Sunday, April 10, 2016

Morality and Politics

I enjoy the political process. Any movie or documentary about the White House really interest me. As I get older I seem to want to learn more about all branches of government. I have come to one conclusion with the whole thing. The worst part about politics is the fact that it includes politicians. We all know there is no perfect politician. Many make promises they never keep. Many have very poor character. Some are certainly better than others. It is very likely none will line up 100% with everything we agree with. So what is a person to do? How should we vote? What issues deserve priority?

Many are disgusted with this political season. It is everywhere you look. We see it plastered on social media, on our TV, yard signs, bumper stickers, and billboards. A lot of people have had more than enough. I'm sure many would wish it away if possible. Sure, we have responsibilities as citizens. Everyone that is eligible should vote. So again, how should we vote?

I am a Christian. Politicians have been using the word "Christian" very loosely. Some believe Christian are the leftover category, meaning anyone not Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, ect. This is not completely true. A Christian is a person who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is someone who put their faith in the fact that Jesus died on the cross for theirs sins and asked Him to come into their life and save them from eternity in hell. Anyone who has not done exactly that are not  Christians. This does not make me smarter or better than anyone else. It makes me forgiven. It is not even something I deserve or something I could earn. This is what the Bible says and this is what I believe. Fortunately the bible says much more. It teaches me right from wrong. It is an instruction book which teaches me how I should live my life. It speaks a lot about righteousness and truth. I know that right is always right. Seems  like a simple phrase, but it is lost with many Christians today.

So to answer the question, which most already know deep in their heart, how should I vote? Well, we should prioritize who gets our support by who lines up most with Bible truth and principles. Again, there are no perfect politicians, especially in this election upcoming. I personally have been very disappointed with many Christians putting issues like the economy and immigration ahead of abortion and the family. It is shameful. I don't care if a politician promises to make America great again or if they pretend to be a reincarnation of Ronald Reagan, judge them by God's Word. This should be a Christians measuring stick. Whoever measures the closest deserves a believers vote. God should be involved in the entirety of our life. Even in the voting booth.I'm done with Christians wanting to put the Lord on a shelf and pull him down when it is convienent. Doing what's right is not always comfortable. Doing what's right is not always popular. Doing what's right is always right. Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Be Who You Are

There is not a lot of sophistication in our family. I wouldn't know where to place a salad fork if my life depended on it. I do understand the importance of our testimony as Christians. We do need to worry about how we appear to others. Our actions and attitudes affect others. We are pushing people toward Christ or pulling them away. Although, there is a difference between maintaining a proper testimony and trying to appear as someone you are not.

Believers often get caught up in appearance only. It is almost like we want others to think we are super spiritual more than we actually would like to be super spiritual. We know all the right churchy talk and customs, but what are we like on the inside? God is concerned with the inside. The second car I owned was a 1970 VW Bug. I had it painted metallic teal and added new wheels and tires. From the outside it looked as if it just rolled of  the assembly line. The inside was a different story. The original upholstery was in shreds. Once anybody peeked inside they could see the poor condition of the car. The outside was not a clear representation of the inside. Sadly, this is the life of many Christians. We get caught up in outward image and many times  we are in shreds internally.

I think it is important to discuss the affect this has on others. After all, as much as we think we can fool others, who we really are eventually surfaces. It is a pride thing. We worry if others will like me if they know the real me. We should consider who we are positionally with God. We are a big worthless nobody outside of God. I will share a secret with you. So is the dad or mom who you think has the perfect life.  It is a sad misrepresentation to be a fake Christian. This has a horrible effect on a struggling Christian. It makes others feel very inadequate when they buy the false front. When a mom sees another mother go on and on about how perfect her children are, how flawless her marriage is, and how her house is never messy, she likely feels defeated. I don't think we need to air our dirty laundry all over social media, but it would be a big help if others knew they were not the only ones to struggle. As my daughter says, " it's not all rainbows and kittens".

It is not easy to humble ourselves. I am reclusive and it is difficult for me to share my struggles. My life is just a series of messes that my God cleans up daily. So is yours if you are a Christian. Let's just be who we are. That is hard enough on it's own.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Family

We had the opportunity to hear some great preaching on "the family" tonight. It reinforced some important principles for me. In my opinion, Christians do not focus specifically on God's perfect design for our family. Many of us would agree that our societies are moving further and further away from God. There is an increasing acceptance of sin. Things that were completely unacceptable, even when I was young,  are now deemed appropriate by "the world's" standards. It is more important now than ever that Christians learn, understand, and share absolute truth.

My first thought is to consider what has allowed our great nation to separate so far from God's way. Obviously, Satan desires our communities to drift from The Lord, but what have we done(or failed to do) that allowed this downward spiral in America. It starts in our families. We can blame our sometimes luke-warm churches, but it really starts with the family. After all, it is not our Pastor's responsibility to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of The Lord. He may reinforce, but it starts and finishes in the home. To narrow down even more, it starts with the fathers. It is very unlikely for a home with an absent or backslid father to produce children who end up in the center of God's will. It is difficult enough to live right when both parents work to please God, but subtract the leader who is Biblically charged to lead, and you have a recipe for disaster. Look no further than the failing family. I think there are many reasons fathers fail. Most are rooted in pride and selfishness. The modern dad has to have his time, his hobbies, his career, ect. I have heard someone joke that a man that is a very good golfer is likely lacking in other areas of his life. There is probably much truth in this. I have worked with guys who neglect their family in a heartbeat to work any extra hours or to advance in the workplace. I know others who retired and within a few months they are begging to return to work. As dads, we can sometime try to do right with the wrong motivation. We naturally want to be providers. It is when we stray from God's perfect blueprint that we fail. Alot of fathers sit back and allow the wife to fill their role. We cannot expect God's blessing when we stray from His plan. God's way is the best way.

Secondly, I wonder why we don't identify this as the main problem. We try to fix this root issue in reverse. There are ladies conferences, youth groups, and children's programs. Our wives know how to fellowship with each other. They communicate with one another and build each other up. Our kids go   to a distraction free camp and make countless decisions in obedience to God's will. Only to come home and sadly "get over it" due to a lack of reinforcement in the home.  We focus very little on the fathers. God is clearly capable of anything. He can perform a miracle within any situation and sometimes our homes are already broken. We can't change what has already taken place. We have to bloom where we are right now. For the homes where a father is still present, an awesome responsibility awaits.

Our world is a mess because our families are a mess. Our families are a mess because our fathers are a mess. I can't imagine our country will turn back to God until the designed family leaders humble themselves and fill their prescribed role. We need more preaching on the family. We need Godly men to spend time together for edification and encouragement. Young Christian fathers need to be discipled. The family is important to God and He will honor our commitment to it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Prayer And Praise

The theme for our church this year has an emphasis on prayer and praise. We hope to echo this in our home in 2015 also. Two simple words that Christians undoubtedly take for granted. When you consider the direct access we have to The Lord, along with the credit He deserves for all our blessings, you would think it would impact our lives more. You would think it would affectation our attitude and actions.

I am amazed when I really think about the ability to pray directly to the one who spoke and created the world I see everyday. The one who allows the miracle of life to happen has time for me and cares for me as if I am the only person on earth. Regardless of life's struggles, we have the greatest friend in our corner. Not only that, but He desires to hear from us. That alone has always been too much for me to wrap my mind around. God knows what I am thinking even before I know, yet He is longing to hear from me. With such a friend, we should want more and more communication.

I think of praise as giving credit where it is due. I could write for a long time describing God's blessings in my life. He certainly deserves this praise. Our family has had needs met that make no earthly sense. We've seen money for a bill show up at the eleventh hour.  This past year we seen God take our business from a dream to a true reality. He has opened doors in the first eight months that we expected to take years. Sometimes God acts in such a blatant way that is undeniable. However, He deserves credit for it all, big and small. We should be grateful for another day of life. We should praise Him for basic needs we take for granted like food, shelter, freedom, and family. My wife and I sometimes talk about the grace of God in our lives. We were both on a path to destruction until God stepped in. He transformed our house into a Christian home. He made something beautiful out of our train wreck. Not because we are anything special, but He truly is.

Pray and praise should be evident in our lives daily. We have access to the creator who cares about every boring detail of our life. We have the Holy Spirit inside us. He loves us and wants what is best for us. How can we fail? Our Lord deserves our praise for everything from salvation to answering the smallest prayer. It is interesting that Christians never get the agony of what we deserve and God rarely get the credit for His mercy shown to us.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Blood Is Thicker Than Water?

I have heard it said that blood is thicker than water. I am not sure I agree with the intended meaning. While biological family is great, it is not a requirement to a rich family life. Our family is proof. We're basically a big group of strays who need each other. We all benefit from the support and love of each other and would struggle on our own.

Our world has lost sight on the importance of the family. God intends closeness in our homes. We are to build each other up. Our homes should be a safe-haven from the trials of this wicked world. It should be a place to learn and develop spiritually. The hedge of protection should be evident. Unfortunately this is not most homes today.  How will people ever think outside of their own blood-line if they have little concern for what God has already blessed them with?  In my opinion, it can generally be traced back to an absent or troubled father.

I believe God wants us to think outside of our biological family. What did Jesus typically do when entering a community? He sought out the least. He was not concerned with religious leaders, he was concerned with serving those with a need. Well, our communities are full of children who need us. Children of drug addicts, alcoholics, and neglectful parents whose pride comes first. These children have needs, both human and spiritual.

I don't think everyone should necessarily be foster/adoptive parents, although many are more than capable. There are many ways God's people can serve these kids. It just take an attitude of willingness. You could bring them to church and spend time with them. It just takes less focus on ourselves and more for others.

I wish to teach my kids to care for others. I want to teach by example. Our family is not perfect. We fail God daily, but I want my children to learn these principles. Life is not about who shares your DNA. It is about who needs you and how you can serve them. All Christians have been adopted in the family of God. The only blood that concerns our family is the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Looking Back

My oldest child recently turned twelve. Where does the time go? Our life is truly a vapor. It is hard to believe just over a decade ago we were struggling to manage with one baby and today life seems perfectly normal with seven kids.  We have been so blessed. I look back at all the times I failed God during this season. His patience, mercy, and grace are all evident. While our family has endured tough times, there has always been a lesson to learn.

Some people seem to live in the past. I can remember how my father would always tell stories about his time in the military. Now days my kids find it funny that most of my stories start out, "Once upon a time when I was a soldier..."  It can be hard not to dwell on our past for good or bad.  Reflection is important. It is how we learn from past mistakes. It just can't be the whole of us. Many stay defeated over their history. You cannot unscramble eggs. Some things are easier said than done of course.

So where should this sit with Christians? If anyone has a reason to look forward it is us. Our eyes should be focused on eternity. We should be burdened for the eternity facing nonbelievers. I heard Dr. Don Sisk preach about the incalculable value of one soul. We should think on these things. It should impact our actions and how we spend our time. I look forward to whatever God has for my family. I pray we please Him in the choices we make.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith... Hebrews 12:2

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fix The Fathers

I have been blessed to spend time with many children. We have a large family, but I have also worked with kids in a variety of settings such as Sunday School and youth groups. I consider each opportunity to teach or just provide supervision a real honor. We have definitely met some wonderful young people. Some come from good Christian homes. Many are the only light in their family. My heart breaks for these kids. What has happened to families over the last couple of generations? Why are there so many single moms or grandparents raising these kids?

I attended a conference  last year for homeschool families in Pittsburgh and set in some excellent sessions for fathers and husbands. The speaker made an argument that church youth groups have largely been unsuccessful. While I didn't fully agree with all that was said, one statement has been glued to my brain ever since that day. When talking about how to reach our young people he simply said, "We have to fix the fathers". There is no deep meaning to search for in this statement. It is just pure truth. The Christian life is difficult enough in the most Christ-like homes. When Mom is doing her job plus the fathers it is even more challenging. You just can't improve on God's design for the family. The man is to lead and nurture. I certainly feel God is capable of performing any miracle with  any young person. I just find it to be a shame so many men put a low priority on what God has trusted them with.

As with most sin I think it all boils down to pride. Pride is a family destroyer. When hobbies and career come first we are just asking to fail. We dads need to wake up. Our time is fading and many families are failing. I have always heard everything rises and falls on leadership. I think youth groups and bus ministries are awesome and needed, but this only scratches the surface. As uncomfortable as it may seem, there is a great need to reach the dads. I think we need to fix the fathers.