Thursday, January 28, 2016

Family and Church Attendance

I Won’t Force My Kids To Go To Church

closed door

My parents forced me to eat three times a day growing up. No joke. Three times. Every. Single. Day. And it wasn’t always stuff I liked, either. Matter of fact, I complained a lot about what my mom made. ‘Ewww, gross! Meatloaf? Seriously? Mom you know we hate this stuff!’ So as I approached adulthood I made an important decision. Since my parents forced me to eat while I was growing up, I decided I was done with meals. Oh, here and there I’ll eat out of obligation. I mean, family traditions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, yeah, I’m there. But daily eating? No way. I’m done.

Set in any other context, excuses people make for not going to church sound completely ridiculous. But set in the context of Christianity, people say these things in all seriousness while others nod sagely in somber agreement.

My son told me a few weeks into school that he didn’t like the teacher. He wasn’t getting excited enough about learning, and he didn’t really feel connected to the other kids in his class, so I told him he never had to go back to school again. Who wants to waste their time going somewhere they aren’t being fulfilled?

We’ve never forced our daughter to stay off the road when playing. We don’t want to restrict her imagination. We allow her the freedom to make her own choices in life.
– Ruth Meyer

Now maybe the above analogies sound ridiculous. Maybe you’re thinking, “No loving parent would let their kids decide whether to go to school or not, and they definitely wouldn’t let their kid play in traffic. That’s endangering their lives.  Its a matter of life or death.” And that is exactly the point. This is a matter of life or death for your child. Eternity is at stake.

In our family, church is a non-negotiable. Its a non-negotiable because we understand that how we raise our children, and what we teach them (or don’t teach them) about Jesus carries eternal consequences. And as parents we have a responsibility to share with them what God has done in our lives through the love of Jesus. So we read the Bible together at night and we pray together. We got to church. We talk about God at home and in the car and at the park. Will they always be excited about getting up and going to church? I hope so, but I doubt it. But regardless, my wife and I still make them go because we are their parents and we know whats best for them. And so, when they complain we will tell them why gathering together is a non-negotiable. Just like when they complain that we serve them healthy meals we explain why we eat vegetables and not just cake. We take them to school every morning; no matter how much they complain or bellyache. And we explain why school is so important. We set boundaries and limits while they are playing outdoors. We tell them to look both ways when they cross the street, not because we said so, but because to do otherwise means possibly being hit by a car. We do these things because we love them and we are looking at the long term outcome, not what will make them happiest in any given moment.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
– Proverbs 22:6

Will all of that insure that they turn out to be the model upstanding citizens that my wife and I hope? No. Its even possible for children to be brought up in a loving Christian home and still turn away from Jesus later. That is out of our control. As parents, our responsibility is to teach our children about the world and about God. We teach them how God created this world perfectly. We teach them how the world became broken through that first sin of Adam and Eve. When their own brokenness shows itself, we point it out, and then we point to the One who came to heal that brokenness; Jesus. And they are never too young to begin learning these things. Each of our children learned to pray while still in highchairs. Our responsibility as Christian parents is about so much more than just taking our kids to church on Sunday mornings.

To say, as a parent, “I won’t force my kids to go to church. I’ll let them decide on their own.” sounds so enlightened. But its the most dangerous thing a parent could say. It would be safer for you to let your children play on the highway in rush hour traffic than to let them decide whether or not they wanted to go to church. One of those options carries temporary consequences (if you let your child play on the highway in rush hour traffic they will die); and the other carries potential eternal consequences.

Church isn’t just one good choice among many. Church isn’t a building. Church, properly understood, is the body of Christ; the gathering of believers in a specific place. And as such, it is a place where we all belong. We are all equally sinful before God and equally in need of a Savior. Church isn’t just a place you go to. Its not a place that you go to feel better about yourself. Its not entertainment. Its purpose is not to give you ten easy steps to fix your marriage. Church is the gathering of believers to receive what God has come to give in Jesus.

Jesus himself said, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” – Matthew 18:20

So when we come together we confess our sins. Then, having confessed our brokenness and need, we hear words of forgiveness. We hear that, though our sins are many, God in Jesus has forgiven them. We hear God’s word spoken to us as Scripture is read, and we speak those words to each other through various parts of the service. We sing songs and hymns praising and proclaiming what Jesus has done for us. We hear hear sermons that proclaim the good news of forgiveness in Jesus.

Don’t give up and don’t give in to those outside voices that tell you how much more important sleep, or schoolwork, or band, or sports, or anything may be than church. Instead, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)


Is God Angry Anymore

Is God Angry Anymore?  

 by Jim Elliff

When I was in public high school, we had to read part of a famous sermon called Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, by Jonathan Edwards. He graphically pictured sinners as spiders dangling by a thread over the fire of Hell. He also asserted that God is angrier at this moment with some who are living than with others who are already in Hell.
Do you believe that? Is God angry? I don’t believe my teacher thought so. When I later studied the Bible on the subject, I was surprised by what I found.
I learned that God’s anger is pure. The biblical command, "Be angry and sin not" reminds us that there is an anger that is justified. God always has this kind of perfect, holy anger.
The Apostle Paul said, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men…" Romans 1:18a
King David said, "God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day." Psalm 7:11 (NKJV) And the Apostle John said, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him." John 3:36
Note that these verses teach that God is not only angry with sin but also with the sinner. Since God sees everything (Hebrews 4:13), He evaluates perfectly. Whenever God is angry it is for holy reasons.
Sometimes we think of God as a judge sitting on the bench who passively issues sentences to guilty persons. But is God like this? The original words used for God’s anger are passionate words. Why? Because, unlike our court judges, God Himself has been sinned against.
Notice the emotion in Nahum 1, where God is identified as jealous, avenging and filled with wrath (verse 2). Verse 6 is even more pointed. "Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him."
However, even in the midst of His fury, God is self-controlled. The Bible teaches that He is slow to anger (Nahum 1:3), and most of us learned long ago that God is love. But while a loving God certainly is willing to hold off His judgment, it is just as certain that He will judge sin.
Romans 2:5-6 describes it this way: "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.’" In verse 16 of the same chapter it says that this will occur "on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares."

Why is God so angry? There are at least three reasons.
1. Because of the sheer number of your sins. If you were to sin only 10 times a day for one year, you would disobey God 3,650 times. But if you sinned 10 times a day for 15 years, you would sin 54,750 times! You are a professional sinner! Yet, how many times did Adam sin before he was cursed by God?
2. Because you have sinned against such an infinite God and high command. There are different levels of sin and punishment (Luke 10:12; 12:42-48). A crime is weighed according to the seriousness of the command and the stature of the person who is sinned against. It is one thing to disobey your coach at school. It is another thing to disobey a judge. It is one thing to turn in a late term paper. It is another thing to murder the president. The highest command is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength." The greatest being is God. Each time you sin, you commit the highest crime against the greatest being! God ought to be angry.
3. Because you have sinned against God’s greatest act of love. Christ was sent into the world of men and women out of love (John 3:16). But many of your friends, and perhaps you also, have rejected Christ up to this very moment. This rebellion is a sin against compassion. Is it any wonder that God is angry with those who think little of His love?
How can you be rescued from this holy anger? Only through propitiation. But what does that mean?
The word "propitiation" (pro-pish-ee-ay-shun; sometimes translated, atonement) means this: Jesus fully satisfied the just anger of God for people like you by dying in your place, taking on himself all the wrath you deserve. We learn about this in Romans 3:24-25 and Hebrews 2:17. God’s just fury, indignation and anger for sins were poured out on Christ for every sinful person who will come to him by faith.
And that is great news!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Courage to be a Godly man...

Dr. Crawford Loritts ...53 leadership quotes about the courage needed to be a Godly man:

1. Spiritual gifts are not a path to self-discovery. The only reason is for the wholeness and the blessing of the body of Christ.

2. Adversity and inadequacies are gifts from God.

3. What you don’t have forces us to rely on God.

4. God hits straight licks with crooked sticks.

5. Having gaps does not limit what God can do.

6. It is a miracle God would use me to do anything.

7. It is more important for us to have a big vision for God than it is for us to be looking at if we’re capable of something.

8. We all are deficient.

9. Spurgeon struggled with depression his whole ministry. Feeling of worthlessness.

10. Listen to God speaking through your wife.

11. No one can be the husband of your wife but you. No one can be the father of your children but you.

12. Some of us get in trouble not because of the work but other things.

13. You have to speak in one voice as a couple.

14. It is the wife and mother that creates the environment that creates the attitude about dad.

15. If momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. If daddy ain’t happy, nobody cares.

16. Kids need to know there are justifiable sacrifices.

17. It takes courage to be a man.

18. Nothing in life happens apart from courage.

19. There is no movement in life apart from courage.

20. Somebody has to own the responsibility to do something. That is the role of being a husband and father. Someone has to go to a place nobody wants to go so others can arrive at a place they always wanted to be.

21. Great disclosure comes greater responsibility.

22. Great understanding brings greater accountability.

23. The first pillar of courage rests upon a clear assignment from God.

24. When a man of God dies nothing of God dies. Don’t get arrogant.

25. Our hearts are to be filled with what God wants done apart from our personalities and feelings.

26. There is no such thing as courage apart from clarity.

27. Faith does not exist apart from opposition.

28. You are courageous for something. There is an assignment from God. There is something that needs to be done.

29. Courage is always in the verb position. It is always moving somewhere.

30. If you are the head of your household, God expects us to listen to Him and do what needs to be done inside that house.

31. Seek God’s will about our lives. Why are we here? What were we born for? What are our assignments? What is He telling us to do? Too many of us are too passive.

32. Courage rests upon the assurance of God’s presence.

33. God never called anyone to do anything in the Scriptures that you don’t see a promise of His presence. When you do what He wants you to do, there is a manifestation of His presence.

34. God’s will and God’s plan is about the manifestation of Himself. Your neck is not on the line.

35. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the direction of your fear.

36. Don’t ever follow anyone who never said they were never afraid. That person is an idiot.

37. If you fear God more than people, you will always come out courageous.

38. Courage rests upon on focused determination.

39. God does not negotiate with Joshua whether he is courageous enough to handle the assignment. He commands him to be courageous.

40. If you act with courage, you’re going to get courage. Don’t wait to feel like you have it.

41. Courage is like a muscle. It gets stronger when you exercise it.

42. Leadership is not for the faint of heart. The devil is not sitting back while we determine to raise Godly kids. He is going to come after you. You are on the right target when you are being shot at.

43. Success and failure is really in your hands.

44. Your success or failure is determined by your relationship to the Word of God.

45. A leader means you are a portrait of the desired destination at which others should wish to arrive. We’ve got to be it.

46. Our culture and society is going down the crapper because we have ignored Truth.

47. You’ve got to proclaim Truth. You’ve got to possess Truth.

48. When they cut you, you ought to bleed Bible. – Tony Evans

49. You’ve got to practice Truth.

50. Leadership in the Bible is all about character because the leader needs to be worth following.

51. People follow you because of who you are.

52. We’ve got to organize our life based upon what God is calling us to do and be.

53. Pull the trigger. Get up and act. Take responsibility. Apologize for where we have been passive with our wives and kids.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

10 Things Generation Y Christians Need To Hear

January 20, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 1.25.01 AM
Ten somewhat blunt pieces of advice to myself along with any generation Y christians.
  1. You don’t have to have a certain theme going for you in order to be a christian. You do not need to know how to do calligraphy. You do not need to own anything North Face and no, not even Patagonia. You are allowed to not like Chacos. An Eno is not a necessity. You do not need to have a certain look to be a christian. You just need a certain heart; a broken one- a broken heart in need of repair. Priceless.
  2. There is a big difference between showing off your God and showing off your relationship with God. It is all about your motives. If you are Instagramming a picture of your bible and notes to glorify your God, continue on but if you are deep down glorifying yourself and how prideful you feel for spending time with the Lord, just post the picture of your dog from last Thursday instead.
  3. Don’t let your holy phone life take place of your good actions in real life. If you text sincerely and genuinely, you better be talking even more sincerely and genuinely in person. If you remind others of true Love via social media, you better be showing them even more of it when you see them in the real world. Don’t hide behind your phone. Show Jesus in your actions, not just in your captions.
  4. Age should not discourage you but you don’t need to have it all figured out either. You will never know the full reality of Jesus Christ until you have made it to His feet in heaven. Don’t act like you know it all. There is a reason why they call it growing in Jesus Christ. There is no christian who has it all figured out because God is so great and mighty, He has made Himself impossible to completely figure out here on earth. Give yourself a break, no one else in the room knew how to pronounce Ampliatus either.
  5. Don’t expect nor give yourself any glory for doing what you have been called to do. Stop celebrating yourself when loving others. Celebrate God being so grand and personal that He loved the ones you love through your actions. He chose to do it through you and you could not have done it without Him. It is all His. We need to stop being proud for loving others. Loving others should be the norm.
  6. Pray to the Ruler, not the room. When we pray to the room for affirmation from others, our prayers are stationary. When we connect our prayers to the Ruler, our prayers have power basked in power because the greatest Power is the receiver of these prayers. Powerful, real prayer are linked to the One above, not the ones around.
  7. Never stop being amazed with how abundantly free and full God desires you to live. Jesus did not just die for you so you could lay down your life the day you handed it over but so that you could choose freedom in each day, so that you could touch the fullness of life He created in every day. He gave up perfection so you would not have to run in fear of it. Never stop realizing how good He is, how free you truly are and how loved you will forever be.
  8. If they aren’t leading you, you better be leaving them. I have said it once. I’ll probably say it about fifteen more times this month. If they are not leading you to the cross-recklessly, lovingly, boldly, and your number one goal in life is to be with Jesus Christ intimately and closely, something is off. Make sure their heart is for Jesus before their heart is for you. Make sure your relationship with them is not the most significant one in their life.
  9. Do not be scared if your perception of God shifts as you grow. Do not shy away from learning about who God truly is just because He is becoming a clearer, more real and personal God, perhaps an even more straight to the point kind of God. His love still endures forever. He is still good no matter how complicated He may seem at a certain valley during your growth.
  10. Stop freaking out at the cash register. Stop trying to find your credit card. Stop trying to dig for your checkbook. Stop trying to find any coins. They are not present. Someone who went before you has already paid for all you owe and you can never return the favor. All you can do is live your life like a big, “Thank you!” and go in peace, freedom and love. That’s it.