the Lord has called you to be a “Growing Christian.”  We all start at the same place in our relationship to God.  When we are “born again,” at the moment of our believing in the Gospel, we start a new, spiritual life.

The Bible is what new and old Christians are nurtured with.  The more we read and apply, hear and change, study and implement, the more we grow to be like Jesus.  None of us are born “great.”  We are born to serve a “great God!”

One sad truth in Christianity is that some believers never grow up spiritually.  This has been a problem since the start of the church.  The letters to the churches that Paul wrote were in many cases to help the young churches to grow up in their faith. From lustful desires to hateful relationships, the early church needed to grow.

When we do not desire the Word like a baby desires milk, we do not grow like we should.  Examples include:

  • Continuing to be Stubborn in Spirit.
  • Consistently Rebellious in Heart.
  • Contentment in Judging Others.
  • Complaining to Feel Better.
  • Character Assignations of Others.
  • Charging into a Talk with Anger.

Brethren, if you are behaving like the points above, you have some areas to grow up in.  It could be that you think yourself to have “arrived” but you may not give as much value or as much of a lasting testimony to the work of God in your life.  Your behavior is reflecting who you really are.  Your “being” is still in childhood. Feeding on the desires of the flesh and the pride of life need to be exchanged for feeding on the Word of God.  You can do better than being a “Big Baby.”  God can help you grow out of spiritual infanthood.

You got to eat. We must consistently read, study, hear, and apply the Bible to our lives. Decide to grow up in Jesus by consuming more of the Word today.

Salvation is the start to a lifetime of growing and becoming more like Jesus.  Don’t’ just start.  Start and finish.  We do not “arrive” until we get to Heaven. Give grace to others along the way.  Decide to be more like Jesus. Then. Be. Like. Him.

 

 

 

 

Talking But Not Communicating

Talking But Not Communicating

“A Maine potato farmer and a Texas rancher were engaged in conversation at a political rally. The man from the Lone Star State asked, “How much land do you tend?”

“About a hundred acres.”

“I farm about six thousand myself.”

The man from Maine was not overly impressed, so the Texan continued, “There’s a much bigger ranch down near San Antone. To give you an idea of its size, the owner can start off in the morning in his car, and he ain’t barely crossed his place by noon.” “I had a car like that myself once” the man from Maine said.” (-1000)

While this is very funny, sometimes we interact with others in much the same way.  We talk, the other person says something, we speak again.  Who is listening?  How is it that words are said and others (and ourselves) do not hear?

Most of us struggle to some degree with the skill of listening.  Some are better at listening than others but all of us should grow in this area.

Hearing is more than our ears tingling with soundwaves.  Hearing is more than “I need a hearing aid” or “I need to clean the wax out of my ears.”  Hearing is when words and sounds are heard in the ear.  Listening is the processing, and understanding of what is being said.

Some people are so preoccupied in mind they do not “hear.”  Others are so distracted or defensive that they are not listening to what they are hearing or what is being said.

Here are several ideas to help become a better communicator.

  • Stop Everything. Ecclesiastes 5:1 teaches: “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.”

Please notice how Solomon in His wisdom encouraged “hearing” by stopping other movements.  Turning off the TV and radio, removing the cellphone from your face, and looking the person in the eye is a great way to focus.  In conversation – focus!

  • Value Words. In Matthew 13:17 Jesus says, “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

Because the disciples had faith in Jesus, they could “hear” and “understand” His words.  Many people in the years before Jesus had hoped to “Hear” and “Listen” to the Messiah, but were not able to. They died before He was born in the Flesh.

Jesus is instructing his disciples to cherish the words they are hearing.  Our relationships would take on new meaning if we valued the words of those who are talking to us.

  • Slow Down. James 1:19-20 directs us: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

Being quick to speak and fast to become angry does not help in communication.  In fact, these are big hindrances to healthy communication.  Be fast to say nothing, quick to listen and understand, and slow to react to what is being said to you.  Each of us have witnessed times when a person speaks “off topic” answers in a wrong way, or even says things that are untrue and things they regret later because they did not slow down to understand first.

Determine today that with the grace of God you will be a better communicator to be able to listen, talk and have real communication take place.

 

 

 

 

Hearing, Learning, and Fearing

Hearing, Learning, and Fearing

Moses is 120 years old.  His voice is still strong, mind still sharp, and his body is still capable.  He is told by God that he will get to peer over and get a peek at the Promised Land, but that he will not be able to go into the land. This was because of is disobedience in striking the Rock.

God gives Moses a “song” to declare to the people.  Following the song and some final words, Moses hikes up Mount Nebo and dies. Amazingly, God buries Moses.  No-one knows where the burial plot is to this day.

Interestingly, we get an idea of effective parenting and effective communication from the instructions Moses leaves with the people in this farewell address:

Deuteronomy 31:12-13  says, “Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: 13 And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.”

Please note the underlined words above.  Perhaps you want to underline them in your Bible.  Several times in Scripture this idea of “Hear and Fear” and of “Hear, Learn, and Fear” are found.

In the narrative of Deuteronomy, Moses is giving God’s promises concerning blessing and cursing.  The nation of Israel would be blessed and prospered when they worshipped God alone.  They would be cursed and other nations would conquer them when they would worship false gods.  Much of the rest of the Old Testament is dedicated to this underlying theme of Israel’s blessing and cursing, their wandering and coming back to God.

Consider the teaching points Moses gives: “Hear, Learn, Fear.”

Hear. If you have ever been a teacher in a classroom of students or have taken classes on the subject, you know that you cannot teach someone if you do not have their attention.  The student must give their “hearing” to the teacher.

Limiting classroom distraction, and insisting on a student to focus are part of the “hearing” aspect of instruction.  There are many distractions in school settings today; it could be the glib comments of another student, the immoral seduction of a immodestly dressed girl, or the profane words of a teacher.

In addition, the student must want to focus and the parent must make the student motivated to want to hear the instruction in the classroom.

In much the same way, the Lord wants us to “hear” Him.  God wants us to listen to His Word.  Avoid letting other people distract you from hearing the message of the Lord.  Do not blame others for your lack of focus or lack of attention.

In parenting, be sure to help you child focus on the main things in life, not the inconsequential.  Develop their listening skills.  One reason we listen to many radio dramas in our home is to develop the “hearing” senses in our children.  Being able to give instruction and not having to repeat it several times is a good goal for parenting.  Our children should be taught to “hear” well.

Learn.  Learning takes place in every area of life.  We learn responses to others, defensive mechanisms so others do not hurt us, and reactions to undesirable situations.

When you were in school, you learned both good and bad lessons.  You learned some academics, and you learned some immoral or sinful behavior from other students.  We learn from what we are “hearing” the most.  If you are hearing and focusing on the facts of History or Science, that is what you will learn.  If you are hearing people mock or curse God – that is what you will learn.

Be careful what you are learning and from whom you are learning.  Who we listen to dictates much of what will be learned and what we will end up believing.

Parents have a challenge of developing the “learning” of their children.  From the classroom to the living room, you are responsible to make sure they are hearing the correct teaching and learning the Christian way to perceive and live life.

Limiting TV, controlling social media outlets, and having specific guidelines for cellphones is part of your parental responsibility.  I would not encourage any teen to have a cell phone or computer alone with them in their bedroom at night.  The heart of your teen is the target for many evil people who want them to “hear” them and then in turn “learn” from them.

Fear. Like Moses addressed the “Children of Israel” we can appropriately determine to have the same course of action in our parenting approach.  The goal of “hearing” and “learning” was to “fear” God.

Fear is a term that can be misunderstood today.  Biblical fear of God means “to fear; morally, to revere; be afraid, and to hold in reverence.”  The Lord is someone Who means what He says and says what He means.

Sometimes we are “afraid of being caught.”  That is not the same as the “Fear of the Lord.”  Fearing God has to do with a respect, reverence, and wonder for God – His might, power, ability, and Who He is – the King, Judge, and Savoir.  We should want to please Him.  There are blessings and consequences to all our actions.

Just like a child who loves his earthly father but is afraid to do wrong because he knows he will displease his father and face punishment -we too are to fear the Lord.  Just look at the criminal justice system for an example.  Those incarcerated had a disregard for the law – they did not fear the consequences nor have a fear for the law.

One of the greatest tragedies about many Christian families today is that we can make our kids “Hear” but we do not get them to the “Learn.”  Then others have their kids “Hear” and “Learn” but they never get to the “Fear” part.

The passage does say “Learn to fear.”  It is one thing to learn about God and another thing to learn to fear Him.  Somehow each parent must guide their children to have an overriding fear of God in their heart.  Here are four ideas to help:

  1. Follow through with promises. Be a parent of your word.
  2. Follow through with consequences. Do not rob your child the good (and sometimes painful) lessons that consequences bring.
  3. Focus your family life on pleasing the Lord. Let them see the underlying principles of loving God and others more than self.
  4. Let your kids see your Christianity in such a positive way that they will want it for their lives too. Like Ecclesiastes 12:13 instructs: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”