Challenge, Children, Issues of the Day, Parents, Training

Rebellion in Our Hearts

Rebellion in our hearts or in the heart of a young person is never attractive. It is born out of resistance. And while there may be good causes for acts of resistance, a rebellious heart is often closed to change, closed to reason and closed to correction. (See Proverbs 13:1, 18; 15:10.) 

Rebellion has a main ingredient that travels with it: pride. A pride-filled heart will lead us into rebellion, because at its core it is the act of defending ourselves, our thoughts and our actions, be they right or wrong.

Having been a rebellious teenager and having a rebellious teenager does not make one an expert, but it does afford certain observations. (See Proverbs 17:25.) If we are astute enough to recognize our own heart or the heart of a child, rebellion can be addressed. 

Consider these four causes of rebellion:

  1. When rules and regulations are strictly enforced through a spirit of legalism, often rebellion is an end result. Love is absent in these types of relationships or at the least, not spoken and/or not felt.
  2. Rebellion can be an attempt to separate through resistance from family members like parents, siblings or bosses.
  3. When one engages and relates with other rebellious persons, the influence will be difficult to overcome. It will force an alignment with the group’s rebellious words and actions.
  4. Wanting all authority to lead one’s own life without the ability to take on all responsibility will foster rebellion. Often teenagers desire all authority to make their own decisions but since they cannot take all responsibility, that authority cannot and should not be fully given.

Since Genesis chapter three, rebellion is found in the human heart and detected even at very early ages. It was mankind’s desire to do it his way. We were created to live in the perfection of a Genesis one and two world by God, but when we chose to rebel we found ourselves in a fallen, Genesis three, sin-filled world.

It was God’s heart to place mankind in a perfect garden, a perfect world with perfect relationship and by Genesis chapter three, God giving us choice, we chose to disobey. That disobedience caused a separation from our Creator and now thousands of years later we still suffer the consequences of wanting our own way, outside of God’s way. (See Proverbs 21:30.)

If we are rebelling against God or His written word, we are emphatically saying our way is a better way or, we think we know better than God knows. Those thoughts reek of pride. (See Proverbs 18:12.) We are saying to God, “I want all authority over my life.” And here is the strange thing about that: God will let you have it. There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).

And you will be one miserable human being, quickly coming to the end of yourself. That’s the thing about rebellion: it is building a wall of separation, a wall that closes oneself off to input and a wall that stunts personal growth. It’s your wall, you’re in charge of it and you’re in control. It’s dangerous and it will become disastrous. (See Proverbs 16:25.)

If we sense any rebellion in our heart, we need to give up. Surrender. Leave selfish desires. Leave selfish ambitions and give our thoughts and actions to God, asking Him to shape our heart toward His. 

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, History, Issues of the Day

Two Days Until Christmas

Brief thoughts leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth and a Christmas carol, Drummer Boy.

Drummer boys. Were they there playing a drum solo for Mary and the baby that night? Doubtful, but drums are still my favorite instrument and I’d love to have played for Him.

A new born King to see

Pa rum pum pum pum, 

Our finest gifts we bring…

What gifts do you bring? Gold prices are up; that’s a great gift. Diamonds are still pretty meaningful and pricey. 

But those are not the gifts He’s looking for. He was sent to earth to dwell in you. Bring Him your best gift: you.

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, History, Issues of the Day

Three Days Until Christmas

Brief thoughts leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth and a Christmas carol.

He was there, creating. The first book of the Bible, the first chapter reveals, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” 

Imagine then a seed would fall from heaven and be planted in a young teenage girl’s womb not yet given in marriage–an incarnate One. 

Imagine the One who made the mountains and the oceans, the sky and the multiple variations of life on the earth would come and dwell on that earth in human form.

Imagine this One as a child growing up like you and me, learning a trade from his earthly father. 

Imagine the bewilderment of those around Him marveling at His intellect and uncanny wisdom. 

Imagine His baptism and those affirming words spoken from heaven before His ministry would begin, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am pleased.” 

Imagine this One healing the leper or the blind man who then went leaping with joy.

Imagine His deep anguish in the garden, His stripes received on the whipping post, His body thrown on a splinter-filled wooden cross with His flesh torn to the bone. 

Imagine the joy of His resurrection!

Imagine that, “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Colossians 2: 10, 11)

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Children, Encouragement, History, Just for fun

Four Days Until Christmas

Brief thoughts leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth and a special Christmas song for you.

“A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!” It was a Holy Night just as Isaiah the prophet prophesied 900 years earlier: “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7)

There is no peace greater than the peace of Christ in the heart of man. There is no greater government, no other Son given, no better counselor and certainly nothing close to everlasting life without Him.

He is The Prince of Peace for every need you face this Christmas. Call on His Name. Nothing and no one comes close to His love, His acceptance, His approval and His security.

O Holy Night

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, Just for fun

Finding a Camera with Sixty-Year-Old Film in It

While my wife was cleaning out our attic, among tha many boxes (some that were not opened since moving from our first apratment) she came across an old Kodak camera that was mine when I was a young child. Fiddling around with it, I opened the film compartment and discovered a roll of finished film still in place. It had been waiting to be developed for 60 years!

At first I thought I would throw it away knowing it had been exposed to extreme cold and heat in our attic. But then my curiosity got the best of me and my wife and I decided to take it to the local drug store who told us they could in fact develop the film. 

Two weeks later and $18.00 less in my checking account, exactly eight pictures survived. Can you believe it? I was astounded.

They were black and white. There were several pictures of my Collie dog, Lady, and an unnamed cat. There was a picture of my mother on the phone located in our kitchen. It was an old-style black phone connected to a “party line.” (Meaning multiple parties were on the same phone line and if one party was talking you could not use your phone to make your call until they hung up.) 

There was a picture of my neighbor who was younger than me. And there was a picture of our camper trailer parked in a campground somewhere in Pennsylvania. 

I began to think about finding that film and what has transpired since those photos were taken by me as a very young boy. I thought about:

-All of the time that has transpired since those pictures were taken (six decades) and where life has taken me.

-How my heavenly Father has protected me, walked with me, blessed me and provided for me.

-How He has worked in my family since I received my Savior at age 17.

But, my most profound thought from this unusual find was regardless of age, time and life passing by, what has been hidden has a way of surfacing eventually and it will be exposed.

Jesus said, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight.” (Luke 12:2,3)

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, History, Identity, In the news, Issues of the Day

We Do Love Independence!

I was thinking about independence and how much we love this word and all it represents. We can move to become independent rather quickly. After all, isn’t that what we spent 18 years training our children to become? Then one day they attempt to be independent of us and we want to hold them back because we don’t like their attitude or some such thing.

I can still remember my teenage boys pushing to become independent of their mother. They actually practiced not listening to her or at the very least looking like they were not listening as she followed behind them telling them what she thought they ought do. 

There is something inside of us that speaks to not desiring to be told what to do because that’s not independence. It feels like hovering or maybe even smothering to us. So we say to our wives, “Yes, yes, yes, I hear you.” Or to our husbands, “Are you listening to me?” Or to our wives, “I’m serious when I say this.” Or to our husbands, “You must be joking.” We’ve been longing for independence since Genesis chapter three. Our fallen nature thinks we can do it; we can be self-dependent, not needing others. 

But the actual truth is every day we need others. We need our mechanic to fix our car. We need our boss to keep us employed. We need our church family to help us lead. We need our spouse to look out for us and to help us find things we’ve lost. Daily, we need others.

But more than anything or anyone, we need God. We are wholly dependent upon the Spirit of God to lead us, cover us, answer our prayers and speak God’s direction to us. We are never really independent of others. We certainly do not want to be independent of God. So let’s truthfully acknowledge our need for Him and of those He has placed in our lives. 

I saw this “need” pictured in a scripture I read the other day. “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother (Philemon), have refreshed the hearts of the saints…that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.” Philemon 7, 20b

Be refreshed this Independence Day and bring refreshment to others by loving them!

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Challenge, Children, In the news, Issues of the Day, Men, Parents, Women

A Goliath Has Fallen Friday, June 24, 2022

The Philistines had Goliath and the Israelites had David. Goliath, I Samuel 17 says, had a bronze helmet, a coat of arms, leg coverings, a bronze javelin on his back, a sword and an iron spear in his hand. He terrified the king of Israel, Saul. For forty days the Philistines taunted all of Israel.

Meanwhile back home, Jesse, David’s father, sends young David with some food for his warrior brothers. David tells king Saul that he will fight this giant. David then faces this towering man and says, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin…” David tells him that all he has are this world’s weaponry. And then David reveals to the giant Goliath and all of the Philistines what he has, “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, who you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands and I’ll strike you down.” 

We now have behind us almost 50 years of the oppression of Roe vs. Wade. What happened? The U.S. Supreme Court took on the Dobbs vs. Jackson case from the state of Mississippi which would effectively end the constitutional right to abortion, the killing of a child in the womb of its mother. The Supreme Court made an error almost 50 years ago and it has now been corrected. 

Franklin Graham said, “This is one of the most significant rulings in my lifetime. It was egregiously wrong from the start.”

Samuel Rodrigues said, “The long, dark night officially comes to an end. The unconscionable injustice of extreme abortion policies is over.”

Dr. Ben Carson said, “Today the Supreme Court of the U.S. made a statement to the world that life matters.”

Dr. Alveda King expressed, “Roe is no more! We must see every human, born and pre-born, as created in the image…of God. As long as a baby can be killed in the womb there is no such thing as civil rights. Abortion is a weapon of mass destruction.”

Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “We end this opinion where we began. Abortion presents a profound moral question, the Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule this decision and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

On January 22, 1988 then President Ronald Reagan spoke to the March for Life participants, “Our opponents tell us to not interfere with abortion. They tell us not to impose our morality on those who participate in the taking of the life of infants before birth. Yet no one calls it imposing morality to prohibit the taking of life after a child is born. We’re told about a woman’s right to control her own body. But doesn’t the unborn child have a higher right, and that is to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”

It is also Ronald Reagan who said, “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”

The evil one has had a long history of killing the firstborn of Israel. The spirit of abortion, that spirit of death, was activated a long time ago against mankind. Those who have fought for this day are cheering. But those who are fervently and violently bent on killing preborn children are going after the justices, church leaders, pro-life centers and anyone and anything else they can attack. 

Why would those who have been given life be so aggressively and brutally in opposition of mothers giving life to their children? Let’s consider another quote for the answer.

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” 

And even more deeply this same author said this in answer to the violence and result of abortion:

“America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign. It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” (Mother Teresa — “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14) 

Now let us continue to support the pro-life centers near us, the confused mother who is carrying a child, the fostering and the adoption of these precious little ones. 

Thank you, Father, for the many who fought this good fight without ever giving up for the unborn. It was worth it. Just as freedom came to Israel because of David’s heroic actions, may freedom come to the unborn and those who carry them.

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Children, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Parents, Women

Moms Day

Mothers–we all had one and most of us cherish our good memories. We know that for nine months she carried us in her womb anticipating our arrival. We know we were loved, accepted and approved of by her. We know she wasn’t perfect, but she was the perfect mom for us. We are better persons because of our moms.

Many had mothers who prayed earnestly and endlessly for their sons and daughters. They never stopped being a biological or a spiritual mom to us. They knew when to speak and when to remain silent. They knew how to make sacrifices for us to have a better life than they had. Moms know things that no one else knows or understands about each one of us and, gratefully, most moms can keep a secret. 

So, on this Mother’s Day weekend, let’s celebrate our mothers and think about the reasons why our moms are so important in our lives.

If it wasn’t for your mother, you would not exist.

Our moms often knew how to say the right words at the right time.

Moms seem to understand our feelings.

Only a mother can affectionately kiss and hold an angry child.

Our mothers made huge sacrifices for their children.

Forgiveness and acceptance without judgement are at the forefront of mothering.

Moms sense trouble sooner than most and then swoop in to protect.

Mothers remind us of the good and downplay so much of the bad in life.

Mothers naturally teach mothering–it’s instinctual. 

Moms taught us the value of cleanliness, doing our homework and sending a thank-you note.

Mothers have a unique way of making us feel special.

Mothers know just the right gift to give.

What would you add to this list about your mom?

Her teachings are filled with wisdom and kindness. She watches over the ways of her household. Her sons and daughters arise in one accord to extol her virtues, and her husband arises to speak of her in glowing terms. So go ahead and give her the credit that is due, for she has become a radiant woman. (Proverbs 31:26, 27, 28, 31 TPT)

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” Unknown author

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Challenge, Children, Issues of the Day, Marriage, Men, Parents, Women

Latrodectus Mactans (Black Widow)

There is a black lady wearing a red colored hourglass on her back. She’s experiencing her wedding night and her husband has displayed a bit of machoism while she dances for him. She longs for a family. So, when the lovemaking is complete between the two and she is convinced that she’s pregnant, she plunges a dagger of poison into her groom, only to then consume her husband’s body. 

Gross you say? Yes, but very real in the life of a female black widow spider. You now know why she’s called the black widow. That’s also a name we ascribe to women who kill their husbands. 

Were you aware that women are guilty of 41 percent of spousal homicides? That figure is far higher for women than men. The reasons are primarily related to some form of abuse. 

Female Black Widow

Further, the highest statistics of murder among teenage boys is when they end the life of their mother’s abuser, typically a live-in boyfriend. Abuse has devastating effects on the family, the community and the society. The cost of abuse with medical bills, trials, incarceration and family poverty will extend into the tens of thousands of dollars per family unit. 

But abuse costs far more than dollars. It causes emotional and spiritual damage. It damages marriages and the children with scars that can last a lifetime. Abuse can be blatant causing a black eye or broken ribs or it can be subtle, breaking the emotional fortitude and will of another. Abuse can occur when one withholds financial provision from another or when one constantly puts their spouse down with derogatory comments. 

Like the dance of the black widow spider, abuse waits to strike at the most vulnerable times. It can be a family’s best kept secret slowly drawing the life out of each and every member. It can cause family members to give up, become depressed or hopeless that life will ever change for them. 

Quite often, the sin of abuse follows to the third and fourth generation (Dueteronomy 5:9). It becomes a generational sin. The very thing a child hates his father for is the very thing he becomes and the cycle of abuse continues. Why? 

Here’s an answer: perhaps not the only one, but an accurate, vital one. Ephesians five reveals this answer when it states, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church…to present her…as radiant. In this same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

He who loves his wife, loves himself. How could one possibly abuse the one they are called to love as Christ loved? One answer: self-hate. Abusers hate themselves and out of that self-hate they hurt and abuse others. There is a way to end this cycle and that answer is found in the book of Galatians. 

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13) Jesus took the curse of abuse on the cross and died to break its power and ability to follow in the family line. 

If you have never prayed this verse over yourself and broken off the curses from past generations, do so today. There is nothing more vital than the cleansing of the blood of Jesus.

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Challenge, Children, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Parents

On Training Children to Obey

I remember child rearing like it was yesterday. It’s a lot of constant work. The job of a parent is truly one of 24 hours a day with very little reprieve. So, my heart goes out to you as a parent, especially those of you with young children. 

For some reason, obedience does not come naturally to children. It is something we’re working on until the time our kids leave our home. 

It was a comment made to me the other day that provokes this blog. Here’s the comment: “Have you noticed that parents today believe they can reason their children into obedience?” They went on to remark, “When I was a kid, there were no reasons given, just one strong voice command along with a very furrowed eyebrow and I knew exactly what it meant!” I got to thinking…

We can barely reason adults into trying another way or considering a different outcome. What makes us think we can reason with a three or four-year-old? Most children don’t even have reasoning ability at younger ages. 

Will our children’s teachers sit down and reason with them, all the while the child resists and tells them “No?” Will their employers reason with them in order to move them to do their job? I just don’t see that happening.

I heard a child expert say once, “Children need to learn to obey quietly, quickly and without argument.” He then gave this example. “Suppose you were wrestling with your four-year-old and they ran away from you directly toward a busy street. Will they immediately obey you or wait for your reasoning response?”

I do not envy any parent out there. I can recall the challenge my own children were. But, could we be sorry one day if we do not train our children to obey quietly, quickly and without argument?

A secret? It will take swift, appropriate, meaningful, not anger-filled, non-demeaning and sometimes painful consequences to create an environment of obedience.

For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11)

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