April 2014 Anchor Article

Each Sunday morning our children say together a simplified declaration of God’s attributes and their purpose. One of the phrases they say is “God Doesn’t Lie.” Using this as a launching pad, I share with them that honesty is very important to God. He will never lie to them. Since they are made in His image, when they lie, they are failing to live up to the level they were created for, (“falling short of the glory of God” is how Romans 3:23 puts it.) Jesus said of himself that he was “the truth.” He also said in John 8:32, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” I have come to understand that truth is very important to God. If we are to “abide in Him” we must learn to value what He values and He values honesty. Not just honesty when it comes to our taxes but honesty with ourselves about how we feel, about what is going on inside of us. Children are often raised in an environment where the only honesty that is valued is honesty about what they have done wrong. When it comes to how they feel about something, or what they are wrestling with in their own life, they are taught to “suck it up,” to pretend as it were that they are happy and confident while inside they are frightened or sad. In the Bible, Moses and David were very special men to God. God had a high regard and value for them. They were men that were honest with God. They had a high value for honest and truthful relationships and they trusted God enough to be honest with Him. The result? He entrusted them with His most valued possession – people. God entrusted the leading and guiding of His people to each of these men. Why? Because He knew they were men of honesty. Not just integrity of finances but integrity of heart. They didn’t pretend with Him, they trusted His love enough that they could “be themselves,” which, when you think about it, was pretty wise (since He knows everything anyway.) So, my challenge for you: Do you encourage your children to have integrity of heart, or as David put it, “truth in my inward parts.” Or are they always trying to pretend to earn approval? Learn a lesson from the heart of God – He loves honesty. He knows already, and He loves anyway! He loves enough to want to be called your Father! This is the first step toward raising children to know their dependence on God and not to settle for a moralistic identity.

March 2014 Anchor Article

This month I would like to share with you an article, written by Barrett Johnson, entitled, How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home. We end up teaching the wrong thing because we have the wrong objectives. This sentiment was stirred in me afresh when I read an interview with Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer. He was reflecting on how the “Christian message” he was trying to teach wasn’t Christianity at all…“I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality. . .And that was such a huge shift for me from the American Christian ideal. We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god.” So what is your objective? Do you teach your kids “be good because the Bible tells you to” or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters. I want my kids to be good. We all do. But as our kids grow up, the truth of the gospel can easily get lost somewhere between salvation (where we know we need Jesus) and living life (where we tend to say “I’ve got this”). My experience is that the vast majority of parents are encouraging moral behavior in their kids so that God will bless their (usually self-centered) pursuits. It’s the American Dream plus Jesus. And it produces good, moral pagans. Consider the key objectives you have for your kids. Seriously, take a minute to think about what would deem you a successful parent. If your goals are focused on your kids’ behavior, their happiness, or their accomplishments (but don’t include a dependence upon Christ and a submission to His will and work), then you might want to make some adjustments. Because the world has enough pagans. Even plenty of really nice ones. What we need is kids who fully grasp the reality that they have nothing to offer, but who intimately know a God who has everything they need.

February 2014 Anchor Article

Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to teach children not only about the passion of love but about the sacrifice of love. Love without sacrifice doesn’t go the distance needed to endure life. Saint Valentine knew about the sacrifice of love, he gave his life for it. You see, in the 5th century, under Roman rule, men were forbidden to marry because the Caesar thought that this would increase the number of men that would enlist in his army. Valentine was a priest who would, under threat of death, perform weddings for young couples that were in love. When found, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death. While in prison and before his execution, he made friends with the jailer’s daughter who he healed of blindness. The jailer recognized how much God loved him! This story, as any story that involves the strength and endurance of love, has at its core sacrifice and passion. Only our Father can give us that kind of love – as He is the source of all love. I John says, “God IS Love.” He showed the passion of love for us in creation and the sacrifice of love in allowing His Son to endure what He did for us. Jesus showed His likeness to His father when His love led him to sacrifice his life for us. Love always has an end goal – the goal of relationship and intimacy! Revelation 21:3 says that at the end of it all – all the end time stuff – God will get what He has worked this whole time for: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them….And he also said, “It is finished!…I will be their God, and they will be my children.” Happy Valentine’s Day from the One that Loves you most and best!!!!

January 2014 Anchor Article

Happy New Year. Did you ever consider that the ideas of New Year’s Resolutions and starting over were birthed in the cross? Only a God of love and grace could create a world where there is forgiveness and the offer of New Beginnings. So for this year…..Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” My rendition of this verse is, “what we incubate in our heart is what will manifest in our lives to produce life or death.” Remember growing mold in petri dishes back in microbiology? That is a picture of our thought life. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says it this way, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” So, in a nutshell, I would like to invite you to a New Year’s resolution that I am adopting for myself this year. It is this: “I will not entertain any thought about myself that Christ doesn’t have about me.” ANY THOUGHT! What does Christ think about you? My second New Year’s Resolution is this: Make this year a year to search and find all the truths of what this “Lover of my Soul” has about me. The Bible is full of them! A place to start could be Psalm 139:13-18. At the end of the day, please share your findings with your precious children!

December 2013 Anchor Article

Have you ever thought about where would we be if we were still waiting for Jesus to be born and die and be raised again?  We would still be waiting under the law of the Old Testament.  But Romans 4;15 – 16 says,  For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)  So, not only those that break the law are punished but those that try to obey the law are punished.   So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s.”  The only way to avoid this punishment is to avoid the law altogether.  Romans 3:23 says, “…the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”    So God made the law (to show us that we will never be able to get there by self discipline and obedience to the law)  and then made a way for us to be exempt from the law!  So what does this have to do with Christmas?  God’s free gift was disguised as a baby!  I say disguised because this is what Revelation 19:11-16 says about this “baby”, “Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war.  His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns….his title was the Word of God…. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.  Come, worship this gift, this King of ALL kings with joy and abandon this Christmas!  He is the lover of your soul!

November 2013 Anchor Article

Luke 7:41-50, “Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”  Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”  “That’s right,” Jesus said.  Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet.  You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.   “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.  Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.’”  This Thanksgiving season, may your heart be full of thankfulness and love for all our precious Father who loves  you so tremendously and He has finished the work of your redemption – it is finished!  His thoughts about you are like the sand of the seashore, He delights in you and He sees you as He sees His son Jesus.  I pray that you see yourself as He sees you and that you are able to embrace the truth of who He is, not in theological correctness but in Love and Relationship.  May this thanksgiving season be one of coming to know more fully who you are in His sight.  Pass this on to the next generation!!!! 

October 2013 Anchor Article

An exercise I enjoy doing with the children is to tell them they can do whatever they like for 5 minutes.  As they get loud and rambunctious, I quietly tell them that I have placed $5 in s specific place and whoever wants it can go get it and have it.  I then wait patiently and after 5 minutes I have them all sit down.  After they sit down I ask them who got the money.  Of course they don’t know anything about it and all want the money.  I then go retrieve the money and tell them that sometimes the best things in life aren’t the ones that seem obvious or most desirable at the time.  Life is like that.  God gives us “free will.”  In other words, God has given each of us a gift of self management, of making our own choices.  What we don’t always realize that with each choice we make, we are eliciting certain consequences that aren’t subject to our will.  For instance, children are wonderfully forgiving.  I used to be amazed at how loving and accepting my children were of my blunders and lapses in self control.  As my children grew older however, I realized that the wounds that I had inflicted on them DID cause damage that their child like forgiveness didn’t heal.  If you are a parent of a child past the age of 13 you must know what I mean, if you have any sense of self honesty in you.  The beauty of the gospel is that our Heavenly Father is the most creative being in existence.  He can give beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and glory where humility and shame once existed.  All He requires is repentance – not a religious act but “the sorrow that is according to the will of God.”  “The sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death” is what  I Corinthians 7:10 says.  If your “feelings of regret” leave you feeling guilt, shame, or any other self damaging feeling, you can be sure that you are not experiencing “sorrow that is according to the will of God” for we are told that this kind of sorrow leads to salvation.  Isaiah 61:3 tells us what kind of Father we have – what kind of “discipline” He dishes out:  “…a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”  When we receive this kind of exchange, the Lord is glorified and we become stronger than we were before; notice, “they WILL be called oaks of righteousness.”  So, if you are a parent that acknowledges that your parenting choices were made from shortsightedness then be comforted that God is a God of amazing exchanges.  He alone can and desires to heal your child’s wounds but the beginning of this process is for you to give him your blunders.  Your repentance actually allows Him to start the exchange of outcome, a rewriting of your family legacy, as it were.  You will be amazed at the effect your humility will have on your children.  Peace to you!

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