Singing with your kids

Music is powerful. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, especially in the context of our worship as an assembly. But I am also thinking of it in terms of its power to teach outside of the worship assembly.

Music is a wonderful teaching tool for our kids. The world knows this, think of a simple example like the ABC song. It locks the alphabet into the brain. You don’t forget it. I also don’t forget Lindsay when she was first learning the alphabet sang loudly, “A, B, C, D, wanna wanna be…”

Song was created by God. Did you know that even God sings? Did you know that God sings loudly? Do you know that even God “rejoiced” and was “happy” when he sings? I can only imagine what that sounds like!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17, ESV)

“The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
(Zephaniah 3:17)

Today, my encouragement is to the fathers to sing with your kids. Teach them about God, encourage them in His ways by singing. Even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, sing with them anyways.  Play songs in the car when you are going places, especially while on your way to worship.

Here are some links to places to purchase some of this music

One Stone Bookstore. We like groups like Narrow Way, Hallal, One Voice, and Praise & Harmony.

Praise & Harmony singers have several albums. This is a link to purchase their albums, either digitally or on CD.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18-21)

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:14-17)

Lucky Charm Marshmallows

This morning, as I was sitting on the front porch, the cats were eating (now, ignore the title of this blog, they were not eating Lucky Charms). We recently bought the El-Cheapo barn cat food and decided to feed it to the cats. They revolted. So, then we mixed the El-Cheapo with our regular cat food. Again the cats revolted, but in a different way.

Watching them this morning, I observed that they picked out the cat food they liked, and left the El-Cheapo stuff in the bowl. By the way, just so you know, El-Cheapo is not an official brand.

You know, this is just like how kids (and adults) are with Lucky Charms. They pick out the yummy colorful marshmallows and leave the boring brown stuff.

It seems like a theme…it is how folks sometimes approach studying the Word of God. Are we only looking for the yummy colorful marshmallows, while ignoring the things that make us uncomfortable, or are “too hard”?

Consider this and compare it to the heart of David toward “all” of God’s word, especially as he wrote about it in Psalm 119. “All of your commandments are faithful” (vs. 86), and “all your commandments are righteousness” (vs. 172). David didn’t just pick out the pink hearts and blue moons, he wanted all of God’s word.

Another point to consider is this: the cats do come back later and finish the El-Cheapo stuff. Why? Because they are hungry.

If you are hungry, you will eat. If you are hungry for God’s word, you will take in more than just the stuff that tastes yummy. In fact, your spiritual palette and taste buds will change to where you actually like the “boring brown stuff.” Just like David did, pray for God to increase your desire and heart for His word (Psalm 119:32-36).

Psalm 119:20 – “My soul breaks with longing for Your judgments at all times.”

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.

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).

Behold I Make All Things New

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful” (Revelation 21:5).

I’m looking outside the window this morning and seeing much more green today than before. It is just amazing how that happens. The Lord just turned on the green switch last night. Birds are singing and building nests in the trees. Spring flowers are coming up.

The promises that come with spring are so encouraging; God is making all things new again. Leaves will come back on the trees, fruits and vegetables will grow. New creatures will be born. The blossoms on the trees will spread their fragrant aromas. Spring brings such a hopeful atmosphere with it.

Take these opportunities to direct your children’s attention to God’s marvelous creation, and the amazing work He accomplishes every spring!

Consider also that during the springtime is when Jesus raised from the dead. The God who raised Jesus from the dead is the God who said, “Behold I make all things new.” Just as spring flowers, baby birds and green grass are a testimony to God’s handiwork, even more so is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The very fact of Jesus’ resurrection serves as a promise that one day, God will truly make all things new. There will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more pain because the “former things” will have passed away (Revelation 21:4). So as we see the Spring bring new life, we can comfort our hearts in faith that the God who made the robin and its beautiful blue egg will one day make all things new in heaven.

Some principles for making a wise decision

Today we will consider some principles for making wise decisions. We make decisions (tons) of them on a daily basis. Some are pretty insignificant, like which coffee mug to use this morning. Others have generational impact, in other words, this decision will affect your great-grandchildren. The Bible is full of teaching and advice on how to make good decisions, we cannot even scratch the scratch of the surface in today’s post. Hopefully, however, we can consider just a few basic principles to keep our feet on solid ground and our heads out of the clouds when making decisions.

Some principles for making a wise decision

Did I come to God first and ask Him for wisdom (James 1:5)? There are many examples of people in Scripture who did not consult God first, and it really turned out poorly (Joshua 9:14; Isaiah 30:1-2). Those examples are given to us so that we can keep from repeating history! God promised, and He does not ever break a promise, that He would liberally pour out wisdom upon us if we ask!

Have I consulted His word? His word is designed to give us prudence, the discernment to make sound decisions (Proverbs 1:1-4). Are there clear commands from God on this matter? What consistent Biblical principles can I draw from to help shed light on this matter? Can I find examples of people in Scripture who were in a similar situation? Is this conclusion / choice I am making consistent with Biblical wisdom?

What is the advice of the godly, wise people around me who love me (Proverbs 1:5)? There are many times when the godly, wise men and women around you will speak with one voice on a matter. Take those words seriously.

If you feel like you have to hide your decisions/course of action from the wise godly people around you, then ask yourself “Why is that?” We had better have a really good Biblical reason for not taking the advice of several godly people who surround us.

There are other times when you will get a wide array of advice, sometimes very different advice, and it will all come from very wise and godly people. So we have to go back to #1 and pray for wisdom to discern. Sometimes well-meaning Christians will all say “this is what God wants you to do,” but the problem with that is they may all have several different answers. In this specific instance, I’m not talking about matters of doctrine and sin, I’m talking about things like career choices, education choices, purchasing decisions, relationship advice, etc. Folks have lots of advice, that is why we must do a LOT of praying and searching Scripture for discernment.

Is this a decision I should be making right now (Genesis 25:29-34)? When we are really stressed, tired, and highly emotional, it is not a time to make huge life-changing decisions. Take some time to sleep and recover before you make those big choices. For example, you are really stressed and tired, and you are driving home from work. The tire goes flat. So, in your frustration, you decide to have it towed to the dealership and get a loan for a new car. A simple tire repair turned into a 5 year loan. This is just a made up example, but I hope you can see the point.

How will this decision affect others (1 Corinthians 8:12; 10:32-33)? We do not live in a vacuum; our decisions have direct impact on those around us. Esau’s wives were a grief of mind to his parents. Simeon and Levi’s anger and thirst for vengeance brought shame to their father Jacob. The 1st century Christians also faced this when it came to eating of certain meats and keeping of certain holy days. Their decisions had the power to cause another to stumble and sin. What they decided to do could either draw someone closer to God or make it far more challenging for another to obey God. How will this decision affect my influence upon others for Christ? What will this decision do to my loved ones? Who is looking up to me…how will this influence them?

Does this decision glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31)? Am I making a choice that will bring glory to God or more attention and glory to me? Am I seeking the praise of God or the praise and attention of men?

Hopefully these principles help. It is not all-inclusive, and many of you will have much better ideas. Please share them with me. Thanks!

You have had pity on the plant

Then God said to Jonah…”You have had pity on the plant…”  (Jonah 4:10).

I encourage you today to read Jonah 4 today. Jonah was angry, really angry. He was angry because he knew God was gracious and merciful. God showed mercy on the city of Nineveh and forgave them because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. Even though Jonah preached to them, he really didn’t care about the salvation of the souls of Nineveh. He preached in anticipation that this effort would fail. Nineveh would reject God and God would toast them.

Read the last verse of chapter 3 and the first verse of chapter 4. God relented because Nineveh repented and Jonah vented. Jonah went outside of the city in verse 4 and waited in eager anticipation of God raining down judgment and destruction upon Nineveh (Jonah 4:5).

Notice the mercy that God had upon Jonah, while at the same time teaching a critical lesson. God prepared a plant to grow up and shade Jonah “to deliver him from his misery” (Jonah 4:6). Jonah was very grateful. Next, God sent a worm to destroy the plant. Then God brings a “vehement east wind” and the sun “beat on Jonah’s head” (Jonah 4:8).

All Jonah wants to do now is die. Now Jonah is really ticked off. This provides one of those “teachable moments.”

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” But the LORD said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left–and much livestock? (Jonah 4:9-11).

You have had pity on the plant

This being Wednesday, our focus is on parenting. I want to take this concept and apply it to parenting. As a Father, God was parenting Jonah. There are some valuable lessons to learn here in parenting.

Our children sometimes will care more about the plant, which creates teachable moments. They will get really upset about something, like a sibling borrowed a shirt without asking. Justice must be administered! It is times like that that we can help direct them to areas where they really should focus their passion. We are there to help them gain some “perspective.” Jonah cared more for a stupid plant than he did for 120,000 souls. Andy Harrison wrote an article recently about “Misplaced Compassion,” and today’s article connects well with it.

We must show mercy to our kids at those times, like God showed Jonah. I mentioned in Monday’s article about a sermon that Mike Sullivan preached recently. He made a point that Jesus was not self-righteous about the self-righteous. Jesus ate with the Pharisees, too. He loved them and wanted desperately for them to understand His grace and mercy. As we see the hypocrisy and double-standard in our kids, we must remember God and Jonah. God kept teaching Jonah and showing mercy to Jonah, too.