Raising Heros

Boys - YoungThe world looks for heroes. Every generation longs for them. Heroes give us hope for a world gone crazy. They give us reasons to continue and a desire for better things.

I’m convinced we look in the wrong places; hollywood, pop music, books and movies. If you are like me, you realized that the real heroes of life comes from the little feet that roam through your house. Yes, our children are heroes. Sometimes we get too busy with the hardships of rearing children that we fail to see and recognize the potential they have. They are the hope for the future…they are the real heroes.

As a father whose children have grown, I become aware more and more that the real heroes in my life were my three boys. Each being different, but providing a unique gift and reflection of God’s character before their mother and me. I wish I would have seen with clarity what I do now. I needed to look no further for heroes than the constantly active little boys and laughing voices that were running through the house. Continue reading “Raising Heros”

I Weep in the Summer

SummerMost people prefer summer to winter. There are opportunities to get out and ‘break a sweat’ doing enjoyable things from yard work to outdoor sports. The warmer temperatures and delightful weather seems to scream, “get out and do something.” This is good. However, many times it comes with a sad element that makes me weep for summer.

What is that element? It is the large number of people who seem to completely forget about God and abandon their convictions and commitments. The summer months seem to promote worship of the god of self. That is, families consume their weekends with constant trips of self pleasure and ‘me-first’ activities, while abandoning integration and spiritual growth with their local church. It is heart breaking and sad. It reveals the lack of true spiritual conversion or spiritual maturity among many church members.

Continue reading “I Weep in the Summer”

Rearing Children to Stay in the Church

large_praying_handsA Pastor friend of mine from North Carolina shared with me that one out of every four children who grow up in the Church abandon their faith once they get out on their own. (Usually off to college) Startling, but true facts.

How do we prevent our children from being on the bad side of this statistic? Many friends, including fellow Pastors  have asked me what Susanne and I did to rear 3 boys who are all active and solidly planted in a local church, and who continue to walk faithfully even after becoming adults. Rearing children, especially boys seems to be a very hard task in the age we live in. Here are my answers to those who have requested my help with this over the years.

1. The New Birth – Be careful to make the new birth in Jesus a constant and clear message. Refuse to allow church membership or attendance to become a substitute for spiritual life. Gathering with other believers with commitment is important, but nothing meets the importance of true Spiritual life through faith in Christ! Attending church without the new birth is only a religious exercise. Attending with a genuine faith makes it alive and refreshing.

2. The Totality of Life – Make sure that the Christian faith is expressed in the context of the full expression of life, and do not let it become lost in a ‘religious’ framework of ‘church.’ A robust faith in every facet of life is a healthy and biblical faith.

3. Demonstrating Repentance and Openness – As parents, be quick to live out the humble and real practice of repentance and openess before your children. Repent to them whenever you fail before them. Nothing makes Christianity more real to our children as our brokenness and repentance. Using godly wisdom, discuss your own journey of maturing in faith, and be open about your struggles of seeking God’s will. Continue reading “Rearing Children to Stay in the Church”

A Grandmother’s Prayer

MaryAliceI was three month’s old as I lay on the floor on a home made baby pallet. My grandmother, Mary Alice, was ironing clothes and watching over me and my older brother and sister. It was a delight for her to keep three of her grandchildren as my mother got away for some shopping. However, this was not an ordinary day…not for Mary Alice, and certainly not for me.

As my brother and sister played in the room, I simply kicked my legs, and pumped my arms the way infants do, slobbering and spitting. Then suddenly, the Holy Spirit spoke to my grandmother. He said, “I have called him to preach.” It startled her, but as a deep believer in Christ, she was familiar with God’s voice. She looked at all three of us kids and asked, “Which one Lord?” As her eyes scanned from my brother, to my sister and finally settling on me, the Holy Spirit said, “I have called him.”

Mary Alice NEVER told me this. In fact, it was many years after her death that my mother’s older sister related this story to me. My grandmother had shared the story with her years after I responded to the Lord’s call into ministry. When my aunt shared this with me many things in my interactions with my grandmother added up. I always felt Mary Alice doted on me. I can still see the sparkle in her eyes whenever we talked, and I can still feel the special pinch she gave me on my cheeks whenever I got close to her. However, she kept the words spoken to her by the Holy Spirit hidden in her heart and only breathed them back to God in prayer.

As a young believer I really struggled with the call into ministry. I knew the sin of my heart and my various struggles with the flesh and I did not want to bring shame or disappointment to the Lord’s name or His work. One particular day I was standing alone Continue reading “A Grandmother’s Prayer”

I Want to be a Dog!

Recently we lost our 14 year old toy poodle to congestive heart failure. (His name was “Jacque Pierre de Orlean,” but we usually called him “Boo” or “Orlean.”) We woke up Sunday morning, August 19, to find that he had passed away in his bed. Our hearts are broken, as he was as much a part of our family as we are. In fact, we often joked that this was his home and he just allowed us to stay with him. I’m sure other pet owners will understand this.

Throughout reflecting upon the joy he brought into our family and the loyalty of his disposition, I became more and more convinced that he was more like a Christian than most of us. There were certain traits to his character which I see described in Scriptures for you and me. It got me to thinking; I want to be a dog!

He was loyal – Regardless of the situation he only had eyes for his family

He was forgiving – Regardless how we may have done something wrong he always sought to love us.

He was committed – Regardless how he felt when he was sick he always sought to be near us.

He was protective – Regardless of the impending danger he was willing to risk it all to protect us. Continue reading “I Want to be a Dog!”

Christian Writers – Beware!

All we can do is thank the Lord for the abundance of Christian writers and authors we see today. Many young men are getting into the fray of ideas by sharing the truth of the gospel, either through blogs or books. I’ve been writing frequently since the early 90’s and simply want to share a brief warning to Christian writers to help guard against some of Satan’s tricks and schemes against authors.

All writers I have had the privilege of being around exhibit a very committed and tenacious personality. We are goal oriented and usually thrive over deadlines and ‘getting the ball’ over the hill. We are capable of shutting other things out in order to accomplish what we know the Lord has laid upon our heart and called us to do. However, in the midst of these traits, we face some unique temptations and traps from the enemy. Here are a few.

Traps for the Christian writer:

Replacing quiet time – First and foremost, we must maintain our ‘quiet time’ of prayer and biblical meditation with our Lord. We must guard against waking up and grabbing our laptop or pencil as our first activity of the day. Let time in prayer and meditation be our primary goal for each day.

Replacing living – Getting detached from on-hand experience with the people of God. We can become ‘hermit-tish’ (my word) instead of being giving to hospitality.

Replacing sharing – Witness only through writing and lose contact with one on one, face to face sharing of the gospel. This will cause us to lose the personal touch of identification with the broken lives of men. Also, this detachment will come across in our writing. Continue reading “Christian Writers – Beware!”

The Seduction of the Pulpit

Probably more so than any other generation, there is a strong seduction to the pulpit. The attention, the technology, the lights and the production are all part of the paraphernalia of this addiction. Do it correctly, with some worldly advice and techniques, and leaders can easily have a cult-like following of gawkers who substitute popularity for purity, foolishness for faith, or entertainment for excellence. It is the ‘drug of choice’ by many ‘young guns’ in the church world.

**(I’m not referring to the piece of furniture we call ‘pulpit,’ but to the position of leading. It exists whether someone uses a stool, chair, table or music stand.)

What does this seduction look like? What are some of the earmarks of this addiction? Glad you asked. Here are a couple of them which my older and mature fellow Elders will recognize.

  1. Must have the Sunday Morning Service – The addict lives off of the fact that the crowd came to hear him preach. It gives him value. Yes, the TV and radio broadcasts always feature the same man. (Few escape this one.)
  2. When not present, pipe in messages via internet or live streaming – This is how the megachurch can become the biggest drug dealer. It allows the addict to continually get a fix by over-inflating their importance.
  3. Talk about you and your family’s adventures instead of Scripture – It’s the church’s version of ‘Ozzy and Harriet’ or ‘My Three Sons.’ After all, people need to know about your ‘smoking hot wife’ or your ‘funny little kids’ every week–NOT. Continue reading “The Seduction of the Pulpit”

Tebow Is Not My Hero

I like Tim Tebow as an athlete. I appreciate his willingness and heart to work with children in the Philippines and to proclaim Jesus as His Lord and Savior on the public stage. However, he is not my hero…and I do not think he desires to be anyone’s hero; but, he would have to answer that part.

I came from a life of athletics and was certainly one who worshipped sports and athletes. Sports had my heart; football was my idol. The smell of a well manicured field, the thrill of collisions and the cheering of the crowd was an extremely addictive high. And, this seems to be true for pro athletes also, as we see their difficulty in adjusting to real life after sports.

But back to Tebow. While he’s certainly a different kind of athlete, and one which holds to a moral example in the midst of a very immoral sporting culture, he is still not my hero and wasn’t a person I lifted before my boys to be their hero. Why? Well, to be honest with you, I look higher up the spiritual ladder for heroes. I’ve never seen much spiritual depth in the hollywood celebrities and athletes who carry on about ‘Jesus.’ Their shallow use of religious phraseology never offered an example of walking ‘in the Spirit’ that I desired to set before my boys. My wife, Susanne, and I have always directed our three boys to look higher. (They are all grown now.) We wanted them to look above the lower limbs in the small trees and find a hero among the eagles perched in the top of the largest trees. So, where did we point them? Glad you asked! Continue reading “Tebow Is Not My Hero”