Summer Brain Drain

Today is an article by NetNanny about tips to reduce “Summer Brain Drain” now that the kids are out of school for roughly 3 months.

I thought it would be helpful. In addition to their tips and advice, here are some additional thoughts:

  1. Have your kids read the Bible out loud with you. Maybe they can write down some of the verses to practice their writing and spelling skills.
  2. Take them to Bible-based camps where they can be encouraged. This will fight “soul drain” as well as “brain drain”!
  3. Visit members of your congregation and get involved in doing works of service to help those in need.
  4. If you have kids who are artistic, have them draw pictures of the places they visit and the things they do during the summer. Encourage them to think of a Bible verse that connects to it.
  5. Get them involved in the gardening or any building/remodeling projects you are working. They will develop all kinds of practical skills as you develop a closer relationship with them. We just had a shed delivered by the Amish a few days ago, and it was amazing to see these young boys with their father going right to the work knowing exactly what to do. I think those boys were around 8-10 years old.
  6. Take a walk with them and identify all the creatures you see along the way (butterfly, hawk, ant, etc.). You can talk about how special each of these creatures is and how beautifully and wonderfully designed it is.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

Gideon’s Influence Upon His Father

On Monday, we asked the question, “Can you be courageous and afraid at the same time?” We looked at an event in the life of Gideon when God called him to confront the idolatry of his father and to destroy his father’s idols (Baal and Asherah).

For today, please read the same excerpt from Judges 6, but this time, read it from the perspective of Gideon’s father. But then go back and re-read it and think about it as if YOU were the father. How would you respond if your son directly confronted your religion/worship and destroyed your idols?

Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. That night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the LORD had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night. When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar.
(Judges 6:24-32)

We can look at Gideon’s father and stay in the shallow water thinking of him merely as an idolater. But there is something deeper here to consider, Gideon’s father was awakened and led to truth by the faith, courage and conviction of his son.

I know for me that there have been times that whether it was the brilliant, inspired comments of my four-year old or the courage and faith shown by one of my teenagers, that I have been humbled, taught, convicted and encouraged.

Don’t assume as a father that teaching only goes one way. It certainly did not for Gideon’s dad. His father showed amazing humility, did he not? Instead of trying to save face among his neighbors and fellow Israelites, he stood up for his son who “showed him up.”

Today, take a lesson from Gideon’s dad, and put it in your toolbox as a father. Be ready to accept that your children have wisdom, insight, faith and courage that just may expose an area in your life where you need to grow. Praise God and thank Him that He gave us these young evangelists to show us how to draw closer to God.

Trust the Line

Last Friday, Shane Blackmer wrote about our need to “Hold the Line.” Today I want to write just about about the “line” itself.

My son, Joseph, and a friend, Noah, were working last week to put gutters on our garage. This garage is older, it wasn’t built properly, and clearly has some foundation issues; because of this the roof sags.

When Joseph and Noah snapped a chalk line across the fascia board, an optical illusion occurred. If you looked straight at the garage, the line looked like a frown, it looked much higher in the middle and lower on the ends. But the line wasn’t the problem. If you went over to the edge of the roof and looked down the fascia board you could clearly see that the line was straight as an arrow.

The line wasn’t the problem, it was the building.

I believe there is a lesson in that! We may have built our lives on the wrong foundation, or we may not have taken the care to upkeep ourselves spiritually. As a result, lives become crooked and sag, just like that garage. In fact we may become so crooked that we begin to think the line (God’s word and standard of authority) is the problem.

Trust the line. There is nothing wrong with the line. God’s word is straight; we are the ones who need correcting.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways (Psalms 119:15, ESV).

“Fix your eyes” on the line. Use the line to help point out what needs to be corrected in your life. His commandments are true (Psalm 119:142,151), sure (Psalm 119:86) and they are right (Psalm 119:128,172).

Plumbing the Depths of God’s Love – Part 3

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2 NKJV)

We sin…but can be blessed.  How?  Why?

The three words used to describe sin by David are transgression, sin, and iniquity.  Each word has a specific implication and the three words used together communicate the nature and gravity of our actions when they are against God’s standard of Holiness.

Transgression means rebellion or revolt describing how we go away from God and His authority.  It reminds us when we sin we are sinning against God and departing from the course He has prescribed for us.  The word sin is most like the Greek word in the New Testament and means to fall short or miss the mark.  This is an archery term describing when an arrow falls short of the target and in our lives God’s law is the target and we fail to measure up.  The final word, iniquity, means corrupt, perverse, twisted indicating what we do to the standards of God and corrupting ourselves in the process.

This is where we are without our Heavenly Father.  We are in rebellion, falling short, and corrupting ourselves by twisting God’s standard in thought, word, or deed.  This is not a position from which we can be an effective man…a blessed man…someone who can stand strong in their own life and in the lives of others.  Think about what we said earlier.  Billions of people on this earth all sinning and falling short of God’s standard.  It is no wonder we find all the hurt, pain, and evil in the world.  We hear it all the time…how can there be a God with all this evil in the world.  Man hurting those closest to him.  Man not valuing the soul of another enough to be decent to them.  Man making decisions or taking actions without regard of the consequences to another.  All of this creates pain, turmoil, confusion, dread and certainly does not communicate or espouse hope.  So what do we do?

Well, we are right back where we started.  We recognize that we are sinning and that we are sinning against God alone.  We recognize that if left to our own devices our life and the lives of others will continue to be lacking, pain-filled, confused, and without the direction needed to go from tragedy to triumph in Christ Jesus.  We will lack the perspective and state of being required to make it through this sin cursed world to Heaven…where there is no sin…where God is.

So we go back to the true source of our manhood and we find the one thing we need the most…forgiveness.  David also uses three words to describe the forgiveness we receive from God.  The first is forgiven which literally means “to lift off”…God lifts the burden of our sin off our shoulders and we can stand a little taller.  The second word used is covered which is taken from the imagery of the Day of Atonement on which the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat (lid) of the Ark of the Covenant.  We are blessed because the all-powerful and cleansing blood of Jesus not only covers but washes us clean of our sins.  The final word/phrase is “not impute” which means to not count or account or think of.  This is a bookkeeping term and David is telling us that God does not count our sins on a ledger sheet when we are forgiven…He forgets too.  We understand from our own lives how awesome of a power that is…to forget.

The message is simple.  All of our sins, our corruption, and our rebellion is lifted from us, covered, and not counted against us when forgiven by God.  When we recognize we are forgiven…then we can forgive.  Our life might seem like a drop in the bucket this big world but think about the drop of water falling in the middle of a still pond.  It makes the pond a little fuller and the ripples stir the reeds on the banks.  That is impact.  We have impact…but only in a life lived blessed because our Heavenly Father forgives and empowers us…when we ask Him…but that is a discussion for tomorrow.

For today, don’t wash over the terrible and grave nature of your sin in your life…no matter how big or small.  Don’t forget that when you sin, you sin against God and God alone.  Don’t forget, that even though you sin, God will forgive you and only He can.  And remember, reconciling the sin in your life with your Heavenly Father results is the source of blessed living.  If you consider what you have done and what God has done, you are so much better equipped to reflect the grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and hope of God to others and that will have an impact.  That will make the terrible conditions we face in this world a little brighter and a little more loving for us and those we come in contact with.  Recognize your sin but never forget your Father will forgive you…He is on the porch ready to run to you with open arms (Luke 15)!  What an awesome God we serve!  What an awesome man you can be with His help.  Live blessed today!

Jesus and the Mithras Mythology

I just finished the book Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace. I highly recommend it to you. His website is coldcasechristianity.com, or you can look on Amazon to buy it.

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case detective who uses his skills to examine the “crime scene” to lead someone to making a “reasonable conclusion” that God exists, Jesus is real and the Bible can be trusted.

One article I wanted to share with you today is a blog post he wrote entitled, “Is Jesus Simply a Retelling of the Mithras Mythology?” Skeptics have made the case in books and in universities that Jesus was just a retelling of previous mythologies. These kinds of arguments can be devastating to a young college student who is not prepared to deal with such an attack.

Fathers and grandfathers, we know that our kids and grand-kids are being bombarded with all kinds of anti-god indoctrination through peers, media and academia. It is vital that we equip ourselves as much as possible to help lay the groundwork and foundation of faith in their hearts.

Detective Wallace is also coming out with versions of his books for kids.

As with any material, including my articles, please compare them with God’s word to make sure that what is being taught is from God.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

But Only In Expressing His Opinion

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion (Proverbs 18:2).

Solomon says a lot about fools in Proverbs, of course he says a lot about wise people as well in contrast to the fool. What is a fool in the Biblical sense? You might want to search the book of Proverbs for that word and see all Solomon has to say about it. If you boil it down to the essentials, it comes down to this: a fool does not listen to anyone but himself.

The above proverb teaches us that a fool’s delight is not in understanding wisdom or receiving instruction. He only wants to tell you what he thinks.

It is just another reminder that a big part of communication is listening. A huge component of learning is listening. But if I’m always talking, and I really love the sound of my own voice, how can I learn? How can I effectively communicate when I’m the only one talking?

My daughter Lindsay calls this a “versation,” not a “con-versation.” She’s right on the money about that.

Do you notice how some folks just dominate a conversation? They just don’t know when to take a breath and let someone else say something. For some reason, they don’t recognize social cues to see that someone else is trying to talk. A person may be done listening a long time ago, but do I recognize that, or do I just keep prattling on? We may be perfectly comfortable in teacher mode, but are we just as comfortable in “student” mode? Do we assume that we have the right approach and answers to each situation and that others are indebted to hear us talk about it?

It’s not that we want to call ourselves or others fools, but it would be good to take a cue from the proverb here and recognize that maybe we talk too much and listen far too little. And when we behave that way, we lack a true heart and desire for understanding. We won’t understand other people, because we really aren’t interested in it, and we won’t understand God’s truth, because we really are only in love with our opinions.

Ask more questions to engage others in conversation.

Be willing to let someone speak freely even if he or she has a different opinion or approach than you do.

Commit to hearing someone else’s story instead of being in such a hurry to tell your own.

Devote yourself to prayer for the Lord to give you courage and understanding to close your mouth and open your ears.

You were bought at a price

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Guys, this is just a simple encouragement today to take care of your bodies and your health. You only get one body on this earth. Because of the advancements of medicine we can replace a few parts, but in the end you get one body. Paul says in the verse above that it is not your own. You were bought by the blood of Jesus Christ.

If you are a Christian, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. That’s plain Scripture. Our response to this knowledge and relationship to Christ and the Holy Spirit is to glorify God in our body and in our spirit.

This isn’t talked about much in church, but we need to talk about it more. Sometimes our relationship to food is unhealthy. Food is supposed to give us nourishment and even enjoyment, but if we eat too much and eat the wrong things our bodies pay the price. Even Solomon talked about how wonderful honey is, but if we eat too much of it, it makes us sick (Proverbs 25:16,27).

Who does that affect when we hurt our bodies because of neglect? Does that just affect me? No. It affects my wife and kids, too. My ability to do for them and to enjoy life with them can be greatly hindered because I’m not taking care of my body. Our influence on others for Christ is also affected when we do not live with self-control.

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:27)

Food is wonderful, God gave all of it to us to enjoy and to receive with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4-5). But if your food and your passions for it are controlling you, then you have put your passions and not God in control of your body.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

So, today, take some time to reflect upon this. This is not to say that we all are to walk around as marathon runners, bodybuilders, having 2 percent body fat. But we do need to take the encouragement and warnings of Scripture to heart about how we eat and how we take care of our health.

  1. Push away from the table a little sooner. You don’t have to heap on such big helpings.
  2. Use a smaller plate.
  3. Take a walk. Bodily exercise does profit a little, Paul said. (1 Timothy 4:8).
  4. Do your own research on how to eat healthier. There is a wealth of information out there. Here is an article about sugar and how addictive it is and the havoc too much sugar can wreak on your body.

Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God. (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab

Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah (Matthew 1:5-6).

In the book of Ruth, the Jews are instructed as to where David came from (Ruth 4:17-22), but for the Christian, we see where Jesus came from. Matthew 1 is the family line of Jesus Christ. When you read through that list and see all those names, don’t get lost thinking it is just a boring list of dead people. There are stories behind those names. Many of those people are written about in the Old Testament.

Matthew 1:1-17 is an amazing picture of God’s grace that culminates in Jesus Christ. Murder, adultery, arrogance, materialism, lying, betrayal, idolatry, harlotry, etc., are all found in that list of names. That’s Jesus’ family. That’s our family. That’s us. Just like those men and women, we need the grace and mercy of God.

Look at the above verse in Matthew 1:5-6. We have been looking at lot lately into the book of Ruth. Boaz was a godly man, a kindhearted man, a generous man, and a man who clearly understood the grace of God. He knew God would bless Ruth because she had come “under the wings of God for refuge” (Ruth 2:12).

Who was Boaz’ mother? Rahab the harlot! Rahab was another outsider, a Gentile, a prostitute from Jericho (a city condemned by God for destruction). She and her relatives were rescued from destruction and saved by God because she believed, repented and came under the wings of God for refuge. The New Testament refers to her more than once because of her obedient faith (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25).

It is interesting to me that in the book of Ruth, it only says that Salmon was the father of Boaz. But in Matthew 1, the Holy Spirit tells us who Salmon married. Who was the mother who nurtured and raised this little boy Boaz? A former harlot in a wicked Gentile city.

I don’t believe we need a greater testimony to the grace of God than that, and this is what I want to leave you with today. Fathers, let us be nurtured like Boaz was in the grace of God and come under the shelter of His wings for refuge. Let us always be grateful for the grace, longsuffering and mercy of God which He poured out upon us abundantly in Jesus Christ. Jesus was the great, great, great, great…..grandson of a harlot. May we like Boaz and Jesus show this grace to others, especially to our children.

What Will Be Said of You?

Someone sent me a bulletin article they found online, and the title was “What will be said of us when we die?” In that article the author listed several very good things that can be said of the person who walks with God and dies in Christ.

I thought this would be appropriate to consider for today. You could even consider using these thoughts to talk with your kids about what really matters. People in life will say all kinds of things about you, some true some not true, but what matters is what God says about you.

Will this be said of you and me when we pass from this life?

  • “He walked with God (Genesis 5:24; Genesis 6:9; cf. 2 Kings 20:3 ).
  • “He was the Lord‘s friend” (John 15:14).
  • “He fought a good fight, he finished his course, he kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
  • “He declared the whole counsel of God to others” (Acts 20:27).
  • “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).
  • “His death is gain” (Philippians 1:21,23).
  • “His death is precious” (Psalm 116:15).
  • “His death is a blessing, because he died in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13)
  • “He died in a good old age, full of days and riches and honor” (1 Chronicles 29:28).
  • “He has gone to be with the Lord” (Philippians 1:23).
  • “He is in a better place now” (Luke 16:22; John 14:1-3; Hebrews 11:16).
  • “He left us a godly example” (1 Timothy 4:12; cf. Titus 2:7-8).
  • “He was faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10).
  • “By his righteous life, he still speaks (Hebrews 11:4).
  • “He is now among the heroes of faith” (Hebrews 11).
  • “He is now gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:8; 35:29; 49:33).

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).

But Ruth Clung to Her

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her (Ruth 1:14).

Naomi was bitter…she said so. In fact, she was grieving so bitterly that she wanted to change her name from Naomi which means “pleasant” to Mara which means “bitter” (Ruth 1:20). After the death of her husband and her two sons, she had little room for hope. In her dark valley of grief and despair, she felt as if God was punishing her and had dealt very bitterly with her (Ruth 1:13,20-21). As she began her journey back home to Bethlehem, she tried very hard to send away her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. She did not see any hope that she could provide husbands for her daughters-in-law, so she attempted to send them back to their families and their gods (Ruth 1:8-13,15).

But Ruth clung to her

That is such an impressive statement. Ruth clung to Naomi; she was fully ready to leave her family, her nation, her gods and religion. No matter how hard at this point Naomi tried to push her away, Ruth clung to Naomi. Ruth was leaving all behind to be with Naomi and to come under the wings of the God of Israel for refuge (Ruth 2:11-12).

But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).

That says something about Ruth. Naomi was all prickles and stings at this time in her life, but Ruth still clung to her. That is a true friend. This is what friends and family do. Ruth was loving Naomi through this grief even when Naomi was trying to push her away. Everyone noticed what Ruth did for her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:11), and everyone saw that Ruth was better to Naomi than “seven sons” (Ruth 4:15) even if during the great sadness Naomi didn’t see it.

That says something about Naomi. Just because Naomi at this point is bitter and not thinking clearly does not mean that she always was this kind of woman. I believe Ruth’s respect for and commitment to Naomi gives us a clear indication of what Naomi was really like beforehand. Keep in mind that they spent a decade together before this point (Ruth 1:4). If you continue into chapter 2 of Ruth you will see the old Naomi spring back to life again. This is something that we fail to recognize and appreciate at times, men. As people of God we all have our “moments,” and during those moments we can look ugly, but that does not define who we are as a person. All of God’s faithful people had those ugly moments (Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Peter, etc.). Naomi was no different. She was overwhelmed with the grief and hopelessness of losing her husband and her two sons. God was patient with her, and He will keep working in her life until her eyes open again and she will see God’s marvelous hand and His loving care (Ruth 2:20).

So, men, let’s learn a lesson from Ruth and from Naomi and share these concepts with our kids. We can help our kids to see the value in being a Ruth to others. Also, we can help our kids to see that we all have our “Mara” moments, but thankfully God and His people love us through those moments.