Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Stand in His Strength

When I am afraid, I will trust in You.  Psalm 56:3
The night before my grandfather’s funeral, my grandmother told me about his final moments.  Pa-Pa had been very sick for several days in a nursing home.  Months of dialysis took its toll on his eighty-two year old body.  A doctor came to my grandmother and said, “Mrs. Hendrix, his vital signs are rapidly dropping.  You need to come right away.”

Her legs feeling like lead weights, she thought, “I cannot go in there and watch him die.”  She asked God to help her.  My grandfather could not talk and looked weak. The nurse told my grandmother, “Start talking to him and help him go, Mrs. Hendrix.” 

My grandmother said, “Marion, I have loved you for fifty-eight years.  Now you are about to go to heaven.  You are going to see Jesus.  You have talked about heaven many times.  Now you are going, and then I’m coming.  So you go on.”  Pa-Pa moved his throat as if to say something.  He closed his eyes and was in heaven. 

My grandmother told me the story without shedding a tear, proud of herself for having the strength to stand upright and speak clearly to her husband.  She knew that God was her helper.

King David writes of trusting God during fearful moments.  When we face such challenges, God is present with us.  Our hurdle may be enduring a difficult exam at school, a boss that we dislike, or a financial obstacle.  The Bible promises God’s presence in every situation.  Let’s ask Him daily for the strength to face them.  Then we can move forward, standing in His strength one moment at a time.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, and our strength has failed ere the day is half done, when we reach the end of our hoarded resources, the Father’s full giving is only begun.  – Annie Johnson Flint

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Quote of the Day

"I would never suggest that you create your own failure – just to get it over with. Trust me; if you are doing anything extraordinary, failure will find you. But then don’t bury your head in the sand. How we fail is at least as important as how we succeed.

I say push yourself; fail often. Push yourself to the limits of your talents, abilities, dreams, endurance and common sense. And then go one step further. Your failures will release your creativity and innovation more than education and careful planning can ever do."

- Dan Miller

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Intentional Parenting

Famous baseball catcher Yogi Berra played against slugger Hank Aaron in the 1957 World Series. An on-plate exchange occurred between the two when Aaron prepared to bat. Berra chided, “Henry, you need to hold the bat so you can read the label. You're gonna break that bat. You've got to be able to read the label."

Aaron remained silent, but he knocked the ball out of the park on his next hit. After running the bases and touching home plate, he responded to Berra, “"I didn't come up here to read." 

In a word, Aaron exuded intentionality. Merriam-Webster defines intentionality as “done by design.”  It speaks of the quality of being purposeful and deliberate.

Christian parenting remains one of the most effective means of accomplishing the Great Commission. We can embrace the task with gusto – use the time entrusted to me with these children to produce Christ-followers. Jesus did not command us to just evangelize but to make disciples. To reproduce mature individuals who obey Jesus and bear fruit in their lives.

Just as Hank Aaron approached the plate to win, we can approach parenting purposefully and deliberately. Here are four areas parents can practice intentionality.

Intentional with time

When my oldest son was three, we routinely went out for “buddy breakfasts.” Some Saturdays, we journeyed to Hardee’s, ordered cinnamon-raisin biscuits, and sat at the high stools, enjoying life. Now that he is a teenager, I still look for times and ways to spend time one-one-one.

I gleaned from The Navigators ministry in college that in the early stages of discipleship, the relationship is as important as the material studied. Later, as the relationship grows strong, the emphasis shifts to the truth learned.

Building the relationship with our children requires time. Don’t swallow the old lie that only quality time matters. In reality, quality time cannot be manufactured. It occurs in the middle of quantity time.

As our children grew into pre-teens, we began taking them on summer overnight father-son and mother-daughter excursions. This year my oldest son and I plan on visiting Vince Gill’s guitar museum in Chattanooga.

I know life is busy. I know the months and years clip at a fast pace. So let’s take out our calendars now at the year’s beginning to plan some quantity time.

Intentional with reading

The importance of reading in raising wise, productive children cannot be overstated. Mark Hamby of Lamplighter Books shares that only two natural factors will determine how different you are five years from now: the people you meet and the books you read.

We can expose our children to great books from history, great stories from literature, and great attributes from people’s lives. Be careful to not let your children’s repertoire consist only of the latest superhero or potty-humored popular series. 

Child-appropriate series abound retelling classic stories like Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, and Little Women. As your children mature, guide them toward good, positive literature that is well-written, thought-provoking, and teaches life lessons.

Take time to read books with your children at every age. As children become tweens and teens, select material that will provoke good discussion. Right now we are reading and discussing Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations with our youngest two children. 

Through books and literature, we can expose our children to world-changing thoughts and ideas.

Intentional with boundaries

Remember, we are not primarily our children’s friends. We are their parents. As a seminary student, I heard Thom Rainer say that leadership means you get far enough ahead of people so they can spot you are the leader – but not so far ahead that they mistake you for the enemy and shoot you in the bottom!

Intentional parenting requires making hard and sometimes unpopular decisions. We set boundaries for our children for their best interest. 

Last summer, my wife birthed a marvelous plan. She created a chore chart for electronic time. In order for our children to use their phones, video games, and devices, they had to earn time based on household chores. For example . . .

Take out trash = 5 minutes
Vacuum one room = 10 minutes
Sweep and mop one room = 20 minutes
Cook dinner = 30 minutes

Tracey put a chart in the kitchen and each day, our kids signed in their chores and calculated the resulting electronic time. I’ve never seen them so motivated to clean the house!

Don’t be intimidated to get in front and lead, parents.

Intentional with family devotions

Raising Christ-followers in our homes necessitates time spent at the family altar. Various methods and catechisms abound. However, many times I found the most effective approach is to simply open the Bible and authentically share what is on my heart from God’s Word. Of course, parents, that requires you and I to follow Christ daily. The genuineness of Dad and Mom sharing from God’s Word out of the overflow of our personal relationship with Jesus will leave an indelible – and intentional - print on the souls of our children.

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The God of False Starts

What He Does While We Wait

"If we are his, God will most certainly finish the work he has started in each of us (Philippians 1:6). That does not mean we will get to finish everything he’s given us to do in this life — or that any work we do complete will be finished when we expected.

In our ministry to lost loved ones, in our marriage or parenting, in our job or career, in our battle against sin, we may look back and groan over how little progress we’ve made. We may wonder why God has held us here, in this uncomfortable and unwanted place, for so long. If God is for us, who can stand against us? sometimes slowly fades to If God is for us, why does everything seem to stand against us? We know what it’s like to work and wait — and then to have to keep waiting.

We can relate to the faithful remnant of Israel who were brought back from exile. After all the wars they had been through, and then decades more of subjection, God had finally and miraculously led them home to Jerusalem. But just as soon as they had started rebuilding the temple, they were horribly derailed again."

Read the wonderful insights from Marshal Segal here at Desiring God.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

To My Son

Check out my article, "To My Son," at the Inspire a Fire website here.

Retake Your Heart: Five Reasons for Fresh Courage

“Take heart.” Imagine hearing those two words, as the disciples often did, from the mouth of God himself in the flesh.

And yet how flat these words can fall when we say them to our own hearts. If only we could up and redirect our hearts. None of us wants to be down. Far too often, though, our hearts seem to lie beyond our reach, outside our control.

However discouraged you may feel, your flagging heart never lies beyond the reach of Christ. No matter how troubled, how unsettled, how fickle, how disoriented, how despondent, Jesus can handle your ailing heart. “There are many sorts of broken hearts,” says Charles Spurgeon, “and Christ is good at healing them all.”

Read this good article by David Mathis here at Desiring God.

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.

Why Would Anyone Be Mad About Praying for the President?

"A few days ago, I took part in something that was deemed unacceptable and shameful.

I felt I was acting in good faith, and was on a sound biblical foundation. I had done the same thing many times in the past without incident and thought this would be no different. Boy, was I wrong.

According to some astonishing social media threads, my well-meaning gesture had now recast me, someone who, for all my life, has lived and loved with a wonderful eclectic group in our southern gumbo culture, as a hater."

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.