From the mouth and mind of a child

We all know as parents we have a responsibility to teach our children.  Prov 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

But let us also not forget that our children can (and often do) teach us as well.  Christ taught in Mt 18:2-3 that we are to become as little children, “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I recently had the opportunity to gain a greater appreciation for this concept when listening to my 8 year old son say his prayers before bed time.  Below is his prayer as best I can remember:

Thank you God for all the things You have given us, even the bad stuff.  Thank you for the Church, the Bible, everything Lord.  Take away our sins if You think You should, You don’t have to.  Please help us to teach the baby only what is right.  We love You God and Jesus no matter what.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

What a great example.  Starting off his prayer by thanking God even for the bad things, then asking for forgiveness but only if God thinks He should, and finally reminding God and Jesus that he loves them no matter what.  Let us all take the opportunity to listen to our children and those children around us because we might just learn something.

Are you in the “Know” or in the “No”

One of the many responsibilities we take on as followers of Jesus Christ is the responsibility to share and teach from His word.  I believe before we do this we should consider the above question of being in the “Know” or in the “No”

Question 1: Am I in the “Know” when it comes to the material I am trying to teach?

If you can answer yes I do know and understand the material and can confidently and accurately teach this then you should go forth and teach.  If you were to be in the “No” column as you answer this question then you need to slow down and take the time to study the material better before entering into this study.  Sometimes a lack of understanding of the material can lead the person you are teaching down a completely wrong path.  We must all follow the command found in 2 Tim 2:15, “15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  If we do not do this we will not be able to present the message intended by God.

Question 2: Am I in the “Know” when it comes to recognizing who my audience is?

It is a well known fact that we do not speak to everyone we come in contact with in the same manner.  There are certain things that can be said directly to a close friend or family member that cannot be said to someone you have a lesser relationship with because there is not the same level of trust and understanding in the relationship.  These things build over time and must be constantly nurtured and as relationships grow and trust and understanding develop, harder speech may be accepted by those you speak to.  Background also has a lot to do with the way we teach others.  This example is clearly displayed in the fact that there are four different Gospels written to four different audiences.  Matthew’s  Hebrew background lends well to the deeply religious tone of his account which is written to the Jews and religious leaders.  Mark writes like a journalist with very concise and pointed records of Christ’s life.  The Roman pragmatist (his audience) would have been likely to heed this tone and style of writing.  Luke works more scientifically, offering a chronological outline of the Lord’s life.  He is writing to the Greek idealists who respect education  and knowledge and the fact he is an educated man would have helped them respect and give credence to what he had to say.  John’s letter is written for the gentile (anyone not Jewish).  He focuses on a more personal side of our relationship to Chris where the others focus on the more ethical and practical reasons for doing so.  His primary emphasis is on the deity of Christ and helping those who have not been a part of the chosen race realize that the Gospel and its promises are for them as well.

Question 3: Are you in the know of your role in the process of salvation?

Paul does an excellent job reminding everyone of our part in the spreading of the Gospel in 1 Cor 3:6,  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”  We must always remember we are not the ones doing the converting, it is God working through His Word that were are sharing that does the converting.  Let us always remain humble and understand our responsibility in teaching and not become puffed up when we have success planting the Word.  The Goal should always be to give God the glory!

 

Would you like a sample???

So my wife and I had to go to Family Christian Bookstore this morning to pick up some materials.  When we finished up it was heading into the lunch hour and since we were at the mall we decided to check out the food court.  As most people know, there are multiple different places to eat within the food court but many of the choices between restaurants offer the same types of food.  Because of this, many of the restaurants have offers of free samples.

As I sat eating, I looked at the various restaurants one fact became increasingly clear, the ones offering samples were much busier than those that didn’t.  This got me thinking about how this could apply to God’s people as well.  If we are not out offering a “taste” of what God has to offer them to help encourage them to come into our worship service, they are very likely to walk right past us and in favor of others who may be sharing a “taste” of what they believe “Their Church” has to offer.  If we really want to help increase the size of our attendance, we have to be willing to reach out to people and draw them with a “taste” of what God can and will do for them.

I believe very strongly that Paul understood this concept when he makes the statement in 1 Cor 3:6, ” I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”  We as individuals need to follow this example and individually we can plant the seed by reaching out and speaking to others, the congregation can water by helping others when they visit the worship service or class, and God will provide the increase.

Let’s all take the opportunity to learn from the example of this simple question above and reach out to others and ask them if they would like to hear about what God can do for them.  The results will be positive and we will be fulfilling our responsibility to teach others about God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

Are you or someone you know contradicting God

It’s a well known fact that children sometimes contradict their parents.  This can be very exasperating when trying to teach a child a lesson and remind them they don’t know it all.  While the child may not fully understand it, this contradicting is rebellion and an offense to God.  In like manner, there are those who contradict their Heavenly Father.  We need to remember that God always speaks the truth and contradicting Him is rebellion against the truth.

Contradiction 1 “God doesn’t love me.”

The Bible declares God’s love for all

  • Jer 31:3 “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you.
  • The birth of Christ in Bethlehem’s stable is proof  of God’s love
  • The miracles of Christ prove God’s love (Jn 11:35-44)
  • The suffering of Christ on the cross proves God’s love (Is 53; Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8)
  • The resurrection of Christ as promised proves God’s love (Jn 10:15-18)
  • God’s love is revealed in His creation
  • God’s love is seen in His plan of redemption

Contradiction 2 “It’s Impossible”

  • Lk 1:37 “37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
  • The promise of the virgin birth was true (Lk 1:26-33)
  • God showed His power in the parting of the Red Sea (Ex 14)
  • Christ showed his power over nature by calming the sea (Mk 4:35-41)

We often pray as if we are unsure God can come through in the tough times.  We need to stop doubting and contradicting and start believing.

Contradiction 3 “I cannot overcome this temptation/desire

  • 1 Cor 10:13 “13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
  • God limits our temptations to “Such is common to man”
  • God  limits our temptations to what we are able to overcome
  • God is faithful and provides a way of escape with each temptation

Its time for us to stop contradicting God and start believing and trusting His Word that we may be able to Say as Paul stated, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:3)

Learning from one of My Greatest Annoyances

I believe we all have little things in life that I call irritants, things that bother us but are not harmful to us.  For me, one of these is looking outside at my lawn and seeing large, ugly, brown anthills.  There is nothing more annoying to me than to look out at my nice green yard and then see it overrun with these mounds.  I usually try and remove these as quick as possible.  But sadly, before you know it, they either reform or pop up somewhere else.  So, in order to try and keep a proper perspective and attitude, I ask myself, “Why do these things exist?  Why are there ants in the first place?”  I am not a scientist so I am not going to go into any scientific explanation of how they help our ecosystem.  What I am, is a Christian, so I am going to try and see if God can help me understand.  What is found below is the answer to my search and allows me to keep things in prospective and not, as they say, “Make a mountain out of an anthill (I realize the quote is mole hill but the application holds)”

 

Proverbs 6:6-11

The Folly of Indolence

6 Go to the ant, you sluggard!  Consider her ways and be wise, 7 Which, having no captain,  Overseer or ruler, 8 Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. 9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard?  When will you rise from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber,  A little folding of the hands to sleep— 11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,  And your need like an armed man.

 

While I may not see the value in it, if God has seen fit not only to create the ant, but to use it as an example, I need to accept the fact that no matter what I think, God sees good in His creation (the ant).

Celebrating 10 Years of What?????

So I’m flipping through the television stations when all of a sudden the following phrase catches my attention, “Celebrating 10 years of Divorce Court”.  Now you can bet that got my mind wandering.  I am the type of person who believes we should tell it like it is.  Therefore, in my mind the statement should have been, “Celebrating 10 years of violating God’s Will” because that is exactly what divorce is.  Consider what His Word has to say on the subject of divorce:

OT Passages

  • Gen 2:24 “24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
  • Deut 24:1-4 “24 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.”
  • Mal 2:14-16 “14 Yet you say, “For what reason?”  Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.  15 But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit?  And why one?  He seeks godly offspring.  Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.  16 “For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts.
    “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”

NT Passages

  • Mt 5:31-32 “31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality[a] causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”
  • Mt 19:3-9 “The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”  And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made[a] them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’[b] and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?[c] So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”  They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”  He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality,[d] and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
  • Rom 7:2-3 “For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.”
  • 1 Cor 7:10-11 “10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.”
  • Heb 13:4 “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

Clearly, God never intended for marriage to end in divorce and is certainly not something to be celebrated.

One final thought, Is 5:20 starts out, “20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;”  We do not want this woe upon us by calling the good gift of marriage evil and a need for divorce, and call the evil of divorce a good thing to celebrate.

How do we come to this???

My wife recently made me aware of a commercial K Mart has put out for their line of Joe Boxer underclothes.  I am not going to attach the link here because I do not want to promote more people viewing this.  Essentially the commercial starts out with a bunch of men lined up side by side behind a table in what appears to be tuxedo clothing.

Then, it happens!  The table is turned over and you find that the men are wearing tuxedo tops but have no pants on, they are standing there in their boxer shorts.  The next thing you see is one of the men beginning to move his hip area back in forth causing bells to ring.  What follows is the tune of jingle bells ringing while these men in boxer shorts sway their bodies in a manner that causes the bells to jingle.

Now I am sure there are many people out there who are going to say that this is humorous and there is no reason for me to comment.  To me that is sad.  There is nothing funny about laughing at immodesty or improper conduct.  The fact that it is a commercial for Christmas does not justify men walking around without any pants on.  I am not sure who it was that thought this would be a good idea, but I for one find this offensive and a violation of God’s will for us to be modest and our conduct holy.

The following quote from George Vergara sums up what we must consider when we consider our dress:

 we serve God in body as well as in spirit (I Cor 6:20); this would include our dress. The Bible does not contain a formal dress code, but gives principles of dress that let us make judgments and “test what is best” (Phil 1:9,10). We want to please God, not ourselves (II Cor 5:15), so we want to clothe our bodies in a way that pleases God. The four principles of dress are: (1) maintain the male-female distinction; (2) consider the effect our clothing has on our influence; (3) make sure our clothing does not “offend” anyone, and; (4) be sure our clothing is modest in God’s sight. I believe these principles can be used for any article of clothing whether you are a man or woman or whether you are young or old.

For more on this visit his entire article at http://www.newtestamentchurch.org/opa/Articles/1986/07/bible_principles_of_dress_for.htm

The second issue is with the conduct that is being displayed in the ad.  How appropriate is it for men to be acting in such a way as to bring attention to their private areas.  The Bible has much to say on conduct.  Consider the verses below:

  • Prov 20:11 “11 Even a child is known by his deeds, Whether what he does is pure and right.”
  • Eph 5:3-4 “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”
  • Tit 2:1-3 “2 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—”
  • 1 Pet 1:13-16 “13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

In conclusion, Rom 12:1-2 states, “12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  A renewed mind would not find this commercial acceptable and would prove what is the perfect and acceptable will of God by standing up and speaking out against it.

May we all have the strength to stand up and let our line shine when we see the darkness of the world spreading.