Tag Archives: parents

A Demonic Inspiration?

A Demonic Inspiration?

One 12 year old Michigan girl set herself on fire attempting the “Fire Challenge” she saw on Youtube.  She burned over half her body and will need 3 more surgeries.  She poured rubbing alcohol on herself and lit a match.  This “challenge” phenomenon on social media is a dangerous trend that appeals to many young people and teens.

Other challenges include the “Hot Water Challenge” with kids being burned with boiling water.  Participants either pour the boiling water on self, another person, or allow it to be poured on them.  An attempt to see what level of pain tolerance one has?  Perhaps. Dangerous and foolish no matter the reason why.

Kids are easily influenced for foolish things.  Be careful of Who and What you allow to influence your kids.  Avoid giving young person unmonitored access to the internet on ta phone or computer.  It could turn our dangerous for them and for you.  Have guidelines, expectations, and accountability in place.  Like 1 Corinthians 15:33 teaches, Be not deceived: evil communications (Companions) corrupt good manners.  If you want your child to turn out right, make sure you instill discernment for who influences your child as a friend, or companion. Even the internet companions hold tremendous influence.

Speaking of the Christian’s physical body, 2 Corinthians 6:16 says, And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

As Christians, our bodies and our lives belong to Jesus.  His desire is that we care for our bodies.  We are the temple of the living God and as such, our bodies are to be cared for and maintained to the glory of God.

What is the deal with setting self on fire?  Here are several thoughts that may put this ridiculous activity in perspective.

  • Hell is full of fire.
  • Fire is indicative of judgment.
  • Satan wants people to go to Hell.
  • A demon possessed boy in the New Testament passage of Matthew 17:14-19 would constantly jump into a fire. Jesus rescues this boy.

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Could it be that “self-harm” is suggested by a demon?  Is it possible that the “fire challenges” are demon inspired?

While Jesus is interested in life – Satan and his demons are interested in death and dying.  When kids are tempted to play “Russian Roulette,” or get as close to drowning as possible, or have a self-induced near-death experience – are these forms of Satanic oppression or even possession?  I believe it is very possible.

God says, take care of your body and live.  Satan says, destroy your body and die.

Parents, if you find your teen participating in self-harm or similar dangerous activity, please take them to Jesus right away.  Jesus is the answer your teen is looking for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

Setting Examples in Front

Setting Examples in Front

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Our church is blessed to have Bible College and Christian College music tour groups visit each year.  There are many benefits to having these young college students minister in our church.  For instance: the music is encouraging, edifying and presented with excellence. They offer CD’s that our people can play in their cars and homes. We learn about Bible and Christian College possibilities.  In addition, our own children are able to see responsible and respectable college age students that can leave a lasting impression on our kids concerning life and ministry.

This demonstration of example is what Paul is writing to Timothy about in the passage above.  Timothy, while not the oldest man in the congregation was to be a stellar example of the grace of God in what he said, how he behaved, and what priorities he had in life.  One of the greatest benefits of having the college groups in to our church is that our kids can get a glimpse of what they could potentially do in service to the Lord.  While not everyone will be a preacher or traveling singer, college aged young people can serve the Lord in ministry.  Our kids need to see that.

Many times we may hear young people say:  “When I graduate from High School I will serve God, but I am too busy now.”  Or – “I have too many credits in college, so I will serve the Lord after I graduate from college.”  Good intentions have never accomplished anything.  Life is busy for everyone.  The Christian life should not be a choice between one or the other.  Serving God, and living life should be synonymous.

Parents, I encourage you that when college groups come through that you not only attend the concerts and services, but engage your pre-teen, tween, and teen in conversation with the college students.  Let them “rub shoulders” with them and see a good example of someone who is serving God and living life to the glory of God.   Put good Christian role models in front of your kids.

Teens – the person singing could be you.  You could be the one giving the message.  You could be the one planning the summer schedule.  It could be that God call you to some other form of service – all in the name of Jesus.  Put good Christian role models in your life.  Be encouraged – God can use you in His service too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Missed the Conference

I Missed The Conference

Red face. Swollen brow. My left eye was nearly swollen shut.  It was somewhat difficult to breath. The headache was paralyzing.  “You look terrible.” My doctor said to me Monday morning.  I appreciate it when my medical doctors are straight up with me.  “Take this medicine and you will be better in 3-4 days.”  I would rather be “better” in 20 minutes, but I was grateful.

That night was our Mission Conference.  I fought through the pain the previous day or two, but after several nights of not sleeping well and with the eye still swollen and headache still pounding, I knew I was a “no go” for the conference.

I do not recall ever missing one of our church missions conference.  Never. Ever.  Even as a young person, it was a priority in our home to be at every church service and every church event.  Our parents were faithful to see us be involved in church.

Missions conference holds many special memories in my mind as a young person.  The kid’s conferences, meeting the missionaries from around the world, and seeing the pastor call “all those willing to serve as missionaries” to come to the front so we could have a word of prayer.

As I have been reflecting on the message I heard Dr. Scott Caudill deliver on Tuesday night (I was well enough to attend) I began thinking of a verse he referenced, Matthew 6:21, For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  Of course, the context of what Jesus is speaking is dealing with money and stuff.  It applies to our time and talent as well.

Because my parents placed their treasure in the things of God; church, missions conference, youth group, etc. they made sure that their sons were at these events and services.  Ball games, piano practice, art class, overtime at work, and other stuff (even school) were not more important than the church stuff.  This made a difference in my life.  Their “Treasure” eventually was where their heart (and where my heart also) ended up – invested in the things of God.

Check out this verse again, “Where your treasure is…”  Before the heart is moved, the treasure is already in it’s place.  The heart catches up to where the treasure is.  It does not say “Love God with your heart and then your treasure will be at the right place.”

No, Jesus is saying, “Put your treasure in the right place and then your heart will be in the right place.”  There is a big difference in this approach.

Where is your treasure today?  I can’t believe I missed a mission conference service!  I feel like the sickness “Providentially Hindered” me from attending on Monday.  That said, most of the time, when my treasure is not in the right place it is my personal choices and my own decisions that hinder me.  Believe me, I know we can’t be at everything the church offers, but shouldn’t I make an attempt?  At least for the Mission of the Gospel?  We have no reason for living were it not for the Gospel.  I don’t expect everyone to be at everything.  But what about your treasure?  Where is it today?  When you find your treasure – you will find where your heart truly is.

Be encouraged today to put your treasure in the right place.  Only then will your heart be in the right place.

 

 

 

 

The New “Valentines Day Massacre”

The New Valentines Day Massacre

February 14, 1929, seven men were killed in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood by 4 men in a planned attack in a mob war.  According to Wiki – “Two of the shooters were dressed as uniformed policemen, while the others wore suits, ties, overcoats and hats. Witnesses saw the “police” leading the other men at gunpoint out of the garage after the shooting.”

Interestingly enough the student assailant of the February 14, 2018 shooting walked out with others students to try to avoid being captured. What can one say? Sad. Tragic. Needless. My heart goes out to all the students and their families in that school.

The New “Valentines Day Massacre” is a reflection of the human heart.  In Florida, 17 Students are dead and many others are physically wounded.

In addition, the psychological trauma and the emotional distress will be painful for years to come if not properly processed by each student.  Those intense moments of either confronting the assailant, evading him, or even being confronted by the SWAT teams as they secured the area can become horrific memories in the mind of each student.

I read somewhere that since 1999 and Columbine High School in Colorado, that there have been 25 mass school shootings with nearly 100 students killed.  Just shortly after the Columbine event, I walked around the school property, saw the crime scene, and looked at the makeshift memorials on a hillside outside.

Who is to blame?  Why do mass casualty events like this happen?  Why does it seem to be increasing?

The problem of people killing other people is rooted in the cognition level of what people were celebrating on Valentine’s Day – the heart.  While people were eating chocolate hearts, sending hearts on texts, and attempting to express love to their mate, a troubled student in Florida was planning and formulating in his heart a plan of hate and harm.

An old prophet named Jeremiah wrote about the heart 2600 years ago in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Mankind, at his best is still a sinful being living in a world of pain, suffering, temptations, injustice, and unkindness.  People can be flat out mean.  It is because we are sinners and have a sin nature that is part of our DNA.

Apart from the “regeneration” of the Holy Spirit of God, individual men will continue to sin against themselves, against others, and against God.

When mass casualty events take place in schools, I ask the following questions:

  1. Where were the parents?
  2. Has the dad been a steady influence?
  3. What kind of abuse did the assailant endure as a child?
  4. How long has bitterness, anger and rage been left unchecked?
  5. What was the one “trigger event” or spark that brought this rage to the surface?

Like a chemical reaction, the chemicals can be mixed all together but lacks one ingredient, that when added causes the reaction or explosion.  What was the tipping point event (ingredient) in the life of the assailant?

Anyone with “no future” will be living in the past.  I suspect that this young man endured a difficult home life, did not feel loved and valued, and reacted to the hardships of life by isolating himself from the accountability of friends and family.  This young man had not discovered a purpose or reason for living.  It is possible one attempts to find significance by harming others.  Sometimes it is even posted in social media ahead of time.

The perception that “I have no reason for being alive” is just that – a perception.  It is informed by choices, environment, and the person’s past.  This is a sad way many people are living.  A person desperate for attention, significance, or security could drive himself to the point of insane actions to gain what he believes is lacking in his life – value.

God loves people so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross, shedding His blood and taking our punishment and paying for our sin with his very life.  Following a person’s belief in Jesus, the Christian has a new purpose and reason for living.  Ephesians 2:10 states, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  Have Hope Today!  Choose New Life!  Jesus values each person and wants to have a personal relationship with each person.

Common denominators and problematic symptoms of assailants seem to include: a wounded spirit, isolation of self from others, a broken family, playing violent games, listening to music with violent lyrics, and a rebellious attitude that is quite and not always evident on the surface. Sometimes the assailants are trying to replicate something they saw in media.  Many times it is the student who is suffering life in silence.  The ones who suffer more vocally tend to get more attention from their peers and teachers.

The prophet Jeremiah, cited earlier, was known as “the weeping prophet.”  He saw the people of his land suffering and was fast to cry genuine tears.  Children in particular were being killed. Jeremiah 31:15 says, “Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.”

The reason for their suffering?  Why were their children being killed?  The Babylonian enemies of Israel were taking the people captive.  Why did God allow the pain, suffering, and even death at the hands of these evil attackers?  The people of God (who knew better) were no longer honoring God with their lives.  They had forsaken God for money and man-made idols.  They had even looked to the government to try to solve all their social and spiritual problems, but it could not help.

Original Sin is the cause of all human suffering.  The bad things God allows into our lives are conditioned to our response and relationship with Him.  Bad things happen to good and bad people.  Good things happen to both too.  One pastor friend of mine knows one of the young people who was killed in the Florida shooting.  Nothing takes God by surprise.

How we deal with the pain and suffering really depends on our perspective of God. Knowing God is loving and believing He does not want shootings like this to happen can give you assurance.  Trusting that God is perfectly Holy, and that mankind is inherently sinful causes us to see the need for God in our lives all the more!  God’s heart is that when people love Him, they will want to love and be kind to other people.  The heart is the issue.

The assailant broke many laws already including a very basic one – murdering people.  He took a weapon(s) onto school property.

Not only did the assailant break current civil laws, he broke the law of God.

  1. He was not loving his neighbor. Romans 13:8, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
  2. He murdered innocent people. Exodus 20:13 says, “Thou shalt not kill.”
  3. He hated others in his heart. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus likens hating people to killing them.  To God, when we humans hate other humans it is the same as murdering them.  (Matthew 5:21-22)

A few random concluding thoughts…

  • Anytime a person takes the innocent life of another (circumstances of war and self-defense are different) it is a tragic symptom of a heart that does not know God.
  • Until there is a change in each human heart we will continue to see more and more evil in this world. Legislating morality is only on the surface.  The heart must be affected for it to be lasting.
  • Crime can be punished. Even the preventative nature of a swift justice system can be a deterrent, but a person who senses no purpose for life may want to go out “in a blaze of glory” anyway.
  • Evil events can be minimized, but they will not be eradicated in a world filled with sin and sinful people. Personal defense courses teach that “only a gun will stop another gun.”  Talk to your kids about safe responses.  Make them aware of “danger signals.”
  • Pray for the victims to recover.  Pray for the families of the deceased.  Ask God for His peace and comfort to be real to those hurting today.  God cares.  He knows the pain.
  • Above all – give control of your home to God. Teach your kids to love God.  When we love God, we will be kind to others. Develop and mold their hearts to be accountable to the God of Heaven.

I leave you with two statements Jesus made in Mark 12:30-31, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Attacks like this reflect the heart.  Many times, the heart is a reflection of the home.  Make your home a place that gives meaning and purpose to life with the Lord as the source of that meaning.