Today is God’s Day


In attempting to make sure my daughters understand truths about themselves, I wrote this and say it with them on the way to school each day.  This summer we will say it on the days they are actually out of bed before I go to work or at dinner.  There are too many voices in this world telling them untruths to not give them the words to rebuke the lies. For Father’s Day, tell your children all the amazing things that are true about them because of who God is and who He says they are because of His love, mercy and grace.  Happy Father’s Day!

TodayIsGodsDay

Uncommon Wisdom


The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. – Psalms 19:7 (NIV)

Most of us have heard the euphemism “Common sense isn’t so common.”  We laugh or snicker, but the truth of the saying pricks just a bit.  As a culture, we share the same sensibilities with our neighbors less and less.  We have become diverse not just in the characteristics closer to the surface of who we are, but deep down in the core.

Cultures go through these eras of tumult and transition and they are rarely without difficulty.  In theUSAwe have gone through our share – the Revolution, the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement – where combating groups held their sensibilities to those which were common.  Christians took their stance on both sides of all these issues, so even we did not hold things in common all the time.

There is something common for all of us.  We can take our opinions or feelings and use them to define reality, to determine what is true.  Maturity is no longer allowing our weaknesses to define the world around us, but to allow the truth of God’s word to define the way we see ourselves and the world.  His law is perfect and allows us to see things perfectly, but we must see the world through that lens.

We need to begin this with our children before they are increasingly exposed to the worldliness around them.  We need to expose them to the truths of God well before they are inundated with the lies of the world.  This means that we and our children will be at odds with our culture, even at odds with our family and neighbors.  The hope is that standing our ground will turn others to look at that perfect law.

Lord, help us to live according to Your word and not according to our will.  Help me to increase in wisdom and knowledge of Your statutes.  May my children be prepared to meet the foolishness of the world with Your wisdom.  Amen.

Courageous for the Truth


Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life–this is my petition. And spare my people–this is my request.  For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.” – Esther 7:3-4 (NIV)

Sometimes telling the truth is easy.  When you are asked if the meal is good and it is good, that is easy.  When you are trying to uncover a conspiracy to eliminate a race of people – a race to which you belong – that is not easy.  There are times that truth telling requires courage because the telling may cost more.  Esther did not know how the king would react to the truth she had to tell.  She needed to be courageous.

But courage is not a skill that is developed; it is a character trait built on the foundation of our beliefs.  We are courageous because of what we believe in and what we love.  If what we believe in is transitory or false, then our bravery will be just as transitory and false.  If we want our children to be brave for the sake of the truth – God’s truth – then they need to believe firmly in God.

Courage doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it doesn’t just pop up like a magic genie.  I need to help my daughters be courageous by encouraging them; encouraging their faith, encouraging their service to God, encouraging their public witness of the Gospel.  The questions rise in my heart, “Do I exhibit courage?  Is my foundation firm enough to help me overcome fear?  Am I standing for the truth despite the possible cost?”  The only answer I can give with confidence is that I am trying.

And that is what I will keep asking my daughters to do; try.  Try to speak up when fear clenches at your words.  Try to live for Christ when others live for themselves.  Try to live according to His word and not according to your fears.  This is what I will try to do in my life and what I will try to instill in my children.

Lord, help me to be courageous. Amen.

The Truth Hurts and Heals


“Now therefore, O our God, the great, mighty and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes–the hardship that has come upon us, upon our kings and leaders, upon our priests and prophets, upon our fathers and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today.  In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong.  Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the warnings you gave them.  Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.” – Nehemiah 9:32-35 (NIV)

The better part of chapter nine in Nehemiah is a recollection of Israel’s spotty history with God.  Their penchant for sinfulness, even in the face of God’s blessing, borders on embarrassing.  At least it would be if Scripture was only a window to past events instead of a mirror of our present circumstances.  I cannot say that I have been any less foolish than they.  I look at their story and I see myself and understand their appeal to God’s mercy and love.

It is easy to forget our pattern of foolishness when we are disciplining our children.  Our memory can become fairly selective when we are dealing with disobedience and disrespect from our offspring.  But when we hide our imperfect past, we miss the opportunity to share the moments when God’s perfection stepped in and saved us.  If we paint the picture for our children that we never had problems and never disobeyed and never fell short we will regret it in the end.

God is perfect and we are not and we should never get those things mixed up.  It is good to remember how much God has done in spite of us.  It is good to remember that His mercy and love alone are responsible for the goodness in our lives.  It is good for us to allow God to redeem the low moments of our lives to speak to our children.  If God can teach me about my sin through the lives of His children, shouldn’t I let God teach my children through my life? Even if it hurts?

The truth can hurt, but it also heals.  The truth helps us teach our children that sin is always the way to pain and God is always the way to healing.  The truth teaches us that obedience is not a weight around our necks; it is the life rope that pulls us from the wreckage of a sinful life.  Truth hurts like resetting a bone, but it allows us to heal correctly.  This is why confession is good for the soul.

Lord, help me to be a truth teller.  Help me be transparent with my children about the work You have done in my life to save me from sin.  May the truth about my life, good or bad, be used by You to help my children walk in Your ways.  Amen.

Living Right in a Wrong World


Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him. 3 The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. – 2 Kings 12:2-3

It can be a startling wake up call for our children the first time they encounter the blatant sinfulness in the world.  Usually they will already know that people can be mean or selfish or insensitive, but when they face cruelty or violence or spite, it can be overwhelming.  Sadly, some children grow up around the full-blown brokenness of the world, but that is another issue.  It is the children that raised in light of God’s presence, surrounded by love, mercy and grace that can be startled by this revelation of badness. Children, for the most part, assume that the way their life is reflects the reality of everyone and when they find out this isn’t true, they will struggle.

Since Joash was living the right way, we may ask why wasn’t everyone else?  If the king has turned to God and been instructed in the ways of righteousness, why would his subjects remain disobedient and sinful?  The answer is simple and yet difficult to deal with: people can choose and we can’t choose for them.  Even with the power of the kingdom and God behind him, Joash couldn’t make people obedient, righteous and holy.  Our children will need help to understand that the way they live their life is more important than trying to make others live life the same way.

Joash could have used violence or coercion, but there is no repentance or responsibility from the people in that scenario.  The key to changing the world is personal responsibility.  Teaching our children that they are responsible to live a life that is “right in the eyes of the Lord” is far more important than trying to change the world around them.  Helping them to live a right life in a wrong world will equip them for many times they will face the brokenness in school and work and play.  We can teach them about courage, hope and the power of the Holy Spirit equipping them for this life.  We can show them the men and women throughout Scripture who lived holy lives in an unholy world among unholy cultures.  We can teach them about the life of Christ shining through them into the darkness of their world.

Lord, help me to educate my children to understand the brokenness of the world and Your call to them to be holy.  May they bring wholeness and healing to the broken places and people you have placed them.  Help them see the brokenness of this world through the hope and love only You can bring. Amen.

Ask for Wisdom


At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.”  And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today.  And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.  And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted.  Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” – 1 Kings 3:5-9 (NRSV)

Wisdom is one of those characteristics that defy social boundaries.  It is the scepter kings rule by, the beacon that draws the child into adulthood and the soundness of thought that pulls our attention regardless of where the voice is coming from.  For Solomon it was the defining characteristic of his life, and where his father wrote songs and psalms, Solomon wrote on wisdom.  But we don’t hear much about wisdom today.

There is much being said about people who are intelligent, savvy, smart or insightful, but not much on people who are wise.  God, however, is not as interested in us being savvy, smart or insightful, as He is in us treasuring wisdom.  Unfortunately wisdom doesn’t get talked about much today.  The world is more interested in information and acquisition than wise words; more attentive to changing opinions than clearly state truth.  It is one of the reasons that wisdom stands out when we see it or hear it.

There is a lot of information out there for parents.  Much of it is intelligent and savvy, but there is one thing parents should seek with far more diligence and passion and that is wisdom.  We can read articles, study books and listen to TV shows, but godly wisdom will outdo them all and help us sort through all that information with more clarity and discernment.

Lord, grant me wisdom to raise my children in righteousness and truth.  Help me to seek wisdom each day in thought and deed and put a hunger in my children’s minds for Your wisdom. Amen 

It’s Hard to Be A Nathan


But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD, and the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.  Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.”

Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” – 2 Samuel 12:1-6 (NRSV)

Confronting someone in their sin can be a difficult thing.  To just come out and call someone an adulterer or a liar or a cheat can create a combative atmosphere.  If you try to rationalize why they might have transgressed, you run the risk of them not owning the fullness of their disobedience.  There is also the problem of our plank getting in the way of seeing their speck.  However, this is something that cannot be avoided as a parent.

We are the Nathan’s for our children.  We not only bring their sin to light, but we have a responsibility to help them understand the truth that what they did was wrong.  Nathan walks David through a scenario that leads him to the truth of his sin and then opens his eyes to his responsibility for his sin. This is the hard, but fruitful way of confronting sin.

It is too easy to become spiritual bullies to our children, using Scripture as a club instead of allowing Scripture to mold and shape us into a tool for our children’s benefit.  We can become manipulative, trying to get what we want from our children, rather than seeking what God wants for our children.  For some of us, confrontation is terrifying and we would rather ignore the situation or try to get around it somehow.  We don’t like getting angry and may even have been taught that anger is a sin, but this gives our children license where they shouldn’t.  Anger, however, is not the problem.

If we love our children and desire righteousness for them, anger is just another tool in our hands and is tempered by mercy and humility.  If we love ourselves more than our children and desire recognition from man for what we have “produced,” anger uses us to damage and destroy, fueled by pride and selfishness.  Nathan’s anger was rooted in his love for God and David.  David’s anger was rooted in pride.  It is easy to see which one God used for good.

Parenting will call us to difficult confrontations with our children, asking us to take hold of anger with loving hands.  God has placed us in a position of incredible responsibility and asks us to be a “Nathan” to our children, speaking the truth about sin without apology or ulterior motive.  It is not easy, but our children will be better for it and God will be pleased.

Lord, help me be a tool in your hands to combat the sin in my children’s lives.  Search me for any sinfulness and pride and humble me for this task.  May I be a voice calling my children to righteousness and obedience for Your sake. Amen.