Faith of a Father

"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised; – Hebrews 10:23


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Back Online

Dear friends, yes it has been three years since I have posted on my blog.  Much has happened over the time with some highs and lows of life.   Our oldest daughter became engaged and then married, our oldest son transitioned from the medical field with assisting people to working at a veterinarian hospital and our three youngest children all graduating in May of 2016 and are pursuing different areas of interest.

During this season of life and transition we have experienced some very lows with still unresolved family struggles that many of you are much aware of and are in prayer.  We are so grateful for your continued faithfulness to pray.  But as always through our lives, God has been faithful and good to us and has blessed us above measure.  We have learned so much over these years from our good and gracious God.   Over time we will share insights and lessons that God is teaching us as a family.  I also want to get back to finishing my layman’s walk through Ephesians.

As a reminder, I have broken up the book of Ephesians into sections about relationships.  So far we have discussed the following:

  • Our Relationship with God = Chapter 1-2:10
  • Our Relationship with Christ = Chapter 2:11-3:21
  • And we will now continue with the third section: Our Relationship with Fellow Christians and the World = Chapter 4:1-5:21

Since it has been awhile, why not go back and review some of the previous posts.  These can be found to the right under “Categories”.

My goal will be to post one blog a week initially.  If you pick up following the blog, feel free to make comments, insights and encouragement to other readers.  If you like my postings feel free to share it with others and if you see I am falling behind in posts, feel free to also give me a little nudge here or on Facebook!

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In Christ Alone,

Donn


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Faith of a Family BOGO Nov 16-Dec 16

dec-bogo-2016Looking for a unique Christmas gift for your Spouse, Parents, Grandparents, Siblings or Friends? Take advantage of the BOGO at www.faithofafamily.com . We have new frame colors available and soon, black and mahogany quivers.

Don’t forget to share this with friends and family, and let others know you would like this set too!

 


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Following the Leader

following

When our children were little, one way that we were able to keep up with them in the stores was to have them hold our hand. There were times when I was pushing the loaded grocery cart and it took both my hands to push it so I had to improvise. On one occasion when my wife was not with us, I had brought all four of our children with me (we had not had our fifth yet). I had Trent in the backpack, Amber in the seat in the cart and wanted to ensure that Ashley and Tyler would stay nearby so I had them hold onto my back pockets. As long as they stayed close and held on, they felt secure and I knew they were right with me. It didn’t matter where I led them, they were there, close by. There security was not in what was going on around them, but was in me because they could feel me, they were next to me, their Daddy.

Paul tell us in Ephesians 5:1 that we are to be followers of God as dear children and I think before we get into the extended passage and discussion, how we are to follow after God; as dear children, I wanted to discuss the first thoughts that come to my mind.

Children’s security should be in their parents. As followers for Christ, our security should be in our Heavenly Father, the perfect example of a loving father.As His child, the closer I am to Him, the more secure I am, regardless of what is going on around me. Like a child that runs off, the further I am from God, the less secure I am in His hand, not by His doing, but mine.

I John 4:4 says, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Regardless of what is going on in our lives, we are overcomers because of Christ and His sacrifice enabling us to become children of God. As we rear our children, we need to always remember that we are setting examples for them and should be asking them, as Paul asked us in I Corinthians 11:1, to “follow me as I follow after Christ”.

Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

How can our children follow after Christ if we don’t teach them?
How did I do last week?
What can we change today to help our children tomorrow?

Following in Christ’s footsteps leads us to security and ultimate victorious living.


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What’s Your Passion’s Fruit?

passion Fruit 

Passion:

“A strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something”

 We are all passionate about something, it could be our family, our faith, politics, a form of education, a hobby, or thousands of other subjects too numerous to list.  But we all have at least one passion and some of us no doubt have several passions that we like to pursue.  For some, their passion becomes a hobby, for others, they make it a career, a “cottage industry” or even a movement within their circles of influence.

As Christians, our passion does not define who we are in Christ, but it does define our actions and how we are seen by others.  God knows our hearts, others know our actions.  Our hearts are usually expressed by our actions which are defined by our passions.  The Bible has something to say about this:

 Proverbs 23:7

            “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:…”

Matthew 12:34b 

            “…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”

 An apple tree is not defined as an apple tree solely on its ability to produce apples, but the fruit is a visible characteristic of being an apple tree.  That being said, looking from the outside in, as Christians, our fruit should be what differentiates us from the world. 

Having a passion for family, for an educational process, a hobby, or a political bent does not necessarily distinguish us from the world.  You can easily find non-Christians passionate about these things.  As Christians, these may be mere avenues of expressing the underlying passion for the Trinity and the Word of God.  My concern in America today is that we have allowed secondary passions to suppress what should be our primary passion for Christ.

If someone were to ask you today what your passion is, what would you say?  Have you thought about it recently? What makes you tick, what excites and motivates you?  My purpose today is not to condemn one or another, but to spark something inside each of us to encourage us to rethink our passions because often the passion(s) that we should have as Christians can become sidetracked by otherwise good or secondary passions.  What should be our primary passions can be consumed or overridden by the secondary.

Why is it important to understand what is our true passion?   Because what we are truly passionate about is what will ultimately flow out in our actions.  Our passion is not necessarily what we claim it to be, but our true passion is usually evidenced by the fruit / actions we actually produce.  It is this visible fruit that defines us by those around us.   

If you and I were to be judged solely on the fruit produced by our passion, what would people say is my passion, what is your passion?  While we think about this topic, let me put out there several things to consider:

  1.  What pops first into your thoughts may not be correct.  Our initial thoughts may be what we think is expected of us and what others expect us to say.  As an extreme example, a spiritual leader may state that their passion is God’s Word and the feeding of God’s flock, but in reality, the fruit of their passion, may show something else.  We need to think deeper about what makes us passionate and not settle for the expected reply.
  2. If we asked your closest friends what was your passion, what would they say, how do they see you?
  3. If we asked your peers and co-workers what was your passion, what would they say, how do they see you?
  4. And if we asked your immediate family what was your passion, what would they say?

 Now the answers to this question may not be completely accurate because man can be a great deceiver that will often go for years fooling many, but if we consider the fruit that others see in us, it can be a good indication of what we really value.

Here is Paul’s passion:

Philippians 3:4-14

Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

As we clarify in our hearts what our real passions are, the big questions are:  How does that stack up against the Word of God?  and What changes in our lives do we need to make to reflect the right priorities in our lives?

“Purpose may point you in the right direction but it’s passion that propels you.” – Travis McAshan, Entrepreneur and Web Strategist


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The Problem with “Andy Griffith”

So, do you like watching the Andy Griffith Show?  You know, the wholesome show with the down home humor and quaint town.  Barney, the inept deputy is constantly getting himself into trouble and Andy, the Sheriff provides his country wisdom to work out the problems of the day.  Each episode has an overriding lesson for the viewers. What’s not to like?  Over all, I think the show has some redeeming qualities but as I have watched them from time to time, there is a reoccurring problem in the foundational structure of the show that I think we need to be very careful about and particularly discerning if we allow our children to watch the show.  In many episodes I have found that subtle lies are often told and accepted.  To me, this is very troubling, particularly as this show is often extoled for its values. 

As we come to the next section of our study in Ephesians (4:25-32), I want to make a quick stop at verse 25.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Lies vs. Truth – How often in our daily lives do we hear the comment about “little white lies?”  Isn’t that we see often in shows such as the “wholesome”, “family values” show of Andy Griffith?  As seen on TV, it is unfortunately far too often so easy to bring this idea into our own homes and we don’t even realize it.

I will not elaborate on this topic, but another example that comes to mind is the topic of Santa Clause and his friends.  From the very beginning of our parenting experience, we never told our children that there was a Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny or Santa Clause for them to believe in.  We would describe Santa as a Christmas Clown or someone dressed up in a costume for fun during the Christmas season.  I’m not here to judge anyone on what you do or say about such topics but I would ask that you consider the foundations that you are laying for the future of your children’s character.

As our children get older and they are able to understand truth, should we be said to have provided them with an example of “ok lies”?  God forbid.  As parents we do enough unintentional lying without deliberately lying to our children.  If we are willing to make it acceptable within our families to tell “little white lies”, to be deceptive to the ones that we love the most, how much bigger will that deception carry over into our other relationships such as our extended family, our church family, our neighbors, and our co-workers and bosses?  The crooked CEO’s and politicians didn’t wake up one morning and determine to be deceptive to those to whom they are accountable to, their deception began in the home.

As we rear arrows (our children) to be shot into a dark world, are we honing them into straight arrows or crooked arrows?

In the proceeding verses in this chapter, Paul speaks in generalities about living a godly life, in verses 25-31 Paul gets into some specific interpersonal sins that we need to be cautious about in our relationship with others. With each sin that he warns us about, he tells us what to replace it with.  Don’t do this, but do this.  In verse 25, he tells us to put away lying but speak truth.

How are we doing as parents?  Are we keenly aware of the world around us and the deception and lies that it bombards our households with?  Are we instructing our children in truth and pointing out the lies of this sinful world and our own sinful nature?

Character is like a seed planted in a young heart.  How we feed and water it or neglect it may not be evident today, but as the fruit grows within their heart, so will the sweet or bitter flavors be known.

Those who think it’s permissible to tell white lies soon become color-blind. 

Austin O’Malley.


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Happy New Year From Faith of a Father and Faith of a Family

Happy-New-Year-2014
Happy New Year to all our friends and family!

As we begin a new year, many of us will set new resolutions or new goals.  This is a great opportunity to make needed changes in our lives and it is a very important step in our personal growth as it helps us to re-focus on what is really important.

I found it interesting that the next passage of Scriptures that we were set to review in our study in Ephesians tells us that our success is at least a three step plan.

Ephesians 4:20-24

But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

  1. Put off the bad (the old man) – Write down how you are going to do this
  2. Change your heart and mind  – Write down how you are going to do this
  3. Put on the good (new man) – Write down how you are going to do this

A. You have to get rid of something.  I can’t say that I will now do that which is righteous and holy and yet continue to do that which is sinful.  If I want to read my Bible more, lose weight or spend more time doing __(whatever)__, I must consciously give up something.

B. You have to change the way you think.  So not only is there a Stop and Start process, but there is an internal action required.  To do steps one and or three without step two (a heart/mind change) will only bring a temporary or ineffective outward change.  (Please note, only in the power of Christ can the heart and mind truly be changed.  This would make for a great personal in-depth study).

C. You have to replace the old with the new.  We must fill the void with something profitable, if we don’t, it will be easy to slide back into the same old rut of doing what we have always done before.

Romans 12:1-2 says all this in a slightly different way:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

So when you write down your 2014 goals or resolutions, remember to also consider what you will be stopping, make it clear.  Also think through how you will be seeking the Lord’s direction and looking for his continual reminders and encouragements along the way to change your mind and heart.  “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:  – Proverbs 27:7a

Don’t forget to share your goals and action plan with an accountability partner to help keep you accountable throughout the year.

And remember:

I can do all things through CHRIST, which strengtheneth me. – Philippians 4:13


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It Was Only The Beginning

cross-shadow-on-manger-743969

As we celebrate Christmas tomorrow, let’s not forget about the reason for Christ’s birth.  Christ’s birth was only the beginning of God Himself stepping down from Heaven to rescue sinners headed to a godless eternity in Hell.  Christ took upon human flesh so that we might have everlasting life; for without this new life, we were dead in our trespasses and sins.  Christ knew that He was coming into a world that would reject Him, curse Him and even murder Him yet He still came.  Why?  Because of His great love for each of us.  A love that no man, woman or child could ever comprehend.  The virgin birth was His humble entrance into a sin filled world.  His death was the ultimate price paid for your sins, and for my sins.  His resurrection was His victory over death and our salvation from sin, eternal damnation, Hell, and a new life in Christ.

John 3: 16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 15: 13

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Listen to this song from the Ball Brothers.

Romans 10:9-10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Because of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection (all three must have happened), we can have new life.  What a great reason to celebrate and praise the Lord for his wonderful Grace and Mercy.  Christ was born once so that we can live again!  Do you have new life in Christ?  If not but you’d like to, send me an email.  Why not receive the greatest gift of all today.

Merry Christmas from Faith of a Father, Faith of a Family, and the Schnarrs


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How well do you still see in the dark?

man in the dark
In this post I want go back to my study in Ephesians.  I left off at Ephesians 4:16 so I want to pick it up from there.
About a month ago our family gathered together with friends to enjoy an evening around a bonfire.  We had a great time.  Although it was a little on the cold side, it was a good evening.  That night the kids even pulled out their instruments (banjo, guitar, mandolin and fiddle) and played along with another friend that brought his large bass. Everyone seemed to have a great time eating chili, drinking hot drinks and fellowshipping with other believers. Of course the evening began in the light but over time, as anyone walked away from the fire, the darkness would engulf them.
At the beginning of the event the boys and a few of us old guys played some football in the front yard.  It was easy to see the ball for awhile but over time as the darkness crept in it became more and more difficult to see.  The older guys gave up shortly thereafter for fear of getting hurt while the younger boys played on in what seemed to be complete darkness.
Ephesians 4:17-19
 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,  Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:   Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
In Ephesians chapter 4 Paul told the Ephesians how to walk worthy of their calling in Christ.  He encourages them to have meekness, longsuffering and uphold one another in love.  He describes our unity in Christ and then outlines spiritual gifts that we have in Christ. After all of this, Paul brings his readers back to the basics; he reminds them of who they were before Christ.  As unbelievers they were ignorant to God because of the blindness of their heart.  They once lived in darkness but now live in the light.
I consider our world today and how so many willingly walk in darkness and how this verse can apply to them.  I find it so easy to point fingers at the world, but as I look at this verse, I must consider the audience to whom Paul was speaking, he was speaking to believers.  He is reminding them to not walk like the world, and don’t think like the world.  The world is blinded by their willful ignorance of God and is willingly following their hardened heart’s desires.  He is saying this should not be so of the believer.  I wondered for a second why would Paul take the time to tell the Believers at Ephesus not to walk as the Gentiles (world), they were Christians.  My conclusion is that even though we see in preceding verses that the Believers were following after Christ, Paul was giving a warning of the potential dangers that could befall them.
As Christian’s we are born into the light of the wonderful Grace and Mercy of God, but until we are raptured into heaven one day, we continue to live in a sinful body and a sinful world.  It is this sin nature that is a continual pull on the believer and if we are not careful we too can be drawn back into a dark corner of our sinful life without recognizing the subtle changes in our walk.
Although some individuals lose their sight through a tragic injury or accident and go from light to darkness in an instant, most people lose their sight very gradually like the boys that played football that night.  Yes, they knew it was getting dark but to them, it was no big deal, they could “handle it”.
As parents, it is our responsibility to train our children to walk in the Light of God’s Word and to recognize when the darkness of this world begins to creep in.  Often the question may not be, “Is it sin?” rather, “Is it the right timing or best thing to do?”
The following are a few questions to ask ourselves on a daily basis:
1.      Do I want to serve the Lord today, or myself?
2.      Did I feed on God’s word today to fill me with His ways and thoughts?
3.      Have I prayed that He would direct my path today?
4.      Is what I have done or about to do:
          a.       good for me?  How?
          b.      good for others? How?
          c.       beneficial for me or others?  How?
          d.      affect faith and witness to others? How?
          e.      does it glorify God, How?
          f.       does it honor my parents (if applicable)? How?
          g.      will it bring me closer to God? How?
          h.      Scripturally permissible, but is it likely to be a stumbling block to those around me?
5.      Do I have that still small voice speaking to me about what I have done or am going to do?
Asking ourselves and teach our children these types of questions can give us insights into whether something may or may not be of God.  Asking the follow up question of How, helps us to get specific and not brush off the question as easily.
We all have blind spots in our lives.  If you haven’t already, why not partner with someone close to you that can give you honest and loving feedback so that iron sharpens iron?


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Arrows of Faith – Launched

faith of a family facebook ad

I like the idea of symbolism.  I like the idea of having a tangible item to remind me of an important spiritual message.  By having something visible, it is not only a reminder to me but also a potential opportunity to be a catalyst for conversations with others.

About 5 years ago I was really struck by the passage in Psalm 127:4 that says, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.”  At my oldest daughter’s high school graduation, I spoke about this passage of Scripture and gave my daughter a store bought arrow and quiver signifying that we were launching her out into the world.  To be honest, a black 32 inch arrow with blue fake feathers really didn’t impress me.   So, over these last five years I started slowing developing an idea in my head.

This store bought arrow and plastic quiver really wasn’t what I had in mind as a display piece symbolizing Psalm 127:4.  I could tell it would be just too big for most rooms, and well, it just looked cheap and “store bought”.  I came up with the idea of having a shorter arrow displayed in a quiver, accompanied with a picture frame to display a photo of our children.  I couldn’t find the types of short arrows that I wanted, nor a quiver to fit them so I began the search on how to make the arrows using authentic arrow shafts, feathers, sinew, and tips.  I had a pretty good idea of how to make a quiver out of leather and lacing, I was able to located a supplier for the picture frame and found a local engraver to assist with the engraving of the names on each individual arrow.  Through trial and error and numerous variations of each product, I believe that I have designed a product that I hope many will enjoy for years to come.

It is my desire that these products will be something cherished by parents and children alike.  I trust that you will consider these as a reminder of the awesome responsibility that we as parents have in rearing our children.  As I said in a recent post, we as parents are launching our children into the next generation, into a generation or even generations that we ourselves may never experience.

Take a few minutes to review our “Arrows of Faith” and visit our new website:   www.faithofafamily.com   Please feel free to share the link with your friends.


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How many children should you have?

large family

As I come to the end of this short series, I’d like to make a few comments about verse five of Psalm 127.

 “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

As I mentioned earlier on in this series, it is not my place to tell anyone how many children they ought to have, this is a decision between each couple and God.  God knows each circumstance and what is best for each family. It may be two, five, ten or zero.  As a Christian I do believe we should seek God’s will for our family size and not be swayed by the world or even good intentioned but busy-bodied Christians.

Even prior to us being married, my wife to be, Sherry, had repeatedly said over and over again that she wanted a lot of children.  After a difficult delivery with our third child, the doctors told us that it would be too dangerous for Sherry to have any more children and that there was a good probability that Sherry could die from another child’s birth.  Ten months later our fourth child was born and several more years later our fifth child.  In God’s wisdom, additional children are not to be.  So although I respect those who have many more children than even our family, having a large family is not a “competition”.  Nor is it necessarily an indication of a family’s commitment to the Scriptures or a greater love for children but it may just be God’s plan for those particular families.

Having said this, let’s review the beginning of the verse we are discussing:  “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:” As we know arrows are what is placed into a quiver and the previous verses referred to our children as our arrows.  I like to call them “arrows of faith” because they can be a reflection of our faith as we train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  The Bible is telling us that it is a joyful thing to have a lot of children.

So here are some benefits of having a full quiver, whatever the Lord’s definition of a full quiver is for your family:

  1.  A full quiver can bring much laughter and fun to a home.  Yes, this can be so with a small family, but imagine a family with a household filled with children varying in personalities and spiritual gifts.  As a family, there are times when many if not all of us just sit in the living room together and laugh with (and sometimes at) each other.  We enjoy each other’s company (usually) and find it hard if on those rare occasions we cannot travel on a vacation together.  Laughing is a part of our family fun.  Although I must say even as the more “reserved” one in the family, I can have an occasional crazy outburst.
  2. Having a full quiver means numerous siblings.  Of course this is obvious.  When there is an only child, best friends must be chosen very carefully from outside the home.  Let me ask, can there be any better best friends then siblings?  I don’t think so.  We live in a transient time and often times families are required to move due to a job or other reasons.  One of the big concerns for parents is how will the move affect the child or children.  When your children are best friends with each other, this definitely can help during the transition of the move. Again, how great is it when our children can have their own siblings as their best friend !
  3. Having a full quiver can bring security in our old age.  As families, God’s design is for the parents to care for their children, and when the parents are old, the children should care for their parents, as much as physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually possible.  While we would all love to grow old and have a perfect relationship with our children, we are all human and at times can get a little cranky and annoying and not always the most pleasant to be around. One parent with a slew of kids said to me, “It’s great having a bunch of kids.  When we get old and need a place to stay, we’ll have many homes to stay at so we won’t be a burden on any one of our kids.” I guess that is what you call retirement planning.
  4. As the world continues to battle against the family, they often will use the idea of over population to encourage smaller sized families.  According to a 2007 Gallup poll, 60% of the thousands polled believe the ideal family size is four or less, two parents and two or less children.  About 33% of those polled believed the number of children per family should be greater than two.  Only 2% indicated that five or more children was a good family size.  I say all this to say, although I have no statistical evidence only anecdotal, it would appear that if the world tends to discourage the idea of having many children, I look at Christians that are having large families as an opportunity to have greater influence in our communities and around the world as our Christian population grows.  The key is not only do we need to rear “Arrows of Faith” and prepare to launch them into the next generation but also to be a godly influence to those around us right now.  America isn’t lost, and I see a great opportunity for us as Christians to be influencers in our nation, but we must first start within our own families and from there spread a godly influence outward.  I have said it before but I’ll say it again here.  It is important to vote godly influencers into political office, but it is not as important who sits in seat of the White House as it is who sits in the seat of our own hearts.

I am sure that other points could be made, but let me end with this:  I like symbolism.  I like the idea of having something tangible that can remind us of some important truth and that is why in the near future I will be launching a new project offering something that can be a visual reminder that our children are “Arrows of Faith” and that as parents it is our responsibility to prepare to launch these arrows into the next generation!

Stay tuned as I fine tune some details and launch this project.


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Launching Faithful Arrows into the World

arrow globe JPEG

Psalm 127:3-5

 “Children are compared to “arrows”. Now, we know that sticks are not by nature arrows; they do not grow so, but they are made so; by nature they are knotty and rugged, but by art they are made smooth and handsome. So children by nature are rugged and untoward, but by education are refined and reformed, made pliable to the divine will and pleasure.” –George Swinnock, 1627-1673, nonconformist, puritan, pastor

As I have read a number of commentaries on these verses, I have found that most writers (such as Matthew Henry and Charles Spurgeon – The Treasury of David), discussed that the arrows (children) are for the defense of the family and protection for the parents in their old age.  Although I would not disagree with these godly men, I believe that there is much more to the analogy of our children being arrows then just for defense and protection.  I believe there is another aspect that I would like to discuss here.

Unlike swords, clubs, lances or knives, arrows are not used for close combat.  Archers were able to reach great distances with their arrows, and with skill used these arrows to hit targets that they themselves could not physically reach.

drake-s

In 1983, Harry Drake held the “foot held” flight record of 1 mile 268 yards.

The Bible is clear that our Christian life is a battle (Ephesians 6) and that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Like arrows sent to hit targets the archer cannot reach, our children, when prepared, are to be sent out to do great damage to Satan’s kingdom that we as parents will never reach.  The ultimate goal of any Christian should be to glorify God.  This is why I believe that it is important that we take the saplings we are given and instruct them in the ways of the Lord, to mold them into the SHAPE that God has for them (not how we want them to be).  So that one day, when we shoot them from our homes and into the future, into a time and place where we will never go, that they will be ready to take flight, fly true and hit the mark that God has intended for them.

Each of our children is a miracle, given to us by God for a purpose, to glorify God in a way that we cannot.  As the arrow is not designed to sit in a quiver and never be used but is to be shaped and prepared for a purposed launch, so must our children be shaped into a mighty weapon of faith to be launched into the next generation that the enemy mentioned in Ephesians chapter six might be damaged, and God glorified.

Parents, how are your arrows being shaped?  Are we preparing our children to walk in the ways of God, so that in His timing,  they might be launched, and might fly straight, true to God’s Word and be a mighty weapon for God?  What are you doing today, what am I doing that might enable our children to be prepared for their launching into the next generation?

 “Well doth David call children “arrows”; for if they be well bred, they shoot at their parents’ enemies; and if they be evil bred, they shoot at their parents.” –Henry Smith. 1560-1591,regarded as the most popular puritan preacher of the Elizabethan London.


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SHAPE of Arrowheads

arrowhead

The third and final part of the arrow I’d like to discuss is the broadhead, otherwise known as the arrowhead or point of the arrow.  Of course the purpose of the arrowhead is to penetrate the target and depending on the target, it will depend on what shape of arrowhead is used for the task. And so it is with our children, depending on their “SHAPE”, God will use each child in His way to further His kingdom.

The Bible likens the Christian life to a war against Satan and the evil in this world.  Like an archer using the wrong arrow at the wrong time, we as parents with extensive prayer, Scripture study, seeking God’s wisdom and direction, need to help guide our children to His purposes, not ours.

Ephesians 6:11-12  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Some arrowheads are used to go deep within the target and can do massive damage.  Other arrowheads are used for a precision attack.  There are even some arrowheads called blunts that are not sharp at all and are used on birds and small game as not to destroy the flesh of the animal.  There are many purposes for arrows, and each arrow is crafted by the Fletcher for a purpose.  So regardless of your child’s shape, God has a mighty purpose for their life.  It is up to us as parents to help each child learn their shape.  As parents, it is our responsibility to know our children and to understand their shape, or who they are.  If we do not know and understand our children then we are doing a disservice to them.

If each child is an arrow, what kind of arrowhead are they?  I’m glad you asked.  The following information is not original with my father in law, Pastor Larry Brodie, but it is information that he has shared many times over the years with many people and groups.

Take a look at each letter and make a list for each:

 S = Spiritual gift(s))

Rom.  12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us,

1Pe 4:10  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

What is your spiritual gift(s)?

H = Heart beat for the Lord; passions for life and ministry

Mt 6:21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

What is your heartbeat?

 A = Ability (skills and ability, “God given” and “learned”)

Mt 25:15  And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

What are your skills and abilities?

 P = Personality traits

1Cor.12: 6  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.  14  For the body is not one member, but many. . . 18  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

What are your personality traits?

E = Experiences in life, especially painful ones

Rom. 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  2 Cor. 1: 3-4 – Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

What are your significant experiences?

Why not take a few minutes and before considering your child(ren), go through and answer these questions for yourself.  If you have older children, maybe use this as an opportunity for each child to reflect on themselves and make some notes.  This would be a great discussion for the family.

As you will find through this exercise, each of our children, each of us are uniquely different.  As parents, we must be careful not to press our children into a future path of our wants, desires and even our pride over what God has planned for them.  I am reminded of the recent TV shows about child beauty pageants and how mothers live out vicariously through their daughters live, or how fathers try to live out their dreams through their sons on the sports teams.  Of course as solid Christians we would say we would never do that, but do we?  How often do we as parent “expect” our children to go to college or pressure our children down a particular career path or “ministry” path because of our own desires and even our own pride?  Are we trying to launch an arrow in a direction and at a target for our own purposes and desires or are we willing to search out God’s desires, learn and understand our children’s shape (type of arrowhead) and encourage each child to pursue God’s will for their life?  Dad, Mom, are we willing to give God complete control over our children’s lives or are we trying to deceive ourselves into believing we know what is best?  Father knows best, the question is, are we willing to surrender the future of our children to our Heavenly Father?


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Directing your Arrows

As we continue in our series of Psalm 127:3-5, I want to comment on two more parts of the arrow before we move on to the next topic of discussion for these verses.

The use of feathers or other materials on an arrow is for aerodynamic stability and is call fletching.  Without this stability, the arrow’s path will be less directed and therefore less likely to hit the intended target.  Each feather is referred to as a fletch.   Like the shaft, historically each fletch is made of natural products, in this case feathers, although now days synthetic feathers are often used.  Each feather or fletch can be attached with either a silk thread or some form of glue.  At the fletcher’s choosing, they may decide to put each fletch on the arrow at an angle to create a spin to assist in accuracy when shot.

Continuing with the analogy of our children as arrows, as the fletching helps to provide stability in flight and accuracy, so Biblical laws and principles provide to our children stability and accuracy in their lives.  An arrow can be shot without fletching or with one feather attached, but it’s accuracy is then forced.  And so it is with children, rules without principles bring forced obedience and likely rebellion.

I have seen over my many years how Christian parents often claim to understand the importance of God’s Word in the lives of their children and begin to set all kinds of rules for them to follow.  These parents often fail to understand the difference between two small prepositions, on and in and how this works out in the lives of their children.  Putting God’s Word onto someone’s life typically demands their compliance and is often viewed as a burden and rebellion will usually ensue.  But learning your child’s heart and then teaching and instilling God’s Word into their life encourages them to accept God’s Word for themselves and then it becomes their own values and own beliefs.  Learning the whys (principles) brings the arrow (child) balance.  Ephesians 6:1 talks about children obeying their parents, but verse 2 discusses honor.  The two must go together.  I believe that while compliance to rules can be forced, honor has to come from a belief in the heart.

Do you remember the story of the little boy that was told by the teacher to sit down?  As he was sitting he said to his teacher, “I’m sitting down on the outside but I’m still standing up on the inside.” He complied but his attitude was still sinful.  I’m reminded of a saying we have used in our home.  “Obedience without honor is disobedience.”

We have all heard the comment that character based on principles are who you are when no one else is watching.  Here’s my take on the difference between rules (laws) and principles:  “Rules (laws) are made to be obeyed, Principles are made to be lived by.”

How does all this relate to feathers on an arrow?  Like feathers being used to bring stability and accuracy to an arrow, the rules and principles that we as parents instill into our children very well may direct them the rest of their lives.  If we are not teaching our children God’s laws and His principles and only teach the law (rules), our children will not understand the whys and will take direction from the world in an attempt to provide stability to their life, therefore our children need to be grounded in the fully Truth of the Word of God.

Joshua 1:8  “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Psalm 119:105 , “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

2 Timothy 3:16,17  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God might be throughly furnished unto all good works.”

 So how are we doing?  Are we providing Godly direction to our children’s lives?  Are we forcing obedience (law) without honor (principle)?  Are we giving them one feather and expecting them to follow rules without principles?  What can you and I do this week to improve our influence in the direction of our children’s lives?

I hope these posts have been a blessing to you, even in a small way.  Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts.


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How Strong Are You Making Your Arrows?

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. — Psalm 127:4 

This verse is the theme of a new venture that I am embarking on.  As I have read a number of commentaries, articles and comments about this verse, the overriding theme seems to be what the arrows (children) mean to the parents in their old age.

Before we get to this topic, I want to first discuss the topic of our children as arrows.  When my oldest daughter graduated from high school, on the night of her graduation party, I spoke a few words on this topic.  I explained that she was the first of 5 arrows being launched out into the world.  I went on to describe a few of the qualities needed in an arrow.  In the next couple of posts I would like to take some of those comments and expound on them, followed up with how Psalm 127:4 has spoken to my heart regarding the future.

Let me preface my comments with letting the readers know that I am not an archer and therefore my reflection on this topic is from my readings and observations on the topic.

As I look at an arrow, the first thing that I see is the shaft.

The shaft.  Today, the shaft can be made up of a number of materials, both natural and man-made.  “Back in the day” the arrow shaft was made from a number of woods and the selection of material by the fletcher (arrow maker) was dependent on what was available.  Just as we find diversity in the shafts of arrows, so is the diversity between, and in families.

The shaft of an arrow needs to be strong, firm but flexible, and straight in order to fly true and accurate to hit its mark.  What a tree takes in as nutrients, and how much, determines how well rooted or grounded it is and will ultimately affect the overall strength of the tree, including the density / strength of its branches.  A tree flooded regularly with water, or one that does not get enough water will be severely affected.  The same can be said of a tree that received too little or is overwhelmed with nutrients.  Our children’s spiritual strength will be determined by the kind, how much, or how little spiritual food they are given systematically.  Dumping fertilizer at the base of a fruit tree a few days before harvest time is useless and can very likely cause damage.  The same goes with our children, we can’t expect to ground them in the Word of God their senior year in high school in anticipation of launching them into the world and expect wonderful results, the cultivating, pruning and nurturing must be done over time.

It is our responsibilities as parents to learn and understand our children, and with God’s grace and wisdom, design a plan to systematically “water and fertilize” our children with the Word of God so that they can grow to be strong in the Lord.  The Bible tells us to

“stand fast in faith…and be strong” –I Corinthians 16:13

“be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” – Ephesians 6:10

and we are to be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” – II Timothy 2:1

If we expect our children to grow up to be strong in the Lord, we cannot relegate their primary biblical instruction to others.  Sadly, too often Christian parents think that because their children are involved in Christian School or in an active youth group at church, their responsibility somehow is fulfilled.  These godly resources are wonderful supplements and can be of great value to a family, but God’s plan is for the parents to be the primary instructors of righteousness to their children.  As parents, we are to carefully recognize the grain of our children, in other words, the way God has made them and get to know and understand each child individually as we nurture and instruct their lives for the future.  I know of many families that homeschool their children because they recognize that even within families, children learn differently.  Yet how often do we, do I, use a one size fits all when it comes to training our children spiritually?  Sadly, in most cases, we as fathers tend to not do as well in this area as our wives.

Have you ever seen someone try to shoot an arrow made from a very green shoot from a reed of some kind?  The moment the string is drawn back and pressure is applied to the arrow, it bends and fails in its purpose.  The world is a dark and evil place and Satan is a roaring lion, waiting to consume our children.  If we as parent fail to encourage our children and teach them to stand strong in the Lord and in His Word, when we release our children into the world their lack of spiritual strength to stand will cause them to buckle either when we release them or when they hit a target.  Parents, how are we teaching our children to stand strong?  Are we presuming that somehow our own spiritual growth is going to rub off on them?  Our influence as parents is critical, but their faith has to be their own.

I’ll end with this illustration.  With my father being pastor, I never knew anything but living in a Christian home.  I received Christ as my Savior at a very early age and never really had many doubts about it.  I went to a Christian School for grade school, was homeschooled for middle school and attended a very small Christian school for my high school years.  Upon graduation, I went off to a very small, very conservative Bible College.  Being in a Christian environment all my life it seemed like I knew all the answers to all the Bible questions.  I served in various ministries started at about the fourth grade from bus routes to a music group in college.   I transferred to a different college / university my senior year causing me to have to go an extra semester.  In that summer between my second and third semester of my senior year I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment above a little old couple.  I shared the apartment with another Christian young man (maybe five years older than me) who was working at the university.  This summer was truly a turning point in my Christian walk.  This young man named Terry played the organ at a large Presbyterian church in town and immediately I could tell his standards and mine were very different.  I think the first time I met him he was holding a wine cooler.    Obviously he didn’t come from the Fundamental, Independent, Bible Believing, KJV only, hell fire preaching, no TV, Baptist circles that I grew up in.  God knew that he was just the roommate that I needed that summer.  If you know the Schnarrs, I grew up on good lively debates.  And so that summer, Terry and I had some good lively debates about our differences.  During one of these debates, he said to me, “Don’t tell me what your parents believe, tell me what YOU believe.”  And that was a new beginning for me.  I had all the answers memorized but I didn’t know the Whys.  Why did I believe what I believe?  Over the next few years as I began to study and understand why I believed what I did, based on Scripture, some legalistic convictions I held for many years turned to preferences and some preferences became convictions.  My faith began to grow deeper.  As I began to absorb God’s Word into my life for myself, my faith grew stronger.  I learned not to take what a preacher said at face value, but to search the Scriptures for myself.  Oh, if I had only learned these things earlier in life.

Parents, are your children following your faith because it is something that is expected, or are you teaching them to learn and develop their own faith?  When the winds come, and the enemy attacks, and they will, will your children be able to stand firm on the Word of God or will they parrot only what you have told them and bend like a young green branch?  Faith is not inherited, it is planted and cultivated, one life at a time.


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How’s Your View?


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Psalm 127:3-5

3  “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.  4  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  5  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”  

I have been captivated by these passages for some time now.  As I have thought about them, there are many rabbit trails that could be taken but after hours of writing and deleting, I decided to keep my comments on these verses pretty simple.  Today, let’s focus on verse three.

 “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

The Bible tells us that our children are a heritage and a reward from the Lord.  As I think about the word heritage, I think of something that is passed from one generation to another.  At times this can refer to possessions that are past on and at other times is can be something more intangible such as a history or maybe character traits, values or beliefs.  But we should also think of the word heritage in the context of the future, the heritage that we are now building.  The greatest impact someone can have on the world is not what they leave for the next generation, but who they leave to the next generation.  Our legacy should not be based on things we leave behind, but who we leave behind when our life ends being raptured into heaven.

I am deeply troubled by that attitude that so many have for children these days.  We can look out into society and see lack of value placed on children, from legalizing abortions, to the poor educational system, from the way many discipline their children or the lack thereof.  Of course the list could go on and on. And while I am troubled with our nation in general with its view on children, I am also trouble with the view that we in the church take regarding our children.

We talk about how important our children are yet every chance we get, we send them off to worship, play and study with other people.  While some of this is not bad, in my view, based on my understanding of the Scriptures, these times should be the exception and controlled and not the norm for a family.

It is unfortunate, but even the church has fallen into the trap of “population control” and often going as far as telling God when and how many children WE are going to have.  How arrogant. Should we tell God how He should bless us? Many Christian parents won’t admit it, but often, out of selfishness and pride, we begin allow the world’s philosophy to affect our view of children and we begin to view them as an inconvenience instead of a blessing.

It is not my desire to suggest or tell people how many children I think couples should have, that is definitely between them and the Lord.  Nor will I, or should I judge anyone or imply that a certain number of children is godlier than another number. God’s plan for the Duggars is as different for them as it is for us, the Schnarrs, which again, His plan for us is much different than His plan for your family.  Regardless of “the number”, each child is a reward and a blessing from God, even the unexpected child, or the disabled or challenged child.  God has a plan and a purpose for each and every child conceived.  I know of couples who would give anything to have children but God has had another plan for their lives, and I have seen other families with numerous children yet have taken these gifts for granted.  The point I want to make today is, if children are a heritage and a reward from the Lord, how do we really view our children?  Do we point them in the right direction along the way, take them to Sunday School, drop them off at youth group, and just hope for the best?  Or do we contemplate on a regular basis the responsibility that God has given to us as parents and make corrections as needed?

I think most Christian parents that are continuously living in light of God’s Word would heartily agree and state children are a heritage and a reward from God.  But let me follow up with this topic, have you, have I, really sat down lately and contemplated the thought of who God has given to us to teach and shape, have we really contemplated the value He has placed on our children?  I know that for most, our intent is to view, act, and respond to our children in light if this verse, but I also know that the daily events of our lives and the pressures of this world so easily distract us from following through on our intent.

Far too often due to my pride, I have been more concerned about how my children look on my “display shelf” in the home or at church and how they are positioned in the world for all to see, than being concerned with how God wants to shape them for His glory.  It is too easy to get wrapped up in the day to day mechanics of parenting struggling to accomplish immediate needs that we have forgotten to take the time to step back and marvel at who God has given to us to parent.  Have we gotten too involved in routine tasks that we have failed to plan how we will shape the life or lives that God has given us?  God hasn’t given us children to parent haphazardly and then fling them into the world at a certain age, He has given us someone that, by His grace, and using us as their parents, can be shaped into something much more powerful for His purpose.  Are we taking the time to regularly regroup and view our children as God has intended us to view them?  Or are we getting caught up in the day to day mechanics of parenting and we need to press the reset button?


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Remembering Dad

I posted this blog about my father 3 years ago on Father’s Day.  He passed away the following April after a battle with cancer but I am so glad that I was able to share my admiration with him prior to his passing.  I’m also glad that my kids were able to get to know him better the last few years of his life.  Yes, some days were “better” than other days due to his pain and his frustration that he couldn’t do some things on his own or not at all, but even to the end he was an example of someone with a deep desire to learn.

Thanks Dad for your love and godly example.

June 22, 2010

As I was reading Proverbs chapter one on the plane last night and when I got to verse five it reminded me of my dad. The verse reads: “ A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:”

My dad has always been a learner. I can remember way back even as a little boy my dad always trying something new. If he didn’t know the answer, he sought out the answer. If he couldn’t find the answer on his own he would find someone who knew the answer or he got a book and read until he found the answer. I remember him tell us when we were young kids about how he used to work with a friend by the name of Ken Gull during the summers of his college days. Dad said that they used to do odd jobs and home repairs for people. He said that even if they didn’t know how to do the work they would accept the job. He said one time they were asked if they could repair a slate roof. Of course they didn’t have a clue but accepted the job anyhow. Once the deal was made they sought out some old-timers who knew about slate roofs and they asked them how it needed to be done. I don’t recall ever hearing if the customer was pleased with the finished job or not but Dad always did it right so I’m sure it got done to the customer’s satisfaction. Over the years dad could do about anything, hang wallpaper, paint inside and out on a house, build churches, and do electrical and plumbing work. He learned how to be successful as a door to door sales man selling encyclopedias and he learned how to start a church with just his family. He learned how work with computer, how to make the world’s largest milkshake, burger and popcorn bags, he learned all the facets of the Jewish Seder and how it all points to Christ. Dad has always been a constant reader and pursuer of information and knowledge. Even over the past number of months as he struggles with stage four cancer, he has been getting books and reading about gardening. He continues to gets books out on CDs from the library and learns more about American history and great men of the past.

This is one of the many things that I have learned from my dad but don’t do very well. Continued learning is something that I continue daily to struggle with in my life. Oh if I would learn to be a better learner, to broaden my knowledge, to learn more about the things of God and His love for me, to have a broader knowledge of His Creation, to have a real hunger rather than a passing interest in learning.

I am thankful for the opportunity we have to homeschool our children and see their growing desire to read and learn. I’m thankful for the tender hearts that my children have for God and how they are faithful to have their own quiet time with God each day. It’s my heart’s desire that my kids would grow even deeper and in their desire to know God and then to have a desire for learning all that God wants then to know for the future He has prepared for them. My desire is that each one of them could talk with a king but also with the beggar. Not to be a stuck up know it all but a person diverse in the wisdom of God.

Thanks Dad for teaching me the importance of always learning. You truly are a man that exemplifies what it means to hear, and will increase in learning.


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Parts are Parts

parts

Parts are Parts, Which Part Are You?

 Ephesians 4:16

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Our body is an amazing, complex structure.  Every part of it has a defined purpose.  The evolutionists have told us in the past that we have vestigial body parts such as wisdom teeth, the tailbone, and the appendix, parts that we don’t need, or over time have lost much or all of its purpose.  Of course we know this is not true.  Try sitting down without a tail-bone, see how that works out for you.  Every part of the body has as purpose and without it, the body suffers.  Either a function does not get done or other parts of the body must work overtime to compensate.

The same is with the Body of Christ.  Every member is an important part of the body.  When we are all together and performing our function, not worried about what the other parts are doing or not doing, the Body of Christ can run better than a well oiled machine.

Try walking without your little toe.  Yes, you can walk without it but you will have to re-learn to balance yourself.  The same goes for the body of Christ, it can function without various members, but how much more can be done when it has both its arms, legs and kidneys?  To optimize the either the physical body’s performance or the effectiveness of the Body of Christ, parts are parts and all parts are needed.

I’d encourage you to go back to my December 17, 2011 post called:  Are you a Vestigial Christian?  and revisit this topic of Vestigial Christians.

Our bodies are made up many parts and everyone is needful to the body.  The Body of Christ is equally needful of every part, every member.  If we fail to do our job, to perform the function in the body that Christ has called us to do, the Body will not perform at its peak performance and others will have to compensate for our failure.

So what about you and your family?  How can your family become an effective part of the Body of Christ?  You may say that you’re too busy or your children are too small to be a vital role in the Body, but you’d be wrong.  We all have the same hours in the day, it is how we choose to spend them that’s important.  Even young children can be a source of encouragement to someone, young or old.  I’ll bet there are plenty of older saints in your church and circle of life that would love to have young people come by regularly, even for just a few moments say hello and maybe drop off some cookies.  How about ministering as a family to encourage other believers?  Here are just a few ways our family minister to the Body:

  • I serve on the Missions Committee of our church.
  • My wife encourages other homeschool mothers and is a group leader in a women’s group.
  • As a family, we go to the Salvation Army regularly and provide music for a service
  • Our daughter sings in the choir and sings solos in the church service
  • My wife and I are leaders in our Sunday School class
  • Our children play their instruments (guitar, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle) as special music occasionally on Sunday nights, at nursing homes and in the Christian School
  •  Our oldest daughter ministers to other young women through her blog            
  • Our daughters baby sit for young mothers that attend a weekly Bible study

There are many ways even young people can encourage other believers.  What our family does may not be practical for your family, but if you’re not fulfilling your role in the Body of Christ today I’d encourage you to take some time today to contemplate how you, how your family can fulfill your role in the Body of Christ today.

Not you, not your spouse, nor your children are Vestigial Christians, as Christians, we all (yes even young children) have been given a measure of grace and spiritual works.  Have you allowed your spiritual muscles atrophied to the point of being useless and need to be build back up or are you exercising your good works?

Parts are parts, and all parts of the Body of Christ are necessary.

Have you found a unique way for your family to minster to the Body of Christ?  Why not reply with a comment and let readers know.  You may encourage others to think outside the box as well.


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E-Book Release: Lessons Learned From A Heart Attack

https://faithofafather.com/free-ebook/

New E-Book Release, to get your free PDF file click here or on the ad to the right.  Feel free to share this link with your friends and family and let me know what you think.  Don’t forget to submit your reviews to Amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com


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Is It Truth or Love?

TruthinLove

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” Ephesians 4:15

In this verse we see that the opposite of deception and craftiness is “truth in love”.  I notice in this verse that it does not just say “truth” but “truth in love”.  It is unfortunate that oftentimes as seasoned Christians we can become inpatient with young believers and become so intent on teaching and preaching truth that we fail to show Christian love.  We fail to use the compassionate love that Christ used so often.

I grew up in a generation and in an area in the north where many sermons, particularly revival meetings, contained Biblical truth but were often yelled most of the way through the message.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need and importance of inflection in public speaking but to yell a sermon does not come across to most people as love.  In the Book of Acts we read of the Apostles proclaiming the Gospel to the crowds, and in Paul’s writings he writes with conviction and with power but his tone is a tone of compassion and love even in the midst of his chastening of the Believers.

Remember in the Scriptures where Christ threw out the money changers and called them a den of thieves?  Christ was speaking to those who were already against Him.  His response to their actions was effective because it was not his normal demeanor with them.  I don’t recall anywhere in the Scriptures where Christ spoke harshly to those He was trying to teach.  Christ spent a lot of time with His disciples and no doubt there were times when He had to be firm and very direct, but even then it was apparent that He loved them.  In observing Christ’s conduct, who is our ultimate role model for communications, I see two things:

  1. Love’s foundation is based in truth.
  2. Christ’s message was always heard by the hearer (truth without love is seldom heard)

I have often thought back over the years and contemplated something that I saw far too often.  I saw time and time again preacher’s and missionary’s children (as well as other children) walking away from the faith they grew up in.  In seeing this occur, I have come to several conclusions.  First, the Scriptures are clear that we as individuals, regardless of our upbringing, choose for ourselves the straight and narrow road or the broad highway.  No child can live out their parent’s faith.  It must be personal.  Many loving and caring Christian parents have done all they can to train up their children in the way they should go only to have a son or a daughter reject the truth of God’s Word.  The choice to turn away from God is always an individual decision.  The second conclusion that I have come to based only from an outsider’s view but seeing it often, is that many times these children lived in homes where truth is made know firmly, very firmly, with what appears to be an absence of Christ’s love with the communication of these truths.  Often times in our zeal to teach and communicate truth we fail to include the ever so important ingredient of love.

One of my struggles over the years has been with patience, particularly on occasions when I think the individual either should have gotten the message the first time or I think they are callous to the issue.  In these occasions I would typically walk away and stew about the situation that just occurred.  I must realize that in these moments I must question my motives.  Am I trying to communicate truth in Christian love or is my anger due to my own selfishness?  What is it that is angering me?

Jonathan Edwards had this to say about anger:

“We should never be angry but at sin, and this should always be that which we oppose in our anger.  And when our spirits are stirred to oppose this evil, it should be as sin, or chiefly as it is against God.  If there be no sin and no fault, then we have no cause to be angry; and if there be a fault or sin, then it is infinitely worse as against God than it is as against us, and therefore it requires the most opposition on that account.  Persons sin in their anger when they are selfish in it; for we are not to act as if we were our own, or for ourselves simply, since we belong to God, and not to ourselves. When a fault is committed wherein God is sinned against, and persons are injured by it, they should be chiefly concerned, and their spirits chiefly moved against it, because it is against God; for they should be more solicitous for God’s honor than for their own temporal interests.”  (The Spirit of Love the Opposite of An Angry or Wrathful Spirit, 1 Corinthians 13:5)

Is my motive to teach them or to get my way?  When it is my goal to communicate a principle or concept, particularly biblical ones, is my communication done in Christ-like love or in harshness?  When as a parent it is my duty to disciple a child, is it done in love or in anger?  One way to know this is; do your children fear you when they have done wrong or do they fear the consequences of their sin?

When we are teaching or preaching or even disciplining young believers, are we communicating truth in a way that they are motivated by fear or love and compassion?  Yes, there may be a time for “tough love” but being tough is only effective when the love is evident.

I’m reminded of a saying I heard many years ago, “I can’t do anything about it if you dislike me because of my position, but I can do something about it if you dislike me because of my disposition.”