Friday, August 26, 2011

Handling Disagreements

So how do you handle disagreements among the brethren?

Keep things in perspective - A variety of opinions is a welcome diversity that causes all of us to grow. Don't reject someone because they see things differently than you do.

Don't transfer your disagreement - Lack of uniformity can actually testify to our ability to forebear with one another. Especially because of our differences. Don't let your disagreement regarding one thing foster hostility and disagreement in all areas. For instance, I pray with and am friends with some very nice believers that disagree with my position on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I sincerely believe they are wrong, but they are still good people and wonderful friends.

Don't question motives- When you disagree take the argument at face value, and don't speculate about the motivations.

Personal differences aren't sinful-Some issues are informed by a different world view. Perhaps informed by culture, or doctrine. Certain things are clearly taught in scripture others are inferred, still other positions are arrived at because of systematic study. Sin involves a compromise of moral or spiritual guidelines. Remember the saying in the the main things unity, in all things charity.

Don't hestitate to say- "You might be right but I have to follow my understanding of what is right"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Parenting Mistakes Yield Lessons

Remember when you brought that bundle of joy home and you came to the realization that you had the power to make this little one an engaged and articulate student or ... to really screw them up. I remember that revelation and it scared me to death! Over time as my children grew I recognized the imprint of my life on theirs, especially my mistakes and flaws. They seemed to be replicating in the life of my children and I was concerned about it. I prayed and sought counsel from others. I read and attended conferences on parenting. I just wanted them to turn out okay and not wrestle with some of the same things that I did as I grew to maturity.

Here are some simple lessons I learned.

1) Staying positive. There are days when this alone is a challenge, but I assure you that it is important. My bad attitude set the temperature in the house. When I am positive and filled with faith that we are going to survive and overcome the challenges that we are facing it is amazing how it informs the discussions and attitudes of my kids.

2) Little sinners. Recognize your children for what they are. They are not innocent little angels that have relocated from heaven. They talk back, get cranky, steal and lie, and a thousand other things. (remember #1). You see they are just like you. They need need to learn about consequences for their actions and the need for mercy. They need to experience real forgiveness - full and deep. They need to be taught at a moral level- this is acceptable and that is not... and why.

3) Stay Structured. If you don't have guardrails your kids will end up driving off the cliff. Bedtimes are bed times (while they are not set in granite, neither are they suggestions). Naps are important. Small children NEED to sleep. ( a one year old needs a minimum of 14 hours a day! for more info) Before you buy the uniform and ball gloves- make sure they understand that they are making a commitment for the whole season- no quiting! Homework needs to be done on time. It needs to be done after school in the allotted slot. The list goes on and on. These structures are important and are character forming in the hearts of our little ones.

4) Put your guilt away. I know that you always wanted Junior to be your little buddy and that you feel guilty that you work all day but you are REQUIRED to be his parent. Don't parent out of laziness or guilt. You will have to be tough sometimes now in order to have the great relationship you want in the future. We are talking about your child's needs... not your own needs.

5) Educate your self. Read, study books, listen to mp3's, talk with friends, go to seminars, take a Sunday school class on parenting. Sharpen your skills as a parent.

6) Be flexible. What works for one child will likely have to be modified in another in order to achieve the desired results. When my teenager assured me that he was well advanced beyond his youth pastor and that he no longer desired to attend the Youth Group I was flexible. I said, "Well Son we are Christians and attend two services each week. But you don't have to attend Youth Group... You can sit in the adult service if you are bored up there. " He never attended a single adult service. The goal was spiritual growth. Since I could tell he wasn't walking on the water yet I didn't care that he got it somewhere other than the youth pastor.

7) Your being played. The little darling knows that you think the sun sets and rises upon their smile. They know that you basically don't want to do much in regards to parenting. They will try to tell you what you want to hear. Believe about half of what they say (remember #2). You won't be able to tell by looking when they start to lust, steal, masturbate, go to third base with their boyfriend, etc. Suspect everything. Leave little room for problems and they will have difficulty manifesting themselves.

8) Eat together without the TV on. Talk. Talk about what happened in school. Talk about the Word of God and how it applies to you (dinner is a great time form family devotions). Talk about politics, science, something you read. Keep the door open. Trust me the teen years come and they will try to close it on you. Build the relationship with your kids over and over.

9) Prioritize fellowship. Keep yourself and the kids in church. Make very few excuses to miss fellowship. Our life is the Word and Worship. Sports, homework, etc are poor excuses for missing church. That's right I said it! You need to put everything in its place so that a spiritual life will develop. Look around parents... spiritual lives don't develop by accident- they are purposefully designed in the lives of the children.

So there, are some of my lessons I've learned I'm sure there are more. What about you? Have any lessons you want to share?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Father of mine, if you could see
Would you approve of the life that I lead
My everyday choices and language and such
Fail, so it seems, to mean very much

My character was formed by watching you then
When you walked in the kitchen and in the den
Stoic and quiet, you tackled your day
Even the last ones passed quietly

Were you afraid when they told you of death
Did you worry like I do about your last breath
Did it break your heart that you wouldn't retire
And sit with your grandkids around a fire

I want you to know that in me you loom large
Though you are out there or up there with the stars
I wish you could see what I have become
I hope you'd approve of the things I have done

In moments of quiet and darkness and fear
I fail to be strong as I would if you were near
I know that my foibles and sins would trouble you
But if you were here, you could inform me on how to get through

The gapping hole left in the soul of a lad
is still on the inside - and it drives me mad
I work very hard in hopes of your nod
Approval, ever silent, so onward I plod.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Tough Measures for Tough Times

For whatever reason the world seems to be increasingly harsh. Men and women of faith are all undergoing a thorough working over by the spirit of the age. It seems to me that almost every day I hear of another person who has fallen into deep sin that is life transforming for their family. So what should we do in the face of a hostile living environment?
1) Be encouraging- Since so many people are struggling let's make our words powerful and encouraging. The best way I know to do that is to sprinkle liberally encouraging promises in our conversation. "Let your conversation be seasoned with salt..." wrote the Apostle to the Gentiles. He knew that the most powerful words are divine words. And, while it might be tempting to ramble along meaninglessly, or to trade in the gossip of the office pool, remember the likelihood that somebody there needs to be encouraged today. Ephesians tells us to "Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs so that it may benefit those who listen."
2) Be sensitive-Looking beyond the surface takes an extra moment but sometimes you can see the toll that the struggles of life are taking on those in your work place or prayer group. When they are hurting, avoid the words of unsolicited advise and use, instead, words of compassion and hope. Struggles don't come at good times, they pile on in bad times. So be sensitive to the hurts, needs and cares that your friends and family are having to fight through.
3) Be positive-Negativity is death. The sign of a spirit-filled life is making music in your heart to the Lord. PRAISE! There is no time when it is inappropriate. Hope is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter what you are facing God has more than enough power, wisdom, strength and help to get you through. Make a stand yourself and encourage those who are slowly being poisoned by negativity and hopelessness.
4) Be prayerful- Some situations are impossible... unless God acts. He doesn't act until he is invited into the situation. So you and I will have to be prayer warriors. Seeking the face of God to do warfare against the real enemies of our soul. Your enemy is not your boss, your struggle is not with flesh and blood. Rebuke the devil with all authority, resist his subtle advances and temptations, and submit yourself to God completely and you will have a victorious outcome. Pray for those who are hurting, those important people in the ministry of your church who watch for your soul- they are under incessant attack. Let God's power be released through your prayer life.
5) Be on your guard-While we minister to others, occasionally there is a transference that happens. Their burdens bring discouragement upon us. We find ourselves sharing their doubts and sinking into their despair. Guard your heart, as Solomon taught his son, for out of it flows the issues of life. Caution is needed that we don't go too fast, too deep, for too long. Is your life balanced? Are things good at home, in your marriage, with your kids? Are you working productively at the office? Are you developing new friendships? Are serving spiritually somewhere? Is there music in your life?
Overcoming the darkness isn't that hard...we just have to turn on the light! Let your light so shine...