So What’s the Promise?

www.bible.com/1713/eph.6.2.csb

We have a lot of Scripture to thank the Apostle for. We can attribute much of our daily practice and theology to him. Which is why this passage presents us with a problem.

Paul has written elsewhere that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the law, and that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. That said, he presents this text “Honor thy father and thy mother”, the fifth commandment, complete with its context, for this commandment contains a promise “that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land” the Lord God is sending you to, i.e., the land of Israel. Here’s why this is a problem.

The promise of the fifth commandment is to the people of Israel, so that they could occupy and inhabit the land of promise indefinitely. The promise involved a particular piece of real estate. However, Paul does qualify this promise in its original context. Instead, his quote ends at ” land”. The problem, one might argue, is that Paul is appropriating the land promises made to Israel and passing them on to the Christians of his day. In a greater argument that Paul is extending the promises (and obligations) given to Israel are also to Christians. That’s a lot of weight to put upon one verse, especially taken out of context of the rest of Paul’s words.

Rather, Paul is extending the promise here made to Israel by observing a different focus. His focus is on the promise of “long life” rather than the land. The land here really could be anywhere Christians find themselves. The strength of this promise comes from the authority of God Himself. So why do Christian children, who have honored this commandment, still die young?

Let me present the third possibility. That the land of long life promised here isn’t eighty years and dying of old age. What’s in view here, a child that honors his father and mother by clinging to the God that saved them is a child who is promised eternal life in the land God has prepared for them.

If we are honoring father and mother, we are working out God’s will in our lives. We are honoring those He chose to bring us life, and this is important, whether we actually respect them or not. Being able to honor them is to fulfill the commandment, and to honor the God that maybe even despite them, brought you to Himself.

Not every parent is perfect, and many don’t come close. But the commandment of God is non-negotiable. Honor means respect, both in life and in memory. Honor can be honest, but it must be respectful. If you have good parents, this is easy. If not, this is one of your greatest challenges. But know that we are all in this together. If you need help, ask. Let us pray with you.

I hope you can have a happy Father’s Day. God bless you all!

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One of These Little Ones

www.bible.com/1713/mat.18.6.csb

““But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to fall away — it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:6‬ ‭CSB‬‬

https://www.bible.com/1713/mat.18.6.csb

God is looking out for the little ones. He is watching those in whose charge they are. Caring for a child is made a grave responsibility here. Children are not insignificant. They are not pests or bothers, or inhibitors to a good time. Children are not a burden. Children are a privilege. Many people can’t have them. Those that do often renege of their responsibility in favor of their own good time.

When my wife and started having children over 20 years ago, we were both excited and afraid. We’re excited because we were going to be parents and enter that rarified space known only to people with children. But we were, and still are, afraid. Raising a child is like building a nuclear bomb. There are a lot of small pieces that go into it. Sometimes you have to be tough, and other times you have to be gentle, and in the end, you still have he potential for disaster, but if you did your job right, you have unleashed upon the world a great power for good. It can be powerful and respected, or it can be desctrucrive, even destroying your world too.

Children are precious. Take care of them.

God bless.

The Law of the Harvest

www.bible.com/1713/gal.6.7.csb

Honestly I don’t think about this one very much. I don’t live in a area where I am surrounded by cornfields and soybeans like I used to. But I remember enough of those days to know that whatever you plant, you can expect to sow. That is, you won’t get wheat if you plant corn. You won’t get tomatoes if you plant potatoes. You reap what you sow. You harvest what you plant. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? That’s why it’s called the Law of the Harvest.

However, did you know that this law extends into other areas? If you sow lies, you will get deceit. If you sow anger, you will get rebellion. If you sow infidelity, you will get betrayal. If you plant something in your relationships and even in your church, you will reap accordingly. Do you want a good family? Then must at least do good among them. Do you want a good marriage? Then you must at least be a faithful partner.

The fist part of this verse says this: “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked.” What is this supposed to mean? God has already said what is the best way to deal with your kids, your spouse, you family and you church. He has already told you how to deal with your manager, your friends, other people in the world. He will not be mocked by you. Others may try to deceive you into another way to deal with all of these people and relationships. They may tell you that letting your children be free to discover themselves is the best way, but God says, “spare the rod, spoil the child.” A child needs external discipline from parents to teach them what good and courteous behavior is. Only with that external discipline will they begin their own internal discipline, which makes for good citizens, and people of conscience. God told us, and He will not be mocked. And we have already seen the results of what happens when you spare the rod.

I don’t know what pain you are going through right now, but I want to encourage you too. It’s not too late. God will not be mocked, but He will forgive. You may have been deceived, but you don’t have to stay that way. God calls you today to truth, believe and you can be forgiven. Come to Jesus so that you may receive forgiveness through His blood. You won’t regret it.

God bless you today.

You are Reading it Wrong

www.bible.com/1713/pro.22.6.csb

So amazing to see one translation actually get this right. Years ago I came across a book about Old Testament textual issues and this verse came up for discussion. For centuries we have understood it to mean that a child, properly disciplined, will stay a disciplined person for as long as he lives. But that isn’t what the Hebrew says. Rather, it is better translated as the above. Once a child finds his way, he will never depart from it. His way is his path of life, his habits and behaviors that define who he is. We also call this his “bent”. A strong-willed child will be strong-willed into adulthood. A passive child the same. There is confidence and danger both here. Once you discover your child’s way, you have to learn how to work with it, and help him discover God given his personality set. Strong-willed children can’t be told. They must discover. Passive child must be told, but also encouraged, and so on.

God did not make us all the same (do you hear that public schools?). We were not all designed to sit behind a desk and learn something by lecture. Some of us learn better with our hands, with our eyes, even with our feet. And it is hard to watch them grow, learn, and make mistakes. But they must make mistakes to learn. And we must let them. We cannot and should not help the butterfly out of the cocoon. It take time to mold a life into its adult form. We must give it even freedom to do so.

If you are a parent, consider what kind of child you have. If he needs to explore, give him space. Correct him when necessary. Be clear about the rules and where the guardrails to his exploration are. But always encourage him. Discipline is about sharpening the edge, that learning from the past is effective lesson for the future. If you are a mom, then I doubly commend you this week, for you have labored to bring this life into the world, both to birth him and/ or to raise him. For Dads, I would also commend you, for you are the one necessary to bring this child into adulthood, to teach him the ways of the world, but to also understand how his way works and interacts with the world. Be gentle but firm. Be loving but willing to be hard when necessary. You both are his first and best teachers.

God bless you both today.

As for me and my house

www.bible.com/72/jos.24.15.hcsb

I don’t know how much pull you have in your house, but in my family I am the head of household, at least until someone disagrees with me. 😁 I’ve been in ministry now for 25 years, and generally decisions about church have been settled simply by where I was preaching at the time. Here lately, we’ve been going where my wife feels more comfortable going since I’ve been out of the pulpit. It’s been an adjustment, but one that I am making because she has enjoyed church and worship far more than ever I’ve seen her. I love her and I love seeing her happy. The church preaches the Bible and really that’s what we need.

It is not a hard choice making Jesus Lord. It’s just hard to follow through. Becoming a Christian is easy. Growing as a Christian is hard. Being a Christian father of a home is even more challenging. Every one of us makes an independent choice and following Christ is supposed to be one of free will. Being a father who leads his family, especially with children who makes their own choices, requires both talking the talk and walking the walk. Kids see you when you are weak. They see you when you are in crisis. In other words, they see dad when he’s not in church.

I want to encourage you today, especially if you are a parent, to make the hard choices. You have a Father to look up to and Jesus to follow when you don’t know what to do. Your kids are looking to you, watching you when you face challenges and difficulties. Don’t give up. God has not given up on you.

My prayers be with you today. God bless.

The Gospel of Entertainment and the Exodus of the Next Generation

The Gospel of Entertainment and the Exodus of the Next Generation

The Gospel of Entertainment and the Exodus of the Next Generation
— Read on helpmebelieveblog.com/2019/05/07/the-gospel-of-entertainment-and-the-exodus-of-the-next-generation/

I want to share this because I have seen this happen over and again. Kids need the same thing adults do: community! If we neglect that part, we cannot keep them with anything else. Also, when they go off to college, as we do often encourage them, they leave all the things that help them in their behavior and have to find all new things. This may swerve into the “do they really need college” discussion, but such a transition can be jarring if not detrimental to our youth development.

Tangled Webs

“What a tangled web we weave . . .”

Children are a blessing from God, in their proper context. “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5a) Especially grandchildren, for “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” (Proverbs 17:6) Now that the Mrs. and I are expecting our fourth child, I see the worth of this little passage. Our prayer is that the next one, a boy if the SONAR is right, is born healthy like his brother and sisters.

Call me old-fashioned, but I thought kids were to follow marriage, not precede it. (I can hear you thinking, “here he goes again”) Now if anyone is keeping track, no one yet has taken me up on my offer to marry for free. Although, I have heard rumors that I’ve been pretty mean to unmarried couples. I’ll admit, my bark is worse than my bite. But have you stopped to consider that maybe we’ve been too easy on these kids having kids?

That’s really the shame of our permissive society, when the words “I’m pregnant” are not given in joy, but as a threat. When are children a threat? When free-living and irresponsibility comes to a screeching halt. Children are the end of fun, the end of happy-go-lucky. They are the beginning of responsibility: midnight feedings, trips to the doctor and the teacher, more groceries, more bills, more heartache when they stray.

We’ve already had three, so it’s not like we don’t know what to expect. Babies cry, smell, spit-up, and my personal favorite, the single-most eye-opening sound they make, bleegch! I have been sound asleep, but when the little one makes the “Bleegch” sound in the middle of the night, I have been known to instantly spring into action. I’ve seen a lot of stuff, but having upset stomach spill out over the sheets wakes you up faster than a pot of coffee.

The adults who spawn a child have to make hard choices. It used to be when the girl got pregnant the man responsible was obligated to marry her, so that that child would grow up in a two-parent family. Sometimes I long for those days, for those and for the days when a man established himself, by getting a job and a house, before he proposed to his fiancé. These are standards people used to grow up with, because then, the focus was on stability, security, and having a strong family for a strong nation. Nowadays, kids are often passed off to grandma, or to friends, so that the fun and the parties and the sex never stops. Shame on anyone who treats his child like yesterday’s newspaper. And the Bible warns that that kind of attitude will come back to you ten-fold. A child who is rejected by his parents can’t cope with it. They seek anyone who will listen to them, and often find the wrong friends. End result? They become more foolish than their parents. And this is where the real heartache begins. The Bible says:

“To have a fool for a son brings grief; there is no joy for the father of a fool. . . . A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him.” (Proverbs 17:21, 25)

“A foolish son is his father’s ruin.” (Proverbs 19:13)

“Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (Proverbs 19:18)

This proverb is a reply in a way to God’s Law – “Anyone who curses his father and mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.” (Leviticus 20:9) It may sound harsh, but God knows that the stability of any society relies wholly on the ability of parents to teach their children respect for their authority, and thus for all authorities. Any child who curses his father or mother will be a threat to the whole, and must be dealt with severely, as both example and as prevention. Children may seem like an inconvenience now, but someday they will be a doctor, or a lawyer, making policy and law while you are sick, old, and frail. Is it any wonder that the current generation in power is considering euthanasia as a possible way to “dispose” of the elderly? Where do you suppose that attitude came from? From the parents who were too busy to play with their kids because they had to make all the money to buy the big house and fancy car. They “disposed” of their kids with the Daycare, or somesuch. Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it? If your kids are a “burden” to you, just remember, someday they will make the decision whether or not to pull the plug. Someday they will be president, or they will be making the car you drive. Do you want to drive a car built by a kid who has no respect for his boss?

Children are the wealth of a home, and the Bible clearly teaches this. A man with many children can count himself blessed. We are breaking down our society with every child born out of wedlock. God bless those men and women who marry into families with children and make it work. We witness the destruction of our nation when children don’t know who their fathers are. For what ties do they have to the past, to patriotism, to anything, if they have no ties to their own fathers? Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

If you know a young man or young woman who is lost, without a father or a mother, then can I ask you to step in and take some responsibility for that child? Your future depends on them, whether they are yours or not. They need you, because they need a godly man or woman to show them what God is like. Consider it a mission to bring that person to the Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Christ, but be the living example for them too. Show them the love that they are desperate for.