Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Song For Fathers That Broke Me Today...

I just bought the new CD from Sanctus Real called "Pieces of a Real Heart." And I stopped what I was doing when I heard their song called "Lead Me." What a powerful word to us as fathers to lead our wives and our children--but first to be led by our Savior!

You can watch in live on YouTube by clicking here:

Or you can watch it here (the lyrics are below):

I look around and see my wonderful life,
Almost perfect from the outside.
In picture frames I see my beautiful wife,
Always smiling.
But on the inside, I can hear her saying...

“Lead me with strong hands.
Stand up when I can't.
Don't leave me hungry for love, chasing dreams.
What about us?

Show me you're willing to fight.
That I'm still the love of your life.
I know we call this our home,
But I still feel alone.”

I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes.
They're just children from the outside.
I'm working hard. I tell myself , "They'll be fine.
They're independent."
But on the inside, I can hear them saying...


So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be.
Oh, Father, show me the way to lead them.
Won't You lead me?

To lead them with strong hands,
To stand up when they can't,
Don't want to leave them hungry for love,
Chasing things that I could give up.

I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life...
So we can call this our home.
Lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone.

Father, lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone.


The site linked above provides some startling information about cyber-bullying in our country among adolescents. Look at the following graph:

So one out of five students in this school district that was sampled claim to have been cyber-bullied in their lifetime. And the numbers of those who have been mistreated through technological means in the last month is really surprising too. I would never have guessed that the numbers would have been that high.

The news stories I hear, although still somewhat rare, about kids being set on fire and beaten within inches of their lives, because of conversations started digitally, are alarming. Technology has made it so easy to fire off rude statements, to start rumors super-fast, to stir anger and hatred up in a person, and to taunt or provoke. And it's non-stop now. There's not even a break when the student goes home any longer like there has been in previous generations. The pursuit can be relentless.

So let's be aware of this and how it might be affecting our young people. Let's defend our children against such cyber-bullying as best as we can. But let's also be sure that our children aren't doing the bullying too.

Above all, let's try to help our children learn that people's perceptions of them and statements about them ultimately do not matter. Even if their name is dragged through the mud or someone incessantly is calling them names, they need to know that they are loved by the Ruler of the Universe. And they need to be taught how to "pray for their enemies" as Jesus taught. They need to be challenged to love their enemies and forgive--just as God has done for us. These experiences can be God-awful and painful for kids to go through. We should not minimize the hurt they experience at all...But they can also be highly teachable moments for those who are followers of Christ.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Prescription Medicine Abuse Among American Teens

Parents, I wanted you to be aware--if you were not already--of an alarming trend among America's young people. I don't want to freak you out, but a brief look at the article I linked above will help you see the extent of what's going on with American teenagers and prescription medicine abuse. A statistic that jumped out at me is that 1 in 5 teens report having abused a prescription medicine in their lifetime, and 1 in 7 report having abused a prescription medicine within the last year. This should give us pause. I know that in Christian homes we like to believe that our children are immune to such temptations and struggles, but we need to be honest with ourselves.

So maybe you could take a few minutes to talk to your child about this and get a feel for where they are. You could just ask about their classmates in general instead of launching into a discussion directly about their decisions (b/c this would cut conversation off pretty fast). And use this as an opportunity to get a feel for their personal convictions and attitudes about the issue...But mainly, I just wanted you to keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for things like: missing pills from prescription bottles, off handed comments about taking medicine in inappropriate ways, etc.

I know from talking with our students that this is a real problem in our local schools--even though none have expressed a personal struggle with the meds. I know that some of their peers do.

If your child ever does voice a struggle with abusing medications, take it very seriously. And use it as an opportunity to lovingly point them to the One who really does bring relief and comfort, and who can free them from any addiction.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Garden Talk

This Easter, you might take some time with your older children and help them see the differences between the Garden of Eden (where God first put Adam and sin entered our race) and the Garden of Gethsemane (where our Savior agonized over His upcoming death and was betrayed). Here's some interesting bullet points that could help you as you try to help your kids see the difference. Maybe even you could help them see how at the end of Revelation (ch. 22), the picture has come full circle and once again redeemed humanity is in God's presence, with a tree of life and all is well.

(Taken from Life2Gether)

  • The first Adam began life in a garden. Christ the second Adam, came at the end of his life to a garden
  • In Eden Adam sinned. In Gethsemane the Savior overcame sin.
  • In Eden Adam fell. In Gethsemane Jesus conquered.
  • In Eden Adam hid himself. In Gethsemane our Lord boldly presented himself.
  • In Eden the sword was drawn. In Gethsemane it was sheathed.

(Taken from Nancy Guthrie’s book, Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, pg. 31-32)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thought Provoking Stuff

Here's the full text of the post:

D.A. Carson’s Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus is one of the most spiritually encouraging books I’ve read in quite a while. You can watch or listen to the original messages here.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, the chief priests, scribes, and elders mocked Jesus, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.

Here’s an excerpt from the book, where Carson explores what would have happened if Jesus had taken them up on the challenge and came down from the cross.

This would be a pretty remarkable and convincing display of power, and the mockers would be back-peddling pretty fast. But in the full Christian sense, would they believe in him? Of course not! To believe in Jesus in the Christian sense means not less than trusting him utterly as the One who has borne our sin in his own body on the tree, as the One whose life and death and resurrection, offered up in our place, has reconciled us to God. If Jesus had leapt off the cross, the mockers and other onlookers could not have believed in Jesus in that sense, because he would not have sacrificed himself for us, so there would be nothing to trust, except our futile and empty self-righteousness.

But then Carson explores in deeper depth the meaning of their statement, “He saved others but he can’t save himself.”

The deeper irony is that, in a way they did not understand, they were speaking the truth. If he had saved himself, he could not have saved others; the only way he could save others was precisely by not saving himself. In the irony behind the irony that the mockers intended, they spoke the truth they themselves did not see. The man who can’t save himself—saves others.

One of the reasons they were so blind is that they thought in terms of merely physical restraints. When they said “he can’t save himself,” they meant that the nails held him there, the soldiers prevented any possibility of rescue, his powerlessness and weakness guaranteed his death. For them, the words “he can’t save himself” expressed a physical impossibility. But those who know who Jesus is are fully aware that nails and soldiers cannot stand in the way of Emmanuel. The truth of the matter is that Jesus could not save himself, not because of any physical constraint, but because of a moral imperative. He came to do his Father’s will, and he would not be deflected from it. The One who cries in anguish in the garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will, but yours be done,” is under such a divine moral imperative from his heavenly Father that disobedience is finally unthinkable. It was not nails that held Jesus to that wretched cross; it was his unqualified resolution, out of love for his Father, to do his Father’s will—and, within that framework, it was his love for sinners like me. He really could not save himself.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why Do Children Suffer If God Is Good?

Click here for a short answer that I agree with completely.

Or you can read the text below:

Scott Simon interviewed the Jesuit priest James Martin on NPR Saturday morning, March 6. Martin just published The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life. The last question Simon asked was this: “If there is a God, why do little children suffer?” (Harper One, 2010)

Martin answered, “That is the hardest question, and I think the answer is, we don’t know.” To his credit, Martin did go on to say that, for the Christian, Christ has entered into our suffering and gives consolation. He also asks wisely, “Can we believe in a God whose ways we don’t understand?” He answers Yes.

I am glad that Martin pointed to Christ’s sufferings. And I am glad he affirmed that we can believe in a God whose ways may be inscrutable to us. But the Bible does not want us to say “We don’t know,” when the overarching Why questions are asked about suffering and death.

It is true, we may not know for sure why any particular child suffers in this particular way. But the Bible wants us to speak what it says about death and suffering.

Why do little children suffer and die? We ask it with the awareness that it is happening this very moment by the hundreds, and we ask it through tears of personal experience and empathy. Here is one biblical answer: “Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—” (Romans 5:12).

Death came into the world through sin.

That is the fundamental biblical answer for where all suffering and death came from. Or to use the words of Romans 8:20, “The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope.”

In other words, because of sin, God subjected the entire creation to the futility of mortality with all its suffering and death. The whole creation groans under the judgment.

If the interviewer says, “That seems a bit harsh, to bring the whole creation under the judgment of suffering and death, including little children, because of one man’s sin?” we answer,

“That is how outrageous sin against an infinitely wise and good and holy God is. We don’t measure the outrage of our suffering by how insignificant we think sin is; we measure the outrage of sin by the scope of suffering.

The really amazing thing is that you and I, as sinners, are sitting here talking, when we deserve to be in hell. God is remarkably patient. And he gave his Son to die in our place so that everyone who believes may escape from this judgment and have eternal life.”

Don't Focus on the Fence

An author, whose book I'm reading right now, told a story about how his parents had forbidden him from going to a local pool hall as a child. But they had never explained to him why. So, he grew up with this "fence" built without really knowing why his parents had put it up. As far as he knew, playing pool was sinful. So when he grew up and saw godly men playing pool, he was confused and thought they were sinning too. He had never really been taught by his parents about their concern for the people who were at the pool hall and how they might have influenced their son. The author offers this advice to parents, which I'd like to share with you:

"I think my parents' pool hall fence was appropriate. But there is a lesson in my experience for all parents: Don't focus on the fence. If you erect a fence for your children--for example, in regard to certain movies or television programs--be sure to focus on the real issues, not the fence. Take time to explain and re-explain the reason for the fence.

"If you decide, as my parents did, that you don't want your children going to the local pool hall, explain why. Distinguish between playing the game itself--which has neither negative nor positive moral value--and the atmosphere you are trying to protect them from."
-Jerry Bridges in
Transforming Grace (page 124)

So, establish boundaries for your children. But as best as you can, teach them why you've set up those fences. They might not agree, but at least they'll understand what's behind the rule and not fall into legalism about that issue (whether it's movies, music, friends, clothes, etc.). Get to the heart of it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Loving the Way God Loves

"Many Christians grew up in homes where parental acceptance was based, to a large degree, on academic, athletic, musical, or perhaps some other standard of achievement. Often, in that kind of performance environment, they never quite felt as if they measured up to expectations, regardless of how successful they were. Then they transfer that sense of inadequacy to their relationship with God. They continually wonder, Is God pleased with me? Is He smiling on me with Fatherly favor?

"The answer to that question is an unqualified yes. God is smiling on you with Fatherly favor. He is pleased with you because He sees you as holy and without blemish in Christ. Do you want to talk about performance? Then consider that Jesus could say matter-of-factly and without pretentiousness, 'I always do what pleases him [the Father]' (John 8:29). When our father looks at us, He does not see our miserable performance. Instead, He sees the perfect performance of Jesus. And because of the perfect holiness of Jesus, He sees us as holy and without blemish."

-Jerry Bridges in Transforming Grace, pg. 104

Parents, let's remember God's gracious love for us--a love that is given not because we earn it or accomplish any good thing, but simply because He chooses to. And let's remember to love our kids in the same way. Let's not put conditions on our love and acceptance of them. We are modeling God's love to them--either well, or poorly. Let's make sure we do it well.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bible Reading For Busy Moms

See this short post from a pastor/author I really respect:

How does a mother of young kids find time to read the Bible? My friend Ryan Kelly shares a helpful quote from Don Whitney who writes, "you may be in a situation that curtails many of your spiritual activities. You may be looking at many months or even years of such limitations. Do what you can. God does not love us more when we do more, nor less when we do less. He accepts us, not because of what we do for Him, but because of what He's done for us in Christ." I love the simplicity of that advice. Do what you can.

So busy moms--and dads--don't be discouraged by reading small amounts of Scripture, if that is legitimately all you are able to do. Help your spouse make some time to read and pray, even if it's just for a few minutes. And regardless of how much you're able to read, remember that God's love for you doesn't fluctuate based on the amount of Scripture you take in. It's helpful and important, but it's not a pre-requisite for God's approval. That was earned 100% on the cross by Christ.