tale of twin brothers

I am one of six. I have three brothers and two sisters. I am at least 10-years older than my closest sibling. If you have siblings then you know what it is to have a rival. Since most of my siblings are much younger than I am our battles were either unfair or annihilation’s. I was more of the big-brother-built-in-babysitter, but now as my siblings are getting older I get my fair share of beat downs. Mostly verbal onslaughts related to my balding scalp and growing belly.

Today we will peer under the roof of a family with twin brothers who were all boy and at times bad to the bone. Most siblings can relate to these two dudes. However, what their story unfolds is a story that opens up a greater story of redemption and reconciliation, which we will discover over the next few weeks.

Two boys are born [Genesis 25:19-28]

Isaac [the promised son] married Rebekah [the prayed for wife], but come to find out she is barren. This is not a good thing for a family that is promised to bear the Seed of Hope [the promised Son—Jesus]! However, Isaac learned from the story of his mother and father. Instead of taking matters into his own hands he prayed to God who can open wombs as He did with his mother’s womb. God answered with a miracle bringing to life Rebekah’s dead womb.

Rebekah was blessed with not just one, but with two rambunctious boys. Even before her boys breathed their first full breath of oxygen they were picking on each other. Inside their mother’s belly the boys were like to UFC brawlers throwing fists and feet, but instead of a rope and ring they were using the walls of their mothers womb. I have seen my wife’s reaction when our little girl got moving. I could not image two burly boys bouncing around.

Rebekah does not understand why this is happening so she asks God. Isn’t this family something great? Two parents seeking God on behalf of their children. God responds to Rebekah’s inquire with historic news. The two boys within her would be two nations, two divided people, one [Jacob] stronger and the other [Esau] a servant to the younger [cf. Romans 9:10-13; 2 Samuel 8:13]. This is an incredibly important oracle, which would come to play later in the life of the twin brothers.

The first boy to be born was Esau [also called Edom]. He was red and hairy with a coat of fur like Elmo or Clifford the big red dog. The second boy to be born was not far behind. In fact, on the way out he was holding onto his hairy brother’s heel. They named their heel grabbing son heel [or trickster], which in our language is translated Jacob. As they grew Esau became the man’s man always out in the field hunting and gathering trophy game, while his brother Jacob was more of the homebody hanging out with his mommy.

As great as this family started out to be—building a foundation of prayer and faith—there was another foundation being laid of partiality and favoritism. Since, Esau hunted meat his dad favored him, and since Jacob was at home cooking and cleaning with his mom, she favored him. This unbalanced foundation, if left unchecked, will lead to some major conflict in the home, which we are about to see [cf. 37:3].

Buying his brother’s birthright outright [Genesis 25:29-34]

Esau is the firstborn son. There are major perks for being the firstborn. Being the first born Esau was entitled to the family birthright, which would make him the inheritor of a double portion of his father’s estate, leave him as the head of the family when his father passed away, as well as enable him to receive a special blessing from his father. In Abraham and Isaac’s case the one who possesses the birthright inherited the Abrahamic covenant. Esau wielded a lot of power and promise as the firstborn son.

However, Esau did not treat his birthright with that kind of importance. On an ordinary day,  Esau, probably after a long day of hunting came hungry to his brother Jacob who was cooking a yummy smelling pot of stew or spaghetti. Esau was exhausted and wanted something to eat. So Jacob being the trickster got his brother to trade his birthright for a meal. Quite the unfair trade, but as crazy as it was Esau accepted. At the bottom of Esau’s trade was an indifference towards God’s covenant promise to bless all nations through the descendants of his grandfather Abraham, which would ultimately bring forth Jesus Christ. Instead in a moment of flippancy he gave up God’s covenant for the munchies.  Later when he realized what a dumb and dishonoring thing he did it was too late [cf. Hebrews 12:16-17].

It is interesting to note this struggle between two brothers in the womb would continue well into the future. In fact, many years later it reached its climax when King Herod—a descendant of Esau—sought to slaughter all firstborn sons, which included Jesus Christ—a descendant of Isaac [Matthew 1:1-2, 2:13].

God reaffirms promises to the twins father [Genesis 26:1-5ff]

Similar to God speaking to Abraham, God speaks to Abraham’s son Isaac. The major similarities are God’s covenant promise to be with Isaac, bless him, and give him descendants and land. God blesses Isaac because his father Abraham “obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commands, My decrees, and My laws.” [26:5; cf. Deuteronomy 11:1ff]

Throughout the rest of Genesis 26 are a number of similarities between Abraham and Isaac unfold:
•    Both men received God’s call and promise. Both lived during a period of famine.
•    Both men dwelt in Gerar both men had lovely wives. Both men were cowards in the face of possible harm.
•    Both men lied and said their wife was their sister. Both men were spared the consequences of their sin by God’s mercy.
•    Both men were rebuked by good Gentiles for their lying schemes. Both build altars to worship God.
•    Both men were pursued by Abimelech for a covenant [two different Abimelech’s but both related].
•    Both men were a blessing to their neighbors. Both men trusted God and lived peacefully with their neighbors.

Like Abraham, God redeemed Isaac’s unbelief. Isaac was blessed only because of God’s grace to him. God uses imperfect people and keeps His covenant promises. The chapter concludes with a brief note about Esau. Like Isaac, Esau marries at the age of 40. However, unlike Isaac he married two godless women without the counsel of his father, which following the birthright fiasco shows his foolish heart. Esau is a type of prodigal son who becomes a “source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.”

Blindsiding big brother to get father’s blessing [Genesis 27:1-28:9]

Isaac was becoming old and senile. Therefore he called for his eldest son to give him a blessing. This is an important moment in the life of a son—often a life-changing and course-directing moment. Before Isaac offers Esau the blessing he sends him out to hunt a juicy steak.

Rebekah, like Eve and Sarah, took matters into her own hands. Since she favored Jacob over Esau she devised a deceitful plan to rob her son Esau of his blessing. Could this be where Jacob learned his trickery? So Rebekah cooks up some goat meat to Isaac’s liking and dresses Jacob in Esau’s hunting clothes and pads his neck and hands with fur to match to texture of his brother’s man-sweater. Then she sends Jacob into Isaac’s tent and unbelievably the sinful scheme works as schemed. Isaac is duped and Jacob steals Esau’s special deathbed blessing.

Esau comes to his father shortly after with his hunt, but learns he is late and missed the blessing because of his younger brothers trickiness. Isaac becomes furious. Esau weeps, turns bitter towards his brother, and plans to comfort himself by killing him [cf. Genesis 4]. Rebekah catches wind of Esau’s plan and sends Jacob to Laban until Esau cool’s down out of fear that she might lose her both sons over her sin, but a few days ended up being 20-years. This family’s firm foundation of faith and prayer is quickly crumbling, and beginning to look more like an episode of the Maury Povich Show.

Before leaving for Laban’s, Jacob is blessed by his father and commanded to marry only a woman who belongs to God so that the promises of the covenant would continue through his family line. To spite his parents, Esau intentionally marries another godless wife in addition to his other wives that had brought nothing but grief to his parents. Both boys do not appear very godly or worthy of the family blessings promised through Abraham.

Jacob, Jacob, Jacob…How does his story fit into the “Big Story?”

First, a look at Jacob gives you a glimpse of yourselves. He was struggling for power, even from birth through lies and strategic steals. Showing how sly and stealthy we are at sinning to get ahead. Second, his story gives us unusual insight into the Gospel and how God works. Despite his sin and imperfection God uses Jacob as the “covenant carrying” son of Isaac. Just like he uses sinful Jesus-followers to bear the message of good news to a darkened world. God is gracious and merciful!

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a brief guide to biblical manhood

Happy Father’s Day! Today’s message is a manly message. It’s for fathers, future fathers, and for men of all ages. Women, don’t tune out or take this Sunday off, this message is for you too. It’s for women [daughters, wife’s, future wives, singles, etc.] who love to support the men in their life. God takes pleasure in talking to men in the Bible. First He created Adam to be the leader and lover of his wife. When Eve took the temptation, God came to Adam. Later God established patriarchs to lead their homes, teach their children, and be responsible for peoples and nations. Also God’s Spirit spoke through inspired men who penned our Scripture. It is not that God has a low view of women or is sexist-ogre as some would like to believe. He desires men to be godly-leaders.

Two years ago my gramps passed away from cancer. Before he passed he said to me, “Justin, I am looking forward to being with my Savior!” then gave me two imperatives, “Take care of your beautiful wife. Keep following your God.” Those are two things I will never forget. Last words are important. Today we will look as some last word in the first letter to the church at Corinth.

Let’s do a short Corinthians Quiz: First, who wrote 1 Corinthians? Paul wrote with his own hand [16:21]. Second, what do you know about the church at Corinth? Most would say it was divided, had disunities, and was quite dysfunctional. All true. What church isn’t? Third, why did Paul write this church? Paul, like a father bending his boy over his knee sought to correct the congregation. The first 14 chapters of Paul’s letter to Corinth were a rebuke towards errant behaviors—even beloved chapter 13 was a rebuke towards lovelessness—and chapter 15 was a rebuke towards errant theology. Paul [a man] rebukes out of deep love for this church; just like Jesus’ [the God-Man] love for His church [cf. Hebrews 12:6].

Paul ends his letter with a list of five short, succinct, to-the-point imperatives. They are not simple suggestions; rather it’s as if he’s saying, “Do this, enough said!” Each imperative is a review of Paul’s entire letter to the Corinthians. As a pastor, like Paul, I will prod the men of our church to own these five imperatives of biblical manhood. My outline should be easy for the men in our audience, since each point is plagiarized from the two verses we will pick apart today, [start: 16:10] “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” [1 Corinthians 16:13-14]

If you haven’t noticed Paul likes to talk in military terms. It helps his men-hearers understand. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 is a charge to the troops! Like 1 Kings 1:2-3, “Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the LORD your God.” [cf. Joshua 1:6-7] Women, I know us pastors give a lot of male illustrations from sports, hunting, or warfare. It’s because we are men. We do not intend to leave out the ladies, but we have a hard time relating to tea parties, dolling-up, or other things ladies like. It’s good to embrace and encourage the ruggedness of your men and their love for guns or getting dirty [that’s the reason why my wife loves my big beard!]. Okay, here are five imperatives you are best to encourage in your men…

1. “Be on the alert.”

Like a commander calling to his men he says, “Attention! Stay alert. Eyes open. Watch out. Keep awake.” You get the picture of a castle tower guard scanning the scene for enemies anticipating an ambush or attack. The Corinthian’s needed an awakening. They were Christians in a moral and spiritual stupor. They had fallen asleep on duty. They substituted God’s Word with their wisdom [1:18-2:16], they were divisive [1:10-17; 3:9], they were immoral [5:1-13], they confused and perverted marriage, divorce, and singleness [7], they were self-serving [10], they misused their spiritual gifts [12-14], and they were unloving [13]. They were not alert at all. Instead they were off duty and were teaming up with the enemy.

I am a man who loves sports. On Tuesday’s some of the men of our church play slow pitch softball. It’s a fun sport. This week I played centerfield. Usually it’s a position with a lot of running, however that night nothing was even hit near my domain. I said to some of the guys, “It sure is a lazy day in the outfield.” Sure enough with a 7-run lead I let my guard down and became the lazy outfielder smelling the clovers and swatting mosquitoes. When the final inning came around it was our game to lose. Would you know it, the other team started cranking balls my way. It wasn’t pretty, but we did pull away with a W!

The phrase “be alert” or “be watchful” appears 22 times in the NT. Jesus uses the phrase when to remind His followers to be on alert for His Second Coming, since He could come back any moment.[1] However, there are four more ways the phrase is used in the NT. What are we to watch out for?

First, be alert against Satan. “Be sober-minded, be on the alert, your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith.” [1 Peter 5:8-9] Satan is not all knowing, like God, he only knows your weakness by watching you. Like a sneaky lion he waits to pounce on an unsuspecting foe. His plan is to exploit and devour you, period [cf. 1 John 2:16]. See his fiery arrows coming before they see you!

Second, be alert against temptation. Jesus said, “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation.” [Mark 14:38]  Have you noticed the temptations ramp up when you are tired, exhausted, or coming off a rough week? When our spiritual eyes are sleepy or shut, it is easy to fall into temptation. You know where you are most vulnerable. It could be your pride, your purity, or your priorities. When you are tired it is easy to put down the guard, when you are traveling it is easy to justify giving in since you are outside your realm of accountability, and when you are under trial the pull is to find an easy way out.

I have 5 moral fences I put up to guard my heart: 1) never drive alone with another woman other than my wife, 2) never counsel a women alone or in a closed office, 3) when I travel I try to bring my wife or a friend with me, 4) I speak openly, often and affectionately of my wife, and 5) when with other women I seek to compliment their character not their appearance. I also seek to keep evenings open for my family and take my wife out for a date once a month. When single I committed not to be alone with a woman unless someone knew. What kind of moral fences have you built to protect your heart from falling into sin?

Third, be alert against apathy. To be apathetic means you chose to ignore what once fired you up. Jesus says to the church at Sardis, “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which are about to die…therefore, what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” [Revelation 3:2-3] An attitude of repentance and brokenness is the antidote for apathy.

Fourth, be alert against false teachers. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” [2 Timothy 4:3-5; cf. 2 Peter 2:1]

Men, be alert. Be aware of the condition of your heart, your life, your family, and your church. Everyday you are being hunted by your adversary and your temptations are nagging for absolute attention and affection. Men, be alert.

2. “Stand firm in the faith.”

When I hear this phrase I think of the movie, Braveheart or The Patriot. Men are holding the frontline and their leader yells out, “Hold! Don’t waver! Never retreat!” To be firm means you stand with confidence, heads up, fists ready, and body anticipating the blows. Paul is calling men to plant their feet firm in the faith.

Be firm in your spiritual and moral convictions. Be firm in what is true and theological [cf. 15:1 “Now I would remind you, brother, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand”].[2] No one can take your saving faith away from you, but they can trounce on the contents of your faith [1:18-21; 3:18-19; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:15]. You can be influenced to believe that human wisdom and reasoning are more reasonable than the Word of God. Christians today are too easily swayed by the opinions of others rather than standing firm in their faith. Too many men wilt under pressure.

Before you got married you might had the conviction, “I’m going to be sexually pure, I’m going to wait until the day I get married, I will to treat my woman with dignity and respect, and I’m going keep my hands to myself. I will stand firm.” Then the world says, “Come on? Why wait? It’s okay trying things out to see if you compatible.” Foolish! Relationships are not like going to the used car lot. Honor Christ, get married, love that woman with your whole life and be faithful to her, serve her, and be like Jesus to her. People will make fun of you for that because faithfulness is not popular. What if I am not marriage yet? Finish your degree, pursue your career, pay your bills and taxes, love the Word of God, and be committed to His church. If you meet a nice gal who loves Jesus, go after her. Some of you guys are like, “I don’t know if she knows I exist or will like a guy like me.” There is only one way to find out!? Make the first move.

Many Christians have a hard time standing firm because they are weak in the Word, they are not secure in their understanding of the Word, and they ignore what training or studying they have done. God wrote a book, read it. Use the Word of God as your grid for truth and understanding. If you know the Bible, and you know what is true, and you know what is good, and you know what is right, and you know what the Father in Heaven expects of his sons, “stand firm in the faith.”

3. “Act like men.”

This is the phrase that smacks men right in the keester. It’s a bar mitzvah, coming-of-age statement. It’s like saying, “Grow up. Be mature. Take responsibility. Don’t be like a kid or coward. Stop the silliness.” Paul is not saying “Man up!” like our culture would say [Insert grunt noises here]. Nor is he saying, “You da’ man!” He is saying, “If you’re a Christian man, then act like it!”

Paul says, “When I was a child, I thought like a child, I act like a child, I spoke like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” [cf. 14:20; 3:1-2] Maybe today is it good day for you to go from childhood to adulthood. How does a man grow strong spiritual bones and muscles? He daily eating God’s Word, chews it, digesting it, and exercises it [1 Peter 2:2-3; 2 Timothy 3:16-17]. How do you exercise the Word? Live it! Speaks it! Own it!

Men we are called to act like men. Sure you might be a boy at heart, but sooner or later you got to grow up and be a man. I know some men who are 40-50-60 years old—even in the faith—who still act like spiritually immature boys. We need older men, like Paul, who will have the boyhood to manhood talk with younger men [likewise older women with younger women]. Paul encouraged Titus to cultivate this in his church, “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness…urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” [Titus 2:2-8]

I remember being asked to lunch by an older man who was very godly. I was in my early 20’s. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Justin, you have incredible potential for God. Yet you act like young man. You waste a lot of time playing games, chasing girls, and joking around. It is time you grow up and begin acting like a man. The time is now to follow Christ.” I never forgot that conversation. He still pours wisdom into my life. Like Paul training young Timothy we need men training men.

Fathers and future fathers, get your children ready to engage the forces of evil, temptations, and sinful struggles of adulthood before they thrown out to learn on their own without any theological framework to guide their practice. Give your children opportunities to fail under your roof so that they are ready to fight for truth under their own roof. Teach your boys about sexual temptations at a young age, and encourage your girls to be modest for the right motivations. Talk about what God is doing in your life. That’s what it means to “raise up your children in discipline and instruction of the LORD.” [cf. Ephesians 6:1-4]. Life is like the Roman Coliseum and it chews up Christians for breakfast. Men, act like men. Women, empower your men to be men.

4. “Be strong.”

We live in a culture that denigrates men and weakens masculinity. Watch a prime-time sitcom. The average sitcom husband is an idiot. He messes everything up. He’s the butt of every joke. He’s the big, fat, lazy idiot that everybody laughs at. You watch the average kid’s cartoon. The cartoon kid is a genius, his crazy-little-monkey-alien-friend can reason and teach the kid, but his dad is pictured as an incompetent imbecile. Our society sees men as everything but strong.

The verb strong (Grk. krataioo) means to “be strengthened.” Strength is not inherent to humans. The point is: strength only comes from God, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” [Isaiah 40:28-31]. When I read that my response is, “I need God because He is my strength.”[3]

From a young age men want to be strong. That’s why boys love superheroes, stuntmen, and sports stars. However, the strongest guys are often pictured as bullies, thugs, and jerks. And to that we say, “I don’t want to be strong. Those guys are mean.” Truth is we need men to be stronger than those dudes. Somebody’s got to stand up to them. You’ve got to be strong enough when you see a guy—even in this church—if he’s not being nice to his wife or his kids; he’s not working hard; he’s not being honorable; you need to have courage, you need to have strength, you need to have boldness. You need to be able to put your finger in that guy’s chest and say, “Listen. You’re a Christian. You go to Battle Ground Bible Church. You’re a man. You don’t treat your wife like that. You don’t treat your kids like that. You don’t work your job like that. That’s not how we do things. That’s not how God’s men are.”

At our church we believe that God made male and female, very good, equal in the image of God, distinct in roles, for the glory of God. We believe that both men and women are to be respected, and instructed, and exhorted toward holiness. I know some men did not grow up knowing Jesus. Some of you did not have a dad. Some have a dad that was not a godly or good man or a man you wouldn’t want to be like. In 1 Corinthians 11:7, Paul says something very important. He says men are the glory of what? God. Men are image and glory of God. Let’s lift up our men. Empower our men with God’s strength [i.e. Stephanas, 16:12-18]. God encourages godly leadership.

5. “Let all you do be done in love.”

You can do all the above without love [watch, firm, act, strong], but without love it is meaningless [cf. 16:22-24; love chapter 13; 1:9-10]. The absence of love would mean that these are just duties without delight. Love is not just the attitude of a follower of Christ it is the atmosphere of a followers life. The most attractive and effective element of your manliness is your love.

Men are to be gentlemen, not angry men; not violent men; not rude men; not crusty men; but bold men; courageous men; loving men like Jesus. Jesus—the conquering King—had a humble, gentle, loving strength that wove through the fabric of everything He did and said [John 13:34-35; Ephesians 5:1].

My daughter is only 7-months old. I love that little girl. But I tell you what, parenting is so sanctifying. I cannot imagine what it will be like 13 or 16 years from now!? Pray for me, all right. Children teach parents a lot about God. I remember holding my newborn girl who was crying unstoppably in the middle of the night. As frustrated as I was it reminded me of how utterly dependent she is on us, and how utterly dependent I am on God. Today my love for her and her mama is soaring.

In conclusion, in this brief guide to biblical manhood, I have a few applications for everyone to take home. First, to fathers when you struggle to live these five imperatives, look to Jesus because each are seen in His life and ministry, even on the cross. Second, to single men, God’s strategy is for men is to act rather than react. Plan now to put into practice these imperative before you have a woman or kiddos. This is part of biblical leadership. Third, to women married or single, encourage and empower your men to adhere to these imperatives. Pray for them, respect them; treat them as the glory of God. Fourth, to our church, what our church is looking for is a few good men who will walk with Christ, stand with Christ, and lead like Christ!

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” [1 Corinthians 16:13-14]

Father God, we thank you for being our Father. Lord Jesus, we thank you for being our Savior. Holy Spirit, we thank you for indwelling us, instructing us, convicting us, leading us, guiding us, empowering us and transforming us. I thank you for inspiring Paul’s last words about loving like Jesus. I pray that you would convict men to follow Jesus and lead others toward Him. I pray that our men would be like Jesus committing to His church, reading the Bible about Jesus, confessing sins to Jesus, imitating Jesus, worshiping Jesus until one day, we get to see you Lord Jesus!


[1] Cf. Matthew 24:42ff; 25:13; Mark 13:34ff; 2 Peter 3:10-12

[2] Cf. Jude 3; 1 Timothy 6:12; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 4:12

[3] cf. 2:3-5; 3:6-7, 18; 4:10; 10:12; 2 Corinthians 12:4, 7, 9; Ephesians 3:16; 6:10; Philippians 4:13; 1 Timothy 1:12; Psalm 27:14

free books for dudes [dads]

We all love free books. Happy fathers day, dudes! Enjoy these free books compliments of some great ministries. Just click on the pictures to download your free books:

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thumb licks [6.2.11]

Why not Go?

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.” There is a single word in this command of Jesus which continually haunts me: the word “go.” It never seems to leave me alone. It forces itself into my brain at the most inopportune times, and it weighs upon my soul with tremendous gravity. It grabs my attention when I am occupied with other thoughts, and it refuses to release its grip on my conscience no matter how I try to ignore it. I find it singularly upsetting and exceedingly uncomfortable. It is a nuisance. “Go.”

The Art of Apologizing

“I’m sorry.”  We hear that so often. Do we even stop to think: “What does it mean?” or “Where did that phrase come from?” Even if you have not spent any length of time dealing with those questions, at the very least you have formed an opinion about what a good apology should look like. All too often do you hear a celebrity or politician on camera apologizing for something they did wrong (or at least got caught doing).  But, rarely do we believe them. Why is that? What makes an apology a sincere one? How should we respond to an insincere one? How can we avoid giving an insincere apology?

Alzheimer’s and Gospel Transformation

I currently work in the activities department of an Alzheimer’s special care unit.  This translates into the fact that I spend eight hours per day in a room with 20-30 people who are experiencing moderate to severe dementia from Alzheimer’s disease or another cause.  Revealing this usually opens up interesting avenues of conversation.  One sentiment that I hear often from people who talk to me about my job is this one: “I’d rather be dead than go through that.” People have a variety of ways of expressing this feeling, and most often I just nod and say something like, “It is a difficult situation for people and their families.”  There are very few ways to accurately communicate anything about Alzheimer’s without becoming too intense for a “Hi! I just met you” conversation…

Obedience is Possible

I believe with all my heart that we can do nothing to merit eternal life. We are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. God accepts and declares us righteous not because of our good deeds, but because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We cannot earn God’s favor. We depend entirely on his gospel grace. We can also be obedient.

Your kid’s an All Star? Wow! Someday he’ll be average like the rest of us

The church in America is puzzled. Young adults are leaving in droves. Magazines, books and blogs are wagging the finger of blame to point out who is responsible. Some say it is a failure of youth ministry, some point to church budgets and some nail the blame on outdated, unhip worship services. We parents are shocked that our kids just really aren’t all that into Jesus.

The 50 Best/Worst Childhood Fads

They were the best of fads, they were the worst of fads—all at the same time. The faddish objects of our childhood were sometimes loved and sometimes hated but they were hard to ignore. Here are a list of the 50 best/worst from the 1960s to today…

‪Shallow Small Group Bible Study‬

thumb lick thursday [5.19.11]

hospitality and small children

I’ve been thinking about the joys and challenges of being hospitable with small children at home. Having toddlers afoot amid home and meal preparations, while expecting a large or small gathering of people, can be a challenge. So much so that many people just don’t do it much at all. But it can also be a great joy and delight.

Transforming Neighborhoods by Transforming Public Schools

Despite our history of antagonism toward public schools, especially as a cultural darkness seems to have settled on them, it’s intriguing to wonder: what if Christians flooded public schools with practical help? What if Christians became more willing to enroll their children in public schools? And what if the lines between public and private educations began to blur?

Where the Twelve Apostles Died

Geographic Travels has put together a map of locations identifying where, according to tradition, the 12 Apostles of Christ died. Blue markers represent commonly accepted death locations while yellow markers represent disputed locations.

On Being Better Bereans

So how can we be better Bereans? Most Christians are eager to receive the word, especially when we get new insights and background information, but how many go the extra step and examine the Scripture to see if the new nugget is actually true (Acts 17:11)? Here are a few things to keep in mind when we hear an exciting new teaching or connection…

Warfare Causes Suffering

“Warfare causes suffering, spiritual warfare being no exception. Those who take up the mission of God’s people by simply living, working and witnessing in the public square so dominated by the gods of this world, who choose to live by the distrinctive ethical standards that flow from their biblical worldview, who confess Jesus as Lord, and not Caesar or Mammon – such people will suffer in one way or another” – Christopher Wright in The Mission of God’s People

Spring Rains

“This song that I wrote is a reflection of what happened in the Garden of Eden. It is an expression of longing and aching for what was lost and looking for what is to come. In his book, Dr. Kapic talks about the moment that Adam and Eve “first began to doubt God’s generosity.” I was overwhelmed with this idea that Dr. Kapic presents in his book, that God, in response to our sin, gives more to us and pours out himself for us. God delights in giving to me and that is just one way in which he shows his love.”  – Esther Ellis

thumb lick thursday [5.12.11]

You Might Be an Idolater if…

How do we know if we love something too much? Where is the line between a healthy enjoyment and an idol? Idolatry is often subtle. It can creep up on us in the form of good desires, like getting married or excelling in the work place. You may have created idols for yourself if… [The Greener Grass Conspiracy]

Parenting 001

Does it seem like parenting has gotten more complicated? I mean, as far as I can tell, back in the day parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, and keep them away from explosives. Now our kids have to sleep on their backs (no wait, their tummies; no never mind, their backs), while listening to Baby Mozart surrounded by scenes of Starry, Starry Night. They have to be in piano lessons before they are five and can’t leave the car seat until they’re about five foot six.

Eating with a Mission

How we eat and who we eat with can communicate quite a bit about what we believe. Something as simple as eating not only creates natural opportunities to be intentional, loving, and missional—but meals can also be a reflection of our theology.

45 Stunning Examples Of Bird’s Eye View Photography That Captured The Beauty Of Earth

Here is an awe-inspiring collection of Bird’s Eye View photography that is a special technique of capturing photographs from an elevated location. This gives the bird’s eye view of the object being photographed. In Bird’s Eye View Photography, the camera is usually not supported by land based structure rather it is hand held or mounted and photographs are taken through triggering the camera either remotely or automatically.

What Love Wins Tells Us About Christians

Everyone knew in advance that Rob Bell’s next book, Love Wins, would surely raise eyebrows and create some debate. But no one, including the author and his agent, expected what did happen. Scot McKnight give “10 [interesting & insightful] things we can learn from one of Christianity’s biggest controversies.”

uMove

dear mom, love Justus

Dear mom,
You’re great.
You da’ bomb!
There’s more, wait…

Six months ago
You carried me
Head to toe
You delivered me.

When it’s just us together
I hear you sing.
What a wonderful mother
God did bring.

You feed me
close to you everyday
You even teach me
While we play.

You read me the Bible
Every single morn
Your prayers so reliable
Since I was born.

I cant’ wait to grow
And watch what you do
To learn what you know
‘Cause I want to be like you.

My mom is,
a lot like Jesus.
I love you,
Your daughter Justus

don’t waste your sports

Most people love sports. Its ingrained within the fabric of our American culture. Sports are in the Bible. The Apostle Paul spoke about sports regularly in his letters to Christian churches.

If you enjoy playing sports, watching sports or have a child that plays sports you need to take an hour and sit down with your family and watch this video. See what God and the Bible has to say about sports. C.J Mahaney says, “I had the opportunity to glorify God in my sports and I fumbled it. I wasted my sports. You have the opportunity, by the grace of God, not to waste yours.”

For more information, including an MP3, visit DontWasteYourSports.com.

thumb lick thursday [4.21.11]

Parenting Daughter’s
I am only 5 months into parenting a new born daughter. Already I am thinking about that day when I will give her away to a future husband. In preparation for that day Dave Bruskas shares some practical insights about leading his daughter well in the dating season of life.

One thing a parent should never say
Is there a method of parenting that is so effective that it will erase the sin nature in our children? Short answer? “No.” And if you don’t get this, it’s very possible that you’ll expect more from parenting than it can deliver. But here’s the tricky part: parenting matters! It’s possible to be a good parent or to be a terrible parent. Parenting makes a difference! But how much is parenting meant to provide? How much can we actually do for our children?

Why So Many Words in Worship?
Perhaps you’ve wondered why Christian worship is so heavy on words? Perhaps you or your church has been criticized for being too propositional, too auditory, too…wordy. Well, here are twenty-five reasons why verbal proclamation–through the reading, preaching, singing, and praying of the Bible and biblical truth–should have the preeminent place in corporate worship

Why We Sing in Church
Christians sing together during corporate worship gatherings. Colossians 3:16-17 helps us understand why. Paul tells us that worshiping God together in song is meant to deepen the relationships we enjoy through the gospel. This happens in three ways (or three R’s): remember, respond, and reflect.

Matrix Music
I’ve always dreamed about being a DJ. You can spend hours creating mixes on this beat blasting application. Who knows, you might be the next Moby!?

A Beautiful Mind
It is amazing what the human mind can do. In this video a man with a gifted mind is able to draw entire cityscapes from memory by flying over that city for an hour in a helicopter. The drawings are precise, almost perfect.

Noah (Part 3): The Covenant

Doesn’t it feel great to finish a big test? Or come to the end of a long school year? Or arrive at the weekend from a drudging week on the job? Or come to the close of a long hard trial in the family or with friends? You get home sit down with a sign and say, “It’s finally over.” I am sure Noah felt some relief as he saw the waters begin to reside and land began to appear. After all the darkness and drowning of God’s wrath in Genesis 6-8, chapter 9 is a breath of fresh flood-free air.

Noah Worships God [Genesis 8:20-22]

After the flood subsides and God dries the ground, God called Noah and his family to step out of the Ark. What does Noah do after getting off the boat? Does he stretch? Take a shower? Take a nap? Go to MacDonald’s for a burger and shake? No. The first thing he does shows his hearts highest priority. The first thing the father of new humanity does is gathered dirt, sticks and some clean animals to sacrifice [cf. 7:1-3]. He builds an altar to the Lord. The first thing Noah does is worship God.

Genesis 8:20 reads, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.” After living through the devastation that God wrought upon the earth Noah is convicted of his own sin knowing that he too should have been killed like everyone else in the flood. Therefore, he offers a burnt offering for the atonement of his sin [cf. Leviticus 1:4; Job 1:5; and ultimately foreshadowed in the death of Jesus for sin]. God was so pleased with the odor of Noah’s repentant worship [cf. Leviticus 1:9,13,17] that He responded by promising to never flood the earth again.

God blesses Noah’s obedience and worship [Genesis 9:1-7]

God blesses Noah’s obedience building and boarding the big boat, and blesses his God-centered worship and confession of sin. “Bless” appears over 80 times in Genesis. If a word appears that much it must be a major theme. When God blesses marriages, families, lives are restored. God is good. He is a giver of good gifts [James 1:17-18].

How does God specifically bless Noah? He gives Noah children that will fill the earth [cf. 9:1,7; cf. 1:28]. Biblically, children are a symbol of God’s blessing. God celebrates new life. God gracious sends His people out into the earth to fill it again. However, the new world is now different.

The peaceful harmony between creatures is broken because animals eat humans. God must make provision and man is able to eat meat of animals. Up to this point in human history everyone was a vegetarian, now you have the privilege of killing and grilling beef, bacon, birds, and fish on your BBQ. As a steward and dominioneer of God’s green earth, man is not to abuse his right to kill beast. Also, man is called to continue to respect the sanctity of human life because man bears God’s image [cf. 1:26-27].

God Keeps His Promise and Gives Noah a Covenant [Genesis 9:8-17]

What is a covenant? Once you turn 18 you are a legal adult. You don’t need your parents to sign a consent form anymore. A covenant is not a consent form or a contract. It is a treaty of guaranteed promise [i.e. marriage, oneness]. It is a binding agreement that brings relationships together. The covenant given to Noah is originated and crafted by God for Noah and all his descendants, which includes you and me.

There are some important truths to understand about God’s covenant to Noah. First, this covenant is universal, meaning they cover all people for all time. Some covenants, like the New Covenant, are limited. The New Covenant is only for regenerate followers of Christ. Second, this covenant is unconditional, meaning that God will uphold it no matter what man does [9:15; cf. 8:1, remember]. He will promise to keep His covenant no matter what. Some covenants are conditional and dependant upon the obedience of the other party involved in the covenant [cf. 2 Chronicles 7:14, Promise Land]. Be careful not to make all God’s covenants unconditional and universal because they are not.

Third, this covenant came with a signature. God promised that He would never again send a cataclysmic flood and that the seasons would continue by His provision. What sign did God give of His covenant? The sign of the covenant was the rainbow to remind God’s people of His promise [i.e. Abraham’s circumcision, Lord’s Supper, Baptism, rings in a marriage, etc.]. God gives meaning to the rainbow: God kills sinners, but not yet nor through a flood [cf. Isaiah 54:9-10]. Through the covenant God restores His intentions to bless people—even sinful people—because God is good.

Life After the Flood [Genesis 9:18-29]

Man is still tainted by evil [cf. 8:21b]. Noah responded to God’s kindness by growing grapes, getting drunk and passing out naked in his tent, and as pastor Mark Driscoll says, “like a Redneck on vacation. You don’t see this kind of stuff in your kid’s church coloring book. You don’t sing, ‘in the arky-ark, no drunky-drunky.’”

Ham, Noah’s son, walks into tent searching for his dad in the nude and tattles to his brothers. The other two brothers come into the tent backwards out of respect and cover their father’s shame. Whatever happened, no one knows, but one thing is for sure: it is not a good thing when a son walks in on his dad drunk and naked. This is a really bad day recorded about Noah.

What is the point of this sinful situation including Noah? Is sleeping naked sinful? No. Is it that drinking alcohol is sinful? No. Drinking alcohol is not sinful, but drunkenness is. The point of this sinful inclusion is simply that sin remains the human predicament even after the flood.

After Noah’s hangover, he wakes up. He realizes that his sons have dishonored him [cf. Exodus 21:15-17; Deuteronomy 21:18-21; Mark 7:10]. We all have sinful fathers, but they still need to be honored. In Genesis 9:25-27, Noah’s declares cursing and blessing directed toward his sons. Ham’s son, Canaan, is cursed to serve the line of God’s people that would come from Shem. Canaanites are forever labeled unclean perverts. It was also promised that Japheth would prosper for God would dwell in their tents. In Genesis 9:28-29, the genealogy resumes [cf. 5:32] as Noah dies and the human race again begins to grow and still sin.

In conclusion, what do we learn about God from the narrative of Noah? First, God is holy. His love and justice demands that sin be punished [6:5, 11-12]. Second, God is personal. He is sorrowful that He made man [6:6]. Third, God values life, especially human life [9:1-6]. Fourth, God keeps His promises [9:8-17] and remembers His people [8:1]. Fifth, God is Father. Even when you earthly dad is sinful and not a good example, you have a great on in your Heavenly Father. Honor both.

Is Jesus seen in the story of Noah, the ark, the flood, and the covenant? You bet! First, Jesus is a better Noah. Like Noah, Jesus was chosen by God, He was favored by God, He faithfully preached though many rejected and mocked, He was obedience to God, He offered sacrifice to God. Second, Jesus is the ark of salvation to escape the impending flood of God’s wrath by fire [2 Peter 2:5,9]. The ark was the only hope of salvation for Noah and his family. Jesus is the only hope of salvation for you and your family, even Canaanites [cf. Joshua 2:14; 6:17, 22-25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31].

Third, Jesus is the author of the New Covenant fulfilled in His death, sealed by His blood, and confirmed by His resurrection. Those who repent and respond to Jesus in faith will be saved. Fourth, Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for man’s sin once and for all. You do not need to sacrifice an animal on the altar. Jesus did that for you with Himself on the cross. Repent of your sin and believe in Him, as your Savior, and you will be saved [2 Corinthians 5:21]. Jesus is the hope promised through Noah.

thumb lick thursday [4.7.11]

5 Ways to Make Your Kids Hate Church

If you are a parent you have huge influence on whether or not your kids fall in love with Christ’s Church. Thomas Weaver give 5 very real ways parents can cultivate a hateful attitude in their children’s heart towards the church.

My Christian Commitment

“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of His and I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still…I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He does come for His won, He’ll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!” – Written by a young African pastor. Found among his papers in Zimbabwe after he was martyred

6 Keys to Poor Preaching

Everyone has an opinion on what the pastor should preach. Most of the time people’s opinions lead to poor preaching. Pastors also have the problem of ticking their hearers ears rather than preaching good sermons their hearers need to hear. What makes poor preaching?

The Cross and Criticism

Most of us would agree that criticism is difficult to take. Who of us doesn’t know someone with whom we need to be especially careful in our remarks lest they blow up in response to our suggested corrections? I do not fear man’s criticism for I have already agreed with God’s criticism. And I do not look ultimately for man’s approval for I have gained by grace God’s approval.

Which baseball team should I cheer for this year?

With the 2011 MLB season on its way America’s pastime is in need of serious fans. Maybe you have cheered for the same team you entire life. Maybe you do not know which team to cheer for. Maybe you need to consider the Baseball Flow Chart. [HT]

thumb lick thursday [3.31.11]

Lick it, flip it, clip it, quote it. A thumb lick is a term used to describe the action taken when turning the page of a book. While reading I often find great one-liners, statements and paragraphs that are golden nuggets of biblical wisdom. So Thumb Lick Thursday is a way to pass along great tidbits of truth.

Is Mandated Bible Reading Healthy for Kids?

This is probably one of the most common questions  I hear from parents wanting to establish Christian disciplines in their kids. Every Christian parent deals with this at some point. They struggle with what they should mandate vs just encourage their kids to do. And with this, how much? At what point will we defeat our purpose and discourage them?

Hope for hurting marriages

There are far too many marriages in our Churches and communities that are hanging together by very thin threads. When marriages are like this, patterns of neglect are almost always part of the reason. It takes commitment and work for a marriage to be the mutually satisfying relationship it was intended to be (Note: 5 key commitments for a good marriage).

Worth-ship

Worship is “worth-ship”, an acknowledgement of the worth of Almighty God…It is therefore impossible for me to worship God and yet not care two cents whether anybody else worships Him too…Worship does not beget witness is hypocrisy. We cannot acclaim worth of God if we have no desire to proclaim it. – John Stott, Our Guilty Silence. 27-28

Suffering & Death

The Greatest single secret of evangelistic or missionary effectiveness is the willingness to suffer and die. It may be a death to popularity (by fatefully preaching the unpopular biblical gospel), or to pride (by the use of modest methods in reliance on the Holy Spirit), or to radical and national prejudice (by identification with another culture), or to material comfort (by adopting a simpler lifestyle). But the servant must suffer if he is to bring light to the nations, and the seed must die if it is to multiply. – John Stott, The Cross of Christ, Leicester: IVP, and Downers Grove, IL. 1986. 322.

What are you Sinking about?

It is easy for communication to be lost in translation. This commercial by the German Coast Guard and their new recruit emphasize this point.

raising Cain: the call for repentance

Raising Cain is an expression given to someone who causes havoc. We get the phrase from the Genesis 4, where we get a glimpse into the first family and the children they raised. The children of Adam and Eve were far from perfect. This is a tale of two brothers. Woven into this story are incredible lessons for parents, children, and everyday followers of God.

What’s in a name? [Genesis 4:1-2]

Biblical names have meanings. The biblical meanings of names are significant and often shape the life of the one who bears the names. Let’s meet our two brothers: The first brother is Cain. His name means ‘acquire, get, possess’. The second brother is Abel. His name means ‘vapor or breath’.  As we will see in the story their names have a predetermining affect on their futures.

What is the purpose of your work? [4:3-5]

In Genesis 1-2, during the days of created God set an example for man to live by—6-days a week man works the land God creates and the seventh day man worships the God who created the land which they work [1:26-28]. Both the brothers are hard workers. Cain works the land and Abel ranches the animals. They are generous workers. From an early age both brothers learn the value of giving God a portion of their labors for praise and worship. Work is a means of worship because work involves sacrifice. This is a great lesson for all laborers.

Your mission while working is to give God your best in time, effort, aspirations, career, and money. Come to God with something in your hands to worship God from rewards of your reaping. Both brothers recognize their work and rewards of their work come from God. Both brothers bring gifts of their labors to God. Cain brings the first fruits of his land and Abel brings the firstborn of his flock. Both brothers come with something in their hand, but also something in their heart.

God questions what you bring for worship [4:6-7a]

In Genesis 3:9-13, God questions Cain’s parents over their actions in the Garden; He does the same here with Cain. God loves to ask questions. Man seeks to avoid questions. Man’s motto is, “Don’t ask; don’t tell.” God asks, “Why are you angry? It’s all over your face. I see your heart. Will you do what is right and repent?”

Cain comes to God with full hands but a jealous heart of unbelief [cf. 1 John 3:12; Hebrew 11:4]. He looks at his bowl of Cheerios and then at his brother’s box of Omaha Steaks and thinks, “Wow, my offering is pretty lame,” and jealous grew in his heart over Abel. Was it that Abel’s offering was better? No. The mass of the offering in your hands does not matter a bit, but the manner of your heart before God does matter.

Do you compare your worship with others? When in church are you looking around at what others bring? Are you jealous because someone else has your is growing in their relationship with God more than you, better life [job, girl or guy] than you, appears more success than you? Are you obsessed with other people around you, rather than the only One whose opinion matters? Abel comes to God with a love for God in his heart. His offering is regarded because his heart is to please God. Cain’s offering looked religious, but his heart is not dependent upon God. Some Christians are a lot like Cain, even worse because they come to God with nothing in their hands. He at least comes with something in his hand, even though what he had in his heart was wicked and twisted.

What are the consequences of keeping a jealous heart? [4:7b-9]

If Cain does not get a handle on his jealousy it will handle him. God warns Cain, “Your sin will drive you insane.” Sin is powerful enough to drive one to insanity and death. Cain must have learned the desire for power and prestige from his mommy [cf. desire; Genesis 3:16b]. Do you notice the pride in Eve’s statement, “I have made a man” [4:1]? She didn’t make man, God did. Eve is trying to rule over her roost and her redemption, but Cain is not the promised Redeemer Seed [cf. 3:15].

The consequences of keeping jealousy in your heart will cause it to grow and spiral out of control. First, if you internalize jealousy you will be depressed. Second, if you externalize jealousy you will get violent [i.e. Cain]. Third, if you deal with jealousy through repent you will rule over it with self-control. If you are convicted of a jealous heart, repent, before it gets worse. And worse it did get for Cain. Cain invites his brother to the farm, kills him in broad daylight, and buries his bloody body under the ground. This is a premeditated murder. Jealousy led to insanity. Insanity led to Abel’s mortality.

God as Counselor and Judge [4:9-12]

Echoing God’s question in the Garden [3:9], God asks Cain, “Where is your brother, Abel?” [v.9]. And like his parents, He covers with a lie, “I don’t know! Am I Abel’s babysitter?” This should have been an opportunity for immediate repentance and restoration. Instead, God has to step in as the law enforcer, CSI agent, prosecutor, and Judge. Therefore, since Cain alienates himself from God, God alienates him from good farmland. Cain dishonors the dirt, and the dirt dishonors Cain [cf. 3:17].

What happens when you repent? [4:13-26]

I believe, Cain responds to God’s curse with a repentant heart, “My sin is greater than I can bear” [v.13]. The curse cracks the hard shell of Cain’s heart. He realizes and wakes up to the consequences of his sin. He knows he will have to move away [East of Nod = “wandering” alienation from God], be a fugitive, believes someone will track him down and kill him too.

It is not a popular opinion, but I believe Cain repents because God blesses him through protection [15-16, tattoo], gives him a family [17a], gives him a refuge city [17b], gives him another brother [25a], promises a Redeemer Seed [25b-26a], and brings a revival [26]. God is a good God—a gracious God. God gives Cain good gifts despite his sin.

In Genesis 4, you see Cain’s worst day. Lame Lamech gives you a look into where Cain’s sin could lead without repentance [vs.19-24]. I am glad that the Bible is an honest book describing the gruesome details of people’s lives. I could not image God putting my worst days in the Bible as an example for others to read and remember. God gives these examples to learn about His grace, so that in your worst day you can also have your best because God’s restoration follows repentance.

The story of Cain and Abel does not make sense until you put yourself into the shoes of Cain. You are Cain. You have killed your brother, Jesus. You come to God with empty worship and an unrepentant jealous heart. Jesus’ death offers you life and hope. Jesus’ death and blood cries out so that you would believe in your brother and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ [Hebrews 12:24].

Questions for Reflections and Application:

What are some of the lessons in this story for parents? Children? Or everyday followers of God?

What is the overall effect of sin’s mastery as this story is played out?

What do you think Genesis 4 is meant to instill in you? How does it impact you?

thumb lick thursday [3.17.11]

Lick it, flip it, clip it, quote it. A thumb lick is a term used to describe the action taken when turning the page of a book. Have you ever know someone who licks their thumb to grip the pages of a new book? While reading I often find great one-liners, statements and paragraphs that are golden nuggets of biblical wisdom. These thumb licks are quotes that must be shared. So Thumb Lick Thursday is a way to pass along great tidbits of truth.

5 Things I’m Surprised I Can’t Find in the Bible [R.C. Sproul]
God is all and only wisdom, the very font of all truth. The Bible is His Word, and is true in all that it teaches, as well as sufficient to guide us into every good work. His Word is perspicuous, that is clear, and understandable.  Not all of the Bible, however, is as clear as all the rest. These ground rules inform us, broadly speaking, that the Bible tells us everything we need to know, but that it might not all be right out there in the open.  He has not only not left us orphans, He has not left us blind. That said, here are five things that are less clear in the Bible than I might, in the abstract, expect them to be.

8 Tips for Talking to Kids about the Sermon
They sit there next to you and their feet don’t even hit the floor.  You’re thinking, “What, if anything of this guy’s sermon is sinking into my kid’s head?”  And with that little thought you’ve already decided not to engage your child about the sermon.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Let me introduce you to the most important rule when talking to your kids about the sermon: They retain more than you think they do.  The second most important rule is like it: They understand more than you think they do.

What if I only give 99%
What you’d get if 99% were good enough: No phone service for 15 minutes each day, over 2 million pieces of first class mail lost each day, unsafe drinking water three days a year, three misspelled words on the average page of type, and 2 million people would die from food poisoning each year. What if your physician only gave 99%?

It’s Not Easy being Green [Kermit the Frog]

For St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would add some green fun from Kermit. As Kermit would say, “Time is fun when you are having flies.”

extreme makeover: home edition

Most parents agree that they desire to have a happy house with children who are successful, financially responsible, skillful, educated, athletic and active. These are not wrong desires, but they could also distract you from God’s agenda for your home. What is God’s agenda for the home? God desires for parents to raise their children in such a way that they will lovingly, joyfully, passionately, and freely follow Jesus Christ. This is the greatest agenda for parents. God’s agenda for children is also similar: to obey their God-given authority and make Jesus Christ the passion of their life.

In Ephesians 6:1-4, God sets a clear agenda for the home, which is a wonderful picture of His gospel. Let’s look at the basis, goal and technique for living as God’s kind of home.

The Basis of a Godly Home is Obedience [Ephesians 6:1]

I did not grow up singing the famous children’s Sunday School songs, but one I do know is, “Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe: Doing exactly what the Lord commands, doing it happily. Action is the key–do it immediately, the joy you will receive! Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E (Yes, sir!) Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.” I am sure that was a fun song to sing as a kid and there is a lot of truth to this song, but as a child grows older that some might mean something entirely different. Obedience is a willingness to submit to ones authority without challenge, excuse or delay.

How should I discipline children of different ages?

For many children, following God’s agenda is difficult because they want what they want, when they want it, in the way they want it. Therefore, children test boundaries, push limits, and stress the consistency of their parents. Is this really the agenda of cute innocent children? Surely I just have a pessimistic view of children? No. I just believe what the Bible says, everyone child is born a sinner into a sinful world and sinning comes natural.

Why is it important for children to obey their parents? Obedience teaches children how to live under authority, especially God’s authority [5:21]. Authority is like an umbrella of protection for our good and God’s glory. In ancient days, the father could maintain authority in the home until death. When do you cease being a child? You never cease being a child to your parents. “Child” does not denote age, but relationship. Even as an adult you are still your parents children. However, as you grow older your relationship with your parents may morph [cf. 2:24] because biblically parenting is a temporary stewardship preparing you for your own permanent relationship of marriage.

The Goal of a Godly Home is Honor [Ephesians 6:2-3]

What does it mean to honor? Honor means you have an attitude of godly fear towards your parents because you know they have been give to you by a higher authority—God [cf. Leviticus 19:3, 14; Deuteronomy 4:10]. When you obey your parents it is a way of honoring them. Can you obey without honoring? Yes, this is called legalism. Follow rules, but not following lovingly and joyfully isn’t honor. This might run in tandem with our culture that says that ‘honor is earned’; rather God says honor no matter what because God particularly places your parents as your authority.

Paul begins this verse by quoting the 5th Commandment. [Exodus 21:12] He also notes that this is the first commandment with a promise in relation to other humans. What is the promise? The promise is that if you honor your parents you are also honoring God; therefore, God will bless you with an enjoyable life.

Exodus 20:12 Deuteronomy 5:16 Ephesians 6:1-3 Colossians 3:20
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.2“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3“that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 20Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

Should you honor your parents if they are not believers or spiritually mature? Even if your parents do not have a biblical perspective of life you are still called to honor and obey them. Now if your parents specifically ask you to do something sinful you are called obey God who is your higher authority. If your parents abuse their authority it is proper to remove yourself from their authority until they makeover their home to match God kind of parent.

What are there benefits or drawbacks to obeying your parents? There are times when obedience might prevent you from doing something you really would like to do. This is not always a bad thing. I remember asking my parents if I could spend the night at a friend’s house from school. They denied the request because they knew that this friend was not a good influence on me. I was upset, but after the fact I was appreciative my parents were protecting me. In the future, my honor for my parents grew and it was easier to obey.

Here are some practical ways you can honor your parents: Do not talk back to your parents privately or publicly. Do not complain about your parents to others. Protect the integrity of your family. Listen to their wise counsel. Seek their wise counsel for decisions. Do not repeat their sinful habits. If you disagree do not argue in defense.

The Technique for have a Godly Home is Training in Truth [Ephesians 6:4]

In verse 4, fathers are singled out. Why are father’s singles out? As children obey, fathers are not to neglect their responsibility of point their children to Christ. Every father is accountable to God for the spiritual climate of his home [1 Timothy 3:4-5].[1] This climate can be controlled as the father teaches and consistently models Christlikeness to his children.

How does a parent provoke his children to wrath?

Training children is like giving them spiritual nourishment that will help them grow spiritually strong so that when they are on their own Satan will not have an influence on them. The greatest device the devil uses to cause division in the home is prolonged anger of the children towards their parents. Parents can feed this anger by not following Christ [cf. Colossians 3:20-21].

Training in Truth focuses on the gospel: the child’s need of a Savior [Romans 6:23] because they are accountable to God [Dt.4:9; 6:6-7]. This child must be taught about their sinful heart [Rom.5:12; Prov. 22:15]. Following salvation, parents have an enormous task of teaching their children to follow God’s Word [Ps.1:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:15-17], repent, restore and mature in Christlikeness [Ephesians 4:22-32]. This is how the child comes face-to-face with the gospel.

If you desire to have a happy house, with children who are successful, financial fiscal, skillful, educated and active above God’s agenda for your home you might be raising children who worship these agendas because they have a  distorted understanding of the gospel. Unless the gospel is central in the child all other agendas can become idols. God’s desire for parents is to raise their children in such a way that they will lovingly, joyfully, passionately, and freely follow Jesus Christ. This is the greatest agenda for parents. And God’s desire for children is to obey their God-given authority and make Jesus Christ the passion of their life. The gospel means God is always at the center of the family, not the child or parent.

Great Resources for Parents:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart [Tedd Tripp]

Gospel-Powered Parenting [William P. Farley]

Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens [Paul David Tripp]

Angry Children—Understanding and Helping Your Child Regain Control [Mike Emlet]

Addressing the Problems of Rebellious Children [Mary Somerville]


[1] Fathers responsibility: Psalm 103:13; Matthew 7:9-11; Proverbs 3:11-12; Psalm 72:2-8; Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Hebrews 12:7-11