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Archive for October, 2010

Being Little

My oldest daughter Katy is 16 1/2 years old and she thinks she is getting “old.”  She started reminiscing the other day about life as a “little girl.”  She’s written a little piece called “Being Little.”  I’m certain it means more to me than to anyone reading it…but, if you are a parent or grandparent or even a young person reading this…it will take you back to times when you were little or when your children were little.  Simplier…less complicated days when life was tranquil and peaceful.  It’s a little longer than my normal post…but it’s worth the read if you ‘ve got about 6 or 7 minutes.  Enjoy…

“BEING LITTLE”

I was always told to enjoy those years and now that I’m in these years, I understand why.  In those days I longed to be an intelligent young adult with responsibility. I never understood when the adults would bend down, pinch my pale freckled cheeks and whisper with a sad smile, “You enjoy being little now, sweetie.” No, not then. But now that the freckles have faded, a little at least, and adults no longer have to bend down, I understand the meaning behind those words.

There was simply nothing like a spring day when the end of school was so nearby and in my young heart, so far away. I was convinced that learning my multiplication tables would be the hardest thing I’d ever do and if those weren’t hard enough, my new piano song would be. I would hurry up to finish school on such a day and stuff a corn dog down my throat so I could sit by the phone and wait to get a call from my cousins. It wouldn’t be long before the two of them would be huffing up the hill between our houses and I would pull my curly-headed sister out of the house into the warm, honeysuckle air. There were no formalities between the four of us and we would soon come to a conclusion on what my youngest cousin, Leah, and I wanted to do for the afternoon. For some time we almost always decided on a trip to the creek.

We must have been quite a sight, trotting down the hill. Taylor was the second oldest of our motley crew and to my dismay was a little less than a year younger than me, as she rubbed it in those six days we were the same age. She always wore her hair in a straight, smooth pony-tail and never had a worry in that pretty sun-tanned heart-shaped face of hers. She was more than happy to be the peacemaker, which I loathed I wasn’t better at it. My sister, Kandace, was the one who would be skipping with her curly brown mane blowing in the breeze. She always had herself into something and required constant attention during those days. Leah, the wee little girl was too much like me in many ways. The little blond- headed baby of the group always helped me make the decisions and unlike her older sister, preferred to play the cowboy in our games. And then there was me, the only one with the white, freckled skin and feet browner than my face. I would be beside of Taylor skipping along; trying not to worry about something… whatever it was that particular day.

Taylor took this picture...she's a good photographer!

The creek always seemed to smell fresh and the water cool, cold really. The rich green moss lined the creek’s embankment like a velvety carpet for our bare feet. I always had to remind one of the younger girls to watch out for the “three shiny leaves” because that was poison ivy. We were told by our wise fathers to wade no further than our knees, but Taylor was usually the only one who remembered the unwanted advice. We were always thrilled when we found a new place that the water flowed slowly and a fallen tree provided a good seat. It wouldn’t be long; however before we grew tired of our new playing place and would go in search of a better one.

On such a day at the creek, I persuaded Leah that a sled would make an excellent boat in the deeper water. As I remember, both of our mothers had told us that “today we were not to get wet”, but I explained that the sled wouldn’t let a drop of water on her. She was skeptical, but being the 7-year-old that she was, she gave in much to Taylor’s dismay. I dug through our winter sleds on that summer day and found the large black one; Old Ruth as we would later name it. I hurried everyone down the steep path to the still waters before my poor cousin could change her mind. I lowered the plastic sled to float on the dark surface of the cold water. Leah whined, but I sternly told her that it was too late to change her mind. Taylor stood at a distance. I suppose so that when my plan failed she wouldn’t be in trouble. I helped lower Leah onto the sled and she sat there for a moment, but to my horror the hateful Old Ruth begin to bow up and water rushed in over Leah as she screamed bloody murder. She stood up which just made her slip off the sled and catapult under the coldness. All I could hear was a trio of three little girl’s screams as I pulled my soaked cousin out of the water. Needless to say, I was left at the creek alone as everyone ran up the path to tattle-tell on me. As I recall, I never put Leah in a “boat” ever again.

Despite each of our strangeness, we always asked our parents for one more hour to play. And we played everywhere.  The woods were our favorite place of all. Intermingled with the evergreen trees and tall oaks, we would drape old sheets from branches and create houses. We would act out stories of the old west. We had many a series and it would take us days and even months to get through as story. We traipsed around in old dresses that we had rummaged through in the musty basements of our houses. But we took it seriously. Each story was played out in the deep forest as though it were a movie being taped. Leah was usually frustrated that she had to play such girly games and would only be satisfied if she could be the cowboy or Indian and kill one of us. And then one day she invented a game called “Mistress” where I had to be an evil old woman who treated her as a slave. She got to go behind my back and play tricks on her mean master, which was me of course. Even Taylor and Kandace enjoyed that series and said that I was good at being a bossy, mean mistress. I was mad at them for about a day, for saying that.

I think we all got addicted to popsicles those hot summers. Some days we would even sneak inside and take turns sticking our sweaty, beat red faces in the freezer.

Before long school started back up and we each had to spend the majority of our days in our homes. The air would lose its warmth and as the briskness of fall set in, we would be hard-pressed to give up our outside escapades despite the chill. The creek was no longer refreshing, but simply cold, so we stayed near our playhouses and were satisfied mixing dirt and flour together to create our pretend meals. We crushed acorns and ground leaves for herbs. The outside faucet was our best friend as we toted water to and from our activities at the edge of the yard. Usually we would argue on whose turn it was to get the water, but often it ended with sweet Taylor picking up the bucket and getting it herself.

Later in the fall, the whole family headed to the beach. It became a tradition somewhere along the way for the four of us girls to put on a show in the den of the house for the six adults. Each year I packed half of my suitcase full of costumes, rather than swimsuits. I spent the beginning of the week planning our show. I was the director, being the show lady I was and spent the whole week begging Leah to be apart of my masterpiece. This particular year, out of the kindness of her heart, she agreed to be in my show. I had chosen to base my masterpiece from The Sound of Music. We each acted out one of the children in the movie and sang several of the songs. I had never been so thrilled in my life when the six adults gave a thunderous applause, which I believed was heartfelt. Later, Kandace whispered in my ear, “We will never do that again.” But for me, it didn’t matter. I had performed my show.

The first snow was a cause for celebration… even if it was only half an inch. We pulled our sleds out, not to drown Leah in the creek this time, but to use them to sled. After wrapping up in warm clothes we braced ourselves for the chill of the white world outside. We would head back inside after climbing the sledding hill more times than we could count and with our thighs burning, our socks in a wad at the toe of our boots and with chapped cheeks. As soon as we entered the enveloping warmth, we began to figure out how we could get everyone on the hill, including our two grandparents, to eat supper together. After much difficult planning, Kandace usually came to our daddy with the question, since he couldn’t seem resist his cute youngest daughter. Before long he was calling my Aunt and grandparents and meanwhile we were in the pantry persuading my mother that we did indeed have the ingredients to make chili. As the night fell, we trudged up the snow laden hill to the home of my MaMaw and PaPaw. We sat around the dinning room table eating crackers and chili as happy as larks. With full stomachs we marched down the hall to MaMaw and Papaw’s king size bed and watched a movie or played a board game.  We would relax in the comfort and warmth of our family’s presence. How sweet it was.

I do miss those days. Things have changed. Even though each of us are still young… we’re not little children anymore. Conversations between our crew are no longer about who will bring the sheets for our tents. It’s been years since we mixed flour and water or searched for a new place to play at the creek. We no longer play Mistress or dress in play clothes. I would not trade anything for those days, because I now realize those were the ones that brought me to where I am, to where we are. I never would have imagined those days would have disappeared so quickly. At the time it seemed that they would always be there. The creek hasn’t changed, the playhouse still sits where it always has, but life moves on and we move with it. To bigger things, greater plans that the Lord has for us. There was a time for freckles, popsicles, and sleds for boats. There is also a time to remember those memories as we walk on in our lives. We still climb on PaPaw and MaMaw’s bed sometimes, although we hardly fit anymore, and some winter days we’ll even beg to eat together on a snowy night. For that, I am so thankful. In the whirlwind of this new chapter of my life, sometimes I’ll stop and walk outside to the playhouse and I can almost see four little girls playing Mistress and simply enjoying being little.

Dedicated to Taylor, Kandace and Leah: Our motley crew.

I love you guys.

Katy Brown

Great story huh!  So…they motley crew decided to go back down to the creek and “relive” some of their adventures earlier this week. 

Looks like an alligator to me!! Yikes!

The girls and the "Creek Adventures"

What great memories!  Isn’t it true that when we look back at our childhood things just looked better.  I know that may not be the case for everyone.  I don’t know your circumstances.  But, even in hard times…we can look back and see how blessed we are!

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I was talking with a dear friend today about some things in Scripture that we don’t necessarily agree about.  We both defended our positions with chapter and verse and we did so for almost 2 hours.  But we did so without pointing fingers…

Not so with us…rather the discussion was stimulating, invigorating and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Why?  Because he is a student of the Bible as I try to be as well, even though I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of the deep waters of truth.  Honestly, we could have easily walked away from our meeting and been “upset” with one another because we simply didn’t agree in certain areas.  However, that was the furthest thing from the case. 

We agreed to “disagree” agreeably.  Why?  Because we are both on the “same page” when it comes to what Jesus cares about…to seek and save that which is lost.  We both care about the body of Christ and growing the body through the Scriptures.  Isn’t that the way God intends for us to deal with one another?

I think about all the different denominations we have in the Protestant Church today…Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.  Is that what the Lord intended when He left this early two centuries ago?  I think not.  He left the Church in tact and whole.  Today we are fractured and splintered into dozens of denominations and even sects within those denominations.  We split over style of music, carpet or tile, yellow paint verse beige, Sunday night service or no Sunday night.  Are these things important to Jesus? 

All the while we have a lost and dying  world around us that is falling by the wayside while we argue about giving to the Cooperative program or whether to use Sunday School materials from LifeWay or just use the Bible.  How sad we have fallen to this in our churches and even in our homes. 

Paul addressed differences within the body to the church at Rome in Romans 14.  He was dealing with food offered to idols, but the principles outlined in this passage are helpful for us all to heed and understand.

Romans 14:13-23

13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food[b] is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

 19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

 22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

I’m grateful for a brother in the Lord that is blessing to me because of his desire to be honorable and Christlike and to live within the principles of this Scripture and to “go and make disciples of all nations…”

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Divorce Recovery

I’ve been preaching through a sermon series on marriage and relationships for several weeks and I have been asked by several about what to do if you have been divorced.   I pondered this for some time and I remember a blog post I read recently that I thought was good.  I’ve never been through a divorce nor have my parents or my wife’s parents (praise the Lord…I know that is almost abnormal in our day and age), so I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of what people deal with in this traumatic, heart-wrenching area of life.  However, here is someone who does.  I will not list her name to protect her identity…but her words are very good.

I was talking to a young woman the other day. She is going through a very difficult time and feels her marriage is over. She spoke about the arguments, the tension, and how her young children are showing signs that they sense the instability of the home. “I know divorce is hard but I think it would be easier than what we are all going through.” My heart sank at her words and, with a silent plea that God would direct my words, I said, “No. Divorce is not easier. It is taking on another setting that will be difficult and painful.”

It is hard to believe sometimes that it has been 15 years since my own divorce. My first husband died very suddenly five years after the divorce from heart disease. He was not yet 50 years-old at the time of his death. I am grateful that we spoke forgiveness to each other before he died. I know many people who have not been given that chance.

Divorce is very much like death. It is the death of a relationship that you believed would last your lifetime. It brings a crushing grief that has no concluding closure, especially if you have children. Let’s look at some of the characteristics of grief as they apply to divorce:

  • Regrets “Table for one at the Regret Party!” “I wish I would have said…”, “I wish I would have done …”, “Why did I …?” It can feel like an never-ending tape that runs and runs through my head. The insidious point is that most regrets have some connection to the truth. There are things to regret. What I learned is that a ‘regret’ is only helpful when it produces a ‘lesson learned’. Learn from my mistake and move on. (By the way, I have no control over resolving a regret that my spouse said or did something.)
  • Anger and Blame This more than any other aspect of the divorce process takes so much energy. And yet it is an emotion and a task that seems almost essential to the process. In order to make sense, I must find a place (a person) on which to put the blame. I must direct my anger to that person. Otherwise, I might have to deal with anger at myself or even God. Here again, the truth is my spouse to whom I direct my anger and place blame has some ownership for our situation. But does the anger and blame help me? Do I feel ‘better’ angry? Does my anger and blame help my children?
  • Sadness It is uncomfortable to say ‘depression’ instead of ‘sadness’. However, I personally do not know anyone who has gone through divorce (or death of a loved one) who did not experience depression for some period of time. Sadness is sorrow about an event. Depression is when the sadness causes inactivity and difficulty in concentration. This is especially hard when there are demands from a job (few employers give you ‘bereavement time’ for divorce) and children who need parental stability and strength.
  • ForgivenessI have spoken about forgiveness many times. Forgiveness is not letting my spouse ‘off the hook’. It is letting go of the aforementioned anger and blame that takes so much of my energy and moving on to more constructive pursuits – like getting on with the life that I now have. It is putting that energy into helping my children in the new life that they now have.

Whether it is an organized divorce support group, your church, or 1-2 friends who are committed to walking with you through this very difficult season, help is essential to not only surviving but actually living. It is in putting on the ‘strong face’ or ‘faith face’ that shuts you up in a lonely box with only your own thoughts and wisdom to get you through. Just as a lawyer or a doctor who defends or treats himself has a fool for a client/patient, so is the divorced person who thinks they have all they need within themselves to get them through the crisis and move on in their life with joyous victory.

And that is the ultimate goal. When you are in the place where I currently live, you want to have come through that terrible valley called ‘Divorce’ and find yourself in a better place with your mind, spirit, and family intact. If you can come together for your child’s graduation or wedding and genuinely smile at your former spouse, then you are in a good place. If when you consider remarrying, you bring little baggage into the marriage, you have embraced forgiveness and learned valuable personal lessons. You have grown.

Well said…well said!  Life is much like reading a book.  There are many chapters.  We go through some chapters we do not particularly like…yet, the pages will turn and a new chapter will begin soon enough.  Hang and don’t give up.  Galatians 6:9 teaches us not to grow weary in doing the right thing…for in due season we WILL reap a harvest if we don’t give up.

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Teen Struggles

I was corresponding via text and email yesterday with a young lady that wants to stay pure and save herself for marriage.  She desires not to be in the dating scene and get her heart exposed to potential pain and hurt…not to mention to save herself from potential sexual promiscuity.  What a sweet young lady.  But, oh the pressure!  The pressure to date in our culture is amazing.  I encouraged her to take a look at this YouTube of Josh Harris click here.

As I was trying to encourage this young lady it brought to mind Paul Washer and a message he preached years ago that angered a lot of parents as he shared about reaching their teens.  Here’s the end of the message if you are interested.  It’s pretty power packed…so buckle up watch here.

What is our desire for our young people?  Do you have a vision for your family?  Your children?  What are your spiritual goals?  Do you see the finish line?  No matter what has happened so far.  Do you see what your children can be?  Even if they are in there 20s, 30s or 40s.  Your kids deserve a college fund…trip to Disney…but, what about a godly father or mother, or godly grandfather or grandmother?

“There is no way to estimate the power of transformation and of love and of good when a man has a vision for discipling his sons and daughters.”  Doug Phillips, President, Vision Forum.

You see…this is my passion…turning men’s hearts toward home… 

I’ve learned:

“Whatever you and I allow in moderation…they will take to excess.”

And…

“Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.”

I believe many of our young people are in big-time trouble today.  They are disenchanted with life, the church, and their family.  They find satisfaction in material possessions, abstract relationships and in many cases, abhorrent and immoral behavior.  They seek and find their identity through their friends, what they do (I’m a cheerleader or I’m a football player or I’m a redneck) and even in what they wear or kind of cell phone they carry.  Many have little direction, motivation or initiative to work beyond what is considered average.

Now don’t get me wrong…this description does not describe every young person.  But, if we are going to truly have a vision for our young people we must want more for them than just graduate from high school, go to college, get a good job, make a lot of money, get married, have kids, build a 401-k, retire and well…play golf or play cards in a retirement home.  Isn’t it more than that?

Why are our children walking away from their faith and the church at a 92% clip by their 20th birthday?  Why do they seem so apathetic about the Lord?  I guess a critical question would be…”Are they really saved?” 

Can I ask you some questions?  What if we’ve seen our best days as a nation?  What if this nation doesn’t improve economically?  What will that mean for our children…your children?  Do they have the capacity to live on less?  What if you told them they couldn’t have their cell phones any more and you had to drop cable and internet because you couldn’t afford it?  What would they say?  Is Jesus enough for them or do they want all the stuff and Jesus?  In fact, could it be that they really would rather have the stuff.  What is it that you are making your children crave?  What is it that they can’t get enough of.  You see, whatever we make our kids crave is what will become their “god.”

Are they spiritually grounded?  Where are they reading in the Bible right now?  Is it more important to you that they know the Bible or their Algebra more?  Really be honest about that.  Do you care more about them being successful in school or on the ball field or at the dance studio or do you care more about them knowing and obeying and following the Lord Jesus Christ?  Is it your greatest joy that they are following the Lord or is it your greatest joy that they are making an “A.”  By the way…I’m all for education…but I’ve not read in Scripture where the Lord has a special room in heaven for us to hang our diplomas.

You may say…”Wait a minute…I’m not even reading in the Bible consistently…how can I expect them to?”  Precisely!  That’s the point.  We are not making disciples of our children because we aren’t disciples.  Take this little quiz and see how you do on some basic Bible knowledge.

Basic Bible Knowledge Quiz

  1. How many Gospels are there?
  2. How many of the Gospel writers were Apostles?
  3. How many Major Prophets are there?
  4. What did Jesus say is the greatest commandment?
  5. What did Jesus say is the only reason a person can consider divorce?
  6. To whom did God promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky?
  7. How old was Jesus when he began his ministry?
  8. How many books in the Bible did the Apostle John write?
  9. Who wrote most of the Psalms?  Who wrote most of the Proverbs? (Not the same person.)
  10. What book in the Bible is the story of Samson and Delilah found?
  11. What was Matthew’s occupation before he became an Apostle?
  12. Who was the king that had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thrown into the fiery furnace?
  13. Who was the first martyr (person killed for their faith) in the early church?
  14. What is the name of the garden Jesus prayed on the night He was arrested?
  15. What is the name of the man who came to Jesus at night whom Jesus told “You must be born again?”
  16. The Bible says, that a Christian should not be “yoked” or “joined” with whom?
  17. In the book of James, we are told to resist the devil and he will do what?
  18. What is the longest chapter in the Bible?
  19. King David was known in Scripture as a man after__________?
  20. Who was the man in the Old Testament that oversaw the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem?

How’d you do?  Let’s see…

Bible Knowledge quiz…Answers

  1. How many Gospels are there? (4)
  2. How many of the Gospel writers were Apostles? (2…Matthew and John)
  3. How many Major Prophets are there? (4…Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel)
  4. What did Jesus say is the greatest commandment?  (Matt. 22:37…love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind…)
  5. What did Jesus say is the only reason a person can consider divorce? (Adultery-Matt. 5:31-32)
  6. To whom did God promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky? (Abraham-Genesis 15:5)
  7. How old was Jesus when he began his ministry?  (30)
  8. How many books in the Bible did the Apostle John write? (A total of 5.  The Gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John, and the Book of Revelation)
  9. Who wrote most of the Psalms?  The book of Proverbs?  (David/Solomon)
  10. What book in the Bible is the story of Samson found? (Judges 13-16)
  11. What was Matthew’s occupation before he became an Apostle?  (Tax Collector)
  12. Who was the king that had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thrown into the fiery furnace? (Nebuchadnezzar)
  13. Who was the first martyr in the early church?  (Stephen-Acts 7)
  14. What is the name of the garden that Jesus prayed in where He was arrested? (Gethsemane)
  15. What is the name of the man who came to Jesus at night that Jesus told “You must be born gain?” (Nicodemus-John 3)
  16. The Bible says, that a Christian should not be “yoked” or “joined” with whom? (Unbeliever-2 Corinthians 6:14)
  17. In the book of James, we are told to resist the devil and he will do what? (Flee-James 4:7)
  18. What is the longest chapter in the Bible?  (Psalm 119-has 176 verses)
  19. King David was known in Scripture as a man after__________? (heart)
  20. Who was the man in the Old Testament that oversaw the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem?  (Nehemiah)

There are 168 hours in a week…and what we do with the time…how we “redeem” it with our children is what matters.  Here’s how that 168 hours breaks down according to national statistics: 

168 hours in a week:

–        60 hours-Work-related (work, driving to work, etc.)

–        50 hours-Sleeping (7.2 hours per night)

–        34 hours-Activities (eating, sports, groceries, paying bills, watching TV, exercising, computer time, etc.)

24 hours-It’s up to you.  THIS 24 HOURS PER WEEK IS THE DIFFERENCE!  That’s 3 ½ hours per day that will make or break you.

Parents…they want you!  For them to succeed they need a relationship with you and ultimately they need to see that you know the Lord and are following the Lord.  Are you a disciple?  How are they going to grow if you and I don’t?

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Why Do We Homeschool?

 

From time to time I get asked this question.  More so…of Pam…is it asked.  We basically give one answer:  God called us to this lifestyle.  And it really is a lifestyle more than just an education model.  Yesterday Pam forwarded me a great article about the whole subject of homeschooling by a 27-year old graduate of homeschooling.  The title of his article is “Jesus or Homeschooling: Which is the Answer?”  It’s very thought-provoking and will take about 10-minutes to read…but, if you’ve ever considered homeschooling…you should read this first.  If you are currently public-schooling and you think homeschoolers are nuts…this is a good article for you as well.  Take a look here at crosswalk.com.

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In my Bible reading time this morning I read the devotion for October 19th by Oswald Chambers in his powerful devotional book, “My Utmost for His Highest.”  As I did…I was reminded that this (life on this earth) is not heaven.  We are strangers…pilgrims passing through.  Yet, so often, we get so busy with the “stuff” of this world that we truly neglect and miss the things the Lord God wants us to see.  Take a look…

“My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36

The great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the Systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God. (No private life with God…that really struck me…how ’bout you?  Do we truly have a private life with God?) The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, for lo the kingdom of God is within you,” a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives in the shop window. It is the innermost of the innermost that reveals the power of the life.

We have to get rid of the plague of the spirit of the religious age in which we live. In Our Lord’s life there was none of the press and rush of tremendous activity that we regard so highly, and the disciple is to be as His Master (Chambers died in 1917…oh if he could see the “press and rush” of our day…can you imagine what he’d say?). The central thing about the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship to Himself, not public usefulness to men. (Wow…you may want to read that sentence again…I sure did!)

It is not its practical activities that are the strength of this Bible Training College, its whole strength lies in the fact that here you are put into soak before God (Hmm…I like that…like a pickle in vinegar…soaking in the Lord…how…by being in His presence…in His Word…in prayer, etc). You have no idea of where God is going to engineer your circumstances, no knowledge of what strain is going to be put on you either at home or abroad, and if you waste your time in over-active energies instead of getting into soak on the great fundamental truths of God’s Redemption, you will snap when the strain comes; but if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in God on the unpractical line, you will remain true to Him what ever happens.

Have I soaked enough not to snap when the strain comes?  I like the fact that Chambers said “when” not “if” the strain comes.  It’s coming…we’re not to fear it…but it’s coming.  Life is a series of ups and downs.  As Chuck Swindoll says, “Life if 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”   Boy is that true!!

Here’s an update from the Black’s on their journey from Brother Dave’s blog: 

Monday, October 18

9:36 PM Becky’s treatment today went wonderfully well. We’ve scheduled her CT scan for two weeks from today. That will tell us plenty. While B was in the infusion room I was in the ED having a suspicious lump checked out. After 6 hours and a sonogram they still couldn’t figure out what it was, so I’ll be seeing a surgeon as soon as we can schedule an appointment. Wouldn’t that be something if the Lord allowed both of us to be ill at the same time?

So how to pray? Just as Jesus taught us. He obviously believed in the prayer of petition. This is in strong contrast to the Greeks and Romans who considered it useless and even offensive to ask God for anything (surely no one can inform God of anything or change His mind!). In Jesus’ view, humans are dependent creatures, and God is a wonderful Father in heaven who delights for them to ask Him to meet their needs. Jesus’ own prayer in Gethsemane exemplifies the prayer of petition. He asked for two things, first that God might free Him from the fate that awaited Him, but secondly that God’s will would be done in His life. This is how I’ve been praying for Becky and for a good many other people as well. In the first place there is the setting forth of the need, and in the second place (and ranking above the first in order of importance) there is the desire that God’s will and God’s will alone be done. I dare not pray for one without praying for the other. Jesus reminded us, repeating the words of Isaiah, that God does not want the words of our lips while our hearts are far from Him (Isa. 29:13; Mark 7:6). Prayer, then, does no more than discover God as the source and the goal of all our actions.

So true!  So true Brother Dave

Take a look at the link for TBN.  It has Annie Dupree (formerly Annie Wolaver) of the Annie Moses Band was interviewed by Kirk Cameron and it’s fantastic.  When you go to the link…click at the bottom right of the screen at the arrow and click on September 30th and move the arrow to 28 minutes into the program for the 10 minute interview.  It’s worth the effort.  Click here. 

Oh…I had someone share with me about something I said in the sermon on Sunday.  They said that “retirement” was in the Bible.  I had said, “retirement as we have come to know it today in  America does NOT appear in the Bible.”  I had a gentleman tell me it is in the Bible.  Here’s the passage:

24 “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting, 25 but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. 26 They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”  Deuteronomy 8:24-26

So, there you have it.  I stand corrected.  It is there!  One time…in all of Scripture…verse 25.  I’ll let you decide if you think this gives validity to the practice that we have in America where we save it all and live the golden years of our lives by riding around in a Winnebago for six months out of the year traveling the country or playing golf every day in a Florida retirement community.  Or…should we see that Scripture teaches that we should store up our treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and the Older men and women should teach the Younger men and women (mentor them…Titus 2). 

Save for the future…yes.  Save for a rainy day…yes.  Make sure we are thinking about our old age that we’ll have enough to survive…yes.  Saving to live the life of a king and disengage from the life of the church, our families and our communities so we can go have fun and enjoy the fruits of our labors?  You decide.  As for me…I’m living a life that will be muti-generational and I’m trying to “outlive my life” instead of just living FOR this life.  There is a difference in my opinion.

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Finishing Strong

I just completed a whirl-wind weekend.  We had our Iron Men-Mens Conference Friday evening and Saturday with the theme of “Finishing Strong.”  It was a super time of refreshment from the Lord and a challenge to finish strong.  I showed this video (click here) of Derrick Redmond…the great British track star that pulled his hamstring halfway through the 400 meter Olympic race in Barcelona in 1992.  It’s one of the most touching things you’ll ever see.

The point of showing the video is simply that we sometimes fall and fail (according to the world), but we can still finish strong even if it means hobbling across the finish line.

Most of us have blown it at some point in our lives on possibly several fronts.  That could be at home, with a spouse, with your children, or it could be a career, a relationship with a father or mother or something totally different.  You know your situation.  The key is to know what Paul told the Philippian church:

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-14

We must press on looking to Christ.  It’s how you and I finish that matters.  Jesus said that he’d be able to tell who was really His by those that finished the race.  We must endure to the end.  Those that don’t endure to the end show they were never Christ’s to start with. 

You see, I’m very concerned about this nation and its people.  The question begs to be asked:  What is happening in America?  I’ll tell you.  Disaster!  Disaster is happening and coming upon us and we seem to be asleep at the wheel.  You say, “What kind of disaster?”  A “moral” disaster.  We are in absolute moral decay in this nation and to most, we are blind to it…particularly the men.  We are building our “imposing” temples to ourselves and our pleasures while we have little to no consideration for how we are training or not training our children.  Why?  Is it that we have no vision?

What do we have a vision for regarding our children?  Sports, college, money, success comes to mind.  But do we have a vision for ourselves and our families spiritually?  Do we ever think about “outliving our own lives?”  Do we have a vision that extends beyond our own life or possibly that of our children?  What about 200 years from now?  What will they say about you and I then?

You say…I just want to be a success.  Ok…you just want to be a success.  You want your kids to be a success right?  So, what is success?

Tony Campolo’s definition of success is:

“Success is a shining city.  A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  We dream of it as children.  We strive for it through our adult lives, and we suffer melancholy at old age if we have not reached it.  For success is the place of happiness, and the anxieties we suffer at the thought of not arriving there gives us ulcers, heart attacks, and nervous disorders.  If our reach exceeds our grasp and we fail to achieve what we want, life seems meaningless and we feel emotionally dead in our culture.” 

John Johnson says success is “attaining cultural goals that are sure to elevate one’s perceived importance in that culture.”  Did you notice the word, “perceived?”  What the world and the Bible calls success are two totally different things!

Joshua 1:8

8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Success in the Scriptures is not measured by bank accounts and retirement savings…  It’s measured by peace, joy and contentment.   I’m very concerned that the reason we are not going to finish strong is that we’ve got our priorities mixed up.  Consequently we’ve got children and young people that are mixed up too!

Many of our young people are in big-time trouble today.  They are disenchanted with life, the church, and their family.  They find satisfaction in material possessions, abstract relationships and in many cases, abhorrent and immoral behavior.  They seek and find their identity through their friends, what they do (I’m a cheerleader or I’m a football player or I’m a redneck) and even in what they wear or kind of cell phone they carry.  Many have little direction, motivation or initiative to work beyond what is considered average.

Now don’t get me wrong…this description does not describe every young person.  But, shouldn’t we want more for our children than for them to just graduate from high school, go to college, get a good job, make a lot of money, get married, have kids, build a 401-k, retire, drive a motor coach out west for six months of the year and play golf? 

Why are our young adults walking away from their faith at a 92% clip by their 20th birthday?  Why do they seem so apathetic about the Lord?  I guess the main question is:  Are they saved?

Here is another thought-provoking question:

What if we’ve seen our best days as a nation?  What will that mean for our children…your children?  Do they have the capacity to live on less?

Are they spiritually grounded?  Where are they reading in the Bible right now?  Is it more important to you that they know the Bible or their Algebra or English?  You may say…”Wait a minute…I’m not even reading in the Bible consistently…how can I expect them to?”  Precisely!  For them to succeed they need a relationship with you and ultimately they need to see that you know the Lord and are following the Lord.  Are you a disciple?  How are they going to grow if you don’t?  How are they going to finish strong if you and I don’t? 

My prayer is that I will put a premium and priority on teaching my children the ways of the Lord (after I’ve taught myself) and that they will grasp how deep, how, long and wide is the love of our Heavenly Father…then and only then, will we be able to Finish Strong!

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