Children, Marriage

The Most Important Need of a Child

Parents spend a lifetime caring for their children, from midnight feedings and diaper changes to teaching them to drive a car. Parenting is more than a full-time job and one that never really ends. Even when your children are grown and married, parents never stop influencing or being available to help and serve. I always loved parenting, the good and the not so enjoyable seasons. We never had the “terrible twos.” We decided to have the “terrific twos.” We never expected rebellious teenage years or a time of “sowing wild oats” as some teach. Children are the natural outcome of God’s design for marriage. Watching my grandson chase bubbles or find Easter eggs now brings back a flood of fond parenting memories. To have the privilege of parenting is simply a joy and a gift from our heavenly Father.IMG_0803

Mary and I discovered the most important key in raising children and it wasn’t a new video game, bicycle, larger home, extra allowance or more stuff. We discovered along the path of child rearing the greatest need of a child. We discovered the way in which a child is most secure, happy, and well-adjusted. Was it discipline? Was it maintaining appropriate boundaries? Was it providing for them? Was it loving them? Yes, a thousand times “yes” to each and every one of these most important areas. But, even more importantly, it was when my wife and I made the time to pray for them and then taught them to pray. It was training them to look to Someone outside themselves and their parents. It was training them to depend upon the Source of life, of esteem, of security, of provision, of love and of salvation. He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. (Proverbs 14:26)

Encouragement, Leadership, Small Groups, Training, Uncategorized

Accountability? We have no Idea

United Airlines was flying me from Chicago to Harrisburg, PA a few weeks ago when I struck up a conversation with the “kid” seated beside me. I found that he was pretty special. He can shoot a gun extremely accurately. I suppose a lot of people can do that, but this 20-year-old has been on the USA Olympic Team since he was 17. He shoots for the International Shooting Sport Federation and gets to participate in his passion all over the world. He told me, “I’m not getting rich but I sure am enjoying what I’m doing in my life right now.” He let me know that there’s only one draw back: accountability. Now that intrigued me as a leader. “Accountability, what ever do you mean?” I asked. He went on to describe accountability like I have never heard of before.

imagesHe responded, “I have to provide every detail of my life and fill out form after form electronically.” “Like what for instance?” I asked. “Well, where I am at; what I am doing; where I am going; what I am eating; my health; my practice schedule; any medication I am taking; how much I’m sleeping; basically, my whole life is an open book,” he revealed. I asked him who required such a rigorous report and he told me the international Olympic federation. “Now that’s some intrusive accountability,” I said in agreement. It caused me to think about my level of accountability to those who oversee me and to my wife. It, as well, provoked some thoughts about how accountable I am to my Lord like, “So, how accountable am I, or even better, how accountable am I willing to be?” Check out these verses from the New Living Translation:

Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit. (Hebrews 4:13; 13:17)

Encouragement, Leadership

When God Speaks, Don’t Laugh

It is recorded in scripture that Abraham and Sarah were barren. Even though God told Abraham his offspring would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore, they were now well past child-bearing age. Abraham was 99 years old when the Lord told him that his wife would become pregnant. His reaction? First Abraham fell over, then he laughed to himself and then he questioned God by asking, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?” His second question was, “Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” I am pretty sure that I would have had the same questions along with the out loud laughter piece once I picked myself up off the floor.

pregnant20old20lady20elderly20woman20having20babyNot only was God creating outside of Abraham’s belief system, He was operating outside of natural/biological laws. As Abraham and his elderly bride are still in shock, three unexpected visitors show up in their front yard. Sarah, inside the tent, found herself listening intently to the conversation taking place outside the tent. What she hears is, well… shocking to her and as the news of her impending pregnancy is revealed, she laughs to herself. Sarah’s silent question is, “Will I really have a child now that I am old?” Or, perhaps more believable, her internal questioning went something like this, “Me? Pregnant” Are you kidding?” The Lord heard her laugh and then spoke something beyond their theology, beyond their life experience and beyond their personal comprehension and faith. It was a question, but not really a question. It was that God is about to rock your world to the core statement: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 17/18)

I am not sure what you’re dealing with today, but one thing I am sure of: nothing is too difficult for your God and that’s not a laughing matter.

Encouragement, Small Groups, Training

Matching Our Theology with Our Experience II

Last week we asked the question, “Do we match our theology to our life experience or do we match our life experience to our theology?“ Perhaps the answer is neither. If our theology is limited by our experience, we could literally leave God out of the equation. In other words, could not God do something for which we have no theology? Obviously the answer is yes. As pointed out last week, we have alternative options if we live by the belief that our experience must match our theology especially when our experiences disappoint us. For example, I am told from outside my body my blood looks blue in color due to visually observing blue veins. But, my blood in my body or outside my body is red and only red because hemoglobin is mainly made up of red blood cells and their literal color is red. If what I see or experience is the totality of what I believe, I will be missing a whole element of who God is and what He does. By this, I actually place God within my human framework, making Him just another human being. If I live by theology only and discount experiences, then I will never get to know the-outside-of-the-human-experience God and

All of those heroes mentioned in Hebrews eleven acted by faith and yet did not see what God had promised (11:13). Further, the scriptures reveal that we live by faith; with a spirit of faith we believe and then speak; we fix our eyes on the unseen and, faith is hoping for what is going to happen even though we do not see it. Then we find this key in Hebrews two: “We do this (putting on faith and taking off that which slows or hinders faith) by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.” (12:2 NLT) Faith never quits, never gives up and never gives in. Faith does not need experience to be reality. Faith is not hindered by theology because theology never saved or healed anyone. Faith keeps our eyes on Jesus from “start to finish.“ And faith is only found in the experience of encountering Jesus, the One who loves to confound the wise and, at times, act outside of our theology.