Balance

Life, to say the least,  can be “challenging.” There is work, household duties, church activities, children’s sports, parenting; you almost need to be a  juggler to keep all the plates in the air.  Stress is a common household reality. Stress comes when life becomes unbalanced. When you give too much attention to one area; another area suffers. 

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One area that is extremely difficult to balance is the disciplining of our children. Too much discipline and the child may become rebellious. [Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them….] Ephesians 6:4  Too little discipline and the child will grow with no respect for authority.  [If a child is corrected, they become wise. But a child who is not corrected brings shame to their mother.]  Proverbs 29:15  So the key to successful discipline is a balance.   Two biblical examples: 

1. No parental discipline. Often parents want peace in the home so bad, they refused to confront bad conduct. “Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time…” 1 Kings 1:6 David was a man of God but he allowed his son to do whatever he wanted to do. Result? His son, Adonijah, rebelled against his father and took control of Israel. (I might add, David did nothing to stop him.) 

I have often seen parents run to “recuse” a child from the consequences of their actions. I know it is only natural to want to protect our children from harm and unpleasantness. I knew a mother that was continually bailing her two sons out of jail. When her money ran out, she begged family members for money to bail them out but it never changed their behavior. When she could no longer “rescue” they went to prison, where gave their lives to Christ.   In Luke 15 we have the parable of the lost son. The boy wanted his inheritance so he could go and do whatever he wanted. The father never attempted to stop him leaving, that would only make the problem worse.  It was only after the son hit “bottom”, he saw the folly of his lifestyle, repented and returned home. Luke 15:17-18   

I am not saying that we should NEVER go the aid of our children, there are times when showing Christ’s love and forgiveness will turn the child around. In fact, Jesus said to GO and search for the lost sheep and rescue them!  Luke 15:4-7

So how is a parent supposed to know whether to rescue their child or allow them to experience the school of hard knocks? Good question! 

Good question! If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you James 1:5  TLB

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth… John 16:13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

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Your Legacy

Image result for legacyWe all know that no one gets out of this earthly life alive. (And just as each person is destined to die… Hebrews 9:27) Yet many come to the end of life and have not prepared a will. A will is “a legal document that indicates how the person wants his or her estate (money and property) to be distributed after their death.
Some legacies can be…

1. Thoughtful and kind. The legendary comedian, Jack Benny, stipulated in his will that his wife Mary was to receive a single red rose, symbolic of love & devotion, on the day following the anniversary of his passing away and that the practice would continue until the death of his spouse.

2. Some wills are cruel. Jerry Lewis, another legendary comedian, certainly got the last laugh when it came to his strained relationship with his children. According to his Last Will and Testament, the funnyman emphatically cut out all six children he had with his first wife Patti Palmer — meaning they would inherit nothing.

One of the definitions of a “legacy” “is anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor:” I am very concerned of the legacy I leave for my children, grandchildren, and some day great-grandchildren. I will not leave them great wealth or huge tracts of land but the legacy I wish to leave behind is that they know God intimately and have experienced His presence in their lives.

As a young believer, I was taught some very valuable spiritual “disciplines.” Prayer, Giving, Faithfulness, Fasting, Reading God’s Word just to name a few.  Practising these “disciplines” did not produces salvation but they will help me grow in my walk with Christ. I was taught the most important thing in life was knowing and serving God. 

The more I observe the church, the more I see the erosion of deeply held truths and convictions. I am afraid that Judges 2:7 “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work which the Lord had done for Israel.” While the memory of God’s greatness and the work he did for Israel was alive, the people maintained their devotion to God. But verse 10 says that after the death of Joshua and those who had seen God’s mighty acts, “there arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel.” And the result of this ignorance is given in verse 11, “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord…”

I want my grandchildren (and great grandchildren) to grow up knowing, loving, and serving God.

 

The Gap

Most Christ-followers would like to have a better prayer life. Try this with me. Think about where your prayer, physical, financial, or family life is. Now, think about where you want it to be.  What is in between? If you are normal, there’s the infamous gap! [Not the store!] It’s the same gap that occurs when the exterior doesn’t match the interior. The gap between knowing the truth and implementing the change.  It’s the gap between discipline and regret.

Proverbs 25:28 NLT says A person without self-control (discipline) is like a city with broken-down walls.  No matter the area you need to change, you must make a choice and this choice calls for discipline. Where are the gaps in your life? What discipline is the Holy Spirit leading you to commit to in order to make the change?

You must choose between discipline and regret.

Who Is In Control?

Surrender: to yield (something) to the possession or power of another
Control: to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command

Let’s be honest; most of us like to be in control. We stress out when things seem out of our control. Growing up with two brothers, control was a big issue, whether it was who would ride “shotgun” in the car or would we watch cartoons or American Bandstand. It feels nice to call the shots, drive the car, hold the mic, dominate the remote, and plan out a detour-free itinerary for our lives.

Control becomes a major issue when we refuse to surrender control of our lives to God.  I’m like, “Hey God, I know you created the world, and exist outside of time, and are unquestionably wiser than anyone could imagine, but I just want to give you a heads up. You’re going the wrong way!”

Jesus prayed, “Your will be done,” right before His crucifixion; and our hearts, words, and lives should continue His prayer.

We cannot micromanage God, but we can trust Him. We can yield to His guidance, knowing He only leads us in the right direction.

We all get to choose. The options are confidence in our own partial understanding or surrender to the one who holds the map.

What Were You Thinking?

thinking

If you have raised children, they probably have done something that was foolish, destructive or even dangerous. And you ask them the proverbial question; “What were you thinking!?” The standard reply is usually, “I don’t know!” They are telling you the truth because they were not thinking! It came to their minds and without thinking or weighing the consequences, they did it.

I wonder if God asks the same question of us sometimes. Thoughts and impressions come and go through our minds and we never give them a second’s notice. But God’s Word says what we think, what we allow ourselves to dwell is very important. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to “... take hold of every thought and make it obey Christ.” Our thoughts should not control us; we must control our thoughts. Every sin and unChristlike behavior begin as a thought. In the Garden of Eden, Satan’s strategy was simply to place a thought in Eve’s mind that God was being unfair to them. Genesis 3:1 Eve should not have entertained that thought.

“Our lives move in the direction of our strongest thought,” [Craig Groeschel] You cannot control thoughts that come to your mind but you can reject from dwelling on them.

Fully Engaged

When I was learning to drive, my father thought everyone should first learn to drive a car with a manual transmission. For those not familiar with that term, this refers to cars that require you to change gears manually. The process involves learning how to synchronize the gas pedal, the clutch pedal, and the gearshift. The key is to ‘smoothly’ engage the clutch.

My father and older brother took me driving in the country one Sunday afternoon (less traffic) to practice learning the mystery of the manual transmission. I came to a stop sign that had a sharp left turn UP HILL. Now the trick is to engage the clutch without letting the car roll backward.  My first unsuccessful attempt was best described as a hopping rabbit. My “instructors” roared with laughter! 

For the Christ-follower, our lives must “fully engaged” to live our lives pleasing to Him. Romans 12:11 “Do not be lazy but work hard. Serve the Lord with all your heart.”  

The plague of Christianity is half-heartedness, resembles Christianity but there is no power, no love, no peace. We are to serve the Lord with all [fully engaged] our hearts. 2 Timothy 3:5 says, “They will go on pretending to be devoted to God, but they will refuse to let that “devotion” change the way they live. Stay away from these people!”

We are beginning a new year, I would encourage you to be fully engaged in your service to the Lord this year.

Prayer “Triggers”

One of the greatest aspects of Christianity is prayer. If you have been a Christ-follower for any amount of time, you know how important it is to have a consistent prayer life. True prayer can sometimes be a challenge. That is why it is called a Christian “discipline.”

I firmly agree that every Christ-follower needs to have a time set apart for personal prayer. But I also believe that prayer needs to be a natural part of our daily lives. The Apostle Paul admonishes us to “pray continually” but how is that done?

Bill Hybels, author of Too Busy Not to Pray, suggests a way make prayer a part of our daily routine. For example, when you shower, allow it be a “trigger” to pray for cleansing and purity in your life. If you take medication on a regular basis, allow that to be a “trigger” to pray for good health and healing for you and others. Don’t just read or listen to the news, allow it to become your prayer list. Pray for people that are hurting and facing tragedy. When you see an automobile accident or an ambulance rushing to help a needy person, pray for those involved.   When you get a glass of pure, clean water, pray for those who do not have access to clean water.

The possibilities are only limited by your creativity.  Start today, making your own prayer “triggers.”