Mama’s Boys

This morning I saw an interesting sight as I sat listening to David Jeremiah and was looking out my back window.  There was a female cardinal picking at some birdseed that my wife had put out, and another bird that caught my attention.  The female cardinal is seen often at the birdseed so that wasn’t new, though we like to see her there.  What caught my eye was the second bird that was eating with her. The second bird looked a lot like the cardinal but was slightly larger and had no red on her at all.  This bird kept fluttering her wings like an impatient child, and holding her mouth open like a young bird in the nest wanting to be fed. 

I watched them for several minutes and the routine repeated itself several times.  The second bird continued to flutter it’s wings and then stand to be fed.  The cardinal would just ignore it and proceed to feed itself.  When the second bird would get right in her face, the cardinal would just move to the second bowl and continue eating.  The second bird would then pursue the cardinal and the drama would repeat itself.

As I watched these birds and their antics, I thought about a mother weaning her children.  I have no evidence that the second bird was indeed, a young cardinal but it seemed self-evident at the time.  A part of the next generation’s coming of age is when they can stand on their own without parental interference or supplemental assistance.  This is a necessary transition and when it is not done it cripples the child and stunts his growth.  No parent would want their child to be crippled in that way, yet today there are numerous children that are physically able to go on their own but the parents have this idea that they are doing the child a favor by making it easier for them. 

This problem is more widespread than you might imagine.  You see children in their 30’s and 40’s still living with their parents and making no contribution to the welfare of the home.  You see parents going into debt to pay for overboard weddings.  You see a growing disrespect for parents.  You see men with a wife who constantly run to Mama or Daddy at the first argument and on and on it goes.

My attention went back to the female cardinal.  I could just hear someone say, what would be the harm in her just giving the young bird some seeds, after all they were both standing by a good supply and it probably took more effort to move away from the second bird than it would have been to just feed it.  But look a little closer, the young bird was not in the nest now.  She had left the nest and has flown to the feeder, yet she wanted to be fed.  The Cardinal was wise in not feeding it as that would have resulted in the younger bird probably starving to death later because she didn’t know how to feed herself.  We do the next generation a disservice by making it too easy for them. 

Lest you think I am too old fashioned and out of touch with “modern times”, consider the birds. 
Which was better for the younger bird:  to continue to get fed without learning how to feed themselves and suffer later on, or struggle to fed yourself and be able to survive when you face hard times alone.  I believe that it is much kinder and loving to teach the next generation how to carry their own responsibility and look beyond the moment. The apostle Paul said, “he that doesn’t work, shouldn’t eat.”  Irresponsibility is a detriment to our society and an insult to our understanding.  I am not against helping our children; I have helped mine on numerous occasions.   I also taught them responsibility and respect.  My wife and I have seven children and I began teaching them about driving and its privilege at a young age.  I told them that they could drive as soon as it was legal for them to do so.  I also taught them that they would be responsible for buying their own gas, oil, maintenance, and insurance.  Two of my boys didn’t even get their driver’s license until they were 18 because they couldn’t afford it.  I am proud to say that all seven of my children are responsible, respectful and reasonable adults with families of their own.  We now have 7 children, 21 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.  Boy am I glad I didn’t make them “mama’s boys”

Crises of Faith – 2

In my last post I stated that America and some other countries around the world are experiencing a decline in many areas of church life that include attendance, finance and respect, is due to a crises of faith.  Today I will begin to explore why I make such a bold statement.

Before we can really address this issue we must define some words that we use so often with many different meanings, so that is where I will focus this blog entry.  The first word is faith.  It can mean anything from a wish, to a ritual, to a feeling, to a religion.  If we are to be able to communicate on the same plane we must understand faith in the same context.  So let’s begin with how Webster’s Dictionary definition.  1.Unquesting belief that does not require proof or evidence.  2.  Unquestioning belief in God, religious tenents, etc.  3.  A religion or a system of religious beliefs (the Catholic faith).  4.  Anything believed.  5. Complete trust confidence, or reliance.  6.  Allegiance to some person or thing; loyalty . . .  As you can see there is a wide variety of ideas as to what is meant by the word faith in the English language. 

The biblical definition of faith is much more restrictive in its meaning.   I reference the Greek language, and specifically koine Greek, since that is the language that the Bible was written in.  Of the 254 times that faith is used in the bible, all but two of them are in the New Testament, and use the Greek word, pistis, which means to trust or rely upon.  Both of the times it is used in the Old Testament it uses a word of the same meaning, and Habakkuk is quoted three times in the New Testament where pistis is the word that is translated as faith.

We can therefore deduct that the meaning of faith in the Bible means to rely or trust.  It is therefore means to rely or trust is someone or something beyond ourselves.  By definition, then, it cannot mean that it is a dependence upon our ability, gifts or effort and is dependent upon that in which we trust.  So what is the object of our faith?  That is where our faith is validated or invalidated.  The object of our faith must be able to control the outcome.  If it has no power to perform then it is dead faith, and if it is flawed it will produce a flawed product.  The only object that is capable of such power as is promised is God, Himself.  That is also the one to whom we are directed to place our faith in.  Have faith in God is the directive of the Bible.  So we can conclude that any faith in anyone or anything other than God is not Biblical faith.  Further, faith in the wrong object cannot produce the fulfillment of the thing sought.  This is one of the prime reasons that “our” faith doesn’t work.  Faith must have the proper object of trust.

That brings us to another critical point and that is that if we are trusting another (ie. God), then He is in control and not us.  You do not have the control of the outcome but you are trusting in the one who knows best and does what is best.  You may not understand the why of the outcome but because of who it is that you are trusting, you entrust the results to Him. 

In my next posts I will address the operation of faith, the steps of faith and many other aspects of faith that help us to understand why our faith is not productive and our church are so enemic.

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 – 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

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.

Harvest Time

I know that it is different in other parts of the world but here is Texas it is already harvest time.  The temperature is in the 90’s and will get hotter.  About a week ago I picked the first picking of green beans.  My wife, Darla, cooked them in butter with a little garlic and they were delicious.  Yesterday I picked the first picking of peas and we will eat them this evening.  I also picked a few turnips, which I like to eat raw.  I also noticed that the tomatoes are setting on and I even found three that were the size of golf balls.  Not bad from my small garden in a subdivision.

I hope that you are drooling by now.  The farmer plants with the view of a harvest.  All of the work in preparing the ground, sowing, weeding, pruning, etc. is just part of the investment as you look forward to the harvest.  So it is with the Lord.  He also is looking forward to the harvest . . . of souls.

Revelation 14:15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.

There is coming a day when He, too will harvest His garden (the earth) and there will be a time of celebration for those who allowed Him to change them from creatures of sin into the children of God by surrendering their sin and learned to walk by FAITH in Him.

We go through this world only once and we make the choice as to what we become.  Every day of our lives we make that choice over and over.  Either we choose righteousness or we choose to reject what is right and become even more self focused.

You have been invited to join the Lord at the marriage supper of the Lamb but you must come dressed in your robe of righteousness.  It will be a time of rejoicing and a time of fulfillment.  All the investment of sacrifice and suffering will be worth it all.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Matthew 21:15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children that were crying in the temple and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were moved with indignation, 16 and said unto him, Hearest thou what these are saying? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea: did ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise?

It is a wonderful time when you spend time with family.  There are so many things to share and talk about and there are new experiences that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.  One such incident happened yesterday.  We have a great granddaughter who is just 4 years old and because we live a long ways apart, she hasn’t yet really gotten to know us.  To break the ice with her, I introduced her to finger man. He is simply two fingers imitating a man walking.  She was immediately intrigued with finger man and began to do the finger man walk toward me.  I reacted as though he was going to get me and the ice was broken.  From then on she kept repeatedly chased me with finger man until my finger man walked toward her finger man and asked if she would like to be friends.  She immediately said yes and from then on, her finger man wanted to play with my finger man.

This was great to get to know each other and she continued to watch us and engage us in her world.  Then as we gathered around the table to pray before we ate, she announced quite loudly that she wanted to lead the prayer.  We all agreed she could but then she decided that I should lead the prayer so I asked her if she would be my prayer partner while I led in prayer and she agreed.  Then as I led in prayer she held my hand tightly and bowed her head while I prayed.

That evening as we were preparing to eat and were proceeding to get our food, she gave us notice that we had not prayed yet.  She then took my hand and asked me to lead the prayer and as my prayer partner she bowed her head so that the prayer could begin.  My heart was filled to overflowing as I witnessed, once again, the fulfillment of the Scriptures.  Out of the mouth of babes. . .

Adam, where art thou?

 

Ge 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Ge 3:8 And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the garden.

Ge 3:9 And Jehovah God called unto the man, and said unto him, where art thou?

If you are familiar with Genesis 3 you will recall it is the story of man’s sin in the Garden of Eden.  Satan first deceived Eve and she took the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and then she gave some to Adam and he did eat as so began the fall of man.  The first thing that Adam and Eve did was make themselves aprons of fig leaves to cover themselves with because they were naked.   Then in verse 8 we find that they hid themselves from the presence of God because of their nakedness.  Then God called unto the man and asked an odd question.  It would be odd indeed if God did not know where he was because God is everywhere present.  But if God knew where Adam was then why did he ask the question of where are you?  God certainly knew where he was but Adam didn’t know where he was.  Sure he knew his location within the garden but he didn’t know where he was in relation to the Lord.  This was unfamiliar territory, not knowing where he stood with the Lord.

I can’t think of anything more unsettling than knowing that you just blew a great relationship, especially if that other one is God.  You know you were wrong in your choice but the uncertainty of how that choice will affect future relationships leaves you with a sense of impending peril.  You have already attempted to fix it but your best effort is just fig leaves and doesn’t fix anything.  Your pain is in knowing how much you have hurt the other party as well as your disappointment in yourself.  Your shame deepens and you just can’t bring yourself to admit that you were even capable of such an act, let alone take full responsibility for your actions.  Such is the predicament of Adam.

Your next response is critical.  You must decide what response is appropriate.  Do you trust the other party enough to face them with the truth.  Excuses, blame or self justification will only make matters worse.  What qualities do they have that attracted you to them to start with?  Do you believe that their value of you will be worth saving or will the fear of rejection win?  What evidence do you have that tells you that the best thing is to face it head on and accept the outcome and learn from it.  Note that God had come seeking Adam and was not reactive to what He already knew, but was willing to give Adam the opportunity to now make a right choice.  A right heart says that I at least owe him the truth and extend to him the opportunity to advance the relationship in spite of the setback.

Resolution will require courage forgiveness, truth, ownership of our actions, trust and love to produce change.  Your victory will depend on the measure of these elements being present in you.  Do you have the fiber to turn a failure into an opportunity to grow.

Consider A Seed

Have you ever sat down and just considered the seed.  It doesn’t matter which seed you are thinking about for they all follow the same pattern.  For our consideration today we will choose a tomato seed.

It began as a part of the life of the tomato plant.  The plant produced its fruit of a tomato and contained within the tomato were dozens of seeds in their embryo state.  They were the hope of life beyond the tomato plant or the tomato.  They alone contained the hope of continuing the process of future tomatoes.  For that hope to become reality the seed must die to its present life and be separated from the tomato.  It then must be dried and stored for a future time or season.

Now consider the seed.  It is not beautiful, in fact, it looks quite devoid of life and beauty.  Notice that it is brittle and void of flexibility.  There is nothing about it to suggest that contained within it is the next plant that will produce more tomatoes and seeds.  It is quite small compared to the size of the plant or even the size of the tomato.  As long as the seed maintains its present state, nothing happens that will enable the possibilities of the hope that it represents.

Joh 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

The next event in the order of life for the tomato is that the seed must die.  Look at the process of planting.  You take a seed and place it into the ground.  The seed is buried in the dark, damp ground and all hope of it remaining a seed is lost.  Now behold the miracle of the Lord.  New life is generated from the death of the seed and from the seed a stalk begins to grow and pushes its way to the surface of the ground.  It is quite tender, yet it is able to push it’s way through the soil and even lift rocks many times it’s own in order to break forth into the sun light.  Where does it get it’s strength?  From the root system.  As the stalk pushes upward, the roots push downward and draws the nourishment and water to supply the plant above ground.  Without it the plant above ground would simply wilt and die.  Like the new plant, the Christian needs a good root system to supply the nourishment needed to do the work of God.  Notice also the the size of the root system is determines the size of the plant above ground.

The farmer knows about this process and plants with the hope of a harvest.  There may be some value to the nourishment contained within the seed but that is very small compared to the benefit from the harvest to be gained by entrusting the seed into the hands of God.  What you entrust into His hands is your seed and His blessing is the harvest.  But notice that the seed must die.  You must loose all control over the seed and to you it is lost.  Notice also that the seed must have a resurrection.  It must receive the new life from God and is not contained within itself.  God’s measure of blessing is some 30 and some 60 and some 100 fold.

Word Study – Angel

There are many nuggets to be mined from the study of the words used in the original languages of the Bible.  One such word is the word that we translate “Angel”.

It is the transliteration of the Greek word aggelos and in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance it is #32 aggelov aggelosang’-el-os from aggello (probably derived from 71; compare 34) (to bring tidings); a messenger; especially an “angel”; by implication, a pastor:–angel, messenger.

The word is translated 166 times in the New Testament as angel, 5 times as messenger and one time as apostle.   It is also used in reference to a heavenly being who serves the Lord in the care of His children.  Angels brought the message of God, encouraged mankind, confronted satanic powers, and watched over the souls of man.  These are the deeds of the pastor as well as heavenly angles.  Clearly then, angel is used in reference to a man that serves as God’s servant in caring for His children.   We don’t think of a pastor as an angle but the Bible makes that comparison.  It is understood by scholars that the angel of the 7 churches of Asia, referenced in Revelation 2 and 3 are a reference to the pastor of those churches.

It is no wonder then that the Bible states that the pastor is worthy of double honor.  He is God’s anointed and great care should be taken in bringing a charge against a pastor.

When he brings a message that especially touches your heart, you can truly say that you have been touched by an angel.