Archive for July, 2010


I am going to make a concerted effort to begin blogging on a more consistent basis.  I’m not guaranteeing every day…but, that’s my goal to blog daily.  The posts will be shorter perhaps…but, I hope they will be thought-provoking and insightful.  So check back daily if you can…

Now to the post…

Chores.  Do you remember doing them when you were a child?  I do.  One of my jobs was to fill up the wood box.  I didn’t exactly love this chore, because it required me to push a wheelbarrow up to a wood shed, load it and haul it back to the box in our garage.  It was not something I looked forward to doing.  But you know what?  I’m glad I did.  I’m glad I was made to do it along with taking out the trash, and other chores as they were doled out by my parents. 

Chores made me value hard work, sacrifice and even doing things that were hard…things I didn’t want to do.  Things that weren’t necessarily fun.  And you know what else?  I didn’t get paid to do it.  No allowance.  No “$5 if you fill the wood box” stuff.  It was simple.  I was to be a productive part of my home.  I was to be a “blessing” and not a “burden” to the economy of the home. 

How about today?  Do kids do chores?  I’ll let you answer that question.  I’ll just give you my humble opinion of what I believe most homes in America are like for the kids:

Yep…a Holiday Inn.  My day often said, “This ain’t no Holiday Inn.”  But what are we running today?  Homes or leisure halls for our children.  It seems the chores of the home or at least most of them are done by the parents in our day and age.  The children live there…oh yes they do…but, chores?  Hmm?  Is that asking a bit much of them to do?  Well, I guess they wouldn’t like my home.  Here is a picture of the Browns stringing and breaking beans last night.  That’s right…5 year olds included.  Everyone working together…in tandum…getting the “work” of the home done. 

Earlier in the evening…we were cleaning up and yep…Clara and Andrew (the five year olds) were “hard at it” cleaning the door glass. 

Can they reach the top of the glass?  No.  Do they do it perfectly.  No.  Would it be better easier for Pam and I just to do it ourselves?  Yes.  But, what are we teaching our kids when we do that?  And do you know what?  They love helping!  They ASK for jobs to do.  They get to check off the list the things they do and they love being a part of the family and they love helping!  Here’s yesterday’s list:

Is our family perfect?  No way!  Are we getting this all done every day?  Nope!  Not even close.  But, we are working to sew into our children’s lives hard work and diligence.  The wisest man who ever lived gives us great wisdom and instruction here:

Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.  Proverbs 12:24

The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.  Proverbs 13:4

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.  Proverbs 14:23

The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.  Proverbs 21:25

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

He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.  Proverbs 28:19

I saw this played out in Ethiopia too.  Take a look at the children “taking care of children.”  Amazing!

6 year olds taking care of 3 year olds.  In America our girls play with Barbie dolls.  In Africa…they take care of their siblings.

Take a look at the children driving the herds. 

They go out to the fields/pastures and stay all day watching the flocks/herds.  And then in the evening…they drive the herd back in.  Some of these children can’t be more than 8 or 9 years old.

Will chores make your kids prosperous and successful?  Will they make them godly?  Will they guarantee a good life for them?   I’ll let you decide.  Just read those Proverbs again.  What I believe is precisely what the Apostle Paul said…

“…but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”  2 Thessalonians 3:9-10

Tough language?  Sure is for our day and age when few want to work and many want hand-outs.  I wasn’t raised this way, nor do I think it’s Biblical.  I want to earn my keep and expect my children to do the same.  Not popular today?  I know it’s not.  But, when have the Scriptures always been “popular?”

Will kids do chores?  Yes…if we expect them to.  And do you know what?  It won’t kill them!  Ha!  It will make them feel a part of something bigger than themselves.  A FAMILY!!

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Who are our heroes and idols in our culture today?  Whom have we set up in the eyes of our children and grandchildren (perhaps unknowingly) as those to be emulated?  I was thinking of the absolute train wreck of Lindsay Lohan’s life.  You know she is “national news” these days.  Arrested, sentenced, serving jail time.  How sad!

Do you remember little Lindsay in “Parent Trap” the movie?

What a cutie!  So, what happened?  Hollywood…wrong friends…no parental guidance.  Yes to all of those perhaps.  But, do you know the biggest problem.  It looks as if the young lady doesn’t have Jesus.  The bottom line for all of life is Jesus.  He is the LIFE.  He said, “I’m the way, the truth and the LIFE.”  John 14:6. 

So, here’s what I’ve been contemplating.  When we set up the Lindsay’s, Britney’s, Miley’s, Justin’s (Bieber), even the Woods’ (Tiger) and the like (sports stars) as our heroes and idols…then what happens when they fall?  Whom are we teaching our children to idolize (American Idols)? 

Is it Spider Man

Superman, Bat Man, Iron Man?  How about the God Man?  Jesus Christ? 

As Christians…shouldn’t we hold up Jesus as the ONE, the ONLY one to worship?  Think about this long and hard.  The next time we feel like we’re seeing the next High School Musical star develop before our eyes…watch out.  If they are in Hollywood…or the sports world, chances are they will end up falling like a rock.  Wouldn’t we be better of setting up as the hero in our lives and our children’s the Lord Jesus Christ?  He’s the true hero!  He saved our souls from a Devil’s Hell!  Now that’s a hero and someone to be worshipped!  In fact…He is the only one that deserves our worship.

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Well…I preached on it yesterday and Clara and Andrew wanted to know what I preached on (they were at the Annie Moses Fine Arts Summer Academy in Nashville)…preparing and eating meals together.   We had a blast this morning!!  Bacon and eggs…my specialty!!  You say…”Oh…they’ll get burned!”  No…not on low heat.  It takes twice as long to cook the bacon…but, they love it!  We fix toast and have my mom’s blackberry jam…  YUM!!  YUM!!

So, in case you missed the sermon…here are some notes…

Families today find themselves heading a million different directions with work schedules, activities, television, computers, and even church events all competing for our time.

Our homes may feel like hotels with customers waving to each other as they pass in the hallways. Frantic families have become the norm. Kids are involved in soccer, karate, piano, scouts, gymnastics, tutoring and religious youth activities. Family life now revolves around children’s activities. A University of Michigan study shows that, in the last few years, children have lost an average of twelve hours a week in free time. Outdoor activity time has dropped nearly 50% while structured sports time and passive leisure time (TV, video games) have both risen. Not only are children busier, but families are spending less overall “quality” time together. Conversations between parents and children are all but non-existent.

What are the results: tired children who do not get enough sleep. Busy families who are driven more by activities than values. Disconnected families that do not talk enough or only in the van to and from events. Precious little unstructured time, like a family dinner, to catch up, breathe and share our lives. So what? Take a hard look at your family routine. Is it overbooked? Are you tired and frantic? Do you believe that your child will actually be better off with more activities? Why not cut back on a few activities and spend some unstructured time with your children. Start by planning some stay at home dinners together. No agenda, just family talk.

Yes, we all have plenty of great excuses for not having regular Family Dinner Times together, but let me remind you that the family meal time is an investment in your children. A recent survey from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation profiled national merit scholars from the past 20 years to see what these students had in common. Surprisingly, without exception they came from homes that ate together as a family three or more nights a week.

Another study, of children ages 3-12, found that time spent eating at home was a better predictor of academic success and emotional adjustment than any of the following activities: school, homework, athletics, arts and religious participation. Be honest, for how many of you do family meals involve fast food eaten in the van between activities? Or, for how many do family meals happen in front of the TV.

We know meals purchased away from home cost two to four times more than meals prepared at home. At present time the restaurant industry’s share of the total food dollar is more than 46%. Due to scheduling, commitments, and activities, families eat out several times each week.

Family meal-time-The family that eats together stays together, Clara S. L. Brenner, 10/27/04

Kids who eat with their families a lot generally have better nutrition, abuse fewer substances, are less suicidal, and have less sex. Researchers found that the more frequently children ate with their parents, the less likely they were to smoke, drink, use marijuana, or show signs of depression. Girls were also less likely to think about or try suicide or to do badly in school. Researchers concluded making an effort to sit down with your family for dinner more often will probably pay off. The quality of your kids’ life (especially your daughters’) is likely to improve.

Eisenberg, Marla E., et al. “Correlations Between Family Meals and Psychosocial Well-being Among Adolescents.” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. August 2004, Vol. 158, pp. 792-796.

So, why is the family meal time about to be placed on the extinct list? Simple.

No Plan = No Dinner

Step 1: Write out a master list of meals you and your family enjoy. If your children are old enough, allow them to help you make this list. Look in recipe books for new, simple recipes.
Step 2: Get out your calendar (use a blank one for meal planning) and begin filling in each night with what you will make for dinner. You can even do this just one month at a time. Maybe start with one week. It is important to look at your calendar as you’re planning so that you do not plan a big meal when no one will be home to eat it or a recipe that takes a lot of time to prepare when it is a busy day. Map out your time.

Step3: Make your grocery list. Take inventory of what you already have in your pantry, freezer, etc. Look at sale ads for loss leaders, gather your coupons, etc.

Step 4: Try to prepare as much of the meal as you can earlier in the day or the night before. In the morning, turn on the Crock-pot. During lunch cut up things, set the table etc. Schedule your activities around meal times, or if there are conflicts, prepare meals that can be ready when you walk in the door – soups, chili, spaghetti, etc. That is what those Crock-pots you got for your wedding are for. They actually should be baby shower gifts – who needs one till you have kids? Delay dinner or eat earlier. Remember there are no set rules about when dinner has to be eaten.

Step 5: Prepare meals ahead with the store loss leaders. Make double batches of things and freeze them for later. HAVE A PLAN.

Source: http://247moms.blogspot.com/2009/01/family-who-eats-together-stays-together.html

Benefits to eating meals at home together around the table:

  • Make your kids smarter
  • Contribute to your child’s spiritual and emotional growth.
  • They learn table manners and etiquette.
  • Children learn to eat proper foods…fruits, vegetables, etc. (Remember that it can take 8-10 exposures to a new food before it is accepted, so be patient. Trying a new food is like starting a new hobby. It expands your child’s knowledge, experience, and skill.)
  • Better nutrition:  Studies show meals prepared and eaten at home are usually more nutritious and healthy. They contain more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products along with additional nutrients such as fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and folate. Home cooked meals are usually not fried or highly salted, plus soda and sweetened beverage consumption is usually lower at the dinner table.
  • Is where real bonding time can happen, discussing your daily lives with each other.
  • Children today are missing out on the importance of knowing how to plan and prepare meals. Basic cooking, baking, and food preparation are necessities for being self-sufficient. Involve your family in menu planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation. Preschoolers can tear lettuce, cut bananas, and set the table. Older children can pour milk, peel vegetables, and mix batter. Teenagers can dice, chop, bake, and grill. Working as a team puts the meal on the table faster, as well as makes everyone more responsible and accepting of the outcome. Improved eating habits come with “ownership” of a meal.
  • Research shows that frequent family dinners (five or more a week), are associated with lower rates of smoking, drinking, and illegal drug use in pre-teens and teenagers when compared to families that eat together two or fewer times per week. Even as older children’s schedules get more complicated, it is important to make an effort to eat meals together. Scheduling is a must.
  • It can help ease day-to-day conflicts, as well as establish traditions and memories that can last a lifetime.
  • Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging.

Kids who feel close to their families will also take their family’s value system to heart.

Interestingly…how did the first church grow?  I believe through food, meals and hospitality.  Take a look:

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.   Acts 2:42-47

Pretty amazing stuff if you ask me.   Food…transfer of the Gospel…well…they go hand in hand…or should I say…”stomach to stomach.”  After all…what does Jesus long to do with us?


Revelation 3:20

20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Notice…the artist painted no doorknob on Jesus’ side.  He is a gentleman.  He doesn’t barge into our lives.  Yet…He longs to come in and eat with us.  What is the last thing He did on earth with His disciples as a group?  Eat a meal with them.  Right?  What is the first thing He will do in Heaven with His bride (believers) as a group?  Eat a meal with us.  It’s called the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb.”  Rev. 19:6-9.

 Take the time and fix a meal together…it’s truly a joy!!  And the greatest meal of all is coming!!  I can’t wait!!  Can you?

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For 17 days I along with 20 other dedicated souls went to the end of the earth in Ethiopia, Africa to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What an experience.  To say that it was “life-changing” almost seems to be an understatement.  However, that is what I’ll go with at this point.  There is so much I learned about myself, the Lord and humanity that it would take a month of posts to begin to tell the stories.

What I’d like to do is summarize a few things I learned.  I will seek to expound on these in the days ahead.

First, I was astounded at the love and commitment of the Christians in Halame, Ethiopia.  This is a mountain village about 4,000 above sea level.  A place that is shrouded in fog for many days of the year because of its altitude.  It never got out of the 50’s while the little team of four (of which I was a part) were there. 

Hard to believe…but, true…50 degree weather in Africa!   Check out the beauty…

But, here is something that struck me and that I feel is nonetheless wise.  There are no altar calls in Ethiopia like we have them in many of our churches here in America.  There are no decision cards, no “bow your heads, close your eyes, repeat this prayer after me” kind of evangelism.  It’s simple and I believe Biblical.  The Elders say, “Great!  Go home…pray…receive Christ and then we’ll watch your life.”  Wow!!  Are you serious?  Yep!!  They are VERY serious!  They want no wolves in their sheep pen.  They are looking for fruit.  Jesus said, “You will know them by the fruit they bear.”  Wow!  This seems so simple and clear.  But, in America…we’re looking for converts…not disciples.  Jesus said, “Go and make DISCIPLES of all nations…”  That’s right…”Disciples” not “Converts.”  I don’t mean to be playing semantics here…but, the truth is…we have “Americanized” Christianity by making it mostly about the numbers and not the disciples.  More on this in the days ahead.

In the meantime…just read the book of Acts to see what the first church was all about.  No altar calls…no massive crusades…just people “daily” leading people to Christ by meeting together (showing hospitality) in each other’s homes and fellowshipping together.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look:

Acts 2:42-47:

 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Did you catch it…  They added to their number daily?  What were they doing?  Making converts?  Nope…  They were making disciples and they were bringing people into their homes.  That’s what they do in Africa…they show hospitality.  What do we do in America.  Run!!  Wide open!!  24/7.  We don’t have time to slow down and lead someone to Jesus.  We don’t even have time to eat together as a family in our homes…much less invite someone over and tell them about Jesus and disciple them.  What’s wrong with this picture?  We’re just too busy! 

You know busy…B-U-S-Y…Buried Under Satan’s Yoke.  We’ve got to slow down and really think about what is important in this life.  What we do for Jesus is all that is going to matter in heaven.  The rest is going to burn.  Amen?  Being in Halame and Shule and Soyama taught me this lesson very clearly.  Here is a lady showing us hospitality by serving us some tea.

Is the life simple in Africa?  Yes.  And hard!  Yet…the unencumbered way in which the Christians live there is so enamoring to me.  Look at the children’s faces.  They have “nothing,” yet they have everything if they have Jesus!  Right?  Me too!

Look at how the people celebrated our arrival in the mountains! 

I choose not to put the Ethiopians on a pedestal, because no one should be placed there for the certainty of failing.  However, I look at how we live.  Running…running…running.  Where????  I’ll let you decide.  But here is a lady (a momma with her baby in tow) that memorized 9 passages of Scripture just to earn a Bible.  That’s 9 “passages” of Scripture…not 9 verses.  When’s the last time you or someone you know set it in your mind to memorize a verse of Scripture.  We wouldn’t do that for a Bible.  Maybe a cruise…but, not a Bible.

For me…I see that as I have come back “from the end of the earth” back to America, I see more clearly than ever that the priority in the life of the Christian must be Jesus and His kingdom.  It’s that simple. 

And you know what?  If we’ll seek His kingdom first…everything else we need will be taken care of for us!!  (Matthew 6:33)

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