Are You A Man?

February 16, 2009 at 10:07 pm (Biblei-Octopi, Parents, Words (Not Mine)) (, , , , , )

Mark Driscoll: A Study of Man From Genesis 1, 2 & 3

(Link to Audio)

In this study is not only a better understanding of the fall of Adam, the historical and current implications of that fall, but also a clear call to Biblical Manhood.

Noteworthy are the expositions on the spiritual priesthood of every man/father, the call to responsibility to be a man both for the unmarried as well as the married and clear directives/consequences of not fulfilling the Biblical call to be a man as God intended (generically in the sense of the definition of man and very specifically in the sense of being a Biblical man).

I believe this message is critical for men of all ages, but also a good message for women as you understand very practically what a Biblical man should be.

This is a worth while investment of 45 minutes of your life.  Warning, this is not a sugar coated message – if you are not offended something is wrong with your listening mechanism.

Let me know what you think.

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“What Happens When You Don’t Go To Heaven?”

February 9, 2009 at 7:36 am (Biblei-Octopi, Parents) (, , , , , , )

So, tonight we are reading a passage in a “children’s” Bible – you’ve probably read one with your kids – condensed message that outlines a bible story without a whole lot of details. Tonight’s story was about some friends who brought a blind man to Jesus to be healed and through the passage I was discussing with my 6 year old daughter and 3 year old son how important it is to choose and be a good friends.

I don’t recall how, but the conversation progressed into believing about Jesus and somewhere in there my daughter asked, “So what happens when you don’t go to heaven?”

I should preface by saying that my wife and I have a strong commitment to the principles of 1) being available to discuss ANY topic with our children and 2) not glossing over the truth but working to help our kids understand truth to the best of their ability to comprehend. The topics of hell and sex are obviously some of the biggest challenges to these principles, but here we are in real time.

“Well, heaven is where Jesus is, where those who believe in Him get to live with Him forever. When you don’t believe in Jesus, you go to a place called hell, that is where Jesus is not and it is not a very nice place at all. Those that do not believe in Jesus have to go to hell, where they will not be with Jeuse, they will be with the devil.”

6 year old daughter: “What does the devil look like?” (Note, this is a 6 year old and the progression of questions are quite logical but also reveal an exposure to spiritual topics and a hunger for truth)

“Well, he probably is very beautiful to some degree as he was created by God and had a very important job but decided that he wanted to be like God. Since only God can be God and the devil had decided to do something other than what God had created him for he had to be sent out of heaven.”

6: “Isn’t the devil red?”

“No, that is an incorrect creation of people, similar to many of our religious images (talked about the wimpy images of Jesus).”

6: “Did great grandpa go to heaven?”

“I didn’t know great grandpa really well and only Jesus decides who goes to heaven. From what I understand of great grandpa I don’t think that Jesus was a priority for him, I don’t know that he believed in Jesus.”

6: “So then he didn’t go to heaven?”

“I don’t know for sure because I didn’t know him but it would depend on whether he believed in Jesus.”

I don’t remember just how she worded it, but she mentioned something about when we die we our eyes are closed so we can’t see in heaven. We talked about physical bodies and spiritual bodies, I turned to Philippians 3:20, 21 and we discussed that we will have perfected physical bodies. Since the word transform was in the text and my children are quite familiar with Transformers, I used that as a discussion point to talk about transformation through Christ.

Some nights we have good discussions. Some nights the discussions are brief. I think the important thing is that there is an open format for spiritual discussion and when times like these come along, there isn’t a fear of diving into difficult topics. Tonight was about 45 minutes of deep topics all centering around heaven, hell and death.

As my wife and I were reflecting on the conversation, we were discussing the natural consequences of our commitments and the deeper truth that was revealed by our 6 year old. We were enlightened to just how much of a hunger for truth our 6 year old daughter was displaying, just how logically she was processing the information (granted, 6 year old logic, but none the less logical) but also the reality that she is receiving information that is of a spiritual nature with or without us. If we do not create an open door for our children to discuss ANY topic they will find some other source to feed them information about those topics. If we are not honest with our children, they will not get the information that they yearn for as they search for truth and the trust they have in us as a conduit for truth will deteriorate over time.

If you didn’t catch that, let me sum it up: IF YOU AREN’T DISCUSSING (fill in blank) WITH YOUR CHILD, SOMEONE ELSE IS. If you aren’t discussing spiritual things or sexual things or any other thing with your child, then someone else will and they probably won’t be framing topic in the proper moral context.

———
A resource that has been pivotal in changing our mindset towards youth ministry and parenting has been “You Want To Pierce What?” by Walker Moore (available as a book and/or movie presentation). We were so blessed when we were working with youth to have attended a presentation at a SBC Youth Conference where Walker presented his ideas. What struck us was that you could tell Walker had put his time in understanding how not just to create a successful youth group but how to actually help youth develop into spiritually functioning adults.

Last I checked on Amazon there were 6 avaliable (92 cents plus shipping) – type in “You Want To Pierce What?”

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A Chain Letter for Christmas?

December 29, 2008 at 6:01 am (Inspirational, Parents, Seasonal, Words (Not Mine))

I received another chain-letter email, something I don’t normally read as 1) who knows if they are even true and 2) I think the, “Do this or Jesus will smite you” references are appauling. But for some reason this one caught my full attention. I’ve removed the chain-letter plea, even though this one is far better than most as it simply called for you to pray for four people.

What struck me about this story though is the resillience of the woman – life is a challenge and often throws circumstances at you that are ominous, you can either fold under pressure or make the best of your situation. The woman in the story isn’t a victim, she rolls up her sleeves and gets creative with her solutions. We need more of this spirit in individuals, corporations and even government.

The second thing that grabbed my attention is the reality that we all have opportunities to be that heart warming Christmas story. It is that time of year and while you may not have a sleigh that travels the world over in under 12 hours, a small act of kindness can be a big deal to someone in need.

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.
Their father was gone.

The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway
they would scramble to hide under their beds.

He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern
Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded
them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.

The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck.

The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money– fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up
residence in Indiana ? I wondered.

I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing
and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to
deliver on Christmas morning.

Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair. On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were
hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10!
I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie
filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones
that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop….

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Experiencing God’s Sovereignty First Hand

December 29, 2008 at 5:36 am (Inspirational, Parents, Words (Not Mine)) (, )

May 2008 – Article by a family friend who just suffered the loss of their 3 1/2 yr old son

Beauty Instead of Ashes (as posted on lifewithoutlimbs.org)

A mother and her young daughter attended one of Nick’s recent meetings in Ventura at Bible Fellowship Church. Only six weeks prior, her 3-year-old son had choked to death. Still living in a fog of grief, she attended the meeting at the urging of her daughter. After hearing Nick share from his heart about how he prayed for a miracle for himself, but came to realize God was making him into a miracle for others, she was deeply moved.

She told Nick that she could hang on to that hope. Also, while attending the meeting, her young daughter, asked Jesus into her heart. She wrote a letter telling how God had begun to turn the worst day of her life into something that God could use to comfort and help others. To read her story, please go to the Stories section of our website.

In Isaiah 61, it tells how God turns ashes into beauty and mouring into praise. It declares His ability to turn a spirit of despair into a garment of praise. Only God can do that! Praise His glorious name! (May 28, 2008)

Experiencing Gods Sovereignty First Hand
(Amber’s Letter) Six weeks ago today the worst thing I have ever experienced happened to my family. My 3 1/2 year old son choked to death. My husband and I performed CPR on him as his little life slipped away on our living room floor as our 6 year old daughter watched and prayed for God not to let her little brother die. In a matter of minutes my world was ripped apart.

As I followed the ambulance with my husband and son in it, my daughter and I sang Our God is an Awesome God and prayed the Lord’s Prayer. I just knew God would hear our cry and everything would be O.K. I remember my daughter saying “mommy is Caleb going to die”? I wanted to say No baby God will make him be o.k. But I quickly realized that I did not know only God knew. And I told her I don’t know but whatever happens it is Gods will.

When we arrived at the hospital my pastor and his wife were there (I had called the church to let them know what had happened and to please pray. The church office assistant answered and began the prayer chain) my pastor’s wife took my daughter to take care and comfort her. My pastor stood by my husband’s side as they worked on my son. As I stood there in a fog everything around me seemed make believe like I was in a bubble or a dream.

A hospital staff person got my attention. She wanted me to provide some insurance info. I could not think straight but somehow was able to provide what was needed. We have another daughter that is a teenager who was at work I called a Close family friend to pick her up from work and bring her to the hospital. The Drs. continued to work on my son allowing me to be by his side I spoke to him prayed and sang. At some point I ask if I could try and the Dr. said yes. They let me do CPR on my son. As I counted and did
compressions someone else breathed for him using a hand held breathing apparatus. I soon realized that my son was no longer with us. As he lay lifeless on the table with tubes coming out of his mouth, as a mother I knew!

My husband and pastor watched as I did this. I remember a Dr. asking if we wanted to call it I had seen enough DR. shows on TV to know what that meant I asked if they could wait until my daughter arrived. By this time I was holding my son I don’t know how much time had gone by. I held him wrapping him up in his blanket that I had brought from home. I rocked him and sang to him. (Zacheus and, Jesus loves me) I always sang to him to make him feel better.

I soon heard the cries of my older daughter. My husband met her as she arrived. As I heard her cry my heart ached even more. I don’t remember exactly when but the Dr. spoke briefly to my husband and I and we agreed to “call it” the time was almost 2:30 and the worst day of my life had began somewhere around 1 ish an hour and a half had gone by and our lives were changed forever. Our friends took the girls home and my husband and I stayed along with our pastor and his wife.

We had to wait for the coroner to come and do their formalities. Hospital staff came in and out as we sat. Finally we were done and it was time to leave. We left the hospital empty hearted and empty handed, the same place where my son was born 3 1/2 years ago. My husband and I sat in the parking lot for a while numb and broken hearted. I felt sick to my stomach and empty all at the same time.

When we returned home the house was quiet and empty. I called our friends to let them know we were home and that they could bring the girls home. The girls arrived home we hugged them. That evening our church was having a service with a guest singer who my six year old loves. She asked if we were still going to go. After a bit of conversation we decided that I would go and take the girls. When I arrived at church I felt peace in my darkest hour.

We had just been at church that morning and my sons was singing during praise and worship and running up and down the isle’s after the service. While at the evening service my six year old was asked to come up on the stage with the singer. The singer asked her what she wanted to sing and she said “Jesus loves me”. I have never seen such courage and grace my little six year old who had just gone through a horrible ordeal sang her heart out for the Lord. Shortly after she sang she said “mommy I want to go home” so we did.

My husband and I put the girls to bed in our bed they fell asleep as we watched over them. My husband and I did not sleep that night. That night was the longest night of my life. Little did I know that the days and weeks to come would be the same. The next morning we began calling family members and planning to make arrangements. Our pastor was by our side from start to finish. Our church family was also right there along with our families and close friends. I have never felt so alone in the midst of so many people.

All arrangements were made and completed. We had the most glorious home going celebration for my son I could ever image there were over 250 people who attended. You would have thought he was royalty. (He was Part of Gods royal family). As we strive to resume our lives and get back to the “New Normal” If it were not for our faith in the Lord I would not be here today to function or to share my story.

My husband asked “What is God trying to teach us?” and I replied instantly God is not trying to teach us anything he is using us. I don’t know exactly how or why I just know. My girls are back into a routine eating, sleeping, happy smiling and laughing again. My husband and I are back at work, sleeping and eating as well.

Although we miss him terribly, we have the peace of God that truly passes all of understanding and all of our memories of our son Caleb Joshua Williams (There is meaning in a name) our son made it to the promise land! Last night after a full day of activities my six year old daughter who is now seven saw the sign for Life Without Limbs she said Mommy I want to see the man with no arms and no legs. So I took her. And while there Nicks message confirmed that God uses his people to reach others. Like Nick my family and I are someone else’s miracle. Thank you for letting me share my story.

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Why Can’t We Be Friends?

December 19, 2008 at 5:56 am (Parents) (, , )

Pinnochios Bad Friends

Pinnochio's Bad Friends

The prayer of every parent should be that their children will choose good friends. I believe that a significant part of this is due to self-confidence, which we as parents play a role in the development of. A child who isn’t self confident will be more likely to select the friends who select them or whomever is available (regardless of their quality).

There are obviously several factors that go into this development, but I think some of the items I have noticed are:

1) Discipline: While I have strong convictions about means of discipline, I believe that the most basic and essential is consistency. If you are not consistent in your approach to discipline then there is confusion and frustration with boundaries and consequences. A child’s ability to do right and please his parents hinge on their ability to comprehend and comply with the rules. If you are skilfull and consistent in your discipline then you help your children to develop a clear understanding of right/wrong, consequences, moral processing and satisfaction in doing right.

2) Self-Sufficiency: As a child matures in their ability to process and internalize making right choices then you as a parent begin to expand the boundary in which they are enabled to take increased personal responsibility for their own decisions. As a parent, the goal is to bring your children to a point where they are equipped to sustain themselves and make their own decisions (be a functioning adult). Clear foundations for right/wrong, consistent discipline and positive reinforcement allow a child to build within themselves a confidence for doing right.

There is a third thing, which is the basis for my writing this blurb, which recently grabbed my attention. My wife and I had been discussing how to address a developing acquaintance with a family that had a parenting outlook that was opposite to ours, especially in regards to discipline. The child was very unruly, disrespectful and arguably dangerous in his disregard for others. (In case you do not know me, I am a strong believer in the difference between boys and girls, I believe boys are appropriately different from girls and must be allowed to operate as such.) We came to realize that there is a dangerous line in allowing our kids to be around these kinds of children. If you expose your children to persons and other children, on a regular basis – as “friends”, who very obviously do not abide by the principles that you affirm then you are creating confusion. By inviting people into your life that are not of the quality that you esteem, you are creating an example in your actions that persons of lesser character can be our friends. By example you are doing the very thing that you will try to steer your children away from when they are older.

I realize in printing this some might filter this as a form of elitism, perhaps it is, but the weight of this decision is not based upon class or race or the like, the decision is based upon moral factors. Again, we are trying to teach our children that those who are going to be our friends should be of good moral character, persons who will encourage us to do the right things and people that will fight along beside us. Our friends, those whom we let closer to us than others, those we trust more than others, those who will have a more direct and personal access in our lives must be persons who will contribute value into our relationships. Isn’t this the definition of friend, a relationship of mutual and positive benefit?

In closing, I believe that some of the most important influences in my life have been my friends. I have been incredibly blessed to have the friends that I do. As a parent now I desire to instill in my children a friendship sensor that places a high value on quality relationships and recently I was confronted with just how easily we might be sending our children a small but contradictory message towards that pursuit. Something to consider

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Another Christmas Chain

December 18, 2008 at 5:44 pm (Inspirational, Parents, Seasonal, Words (Not Mine)) (, , , , , )

I received another chain-letter email, something I don’t normally read as 1) who knows if they are even true and 2) I think the, “Do this or Jesus will smite you” references are appauling. But for some reason this one caught my full attention. I’ve removed the chain-letter plea, even though this one is far better than most as it simply called for you to pray for four people.

What struck me about this story though is the resillience of the woman – life is a challenge and often throws circumstances at you that are ominous, you can either fold under pressure or make the best of your situation. The woman in the story isn’t a victim, she rolls up her sleeves and gets creative with her solutions. We need more of this spirit in individuals, corporations and even government.

The second thing that grabbed my attention is the reality that we all have opportunities to be that heart warming Christmas story. It is that time of year and while you may not have a sleigh that travels the world over in under 12 hours, a small act of kindness can be a big deal to someone in need.

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.
Their father was gone.

The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway
they would scramble to hide under their beds.

He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern
Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded
them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.

The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck.

The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money– fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up
residence in Indiana ? I wondered.

I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing
and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to
deliver on Christmas morning.

Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair. On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were
hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10!
I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie
filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones
that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop….

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The Waves…

August 31, 2007 at 8:30 am (Biblei-Octopi, Parents) (, , , )

I was reading Abbie’s Princess Bible (thank you Eydie) and we came to a passage discussing the disciples confrontation with the storm.  As you will remember, disciples and Jesus are on the boat, storm brews and slams the boat.  The disciples are freaking out while Jesus is napping.  They finally wake Jesus up and inform him about their impending doom.  Jesus calmly commands the waves and…their is peace.

Princess Bible pointed out that no matter what may happen in life, Jesus has the same control over all situations.  I thought this was a little odd for a devotional aimed at preschool girls, but it was a great point.  It’s so true, we run around like the world is collapsing and where is Jesus?  Probably napping!

I know, he never sleeps…but the truth that Christ can speak a word and the world comes into existence, demons leave a man troubled by legions, a girl gets up from her death bed and the waves stop (just to name a few).  We’ve recently embarked upon a few intimidating paths and it was good to be reminded of the power of Christ.

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