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)
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
7 For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 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)
Maggie is a fornicator. And yet, she has never been acquainted with sin. Some tell me she is not really responsible for her actions. After all, I am told, “It’s only natural.” It is a funny thing, though. She does not even claim to be a victim—a victim of her parents, her younger years, her friends, her boyfriend, her family, her environment, or any of the cards that have been dealt to her in this life. I have never heard her blame anyone for what happened. In fact, I have never heard her blame anyone for anything that has come her way in the last 56 years.
Maggie was our 8-year-old yellow Labrador retriever (that’s 56 people years)! While my friends have encouraged me that Maggie was just being a dog, I am not convinced. Since six weeks of age, she has resided with our family. She has been trained to not stray into the neighboring yards. No matter how many children are playing and having a riotous time down the street, she knows it is “off limits” for her. Maggie was given boundaries to follow. She chose not to follow those boundaries. The lure of playful attention was too much for her—she chose to cross the line.
When I set a limit for one of my children, it was because I loved him or her and had their best interests in mind. Does God set limits for us because He desires to control us or because He loves us? His love for us is not in question; our love for Him is what is in question. Do you love Him enough to obey Him or, when the limit is “uncomfortable” for you, do you desire to rewrite the already written Word of God? This is the most crucial issue when dealing with obedience.
In today’s world, the scripture, “I am the Lord, I change not” is viewed more like, “I am an understanding, benevolent, vacillating God who may or may not be upset with you and your sin.” Has God lowered His standards because His creation cannot maintain a standard of holiness?
One goal of a healthy, mature Christian is to obey God readily on the outside while our hearts are resting in a trust of God’s concern for our welfare on the inside. Our love for God, as well as knowing God’s love for us, draws us to obedience. That is our motivational factor. However, there are some negative forces motivating us to obey God.
Unhealthy fear: Fear is a great motivator, for sure. But our God chooses to motivate out of love. I do not walk in an unhealthy fear of my heavenly Father because I know His unconditional love. Fear of punishment is an inappropriate reason for obeying God.
The difference between a healthy fear and an unhealthy fear is clear. A healthy fear recognizes God’s love for us and is life-giving. “The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Proverbs 19:23). An unhealthy fear is connected to punishment. While we may deserve God’s wrath and punishment for our sin, He placed it upon our crucified Savior. (See Romans 5:6-11.)
Legalistic rules and regulation: We choose to obey God out of having a healthy relationship with God and not because He maintains a little black book. In the midst of the regulations of the Old Testament, it was Samuel who told King Saul, “Obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). Sacrifice came out of regulation; obedience comes out of love. Obedience is doing all God wants me to do, while sacrifice is doing what I want to do for God in my way. Paul stated it so succinctly when he wrote about the law and obedience in Romans 2:13, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
To earn favor from God: We don’t fool God. After all, He knows our hearts. He knows what we’re really thinking. He is not a politician running for office. He doesn’t care if you vote for Him or not. He is Grace. You do not need to somehow get into His “good grace.” You may fool some people with whom you relate, but you’ll never fake out God. You cannot earn God’s favor. You already have God’s favor, if you are a believer. We cannot earn something that has already been given to us!
There was an unnamed woman in Luke eleven who blurted out some words about Jesus when He was teaching one day. She said of Him, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you” (verse 27). Was this a reason to follow and obey the Savior? Jesus’ response was interesting: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (verse 28).
Obedience is connected to love. How do I know my children truly love me? It is by their obedience to me. How does God know we truly love Him? It is by our obedience to Him.
This is love for God: to obey his commands (1 John 5:3). And this is love that we walk in obedience to his commands (2 John 6). If you love me [Jesus said], you will obey what I command (John 14:15). Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me (John 14:21).
Foundations hold buildings upright. Foundations go deep into the soil below frost lines. Foundations are necessary in buildings, in family relationships, in work places, in communities and in marriages.
Good foundations keep the forces of nature from creating catastrophic damages to structures and those structures keep people safe. Foundations help set direction and establish capacities. You need a strong foundation for your marriage and your family.
Marriages that begin on faulty foundations like living together, lying about former relationships, hiding sin or hiding debt will most assuredly face major challenges in the early years.
What is one practical, real-life item that will keep your marriage and family foundation strong?
Integrity helps build a high capacity, low stress and highly successful relationship foundation to marriage. One lie, one close to the truth statement or one compromise can begin to cause cracks in your foundation. Once a crack begins, it tends to become worse and eventually compromises the whole foundation. You can place temporary fixes on the cracks, but they will ultimately weaken.
To see all that God has for you and your relationship, each and every crack must be thoroughly repaired to a noncompromising state. In order to enjoy the blessings of God upon your family, you’ll need honest confessions and then forms of care for healing.
Good foundations in marriage allow for the growth of integrity, the forgiveness of when we do it wrong and the hope for a better future. Maintaining a good foundation means maintaining one’s integrity in all things without compromise.
Tell the truth, confess your fault, stay humble, forsake pride and walk in honesty before your God and life mate.
Did you know that “national divorce day” is the first working Monday of the year? Divorce attorneys report the highest incidents of divorce filings occur on that day.
Once the papers are signed, they can now go on with their lives. It’s easily accomplished with a small, very small printed newspaper article declaring publicly a divorce granted and legally filed in the county courthouse. The “I do” has effectively turned into “I don’t.” Their homes are separate; their children have two beds and two dressers.
In this couple’s mind, it is the end of arguments, trying to get along, counseling and late night, knockdown, drag out, heated disagreements. It is the end of trying to make decisions together. It is the end of needing to consider the other in any and every decision. They also think it’s the end of hurtful, emotionally charged words and sarcasm. And no more ridiculous faces of disgust to look at.
But it’s not over! It’s never over as long as the two shall live. The kids will go back and forth and it will take an inordinate amount of communication. The lack of attention to detail and facts concerning any relational connection will still be present. There will still be the unkind words and demeaning facial expressions. Anger will be present and it will cause further heated discussions over kids, over activities or weekends and over money.
Still present will be the emotional upheavals, tears and ongoing loss. Holidays will be especially difficult and extended family will suffer as well.
Then, just imagine bringing new dating relationships into this mix. It is a scheduling nightmare day in and day out. Children crying and saying, “I want to go to mommy’s house.” Parents crying and trying to bring some kind of new normal to their children. More counseling. More doctor visits because of more stress. More stress because at the end of the day it’s all up to you. There is no longer a spouse to lean on and to share the load. Your life is so totally different you barely recognize it.
You’re single again. What does that even mean, look like, feel like? You’re not 19 or 20 years old. Wow, how life has drastically changed!
No wonder God stated in His word how much He hated divorce (Malachi 2:15, 16). He knew how destructive it would be. He knew how difficult and hard on a family it would be. And He knew the brokenness involved in each and every divorce. Being alone again is no dream-filled panacea. Not every relationship can be repaired or even should be, however; it sure is worth trying and praying toward that end.
Did you have a father that passed on his faith to you? If so, you were one of the blessed ones. There is no perfect dad, but if you had a dad that shared the Christian faith with you, taught you to pray, taught you God’s word and walked his talk, you were blessed beyond measure.
Dad’s want to see their children smile and laugh as they open their well thought out Christmas gifts. Perhaps they saved all year in order to purchase that bike or doll house. Maybe they sacrificed and went without something for themselves just so their son or daughter could be blessed with the gift of their dreams. Dads and moms want to bring joy to their children, especially at Christmas time.
Christmas is also a time to remember those who are less fortunate. Perhaps you filled one of those Christmas boxes as my wife did and were excited about Samaritan’s Purse distributing it to a needy child. Or maybe you are going caroling with your small group to the elderly neighbor who has few visitors. Perhaps you bake cookies and give them to your friends and neighbors, letting them know how much you appreciate them.
Whatever the season brings, it’s a time to think of others who are going through a difficult period. Did you ever hear this story from Senator John McCain’s book, “Faith of My Fathers”?
On Christmas Day, we were always treated to a better-than-usual dinner. We were also allowed to stand outside our cells for five minutes to exercise or to just look at the trees in the sky. One Christmas, a few months after the gun guard had inexplicably come to my assistance during my long night in the interrogation room, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw him approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me. Again he didn’t smile or look at me. He just stared at the ground in front of us. After a few moments had passed he rather nonchalantly used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We both stood wordlessly looking at the cross until, after a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away. I saw my good Samaritan often after the Christmas when we venerated the cross together. But he never said a word to me nor gave the slightest signal that he acknowledged my humanity.
We have so much to be grateful for. Remember those who protect you and keep you safe, those who deliver your mail, those who remove your trash, those who teach your children and those spiritual leaders who pray for you. It is a season of giving because God gave His Son to you.
Draw a cross in the dirt (or the snow) and let your light shine.