Interruptions In Life

Wow!  Have you noticed that surprises come at the most unexpected times?  The latest came on Wednesday morning.  My wife and I take care of our great grandson a few days a week while my son and his wife are at work.  On Wednesday morning, I was sitting at my desk when Jayden (our great grandson) came in and mumbled in a small voice, something that I could not understand.  I asked him to repeat it and still did not understand what he was saying.  I asked him to speak in a louder voice to repeat it and he said, Grammy wants your help.  I got up, and not feeling any urgency asked him where she was and he said in the back yard so I headed in that direction.

As I went outside, I scaned the yard and found my wife, Darla, laying on the ground but no apparent injury.  Then she spoke and said, “could you help me up?  I fell and can’t put any weight on my right wrist.”  I gently helped her up and noticed that it was already turning black and blue and starting to swell.  I told her that it is probably broke but she said no, I don’t think so, it is just painful.  We all went in the house and the pain continued to increase as well as the swelling and bruising.

We went to the doctor’s office where they x-rayed it and determined it was indeed broke.  they put here in a splint and referred her to an orthopedic surgeon where we went yesterday.  He put her in a splint that covered all of her lower arm and elbow so she has no use of it now.  She couldn’t even squirt out some ketchup from a plastic bottle.  I now have her responsibilities, watching our great grandson, driving her to doctors and taking care of her; in addition to anything I need to do.  As a result I simply don’t have time to keep up on everything.  So I will be missing some days on this blog.  I will make entries as I can and will resume a more regular schedule when time permits.

Thank you for your understanding, patients and prayers.  Very soon I will announce a new feature on my blog as soon as it is completed.  More to come.  What an adventure in faith!

Train Up A Child – Responsibility

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 

We are living in a time that teaches entitlement as one of the basic values and it is taking a devastating toll.  When I was a child it was common to hear that the world owes you nothing and you had to earn what you get.  We had chores that we had to do every day and I hadn’t even hear of an allowance.  Today, we hear of families that do not have a job, live in a nicer home than many of those around them, have all of the latest gadgets, stylish clothes, nice cars, etc. and the government pays for it all.

One day I was asked what I thought about this modern philosophy and I responded with this story.  Suppose there are 100 people who are holding up a platform with an elephant on it.  Then 25 people who are struggling are allowed to ride on the platform.  Now the entire weight of the platform and elephant plus the weight of the additional 25 people, have only 75 people to support it.  Lets also suppose that the 75 people who were not struggling before can just barely support it.  What will happen is that some of the 75 remaining supporters will also want to ride instead of supporting and now you have even less doing the job.  At some point, everything will come crashing down and the devastation will be great.

I am not against helping at all.  In fact, I am active in helping, even without a program.  What I am pointing out is that everyone should have a responsibility to do his part.  In  2Thessolians 3:10 we have this admonition For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.  Everyone is responsible to contribute.  We spend millions of dollars each year, just on cleanup which could be done by the welfare participants.  Even though there are many who are physically handicapped, they can contribute in other ways, such as encourager to the next generation, etc.  I remember watching a TV program when I was a child, about even the blind sorting bolts.  Yes I know that it may not create a profit but it will lessen the burden and provide that individual of a sense of self worth.

Responsibility must begin at an early age.  My parents gave me responsibilities in many ways.  Chores was only one, and another was in money management.  I was picking strawberries at the age of 5 and began contributing to the family by buying my own school clothes.  I was taught savings by building my own reserves.  Whenever I got money for my birthday or earned a profit from some project, I was required to put it in my savings and then plan for its expenditure and to avoid impulse buying.  My brother and I would even make our own toys.  My point is that if we are irresponsible then we will suffer.  The cost will be directly proportionate to the degree or irresponsibility.  If we fail to teach a child responsibility then we will get a society who loses its sense of values, takes no responsibility for its actions, becomes lazy, loses its creative abilities and ingenuity and taxes those who are responsibility into destruction.  I would advocate that all welfare come with responsibility, that all parents and guardians teach responsibility, and that responsibility be rewarded instead of punished.

Train Up A Child – Values or Principles

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

In today’s blog I will be addressing Values.  Another word for values is the word principles.  Values are the worth that we place on things, events, and people,.  Your values will be the deciders for all of your Choices.  I don’t know the origin of the quote, “I am the sum of all of my choices”, but it does reveal who we are in light of our value system.

When my wife and I were “training” our 7 children I tried to teach principles rather than rules.  Discipline was always accompanied with a class on the principles involved and some assurance of my love for them.  My kids learned to dread the instruction more than the discipline and one time my son said, Dad, just give me a spanking, but don’t give me a lecture on principles.  Another time, one of the kids came out with “Now the principle of principles is the principle thing, therefore, learn the principles.”  My point was that we should not try to follow laws or rules, but rather principles.  These principles are our values.  They are learned by repeated application, time and time again.   Isiah 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

So where does this value system come from.  It is built from our previous choices, and those choices were based on the values determined by our experiences and our training.  From a child who values food and comfort above all else, through adulthood where other values take on greater rolls, we build our value system.  If our training is on the level of the gratification of the body only, we become a selfish individual.  If our parental training.is appeasing the child for a moment of peace, then we are training the child that this is how to get what they want and their wanting will increase in its demands.  If we deny the child their request, then we train them to bottle their desires up and internalize them and create a problem of them not being able to give express themselves.  This can build to the level of exploding and then the results are not pretty because it will happen at an inopportune time and with unacceptable results.  Our training should contain a combination of building character, objective evaluation, consideration for others, patients, understanding, etc.  But, you say, that takes a lot of work.  Yes, it can be a lot of work if you look at it from the perspective of what it cost me now, or it can be a good investment on the greater reward that will come later.  Training the next generation will require a lot but it is not an option.  You are training all the time.  The question is not ‘if we train’ but ‘what we train’ them for.  They will establish some sense of value regardless of your effort.  They will establish their values, based on how they read your training.

It is important to note that you cannot fake it.  The saying, do as I say, not as I do, just doesn’t work.  A two year old knows what buttons to push to get what they want.  They can spot a hypocrite in a second.  If they are catching on that early, and I believe they do, then the training has already begun.  So we need to ask ourselves the question, What am I training them for?   Do I love them enough to give them my best?  Are they important enough to me to lay some of my values aside in order that they can develop into a healthy adult with great values?  Values are more caught than taught so we must be consistent.

Train Up A Child – Respect

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Someone once said that insanity is inherited, you get it from your kids.  This ‘joke’ is telling in that the kids are the ones in control and speaks to the fact that the parent or guardian is abdicating (failing to do) his/her responsibility of training.  Training is teaching the same lesson in multiple ways, until it is finally grasp and adopted.  It does not count in how many times it is said, it counts in the ways it is illustrated by our actions, attitudes, and demonstrations.  It will do no good in just telling the child, if there is a disconnect in the belief of the teacher to what is being taught.  It is one thing to say that we must obey the laws, but all that is lost if we then excuse our speeding or yell at the other drivers who are obeying the laws.  Repeated telling without teaching will only insulate the child from learning respect.  Respect is given when it is believed.  It is the submission to the authority represented first and then to the person standing in that position of authority.  The more there is a disconnect in the person in authority to the purpose of that authority, the less respect there will be.

There are 7 distinct authorities that God has established to govern society,1. Marital Authority, 2. Parental Authority, 3.  Educational Authority, 4.  Administrative
Authority, 5.  Governmental Authority, 6.  Ecclesiastical Authority, and 7.Scriptural Authority.  These are the avenues that God intends to us to bless us.  When we disrespect this authority, we are really challenging God’s Plan of blessings.  Every sin of man will be accompanied by at least one of these authorities being disrespected.   A child who has no respect for authority will also have no respect for God.  One of the evidences of a lack of respect in today’s society is the me-ism that is so prevalent.  The disregard for responsibility in order to have fun; the ‘self portrait phenom’; The ‘I want, I think, and the I will, mentality that is so predominant.  We need to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around us, and it will continue on,after we are gone.

When determining what lessons are important for a child to learn, this is one of the most important lessons that should be taught, but sadly, it is one of the least taught.  If a child never learns respect then nothing will be sacred and he will fight every authority and his chances of ever knowing God personally become very, very slim.  Not only that, but he will attempt to break every rule until he is broken over them.  One of the vital keys to keeping a society healthy is that they teach the children respect to all of the authorities that God has established.

Train Up A Child – Consequences

Pr 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

When we are training up a child it is important to note that there is a way he should go.  He should not be left to his own choices because he has not yet learned that there is a difference.  Every choice has a consequence that is either a blessing or a curse.  Bad choices produce bad results.  Good choices produce good results.  It seems so simple yet we have parents letting the kids decide the choice without preparing them for the consequences, and then letting them avoid negative consequences.  Without feeling the consequence of their actions, the child is not taught how to make decisions, but is taught rather that it doesn’t matter and he does not develop a sense of which way to go.  Further, he fails to develop a sense of true values which may even lead him into a destructive behavior.

When a child is not taught that there is a consequence to every action, both good and bad, then he becomes confused about life.  In spite of what society may say, there is a right and a wrong.  It is not determined by how I feel about it, rather, it is determined by its consequences.  If you don’t like the consequence of the heat of the stove, then don’t put your hand on it.  It doesn’t take long to figure out that choices have consequences.  You not only hinder a child from making good choices, but you put a roadblock in front of him that hinders good choices.

This is why the Lord allows us to face so many choices in life to help us make good choices, that we will be blessed and live a fruitful life.  One of the responsibilities of the parent is to enforce these lessons of life. If a child fails to obey the parent there should be consequences but the consequences should not be to punish, but to correct the process of making good choices.  The child should take the responsibility of the choice and thereby the consequence.  Proverbs 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.  God provided a place for spanking and it will not damage the child but it is quite sensitive, due to design.  Spanking should be only to enforce this lesson of consequences and we should not swerve from it for the child’s sake   It is an act of love and should be followed by other expressions of love.  Whenever I found it necessary to administer a spanking, it was always followed up with hugs and consolations.  The purpose is to turn the child, not to punish or administer justice and should always be accompanied by grace.  Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

Proverbs 29:17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.  I meet so many parents and/or guardians that are totally exhausted in the battle of who is going to rule the day.  If you fail to carry out your responsibility to teach this lesson, the child will become confused about life and get the idea that he calls the shots and will wear you out.  Your responsibility begins at birth and is built over time but once done will bring you reward for your making the right choice.  This is one of the most important lessons that a child is to learn – that there is a right way and to know what it is.

Train Up A Child

Pr 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

This Scripture is loaded with clues as to how to prepare a child for adulthood.  In this dis-functional world we live in, we are often left with the impression that there is nothing that we can do about the state of affairs of the next generation.  This is absolutely not true.  It is not a time to give up, but it is a time to shape up.  For the next few entries I will be addressing some of the basics in raising our children in a way that will make us proud, honor the Lord and to prepare them to live in chaos, victoriously.

Today we will look at this verse and in the following few entries I will focus on some of the basics that will help prepare them for what they will most certainly face.  The first half of this verse gives us the instruction of what the job of the parents is.  We are to train up a child in the way he should go.  First of all we are to train up a child.  That presupposes that we know the way he should go.  There are a lot of different voices claiming do this or don’t do that.  How do you know which one is right?  It is easy, just compare it with Scripture.  There are two things that are certain and that is God’s instructions are right and that any voice contradicting the Scripture is wrong.  You don’t have to understand it, just obey it.  Before we even begin training the child we must first make the way certain in our own lives.  If we have proved it to ourselves then we will have the confidence in the principle and the assurance that it works.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no man cometh to the Father, except by me.  If you don’t know that you don’t know, you are ignorant of the truth.  If you know that you don’t know, then you are lost and without direction.  If you know that you know then you have both knowledge and direction.

1John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.  It is not in telling them that gives them life, it is not in yelling at them that they catch on to life, Its not in punishing them that imparts life, but it is in introducing them to the giver of life that they can then receive life.  Christianity is more caught than taught.  If they can see it they can conceive it, but if they don’t perceive it then they remain in darkness.   Once a child begins to see with his spiritual eyes, nothing else will satisfy and they will remember and they will return.

What’s The Problem?

Pr 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

In today’s fragmented society we hear about so many tragedies and fragmented families.  Questions are flying as to why is everything seeming to fall apart and what can we do about it?  Perhaps the wisest man I ever have known was my father.  It was his example and love that was responsible for me getting saved.  He had a saying that he shared in such a time as this.  He would say, “you can’t fix it until you know what’s broke.”  As long as we only treat the symptoms, we will not find a lasting solution.  There is a lot of genuine soul searching and serious effort being made to resolve the problem but there seems to be little understanding as to what the problem is; that causes families to fall apart (50 + % of marriages end in divorce within 5 years); that cause students to come apart and go on a shooting rampage; that causes so much disrespect for our first responders, our traditions, our parents, our laws, etc.; that drives the wedge of division between one another; and on and on so that the very fabric of our society begins to disintegrate?  What is the real problem or problems and is there any common ground that we can build on?

I suggest that the problem is not so complex as we might think.  Many of our problems have a common denominator.  For example, the shootings in the schools are a symptom of a deeper problem of inner lostness of purpose and hope.  That condition has a variety of contributors such as fear, bullying, not being heard or valued, failure, etc. but the solution is simple, just give them hope and direction.  Tearing down the value system of a society creates insecurity and uncertainty.  If a value is wrong fix it but don’t throw out the whole system just because one thing needs fixed.  We live in a time where we as a nation, have devalued life,(abortion), legalized social vices that kill hundreds of thousands of people every year (smoking, alcohol, drugs, etc.), rioted, robbed and raped without significant consequence, We have become an entitlement society but reject responsibility for our actions.  When you rip the moral fabric out of society, this is what you get.  We have kicked God out of our schools, homes and government and wonder what is wrong.  It is oh so clear to those who can see beyond their me-ism.  Our creature comforts belay the rottenness of our soul and we are drowning in the sea of selfishness.

So what is the solution?   Jer 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.  Jeremiah nailed it.  We cannot change it because the results are just exposing what is within.  Since we cannot change what we do, we need to be changed in what we are.  This is something that has to come from beyond us.  God alone can change what we are and therefore changes what we do.  Your actions are simply the expression of what you are.  If you truly want things to be different, then you have to be made different.      2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  Galations 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

There is really only one problem and that is us.  Pogo had it right, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”  All of the symptoms point to a sin sickness in the hearts of man.  The solution has been written thousands of years ago and here it is.  2Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  It doesn’t require everyone, just His people who are called by His name to do three things; humble themselves, pray and seek His face.  Whenever we meet these conditions we have His promise to hear from heaven,  He will forgive our sin and heal this land.  Its as simple as that.

 

 

 

Which Way?

Pr 16:9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

The book of Proverbs is so full of wisdom and direction.  I find so much clear instruction that I go there to just realign my thoughts.  This verse is such a verse and worthy of our consideration.

Someone said that we are the sum of our choices.  I think that there is a lot of truth in that statement.  Sometimes we make wise choices and sometimes they are not thought out but all of them come from the heart.  It is what we desire, or think on, or value that make our choices, our choices.  Individually, each choice is our vote to move in a certain direction.

Notice the word “deviseth” that it has the eth ending which in the original language, means that it is a continuous choosing.  It is not a one time choice but a pattern of living.  It is the true expression of the heart.  It should not surprise us that we make the choices we do for those choices expose the heart.  If we are often surprised at our actions, it is because we are kidding ourselves.  Invariably, we do what we truly want, or believe or value.  To change our actions requires first of all that we be honest with ourselves.  It also requires that we consider and study our values.  If we seen no profit is preparing for the future then we will continually be caught with shortages and hard times.

It is also important to realize that there are factors working that are beyond our control.  The fact that the Lord sets the order in the universe and is ultimately in control of all things.  Just think for a moment, history is really His story, because He is the one who is in control.  We may think that we are running our lives and make our choices but like a man traversing the wilderness, we can only cross the terrain at certain points.  Our way may be blocked by a cliff or river or any number of obstacles.  God can bring us where He wants for us to go without violating our will.  We can fight the elements or we can be led on the pathway of greater blessings.  You can do it the hard way or you can learn the better way.  Fighting the Lord is costly and difficult.  choose righteousness for He will not let you go once you belong to Him.

Pr 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

What To Do?

Joh 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?   29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

This is a fairly common question, both in the Bible and in the world today? Here it is stated, ‘What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?’ and in Mark 10:17 and Luke 1025, 18:18 the rich young ruler asked “What must I do to inherit eternal life’?  What am I supposed to do?  What does God want from me?  This is how it sounds in modern day language.  Though it may be stated in many ways it remains the same question.  It is based on our merit system mentality of earning the reward by some act or benefit forfeited.

In our Scripture today we find Jesus stating the answer as clearly as anywhere else in the Bible.  It has been a favorite couple of verses to me for most of my Christian life.  The answer is direct and to the point.  The only requirement is to believe on Him whom He hath sent.  It requires not deeds or sacrifice since that was paid by Jesus when He gave His own life for our sins.  Payment was made in full.  To attempt to pay for it yourself is an insult to God and ultimately says “God, your work was insufficient.”  Who would intentionally say such a thing?  Yet, when we attempt to pay for our own sin, that is exactly what we are saying.

This also begs the question, What then does it mean , to believe on Him whom He hath sent?  In the original language of the Bible (Konia Greek)  the word believe and the word faith are exactly the same root word and can be substituted one for the other.  Scriptural believing then is the same thing as trusting, relying on, dependence upon, etc.  The work that God requires of us is not doing mighty things but totally relying on Him to do for us what is impossible for us to do, righteous living.  It is impossible for us because of our merit system mentality and we find it impossible to to think any other way until He reveals it to us.  Believing in Him is the sum and the jist of our works that please Him.  Notice in Romans 14:23b for whatsoever is not of faith is sin and again in Hebrews 11:6a  But without faith it is impossible to please him:  that all else  beyond faith or believing is not only distasteful and an insult, but frustrates the grace of God.

I have gotten over trying to work for God and now I long for God to work on and for me.  Just think about that for a minute.  Who is in trouble here, God or me?  God doesn’t need help, but I do.  Anything God wants done, He can easily do.  He isn’t focused on accomplishing deeds, but He is very focused in finishing me.  I am not saying that I only work for myself but that my deeds are the outworking of what God has placed within me.  Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  These are just two powerful verses that expand on this truth that God is infinitely more concerned with what we are than what we do.  He will do the works if we will do the work of believing.

Living by Faith

Everyone lives by faith all the time, but it is not the faith referenced in the Bible.  To understand this truth, you must understand what faith is and what the faith of the Bible is.  Faith simply means to trust or rely on.  When you sit in a chair you are exercising your faith in the chair.  When you take medicine, you are relying on the doctors and those making the medicine to prescribe the correct dosage.  When you drive a car your are relying on the car to perform a certain way and that the other drivers will observe the laws.  On an on it goes as we place our lives on the line because we trust in the objects of our faith.  This type of faith is in material living but it is not the faith intended in the Bible.  The Bible restricts our faith to the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is Spiritual in nature and is eternal in its scope.  The purpose of faith is not to provide some type of utopia for you but to direct you through this maze of traps and pitfalls we call life and to cooperate with the Lord in His transforming us into creatures of righteousness.  Because we are incapable of living righteously on our own because of our sin nature, the Lord has provided a way for us to live life on His level of righteousness and that is to obey the Holy Spirit.

It doesn’t take will power, it takes faith and obedience.  It doesn’t take strength, it takes weakness.  It doesn’t take works or deeds, it takes a reliance on God for what we cannot do. Faith in the Lord is an equal opportunity plan.  Everyone has the capacity to meet the demands of God through faith in Him, without adding any righteousness on our own.  It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, educated or not, with or without wealth, or any other such contrast.  The one thing that is required is that you are trusting the Lord and not anything other than the Lord.

So how do you know that the Lord is directing you.  First of all He has given us His Word, the Bible.  Whatever direction you have should be measured against what the Bible says.  That is the only 100% safe written word.  Secondly, what is the witness of the Holy Spirit within you?  You do not have the Holy Spirit within you until you are born again.  If you have never been saved then you do not have the witness of the Spirit to direct you.  That does not mean that He is not working for you, it just means that you do not have the spiritual sensitivity to know His leading.  Thirdly, (assuming you are a Christian) does the direction contradict spiritual principles established through the ages of the church and your Christian experiences?  Fourthly, does it edify others, yourself and your witness?  Fifthly, does it magnify and honor the Lord?

2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)