TELL – TEACH – TRAIN

Some thoughts regarding the raising of children, with special emphasis on the fathers role in the home specifically.

As I reflected on fathers and their children and especially my own relationship as a father with my own three sons, it occurred to me that the best example of a Father/Son relationship to be found in the Bible is the one between Jesus himself and the Heavenly Father.  Jesus said that “he always did and said what the Father told him.”  Personally I have been trying for years to get my sons to have this same attitude with mixed results.  My own father used to say, “son, don’t just do what I do, do what I tell you.”  He seemed to understand as I myself have learned, that it is always easier to preach to our kids as to how they should live, who they should hang-out with, where they should go, what they should do, and so on and so forth.  It is not always an easy task to practice what it is we preach.  My own father knew one primary verse of scripture which he preached to us kids on many occasions, “honor thy father and mother.”  He didn’t just preach this short sermon on Sundays however, but whenever he thought we were breaking the commandment.

Seriously though, not always do our kids have the same purpose or goals in life, nor are they of the same opinion on certain matters are we.  Often in homes, there is dissension or division between parents and children.  Some may call this the “generation gap,” or some other term.  When they don’t think or act like we do, we think they have “gone astray” or “gone bad.”  Someone once said, “a juvenile delinquent is a child trying to act like his parents.”  What kind of an example are we setting for our kids?  How can we help our kids to grow to have good values, morals and principles?  God has something to say to us parents, especially us fathers, with regard to these kinds of questions.  Let me share some of them with you from the pages of the Holy Bible.

Psalm 78 says;

Vs. 1 – “O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.”  This is an earnest plea from God to us as parents.  It is from the depths of the great heart of God himself.  He is saying, “this is one of the most important things you will every hear – my teaching.

Vs. 2 – “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old -”  Jesus quoted this scripture in Matthew, chapter thirteen in reference to His teaching and to the fultillment of this prophecy in relation to his own ministry.  We should listen to His teaching, to his words to us!  When God says He will “open His mouth,” that means He will speak.  We’d best listen!  We’d best pay attention!  When my own children didn’t pay attention when I spoke to them or told them what to do, the worst thing that would happen to them is that they’d get into trouble.  The best thing that would happen is that they’d miss out on what I would consider to be a “blessing.”  I had something important to tell them and they were missing the point.  People often say, “I wish God would just speak to me on such and such a subject,” when in fact He is through the pages of His written Word!

Vs. 3 – “What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.”  This speaks of personal testimony.  Do you have one?  This verse speaks of personal, intimate, knowledge of God.  Dad, do you know Him?  Do you have a personal relationship with the Heavenly Father?  If your answer is no, or if you’re not quite sure, why not start up a relationship with God the Father today?  Jesus said in John Chapter five, verse 23 and following, “…that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.  I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has CROSSED OVER FROM DEATH TO LIFE.”  God has built a bridge from the death of your old life to newness of life in His Son Jesus Christ.  All you have to do is believe this and get on that bridge and walk over to the other side, God’s side!  What an offer!  Why wait?  You won’t find an offer like that anywhere else – at a car dealer or a superstore or anywhere.  Don’t turn it down!  Just pray right where you are and ask Christ to forgive you and to come into your life and be your Lord.  God is more than willing to answer your prayer.

Vs. 4 – “We will not hide them from their children…”  As fathers, we will not hide these things of God, we won’t keep this great information for ourselves.  We will share it with our kids and their kids.  “We will TELL the next generation…”  This business of teaching our children the things of God, and of our personal experience with God, is not up to the Sunday School department of your church, the Pastor, or anyone else, (although they may assist), it is up to you Dads, to you parents!  As parents, we must check-up occasionally on the spiritual condition of our kids, to ask them as a priest I used to know when I was a kid used to ask, “how’s you love life?”  Then, after he had your complete, undivided attention after putting that question to you, would add, “with God!”  Verse 4 also tells us not just to tell our kids, but what we should tell them; “the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done.”  Tell them dads of how God saved you, or how he rescued you from a bad situation.  Tell them of what a great God you believe in.  Tell them of how God has the power to help your kids when they get in a difficult bind, if they will call on Him in the day of trouble.  Tell them what you know of God and don’t be afraid to tell them of what you don’t know.  Your kids will respect you for telling them that contrary to their belief otherwise, that as a dad you simply don’t know it all.

Vs. 5 – “He decreed statutes…which he commanded our forefathers to TEACH their children…”

Deuteronomy 4:9 – “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.  TEACH them to your children and to their children after them.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  IMPRESS them on your children.  (Stamp them, indelibly etch them, imprint them like you would a young foal, so that they will know God).  “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up…;”  (Do this talking and teaching about God at any time, all the above or when you are fishing or hunting or driving in your chariot.  You will know when it feels right to teach them).  “TIE them as symbols on your hands and BIND them on your foreheads.  WRITE them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

All this “impressing, tying, binding and writing,” means simply this; DON’T FORGET THEM!  THESE THINGS OF GOD!  THEY ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE!!!

So why do all this teaching and telling?

Vs. 6 – “So the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.”  As fathers, as parents, we are to pass-on our faith.!

Vs. 7 – “Then they would put their TRUST in God and would NOT FORGET His deeds but would KEEP His commands.”

God wants to bless your children.  He wants you to have a happy family.  He wants this for you just as you want good things for your children.  It’s not too late!  Start now so they won’t be like the parents God spoke of in Verses eight through thirty-two of Psalm 78.  Of those forefathers, God said they were; “not loyal, not faithful, cowardly and unbelieving, did not keep his covenant, refused to live His way, they forgot, they continued to sin, (instead of stopping), they rebelled, they put God to the test, they spoke against God, they did not believe in or trust Him, they kept on sinning (in spite of all His care for them).”

Do you want this for your kids?  Of course not!  If not, then follow this advice from Proverbs 22:6, “TRAIN up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  Webster defines “training” as “to cause to grow as desired, (i.e., a vine on a trellis).  To form my instruction and discipline.”

How do you want your children to grow?  Do you want them to be godly?  Do you want them to be just like you?  Get a testimony for God for yourself by crossing that bridge, then TELL, TEACH AND TRAIN them in the things of God and may He bless you in the effort to do so!

ON HORSES, HUMANS & HEAVEN

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.  Do not be like the horse or mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”  Psalm 32:8-9

The Bible often makes comparisons of animals to people.  For example, those who believe in the Lord are referred to as sheep.  This means they are to be harmless, gentle and willing to follow the shepherd wherever He may lead them.

Sometimes, however, the analogy is not quite so complimentary.  I am thinking in particular of Jeremiah chapter five, verses 8-9; “They are all well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife.  Should I not punish them for this?” declares the Lord.  Truth is often painful, but always for the good.  As a hobby, I used to train horses instead of watching T.V..  Sometimes I think I’d been better-off watching T.V..  Horses remind me of people.  When it comes to faith in God they have much in common.  I personally believe that when the Creator created the horse,  He had in mind a creature that would be something like a cross between a dog and a cat – half man’s best friend and half – well – you know, (sorry cat lovers), but bigger of course!  O.K., for the purpose of clarification, let’s say the Trainer is God and some people are the horse, (trainee).  When the trainer walks into the pen with a bucket full of oats, the trainee will walk up to him, (very cautiously of course), grab a mouthful, then turn and quickly make tracks the opposite direction.  Just like some folks, I guess it wanted its oats and eat-em too!  Seems like lots of people  want all the good things God has to offer, (wealth, land, food, health, etc…), but are not willing to be caught of the Lord and used for his purposes.  The horse is not aware that he relies on the trainer for life itself.

Wild horses, just like some people, are really, really wild.  These horses are quite to see running on the open range, running free.  Many people almost seem to envy them; eating, sleeping, breeding, and running around, without seemingly a worry or care.  But one must keep in mind the horse was created to be used.  There is nothing finer than to see a man and a horse functioning as a cohesive unit at an event of some sort such as a rodeo, horse show or simply on some grassy plain herding cattle.  If you could ask one however, the wild horse, also like some people would probably tell you that he prefers the wild life.  I am reminded their was a time when they used to turn wild horses into dog food.  I can just imagine papa wild horse asking junior; “Son, when you grow up what do you want to be?”  Can you imagine the little colt telling his daddy that when he grows up he wants to become a fifty pound bag of Alpo?

This is what God says of the wildness of the human spirit and its resulting stubbornness:

“But they, our forefathers became arrogant and stiff-necked and did not obey your commands.  they refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them.  They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader to return to their slavery….  You warned them to return to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands.  They sinned against your ordinances by which a man will live if he obeys them.  Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen.  For many years you were patient with them.  By your spirit you admonished them through your prophets.  Yet they paid no attention…,”  Nehemiah 9:16-17, 29-39

Sound familiar?  Do you feel like you’re looking into a spiritual mirror when you read these verses?  Take heart, there’s more;

“But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate and slow to anger and abounding in love…,” (vs. 17).  “But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God…,” (vs. 31).

In time, the Trainer is able to get a halter on the trainee.  When attempting to lead it however, the contest of wills is on as to just who is going to lead who!  Since the beginning of time, man has been trying to lead God around – to try to make Him into what he wants Him to be and make Him do what he wants Him to do!  Hopefully you realize this is all wrong and completely unnatural.  The Bible says, “who are you o man to talk back to God?” (Romans 9:20).  The first thing the trainee must learn is just who’s boss.  At first he resists.  Then after awhile, the trainee may learn that the trainer is in fact the boss and may concede to his training and leading.  On occasion however, he will still resist, just like the rest of us ex-wild horses!  The trainee is learning to trust the Trainer.  The word of God says to “trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding,” (Proverbs 3:5).  He is fearful at first and tries to flee.  But then he begins to progress, well on his way to being useful in the service of his Trainer who has by now become his Master.

There is one last comment I would like to make about horses – they must have water.  Jesus said to drink from the fountain of living waters which would never run dry; “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water…; Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life,” (John 4:10, 13-14).  There is an old, old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”  How true!  There is an even older saying, “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death,” (Proverbs 14:27).  If it were up to me, well aware of the importance of such matters, I would make them drink, knowing that it meant life or death.  But God is not that way, knowing that if you force anything on anyone, they will simply choke on it or spit it out!  They must want  living water.  Do you?  Feeling dry lately?  Parched?  what I have tried to do is to lead you to the source of the fountain of living water.  Note that it is “living water.”  In Jesus is the life of the human spirit and the world.  But I cannot make you drink.  The choice is yours alone.  What will you decide to be – a stubborn ole horse or what God intended for you all along, from the beginning of time – a human headed for heaven?

Almosta Christian

“Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  (Acts 26:28)

King Agrippa asked a timeless question that echoes through the canyons of the centuries, and the most important of all.

The occasion was Paul’s defense of himself to King Agrippa after being arrested on false charges.  His accusers wanted to put him to death.  For the apostle, it was an opportunity to share his personal testimony of his life changing encounter with Jesus Christ and the timeless answer to the timeless question of King Agrippa.

In his oratory to the King, Paul spoke of who he once was and of who he had become after his experience of meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus.  His story was powerful, like those of all who have been changed from the miserable, lost souls we once were to those who have become children of God, by faith in his Son – the Gift of God.  Paul repeated to the King and those present what Jesus had said to him that day on the road to Damascus.  Like Paul, we are on a road, the road of life.  It is a road that leads to a “dead end” without Jesus.  Paul spoke eloquently, gracefully and powerfully to one of the most powerful men of his time, the most powerful message of all time, “I am sending you to them to open their eyes,” Jesus said, “and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me,” (Acts 26:17-18).   What a message!  My timeless question is – “why would anyone turn down such an offer?”  And yet, Agrippa had to think about it.  He certainly was not easily persuaded, even by such a powerful message from such a powerful force – the Holy Spirit of God speaking through His human servant and mouthpiece – Paul.  Perhaps he had more important things to think about, like running a country or something.  Maybe he thought about what it would cost if he accepted the abundant life and eternal life that the Son of God has to offer.  Or did he simply enjoy his life of sin without the presence of God in his life?  He might have felt embarrassed if he accepted Christ.

So King Agrippa almost became a Christian that day.  Just think, he almost found abundant life in the here and now. He almost received eternal life after the here and now.  He almost got his eyes opened.  He almost came out of the darkness of disgusting sin and shame, into the brilliant light of God.  He was almost turned from the overwhelming, deadly, freedom binding power of Satan to the awesome, freedom giving, joyful power of Almighty God.  He almost got forgiveness of his sins and rotten choices in life by the God who gave him life.  Oh, the choices we make.  I hope King Agrippa thought about Paul’s words later, when he was alone.  Perhaps he changed his mind and realized, like us all, how self-centered he was.  I hope he called out to the Lord to forgive him, save him and  be the Lord of his life.

Two Dot, Montana & The Unsearchable Riches of Christ

Back in the days of homesteading, there were some very large ranches owned and controlled by rugged, hearty, wealthy,  individuals.  The Grant/Kohrs ranch in Montana is one such example, consisting of something along the lines of four million acres.  Another was owned and operated by Two Dot Wilson.  Two Dot, of course was a nickname.  I first learned of him and his fascinating story because of a blizzard in central Montana where I lived.  The highway was closed at Harlowton.  Although we were only a short distance from home at Buffalo, nevertheless my son and I had to rent a motel room for the night.  We made the trip into town to get something to eat.  At the restaurant was a little book on the history of the area and that is where I learned of Two Dot Wilson.  There is a little village in the area named after him.

Mr. Wilson was amazingly wealthy for his time.  He owned thousands of cattle, a large number of sheep and hundreds of horses.  He was good to the Indians who would visit and was known as a generous, gracious man.  In the vernacular of our day we might say, “he had it all.”  Except the one thing he wanted the most – a wife.  Since Two Dot didn’t want to marry a woman from the area, he took a trip back east where he was from to find just the right one.  Because he did not want his future wife to marry him because he was wealthy, it was his practice to not dress as a gentleman of his day.  Instead, he dressed casually as any rancher of his day.  Two Dot did in fact fall in love with someone and they were married.  The story said that while on the stagecoach heading back to the homestead on the prairie of Montana, the new Mrs. Wilson looked at her husband and said something like this; “honey, do you think it’d be alright to get just one ole cow so we can have milk for the table?”  Two Dot had not told her nor had she any idea of the extreme wealth of her new husband.   The ranch had an abundance of cows and far greater riches than she could ever imagine.

This great story illustrates one of my favorite verses in the Bible, found in First Corinthians, chapter two, verse 9; “…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

And so it is with our Great God and His kingdom.  We are like Two Dot’s wife so-to-speak.  In Ephesians chapter five, verses 22 and following, the Apostle Paul teaches what God’s will is for marriage.  Then in verse 32 of the same chapter, he writes; “This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.”  Like Mrs. Wilson who had no idea of the wealth that awaited her, so do we as believers in Jesus Christ have only a little idea of the magnitude of the fantastic, wonderful things God has in store for those who love and seek Him.  In chapter three of his letter to the church at Ephesus, verse 8, Paul refers to this as… “the unsearchable riches of Christ…”

What does this have to do with you and me?  If our desire in life is to want all that God has in store for us, both in this life and the life to come, it is worth pursuing.  If we seek God and desire His will to be accomplished in our lives, He is more than willing to be found of us and to give us the abundant life He promised here in this world and eternal life when our journey in this life is complete.  There is nothing more important in our lives than the relationship we have with our Creator and God and His son Jesus Christ.  May it be the pursuit and goal of the short time we spend in this world, to search for and find, “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”  When we seek Him and are found of Him, we truly become “rich,” like Two Dot’s wife, but incomparably so much more.

 

Terrible Times

Lately, wherever you turn for news, whoever you talk to, everyone is talking about how bad things are.  The airwaves are full of news of terrorist attacks both here and abroad.  Accounts of Rape and murder on our streets have become common place.  Hatred and strife fills the world in which we live.  Many have no respect for life, either the unborn or for those who are living.  Just when we thought we had heard it all, we hear of another even more horrific story.  It is so depressing that many people have simply chosen not to listen to the news.  This is somewhat like the proverbial Ostrich hiding its head in the sand.  The problem here is that the rest of its posterior is still above ground and in plain view.  No matter how hard we try – these problems are not going to go away.  We all wish they would.  So what should we do?  Listen to what the scripture has to say in II Timothy, chapter 3; “But mark this: 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-having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.”   There is more that follows, but you get the point.  These are tough times.  In response to such out-of-control times, the apostle Paul tells young Timothy, “but as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of…and how from infancy you have know the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, (vs.14:ff).”

This is the answer to these “terrible times,” to sink the roots of our faith in God and the salvation He has provided to us through his son Christ Jesus, ever deeper.  To grow everyday in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.  Like Timothy, the longer I live, the more I am “convinced” of the truth of God’s Word, the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed to us through his written word, the Bible.

I understand how those feel who simply want to turn off the news and hide their head in the sand, so to speak.  Sometimes I feel the same way.  It is good to have balance at such times – to shut off the constant bad news and turn on the good news by opening the Word of God and drinking deeply from the well spring of his Good News – such hope – so refreshing.

Listen to these beautiful prayers and verses from the Bible so full of hope and faith:

“O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you.  Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress…He will be the sure foundation for your times..,” (Isaiah 33:2&6).

Perfection

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”      Matthew 5:48

Every time I read this verse, I become more aware of just how imperfect I am.  Most of us do not want to think about this.  It means we have to face mistakes and poor decisions we have made.  The Lord’s command in this very short, very important verse is just that – a command.  So why would He tell us to do something so difficult, actually insisting on it? Because we are never to stop trying to be the best people we can be, to be pleasing to our creator & Lord. This non-optional command to “be perfect…,” summarizes the Lord’s teaching in the preceding and following chapters and verses regarding how we are to live our lives as believers. He tells us to be “salt and light” and covers such important human matters as marriage, divorce, hatred, anger, revenge, taking oaths, talking too much, prayer, fasting and loving the unlovable, judging others, worrying and more.  Let’s keep trying to be perfect and to be like our Heavenly father who is perfect.

New Year, New Resolutuion

I have decided, made-up my mind, to stop wasting God given time.  My niece Bobbi graciously set-up this blog for me long ago. Her husband Tim provided the beautiful photo.  Until now, I have done nothing with it.  Time to change.  Many things change; seasons, people, technology, leadership, opinions, times and time itself. But there is something, no not something, but someone who never changes – God.  “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure,”  (Isaiah 33:6).  Read everyday, this one Bible verse alone, would change our lives.  I received some wonderful gifts for Christmas, including being together with my family. The greatest gift of all is the time God has given to serve Him.  From now on I want to get to know him more, to unlock the treasure of which Isaiah wrote. It is time. I have decided.