If you are interested in the news events in this country that affect Christianity in general, though not the church of Christ specifically and you can handle it without becoming to depressed by the things that are being allowed and promoted around the U. S. you might be interested in this news site. I don't know if it is associated with any specific religious group, but they do keep up with things going on religiously in America.
Are you looking for some good, clean, family fun? I wanted to let you know that we are going to start a new blog on the Build Your Wall site. The new blog will be to present family friendly alternatives to the popular entertainment of the day. We will have movie reviews, book and game reviews, maybe even ideas for a fun, educational, family night. We will start by putting up video reviews of some movies that are positive over the next few weeks. There are a multitude of possibilities and no telling what will be added. Look for the new page to be added this week. It will be called Shameless Fun.
One more short note, encourage your wives to check out my article for wives at Come Fill Your Cup. http://comefillyourcup.com/2013/03/27/be-the-wife-your-husband-needs/
While listening to Dave Ramsey the other day, he used an illustration about building up strengths. I won't exactly quote him here, but share with you the thoughts that his illustration brought to my mind. He was saying that in our society, we tend to look at weaknesses. How many times did your parents concentrated upon the 'F' (or 'D') on your report card and pretty much ignored the 4 'A's'? Or with your own children, how many times do you 'fuss' solely at a low grade and not even comment about the successes.
In building a wall, if one simply focuses on repairing the breaches, but doesn't spend time shoring up defenses and making the entire wall stronger, the wall will break down everywhere. How does this apply to raising children?
Take the time to analyze your child's strengths, give praise and think of ways to make them stronger. What if Mozart's parents had not allowed him to pursue music and had forced him to work on a weak skill? What about Einstein? Or Alexander Graham Bell?
Dave Ramsey was saying that when we work on weak areas, we generally only make them mediocre (we should still work on those areas, we can't ignore them), but how wonderful would your child be at a particular thing if we let them focus on their strengths to make them extraordinary?
“For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.” (2Co 13:9)
We are a weird family! That is one of our goals so it is no surprise that we have hit that goal. One area where we have aimed to be strange is in the area of entertainment. We avoid shows, even Disney cartoons that teach messages that we don’t want to fight against constantly. We push what would be called edutainment by many people. Digger Doug, Bible shows, Bound, etc. We listen to Bible songs or an educational type book-on-CD when we are in the car.
Tonight, scary success, we were going to play a game together, but as I sit typing this instead of a game my 11- and 8- year-olds are watching a show they begged to watch. Is it a cartoon? No. Is it a children’s show? No. They both begged to watch one of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University classes on DVD.
We want them to learn to handle money from the beginning so they don’t have $45,000 in debt to work their way out of as adults like we did, but we didn’t really think they were that interested yet. Normal is broke, weird is better. It is not just in this area that we want to be weird. I just hope we are making as much of an impact in other areas.
What are some of the successes you have had in your family? - jp
What do you think about a preacher who uses other preachers' sermon ideas and outlines? Are sermons proprietary like a Microsoft program, or are they open source and more like share ware?
Here are my thoughts, tell me what you think.
Like a musical artist who sings songs that are written by others and have even been performed by others, I preach some sermons (if I believe they are good ones) that have been written by others and originally preached by someone else. Other of these sermons may come from good articles that I thought should be preached. Regardless of the sources they are preached with my unique style and personality. Some may think this similar to plagiarism, but it is no different from someone who watches a TV cooking show and then follows the recipes to make the same meals. I don't pretend that all of the thoughts, ideas, phrases, titles, outlines, etc. that I preach are original to me.
The point of preaching is not to be original, but to teach truth. If someone has taught the truth in a good way, it needs to be reproduced. A man who cooked in the White House for the first President Bush and President Clinton later cooked at a camp where my wife and I were. He made some amazing brownies and my wife asked him for the recipe. Would it be wrong for her to use the recipe he gave her to make delicious brownies? Well, in fact the recipe was not his anyway. He showed her his secret recipe: a Ghirardelli box mix! He explained that they had spent years with experts coming up with the best combination, so why not make use of that effort.
I have some good ideas (and some duds) and am sure the same is true for other preachers. I share my good ideas and they share theirs and together we help make each other better.
What about parenting and teaching our children? Shouldn't we share the things that work and warn others of the things that don't work? I know in some areas of our society someone makes their living by something that they have produced and depend on it for continued income, but in our Christian lives is that how we live as well? Do we try to keep it a secret like the Colonel's chicken recipe? Are we trying to get to heaven by ourselves, or do we want to help as many others as possible make it? -jp
Judah's Kings to the tune of "10 Little Christians"
Barnabas to the tune of "Zacchaeus"
Praying Family to the tune of the misnamed "Three Wandering Jews"
I remember the first time I could run faster than my dad. It was exhilarating to be able to beat him, but it was also the beginning of my realization that he was not perfect. There was something I was able to do better than him and as I matured and he aged there became more of those things physically. There will come a time, most likely, when there will be other things that he cannot do that I will have to help him with, and that will be an adjustment as well.
There was a time when I realized that he was not only physically vulnerable, but spiritually imperfect as well. I don’t remember the exact moment that occurred, but one event that imbedded it within me was when he apologized for provoking me to wrath.
At some point our children will notice that we have problems and are not perfect people. It is better if we own up to it and show them how to confess and repent and grow instead of putting on airs. One of the things that causes problems is the old idea that you should never have to say you’re sorry, especially to those you love. With all due respect, in fact probably more respect than is due, that is ignorance run amok. The people we love should be the first that we apologize to when we have hurt them.
Some people are afraid that they will lose the love and respect of their children if they admit their problems and weaknesses. The truth is that when you are a fake and a hypocrite you lose respect. Children will see through the pretending and even though they may continue to love their parents they will not respect them. Jesus said that the truth will set you free. Just be honest with yourself, your spouse, and your children. - jp
Based on learning from mistakes that we covered last week, I want to give you fathers out there something to consider for your family. This is also something that goes hand in hand with the Building Boundaries subject that we looked at in the series Behind Enemy Lines. Knowing who you are, where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there and stay there is important for growth individually and as a family. It is ineffective to sit around telling everyone else what they should do and not being willing to make changes yourself. I am posting a generic form of questions to ask yourself and each other member of the family. You have to start with yourself first, then your spouse and then the children. If you want your children to fly higher than you have ever reached you have to show them the possibility by flying higher than you have in the past to give them hope. Many children with great potential are dragged down by the downward, negative pull of their parents.
As you look at these questions you will notice that there is a paragraph at the beginning of the wife’s section. This was written for my wife and is specific to our situation, so if you use this you will need to rewrite that to fit your family. Notice that it is full of compliments, looking at what we have accomplished, and putting out the hope that we can do even more. When you talk to your wife (or even children) about these things do it with a positive spirit of hope for the future to be better than the past and present. If you point out problems, start with the things you have done wrong, with a spirit of humility, not in arrogance or with finger pointing and blaming. Remember that as the husband and father God holds you accountable and responsible for your family’s direction and propulsion.
You will also notice generic phrases like ‘each son’ or ‘each daughter’. Personalize these and answer the questions for each one individually, not as a group. You may need more space than what is provided. In my original I have a separate page for each child with their names on the appropriate questions. Obviously, these questions will not be grasped by small children, and even some school-aged children may need some prompting or explanation.
This is not something to do one time and stick in a file somewhere, it is like a map or set of directions that must be revisited regularly to make it to your goal. Don’t forget, you are going somewhere you have never been before. At each turn we need to adjust our vision. If my directions are to go 10 miles and turn right on highway 1, then go 3 miles and turn left on highway 2, etc. Once I have made the turn on highway 1 it would be foolish for me to think that I should drive 10 miles and look to turn right on highway 1. Once we have done that step we have to move on to the next step. We need to come back to our goals and visions to see what we have accomplished and how the future may look different. Goals for a 4 year-old are very different from goals for a 14 year-old. Goals for a newlywed couple are different from the goals of a couple with 4 young kids or a couple with grown kids or a couple with grandkids.
Feel free to download these questions below and use them to help point you in the right direction.
If our children are going to remain faithful to God in a time of trials and persecution there are some things we have to do to prepare them for something we have never faced before. One of those things is . . . Build Boundaries
How far will you go? What will you not do? What will you do? At what point will you do it? Where is the line drawn? The problem we have in many areas of our life is that our boundaries are ambiguous and subjective rather than clearly measurable and objective. We might say, or think, for example, if ________is too bad / gets too bad / gets much worse / etc. then I am going to get mad / do something about it / look at my options / have to think about quitting or leaving / etc. What problems with those kinds of statements can you see? How do we define “too bad” or “much worse”? Instead of those vaguely threatening type statements we need to say something more like: “If there is alcohol at the party I will not go / stay.” or “If there is nudity / cursing / sin glorified / etc. I will not go to that movie or watch that show.” or “If the school teaches evolution / homosexuality / etc. are right I will not let my children continue going to school there.” The building of boundaries is essential for Christians in many areas not just these 3 examples. What a difference it makes when you set a specific boundary that you will not cross!
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” In our society too many times people don’t stand anywhere even in time of comfort and convenience. How would they ever stand under difficult circumstances. There is also the old saying that the man who won’t stand for something will fall for anything. The Bible tells us to stand in multiple ways multiple times. We are told to be steadfast in 11 verses. We are told to stand or stand fast over 15 times. We are also told to hold fast or hold on another 10+ times. A big problem is knowing where to stand: What are the things that really matter? What is worth spending time, energy, and money fighting? What battlefield is worth dying on and which one should be abandoned? What is worth living for and what is worth dying for? What would be worth losing your soul over?
We quickly say, “nothing” to that last question, but if we do not draw lines with indelible ink we will find ourselves erasing lines and drawing new ones a little further away from God each time. God does not change, His law has not changed for 2000 years and won’t change as long as the Earth remains. We discussed in a Bible class recently just how much we have really compromised already. We may not have even realized it, but when a TV show that is supposedly for young children uses God’s name in vain there is a problem. Look at what people who consider themselves Christians accept now that they would not have 50 years ago and it is obvious, but when we look at this year versus last year we don’t see much difference. That is the way Satan works many times, gradually pushing us a little at a time until we are falling off the cliff. Television is one of the easiest to see the difference. 50 years ago: there were no homosexual characters, much less homosexual couples and kisses; adultery was unacceptable, divorce a rarity; there was some immodesty, but nothing compared to today; parents were smarter than their children and disobedience was corrected; there was respect for authority; violence was limited; there was almost no bad language; and although alcohol and cigarettes were present in some shows, no other drugs were used. Compare that with today’s shows and there is a stark contrast, but if we compare 2013 with 2012 it doesn’t seem any worse. In fact, some years it may even seem to get better than the year before.
Now consider the federal government’s authority and compare what is demanded now compared to 50, 100, or 200 years ago in this country. Quit looking at last month or last year, but use a wider lens to look at the direction our government has been moving overall from its founding until now. Watching videos like The Silencing of God or America’s Most Pressing Concern may help you see the incredible difference between the principles upon which this country was founded and the principles that are currently driving it away from God and toward destruction. When this country was founded, for example, the freedom of speech was included in the Bill of Rights along with other rights to freedoms like religion, bearing arms, not being searched without reason, etc. In fact, the first amendment in the Bill of Rights says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Compare that with recent laws that restrict speech and attempts to label the condemnation of certain sinful behaviors as hate speech that needs to be punished, or laws that make it more difficult to assemble, especially to protest the Government (like HR 347), without fear of reprisal.
How long will churches stand for what God says if they could be sued or if preachers and elders could be arrested for the things that are taught? How long will you continue to support the church if it stands against sin? What would cause you to decide to leave a congregation? The issue we are talking about is one of the reasons that many remain in a congregation that has slowly moved into apostasy. In the 1820's or 1950's it would have seemed unthinkable that congregations full of faithful Christians would ever have to worry about the problems of instrumental music, but 50-60 years after that in the 1870's-80's and now look what happened. It would have seemed impossible to most in the church that there would be a problem in the Lord’s church with women wanting to step outside their God-given roles and take on leadership positions even 30 years ago, but look where we are today. So even though we think the church will not give in on an issue like same-sex marriage, homosexual preachers, or any other controversial area we must realize that some will. What if it is the one where you are a member? What will you do? Will you stay or will you go? At what point will you say it has gone too far?
We will continue looking at this concept on an individual family level next time. - jp
This is a hard one. I have to face my own failures and see how they are being magnified in my children. For as long as I can remember I have had a sarcastic streak. I tend to mock things and not take things seriously. Since before we were married I have made a habit of interrupting my wife when she was trying to share something with me, and it was usually a rude or disparaging comment. She has tried to tell me that it is a character flaw that needs work for years and I just laughed it off. “That’s who I am, you knew it when you married me.” Sometimes I would say “yeah, yeah no big deal, I’ll stop” (for 5 minutes). I just thought it was a personality quirk, my sense of humor and something she should get used to and laugh at too. Our son has learned the lessons that I have lived quite well, and I now see what my wife saw in me that I never could. It is always easier to se faults in others, but it is tough when the faults you see are your own reflected in the mirror of your children’s actions. What have you seen in your children that reminded you of a negative trait in yourself?
I felt it so strongly when my son responded in a rude and interrupting way when we were trying to have a serious time. He had been silly and when I corrected him his flippant response kindled my anger. I literally felt a strong desire to smack him right in the mouth and told him that was how I felt. It was not until the next day when I was being my normal annoying self that my wife’s anger finally exploded at me and I finally put two and two together. I can be a bit slow sometimes. I apologized for years of misbehavior and failing to love my wife as Christ loved the church. I had thought that because I did all sorts of little kindnesses, like washing some dishes, that this little thing didn’t matter, but this one unloving behavior was more than all the other good things put together. While all those little things whispered ‘I love you’, this one was constantly screaming “I love belittling you”. Now I was seeing clearly and seeing my son doing the same things. He was being rude and interrupting his mother and me, and he had been doing these things for a while.
I have a long road ahead and so does my son, but we are helping each other. We had a long talk about respect and how God wants us to behave toward those we love. I explained that the reason I had gotten so angry at him was because he had been acting like me. The fact that he is a young Christian also gives some extra weight to the discussion. We are not just a father and son working to get rid of bad habits that have been allowed to flourish too long, but also Christian brothers trying to encourage the best in one another.
I was reading about the idea of making your ceiling your children’s floor. I don’t want my son to be 40 before he learns to treat his wife with the proper respect, I want him to start right from the beginning. Now if I say something rude he helps remind me and I help him remember, too. When we work as a team we have a better chance of succeeding. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” More good news is that we are not both weak at the same time, Romans 15:1 tells us, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” We have identified the problem and know how to solve it. Now all that is left is to do it. - jp