We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Every Fool Will Be Meddling

Recently, a well known speaker was canceled from speaking at an event. The issues surrounding the cancelation I am not sure of, nor do I wish to know. What is certain is that God ordains and assigns these situations for a reason . . . and the lessons to be learned are for those who are involved . . . not for the rest of us.

In Proverbs 26:17, Solomon writes, “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.” When I picture someone taking a passing dog by the ears I think of my son who owns a Mastiff for a pet. First of all, this dog doesn’t look like a dog; he looks more like a lion. Second, I have taken this dog for walks–or should I say this dog has taken me for walks! You get the picture. Whenever I see someone jogging in our direction, I see them taking a gentle detour around us. No one in his right mind would ever come up to this dog and start petting it and it would be inconceivable for someone to grab its ears; this would not be a very pretty picture.

In Proverbs 20:3, Solomon writes, “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” The simple fact is that some people just can’t mind their own business. Everyone likes to throw their line in where the fish seem to be gathering and many like to be a part of the latest gossip and conflict. If God wanted us to be a part of someone else’s problems, He would have placed us in the midst of them.

It’s time to learn that meddling always leads to further conflict and robs us of own spiritual forward motion. And for those who just can’t seem to stay away because meddling seems to be their second nature, try to picture the end result of grabbing the ears of a Mastiff!

Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 2:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Responsibility Above Relationship

Responsibility is a necessary part of life, and all children must learn to do their part. However, we parents sometimes give our children too much responsibility, and for the wrong reasons. Parents who have obsessive, controlling, perfectionist tendencies often use their children for their own selfish purposes.

When my children were growing up, I gave them assignment after assignment and responsibility after responsibility. At one point, we had twenty-two horses and seventy sheep, while I was a caretaker, and attending seminary full time. I thought I was giving my family an experience of a life-time. What I gave them was enough work for ten adults, all in the name of my little-house-on-the-prairie unrealistic dream. As the years went by, the tensions grew, as well as a wedge between me and my oldest son.

Not only was I placing my own life goals ahead of my family, but I was placing responsibility above relationship, which led to frustration. Giving our children assignments and chores is important, but tempering this work with mercy, love, and kindness is the higher responsibility.

The boundaries we set for our children must first be set for ourselves. When we live inside the boundaries of kindness, grace, and mercy, then we can expect our children to live inside our balanced expectations. I think Paul’s words in I Corinthians are a fitting description of God’s call for parents: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:27). Living within the boundaries that we set for ourselves will be a greater influence then harsh demands and scoldings.

Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 6:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Belt on the Wall…Compassion Standing By

Recently a mother wrote: “My nine-year-old son said something disrespectful to me, so I got out that belt and I started chasing him! He ran down to the basement, but as soon as I got down the stairs, I began to hesitate. I realized something: he was running from me.” If you’re about to discipline your children and they’re running from you, something’s wrong.

When dictatorial parents face resistant children, they often take their behavior as a personal offense. They fight fire with fire, verbally and emotionally beating that child into submission. Yes, discipline is important, but there is also a time for compassion and mercy. After all, that’s how God deals with us! Lamentations 3:22 teaches us, “Because of the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

So she put down the belt and continued to share that: “He was underneath the pool table, sitting there in a little ball. I ducked under the pool table and said, ‘You’re having a bad day, aren’t you? You know, I can understand what you’re going through. Can I pray for you?'” She prayed for her son and she told him, “I love you.” He crawled over to her, and putting his head on her shoulder, he hugged his mom. “You know what was really amazing? In that tense moment, we were underneath the pool table together, and he was hugging me, and he’s never run from me since, nor have I since chased him with a belt . . . I now pursue him with mercy . . . and it’s working.”

We must lead our children out of their rebellion, not push them farther in. We will make many mistakes as parents, but if we are going to err, let’s make sure that we err on the side of mercy.
If you haven’t read the book “Education of a Child” I would recommend reading it soon.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 6:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pool Table Mercy

Recently a mother wrote: “My nine-year-old son said something disrespectful to me, so I got out that belt and I started chasing him! He ran down to the basement, but as soon as I got down the stairs, I began to hesitate. I realized something: he was running from me.” If you’re about to discipline your children and they’re running from you, something’s wrong.

When a dictatorial parent faces a resistant child, they often take their behavior as a personal offense. They fight fire with fire, verbally and emotionally beating that child into submission. Yes, discipline is important, but there is also a time for compassion and mercy. After all, that’s how God deals with us! Lamentations 3:22 teaches us, “Because of the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

So she put down the belt and continued to share that: “He was underneath the pool table, sitting there in a little ball. I ducked under the pool table and said, ‘You’re having a bad day, aren’t you? You know, I can understand what you’re going through. Can I pray for you?'” She prayed for her son and she told him, “I love you.” He crawled over to her, and putting his head on her shoulder, he hugged his mom. “You know what was really amazing? In that tense moment, we were underneath the pool table together, and he was hugging me, and he’s never run from me since, nor have I since chased him with a belt . . . I now pursue him with mercy . . . and it’s working.”

We must lead our children out of their rebellion, not push them farther in. We will make many mistakes as parents, but if we are going to err, let’s make sure that we err on the side of mercy.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 2:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Discipline–The Price of Freedom

Two years ago I shared the following statement with my staff that was penned by author Elton Trueblood. “Acceptance of discipline is the price of freedom.” Yesterday, one of our staff said that it was that statement that motivated her to lose thirty pounds this past year. And you should see her! She has an air of confidence, has more energy, and is a key member of our Lamplighter staff.

You see, the pole vaulter is not free to experience the thrill of victory except as he disciplines himself rigorously day after day. Trueblood writes, “The freedom of the surgeon to use his knife or laser to cut away the bony structure, close to a tiny nerve without severing it, arises from discipline. I have shared this before, but the 8 weeks of intense discipline and training for my pilot’s license has given me the freedom to care for my mom though I live in another state . . . and to enjoy her chicken cutlets!

John Milton wrote, “There is not that thing in the world of more grave and urgent importance, throughout the whole of life of man, than is discipline.” Jesus said “the meek shall inherit the earth.” What does that have to do with discipline? The word meek in the Greek is praos, which is a word used for wild animals which had been trained and tamed to be able to work with men. Not weak or spiritless, but rather a channeled energy whose impulses have been directed into a focused service.

Discipline is the price of freedom . . . and there are no short cuts. It starts with a decision followed by a commitment of sacrifice and perseverance.

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 7:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Discipline–The Price of Freedom

Two years ago I shared the following statement with my staff that was penned by author Elton Trueblood. “Acceptance of discipline is the price of freedom.” Yesterday, one of our staff said that it was that statement that motivated her to lose thirty pounds this past year. And you should see her! She has an air of confidence, has more energy, and is a key member of our Lamplighter staff.

You see, the pole vaulter is not free to experience the thrill of victory except as he disciplines himself rigorously day after day. Trueblood writes, “The freedom of the surgeon to use his knife or laser to cut away the bony structure, close to a tiny nerve without severing it, arises from discipline. I have shared this before, but the 8 weeks of intense discipline and training for my pilot’s license has given me the freedom to care for my mom though I live in another state . . . and to enjoy her chicken cutlets!

John Milton wrote, “There is not that thing in the world of more grave and urgent importance, throughout the whole of life of man, than is discipline.” Jesus said “the meek shall inherit the earth.” What does that have to do with discipline? The word meek in the Greek is praos, which is a word used for wild animals which had been trained and tamed to be able to work with men. Not weak or spiritless, but rather a channeled energy whose impulses have been directed into a focused service.

Discipline is the price of freedom . . . and there are no short cuts. It starts with a decision followed by a commitment of sacrifice and perseverance.

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 6:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Discipline–The Price of Freedom

Two years ago I shared the following statement with my staff that was penned by author Elton Trueblood. “Acceptance of discipline is the price of freedom.” Yesterday, one of our staff said that it was that statement that motivated her to lose thirty pounds this past year. And you should see her! She has an air of confidence, has more energy, and is a key member of our Lamplighter staff.

You see, the pole vaulter is not free to experience the thrill of victory except as he disciplines himself rigorously day after day. Trueblood writes, “The freedom of the surgeon to use his knife or laser to cut away the bony structure, close to a tiny nerve without severing it, arises from discipline. I have shared this before, but the 8 weeks of intense discipline and training for my pilot’s license has given me the freedom to care for my mom though I live in another state . . . and to enjoy her chicken cutlets!

John Milton wrote, “There is not that thing in the world of more grave and urgent importance, throughout the whole of life of man, than is discipline.” Jesus said “the meek shall inherit the earth.” What does that have to do with discipline? The word meek in the Greek is praos, which is a word used for wild animals which had been trained and tamed to be able to work with men. Not weak or spiritless, but rather a channeled energy whose impulses have been directed into a focused service.

Discipline is the price of freedom . . . and there are no short cuts. It starts with a decision followed by a commitment of sacrifice and perseverance.

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jephthah’s Daughter

Do you remember Jephthah? He fought for Israel as a judge, as God’s deliverer. However, while he was an effective leader of the nation, he made some grave mistakes in his leadership at home. You see, Jephthah was a dictatorial parent. Before battling the Ammonites, Jephthah prayed in Judges 11, “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” What in the world does he think is going to come out of his house, the pet dog? Dictatorial parents often say things in an exaggerated way . . . “You’re grounded for two years!”

And that’s exactly what Jephthah does. He wants so badly to win that he’s willing to sacrifice whatever it takes–even his own family. Let’s look at the rest of the narrator’s comments: “Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet himwith tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the LORD,and I cannot take back my vow'” (Judges 11:34-35).

Do you hear what I heard? He’s blaming her for his stupidity and his rash vow. But his timing is perfect. Dictatorial parents and spouses are always blaming others for their own failures. Ultimately, they disregard the lives of those that God has placed in their care, and become fixated on the emotions of the moment. In the midst of life’s battles, we can trust in a God who demonstrated his love for us by allowing his own Son to die . . . otherwise, we will sacrifice our own children on the altar of selfish pursuits.

Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jephthah’s Daughter

Do you remember Jephthah? He fought for Israel as a judge, as God’s deliverer. However, while he was an effective leader of the nation, he made some grave mistakes in his leadership at home. You see, Jephthah was a dictatorial parent. Before battling the Ammonites, Jephthah prayed in Judges 11, “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” What in the world does he think is going to come out of his house, the pet dog? Dictatorial parents often say things in an exaggerated way . . . “You’re grounded for two years!”

And that’s exactly what Jephthah does. He wants so badly to win that he’s willing to sacrifice whatever it takes–even his own family. Let’s look at the rest of the narrator’s comments: “Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet himwith tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the LORD,and I cannot take back my vow'” (Judges 11:34-35).

Do you hear what I heard? He’s blaming her for his stupidity and his rash vow. But his timing is perfect. Dictatorial parents and spouses are always blaming others for their own failures. Ultimately, they disregard the lives of those that God has placed in their care, and become fixated on the emotions of the moment. In the midst of life’s battles, we can trust in a God who demonstrated his love for us by allowing his own Son to die . . . otherwise, we will sacrifice our own children on the altar of selfish pursuits.

Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 6:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Catcher in the Rye

Did you ever wonder who shot John Lennon, and why? His name is Mark David Chapman. It is said that he was raised in a verbally abusive home. While certainly not the only influence during these critically impressionable years, there was another influence that helped shape the thoughts and attitudes of this troubled young man.

After dropping out of school at fifteen and running away from home, Chapman turned to drugs. But before long, after listening to a traveling evangelist, Mark Chapman professed Jesus as his Savior. He began working at the YMCA and was thought to be a godly and committed young man who cared deeply for others.

But something from Chapman’s past had a grip on him–an influence that eventually led him down a dark path. It was not drugs, but a book, permeated with blasphemy, racial slurs, and a worldview promoting rebellion, apathy, unproductiveness, irresponsibility, lack of respect, vulgarity, atheism, and perpetual juvenile behavior. Written by J. D. Salinger, and perhaps one of the most dangerous books ever written, it sells over 2 ½ million copies every year and is still required reading in many schools! The title is Catcher in the Rye.

Neglecting to fill his mind with the thoughts and ways of God, Chapman left himself vulnerable to the book’s negative influence. It is reported that, after killing Lennon and waiting for his arrest, he continued to read the very book that had influenced him to commit murder. In an interview at Attica prison, Chapman said, “The reason I killed Lennon was to gain prominence, to promote the reading of The Catcher in the Rye . . . an extraordinary book which holds many answers.”

It is inconceivable that school boards and teachers continue to expose children to a book that is so reprehensible–the very book that, along with the film Taxi Driver, also motivated John Hinckley to shoot President Reagan.

Young people desperately need positive role models and absolute truth to inspire and direct them. Let us choose well the voices that will sway their hearts and minds. May we abhor evil and cling to that which is good, as we consider which influences will be instrumental in molding the thoughts and attitudes of our children.

Published in: on March 26, 2011 at 2:36 am  Leave a Comment