Monday, April 30, 2018

Matching Shirts

 I will be glad to wear matching shirts as long as he is.
I'll ride that train as long as it lasts!!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Act Like Men

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love. 

So Paul exhorts the Corinthians in his first letter (16:13-14).

We live in a day that often lacks a clear understanding of biblical masculinity. Society does not offer a strong definition to boys of what it means to be a man.

The examples in pop culture, sports, and politics often show weak and pitiful models of sensuality, selfishness, and foolishness.

However, the church, and more specifically, Christian fathers, can carry the torch of challenging the next generation to be godly men.

So if the Bible challenges us to “act like men,” we should be able to answer definitively, “What is a man?”

Robert Lewis’ excellent work challenging fathers to raise their sons to be godly men influenced me a great deal several years ago. Focus on the Family airs Lewis at least once a year, and I commend his resources to you:

For my sons, I crafted the following definition of manhood (modifying Lewis’ definition and making it my own):

What is a man?

1.  A man reflects God’s image consistently.
2.  A man relates to his family and friends honorably.
3.  A man rejects passivity.
4.  A man accepts responsibility.
5.  A man initiates and influences his culture and world positively.
6.  A man draws his strength from the Lord.

And for the Wilson family, I came up with this acrostic to define manhood:

W – Worthy of the Lord
I – Initiates and influences others for God and good
L – Loves and leads
S – Sharpens his character, skills, and strengths
O - Open to God and meaningful relationships
N-  No to sin, selfishness, and Satan

Teenagers or Young Men?

The concept of teenager never appears in the Bible.  American culture created an entire sub-culture for what we call teenagers, but the Bible speaks only of children and adults, or men and women.

The book of Proverbs, written to young men probably ages 12 and above, challenges these young men to grow up to be godly, wise, and responsible.

Understanding this transition, Jewish tradition practices the bar mitvah. When a boy turns thirteen, the community celebrates this passage, marking the milestone of beginning the slow but sure transformation from boyhood to manhood.

My youngest son Dawson turned thirteen two weeks ago. As part of the rite of passage, I invited several men I consider to be good, wise, godly, and responsible. These men’s lives have intersected with his in different ways.

We gathered for supper at the restaurant of his choice – Milano Pizzeria in Simpsonville, South Carolina. After a great supper and enjoyable conversation, I challenged Dawson with the above definition of manhood.

I previously asked each man to prepare a few brief remarks. We went around the table, allowing each man to share Scripture, challenge, and/or exhortation with Dawson about what it means to follow the Lord and become a godly man. What a joy to hear each of them encourage and exhort Him from their lives and from God's Word.

After supper, we gathered around Daws in the parking lot, laid hands on him, and prayed over him.

I hope he looks back on the evening as one more solid memory that encourages and challenges him to be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong, and let all that he does be done in love.

And, if the Lord tarries, I hope that 200 years from now there will still be Wilson men who know what it means to be godly men and who challenge their sons and grandsons to become such men.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Demise of Cosby

Thursday night was Cosby night. Growing up as an '80's kid, I looked forward to watching the life of the Huxtable family on Thursdays.

TV Guide wrote that "Cosby" was "TV's biggest hit in the 1980s and almost single-handedly revived the sitcom genre."  They ranked TCS as #28 in the top 50 Television Shows of All Time and Cliff Huxtable #1 in their top 50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.  

My family enjoys watching TCS on DVD.  Currently, we are watching season two.  Besides having to get over the fact that it has been more than thirty years since it first aired, I see the show through a lens now that I missed in the 1980's.  "Cosby" is a remarkable work of art.  It was an incredible effort of Bill Cosby and company to present a healthy, happy, successful African-American family.  This was not Sanford and Son, Good Times, or The Jeffersons. "Cosby" was The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie - only set in modern times in a black family that was living the American Dream.  Cliff, a doctor, and Clair, a lawyer, afforded an upper-middle class lifestyle to their children.  Extremely well-rounded, the couple enjoyed everything from participatory sports, Jazz music, art museums, and junk food.  Bill Cosby's collection of fine, African-American artwork was often used in the series, decorating the walls of the New York townhouse.  The show was a subtle, but firm, cultural statement.  It was a way to celebrate a healthy, wise, and positive black American family.

At the heart of the show is the love and respect of family members.  Cliff and Clair wisely shepherd their children, administering proper authority, discipline, affirmation, correction, and warmth.  They challenge their children to excel.  They require their kids to face consequences.  And they shower affection on each other, like the famous "zerberts" that the show made into a cultural phenomenon.  A zerbert, or ZRBTT, is a sloppy kiss, when you blow air out and make a loud sound.

Yes, I enjoy having my children watch the positive show.  My sixteen year old even commented, "It is so nice to see a strong, good dad on tv." Good old Cliff Huxtable. 

In recent days, my heart aches when I see the daily headlines regarding the ongoing trial of Bill Cosby.   The reason for the trial does not need repeating.  You have been under a rock if you are unaware of the accusations against him.  As of the writing of this column, a verdict has not been issued.  However, as Samuel Jackson said, when there is that much smoke, there has been a fire.

Cosby admitted to having sex with various females to whom he was not married.  The Bible has some words for that behavior - fornication, sexual immorality, or adultery.  We have heard in recent years of Cosby's numerous trips to hang out with his buddy Hugh Heffner at the Playboy mansion.  The Bible has a word for that too - stupid.

Bowley and Hurdle of the New York Times write, "In recent years, Mr. Cosby, 80, had admitted to decades of philandering, and to giving quaaludes to women as part of an effort to have sex, smashing the image he had built as a moralizing public figure and the upstanding paterfamilias in the wildly popular 1980s and ’90s sitcom 'The Cosby Show.' " 

Though I know it is not fair to expect an actor to be just like the person he plays, I do believe that anyone in the public eye has responsibility to set a good example.  And the greater your place of influence, the greater your responsibility of setting that example.  

I cannot get out of my head the image of Cliff Huxtable.  Would Cliff walk away from his love affair with Clair to chase after numerous women?  Would Cliff, who enjoyed friendships with many influential and exciting people, run out on weekends to check out the Playboy mansion?

Pastor Jack Hayford shares in his book "Fatal Attractions: Why Sex Sins are Worse than Others" that though certainly forgivable, sins of a sexual nature carry long-term consequences physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and socially.  Their affects far outlive the passing pleasures.

I believe there is still cultural value in The Cosby Show.  Art can stand alone in spite of its artist.  However, regardless of the outcome of a trial, the legacy of Bill Cosby is forever tainted.

The Greeks used masks in their dramatic performances.  These masks hid the faces and expressions of the real people.  The root of the biblical Greek word for hypocrite means stage actor, pretender, or dissembler.  The Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because of their hypocrisy.  They claimed great piety outwardly, yet they were "white-washed tombs." Their inner life did not match their outward claims.

Growing up, my mother occasionally warned me from the Old Testament book of Numbers. I still can hear her say, "Son, you may be sure that your sin will find you out" (32:23).  In other words, don't be a fool.  You can only hide dirty laundry for so long.  If you choose to continue in wrong behavior, it will catch up with you, and it will often become public information.  That is the nature of sin.

That can keep us humble, motivating us to keep short accounts with the Lord.

Cosby's fall is astonishing, "capping the downfall of one of the world’s best-known entertainers."

If I could ask Bill Cosby just one thing, it might be, "What would Cliff do?"

Monday, April 23, 2018

"I believe in Jesus." - First Lady Barbara Bush

“I asked her about dying and she said ‘Jeb, I believe in Jesus and I believe in his savior and I don’t want to leave your dad but I’m going to a beautiful place,’” he concluded.

Read the entire article about Mrs. Bush's funeral here at Fox News.

Picture used by permission from pixabay

Quote of the Day

"Do your best, dress your best, be your best." - Charles Stanley

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Quote of the Day

"At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent."  

– Barbara Bush

Photo by White House Photo Office, courtesy George Bush Presidential Library and Museum ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Simple Gifts

“Daddy, come outside and see my piñata,” my nine-year old exclaimed on Sunday afternoon. After a long, full morning at church on Easter Sunday we then spent several hours with my mother who was recovering from knee surgery. Finally home, it was nice to just crash for a while.

Dawson led me outside to see his latest creation. My creative boy had drilled holes into four of his remaining Easter eggs and strung them together with yarn.

“Help me find a place to hang these in the woods and we can have a piñata!”

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Praying for Our Children

I share a bit of wisdom my mother used to tell me as a teenager in my and Tracey's article, "Uplifting Prayers," in the April edition of HomeLife magazine from Lifeway Christian Resources.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

How God Guided Paul

Just as the Lord's means of guidance are infinite, the life of the apostle Paul shows many different ways the Lord led His servant . . .

1.         Sometimes guidance comes through direct revelation (God initiates converting the Saul of Tarsus to Christianity – chapter 9.)

2.         Sometimes guidance comes through another person (Barnabus comes and gets Saul to bring him to the Christians in Antioch – 11:25).

3.         Sometimes guidance comes through specific direction from the Spirit (God sends Barnabus and Saul on their first missionary journey as the church fasts and worships – 13:1-4).

4.         Sometimes guidance comes through negative circumstances (the Jews persecute Paul and Barnabus, who leave for another town – 13:50).

5.         Sometimes guidance comes through prayer and fasting (They fast and pray for the choosing of leaders – 14:23).

6.         Sometimes guidance comes through the biblically-sound, logical council of a group (the Jerusalem Council – 15).

7.         Sometimes guidance comes through the routine reading, teaching, and preaching of the Bible (Barnabus and Paul preaching – 15:16-18).

8.         Sometimes guidance comes through disagreement (Paul and Barnabus sharply disagree and form two teams – 15:36-41).

9.         Sometimes guidance comes through closed doors after sincere attempts (Paul attempts to minister through Asia - 16:6-8).

10.       Sometimes guidance comes through God’s surprising you (Paul receives the Macedonian vision - 16:9).

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Blessed Easter

Happy Resurrection Day everyone! We enjoy doing a theme at Easter. This year was grey and green! Thankful for the promise of eternal life in Christ.