Parenting doesn't come with instructions when kids are born.Sometimes you have to make up the rules on the fly!And that's OK, as long as parents are more in love with the Lord than they are with their children.The balance between giving them everything and allowing them to earn their own way while making a few mistakes is the difference between self-respect and self-destruction.Erma Bombeck (not the best theologian of our day), provides this humorous advice in her book Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession.
"We made a speech: 'We know you won't understand this now, but someday you will.We no longer want to deprive you of the poverty you so richly deserve.The HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN BANK OF PROSPERITY is closed!Money is not related to love.It's only a shallow substitute.What you really need is a ton of self-respect.'He sat there for awhile in silence.Finally he said, 'Do I have to buy it with my own money?'We smiled.'It's the only way you can buy it.' " (page 159)
Self-respect is not bought, it is earned!And parents are an important link to teaching children how to earn it.Erma's idea is a good one to teach a child the value of money and the joy which comes from earning our way.
Another way might be to memorize a brief passage from Proverbs, chapter 3:3-6:
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when the sunset years are past and I am only a memory to my sons, let them not recall the many times I failed as a father, but let them know that I tried to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And may their children experience confidence and self-respect because they had the advantage of a godly home.Amen and amen.
“The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed.‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine.They called out to him, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’A sign was fastened to the cross above him with these words:
‘This is the King of the Jews.’
One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, ‘So you’re the Messiah, are you?Prove it by saving yourself - and us, too, while you’re at it!’
But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.’Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.’And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.’”(Luke 23:35-43 - NLT)
Recently, I was notified to report for Jury Duty on a given day in February.As requested, I arrived at the appointed hour along with 300 of my closest friends.We waited in the assembly room until our number was called.Sixty-three of us were then whisked away to the Criminal Courthouse, several blocks from where we started.
After we arrived and were seated in the courtroom, the judge, the DA and the defense attorney all talked to us and questioned us for what seemed to be an eternity.
The benches were very uncomfortable, but nothing like what the trial would be if chosen.The defendant was accused of aggravated sexual assault of minors under 14.(He barely looked out of his teens himself.)
Some graphic information was provided and if we were the twelve chosen, we knew what we were getting ourselves into.
All I kept thinking was “save me!”I wasn’t expressing any outrage at doing my civic duty; I wouldn’t shirk my responsibility.
I simply asked God to “save me” from being selected because I knew there would be very graphic testimony and I knew that it could be difficult to be impartial.Truthfully, I kept thinking about my daughter and my granddaughters… what if something like that “alleged” incident happened to them?!
I contemplated the thought further as the judge and attorneys were talking to us.In our own frail humanness, what if the jurors get it wrong?With the testimony presented by both sides, could they send an innocent man to prison or could he get off scot-free based on the testimony of children?
And, to take it a step further, what about those children?I’m not sure if they will testify on the stand or just on video.How frightened they must have been and must still be… reliving that incident again after a number of years.What if their story is fabricated?
Who are we to judge someone… to hold their lives in the balance as we weigh the testimony and the punishment, if convicted?Who are we?Yes, I know it’s the law of our land, but when did we become judge and jury?
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”(Matthew 7:1-2 - NLT)
GospeLines Prayer:Here I am Lord, save me!Save me from myself and from others who do not have a relationship with You.I know that You will judge me as I am a sinner.I have even judged when that right is Yours only.
I come, bowed down and repentant as the thief on the cross…
“But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.’Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into your Kingdom.’” (Luke 23:40-42 - NLT)
I want to be in Paradise with you Lord.Save me!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, March 5, 2008
“Look, Listen, Live”
A public service radio spot presents a touching dialogue between a husband and wife. He has just arrived home from work, tense and out of breath. On his way from the office, the barrier was down at the railroad crossing he had passed hundreds of times. Instead of waiting cautiously, he started around the flashing barrier into the path of an oncoming train, which he was certain he could beat. At the last moment he changed his mind, realizing he had misjudged the speed of the locomotive and narrowly missed being crushed under tons of speeding steel. It was a moment of fear and joy as the two embraced, thankful for another chance to be alive.
The announcer then warns the audience about the dangers of taking risks at railroad crossings. He concludes his remarks by warning, "Look, listen and live!"
What a timely message that is to all of us! Whether we are racing a locomotive or just racing headlong through life, scurrying to get to work on time, pushing and shoving in the holiday crowds at the malls, or just trying to balance everything at home, it can get pretty hectic.
LOOK at the life and work of Jesus. He is our eternal hope.
Despair is the destroyer of the human spirit! One of Jesus' greatest tasks was to continually encourage his disciples to stay the course when things looked bleak and they wondered if they had made the right choice. Beloved, Jesus is not only the best choice, He is the only choice.
LISTEN to the words of our Messiah. The message is wisdom for the ages.
God said to Jeremiah, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness." (Jeremiah 31:3 - NIV) And Jesus prayed for us, saying: "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." (John 17:24 - NIV) Hallelujah!
LIVE a godly life. Flirting with evil is not worth the risk.
We have a choice. We can live to please Christ or we can live as we please. In his letter to Rome, Paul said: "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." (Rom 8:6) Ignoring warning signals can be physically hazardous, but ignoring God's laws has eternal consequences.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, protect me from evil, even when that sometimes means protection from myself. Don't make me smarter; make me wiser, so that my risks will not be deadly ones. I will meditate on your words day and night, and embrace the results of my toil with joy and thanksgiving.
Charles Dickens began the Tale of Two Cities, with the famous words: “It was the best of times.It was the worst of times.”Although I’ve read that line many times, I’ve never really understood how one moment could be both the best and the worst at the same time.
The saddest moment in all of history occurred when we crucified our Lord.However, at that same moment, death was defeated and God’s children were saved from their sins.
One of our times of great sorrow is when we realize we are living in sin and are apart from the Lord.However, at that same moment, when we repent and give our heart to Jesus, we experience one of our greatest joys – our salvation.
The 126th Psalm states that, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” and that, “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy.”Perhaps the Psalmist knew that great sadness and great joy are frequently intertwined.
Paul tells us in 2nd Timothy 3:1-5 that, "There will be terrible times in the last days.People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…"
Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:21 that during the last days there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world.
The worst of times…
However, we're also told that “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.”(Revelation 3:10)
"The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”(1st Thessalonians 4:13-17)
Many of our friends and loved ones have been called home - a personal "worst of times" for many.But, as the note my daughter Alyssa placed in my father's casket several years ago reminds us:
I’ll see you I Heaven!
Even though you left so soon,
You’ll always be in my heart.
See you SoonJ
These last days will also be the best of times for those who love the Lord.So, rejoice children of God… rejoice!If you’re a child of God, it’s always…
The best of times…
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
In his book Fully Human, Fully Alive, author John Powell relates a true story about a friend who was vacationing in the Bahamas. The friend was attracted to a large and restless crowd that had gathered toward the end of a pier. Unable to restrain his curiosity, the man began to walk down the pier and investigate the cause of all the noise and commotion.
Powell continues: Upon investigation he discovered that the object of all the attention was a young man making the last-minute preparations for a solo journey around the world in a homemade boat. Without exception everyone on the pier was pessimistic. All were actively volunteering to tell the ambitious sailor all the things that could possibly go wrong. "The sun will broil you!" "You won't have enough food." "That boat of yours won't withstand the waves in a storm." (And of course, those familiar words) "You'll never make it."
When my friend heard all these discouraging warnings to the adventurous young man, he felt an irresistible desire to offer some optimism and encouragement. As the little craft began drifting away from the pier towards the horizon, my friend went to the end of the pier, waving both arms wildly like semaphores spelling confidence. He kept shouting: "Bon Voyage! You're really something! We're with you. We're proud of you!" (p. 17-18)
There is a story in the New Testament that is similar. When the disciples saw Jesus walking toward them on the water on a stormy night, Simon Peter could not restrain himself. "I want to do that, too!" he called out. Jesus said, "Come on." You know the rest of the story about Peter's failure, but what the Bible doesn't say is what the disciples were doing when Peter was going over the side of the boat in the storm. I speculate that they were yelling, "Peter, get back in here. You know you can't do that. Nobody has ever walked on water before. Get back in the boat where it's safe!"
When you see someone who is willing to live on the edge; or, attempt the impossible for God; or, take an unbelievable risk for ministry, what do you say to that forward-thinking saint of God? Are you an encourager, or do you explain in very logical terms why it can't be done?
GospeLines Prayer:Father, if I am not going to be an adventurer, give me the good sense to keep my negative thoughts to myself. Better still; give me one more opportunity to look back toward the shore as I set my sail on the seas of faith. If that doesn't happen, grant me the grace to wish those who are venturesome, "Bon Voyage." Amen and amen.