To Boycott or Not to Boycott…

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About a week ago, the internet exploded as Bill Condon, director of Beauty and the Beast, alluded to an “openly gay moment” in the upcoming film. Social media spiraled into a frenzy. An Alabama theater refused to show the movie. Conservative groups screamed for a boycott. “Progressives” patted themselves jubilantly on the back. Continue reading

The Greatness of Sacrificial Love.

This is part 3 of the series “God’s love is the Greatest Love.” For the previous post, click here.

 

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We mortals make much ado about our sacrifices in the name of love. I’ve heard countless people say they would take a bullet for Jesus or their family. On the other hand, they don’t want to give up Sunday sports to go to worship or put down  their iPhone to have a meaningful conversation with their kids or spend a little less on themselves to help a brother in need.They say they would give up their life, but they are unwilling to make even small sacrifices for others. They would die for others, but not necessarily live for others. Real love does both.

Continue reading

The Painful Truths About Invisible Childhood Illnesses

This is part 5 of the series “Invisible Illnesses.” To read the previous post, click here.

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Parenting is tough.

It’ll chew you up and spit you back out. It’ll wring your heart out until it’s dry. It taxes the mind, burdens the heart, and dominates your prayers—all while demanding constant creativity. You become a strategist, investigator, and commander, as well as a comforter, counselor, and coach. You must be fair, patient, willing to be inconvenienced, diligent in training, and protective of your child’s innocence.

Every decision has major consequences—from how you give birth to how you choose to educate. To survive, you develop a thick skin against both tears and tantrums while bearing up under the scathing criticism of everyone—from your own family to the irritable lady at the grocery store.

Are you ready for the hardest part of this gig?

These kids have free will.

You could do everything “right” and they might still choose wrong.

Parenting is a challenge under the best circumstances.

Now, throw in some three- and four-letter word disorders and you’ve just added both a labyrinth and a minotaur into the mix. Continue reading

Equipping our Children: Raising #GenNext Christians

(This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.)

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“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

~ Deuteronomy 6.4-8, ESV

The ancient Israelites showcase the rewards of following God and the pitfalls of apathy. We would do well to learn from their mistakes. The above passage from Deuteronomy, while addressed to the Israelites, holds a very important principle for parents and teachers alike: actively teach your children about the Lord and His commands. 

Commit this verse to your memory and to your heart. Write it down and then put it into action—today.

In this series on training GenNext Christians, we have covered two of our 6 E’s—Engage and Exemplify. This next string of posts will cover E number three: Equip: Teach and Train. Continue reading

Day 17: Law Enforcement Officers

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

CHP officers, LAPD officers and paramedics held up a vehicle to rescue a trapped driver who was screaming for help after a rollover crash on Sept. 16, 2014. (Credit: Rick McClure, RMc Video)
CHP officers, LAPD officers and paramedics held up a vehicle to rescue a trapped driver who was screaming for help after a rollover crash on Sept. 16, 2014. (Credit: Rick McClure, RMc Video)

The past year has been full of anti-cop, anti-authority movements seeking to undermine or destroy law enforcement officers. Only half of Americans have confidence in police officers according to a Gallup Poll conducted in June. Many Americans have this strange idea that law enforcement officers are modern-day Gestapo agents waiting to trample their rights. Our officers are not Gestapo. Contrary to what many think, they can’t discharge one bullet without accounting for it. They are monitored closely and scrutinized heavily by their peers, their superiors and the public.

Are there corrupt police officers?

Yes.

Are they the majority?

No.

How often is it said that you can bribe your way out of trouble here in America? People try to do so, but often fail miserably. In other countries, corruption is rampant. Bribery is needed to get even the right thing done.

We are so very blessed to have men and women who are willing to put on a target (read: badge) every single day and act as a buffer between evil and the rest of us. We are fortunate that we still have justice in our country (even if the judges lack common sense at times).

I am thankful for the state troopers, border patrol, highway patrol, city police, sheriff’s deputies and SWAT teams that put their life on the line daily to protect total strangers. It’s a huge stress on them and their families and many officers die soon after retirement from the massive amount of prolonged stress.

I am thankful that God has allowed there to be a majority of honest people in these professions. If you haven’t read this post on praying for law enforcement, check it out and say a prayer for them.

To all of those who are in law enforcement or who have served in the past:

Thank you.

Thank you for being at the scene of fatal accidents, directing traffic and preventing greater destruction.

Thank you for keeping an eye out for danger in the middle of the night so we can sleep safely in our beds.

Thank you for holding back your temper when people spit on you and say all sorts of derogatory things to your face.

Thank you for pulling drunk drivers off the roads so that we can get home without incident.

Thank you for rescuing children from domestic violence.

Thank you for pulling drug dealers off the streets.

Thank you for responding to calls in the middle of the night, working holidays and weekends and standing in extreme heat and extreme cold as the situation demands.

Thank you.

Day 16: I’m Thankful for My Parents

This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.

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They always say that children are a gift… But so are good parents!

I have been fortunate to have grown up with the same two parents and lived in the same house. Until recently, I never appreciated what a blessing that was. We went through some very rough patches, especially during my early high school years, but my parents were bound by a connection stronger than personal feelings—they were committed to God. God held them together through good times and bad and they both came out ten times stronger.

My mother has worked outside the home for as long as I can remember. In spite of being exhausted at the end of the day, she would fix dinner, keep the checkbook balanced and even do multiplication flash cards with me. When I was in high school, she and my dad would give up their Saturday every so often to chaperone our band competitions. Every week from the time I was 11 until I turned 17, she faithfully took me to clarinet lessons. She worked hard and even planned great family vacations to places like Yellowstone.

I firmly believe that whether you stay home with your kids or work outside the home, it doesn’t make or break your value as a parent. My mother always did what she could and she did it well. I appreciate her so much!

My father worked as a hospice nurse for several years—and still does. He is the one who instilled in me a deep and abiding love for books and stories. I remember being very small and he would tell me stories using my stuffed animals. As I got older, he would recommend books for me to read. When I was in high school, we would go on walks and talk about various things from history to church matters to movies. He always seemed to have an answer for any bible or theological-related question I came up with. The few times he didn’t, he would tell me he’d research it and get back to me (and he always did).

Was our family life the paragon of perfection?

No.

Can you show me a family life that is?

I want to share a brief memory from my senior year of high school that illustrates how amazing they are:

It was the first time my parents had left me at home on my own for more than a few hours. They had left town to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. I walked into the dark house and there were some letters on the counter, all of them in #10 envelopes. My teachers had told me that college acceptance letters only came in large envelopes; rejection letters came in #10s. My heart sank as I saw an envelope with the Cal Poly logo on it. I had been rejected… I must’ve been. It was a small envelope.

Rejection…. and I was alone to deal with it.

I tremulously lifted the envelope and broke the seal, pulling out the single heartbreaking sheet.

Instead of “We regret to inform you…” I was rather shocked to see in black and white “Congratulations!”

I had been accepted?!?!

The sudden ring of the phone made me jump.

It was my parents. I couldn’t contain my elation. Before even asking about their trip, or even if they were ok, I had to tell them.

“I got accepted to Cal Poly!” I burst out.

“Yes! We know! It’s wonderful!” My mom replied.

“How did you know? The envelope wasn’t opened.”

I could almost hear my mom smile through the wires as she confessed, “We held it up to the light before we left. We didn’t want you to be home by yourself if it had been a rejection letter.”

I was stunned. I’m not exactly sure how the conversation went after that. I just remember great warmth spreading through my heart. They had been willing to cancel a special vacation for a special occasion just so I wouldn’t have to deal with the rejection alone.

That’s the kind of parents I have—the type that don’t consider parenting an inconvenience. The type that didn’t give us everything we wanted, but tried to ensure we had what we needed. The type that love us more than themselves.

Thank you both!

Mommy, who is He?

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And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers.

And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

Judges 2.8-10, ESV

What is the tragedy in the above passage? Joshua’s death? The death of the conquering generation?

The tragedy is in the last verse: “there arose a generation… who did not know the Lord. How did this happen? How did all those people grow up ignorant of God? Do you think they were completely clueless? Our conclusions are, of course, speculative. I suspect they knew about God on some small level, but they did not have a relationship with God. Their parents had failed to diligently teach who the Lord was and what he had done for Israel. To them, God was no greater and no different than the gods of the people of Canaan.

As a parent, the following set of verses resonates with me. The command was directed toward Israelites, but the example is still applicable for us:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

~ Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:4-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It is not easy to instill in children a deep, abiding love for the Lord. Not every child will readily take it to heart. Yet, like everything we do as parents, we have to be persistent in teaching and fostering their growth.

How do we help our children know the Lord?

  1. Direct Teaching. This should consist of daily reading of the Bible with your children. This is quite a bit harder than you might think. Other activities will regularly compete for this time slot. Fight to make it a routine. If there is a regular meal that you eat together as a family, take time to read one chapter from the Bible at that meal. If you have very small children, it might be helpful to use a “story” Bible to give them a visual picture of what they are reading. When my oldest was around 11 months, I used to read to her while she was snacking in her high chair—a captive audience!
  2. Teachable Moments. This takes creativity. You really have to keep your eyes pealed for things that teach about the Lord or the character of a Christian. Warning: Do not use your child’s mistakes as your sole teaching tool. If you only bring up God or character when they are in trouble, they will have a negative association with God.
    • Teach while working in the garden: pulling weeds is a good time to talk about pulling out sin!
    • Teach on a nature walk: show the beauty and design of God’s creation.
    • Teach with the current events: point out the results of poor choices.
    • Teach with literature and movies: ask questions about character and morality.
  3. Personal Example. Have you ever read this poem?

    A Little Child is Watching Me

      A little child is watching me
      Knows every move I make,
      Hears every word I utter,
      Sees every step I take.
      Is conscious of my attitude,
      Is wise to all my flaws,
      Is witness when I am unkind,
      Or angry without cause.
      She silently observes me
      As I go from day to day
      While in her mind an image forms
      Of what she’ll be someday.
      Yes, although I do so much wrong
      Leave so much good undone,
      I’m the model Lara has.
      I am what she’ll become.
      Dear Father, help me realize
      All that I must do.
      Let me train and teach my child
      To always live for You.
      But Father, more than training her
      By words and counsel true,
      Let me by the way I live
      Show her how to follow You.
    —Mrs. Debbie Scales

Does this one scare you a little? It should! A little fear is good when it evokes us to positive change. What does your child observe in you? How do you use your money, time, and resources? Do you make worship a priority or do other things usurp that hour? Do you help others? Do you admit when you are wrong? Do you control your anger? Are you impulsive or prudent? Do you talk about God regularly? Is He in your heart?

Look again at the above passage from Deuteronomy. It says, “These words… Shall be on your heart. You shall teach them…” Out of the mouth comes the overflow of the heart. What is in your heart? What do you talk about? What is important to you. These are questions I need to ask myself daily.

Today, pray the following for yourself and your spouse:

  • Ask the Lord to help you to make and guard time for regular Bible reading with your children.
  • Request that He open your eyes to see timely and teachable moments and grant you the wisdom to use them effectively.
  • Ask the Lord to make you aware of how your example is helping or hurting your children.
  • Finally, plead with the Lord to give you grace for your imperfections and extend mercy for your children.
  • If you are a single parent, ask that the Lord will provide good godly mentors to help you and your child because it is no cake walk being a single parent!

In the coming weeks, I hope to share some books and tools (Bible based and secular) that I have used with my own children. My children are still very young, so I am no expert and I do not have long-term results from my methods. I hope that some of my readers with grown children will share their tools and ideas as well!

Daily prayers for our children

Good morning!

Over the weekend, one of my readers sent me a link to a great tool for parents and others who are praying for children. I inserted a screen shot below. She posts this on a refrigerator as a reminder of what to pray for her own little boy. To download the PDF click here.

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We can never pray too often for our children. We need the Lord’s help to raise them because we certainly aren’t perfect. Our children our surrounded by a never-ending  war for their hearts and minds.  They need the Lord and they need us to make regular intercession for them.

I hope you find this tool as useful as I do. My prayers can get a bit repetitious and tools like this one help me to refresh and retool my prayers to be more effective.

Thank you, Samantha, for the excellent link!

Let’s pray to great effect today and everyday.