Tag Archives: kids

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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When Violent Death Hits Home

When Violent Death Hits Home

I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.  Amos 4:10

Could it be that when school and mass shootings take place, that it is an indicator that God is judging that nation?  It is very possible.  Please consider Amos and his warning to the Hebrew people in ancient Israel.

In Amos 4, the Lord sends Amos to give a warning.  He preaches that God would send judgment in an effort to see the people turn back to God.  Read the chapter if you like.  5 times God says: “Yet have ye not returned unto me.”  In each verse, the Lord describes various forms of judgment; taking away food, rain, sending famine, pestilence and more are warned of.  Instead of turning to the Lord, the people of Israel are said to have been led away with a hook and a fishhook in verse 2.  Like a carrot on a stick, they followed what was in front of them to satisfy their perceived need and actual greed.

When Amos ministered in Israel, the people were still very prosperous.  They had wealth.  They had money.  They had stuff.  When God started to take all that away – they kept looking for more material things.  Food, money and stuff.  They had become so “self-sufficient” that they neglected to turn back to God.

Then in our verse above we find God even begins to allow their children to be “slain with the sword.”  This indicates violent deaths for their young people in their land.  Anytime a child dies it is particularly difficult for the parents and family.  When you add uncalled for violence to the mix, it adds another level of pain. Our prayers go out for all those families who have lost children.

When God judges sin, there is collateral damage.  Just like the wind, rain, and sunshine falls on everyone, so does the judgment of God.  Not only are the people He is judging affected, but others are affected as well.  Look back at the 10 plagues that God judged Egypt with in Exodus.  Most of those judgments affected God’s people too.  In Amos 4, the seemingly natural weather events like drought impacted everyone.

Back to the school shootings.  Whenever young people die violent deaths, it could be part of God’s judgment on that nation.  Think of it this way, instead of people turning to God and training their kids to love God (who in turn teaches us to value and cherish human life) we are teaching our kids naturalism, materialism, and humanism.  Instead of telling our kids about God, we are told (as a whole) there is “no God.”  God wanted His people to turn back to Him and He used Amos to give warning, but when they did not turn back, the Lord finally sent His judgment.

It may not be that God is even judging the specific children that die in a mass shooting.  They are the sad casualties of a society that has turned its back on God.  Like the weather patterns, everyone is affected.  I have believed for years now that abortion is also part of God’s judgment on a people who have rejected Him.  Anytime humans start killing the most innocent and needy among us, we are in deep trouble.  Abortion is a violent form of killing and is another example of choosing personal (sexual) sin instead of choosing Jesus.  In abortion, the pre-born baby is paying part of the price for the parent’s sin.  It is a form of judgement on a people who are against God.

Kids are needlessly dying today.  May God help us.  We must follow the admonition of Amos 4:12 – “prepare to meet thy God.”  When homes and families begin teaching the Bible and turn to God through His Son Jesus Christ – then and only then, will lives be changed and human life valued like it should be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Funeral Parlors and Fun Parties

Tears.  Sorrow.  Raw Emotion. Real Life.  Death.  Death is the cause of so much heartache, hurts and pain.

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live wrote Ecclesiastes 7:2 as God directed him, and the emphasis is interesting; There is a priority of attending funeral services and visiting with people who just lost a loved one to the throes of death.  This singular scripture goes as far to say that it is better to go to a funeral parlor than to a fun party.

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

It is better to go to a funeral home.  Not fun – but needed for a proper perspective on life.  With life being devalued today, kids killing each other, and the news filled with reporting of one violent event or another – it makes me wonder – Has today’s modern child (an adults) been to enough funerals?

Probably not.  Many people avoid taking their children to the funeral home.  With good intentions of “not scarring the kids” or preventing them from seeing or hearing something disturbing, many well meaning parents, grandparents, and guardians find other places for their kids to be during funerals.  In fact – lots of adults avoid funerals as well.

Think of it this way; If a teenager has only known about death from a movie or video game – death cannot seem like real life.  He has no basis or foundation for understanding the depths of pain, the wrenching of the loss, or the changes in life that death causes for those who remain.  The seriousness of death is not something on his mind.

Since God says that it is better to go to a funeral than to go to a party – it should cause us to consider our priorities, teaching moments, and how to best place an emphasis on the value of life. Because death is in the future of every man God says being present with the corpse and with those grieving – will cause a person to “lay it to heart.”

We do not “lay it (death) to heart” enough because we avoid thinking about death.  Many don’t even talk about it.  But if a person thinks about death in a proper, Biblical way – it will cause him to make better choices in life!  When a person thinks about death – He will live better!

For example, here is a Fox News Headline from April 7, 2018: “Lakeith Smith, 18, of Montgomery, Ala., was sentenced to 65 years by Judge Sibley Reynolds for “felony murder, armed burglary, second-degree theft and third-degree theft,” FOX8 LIVE reported.”

“Smith smiled and laughed while being sentenced at the Elmore County courthouse. He had turned down a plea deal that would have recommended he spend 25 years in prison on the charges.”

‘I don’t think Mr. Smith will be smiling long when he gets to prison,’ C.J. Robinson, chief assistant district attorney, said. ‘We are very pleased with this sentence. Because the sentences are consecutive, it will be a long time before he comes up for even the possibility for parole, at least 20 to 25 years.’”

“Judge Reynolds said Smith seemed to show no remorse for his crimes during the trial and did not apologize. He also overhead the teen say, ‘I don’t have time for this.’”

Laughing.  I don’t have time for this?  What?  Here is an 18-year-old who apparently has never considered the gravity of life and death.  He is an example of the modern teen who believes life is ego centric and the purpose of living is to have a constant party – just have a good time.   Can I suggest that it would be better to take your kids to at least one funeral annually than to throw an ego centric, all out birthday party for them every year?  That is not intended to be a morbid thought.  Funerals in their proper context will help you and your child live better and make better choices.

No one likes tears.  Sharing in grief is not a fun thing or easy thing to do – but it will make you a better person.  When teaching your family about death, consider the age of your kids.  Find an age appropriate time to talk about and attend a funeral service.  Consider things like is it closed casket, a cremation, a memorial, or a graveside service?  Was this person a Christian?  What was our connection to this person?

Besides emotional “closure” and other similar benefits, going to the funerals and being present when a person’s life is summarized in a 30-minute speech will cause several good things in your life.

  1. Funerals cause us to ponder the brevity of life. James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
  2. Funerals cause us to consider the priorities of life. Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.
  3. Funerals cause us to examine and “correct course” in future days.  Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

The Apostle Paul, not doubt attended many funerals in his lifetime for Christian’s who were persecuted and killed for their faith. As he “laid to heart” the matter of life and death he said in the last letter he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” The only way to run the course of life and finish well is the make right choices today.  The only way to make right choices is to have Biblical values instilled in our life.  Knowing the brevity and value of life is a major part of this plan.

Help yourself and help your kids; Develop a priceless value on human life – by considering the gravity of death by attending a funeral. 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Mind Games in Relationships

Mind Games in Relationships

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind…”  Ephesians 4:23

One professional aptly stated that: “At age 20 we think: ‘What does everyone think about me.’  At age 40 we think: ‘It does not matter what other people think about me.’ And at age 60 we finally realize and think: ‘No one has been thinking about me anyway.’”

True.  Most of our thoughts about the perceptions others have of us are self-perceptions.  Most people are actually thinking about themselves and not thinking about you.  Why is it that we can be so consumed with perception and what others are thinking?

Testimony is one reason.  We should have a good testimony that is consistent with the Bible and that is exalting to Jesus.  Testimony does not mean that people are always thinking of us.  When they see us, or talk with us we should be edifying and encouraging.  When the Spirit of God uses your testimony to help another person, they may think of you for a moment, but otherwise, they are not constantly thinking about you.

Most of the time however, the reason we are so “self-conscious” of what others think or may think about us has to do with our personal pride.  Pride can create “Mind Games” than consume our time and damage needed relationships.  This pride takes form in several ways.  Here are two:

  • Do you know someone that needs constant affirmation for the most basic tasks in life? As our children grow, they will ask from time to time “Are you proud of me? I just made the ball go in the basket.  I just painted a watercolor, etc…”  As we get older the need for affirmation should adjust to find value in “who we are” in Christ – not merely what we have done or can do with our actions.  Insecure people seek the “pat on the back” in an obsessive way.  We all need encouragement and should actively encourage others, but insecure people are consumed with peer affirmation to the point that it paralyses any positive progress in their spiritual life and in their family/acquaintance relationships.
  • Like a bull in a china shop, overconfidence is bullish, brash, and bold in detrimental ways.  This self confidence is the opposite of biblical humility.  Its ego is fed by the projection of a certain “image” or perception the confident one wants other people to think about him/her.  This boldness can be dismissive of other people and cause division in relationships.   The ego must be fed at all costs because “I have an image to keep up…”  This confidence can be in position, ability, wealth, or social standing.  Self-righteousness is also a big contributor in a religiously minded person. Sometimes people who are overconfident, trying to impress people, have nothing in their life really worth bragging or boasting about.  Many times, they have shallow victories with no real success; but they want others to think that they are successful.  It’s another form of pride and is also one manifestation of an insecurity.
  • Finding the balance in this pendulum of emotions and thinking is found by centering in on Jesus. We can be emotional and relational extremists in the thinking of our mind if we do not find a Bible balance.

In one long sentence to the Christians in the church at Corinth, Paul writes 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 which declares, “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

Notice that our sufficiency, security, and confidences is in God, not in ourselves. It takes humility to see this in a personal life.

Don’t let mind games swing your emotions and relationships from side to side.  Reject the personal pride that causes faulty and sinful thinking.  Replace pride with humility and a desire to point people to Jesus.  Sharpen your testimony and ensure that your life (evident to others and in your mind) is not self-absorbed.  Let the Word of God and the Spirit of God “renew” your mind each day.  Purpose with God’s help to have accurate, Biblical, and right thoughts about yourself and others.

Other people are generally thinking about themselves.  Stop thinking about yourself too and learn ways to help yourself and others think about Jesus. His Word. And His Father.

 

 

 

 

Did You Think To Pray?

Did You Think To Pray?

Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.  Psalm 88:9

We pray when we are in trouble.  It is easy to turn our thoughts to Heaven when we have a big problem or a predicament that we are in.  For most people, the first time they fervently pray is when hey are in trouble.  Affliction drove the psalmist to pray every single day.  He actively sought the Lord lifting up “holy hands” to God, begging for His deliverance, guidance, and help.

What if we learned to pray before the big problem comes?  How would an active prayer life before the trouble arises help us navigate the storms of life?  It think it would make a big difference.  Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the “Prince of preachers” said “All the Christian virtues are locked up in the word prayer.”

The daily discipline of open communication with God, asking and receiving, better known as prayer, can change your life. There are several ways prayer affects not only the situation, but the one doing the praying.

Prayer calms the soul.  Prayer creates a connection with God. Prayer confirms our relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus.  Make it a daily practice to spend time with God in prayer.

I leave you with the words of Mary Kidder in her hymn “Did You Think to Pray?”

  1. Ere you left your room this morning,
    Did you think to pray?
    In the name of Christ our Savior,
    Did you sue for loving favor,
    As a shield today?

Refrain:
Oh, how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day;
So when life seems dark and dreary,
Don’t forget to pray.

  1. When you met with great temptation,
    Did you think to pray?
    By His dying love and merit,
    Did you claim the Holy Spirit
    As your guide and stay? [Refrain]
  2. When your heart was filled with anger,
    Did you think to pray?
    Did you plead for grace, my brother,
    That you might forgive another
    Who had crossed your way? [Refrain]
  3. When sore trials came upon you,
    Did you think to pray?
    When your soul was bowed in sorrow,
    Balm of Gilead did you borrow
    At the gates of day?

 

 

A Parental Challenge

A Parental Challenge

The following moth story can help us understand part of our role as parents:  “One man noticed an emperor moth struggling to emerge through a small hole in its cocoon so he decided to assist it. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the cocoon. The moth emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. Later the man learned the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight. By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of health.” – Fresh

Sometimes allowing a child to suffer consequences is the best thing for them to develop proper character going forward.   Parenting is such a demanding calling and requires much patience and personal discipline to properly train and develop a child.  Parenting is a challenge!

Colossians 3:21 teaches, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”

Parents who take serious the Bible admonitions about parenting will want to know what this verse means in their daily life.  Parents must be parenting with purpose.  There must be an end goal, a hopeful desire that you want to see achieved before your child leaves your home.  Besides the physical and academic growth, we should strive for our children to be more like Jesus, exhibiting real Christ-likeness and not simply outer conformity. It is a terrific goal.  Consistent and specific development objectives should be worked towards.

Part of the goals you have should include – not discouraging your child.

Discouraged is defined as “to be spiritless, i.e. disheartened: –to be dismayed.”

Have you ever watched a child wondering through life and it seems his eyes are glazed over?  Perhaps you have seen a teenager seem totally in a fog.  Sometimes this is attributed to illegal drugs, or it may be a child who has been abused or neglected.  Sometimes it is caused by overused behavioral medications.  At any rate, we have all seen children that seem to have no drive, desire, or motivation. They are emotionless, going through the motions of life.

A child living with a lot of anger eventually becomes a child who has been discouraged to the extreme.  He may look as if he has no reason to live.   According to Colossians 3:21, a parent could provoke his child to this extreme form of discouragement.

Provoke is a Bible term that means to “to stimulate (especially to anger).” In the context of this verse, the word “anger” is connected to this word “provoke.”

Angry words, lifting of the voice, a lack of attention, a perception of not loving or caring could each be ways a child is stimulated to anger.

Anger left unchanged will become consistent discouragement.  Disillusionment can set in early in life.  So many children today are cynical about life.

There are many other areas we could consider that could provoke a child to anger: making fun of a child, making a big deal about small things, not giving a purpose in the home (such as responsibilities which give meaning and purpose), embarrassing a child on purpose, and even  not giving good council and clear direction for choices (“What do you want to do?” Is not good parenting.  “What does God want you to do?” Or, “What does the Bible say you should do?” Is much better.).  You get the idea.  Here are three areas we must avoid or we may provoke our children to anger and if left unchecked, disillusionment with life could develop:

  • Allowing Arguing is not proper parenting. When a parent comes down to peer level and allows arguing, it creates insecurity in the child and feeds the natural man’s desire for rebellion.  A child allowed to argue will become good at manipulation to get his or her own way.  Big and sweeping changes happen in a family when a child becomes boss.  Even the least bit of argument can create a spirit of anger.  Constant battles, raised voices, angry words, flashes of facial hatred should not be tolerated. Be firm and be loving. Be the parent. Be the boss.
  • Accepting Un-Thankfulness ill prepares a child for life. Not developing an attitude of appreciation is a fast way to provoke to anger. A child left to be un-thankful will find nothing to be “good enough in life.”  An un-thankful heart is a rebellious heart for the Lord said: “In everything give thanks.”

This is generally seen in complaining.  For example: “School is not good enough – I need to transfer.  Church programs are not good enough. Friends are not good enough. The food is terrible. A Birthday gift was not big enough. I wish I had more_______.”

A parent determined to not see their child angry and discouraged will not seek to constantly please the child but will do everything possible develop an attitude that does not complain.  “Attitude Adjustments” are needed in some children more than others.

A child left to complain will grow into young adulthood and never find contentment and satisfaction unless the Lord dramatically changes their life.  A college class will be “no good.” A married spouse will “not satisfy me.” The workplace will be “boring” and “I hate my job” will become the norm. Just “getting by” will become common place.  A person like this also becomes real adept at skipping around from church to church.

  • Removing Anticipation. Kids should have something to look forward to with each new school year, and with each age they arrive at.  Becoming a teenager should be mysterious and include new things to look forward to.  Becoming a college student and young adult should be exciting.  Saving sex for marriage is part of the mystery and awe for newlyweds. Anticipation is needed in life.

In our family, our children are taught to look forward to the next step.  For example: A full size bicycle at age 11, youth group starting in grade 7, summer Bible camp in grade 8, for the girls – earrings after age 11, a driver license at 16, the chance to play on a High School sports team in High School.  You get the picture.  However you choose to develop your child – it must include anticipation for something special about the future.

When kids are given everything – they will develop a sense of emptiness and shallowness.  Some have so much given so early in life – they have nothing to look forward to and start searching and longing for a reason to live.  This is one reason so many turns to vapes, tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs and illicit sexual activity; it is sometimes because they have nothing good to look forward to.

Take this parental challenge: Don’t allow arguing, change the bad attitude of un-appreciation, and make every year something to look forward to with great anticipation.