We are losing our grip. Really. There is a battle for our children raging before us and we are losing it miserably. Raising children does not at all look like it once did a few generations ago. Back then, parents were expected to control their households and children were expected to grow up within that control. You might argue that such an arrangement was a little rigid. Perhaps. Now children and their feelings have become the idols of their parents' lives and those parents dutifully bow before and serve the desires, hormones and natural immaturity their children display. You might say that such an arrangement is a little - a lot - permissive. Absolutely! So, what do we do about it? How do we think, act and respond to our present parenting crisis? How do we swim upstream against the current of pitiful parenting and grab hold of and apply principles of powerful parenting?
If you believe in the Bible then you believe there are two institutions that have existed as long as humanity has been on this earth. First, there was the institution of obedience and honor to the Almighty Creator. God created and blessed Adam, and he in turn owed his allegiance to God. The second institution was that of marriage. Upon the creation of Eve it was declared that Adam would be committed and faithful to his wife, Eve. Loyalty to God and Marriage - two God-declared necessities that began the human journey. As we look around at our present conditions two new things become ominously apparent. First, we have all but lost our godly loyalty, and second, we are rapidly losing our marital bearings. For many, marriage still remains a vital piece of the human puzzle, so how do we keep its vitality relevant? What do we do? How do we act? What do we avoid? Our best course of action to find answers is to go back to the book where it all started…
As Charles Dickens opened his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, he wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” He went on to explain the contradictions of his own culture. Here we are generations later, and we can easily say the same thing. Our culture is filled with wonder, technology and advancement, as well as suffering, misunderstanding and false narratives. One group of our culture that finds itself right in the middle of all of this is those who are transgendered. For many, the idea of being transgender is not only foreign but perhaps even highly doubtful. For others, being transgender feels natural and needs not only recognition but respect as well. This truly poses a dilemma of understanding and acceptance for many on all sides of the matter. So, how do we, how should we as Christians approach such a sensitive and passionate part of our world? Where should we stand? Why should we stand there? How should we approach those with whom we may disagree?
The world is full of provoking and it is NOT A GOOD THING. First, there is the provoking that takes place among children by way of demeaning and bullying those who seem weaker or different. Then there is provoking on an adult social level as those on various sides of issues regarding personal freedoms and beliefs poke and prod one another. And let’s not forget the provoking on a political level as those on opposite sides of the aisle name call and cast aspersions at one another. Basically, provoking stinks! Now that we have proclaimed that provoking is a problem, there is a verse in the Bible that tells us to provoke one another in a good way. So, how does that work? What are we supposed to say or do and how are we supposed to do it? Can there be a positive place and purpose for provoking?
Whether we think about it or not, we all leave a legacy behind us as a result of our life and experience. Sometimes that legacy can be rich with wisdom, accomplishment and example, and other times our legacy can be a sad tale of unfulfilled potential, broken dreams and a trail of “if only” and “why didn’t I?” The thing is, we choose much of what our legacy will look like! What if you thought about your legacy in the context of leaving something behind of great value to your grandkids? Aside from material things to give them physical comfort in life, what would you want them to learn? What would you want them to know so that their lives could blossom with fulfilled potential and with true contentment? Even if you don’t have grandchildren, let’s suppose that you do and are writing them a letter with words of wisdom…what will you say?
It is the Christmas season. It is a time for happiness, giving, receiving and appreciating. There was a time not so very long ago when the main focus of the Christmas season was the birth of Jesus as the world’s Savior. We are past that now, thanks to our political correctness, and Jesus is very much an afterthought of the holidays. Well, here today Jesus is NOT an afterthought. He is NOT a divisive figure who offends people by his mere existence. No, here today Jesus is recognized as the Savior of humanity, the centerpiece of God’s plan and the King of Kings. As we honor the birth and life of Jesus today, we will do so by highlighting some personal conversations he had with various people he encountered throughout his three-and-a-half year ministry. In so doing, we will tell a story that is rarely told. Merry Christmas!
Human nature is a funny thing. We live in an age of instant gratification, an age of virtually no waiting for anything. We send a text, a tweet, a message or we post, and our expectation is for an almost instant answer or follow or response or reaction. What we want we not only assume we can get, we assume we can get it immediately in just the right color, brand and style. Getting and having have become so easy and expected that we have begun to overlook the value of patience, waiting and doing without. Human nature IS a funny thing. In this age of abundance, we are experiencing a very high rate of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Why? One reason is that we have all but forgotten the preserving and healing power of gratitude. It’s really simple - for happiness and contentment to flourish, they require gratitude to be their constant companion. Let’s take a look and see how it all works…
So, if you are a little kid it’s time for the excitement of “trick or treat” – costumes and candy. If you are older it’s time for parties, horror movies that look and feel so real they make your skin crawl, the undead, dark spells and generally unfettered behavior. Yup, we are talking about Halloween and all of the trimmings that come with it. Here is the thing – no matter what age you are, when Halloween comes it is also time for a strong and convincing dose of witchcraft. That’s right – no matter what age you are, witchcraft is not only entirely mainstream, it is enticingly mainstream and very much within reach. So, is this something to be worried about? Are we dealing with some big, dark and deceiving practice or is it all just harmless home-brewed storytelling?
Peer pressure. When we say those words we typically think about teenagers, school and bad decisions and those thoughts are accurate. Young people face inordinate amounts of peer pressure on a regular basis and its effects can be devastating! Here’s the thing – adults are also subject to peer pressure and its place in our lives and its effect on our lives is far greater than we might anticipate. So, for the sake of not only our young people but for our own sake as well, what do we do about it? How do we recognize address and deal with the pressures of life that press us into compromised circumstances and bad decisions? Even more importantly, how do we reverse the process and create an environment in which positive, righteous and loving peer pressure is the order of the day?
It was just a few weeks ago the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked a firestorm of vitriol and reaction throughout our country. What happened, what didn’t happen, who reacted and how - all of these things became the fuel for more protests and more protests against the protests and reaction of a very negative kind everywhere you looked. Let us be abundantly clear on one point – those who would paint themselves as any form of supremacist, white or otherwise, are servants of a deep and destructive darkness. Period. Those who take the law into their own hands and use violence and threats as their primary tools to eradicate all whom they consider supremacists are also choosing to borough down that dark hole as well. NONE of this is good! All of this provokes hatred, and rightfully so. Shouldn’t we as Christians hate such evil? Yes we should. The bigger question here, however, is HOW do we engage our hatred for evil in a Christlike manner?