Thursday, December 29, 2011

A look back

This past year has flown by, there have been struggles and difficulties a long the way, but the Lord has been faithful to us through it all.  We as a family as learned so much.  A year ago at this time we were looked at what I considered a fearful storm, it looked very ominous in my mind and I was very afraid.  I knew in my head that the Lord would take care us, but I couldn't see how.  As I consider the events of this past year, I must say it has been a great year.  We saw the Lord provide for us abundantly.  Every need that we had was supplied, not just that, but the wants that we had were supplied.  We serve a great God!

I have learned so much about the Lord that we serve this year.  I have learned of his faithfulness and goodness. I have been amazed by his mercy and his justice.  I have sat in awe of his amazing love for us.  I have contemplated verse like: Rom 8:32  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
How small is our faith.  We have a Heavenly Father who gave his only begotten, beloved Son so that we could have eternal life.  He gave us something most amazing, but He is not done yet.  He will freely give us all that we need. In response we fret and worry about things that we need, when we have a Heavenly Father who gives to us freely!

Monday, November 21, 2011

An Anniversary

Last week we marked a very special anniversary!

It was the anniversary of the fire, it has been two years since the fire.  The fire has become a way we mark time.  When we talk about when something happened the kids always ask if things happened before or after the fire.   The fire was definitely a life-changing moment.  Our remembrance simply included a mention that it was the anniversary, and a few tears were shed by Hannah for Andy our cat that died.

The past two years have been a learning experience.  We have learned that trusting God is more than just lip service.  The day of the fire we were interviewed by a local news station, the interview was never aired, but in it we stated that we were looking forward to what God would have for us, because He has always taken care of us.   Looking back at day, it almost seems like a lie.  Not the part about God always taking care of us, but the part that we were looking forward to what God would have for us.  It must have been the shock talking!   We had no idea at all how God would take care of us, and frankly I was more frightened than anything.  I knew all the right words to say, but the action of trusting was much more difficult.  It is a fearful thing to walk totally by faith not having any idea how the Lord would be guiding our steps.  We had to walk daily trusting that things would work out.

The greatest blessing of the fire was not the new house, not that it wasn't absolutely wonderful!  The greatest blessing was the lessons of faith that we learned.

The lessons of faith was exactly what we needed, because a year ago we made a life-changing decision.  It was a decision that would require a walk that would be totally by faith. At the time it felt like a flying leap off the edge of a cliff with no safety net.  When we made the decision for Nick to quit his job to pursue the chaplaincy it was very scary, but what kept us going was the lessons of faith we had learned from the fire.  In the darkest days after the fire we could see how the Lord was working and taking care of our every need.  Because of that we knew that the Lord would take care of us as we embarked on our new adventure.  That is not to say that we have been pillars of faith in fact at times it has been quite the opposite, but in the times when our faith has wavered the Lord has continued to take care of us.

When it comes to things I am thankful for one of the things very high on my list is the fire.  Not because I ever want to have another fire, but the lessons that we learned have been so valuable!  We have seen in the last two years more than any other time in our lives the greatness of the Lord!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mrs. Schmuck

Today is my birthday, and I have reached the milestone of my thirties.  Somehow though it doesn't seem important, how long you live, what age you have reached; it doesn't really matter.  What matters are the lives that you impact.

Today, one my high school English teachers died.  Mrs. Schmuck was known for her smile the most.  I can remember people complaining about having her first hour because she was so cheerful, and people complaining about having her seventh hour because she was so cheerful!  The poems that she taught us stick with me still today.  At random moments, a poem that I learned with Mrs. Schmuck will pop into my head.  The things she taught were not just academic lesson; with her life she taught many spiritual lessons.

Over the past several days her facebook page has been inundated with people posting how Mrs. Schmuck influenced their lives.  It wasn't the grammar, literature, or spelling words she taught that made the greatest impact, her influence went much farther than that.  It was her Christian life that made the greatest impact, she truly lived a life that exemplified the joy of the Lord.

Yesterday, Steve Jobs died; today facebook, has been filled with people discussing his life.  He made a great impact on the world, even on my world, since Apple is Nick's employer at the moment. I can't help but see a stark contrast between the two.  Mrs. Schmuck was a high school English teacher, Steve Jobs an innovator. Steve Jobs made millions, Mrs. Schmuck not so much.   Steve Jobs became a household name, Mrs. Schmuck not so much.  But the impact that Mrs. Schmuck made was so much greater.   The treasure Steve Jobs accumulated won't last.  The treasure Mrs. Schmuck accumulated will last forever.  The headlines won't ever report about Mrs. Schmuck's, but her life and influence has greatly touched many lives.

So you see, age doesn't matter, it's not important.  The people that we influence, the love of Christ that we show, that is what truly matters.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Lord is Good

This past January when Nick left his job at church it was a terrifying time.  We had a bit of money in the bank, we had figured out how long we could survive with out an income, and it was very clear that we would have to learn how to trust the Lord.

Through the past seven months we have seen the Lord's faithfulness.  We are still able to pay for our groceries with cash, we still have money in the bank several months past the point that we thought it would be gone, all our bills have been paid on time, and the only new debt we have incurred is Nick's schooling.   All those things have not happened because of anything we have done, but because the Lord has been faithful to us.  In January, I told Nick that it seemed like a huge storm as brewing in the distance and that thought of it was overwhelming.  It's almost the middle of August and that storm still hasn't shown up!

We so often want to be in control of our situation; we try everything possible to try to get the results that we want.  We struggle and worry, all the while forgetting that our future is not in our hands.  The Lord is the one guiding and directing our steps.  If we just walk one day at a time trusting Him, those things that seem so overwhelming suddenly are not.

The Matthew 6:25-34 suddenly has a whole new meaning.  It is no longer something that you have just read and heard sermons on, it is a way of living that is not always easy, but it is full of blessing!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hebrews 10:1-25

I have been reading through the epistles for the past several weeks and have been thoroughly enjoying it.  I really enjoyed reading through the book of Hebrews and one passage that stood out to me was Hebrews 10.  

Heb 10:1-4  For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.  For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.   For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 

The law and the sacrifices that were set up back when the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness were simply a shadow of things to come and simply a glimpse of what Christ would do.  The yearly sacrifices could not ever take away sin-it was not possible.

Heb 10:5-10  Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:   In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.  Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.   Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;   Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all

When Christ came into the world He came to do the will of the Father.  When He died on the cross He did what the blood of the animals could not do-so took away our sin.  The sacrifice did not have to be made yearly-the sacrifice was complete "once for all,"  because Christ was able to take away our sins.

Heb 10:11-14  And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:   But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;  From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.  For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 

Here is the comparison between the sacrifice that the priest did daily which could not take away sin, and the sacrifice for sin that Christ completed.  The price for sin was completely and totally paid by Christ's sacrifice, while the daily sacrifices could never take the sin away.

Heb 10:15-18  Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,  This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.   Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 

What a comfort to know that our sins will be remembered no more.  The sacrifice has been made and there is no need any more for offerings for sin.  What a great comfort that is!

Heb 10:19-22  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,  By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;  And having an high priest over the house of God;   Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 

Because of what Christ did we now can boldly enter into the presence of the Lord.  We have a new and living way to live, because of what He did for us.  

Heb 10:23-25  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Because of what Christ did for us we can hold onto our faith without wavering because He is faithful.  We don't have assurance of our faith because of ourselves, but because Christ is faithful!  Because of that there are some things we should do.  We should encourage love and good works, we should assemble with other Christians and encourage one another.   

What a great Savior we have!  He paid the price for our sins that no one else could pay.  That assurance should prompt us to love one another, to service others, encourage others and live in the joy that our sins are remembered no more!

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's been a while!

The past several weeks have been absolutely crazy, so I haven't had an opportunity to sit down and do much study.  The passage I am looking at today is 1 Samuel 8.

1Sa 8:1-5  And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.   Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.  And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.  Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,   And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 

This first part of the chapter talks about Samuel's sons.  It is very sad to see that even though Samuel was the man of God and that he was used mightily of God, his sons did not follow the leadership of their father.

1Sa 8:5-9  And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.  But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.  And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.   According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. 

The children of Israel wanted a king; they wanted to be like everyone else.  The Lord told Samuel to tell the people exactly what they would get with a king, but He was going to allow the children of Israel to have a king.

1Sa 8:10-18  And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.  And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.   And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.   And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.   And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.  And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.   He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. 

Samuel tells the people exactly what would happen if they got a king.  He lays out very clearly what the consequences of having a king would be.

1Sa 8:19-20  Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; 
 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. 

Samuel's instructions didn't even register in the people's mind.   They had made up their minds that no matter what, they wanted a king!

1Sa 8:21-22  And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.   And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city. 

In the end, the Lord told Samuel to give the people what they wanted.
Looking at this story from the perspective of a parent/child relationship it is interesting that the Lord allowed the children of Israel to have exactly what they wanted.  He warned them that it would lead to great problems, and that it would have serious consequences.  He knew that it was not the best thing for the people, but He allowed them to make a foolish decision.  He could have refused them, but he didn't!

Have we considered that there may be times when we just have to let our children make their own decisions.  We must let them know what the consequences of their actions will be, but sometimes they have to make their own decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A challenge from Teen Extreme

Last week we took our teens from church to Teen Extreme Camp at PCC.  We had a great week, and we were able to see the Lord working in many of our teens' lives.  The preacher was Kenny Baldwin and we thoroughly enjoyed the preaching.  One of the messages that really challenged me was about adding to our faith.

2Pe 1:1  Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 
2Pe 1:2  Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 
2Pe 1:3  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 
2Pe 1:4  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 
2Pe 1:5  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 
2Pe 1:6  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 
2Pe 1:7  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 
2Pe 1:8  For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
2Pe 1:9  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 
2Pe 1:10  Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 
2Pe 1:11  For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 

These verses remind us of the salvation that we have received and gives a blueprint for walking with God.  To our faith (salvation) we should be adding things.  It doesn't mean that we are working for our salvation-Christ completed that work, but we should be working to add to our faith.  The illustration that Kenny Baldwin used was a Christmas tree.  When we get saved it's like we get a Christmas tree,  we are saved but there is nothing on the tree.  The things we add are what make the Christmas tree more interesting.  

To our faith we need to be adding virtue (doing right), knowledge (knowing what the Bible has to say), temperance (self-control), patience (waiting), godliness (being more like Christ), brotherly kindness (love for other Christians), charity (love for others).  It is not a once in a lifetime adding though; daily we need to be adding these things to our lives.  Peter says that those that lack these things forget how they were cleansed from sin.  If we do add to our faith then verse 10 says that we will not fall.  

So often in our Christian life we are content with where we are.  We have learned lots of Bible in Sunday school, church, Christian home, Christian school, and Christian college.  We often imagine we have arrived  spiritually were we should be, but if we take a long hard look at our lives are we really?   Our goal should be being more like Christ, until we reach heaven we will not be able to be completely like Him, but we must work everyday to be more like Him.  We can't be content at the spiritual level that we are currently at.  We must add to our faith!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Our great God

Often there are days in our living by faith that the flesh gets in the way.  We start to look ahead at the future and we have no idea how the Lord is going to provide for us in a few months when the savings run out.  We start to worry and fret, fortunately we have a great God that brings us gentle reminders that He is in control and that He is taking care of us today!  I read these verses in my devotions yesterday and they were a great encouragement, mainly because we have been seeing the Lord's faithful.

Mat 6:8  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Monday, Hannah and I went thrift store shopping to find her some clothes for camp.  I was praying all morning that the Lord would provide and that we would be able to find the things that she needed.  The Lord answered my prayer!  We were able to find 3 pairs of shorts, 2 skirts, and 1 dress for under $15!  This verse "your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him,"  we saw in action!  The Lord knew long before Monday morning that we would need clothes for Hannah.  When we went to the thrift store the clothes that we bought did not magically appear on the rack, they were already there.  Some one donated them, some one tagged them, some one put them on the rack, just so that when we walked in Monday they would be there for us to buy!  The Lord was working through others long before I realized there was a need so that my prayer would be answered!

Mat 6:25-34  Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?   Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.   Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. 

These verses tend to be a struggle for us, mostly the part that says, "take no thought..."  So it is good for us to consider how the Lord has taken care of us.  In the past couple weeks, the Lord has provide some students for me to teach, several computer jobs for Nick, a job helping a friend with some repairs that Nick got paid for, and a couple dresses for Bethany costing only $3!  Each one of those things are the testimony that the Lord is taking care of our daily needs!  

Several mornings each week we go to the park near our home to go running.  When we are there we usually see the same people.  One of those people is lady that that stops and talks to us occasionally.  Yesterday,.she stopped to talk to us and asked us if we like cucumbers.  Apparently, her husband enjoys gardening and was harvesting more cucumbers than they needed.  She told us that this morning she would bring us a bag of cucumbers.  After we finished talking to her I was ready to have a praise service!   Every year I plant cucumbers in my garden, and every year we get a good enough harvest to be able to put up cucumbers.  This year because it has been so dry and we are too cheap to water, I did not even get one cucumber.  What a huge blessing that a lady, that we only know because we see her at a park, has offered us cucumbers! 

The Lord has been so good to us, and He is providing for our daily needs.  That is just the encouragement we need to keep on in this journey of daily living by faith!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What to do when everything is going wrong.

I have been reading through the minor prophets which are full of a lot of destruction and also the great promise of redemption, and complete restoration of Israel.  As I was reading these verses jumped out at me-so to speak.

Hab 3:16  When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. 
Hab 3:17  Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 

By all accounts everything is falling apart!  The fig tree isn't blossoming, the vines are not producing, the olives are worthless, the fields are not producing anything, the animals are doing horribly.  To sum to up: things are awful!!  But even the midst of it all there is hope!

Hab 3:18  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 
Hab 3:19  The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. 

When life is falling apart at the seams we need to do what Habakkuk was doing-rejoicing in the Lord.  The Lord is our salvation and strength; and He will help us when life's troubles come our way!

Does our joy come from the things we have, or the things we do?  Without even a slight warning our world can turn completely upside down!  One day we are going about our regular routine, the next thing we know our house is destroyed in a fire!   If our joy is in those things-the joy has been destroyed.  If our hope and joy is in our Savior it doesn't matter what happens.  When anything and everything is going completely wrong we have an unchanging hope that can't be destroyed!  Let's make the Lord our joy and strength, and not rely on anything else-He will never fail us!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


My reading through the Bible has led me to Jonah, so time to do some study.

Jon 1:1-2  Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 

This story starts off with the Lord giving a command to Jonah.  It was very straight-forward and clear what Jonah was to do.

Jon 1:3  But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD

Jonah did not like what he was told to do.  So he decided to go to Tarshish, where he thought he would be able to get away from the Lord.  Jonah tells the Lord in chapter four the reason why he went to Tarshish.

Jon 4:2  And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. 

Jonah told the Lord the reason he fled was because he knew the character of the Lord.   He knew that the Lord was gracious, merciful, long-suffering, kind and that the Lord would not destroy Nineveh if they repented.  

Jon 1:4  But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. 

Jonah was not going to get out of doing what he was suppose to do so easily.  The Lord send a great storm.  The storm got the attention of the mariners, but it did not get the attention of Jonah.  In fact he was doing his very best to ignore the whole situation as he was found sleeping down in the boat.

Jon 1:8-10  Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?   And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.  Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. 

The mariners questioned Jonah to find out why the terrible storm was raging, and when they found out they were terrified.  

Jon 1:11-12  Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.  And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. 

The mariners want to know what to do to stop the storm; Jonah came up with a solution, but the mariners did not like the idea.  It is interesting to note that no where do we see Jonah praying, asking for forgiveness.   It almost seems like he doesn't care.  In chapter four, twice Jonah asks the Lord to let him die, perhaps Jonah here was thinking it would be better to die in the water than to have to preach in Nineveh.

Jon 1:14-17  Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee.   So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.   Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows. Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. 

The mariners beg the Lord to not punish them for throwing Jonah overboard, then they threw him into the sea.   The storm stopped when Jonah was thrown into the water, and the mariners feared the Lord because of His great power.  The Lord sent a great fish to swallow Jonah, and for three days Jonah had time to think about what he had done.  The Lord was using a time-out on Jonah!

Chapter 2 finds Jonah praying to the Lord, and the Lord commanded the fish to spit Jonah out.

Jon 3:1-3  And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,   Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.  So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. 

The Lord once again instructs Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to the people.  This time Jonah has learned his lesson and he obeys the Lord's instruction.

The Lord in this story has an interesting way of dealing with Jonah.  He gives Jonah the instructions and Jonah just directly disobeys.  The Lord then sends the storm to get Jonah's attention, but the mariners are paying better attention than Jonah.  Once Jonah is thrown overboard, the Lord has Jonah's undivided attention for three days.  The consequences for Jonah's actions were enough to get him to go to Nineveh.  The Lord did whatever it took to get Jonah to obey, and He used some rather unorthodox methods to accomplish his purpose. 

As parents, when our children disobey are there times that an unorthodox approach to getting the results we desire is necessary?  Are we willing to do whatever it takes to get our child's attention so that they will obey?  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A challenge from Joshua

This passage is Joshua giving his final words to the children of Israel before he died.

Jos 23:6-8  Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;  That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:   But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day. 

Joshua encourages the children of Israel to be courageous in keeping and doing all that was written in the book of the law.  He encouraged them to not turn to the left or the right, he told them that they should not mention the false gods of the other nations, take an oath by them, serve the false gods or bow down to them.  Joshua was very aware that the children of Israel frequently struggled with the sin of idol worship.  Instead of just telling them what not to do, he also told them what they should do.  He told them to cleave to the Lord!

Jos 23:9-11  For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.   One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.  Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God. 

Joshua then gives the people a reason to cleave to the Lord.  It wasn't just because "I said so;"  it was because the Lord had given the people great victories, and in the future He would give them great victories because the Lord was fighting them.  Then Joshua tells the people to take heed unto themselves to love the Lord.
Jos 23:12-13  Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:   Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. 

Joshua tells the people what would happen if they did not cleave to and love the Lord.  If they did not obey the Lord, the Lord would not drive the nations out of the land.  Instead those nations would cause many problems for the children of Israel.

Jos 23:14-16  And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.  Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.  When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you. 

Joshua tells the people that he is dying!  He reminds the people how the Lord had kept word.  If the Lord kept His word about the good things, then the Lord would keep His word about the bad things.  If the children of Israel did not obey the Lord then they would receive the consequences.

This story as many truths we can apply to our lives, then teach to our children.  Joshua told the people to keep and do the Lords commands, to cleave to the Lord and to love the Lord.  If we do those things we will not be cleaving to the things of the world.   Joshua, as he was instructing the people gave them reasons for cleaving and loving.  The reasons were because the Lord keep His word, and would continue to keep His word.   Are we teaching this lesson to our children?  Do our children see us loving and cleaving to the Lord?  To we given them reasons why we do those things or is it "because I said so"?  Our relationship with the Lord is so important because our children can tell if we are giving lip service to the Lord, or if we really have a relationship with the Lord. 

When I was younger, occasionally I would go over to my grandparents house to spend the night.  One of the things that I remember is devotions with my grandparents.  They would read a short devotional, some Scripture and then pray.  As I listened to my grandfather pray, I knew that he had a special relationship with the Lord.  That is the kind of relationship I want with the Lord!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Today, I decided to do a study of what the Bible has to say about fathers and our heavenly Father.

Luk 11:11-13  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?   Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?   If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? 

This passage is at the end of the familiar passage that talks about asking and receiving "ask and it shall be given you."  After Jesus finishes exhorting the disciples to pray, he gives an example they would have been familiar with, the example of a father and his child.  Jesus describes an earthly father that gives his child the things he daily needs.  Then the Lord compares the earthly father to our heavenly Father. If the earthly father can give good gifts so much more will our heavenly Father.

1Th 2:10-12  Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:   As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,  That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

These verses do not reference our Heavenly father, but they do discuss what an earthly father does.  He exhorts (encourages), comforts and charges (commands) his children.  

Heb 12:5-11  And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?   But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.   Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?   For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.   Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 

These verse discuss how God deals with his children compared with how an earthly father deals with his children.  As Christians we are to not to despise the chastening  (Correcting; afflicting for correction*) that the Lord gives us.  The Lord is shown as a loving Father that chasteneth and scourgeth (To afflict greatly; to harass, torment or injure.*) his children.  The encouragement is that if the Lord is chastening you then you are His child.  Then the comparison is made to our earthly father.    Our father corrected and chastened us for a small amount of time for his own pleasure, but our heavenly Father does it so that we could be more like Him.  That chastening is never pleasant, but it does result in righteousness. 

So what can we learn from these passages?  The Luke and Hebrews passages both compare our heavenly Father with an earthly father.  Both the earthly father and the heavenly Father give gifts to their children and chasten their children.  The I Thess. passage describes an earthly father that encourages, comforts, and commands his children.  So as parents do we have these characteristics?  Could we be described as giving, chastening, encouraging, comforting, commanding?  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An encouraging word

The first several verses of the book of Joshua show us the Lord encouraging Joshua in the task that was before him.

Jos 1:1-6  Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.  Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.  From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.  There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.   Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 

Joshua now had a tremendous responsibility.  He was to lead the people of Israel as they conquered the land of Canaan.  He did not have to do it alone though, the Lord promised to be with him all the days of his life.  The Lord promised Joshua with He would not fail him or forsake him.  The Lord then told Joshua to be strong and of a good courage, because the Lord was going to keep His word.

Jos 1:7-8  Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.  This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 

Then the Lord repeats himself; He again tells Joshua to be strong and very courageous. This time the Lord tells Joshua to obey all the commandments that Moses had given him.  Joshua was to mediate on the commandments day and night; the reason was so that he would be able to do the commandments.  If Joshua followed the commandments, then he would prosper in the task that he had been given.

Jos 1:9  Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. 

Once more we see the Lord repeating himself.  He tells Joshua to be strong and of a good courage and to not be afraid; the reason was because the Lord was with Joshua where ever he went.

This story brings to mind the phrase I heard often in my education classes in college, "Repetition is the key to learning."  The Lord as the master teacher, three times instructs Joshua to be strong and courageous.  To Joshua these words must have been a great encouragement considering the great task that he was facing.

How about us as parents?  The tasks our children face to us may seem rather small and insignificant, but to them it may seem as big a task as Joshua was facing.  Let's take the opportunity to encourage our children, but not just once, let's do it often!  We obviously cannot hold their hands and be with them every were that they go, but the Lord can.  Let's encourage them to trust the Lord to help them through those difficult tasks that they may be facing.  A simple word of encouragement to our children can go along way!

Pro 15:23  A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Let's study!

Deu 6:4-9  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:  And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.   And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. 

Here we see instructions for the children of Israel to teach their children about the Lord. We all know the verses, but do we apply them to our lives. The foundation of a Christian family should be the Jesus Christ.  In order for Christ to be the foundation we must study the book that is the foundation of our faith, the Bible!

This study from 2007 is very revealing, finding that the majority of those surveyed that claim to be Christian did not or rarely prayed, did not or rarely went to church, and did not read the Bible.

 In the group's survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they're "really more spiritual than religious." Among the 65% who call themselves Christian, "many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only," Rainer says. "Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith."
Key findings in the phone survey, conducted in August and released today:
•65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either.
•65% rarely or never attend worship services.
•67% don't read the Bible or sacred texts.
Many are unsure Jesus is the only path to heaven: Half say yes, half no.

What a sad commentary, but how many of those are parents attempting to raise their children in a "Christian" way.   I just did an search for "Christian Parenting;" the results I got included 5,324 items.  There is a plethora of choices out there claiming to be the "source" for Christian parents.  If the foundation of our families is Christ then why do we spend so much time reading everyone else's views on parenting completely forgetting the Bible as our source?  Are we like those surveyed that don't even read the Bible?  Do we daily get into the Bible and study it?  Do we spend more time studying parenting books, blogs, and forums than we do studying the Bible?   Do we use the manual of the Inspired Word of God for raising our children?  If the Bible is what we open only at church how can we even consider how we are raising our children to be "Christian?"  If we are having a problem with one of our children what do we do?  Do we pray seeking the Lord's guidance and study the Bible, or do we turn to our favorite parenting forum or parenting book?  
Php 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
 Do we consider that raising our children is included in the "all things" we can do through Christ?  Let's endeavor to be like the Christians at Berea.
Act 17:11  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 
Let's study the scriptures!  It is the perfect manual for everything in our lives, including raising our children.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Through the eyes of a child

If we were to rate creativity in our family I would end up on the very bottom as the least creative member of our family.  Hannah on the other hand would rank as probably the most creative.  One of her school assignments was to write the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath from the perspective of the widow's son.  This is Hannah's version of the story (edited only for spelling errors).

Last week when me and my mother were out getting sticks a man came and asked my mother if she could get him food and drink.  Mother spoke my mind (told him that there's only enough for my lunch.) My little eyes grew big when Mother went to make MY lunch for a STRANGER!  I went to look to see if there was anything left.  When I opened the barrel I got very confused.  I peeked out the door, sure enough the man was eating.  Then it hit me, then I knew, the man was great prophet Elijah!  I was very happy somehow I knew the Lord would supply our food for the rest of the famine.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A day to remember

In this story we see children of Israel crossing over Jordan on dry ground.

Jos 4:1-8  And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,  Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,  And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night. Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:  And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:   That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?  Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.   And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

 After all of the children of Israel passed through the Jordan river, the Lord commanded Joshua to have twelve men gather twelve stones from the center of the river and take them to the place there they were going to camp that night.

Jos 4:19-24  And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.  And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.   And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?   Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.   For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:  That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever. 
The stones were placed in Gilgal.  The purpose of the stones was so the next generation would have physical item to help them remember what the Lord had done for the children of Israel. 

Sometimes it is very important for us to have physical reminders of what the Lord has done for us.  Each of us probably can look back at a trial in our life that we can say that the Lord was with us and did great and mighty works.  The stones that the children of Israel set up were their physical reminder that the Lord had done great and mighty works when He brought them into Canaan.

In our home we have have a plaque.  It is not the prettiest plaque, but that plaque is a physical reminder to us of how the Lord worked greatly in our lives.  When we had our house fire that plaque was on the wall.  The plaque says "There ain't nothing gonna happen today that me and the Lord can't handle together."  It is definitely not good grammar, but it hung on the wall as a reminder that we needed the Lord's help.  In the fire, the plaque was damaged by the smoke.  We sent it to the cleaning company to see if they could clean it up.  Unfortunately, they were unable to remove the smoke damage.

Today, that plaque hangs on our wall, smoke damaged and all, for one simple reason-it is our physical reminder of the Lord's greatness.  In the days and week following the fire we saw time and time again the Lord take care of our every need.  At times, the struggle that we faced was completely and totally overwhelming, but the Lord was right there with us, helping in our time of need.  The house has been restored, the emotional wounds have healed, but I never want to forget what the Lord did for us.  When we go through more trials and struggles in our lives, that plaque is a reminder that the Lord saw us through that fiery trial, and He will see us through our current trials.  In essence that plaque is our pile of rocks!  When our kids ask why we have an ugly, smoke damaged plaque on the wall, we can tell them about how great the Lord is.

What about your family?  We all face our own versions of a fiery trial, when we reach the other side do we have something, maybe a physical objects that helps us remember what the Lord has done?  Even if we don't have a physical item, do we talk to our children about the times in our lives that we saw the Lord's mighty works? 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Early morning musings!

Deu 6:7  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

This morning I was up early running.  As I was enjoying the cool, beautiful morning I was pondering parenting.  The past couple stories have been almost discouraging.  Time and again the children of Israel sin, and over and over the Lord punishes the sin with death.  As I was mediating on that the verse that came to mind was Romans 3:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Sin deserves death nothing else, it doesn't deserve mercy or grace, it deserves death.  From the smallest lie to the mass murder it all deserves death.  That little sin, that is so cute when the 3 year old is doing it, is still sin: it deserves death.  It doesn't matter why the child is sinning, it doesn't matter how the child is sinning, it doesn't matter if the child was lead astray into the sin it is still when you boiling it down it is still SIN.  It is a very sobering fact, but we can't escape it!   When we understand that fact it helps to understand why the sin of Israel was punished with death.

Fortunately that verse doesn't end with that sobering fact, it continues telling us the wonderful gift that God has given us.  He gave us His son to pay the ultimate price for sin, so that we could have eternal life through Christ.

So what is our responsibility as parents?  Deuteronomy 6 is a great chapter about the responsibility of parents.

Deu 6:1-9  Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:  That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.   Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:   And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:   And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. 

The children of Israel have been given all the commands, all the statutes, all the judgments from God.  Now it was time to put them into practice.  We see that the fathers, theirs sons, and their grandsons, basically every generation was suppose to obey the commandments.  The words should be in their hearts and they should be taught diligently to their children.  When the family is sitting together, when they are traveling together, when they are lying down, when they are getting up.  For all practical purposes the commands of the Lord should be taught to their children all the time.  The teaching of the commandments of the Lord should be a constant endeavor.  The next couple verses tell us the why.

Deu 6:10-12  And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,   And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;   Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

The "why" is one simple reason: forgetfulness.  When things were going great, when the Lord was blessing, the children of Israel would have to be careful not to forget the Lord.

Deu 6:18  And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers,  To cast out all thine enemies from before thee, as the LORD hath spoken.   And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you.  Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand:   And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:   And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.  And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.   And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.

When the Lord was blessing the children of Israel and the sons asked about the commandments.   The fathers were to tell them about how the Lord delivered them from Egypt, how He did miraculous works, and brought them into the Promised Land.   They were suppose to teach their children that the Lord commanded them to do the statutes for their own good, so that the Lord would preserve them.

I can already hear the argument, we aren't under the law we are under grace so we don't have to follow the law.  Very true, so lets look at what the NT says about this topic.

Mat 28:18-20  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 

The disciples here are commanded by Christ to go into the world and teach all nations.  Notice they were commanded to teach them to do all the things that Christ had commanded.  So everything that Christ taught we are to teach others-including our children.  A great framework for teaching those commandments is found in Deut. 6.  The same way the children of Israel were instructed to teach their children, is a great way for us to teach our children.

Gal 3:21-26  Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.   But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.   But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.   But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians is a great book to read about our relationship to the law.  The law can not save us, teaching our children how to obey will not save them. However, the law does have a very important function: it brings us to Christ.  Parents, our role in teaching our children is extremely important.  As we teach them how to obey, as we teach them that the sin they commit has consequences we are teaching them the law.   That law is so vital, it is what brings us to Christ.   It is what causes us to realize that we are sinners, that no matter what we do we cannot measure up to God's standards and we need Christ's work on the cross to justify us.  Parents do you understand what an great responsibility we have been given as parents?  We have the opportunity to teach our children the law so that in essence we can bring them to Christ. 

Parents of  unsaved children have an essential task, teaching their child what is sin, to help them understand the seriousness of their actions.  If they do not teach them, who will?  

Do we really get it though?  Sin is serious, it deserves death!  We must teach our children that, we must teach our children that the sin they commit is serious and that it is a reason that Christ died on the cross.  Using distraction, redirecting, talking about why the child did what they did is NOT teaching them that what they have done is sin, in fact some of those techniques basically ignore the sin.  When our unsaved children sin, it is vital that we take that opportunity to teach them.  

Working in church with unsaved children from non-Christian homes, we often talk to kids that have no understanding of what sin is.  Even after explaining that things like disobeying your parents is sin, because the Lord tells us to obey our parents, the children often still don't understand.  If a child does not understand sin, then the child does not understand their need for a Savior.  Contrast that with a child from a home were the parents label sin as sin, and give consequences for that sin, the child more easily understands their sin and their need for a Savior.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Direct Disobedience

This story is another story of Israel sinning, it seems to be a very common theme!

Num 25:1-3  And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.   And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.   And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. 

Here we see the children of Israel involved in direct disobedience.  The Lord had commanded the children of Israel to have no other gods, to make no graven images of any other gods, and to worship no other gods (Ex 20:2-6).  Yet here we see the children of Israel doing exactly what they were not suppose to do!  They were eating and bowing down to Baalpeor, and they had joined themselves to this false god.  Understandably, the Lord was angry with the children of Israel.

Num 25:4-5  And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor. 

The Lord had a severe punishment for those that had disobeyed and followed after Baalpeor-the consequence was death.  The following verses tell us that a plague was sent by the Lord unto the children of Israel.

Num 25:6-9  And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.   And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;   And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.  And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.

This part of the story depicts a rather graphic scene.  One of the Israelites, flaunts his sin while others are at the tabernacle weeping, by bringing a Midianitish woman into the camp were everyone can see.  When Phinehas saw what was going on he got up and grabbed a javelin.   He followed the man into the tent and with the javelin killed both the Israelite and Midianite.  With the death of this man and woman the plague that was killing the children of Israel was stopped.  The death toll was staggering--24,000 Israelites died because of their sin. 

The Lord punished the children of Israel severely for their direct disobedience.  What about us?  Do we punish our children for their direct disobedience, or are we guilty of letting it slide?   In this instance, the Lord punished His people with no mercy, in fact the consequences ceased only when the sin was stopped by Phinehas.  The Bible does tell us that weeping was going on; in verse 6 we see the children of Israel in front of the tabernacle weeping!  It wasn't the weeping that stopped the punishment, it was the removal of sin. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Overflowing blessing

Sometimes in our lives it is so easy to get discouraged.  I was talking with some friends recently about how hard it is to trust the Lord when we start looking at what is going on.  We are often sort of like Peter when he was walking to Jesus on the water.  He was doing great until he started to look around at the storm that was raging all about him.  We know in our hearts that the Lord is going to take care of our needs, but the flesh starts to wonder how in the world he is going to be able to take care of us. 
I am so thankful that the Lord is patient with us when our faith falters, and just like when Peter called out "Lord, save me," we do the same thing.  Then the Lord, just like He did for Peter, reaches out and saves us from ourselves.
We were having a few moments of faltering faith last week.  Thankfully the Lord has shown us in the past week that He is more than completely capable of taking care of our every need.  He brought just the encouragement that we really needed to help us with our faith. 
Last week I was practicing piano I was playing the song "Tis so Sweet to Trust In Jesus."  As I was almost done playing, it hit me, I had been so concerned about how the Lord was going to take care of us, but I completely missed the point.  It is " sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take him at His word, just in simple faith to trust him, beneath the healing cleansing flood."   There is something truly amazing about how the Lord takes care of our needs.
There is a missionary family that our church supports is also friends with our family.  Their latest missionary letter that they sent the church stated that they already had 20% of the support that they needed!  That was a great encouragement to me, if the Lord can take care of them, surely He can take care of us!
Part of being a child is learning lessons that the parent teaches.  As a child of God, our Lord is trying to teach us different lessons.  The lessons the Lord is teaching me may be completely different from the lessons the Lord is trying to teach you, but we all need to be thankful we have a caring heavenly Father who is molding us to be more like Him.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fiery serpents in the wilderness

The children of Israel frequently managed to get themselves into trouble.  Here is another instance of the children of Israel sinning and the Lord punishing them for their sin.

Num 21:4  And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
Num 21:5  And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

First we see the sin.  The children became discouraged because of the difficult journey, so they began to complain.  They complained about being brought into the wilderness (it should be noted that the reason they were wandering around the wilderness at this point was because they had a lack of faith and would not go into the Promised land), they complained that there was no bread (even though the Lord was still daily providing manna), they complained that they didn't have any water, and they complained that they didn't like the manna.

Num 21:6  And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 

The Lord's response to their complaining was immediate consequences.  The serpents bit the people and many of the people died. 

Num 21:7  Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 

The people realized that they had sinned, and begged Moses to pray to the Lord to take away the serpents. 

Num 21:8  And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
Num 21:9  And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

The Lord did not grant the request of the people, but He did provide a way to live.   Moses made a serpent of brass, put it on a pole, and if a person looked at the serpent he would live. 
This story is pretty straight-forward.  We see the sin, the consequences, and then mercy from the Lord.  The sin that they committed in our eyes is often considered not that bad, but in the eyes of the Lord it was sin.  The consequences of sin is always death (Rom 3:23), and this is the consequence that the children of Israel receive for their sin.   The children of Israel were not even sorry for their sins until after they began to receive the consequences.  When they went to Moses and asked for mercy, the Lord did grant mercy, but the children of Israel did not have all the consequences taken away.  In order to avoid death the children of Israel individually had to obey and look at the serpent of brass.

So let's apply this to our lives.  Do we punish our children for complaining?  In the eyes of the Lord, complaining was a serious sin-worthy of severe punishment.  Is the reason that we don't punish our children for complaining because they see us complaining and they are just copying us?   Just because our children repent of their sin do we remove all consequences?  The Lord did remove the most severe of the consequences, but all the consequences were not removed, and in fact to avoid the most severe of the consequences, obedience was required!
This is a common response of the Lord.  When sin occurs, the Lord in His justice hands out the consequences, but in His mercy allows a way to reduce the severity of the consequence, but He never removes them totally.
Adam and Eve-the consequence was death, but mercy delayed it.
Miriam and Aaron-the consequence was leprosy and removal from the camp, but mercy allowed the leprosy to be taken away.
The children of Israel at Canaan-the consequence was that the Lord was ready to strike them all dead; but the mercy gave them 40 more years of life.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Water out of a rock

This story begins with children of Israel complaining about not have water to drink.  Moses handles the problem correctly by immediately going to the Lord and asking what he should do.
Num 20:7-10  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.   And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.  And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 

The Lord instructs Moses to take the rod, gather the people together, and speak to the rock.    Pretty simple instructions, that Moses should have easily been able to follow.

Num 20:11  And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. 

Unfortunately, Moses did not obey the instructions of the Lord.  Instead of speaking to the rock, he hit the rock twice with his rod.  The Lord did allow the water to come from the rock, but Moses and Aaron still had consequences for their disobedience.

Num 20:12  And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. 

Moses did not obey the Lord's instructions even though in the end the desired results were achieved.  The consequence for the sin was that Moses and Aaron would not be allowed to enter into the promised land.
Just because the children of Israel got the water that they needed; it did not mean that the Lord approved of the method that Moses used.  In fact the disobedience that occurred required a consequence.   The Lord told Moses and Aaron the reason that they were punished was because they did not believe the Lord.  They did not trust the Lord enough to follow the instructions that they had been given.

How can we apply how the Lord handles Moses and Aaron's sin to our parenting?  The Lord gave clear and simple instructions to Moses; do we give our children clear instructions?  When Moses disobeyed the Lord's instructions, he did not get away with it.  When our children disobey do we let them get away with it just because we got the desired results?   Do we expect full and total obedience?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The spies and the children of Israel

This story has applications for all of us, as well as applications about parenting our children like the Lord parents His children.

Num 13:27-33  And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.  The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.   And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.  But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.  And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.  And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

This story starts with the spies that Moses sent out into the land of Canaan returning with their report.  The report was not a good report.  It was a report that people of the land were so great that the children of Israel would not be successful in the conquering of the land.   Caleb's report was that they could go up and possess the land, but his report was overshadowed by the other's evil report.

Num 14:1-4  And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.   And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!   And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?   And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt. 

It is interesting how the children of Israel reacted.  First they spent the night crying, then they started to murmur against Moses and Aaron, and then they came up with a plan.  Their plan was to find a new leader and go back to Egypt!  They completely forgot that they were not the ones in control, the Lord was in control.  The people had a complete lack of faith in the Lord;  He wasn't involved anywhere in their thought process!

Num 14:5-10  Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.   And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:   And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.   If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.   Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.  But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.

Now we see the voices of reason.  Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb plead with the people to trust in the Lord, because He would give them the land.  They beg them not to rebel against the Lord, but the people didn't listen to them.  In fact they were ready to stone Moses and Aaron.  Then the Lord steps into the picture.

Num 14:11-12  And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?   I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.

The Lord was ready to destroy the people because of their sin. Fortunately for the people, Moses begged the Lord to pardon them (vs 13-19)

Num 14:19-24  Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.   And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.   Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;   Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:   But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

The Lord does pardon the people, but they still had to face the consequences for their actions.  The people would not be allowed to enter into the land of Canaan.

Num 14:28-35  Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.   But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.   But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.   After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.   I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. 

The Lord tells the people that they would be wandering in the wilderness for forty years.  They would all die in the wilderness, and their children would have to wander in the wilderness because of them.

Num 14:36-39  And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,  Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD.   But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.   And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly

The men that caused the people to sin were punished as well.  They died in a plague that the Lord brought on them.  Caleb and Joshua escaped the plague and the judgment because they had done what was right.

The people's sin deserved great consequences, the Lord was ready to destroy them!  The Lord in His mercy did not give them the death they deserved immediately, instead he condemned the people to wander in the wilderness until they all died.  The spies that caused the people to sin had their own judgment, they immediately lost their lives because of their sin.

Now the application.  First an application about trusting the Lord, then we will get to the parenting application.  The children of Israel faced a huge challenge and trusting the Lord wasn't even an option.  What about us?  When difficulties come our way to we cry, complain, then come up with our own plan that has nothing to do with what the Lord wants for us?  Living by faith means that no matter what challenges we face we trust the Lord that He will lead us through!

Now the parenting part.  We see the Lord punishing the people very severely for their sin, not as severely as it could have been, but still, wandering in the wilderness and not being able to enter Canaan was a rather severe consequence.   As parents are we leery about giving severe consequences?  The Lord also punished the spies more severely than the people because they had caused the people to sin.  If one of our children is causing others to sin, does that child receive a punishment greater that the others that were led into that sin?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Miriam and Aaron

Just diving right into this one today.

Num 12:1-3  And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.   (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) 

Miriam and Aaron sinned here because they complained against Moses.

Num 12:4-9  And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.  And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.  And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.  My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.  With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. 

The Lord heard the complaints that Miriam and Aaron had against Moses, and he quickly confronted them.  He called out to them, correcting them for speaking against Moses.

Num 12:10-15  And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.   And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.   Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb.   And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.  And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.   And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.

When the Lord was done talking to Miriam and Aaron, Miriam received the consequences for her sin.  She became a leper!  When Aaron saw what had happened to Miriam he immediately turned to Moses begging for forgiveness and for Miriam to be healed.  Moses cried out to the Lord pleading with Him to heal her.  The Lord decides to heal her, but she would have to be outside the camp for seven days.
This story shows us God swiftly dealing with the sin that Miriam and Aaron committed.  He first confronted them about their sin, then he handed out the consequences.  After the consequences have been given we see that the Lord has mercy on Miriam after Moses pleads for the Lord's mercy.

So how can this apply to our lives?  As I have been studying how the deals with His children it is interesting that He deals differently with each child.  Even in this story Miriam and Aaron are dealt with differently even though their sin seems to be the same.  Miriam is the one that receives the physical punishment for her sin.  Aaron did not receive a physical punishment, but he did receive a verbal reprimand. 
As we discipline our children do we discipline with a one size fits all philosophy, or do we consider the hearts of our children and tailor the discipline to their needs?