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

Lawn Chair Larry

On July 2nd, 1982, Larry Walter’s dream came true, as he did what some consider the dumbest and funniest thing ever done. You see, Larry dreamed of being a pilot, but because of his poor eyesight he was denied an opportunity to fly in the US Air Force. Then one day–20 years later–Larry wondered what would happen if he attached helium weather balloons to his lawn chair. Considering his idea a stroke of genius, Larry purchased 45 weather balloons and filled his lawn chair with all of the necessities: sandwiches, a CB radio, beer, and a pellet gun, just in case he needed to shoot a few balloons to lower himself to the ground.

The moment for launch had arrived. Without any further delay Larry’s friends untied the tether from the Jeep and lift off began. But something went wrong. After rising above his initial goal of 30 feet, Larry quickly rose to a height of 15,000 feet! Yes, you heard correctly….15,000 feet! As Larry floated over Los Angeles International airspace, several planes spotted something unusual and reported that “. . . some guy is up here with in a lawn chair with a gun in one hand and a beer in the other!”

Larry did finally get back to earth unharmed. He was invited on the Tonight Show and Late Night with Letterman; he tried his hand at motivational speaking and later worked as a security guard. And as funny as this story is, the ending is sad. At 44 years of age, Larry committed suicide.

It is important to follow our dreams. But it’s more important to follow dreams that are connected to a God who will make known unto us the path of life, in whose presence is fullness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).

Tiger Mom Parenting, Part 2

In our last Lamplighter Moment, I suggested that our readers read this article about Tiger Mom parenting. Certainly many of you found that this article is extreme. And though there are advocates of this intense style of parenting, I must say that this style of parenting is not for every child, and maybe not suitable for any.

So how do we know what type of parenting style is best for our children? First we must look at Scripture. In the well known Proverb on parenting we learn that we are to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

The root word for Train–cha^nak–means literally to narrow or restrict. [1] There may be a connection to the practice that occurred at birth when the midwife dipped her finger in crushed dates or grapes, massaging the pallet of a newborn. This massaging of the pallet would create a sucking reflex that would cause a restriction in the mouth that leads to swallowing, thus the word “train up.” To train up a child then carries the idea of cultivating a taste to develop an appetite.

Parents are responsible to stimulate, cultivate, and develop a child’s (the word for child–nair–covers the period from childhood to young adulthood) taste and appetite for their particular way (bent). But how do we know what their particular bent is and how do we help them develop a taste that highly motivates them? In our next Lamplighter Moment, we’ll look at a 17th century perspective that may just lend us some insight.

Tiger Mom Parenting

If you are a parent, you need to read this article. Especially interesting is the follow up response of the author’s 18 year old daughter, revealing a child’s perspective on this style of Tiger Mom parenting.

You haven’t heard of Tiger Mom Parenting? Well, before you press on the link, I need to give a word of caution. What you are about to read is not for the faint of heart. If you are concerned with your children’s esteem, you probably will not like this article. And as much as I speak and write on grace-full parenting, this Tiger Mom has something for every parenting to consider…read with caution.

Published in: on March 26, 2012 at 12:21 pm  Comments (1)  

The Amnon Principle

Boys need to be preparing for marriage as early as kindergarten! At an early age our boys must see themselves as the protectors of a damsel in distress. They should be encouraged to be the first to run and pick up a girl’s dropped books. They should make a special effort to open the door for ladies. Our boys need to go against the culture and see that girls are a special. A boy should be in prayer for the one who will someday be his wife, companion, and in many ways, his earthly completion.

Our boys must also learn that the first year of marriage needs to be different than all of the rest. God commanded that a young man who had taken a wife be not charged with any business, or go to war, but be free at home for one year, to bring happiness to his wife (Deut. 24). I believe that this passage is teaching that a young man should not take on anything extra during his first year of marriage. He should be financially secure. Since financial stress is one of the most damaging conflicts in a young marriage, our boys need to understand the importance of hard work and savings before they even consider marriage. Proverbs 24:27 teaches that we are to prepare our fields first and then build our house.

Lastly, it is crucial that our boys learn the Amnon principle. In I Samuel 13, Absalom’s sister Tamar was loved deeply by her step brother Amnon. His love for her was so great that he thought he could not live another day without her. Unfortunately, his lust was greater than his love and he lost both her and his life; and Tamar lost her purity and honor. Our boys need to understand that when they engage in a physical relationship prior to marriage, they actually damage–and may even destroy–any future relationship with the one they love.

Tasting the Miracles

When Jesus turned water into wine, there was more going on than meets the eye. A closer look at John 2 reveals that the clay pots that Jesus had the servants fill with water were not wine pots . . . they were water purification pots. These were the vessels where people washed their hands; the water would also have been used to wash one’s feet. Jesus not only turned water into wine; he redeemed ordinary water pots used for cleaning into vessels of joy and celebration.

We should also note that neither the bridegroom nor the master of the feast knew about the miracle. Only the servants experienced the miracle. The wedding party tasted the wine, but the servants tasted of the miracle.

This reminds me of what is happening here at Lamplighter. There are miracles happening . . . real miracles. I don’t know why God has chosen us to creatively infiltrate the world with His Word, now heard in 23 countries on nearly 1500 radio stations. But one thing I do know; while the world is tasting the truth from these creative productions, only the servants are experiencing the joy of the miracles behind the scenes–and He’s using ordinary vessels!

As I look at the events unfolding in our world, I have never been more convinced that the Lord’s return is imminent. I’ve never been more excited about the unprecedented opportunities to make an eternal difference. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I invite you to join me behind the scenes to experience the miracles. This is about much more than books, seminars, dramas, radio, and the Guild. Children are coming to Christ and adults are learning to endure adversity as God’s assignment for true transformation. Missionaries in Muslim countries are being encouraged, tribes in Uganda are sitting around the radio hearing the uniqueness of Christ’s law of love, children in Singapore are learning to speak English while at the same time learning that they need a Savior, women in India are finding hope as they’re rescued from despair, parents are learning that humility is the foundation for authority, and so much more . . . so much more!

My desire is to keep filling the pots with water and serving our best to the world so that they can learn about the one who is still turning ordinary pots into vessels of celebration. Would you prayerfully consider serving with us? How, you ask? Here are four ways you can be involved:
1. Introduce Lamplighter Ministries to your church leadership to see if they would make Lamplighter books and audios available for their congregation. Contact Roger@lamplighter.net.
2. Help us find corporate and individual sponsors to produce the next Lamplighter Theatre drama. Contact Beecher@lamplighter.net.
3. Provide a full or partial scholarship to enable a student who needs financial help to attend the Guild. Contact Beecher@lamplighter.net with questions.
4. Ask about becoming a Lamplighter representative at conferences, churches, schools, bookstores, and libraries. Contact Roger@lamplighter.net.

A Selfish Heart, Part 2

Do you have a selfish heart?

In Luke 15, the brother of the prodigal son goes through a trial that reveals the hidden sins of his heart. He thinks about the many years he had worked hard and never disobeyed. He essentially says, “You never gave me even a goat, but you kill the fattened calf for him!”

You see, a selfish heart distorts our view of others and exaggerates their offenses. The prodigal’s brother says, “‘But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!'” There’s the exaggeration. There is nothing in the scripture that suggests that the prodigal brother visited prostitutes.

Do you see how bitterness and anger take residence in our selfish hearts? Our ability to see others through God’s eyes is clouded, and reality becomes distorted. We become jealous and envious, and, like the older brother, we act out in anger. A pure heart sees God, and sees others through the filter of his forgiveness.

When we have a selfish heart we think the worst of people. When we have a pure heart, we see others the way God sees them. Are you struggling with anger? Unable to forgive? These issues are always a reflection of our relationship or lack of relationship with our heavenly Father.

It is time to get back on our knees and back in the Word. How? Read Psalm 51 and I think you will find that the answer begins with the simple prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Will They See Jesus?

I once discovered something interesting in the gospel of Mark. Mark chapter 7 says of Jesus, “. . . he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden.”

When I’ve been around a lot of people, there are times I would like to be hidden as well. Yet I think that Scripture is teaching more than Jesus getting away for some rest and relaxation. The focus is that Jesus could not be hidden. You see, when the presence of God is near you and in you, it should be impossible for people not to see Jesus.

A few years ago my daughter was on an evangelism team in the city. She asked one man if he knew Jesus as his Savior. His answer? “No, but do you know Joe?” My daughter asked him, “Joe who?” He then gave the name of my best friend, Joe Johnson, a man in whose life Jesus cannot be hidden. Can you imagine? I think he was closer to knowing Jesus than he realized.

So what will people see in our lives today? Will they see our compassion, our humility, our kindness, our gentleness, our forgiveness, our repentance, or our praise? Will they see Jesus?

Don’t Go to The Philistines!

“Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, ‘Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears.’ But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle, and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel…”

Because the Philistines possessed the knowledge of the new iron age technology, the Israelites were dependent upon Philistines to sharpen their farming tools. And not only was Israel subject to their enemies, they were also subject to their price gouging. Does this sound familiar? As gas prices rise, I think I understand how an ancient Israelite must have felt.

Thankfully Israel didn’t stay in this state of mediocrity and enslavement. They cried out to God for deliverance and God raised up Ehud the Benjamite, a left-handed man. Now if you know anything about Benjamin, you would know that they were right-handed. In fact the word Ben-jamin means “son of my right hand.” So then, how did he become left handed? According to Dr. Colin Smith, parents, tired of their young boys getting slaughtered in battle because the enemy knew that Benjamin boys were right-handed, began tying their young boy’s right hand behind their back…several hours daily! Soon after, the tribe of Benjamin became the most skillful and fiercest fighters in all of Israel.

It doesn’t take much to see that America is sinking quickly into dependence upon foreign nations. It’s time to do something about it. It’s time to put away the childish amusements of our day and start preparing our children to become statesmen, inventors, discoverers, philosophers, musicians, scientists, teachers, doctors, farmers, and deliverers. If you want to inspire your children to become creative and productive, read the true stories about the boys who grew up to change the world…the title is Boys of Grit Who Changed the World.

Shade Tree Parenting

I have heard it said that “great is the man who plants trees in whose shade he will never sit under.” This saying reminds me of parenting. It is a wise parent who is preparing for the future success of their children.

There is no better illustration of this kind of sacrificial nurturing than the example provided by King David.In I Chronicles 22 we are allowed to go behind the scenes and listen in on David’s interaction with his son Solomon. This is an important exchange between father and son; David is nearing the end of his life. Solomon may be thinking that he is about to receive a lecture about life, but instead he hears his father say:

“‘With great pains I have provided for the house of the LORD 100,000 talents of gold, a million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weighing, for there is so much of it; timber and stone, too, I have provided. To these you must add. You have an abundance of workmen: stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and all kinds of craftsmen without number, skilled in working gold, silver, bronze, and iron. Arise and work! The LORD be with you!’ David also commanded all the leaders of Israel to help Solomon his son . . .”

To put this in perspective, a talent weighs 75 pounds! That’s 75 million pounds of silver! Now that’s doing some serious saving! And what’s amazing is that David was saving it so that his son would be able to carry on the work of God. Now that’s a parenting perspective with an eternal purpose.

In 2nd Corinthians 12 we read “. . . for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”

This pattern for parenting was first demonstrated by our heavenly Father . . . “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

Blocked Vision, Part 4

In this last installment of Balaam’s Blocked Vision, I would like to suggest that Numbers chapters 22-24 does not present enough evidence to pass a guilty verdict upon Mr. Balaam. As a juror, I vote “NOT GUILTY!” He committed a few minor infractions, but nothing worthy of maligning him on the pages of Scripture for the next three thousand years. To think that the NT writers would accuse him as the cause of sexual perversion among God’s people! It’s simply inconceivable!

Right to the end, Mr. Balaam maintains that he will speak only the words that God gives him and will do nothing more (Numbers 14:13). But as soon as king Balak announces that all of the promises of financial rewards are now forfeited, Balaam devises an incredible master plan of deception. He appears squeaky clean on the outside, but you are about to see the true colors of the world’s best wolves in sheep’s clothing.

His plan is simple. Seeing the potential loss of his 401-K, he comes up with a master-mind plan. Since he can’t curse God’s people, he gives the king some inside information, with a future look into history. Moab will indeed be destroyed by Israel, but not right away. This inside information prompts the king to seize an opportunity. He will mix the multitude by enticing Israel with Moabite woman. In Numbers 25:1-2 we read: “. . . the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.” Balaam is a scoundrel and was in it for himself all along.

In Revelation 2:14 we read: “But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.”

The teaching of Balaam continues to be prevalent today. In many ways we have become a mixed multitude, as the practice of sexual immorality takes place before our very eyes–and even the eyes of our children! The enemy has seduced us and minimized that which was meant to be sacred to that which is now common. It is time to rise and break this unholy union with Hollywood. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit has to say . . . and He says it with one simple word–repent.