“On ‘Forcing’ Religion on Your Children” April 18

 

On "Forcing" Religion on Your Children - Have you ever said, "I don't want to force my religion on my children. I'm just going to let them grow up and decide for themselves"? Today's reading in Judges gives us a clear picture of the result of that kind of parenting. But on the other side of the equation, some have made Christianity merely about keeping rules. Though often well-intended, this can drive children far from God.Have you ever said, “I don’t want to force my religion on my children. I’m just going to let them grow up and decide for themselves”? Today’s reading in Judges gives us a clear picture of the result of that kind of parenting.

But on the other side of the equation, some have made Christianity merely about keeping rules. Though often well-intended, this can drive children far from God.

So how can we find the right balance?

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 1 & 2
Psalm 48.1-8
Proverbs 14.15-17
Luke 14.1-24

 

A Note of Encouragement

 

If you set out to read through the Bible this year, you may be tempted to quit because you’ve gotten behind or started out late. I want to encourage you to keep going whether you just keep reading where you are or start with today’s reading. Either way you will probably read more than you have in the past. Even when it’s challenging or we do things less than perfectly, it’s still worth the effort.

Even if this is your first day visiting this blog or you just visit occasionally, we have lots of wonderful things to read and understand from God’s Word in the days and weeks ahead. So jump in and join us!

 

On “Forcing” Religion on Your Children

 

Judges 1 & 2:

A Generation Who Did Not Know the Lord

 

As we’ve talked about in the last few days, the nation of Israel was now in the Promised Land, but even though God had promised them complete victory, they failed to follow through and completely drive out the idol worshipers who had polluted the land and caused God to declare judgment against them. They thought they had things under control and did not need to completely obey God.

In addition, the older generation had failed to adequately teach their children about God. One of the saddest verses in the Bible is 2.10:

“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.”

 

Parental Responsibility

 

More times than I care to think about, I’ve heard well-meaning parents say, “I don’t want to force my religion on my children. I’m just going to let them grow up and decide for themselves.” That sounds good in some ways and, to be sure, we can’t “force” our children to believe.

On the other side of the equation, we need to be careful that we don’t present Christianity as merely religion by making it all about rules. Many a parent has learned the hard way that you can’t insist on some legalistic standard that drives your children away from God.

Continue reading

“Risky Faith” April 8

 

Risky Faith - Faith can be risky. It takes risky faith to turn the other cheek or forgive with no guarantee you won't be hurt again. It takes risky faith to obey God when it makes little sense to our natural way of thinking. It takes risky faith to stand up for the truth in a world of compromise.Faith can be risky. It takes risky faith to turn the other cheek or forgive with no guarantee you won’t be hurt again. It takes risky faith to obey God when it makes little sense to our natural way of thinking. It takes risky faith to stand up for the truth in a world of compromise.

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 5 & 6
Psalm 42.6-11
Proverbs 13.19-21
Luke 9.18-36

 

Risky Faith

 

Joshua 5 & 6:

A Hill of Foreskins

 

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins (5.2-3).

I imagine all the men reading this portion of Scripture cringed a little when they read about flint knives, circumcision, and “the hill of foreskins.” I can’t help thinking the men in Joshua’s time, probably, felt the same way.

 

Their Parents Disobedience

 

The fact that this second generation had not been circumcised was another symptom of their parents disobedience. But now, before they could go in and take the land God had given them, this covenant sign had to be performed. This must have been a memorable (after all, the hill was named after it) and solemn ceremony.

It was, also, a huge step of faith, since this mass circumcision made them vulnerable to attack. In Genesis 34 we read about an angry brother who convinced a whole village to get circumcised by promising to allow his sister to marry her rapist.  While they were weak and in pain, he killed them all in revenge.

 

Risky Faith

 

God watched over them, but humanly speaking, it was a risky decision. Risk is, often, a reality when you step out in faith.

When you forgive and turn the other cheek, you risk being struck again (Matt. 5.39). When you stand up for the truth, you risk being persecuted (Matt. 23:34-36). When you do what’s right, some people are not going to like it. The world does not like the light. Sometimes you’ll, even, be targeted for your faith.

Just ask Barronelle Stutzman. In case you aren’t familiar with her story, Barronelle is a 72-year old grandmother, a florist, and a follower of Christ. She has been targeted by the State of Washington and people on the left for declining to make flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.

Since then her case has worked it’s way to the Washington Supreme Court where she lost in a 9-0 decision. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the decision, it could cost Barronelle her livelihood and all her assets.

It’s important to understand that Barronelle wasn’t trying to discriminate against the men. She had provided flowers for them on numerous occasions over a 9-year period, but when one of them asked her to provide flowers for their wedding, she declined because of her religious convictions. Instead, she recommended some other florists.

tree rootsSometimes, persecution, pain, and rejection come from our own families and those closest to us. That can hurt even more deeply. But we must be quick to forgive and keep our eyes on the Lord no matter who mistreats us. Otherwise that hurt can be the seed that grows up into a root of bitterness.

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many (Heb. 12.14-15 , NLT).

But, as believers, we shouldn’t go looking for persecution. We need to be wise and prayerful. Rod Dreher, in his book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, says:  Continue reading

“Are you whining or shining?” September 13

 

are you whining

We’re called to be different! But when it comes to how you respond to circumstances, tests, trials, the state of our nation, economy or politics … are you whining or shining? And why does it matter?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 17 & 18
Psalm 106.32-39
Proverbs 25.11-12
2 Corinthians 5.1-21

 

Are you whining or shining?

 

Isaiah 17 & 18:

A Remnant … Whining or Shining?

 

In these chapters God through the prophet continues to warn of coming judgments, but reminds them there will always be a faithful remnant (18.6).

As we see what’s happening here in our nation, we cannot give up or lose hope. We must realize that it’s our calling to be part of His faithful remnant. We are to be salt and light.

Philippians 2.14-15 says we are to:

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that [we] may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world” (emp. added).

How’s your light? Is it bright and clear? Is it dim and hidden by junk (sin or the cares of this world)? Or do you just whine and complain like everyone else?

If we are going to give hope to a lost and dying world, even in the midst of discouraging political seasons and other setbacks, we must point to the only source of real hope. Our hope cannot be in the candidate of our choice, the hope that our nation will wake up and turn back to God, or any other person or event.

The fact is we don’t know if any of those things will happen. Our hope must be in all the truths and promises of Scripture: God’s free offer of salvation to those who will believe, His divine supports here and now to those who belong to Him, and the reality of heaven and the promise of eternal rewards. And while our saltiness may sting at times, it must be balanced with the brightness of our lives that will cause others to want what we have.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 106.32-39:

Holding Out the Light, Not Taking Part in the Darkness

 

lightbulb

As the psalmist continues to recount the history of the Israelites, he includes these verses about their involvement with pagan religions, even taking part in the most detestable practices.

Verses 35-38:

35 But they mingled with the Gentiles
And learned their works;
36 They served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
37 They even sacrificed their sons
And their daughters to demons,
38 And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with blood.

In 2 Corinthians 6.14-17 Paul said:

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God …

17 Therefore
“ Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord …”

Because we have not obeyed that command, like the ancient Israelites of Isaiah’s time, we are often more a part of our culture then we are separate from it. We are so afraid of being called “intolerant” or of being accused of being narrow minded or ignorant that we have accepted the world’s philosophy on many things or at least been intimidated into silence while unborn babies are being killed, history is rewritten, and truth becomes relative.  Continue reading

“America’s Mediums & Wizards” September 8

 

America's Mediums & Wizards - Are America’s experts just modern mediums and wizards, only leading us into further darkness and doom?Our so-called experts, are they America’s mediums and wizards and are they only leading us into further darkness and doom?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 7 & 8
Psalm 105.37-45
Proverbs 24.30-34
1 Corinthians 16.1-24

 

America’s Mediums & Wizards

 

Isaiah 7 & 8:

God’s Warning Shots

 

Here in chapter 7, Judah’s king, Ahaz had become discouraged because of attacks from Syria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Prophet Isaiah both comforted Ahaz and gave him and the nation a strong warning. He told him that the armies of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Syria would not prevail against him at that time, but because God knew they would not repent, but continue in their wicked ways, he warned him that God would eventually allow their destruction.

And although God through the Prophet warned them of coming disaster, He didn’t leave them without hope. He told them of the coming Messiah who would be born of a virgin (7.14), that the Messiah would be called “God with us” (7.14; Matt. 1.23), and gave other prophecies which would not be fully realized until the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ.

shot over the bowPerhaps the planned attack by Israel and Syria was God’s “warning shot” meant to wake them up and help them see their need for Him and His protection.

Could it be that America, too, has had a series of “warning shots”? Things like: 9-11? the banking crises? the failure of the housing market? the job situation? And more recently … the numerous terrorist attacks around the country, the rise in lawlessness in many cities, the current election situation, the changes in our laws that are an all-out attack on the family and biblical Christianity, and, as I said in yesterday’s reading, calling evil good and good evil.

What will we do as a nation? Will we repent and turn back to God or will we continue on the path of rebellion against God? Will we seek God and His wisdom or will we continue to look to our mediums and wizards (8.19) (just watch the news and the cable networks and you’ll see that we call on every expert except the Expert!) and false messiahs (the Government, the Federal Reserve, politicians, etc.)? Chapter 8.19-20: Continue reading

“Cure for the Curse Over Our Cities” June 7

 

My city and yours are under a curse. But what is the cure?My city and yours are under a curse. But what is the cure?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 1 & 2
Psalm 71.9-16
Proverbs 18.6-8
John 16.1-33

 

Send me!

2 Kings 1 & 2:

Don’t you love Elisha’s boldness in asking for “a double portion” of the Lord’s Spirit in his life! I wonder how much more we could do for the Lord, if we just ASKED Him to do something through us! It made me think of Isaiah when He really saw God for Who He was:

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.'”

Do we, maybe out of a false sense of humility, neglect to say “Send me!” or “Please give me a double portion, Lord!”

 

A CURE FOR THE CURSE

My city and yours are under a curse. But what is the cure?

Chapter 2.19-21 really spoke to me. It says:

“Then the men of the city said to Elisha, ‘Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the ground barren.’ And he said, ‘Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.’ So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the source of the water, and cast in the salt there, and said, Thus says the LORD. ‘I have healed this water; from it there shall be no more death or barrenness.'”

In John MacArthur’s Study Bible, he says, “The healing of Jericho’s water, through Elisha, freed the city from Joshua’s curse, making it habitable for humans once again (Josh. 6.26; 1 Ki. 16.34).

I thought about our city. It, too, is a pleasant city in so many ways. Even though we often complain about our dust, our hot summers, and our laid back attitude, there are so many things for which we should be thankful—first and foremost—our people. I believe El Paso has some of the most wonderful people in the world! And wherever you live, there are things about your city or town that make it “pleasant.” But we, also, suffer from a curse, Continue reading

January 5 “Out of the salt shaker & into the world”

Salt shaker

What is the quality of the salt in your life? Is it pure? Does it flavor and heal or is it full of impurities?

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 9 & 10
Psalm 3.5-8
Proverbs 1.23-27
Matthew 5.1-26

Genesis 9 & 10:

Drunkenness, shame, & dishonor

It didn’t take mankind long to sin again, did it?! Noah and his family are barely out of the ark when Noah gets drunk and acts foolishly. When he does, his son Ham can’t resist the urge to look at him in a disrespectful way. Continue reading