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Jun 27, 2013

Why Are Families In So Much Trouble?

“A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live. Proverbs 15:27


I can imagine what immediately comes to mind when the key idea in this proverb appears to be the element of “money. Greed always seems to be most associated in our mind with money, and the word “bribes does as well. Certainly, the Bible tells us that money, or mammon, is the root of all evil, and our observation of human nature down through the ages shouts out this fact loud and clear. However, carefully consider the word “greedy and the things that bring trouble to families, those things that disrupt, tear apart, and destroy the most important single unit of society, the family.  When the elements that get almost all people into trouble throughout history are commonly summarized, we speak of three things: sex, alcohol, and money. This proverb appears to only address one of the three, money. However, the nature of greed truly speaks to all three. Greed is a desire for more, no matter how much you may have. It is a characteristic of insatiableness. In other words, there is never enough to satisfy. Wise King Solomon said, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. (Ecclesiastes 5:10) It is both comical and tragic to see the wealthiest men (mega-billionaires) in the world battle it out to be ranked number 1 each year. But that trait flows right down the hill through most of the society. You can even find it among the poorest tribes on the face of the earth.
You can substitute sex and alcohol for money in Solomon’s words and the truth is still powerfully relevant. You can’t get enough to satisfy! Or, you cannot come by satisfaction legitimately, so any means will do. This is where the second half of the proverb comes in; “bribes has to do with illegitimacy and corruption. Sex is easily translated into the physical appetites of the body, which can include any number of things, even gluttony; appetites which are natural, but the “satisfaction of which go beyond the limits of God’s good law and command for those He truly loves. Alcohol is representative of any substance abused in your mind and body on which you can “get high, lose control and righteous inhibitions, and feed insatiable addictions which destroy you and others. Money is money, and the more you have, the more things you want, the more influence you wield over others, the more power you command, which, if you are so blessed by God legitimately, can be used as a great blessing to God’s kingdom work when you recognize whose money it really is; but also can and often be abused to your own family’s destruction. Making more and more money requires more of your time away from God directed responsibilities like spouse and children and ministry to others. You have multiple genuine responsibilities to balance with God’s scale.
There are those modern pundits and philosophers who argue that greed is the engine that drives capitalism. Funny, easy observation exposes the truth that it also drives socialism, fascism, communism, and every “ism on the globe. “Occupy Wall Street is driven by greed even as it denounces the greed of others. Greed is a predominant sin of fallen human nature. And God condemns it! Here in out text it is pointed out that this is the sin that brings trouble to every family. Some form of greed is at the heart of every family’s problems. All familial troubles can be traced back to greed. Greed is synonymous with selfishness. The proverb’s offered solution is to hate bribes. The one or the family who hates bribes will live! What is this all about?
“Bribes are using any illegitimate means to satisfy your greed or selfishness. God sets forth what is legitimate to meet any of our needs in His Word. He made you and knows what you need. Seeking to get what we want in any manner which does not follow his commands and directions ALWAYS leads to trouble, heartache, and your eventual destruction. Many wish this were not so. Many simply hate God for His even suggesting it. Many either ignore or curse God that He gets to set the ground rules. None of this critical, cynical behavior or attitude ever changes anything one iota. It is wasted venom. God still rules the world He made, and He still allows man to “freely act out his sinful, ruinous nature. But He also provides a way of escape from this ruinous track for listening ears!
The only way to avoid the treacherous path of greed is this One who calls Himself, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John 14:6) Families are really in trouble! We live and work with the results of troubled families every day at the Paul Anderson Youth Home. The nation and the world suffer under the mega-burden of troubled families in every economic and racial strata of society. No part of the human community is immune from greed or the trouble it produces. Your answer and the world’s answer lies in only one place: Jesus Christ. Recognize your greed, specify it, get it clear in your mind and heart, and take it to Him. The one who turns his life over to Christ with no strings attached is the one who sees real life come to fruition.


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Jun 24, 2013

Summer Fun

Have your run out of ideas on what to do with your children this summer? Tired of them playing X-Box or being on the computer? Worried that their English and Math skills are vanishing before your eyes? Here are a few ideas on how to engage your children over the summer, no matter what the age.

  • Backyard Bash:  Pick a night…yes, any night and plan some kind of backyard family event.  Let your children come up with the event, do some part of the planning, theme, decorations, food, and invitations.  Maybe it involves friends or it could be just your family.  Events are a fun way to teach your children planning, details, even how much things cost.  Children are creative and imaginative.  Parties are a fantastic opportunity to see their unique perspective on having fun!
  • Bucket List:  The idea of a bucket list is pretty self-explanatory.  So what is a bucket list when it involves a family?  Try coming up with a list of ideas you would like to do for the summer.  The beautiful part of this idea is that even if you cannot do all the things you dream up, these begin to become ideas the family can organize around.  It could be that the idea of seeing a Broadway Show becomes a play you see locally.  Or it could be next year’s summer trip!  Regardless, creating adventures is something you can do as a family!
  • Camping Out: Yep…it’s hot and sleeping outside may seem unappealing, but you can camp out inside by making a tent. Or you can simply do a campfire type BBQ with S’Mores or have a picnic by the river or lake. Camping out can be a weekend trip in the woods or it can be in your own home. It’s the experience you are really after.
  • Game night: Spice up game night by keeping a running competition. Keep tallies of who has won Candyland the most or fight an epic battle of Risk over the summer. Monopoly is a staple so use it as an opportunity to teach managing money because who wouldn’t like to collect rent on Park Place. Catan is another fun game with lots of strategy and planning. If your family likes card games, pair up in games like Spades or Hearts or try the 3 person versions. Games are a great way to not only have healthy competition within the home but are easy ways to spend time together laughing.
  • The Lemonade Stand: The beauty for younger children in a lemonade stand is not only a fun way to teach them why adding and subtracting matters in other areas than just school, it is way they the can be motivated to earn money for themselves. For older children, the concept of a lemonade stand seems childish but mowing lawns or babysitting is based on the same principle: exchange your time and service for a return…extra spending cash!
  • Movie Night: Make movie night more than just sitting in front of the TV. Really do it up by putting out all the items from popcorn to candy to even ice cream sundae’s.
  • Volunteer:  Is there a way to use a cause or a charity to provide your children with an important perspective?  Certainly there is.  Christ spoke often of the poor, the hungry, the widows, and orphans.  Hurting people are everywhere.  Have your children pick a cause that is important to them.  You can even use ideas like The Lemonade Stand for a purpose where they give the money to a charity or family.  Allowing your children to be a part of the solution to problems and pains they see is an invaluable life lesson.  Being an asset to society is an early lesson that all parents should teach their children.

 
What summer fun do you have planned for your family? Leave a comment below with your ideas.
 
 


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Jun 20, 2013

You Can't Take It With You; Or Can You?

If you are like me, you do not think as much of ALL the actions and thoughts you give to be obedient to the Lord in everything. You consider your efforts, especially when you believe them to be less than pristine, somewhat stumbling, halting, and lacking skill, to be worth forgetting and so much chaff to be blown away by the wind into a meaningless void. Not so from what is revealed to us by the mind of God in His Word. My wife and I have been reading an excellent book by Randy Alcorn entitled, Heaven. We recommend it to you for a great resource to turn your focus heavenward. Not so that you are of no earthly good, but so that your sojourn on earth will respond more to your prayer to be renewed by God’s grace in being made “more fit for heaven.
Alcorn quotes Bruce Milne in his 13th chapter with a statement that is well worth your meditation: “Every kingdom work, whether publicly performed or privately endeavored, partakes of the kingdom’s imperishable character. Every honest intention, every stumbling word of witness, every resistance of temptation, every motion of repentance, every gesture of concern, every routine engagement, every motion of worship, every struggle towards obedience, every mumbled prayer, everything, literally, which flows out of our faith-relationship with the Ever-living One, will find its place in the ever-living heavenly order which will dawn at His coming. Read that again. It is a worthy truth to plant in your mind as you consider your everyday schedule of tasks, some great, most small, and most belittled in your perspective, at least as they count for the kingdom on into eternity.
The Bible refers to our every thought, our every deed, our every work, not being lost in the wind or some black hole, but being placed under judgment. Judgment is not by any means all negative. “Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. (I Corinthians 3:13) Our tendency is to think only of those things we consider some great and noticeable work while belittling the halting efforts to obey, the less than eloquent attempt at witness, the prayer that rushes into our mind as we undertake a routine task, the heart motivation to repentance even when we think the sin trivial; all of this is kingdom work that is part of an imperishable kingdom. When the Bible talks about building on our efforts toward righteousness and obedience, it is referring to what we consider small and inconsequential activity which we hopefully begin to think of as nevertheless imperishable, not meaningless chaff. As our perspective matures with the very next activity or thought we build upon the last and think, “Yes, my Father is retaining even this in His imperishable kingdom; may I not belittle even the smallest effort to hunger after righteousness.
Our memories fail us as we go through many daily activities which we consider as just so much irrelevance to the major priorities of life. Our memories sharpen when we are able to see all of life, all of our thoughts, and all of our efforts as part of imperishable kingdom work; building on what preceded and becoming ever more conscious that all of life is a part of taking on the righteousness of Christ even in the most menial things. If God is always paying attention, if He never sleeps, we His children should be counting all things as worthy of remembrance and reward in His imperishable kingdom.
Be certain of this: products of faithful lives will endure, even those products which only God and you are aware.


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Jun 14, 2013

Children Learn What They Live

Here are some thoughts to ponder…

Children Learn What They Live

By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.


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Jun 13, 2013

Snatched From The Fire

John Wesley considered himself “a burning brand snatched from the fire. This phrase described two infinitely crucial events in Wesley’s life: his house burned down when he was four years old nearly killing him, yet he was barely plucked to safety out of the flames. This is exactly how he later viewed the circumstances of his eternal salvation by God’s hand; he was snatched from the flames of hell, when he was headed toward loss of both body and soul!

We think these verses from Zechariah and Jude describe the heart and soul of the work at the Paul Anderson Youth Home. We earnestly pursue every avenue for boys’ lives to be transformed from circumstances and habits of destructive “fire into young men desiring and making good choices based on a commitment to Jesus Christ and His Word. Fire is so totally destructive when it is out of control and it blazes a pathway of ruin and pain. Though young they have already experienced this when they come to live with us.

Early in the opening chapters of the Bible we meet the first angry, frustrated young man. God tells him, “If you do not do what is right (make good choices), sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. (Genesis 4:6-7) He doesn’t; and Cain sends his life spiraling into ruin with one bad decision after another.

Genesis 4 and Zechariah 3 is a good picture of what our “real world actually looks like. You do not “see the spiritual world in the midst of the physical with the naked eye; but your lack of vision doesn’t make it less real. Angels on one side protect, defend, and encourage; Satan crouching on the other accuses and devours when he can. He is persistently crouching right at your door and mine, whether or not you want him there. It is the nature of this life and our war in a fallen world. Fortunately, for those who choose Christ and enter into union with Him, He rebukes the lying accuser, Satan, on your behalf, saying: “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire. Joshua, the priest in this Zechariah 3 passage, represents the priesthood of all believers; that means YOU, who are in Christ. (I Peter 2:5 & 9)

This is not only John Wesley’s testimony; we are each burning sticks snatched from the fire, if our hope and confidence is in Christ. As your Advocate, the Lord will rebuke Satan continuously, strip you of your filthy clothes, put on rich garments, give you a calling, a place to stand, and a place of rest! (Read Zechariah 3:3-10 and Isaiah 64:6) We need it all: Advocate, clean clothes, calling, place to stand, rest!

The notable comparison between the Zechariah and Jude references is that in the former you are the one snatched from the fire and in the latter you are the snatcher of another as he or she is about to be consumed by fire. Both need to be your testimony. Christ snatched you from ruin. Whom have you grabbed a hold of for Him just before the flames destroyed them? Grab hold and hang on for dear life! Jude says this is the way you “keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.


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Jun 06, 2013

Family Relationships in the Last Days

Are there any readers who think this is prophetic of their own family, their own children, their own siblings at this time? I would say, in almost every case, NOT! There are many faithful students of the Bible who feel the last days are very near, if not already opening on the world’s stage. And this is a family condition that Jesus says unequivocally will be operative in these days. Is there anything that should throw more fear or attention into parents and grandparents than these words of Jesus as He answers His disciples’ question, “What will be the signs of your coming again? Most of us cannot conceive that this would be true of our family. Most of us quickly think that Jesus is speaking of other families far from us, or families of other religions, and other lands; religions that reject Christ as God, and are hostile to Christianity. Yet the context says that the hatred that causes this rebellion, a turning against family members, is a hatred of Christ, and of His gospel and what it teaches about life in this world.
Already there is a great divide between the younger generation and their parents; whether God’s commandments are true and worth obeying or rejecting. We see it in the culture in what is accepted and what is not; we see it in the current controversy concerning marriage and same sex relationships; we see it in the view of whether or not life is sacred, and if infant and other human life can be easily discarded and thrown on the trash heap; we see it in the behavior of government agencies which do not hold integrity dear or public trust inviolate; we see it in the view of truth, i.e. lies are not evil if they accomplish a “worthy purpose such as keeping me or my party in power; we see it in how young people and others vote and for whom they vote with no articulate or coherent reason as to why. There is a very definite division between the generations, but particularly even among families which consider themselves Christian. Young people hook up, they do not follow God’s commandments concerning sexual purity and marriage; this is true in Christian as well as non-Christian contexts. The words “I hate God and “I hate Christ, and “I hate you may not have been said yet in so many words from their mouths, but their lives and their actions shout it out to all who have ears to hear. I dare say we already see the prophetic truth of our Lord’s words in our midst in 2013; and their most graphic fulfillment is coming down the pike.
Jesus would not have warned us so personally if He did not think there was a solution to which we can give heed. The first part of the solution is faith; do you believe Jesus? If you do you will not turn a blind eye to His warnings. Your priorities and your actions will reveal whether or not you believe. If you have children in the home you will put every effort into discipling them in the faith and in their love for and knowledge of Jesus and His Word. You will counteract the culture that is inundating them with false ideas that are the opposite of God’s commands. As parents in the place of God, our Father, you will seek to protect their hearts and minds against ungodly practices and teachings all around them in the world; TV, movies, music, entertainment, school, the friends with whom they hang, the cool trends, you name it.
Remember the Bible calls Satan the Prince of the Power of the Air. That means his influence is everywhere. And Jesus promises: “He who remains firm to the end will be saved. Is that you? Is it your children? I hope so, because there will be great divides in many families, and it will result in murder, and heartache that may never be assuaged. The excuses, “I never imagined; “I just did not know; “I did not know what my children were really thinking; “I never thought it was all that bad; these excuses do not hold water. Devour God’s Word and pass it on to your children and grandchildren. Do not give up until the end. You cannot afford spiritual lethargy. It will be too late if you do so now.


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