Thursday, May 4, 2023

Foundations for Christian Parenting


Parents want to do what is best for our children. We want to create an environment where our children can thrive and mature into responsible, compassionate, and faithful people.

The task of raising children to be disciples of Jesus is a difficult one. We often find that the culture that we live in is not supportive in our desire to pass our faith to our children. TV shows, movies, social media influencers, peers, and even family and friends often teach or model values and beliefs to our children that are out of alignment with what we believe.

The Bible provides the wisdom and the guidance we need to faithfully parent our children well as we live in a culture that is opposed to our beliefs and values.

Here are seven biblical principles that will help form the foundations for our parenting:

1. Love

Love is the central command of Christianity. Jesus said, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35, CSB)

While we love our children, we don’t always show that love the best. Rather than loving them well we can take out our anger and frustrations on them. It is crucial that we remember that our love for the world starts at home.

It is important to remember that sacrificially loving our children lays teaches them that they are loved. Our children experience God’s love through our love for them. It also teaches them how to love people. Our loving behavior will teach our children how to love more than anything we will say. As parents, we can love our children sacrificially by giving them our time, attention, and money to provide for their needs and create a loving environment that will help them grow.

2. Respect

We often talk about showing respect to people in authority. From a biblical perspective everyone is deserving of respect. James taught this truth in James 2:1-7 when he talked about the evil of showing favoritism for the rich over the poor.

Since everyone is created in God’s image, everyone deserves respect, that includes our children. We are to treat them as fellow image bearers. This means that we consider their feelings, we encourage them in their interests, and we nurture their talents.

Showing respect to our children creates an environment of safety and trust, where everyone feels heard and valued. It is this type of environment provides the space a child needs to discover their unique personality and allows them to be put on the right path to become the people God created them to be.

When we show respect to our children, we teach them to respect us and others. This is an essential skill to have in a world of diversity because it allows them to see the best in others.

3. Intentionality

In a world that is hectic and busy, it is easy to put things on auto pilot. To get a few minutes of rest allowing our children to watch TV or play on their devices is simple. Yet, we are missing valuable time interacting with our children and we are allowing other people or things to influence them.

It is crucial that we are intentional in our parenting. We can’t afford to be passive. In order to be intentional we need to create and environment that promotes good things, that benefits learning and development, and that is founded on faith. The discipleship of our children, just like our personal discipleship, requires intention and effort.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (CSB) states, “These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” As parents, we need to make the commitment to intentionally teach and model our faith and values in our daily activities.

4. Boundaries

All of us need boundaries. We need deadlines to know when our work needs to be finished, we need budgets to know how much money we can spend, and need schedules to know where we need to be and what we need to do.

Setting godly boundaries creates a loving and safe environment where children can succeed as they grow in wisdom and faith. The right environment is crucial. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote, “Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4; CSB) Any Family where one or both parents are angry, worried, or fearful is an environment that discourages children. Instead, Paul wrote, parents are to create proper boundaries for their children so they can become the people God created them to be.

Boundaries are necessary in every family to create a secure and nurturing environment. By setting godly boundaries, we teach our children self-control and discipline. Proverbs 22:6 teaches, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Setting boundaries that align with our Christian values and priorities help our children develop faith and a strong sense of character.

5. Gratitude

Gratitude is a crucial quality for emotionally healthy people. Being grateful helps us to appreciate the blessings of life and to see everything as a gift from God. In a culture that teaches entitlement, gratitude reminds us to be thankful for what we have and to give thanks to God for the blessings He has given.

This means teaching our children to be grateful is one of the most important thing we can do. And like everything else, the best way to teach our children to be grateful, is to model gratitude in our lives. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude requires us to show gratitude first to God and then to each other. This happens as by saying thank you to people who do nice things for us and it happens as we point out the good deeds each other does.

Being grateful helps us see the good in the world, opens our eyes to the good things people do, and reminds us of the graciousness of God. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (CSB) the Apostle Paul wrote, "Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." As parents, we can model gratitude by expressing appreciation for our children, pointing out to them God’s blessing, say thank you to people who bless us, and encouraging them to do the same.

6. Patience and Encouragement

I would bet the one thing every parent would say that would like to improve it would be patience. Because we forget our children are still learning and growing, it is easy to loose patience with them when they don’t listen, when they make a mess, or they do anything that throws a wrench into our plans.

Patience is a choice that we make. It requires us stopping, taking a deep breath, and praying. If we don’t make this choice we will find ourselves getting angry at the littlest things.

Colossians 3:21 (CSB) reads, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they won’t become discouraged.” When we lose patience with our children we create an environment where it is easy for them become discouraged. Paul’s warning to parents here is that a family environment that lacks patience, love, and understanding will lead to children becoming discouraged. When people, children included, feel discouraged they will stop caring and quiet.

Patience and encouragement are essential components of building a strong and healthy family. As parents, we need to be patient with our children as they learn what it means to follow Jesus and mature in their faith.

In Galatians 6:9, we are reminded, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." When we are patient and encouraging, we help our children develop perseverance rather than discouragement.

7. Forgiveness

Forgiveness is an important part of building healthy relationships and dealing with hurt and pain in our families. As imperfect people, we all make mistakes, and forgiveness allows us to move forward and restore relationships.

Colossians 3:12-13 (CSB) says “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.”

As parents, we need to model forgiveness and teach our children how to forgive others. This happens in two ways. First, it happens when our children do something wrong and we tell them that we forgive them. This helps them to know that while we may be upset, that we still love them. Second, it happens when we do something wrong, and we treat our children unfairly, and we ask them for forgiveness. This helps teach them that it is important to own up to your mistakes and take the first step in making things right.

Forgiveness is necessary for a loving family and it an essential skill to teach our children.

Christian Parents seek to raise their children to have a personal faith in God and to teach them what it means to follow Jesus. To do this in a culture that is not supportive requires faith, sacrifice, and commitment. To help us in this process it is crucial that we follow the biblical principles of love, respect, intentionality, boundaries, gratitude, patience and encouragement, and forgiveness. This is how we create an environment where our children can flourish and develop into the people God created them to be. As parents, we help build for God’s kingdom by discipling our children well, and that requires that we turn to God for help and guidance.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

EDC Wednesday: The Perfect EDC Knife?

I have been asked several times the question, “If you can only carry one knife, what knife would it be?” 

My answer ia: “It would be a stockman pocket knife.”

I think a stockman pocket knife is a great choice for an everyday carry knife, especially if a person has never carried a knife before. The stockman knife is a classic design that has been around for over a century and has stood the test of time. It was a knife that was carried by working men, ranchers and farmers, to help them in their daily tasks.

Let me explain the reasons why I think a stockman pocket knife is a great choice for an everyday carry knife.

First and foremost, a stockman knife is incredibly versatile. The stockman has three blades: a clip point blade, a spey blade, and a sheepfoot blade. The clip point blade is great for general cutting tasks, the spey blade (which was originally used for castrating livestock and skinning small game) is good for precise cutting tasks, and the sheepfoot blade is excellent for carving and slicing. With these three blades, a stockman pocket knife is well-suited to handle a wide range of cutting tasks, from opening packages and cutting rope to preparing food and even carving wood.

Another advantage of a stockman pocket knife is its compact size. It is designed to fit comfortably in your pocket, making it easy to carry with you wherever you go. Unlike larger knives, a stockman pocket knife won't weigh you down or get in the way. Because of the small size and traditional look the stockman it is not an intimidating looking knife when used around other people. Since it carries nicely in a pocket, it's always within reach, you'll be ready to tackle any cutting task that comes your way.

In addition, a stockman pocket knife is built to last. It is typically made from high-quality materials like stainless steel and durable handle materials such as bone, wood, or synthetic materials like G-10 or micarta. With proper care and maintenance, a stockman pocket knife can last for years, even decades, making it a great value for the money.

My small collection of stockman knives. The Boy Scout knife is the first knife I bought with my own money.

One of the best things about a stockman pocket knife is that it is a traditional and timeless design. It has been around for over a century and is still popular today. This means that it is a knife that you can pass down to future generations as a family heirloom. And because it is a classic design, there will always be people who want one, simple out of nostalgia.

Finally, a stockman pocket knife is a great choice for those who appreciate the art of knife-making. Many manufacturers offer a range of options for customizing your knife, including different handle materials, blade steels, and blade finishes. You can also choose from a range of sizes and colors to make your knife uniquely yours.

A stockman pocket knife is a versatile, compact, and durable knife that is a great choice for an everyday carry knife. With its classic design and timeless appeal, it is a knife that you can be proud to carry and pass down to your son or grandson. So if you're looking for a reliable and versatile knife for everyday use, a stockman pocket knife is definitely worth considering.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Living a Quiet Life

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NLT)
Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.

Sometimes, even as Christians, we wonder what practical wisdom the Bible has for our daily lives. Too often we don’t value the Bible enough because it seems outdated in our technologically driven world.

I believe the Bible has much wisdom to offer us in our hectic and busy lives. One example of this is found in an often neglected book, 1 Thessalonians.  The teaching the Apostle Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, encouraged believers to live a quiet life, mind their own business, and work with their hands. This type of life, according to Paul,  will earn the respect of those who do not share their faith, and they will not have to depend on others.

How does this teaching apply to our lives?

Living a quiet life is not about being silent or isolated from other people. Rather, it is about living in a way that is not characterized by loud and boisterous, drama-causing, or attention-seeking behavior. A quiet life is about being content with what you have rather than constantly scheming to get more. This doesn’t mean that you should not have goals or aspirations, but it does mean that you should pursue them in a way that honors Jesus.

Minding your own business means you don’t stick your nose in other people’s affairs unnecessarily. This doesn’t mean that you should not care about others or help them when they need it. Rather, it means we are not going out of our way to tell people what to do or to judge them harshly for not living up to our standard. Remember, Jesus taught that you need to deal with the log in your eye before helping your neighbor with the speak in their eye. Instead, you should concentrate on becoming the person God created you to be.

Working with your hands is about being productive and contributing to society. It is about using your skills and talents to create something of value, whether it is a product, a service, or a piece of art. By working with your hands, you can take pride in what you do and provide for yourself and your family. The other benefit of being productive is that it allows you to be generous. The number one way you can join in the God is doing is through your giving.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 also emphasizes the importance of earning the respect of those who are not believers. As Christians, we are called to be ambassadors for Christ, and our actions and attitudes should demonstrate his character of love, grace, and truth. By living a quiet life, minding our own business, and working with our hands, we are able to demonstrate the qualities of diligence, honesty, and integrity that are valued by people of all faiths and backgrounds. We can also show them, that in spite of our differences, God still loves them.

When we earn the respect of non-believers, we are able to create opportunities to share the gospel with them. When people see that our faith is not just a set of beliefs, but a way of life that makes life better, they may be more open to hearing about our relationship with Jesus. As the Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15, "Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it." (NLT)

Finally, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 emphasizes the importance of self-sufficiency. By living a quiet life, minding our own business, and working with our hands, we can avoid becoming dependent on others for our basic needs. This does not mean that we should never ask for help or accept assistance when it is offered. What it does mean is that we want to be generous and compassionate to others rathe than being a burden others unnecessarily.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 offers valuable wisdom for life in an hectic and busy world. This wisdom will help us live a life that is pleasing to God and beneficial to others. By living a quiet life, minding our own business, and working with our hands, we can live a life that is respected by all people, regardless of their faith background. We can also earn the respect of those who do not share our faith, and create opportunities to share the gospel with them. Finally, we can avoid becoming dependent on others for our basic needs, and strive to be people are generous and compassionate with the blessings God has given to us.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Facing Our Fears

“When we lack the courage to live the lives we have, when we are overwhelmed by the challenges we face, when we have no strength to make it through the day, we turn to outside sources just to help us survive. We try to sedate, medicate, and intoxicate our fears — anything for a little relief.” 
Erwin McManus, Uprising, p. 90

In a world full of challenges and uncertainties, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. According to Erwin McManus in his book Uprising, we often turn to external sources for relief when we lack the courage to face our challenges head-on. However, the problem with trying to self-medicate in order to cope with our fears is that it only masks the issue. This prevents us from discovering real helps in facing our facing and it becomes an obstacle to taking any action that can create lasting change.

As Christians, we are called to face our fears with courage and perseverance. In Psalm 27:1, David wrote, “The LORD is my light and my salvation — whom should I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— whom should I dread?” (CSB) 

With God on our side, we have the strength and courage to face any challenge that comes our way.

Recognizing that we have fears and not trying to suppress them is the first step towards in developing perseverance. It takes real courage and strength to face our fears and overcome them, and that is an essential part of the growth process. As we learn to live uncomfortable feelings without allowing them to control us, we become stronger and more resilient.

The Apostle Paul encouraged disciples of Jesus to develop perseverance in Romans 5:3-5 when he wrote:
And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (CSB)

It is important that we learn to confront our fears head-on. This is one of. the best way to build the courage, strength, and perseverance needed to overcome our fears. In order to do this well requires using other skills such as visualization (imagining ourselves successfully facing our fears), self-compassion (not being hard on ourselves), and assertiveness (being intentional in facing our face). By building these skills, we can create a better way of coping with the problems and fears we face and we can get out of the rut of the ineffective patterns of avoidance or paralysis that we have been in.

By building perseverance, we develop a deeper understanding of our personal strengths, which also helps us tackle other obstacles with renewed strength and courage. We also become better equipped to handle the challenges of life and we are able to approach them with a sense of purpose and determination.

Ultimately, the problems we encounter in our lives provide us with an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop our character and discover new strengths. When we turn to God and rely on His strength through prayer and fellowship with other Christians, we can face our challenges with courage and perseverance. As we learn to overcome our fears and we are empowered to rise to challenges, we are able to strengthen our character by faith in God’s transforming work and hope in His promises. 

We must learn to face our fears with courage and perseverance, relying on God's strength to overcome the challenges we encounter. By adding perseverance to our character, we can approach the problems of life with purpose and determination, which empowers us to grow into the people that God has created us to be. As we face life’s challenges with faith, courage, and perseverance, we discover that our character is strengthened by purpose and hope.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Sunday Prayer: Courage and Boldness

Gracious God, I come before you in humility and with a heart full of faith. I thank you for your goodness and mercy, and for the gift of your Son, Jesus, whose sacrifice secured forgiveness and salvation for me.

Lord, I ask for your strength and courage as I navigate the challenges of this world. I pray for boldness to stand up for what is right and to speak truth in love. I ask for the courage to follow your will, even when it is difficult or unpopular.

Help me to be strong and courageous in the face of adversity, knowing that you are always with me. Give me the courage to step out in faith, trusting that you will guide me and provide for me every step of the way.

Lord, I pray that you would fill me with the Holy Spirit, that I may be empowered to live the life that brings honor and glory to your name. Give me the courage to share your love and grace with those around me, even when it may be uncomfortable or challenging.

Help me to remember that I am not alone, and that you are always with me. May my life be a shining light that points others to you, and may I never waver in my faith or my commitment to your kingdom.

I pray all of this in the mighty name of Jesus, who is my strength and shield. Amen.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

A New Birth Into A Living Hope

1 Peter 1:3-5 (CSB)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

The apostle Peter wrote this letter to encourage and strengthen the persecuted believers in Asia Minor. In verses 1 and 2, Peter reminded them that they are God’s chosen people because of the Father’s plan, the Spirit’s transforming work, and the Son’s faithful obedience. 

In this passage, Peter celebrated the new birth that disciples of Jesus experience through faith in Christ, which provided them a living hope and an imperishable inheritance.

Peter wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," which expressed his profound gratitude and worship for God's character and work. Peter recognized that God's gracious mercy is the source of all spiritual blessings and the foundation of salvation. God's mercy is not based on human merit or worthiness but flows from His infinite love and grace. Through His mercy, God has given us new birth that brings us from death to life and makes us children of God (John 1:12-13).

This new birth is not a result of our own efforts or achievements but is a gift of God's grace that is given to us through the faithfulness of Jesus and our trust in him. Peter emphasized that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the ultimate proof and guarantee that this new birth is a reality and that God’s people now have a living hope. 

Jesus' resurrection validated his claims to be the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Through his resurrection, Jesus conquered Satan, sin, and death which saved us from the consequences of sin and secured eternal life for his faithful followers. As Paul wrote, "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). But because Christ has been raised, our faith is alive, vibrant, and victorious.

Peter also highlighted the nature and quality of the inheritance that all of God’s people receive through this new birth. The inheritance we have is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us. It is imperishable because it is not subject to decay, corruption, or death. It is eternal, incorruptible, and indestructible. It is undefiled because it is pure, holy, and perfect. It is untainted by sin, evil, or imperfection. It is unfading because it never loses its value, beauty, or glory. It is the perfect gift that God wants His people to have.

This inheritance is not something we earn or deserve but it is a gracious gift God gives to his people. It is not a temporary or earthly possession but an eternal and heavenly treasure. It is not a vague or abstract concept but a concrete and personal reality. It is something that is grander and more wonderful than we can imagine. It is not something we keep but something that keeps us. It is not something we can lose but something that is guarded by God's promise and power.

Peter also reassured the believers that their inheritance is secure and guarded by God's power through faith. The phrase "you are being guarded" implies ongoing and active protection by God's power. The verb tense suggests that this guarding is not a one-time event but a continuous process. God's power is not limited but it is eternal. His power is not arbitrary or random but is directed by His wisdom and love. God’s power is not passive or indifferent but is active and engaged.

This guarding is also through faith, which implies that Christians have a role to play in our spiritual security. Faith is not a passive or static belief but an active and dynamic trust in God's promises and character. Faith is not a blind or irrational leap but a reasonable and informed response to God's revelation. Faith is not a private or isolated experience but a communal and relational reality. Faith is not a temporary or fluctuating emotion but a persistent and persevering conviction.

Peter concluded this passage by reminding the believers that their salvation is not fully revealed yet, but it is ready to be revealed in the last time. This means that our inheritance is not fully realized yet, we have a glimpse of it, but it will be fully revealed when Jesus returns and makes everything right. Until then, believers must live in hope, faith, and obedience, knowing that their ultimate destiny is secure and glorious.

This passage is teaches that our hope and our salvation is all a work of God. It highlights the depth and breadth of God's mercy, the power and significance of Christ's resurrection, and the greatness and certainty of our inheritance. 

This passage also challenges us to live in a way that reflects the reality and hope of our new birth and inheritance. As Peter wrote later in his epistle, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). When we live out our hope we make Jesus real in the world.

As Christians, we have been born again into a living hope and an imperishable inheritance. We are guarded by God's power through faith as we wait for our salvation to be fully revealed. We need to live as children of God, shining the light of Christ in a dark world, and eagerly awaiting the day when we will see Him face to face and inherit all that He has promised.

Friday, April 28, 2023

God’s Power to Transform

Transformation is a popular thing to talk about in our culture. Everywhere we turn, from fitness to self-improvement, people seem to be obsessed with the idea of change. While change can certainly be positive, true transformation is something that cannot be achieved by human effort alone.

Transformation is a key theme in the New Testament, and it provides insight into what it means to experience true change. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" This verse highlights the transformation that is to happen in the life of a disciple of Jesus. It is only through God that we can become a new creation, leaving behind our old ways and embracing a new life Jesus secured for us through his death and resurrection.

Many people try to change themselves through sheer willpower or by following a self-help program. While these things can be helpful, they cannot bring about true transformation. Without the initiative and action of God, we will not be able to become the people God created us to be. We may make temporary changes, but we will not be able to overcome the flesh that controls our lives.

The Apostle Paul understood this truth. In Romans 7:18-19 he wrote, "For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." Paul recognized that he was powerless to change on his own. He needed the transformative power of God to break free from his flesh.

Part of the Gospel message is that God is able to transform us. He is in the business of changing the lives of people. In Philippians 1:6, Paul wrote, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." God won’t abandon us halfway through the transformation process. We can be confident that He will see it through until the end.

The transformation that God brings about in our lives is not just external, but it is also internal. In fact, the transformation we need is a transformation of our hearts, our minds, and our souls. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. He changes our desires and gives us a new purpose. He also helps us to see ourselves and other people in a new light. The transformation that God brings about is a transformation of the entire person.

There are many benefits to experiencing true transformation through God. For one, we become better equipped to handle the challenges that life throws our way. We are less likely to be shaken by difficult circumstances because we have a firm foundation in Christ. We are also able to experience a greater sense of peace and joy because we are no longer weighed down by the burdens of our past.

Another benefit of experiencing true transformation is that we become better equipped to serve others. As we become more like Jesus, we begin to see the world, and others, through His eyes. We become more compassionate, more understanding, and more willing to help those in need. Our relationships with people are strengthened, and we are better able to make a positive impact on those closest to us.

How can we experience transformation in our lives? 

The first step is to acknowledge our need for God. In the Beatitudes Jesus taught that we need to be “poor in spirit.” One of the things this implies is that we must recognize that we are powerless to change on our own and that we need God’s help to become a new creation. Once we have acknowledged our need for God, we can turn to Him and ask Him to work in our lives.

This starts with prayer. We are to confess our sins to God and declare our loyalty to Jesus. We pray and ask God to reveal areas in our lives that need to be transformed. We ask Him to give us the strength to overcome our weaknesses and to help us grow in our relationship with Him. We also pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and guidance.

All of us have those moments of clarity when we realize that our lives are not what they should be. We have attitudes, beliefs, and actions that need to be changed, but often we feel powerless to do anything about it. One of the promises of Christianity is that we can become new people. The only way that will happen is if we surrender our lives to God and allow Him to transform our lives.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Parenting Matters

Parenting is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of life. From the moment a child is born, parents are faced with the responsibility of raising them to become responsible, compassionate, and productive members of society. Christian parents also have the added responsibility of raising their children to be faithful disciples of Jesus. 

While parenting may seem overwhelming at times, it is a critical part of our lives that has a profound impact on the future of our families, churches, and communities. As stressful as parenting can be, it is important that we remember why we do it.

Children are a gift and a responsibility from God

Children are a precious gift from God, and they come into our lives as a result of His plan and design. Because of this we know that each child is unique and has his or her own God-given purpose and potential. As parents, it is our responsibility to nurture and guide our children, helping them to grow and develop in all areas of life.

Since children come from God, we need to remember that He is entrusting them into our care. They are not a burden or inconvenience, but a blessing to be cherished and celebrated. Psalm 127:3-5 says that children like arrows in the hand of a warrior, meaning that parenting children is one way that God will increase His influence in the world. Just as an archer takes careful aim and shoots an arrow towards its target, parents must aim to raise their children in a way that honors God and helps them fulfill their potential.

Raising children is a significant responsibility, and it requires a great deal of effort, sacrifice, and commitment. Proverbs 22:6 teaches us to "train up a child in the way he should go," indicating that we must be intentional and deliberate in our approach to parenting. This involves teaching our children about God and His ways, modeling a life of faith and obedience, and providing them with the guidance and support they need to navigate the challenges of life.

As parents, we have a profound influence on the spiritual development of our children. We are called to be their primary disciplers, helping them to know and love God, and showing them what it means to follow Jesus. Our decisions about how we raise our children have eternal consequences, and we must take this responsibility seriously.

Parenting is filled with challenges and opportunities

One of the biggest challenges of parenting in today's world is managing the impact of technology on our children's lives. Social media, video games, and other forms of technology can be both a blessing and a curse. While they provide entertainment and educational opportunities, they can also be addictive and contribute to a sedentary lifestyle. Even worse, as studies seem to suggest, the role technology has the the social, emotional, and even spiritual development of children is huge. As parents, we must be vigilant in setting limits and boundaries around technology use, and provide our children with good alternatives for entertainment and social interaction.

Another challenge of parenting in today's world is helping our children navigate the complexities of relationships and social dynamics. Peer pressure, bullying, and social isolation are all too common in our society, and they can have a profound impact on our children's emotional and mental health. As parents, we must be attuned to our children's emotional needs and provide them with the guidance and support they need to navigate these challenges.

A third challenge, especially for Christian parents, is teaching children what it means to follow Jesus in a culture that does not accept the values, beliefs, and commitments of God’s Kingdom. Teaching them how to love people even when you don’t agree with them or approve of what they do. Teaching them how to communicate truth, but in a way that is gracious and loving.

Despite these challenges, parenting also presents many opportunities. As parents, we have the opportunity to shape the lives of our children and help them become the best versions of themselves. We can provide them with a strong foundation of faith and values, teach them important life skills, and encourage them to pursue their passions and talents. We can also model healthy behaviors and attitudes, showing them what it means to live a life faithfully following Jesus.

Parenting is crucial for the future of society and the church

Since our children are the future of both our society and the church, it is important that we are intentional in how we raise them. Children who are raised with strong values and a sense of purpose are more likely to become responsible and compassionate adults who make positive contributions to society. By raising children who are committed to serving others and making the world a better place, we can help them see that they can make a difference in the world.

At the same time, parenting is also crucial for the future of the church. As Christian parents, we have a unique opportunity to pass on our faith to the next generation. This means not only teaching our children about the Bible and the doctrines of the faith, but also modeling a life of love, truth, humility, and service.

By living out our faith in front of our children, we help them develop a deep and lasting relationship with God that will sustain them throughout their lives.

In addition, parents have a responsibility to equip their children to be effective witnesses for Jesus in the world. This requires us to be intentional in teaching them so they can have the skills and knowledge they need to share their faith with others in a winsome and persuasive way. By raising up a generation of young people who are passionate about living the Gospel, is one way we are completing the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.

Parenting is one of the most important responsibilities we have as adults. It is a calling from God that requires us to be intentional, patient, and prayerful as we seek to raise our children to become the men and women God created them to be. As we fulfill this calling, we can trust that God will be with us every step of the way, guiding and empowering us to be the parents our children need us to be.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

EDC Wednesday: Choosing an EDC Knife

For me, a good EDC begins with a knife. 

Why do I think that?

For starters, it can be a useful tool for everyday tasks like opening boxes, cutting rope or string, and even preparing food (which is what I use my knife for 90% of the time). It can also be a crucial tool in emergency situations like car accidents, camping trips, or other outdoor activities.

In addition to its practical uses, an EDC knife can also provide a sense of security and preparedness. Knowing that you have a reliable tool (which is same basic tool humans have been carrying for centuries) with you can give you peace of mind in potentially dangerous or unpredictable situations.

When selecting a good EDC knife, there are a few important factors to consider. 

First, because a knife is a tool the blade is the most important part of any knife. This means blade steel is an important thing to consider. Stainless steel and carbon steel are both durable options, but each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Stainless steel is more resistant to rust and corrosion, while carbon steel tends to hold a sharper edge for longer. In these two board categories there are different steels that range in price, hardness, and edge retention.

The shape of the blade will also depend on what you plan to use the knife for. A drop point or clip point blade may be better for everyday tasks, while a tanto or serrated blade may be more useful in emergencies. There are also the sheepsfoot that provides a good work blade that is non-threatening because it lacks is point.

The handle is another important factor to consider. G10 and Micarta are both lightweight, durable materials that provide a good grip, but other materials like wood, reinforced nylon, or carbon fiber may also be suitable depending on personal preference.

When it comes to size, a knife that is between 2.5 and 4 inches in length is generally a good choice for an EDC knife. Anything larger may be uncomfortable to carry, while anything smaller may not be as useful in a variety of situations. I think the sweet spot for a good EDC knife is 3 inches long. A 3 inch blade is long enough to do most tasks, but it is also small enough to be legal in most areas .

With folding knives you also have to consider locking mechanism. Most traditional pocket knives are slip joints with no locking mechanism. There are lock backs that have a button on the back to push to release the lock. A frame lock using part of the frame of the knife to snap into place locking the blade and a liner lock, which is the same idea but uses the liner inside the frame rather than the frame itself. There are a number of number with other locking mechanism, the cool one right now is the button lock, that helps the blade to stay in place and not fold onto your fingers.

Not only do you want the knife to lock in place when you are using it, there is also the opening mechanism to consider. There is the traditional nail nick which is found on many old pocket knives but also required two hands to open. Most folding knives today are able to be opened one handed. There are thumb studs, flipper tabs, blade holes, and spring assisted opening.
Lastly, a pocket clip can be a useful feature on an EDC knife, allowing you to clip the knife onto your pocket or waistband for easy access.

In terms of quality, it's important to choose a knife from a reputable manufacturer that has a good reputation for producing high-quality knives. A good knife may be more expensive, but it will be worth the investment in the long run.

Some examples of popular EDC knives include the Spyderco Delica, the Benchmade Mini Griptilian, CRKT Pilar, Civivi Elementum, Ontario Rat 1, and Kizer Dukes. These knives all have durable blades, comfortable handles, and pocket clips for easy carry.

There are a lot of things to consider when making the choice about an EDC knife. My suggestion is to do two things. First, watch some review videos. There are many different knife review channels, and so you can find reviews, most of the time more than one review, on any knife that you are considering. Second, buy “budget” and learn what you like in a knife. Most “budget” knife companies offer good quality, so by buying a cheaper knife you are able get an idea of  what you would use a knife for and what features you would like in a knife.

Carrying an EDC knife can provide a sense of security and preparedness in a variety of situations. When selecting a good EDC knife, consider the blade material, shape, and length, as well as the handle material, size, locking mechanism, and pocket clip. Remember to choose a knife from a reputable manufacturer with a good reputation for producing high-quality knives. With the right knife, you'll be ready to handle whatever life throws your way.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Live As One Who Is Wise


One characteristic that sets successful people apart from those who have limited success is how they use time. 

Successful people have the ability to make the most of the time they have been given, viewing it as a valuable resource that needs to be used wisely. 

On the other hand, people who have limited success tend to see time as a limitless resource and, therefore, undervalue it. Their mantra is often, "There is always tomorrow."

I have come to the conviction that many of us need to change the way we view time. Time is a valuable resource that God has given us, and just as we are called to be good stewards of our money, we need to be good stewards of our time.

The apostle Paul addressed the issue of time in Ephesians 5:

"Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16; CSB)

We are called to be wise in our use of time.

But what does it mean to be wise in our use of time? 

To be wise in our use of time we need to be INTENTIONAL. This requires us to be deliberate about the activities we choose to do, ensuring that we use the time given to us in a way that honors God and allows us to make the most of our lives. We can't afford to let time slip away without purpose or direction.

To be wise in our use of time we need to be PRODUCTIVE. This requires us to use our time in a way that is constructive and beneficial. This does not mean that we need to be working all the time. Rest and relaxation are crucial elements of being wise with our time, that is one of the reasons God gave His people the Sabbath. Even during our downtime, we can use our time in a way that is productive, such as spending time with loved ones, pursuing a hobby that brings us joy, or worshipping God.

To be wise in our use of time we need to be MINDFUL. This requires that we are aware of how we are spending our time and making sure that it aligns with our values and goals. It is easy to get caught up in distractions and time-wasters, but we need to stay focused on what is important and use our time in a way that reflects our priorities.

Time is a valuable resource that God has given us, and we need to use it wisely. 

As God’s people, let us strive to be good stewards of the time we have been given by being intentional, productive, and mindful. When we live our lives in this way we honor God by making the most of every moment He has given to us.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Immediate Obedience Required


"The moment you know what God wants of you is the moment to do it. He doesn't expose sin in our lives so we can take care of it later. When God speaks, it requires immediate attention. We might be tempted to put things off until it's easier to deal with them. We might hesitate in an attempt to minimize the consequences. Yet courage does what's right regardless of situation or consequence." 
Erwin McManus, Uprising, pp. 100-01

Christians are people of faith. Biblical faith is more than simply believing, it is about trusting and obeying. In other words, we are to trust God more than we trust ourselves. This trust will come out in the way we live. If we trust God then we will do what He says. We will act immediately, regardless of the potential consequences.

In our American culture, it's easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and ignore the Holy Spirit nudging us to take action. It also becomes easy to put off doing what we know is right because we don't want to deal with the difficulty, discomfort, or even the opposition that may come with it. But as McManus wrote, we cannot afford to procrastinate when it comes to fulfilling God's plan for our lives.

The Bible  has many examples of people who were called to do difficult things for God but initially hesitated or procrastinated. Moses, for instance, was reluctant at first to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because he didn't feel equipped for the task. Yet, once he finally submitted to God's will, he became the prototypical leader for Israel.

Similarly, Jonah resisted God's call at first to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh, but a few days in the stomach of a fish, Jonah listened to God’s call, and great city of Nineveh experienced a revival. 

Both of these stories remind us that obedience to God's will often requires us to step outside of our comfort zones and do things that we simply don’t want to do.

Along those same lines, when God reveals our sin to us, it's not so that we can feel guilty or ashamed. Rather, it's an opportunity for us to repent and turn away from our wrongdoing. But this process of repentance requires courage and humility. We need to acknowledge our faults, confess our sins, and seek forgiveness. This is crucial to do, even if it means admitting our mistakes to others.

It is essential to recognize that sin has serious consequences. It damages our relationships with others, harms ourselves, and ultimately it separates us from God. This is why it's vital to deal with sin as soon as possible rather than putting it off until a later time.

I also want to note that following God's will doesn't necessarily mean that life will be easy or without challenges. In fact it is often quite the opposite. We may face resistance, persecution, or even danger when we step out in faith to do what God has called us to do. Yet, as Erwin McManus emphasized, courage does what's right regardless of the situation or consequence.

Courageous obedience to God's will requires that we trust Him more than we trust ourselves and that we believe He has our best interests at heart, even when we can't see the bigger picture. This boldness requires us to believe that God will provide us with the strength, wisdom, and resources we need to accomplish His plan for our lives.

Whaat Erwin McManus wrote in Uprising is a good reminder that following God's will requires immediate action. We must step out in faith, even when it's uncomfortable or inconvenient. We must confront our sin and seek forgiveness, knowing that this is the first step towards restoration with God.

As we strive to live a life that honors God and demonstrates His character, we need to remember that we are not alone in this journey. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us, the Bible to instruct us, and the Church to support us. Let us commit to living a life of courageous obedience to God's will, trusting that He will lead us on a path of purpose and fulfillment.

The Spiritually Mature Life: Having the Fruit

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, I started a new sermon series at Bethlehem Church called A Spiritually Mature Life. This sermon series is focused ...