Words can not adequately express the outrage one feels of the tragic and horrific event that happened in a packed movie theater in Aurora, Colorado last week. Evil comes in many forms, and this catastrophic act by a twisted, trouble man will haunt our nation for days, months and years to come.
I just finished reading a powerful and heartfelt blog post written by Brian Strait, a Denver pastor who spent the weekend at the Denver hospital caring for and praying with the family of one of the shooting victims. It is an amazing and beautiful account of God’s grace and a perfect example that miracles do happen… ALL THE TIME.
A Miracle Inside the Aurora Shooting: One Victim’s Story
“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.”
“But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear not therefore…”
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I found this poem recently in a drawer, way, way back in the dark corner of my desk. You know the one that has the unofficial title of the junk drawer. I read it when I was having a bad day and it lifted my spirits and encouraged me to press on.
Parenting, by definition means that you are guaranteed good days as well as bad days, sick days and frustrating days. But take heart, this poem reminds us that God is always present and NOTHING can happen in our lives that God can not handle. Take it to Him in prayer and you will be encouraged. Promise!
I Refuse To Be Discouraged
I refuse to be discouraged, to be sad or to cry
I refuse to be down-hearted, and here’s the reason why
I have a GOD who’s mighty, who’s sovereign and supreme
I have a GOD who loves me, and I am on HIS team
HE is all wise and powerful, Jehovah Is His name
Though everything is changeable, my GOD remains the same
My GOD knows all that’s happening, beginning to the end
His presence is my comfort, HE is my “DEAREST FRIEND”
When sickness comes to weaken me, to bring my head down low
I call upon my mighty GOD, into HIS arms I go
When circumstances threaten, to rob me of my peace
HE draws me close unto HIS breast, where all my strivings cease
When my heart melts within me, and weakness takes control
HE gathers me into HIS arms, HE soothes my heart and soul
The great “I AM” is with me, my life is in HIS hand
The “GOD OF JACOB” is my hope, it’s in HIS strength I stand
I refuse to be defeated, my eyes are on my GOD
HE has promised to be with me, as through this life I trod
I’m looking past all circumstance, to Heaven’s throne above
My prayers have reached the heart of GOD, I’m resting in HIS love
I give GOD thanks in everything, my eyes are on HIS face
The battle’s HIS, the victory mine, HE’LL help me win life’s race
by Lita Kurtzer
For more about the author, check out her website: http://www.messianic-literary.com/kurtzer-p1.htm
In a previous post, It Doesn’t Grow on Trees, I talked about the importance of kids and money. I’ve written about this subject on several occasions before ( e.g., Career Advice for Teenagers, Ways for Kids to Earn Money , Kids and Allowances , Kids and Respect for Money ) but as the world around us continues to change, I find that different points need more or less emphasis to fit the times too.
We ran a pretty tight ship I think while our kids were growing up. For the most part, if they wanted to buy something completely frivolous, it was on their nickel. On more than a few occasions, the boys would team up to buy a new video game together, splitting the expense between them. (I expect that bearing the full cost of the frivolous game which would be forgotten in a couple of weeks was even too much for them to handle going solo ). When they started driving, they had to pick up one-half of the fuel expense. As each child got older, we had them picking up more and more of the bill associated with their choices and activities in life.
The point I want to drive home in this post is simply this: the money must go through their own hands.
In order for our kids to really connect with the costs we parents bear in order to support their lifestyle, and the ultimate costs they will have to carry themselves in the future in order to continue that lifestyle, we need to make things even more clear to them.
Take for instance a church youth group winter camp opportunity that one of your kids wants to go to and it costs $100. Most parents will write out a check directly to the church and off the child goes to camp. As far as the child is concerned, it’s like they get to go to camp for free because they never touched the money! If you do not want to be taken for granted nor have the value of money taken for granted, I encourage you to handle these transactions differently, even starting down at grade school age. Whether you handle these monetary events with cash, a child’s checking account or even a credit card, the key ingredient is that the money must literally go through their hands; they must see the money go in, and feel the associated pain to see the money go out! I can’t illustrate this point any better than in How Can I Get My Kids To Respect the Value of Money .
So in the winter camp example, you provide the funds to your child, and they pay the money to the church themselves. I know the difference may seem trivial, and certainly more effort on your part to do it this way, but trust me, the real difference is huge.
The preoccupation of the Obama administration condemning the “upper 1%” in our society is staggering. Now that I have your attention, let me offer you a different perspective on all of this by asking a few simple questions.
Does our society almost worship sports figures you are in the sub-1% when it comes to super-human athletic ability? No.
Do we heap criticism on the fantastic singing ability of some among us, or on others who display equally gifted abilities with other forms of music? No.
Do we complain that our family doctor is too smart when it comes to diagnosing what is ailing us, or heap praise and thanksgiving on our medical professionals when they adeptly make us well? Mind you, these people most likely graduated in the upper 1% of their classes. No, we don’t.
Do we put down the young men and women in our society who feel such a deep regard for our nation that they willingly volunteer to serve in our armed forces? They too are in a different 1%, and no we do not criticize their patriotism.
By now, I am certain that you have captured the gist of my perspective. God created all of us with tailor-made special gifts and abilities. We are not all identically equipped, thank goodness! I do not want the captain flying the airplane I am on to be the guy who graduated in the 34th percentile of his class any more than I want to listen to an hour of American Idol with singers in the 25th to 35th percentile. Let’s face it, the singers that make the show interesting are those in the top 1% and those in the bottom 1% !
Given that God Almighty designed us to be outstanding performers in our own respective 1% categories, I’ll leave it to you to answer my opening question. He who would condemn the 1% are really proclaiming a deep resentment toward the way God designed his creation.
I Corinthians 7:7 …But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.
I Corinthians 12:4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.
Ephesians 4:11-12 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.
To condemn the 1% among us is equivalent to celebrating mediocrity and sameness. May it never be!
I challenge each and every one of us to seek out and find, then polish and continually strive to perfect the 1% characteristics which God so carefully sowed into our individual lives. And keeping all things in balance, then give God the glory.
Did you ever hear this phrase from your dad while you were growing up? Growing up in a small Midwestern rural farming community as I did, it seems like I heard this at least once a week. This phrase ranked right up there along with, “If you aren’t using a light, turn it off!”
Yvette Mimieux in The Time Machine
This topic reminds me of a dialog from the 1960 movie The Time Machine based upon the book by H.G. Wells. The movie starred Rod Taylor as the main character and Yvette Mimieux as the beautiful girl he falls for in the future named Weena. Taylor time-travels to a future post-history society in the year 802,701 where no one is older than perhaps twenty, and everyone is supposedly living “the good life.” In the course of trying to understand how their society works, Taylor engages a young man in one conversation in which he asks about where their food comes from, and their clothes, etc. At first he assumes that the Eloi society is so advanced that no one has to work anymore and the society is completely self-absorbed in the arts, education, and self-improvement. But this young man answers by saying that he does not know where the food comes from, or the clothes, and doesn’t care to know because these staples have always been provided and (somehow) it will always be that way. The answers to Taylor’s questions unfolds as:
Rod Taylor in The Time Machine
We have no government.
Laws, there are no laws.
Where do you get your food and clothing?
Doesn’t anyone work? No.
Where do all of these things (the food and clothing) come from?
It just grows, it always grows.
Taylor soon figures out that the above-ground humans are being bred and raised like cattle, having fallen prey to the sub-human Morlocks who live below ground. But I am most captivated by the last line, “It grows, it always grows.”
Raising my kids as I have in Southern California with its perfect climate, its beautiful and perfect people all around, and all of the other trappings of this almost idyllic society, my kids have never really known what it is to go in want. Even though one of my sons spent an entire summer in Sudan as a medical missionary, and my daughter just returned from spending last semester in South Africa, there is a world of difference between visiting another society and growing up there. Kids in America these days think that America’s future is going to be just as rosy and prosperous as the past, and yet they are truly clueless about what has really made America successful and prosperous. Our colleges are graduating far more want-to-be CEOs and lawyers than we could ever use, whereas trying to get most American kids to look at engineering, science, mathematics, etc. is an up-hill battle. The love affair amid our youth with non-profit companies and an outright disdain for productive free-enterprise is completely out of balance. I have often quipped, “If everything is a non-profit company, who in the world is going to pay any taxes?” The bottom line is that even if our kids have not personally experienced the good life, they have certainly witnessed it all around them by simple virtue of having grown up in the USA. I marvel at how generous many of these kids are with the wealth (of their parents) which they had nothing to do with in creating themselves!
The Time Machine
In my next post, I will offer some ideas to help you as parents in this area. And no, money does not grow on trees any more than the lawn will mow itself, or the chores will somehow miraculously just get done .
Happy New Year!
I was atop Palomar Mountain (elevation 6,140 feet), here in Southern California to watch the sunrise this morning, the first day of 2012. Spectacular. I left the house around 5:30 AM and our golden retriever wanted to come along so badly, but I told him no. He loves to hang out with the kids when they are around, but that is increasingly less frequent now days. Even so, he knows he can count on me for more back woods adventure than anyone else in the family.
If you have ever been associated with corporate governance, you know that you are technically required to have at least one board meeting every year regardless how large the corporation is. The legal powers that be know that if directors meet any less frequently, the corporation is not really operating like a corporation . I have long contended that the end of the year or beginning of the new year is an excellent time to have a “family board meeting!”
In this case, the board of directors consists of Mom and Dad. It’s not that the kids are not an important part of the family, but this is genuinely adult business. It’s a perfect time to reflect on what went right with the family and what didn’t in the previous year, and to make specific adjustment notes for the new year ahead. It’s a good time to inventory all of the relationships within the family and make similar modifications as warranted. Even a 15 minute meeting where you individually or jointly ponder your proactive steps for the year ahead can be invaluable. In part, that’s what I did atop Palomar Mountain early this morning.
Societal equality between men and women has come a long way over the past 20+ years, but in a number of ways, it has also taken us backward. Splitting up car-pooling and housework is one thing, but this “super equality” has also led to many dads abdicating portions of their roles which were ordained by God from the beginning. God will ultimately hold husbands responsible for the spiritual health of all family members, for example, including spouses. God expects fathers to a beacon within the family intended to lead children to a saving belief and knowledge of Christ.
Dads, we’ve gone far too soft on a lot of the things which God considers of paramount importance. We are supposed to be the salt. Regardless of our chronological age, I don’t think we have really grown up until we accept this position of responsibility as deliberately as God intended. Our role in 2012 should be like salt, affecting everything we touch in the year ahead for the better.
- Take for instance your kids’ physical fitness. Far far too many kids are over weight, and many dads are not setting a very good example in this area. The country is already in the midst of a diabetes epidemic, and trends show that it is going to be much worse with our kids’ generation. If you need to make a change of direction in this area in 2012 (Dad), make it happen!
- You cannot start too early (or too late) being the dad God intended you to be.
Perhaps above all things, our kids need to be able to count on Dad to be there.
- We dads need to be chasing the right prizes in 2012. We need to live a disciplined life.
- We need to continually find ways to teach, train, and inspire our children, regardless of their age!
- Our faith in 2012 must be demonstrable, visible, genuine, and defendable. And we need to help our kids work out their faith amid an unbelieving world too. There is evidence of God all around us every day, but if don’t take notice, our children most likely will not either.
- Dads must champion their family! Every kid wants to be a part of a great family! Dads, we have no greater calling in this life. Be sold-out for your team.….. No matter what the cost.
- Your kids need to know that you believe in them in 2012.
As I look forward to 2012, I’m jazzed about recognizing new areas where I can inspire my kids to reach higher and go further. I encourage every dad to find a few moments atop their Palomar Mountain and get their 2012 directed for a great start.
I received a copy of the new Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson from one of my sons for Christmas. Even though I am only through chapter 1, it has been a compelling read thus far. Steve Jobs was adopted at an early age and his parents allowed Steve to know that from the beginning. Having been abandoned by his biological parents, the abandonment issue would haunt and drive Jobs his entire life. Even so, Paul Jobs had an incredible influence on his adopted son Steve from the outset. Among other things, Steve adopted his dad’s ethics for hard work and striving for precision in everything he did.
In matters of faith, however, Steve’s parents were unsuccessful in winning Steve to their beliefs. Quoting from chapter 1:
Even though (Steve’s parents) were not fervent about their faith, Jobs’s parents wanted him to have a religious upbringing, so they took him to the Lutheran church most Sundays. That came to an end when he was thirteen. In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor. “If I raise my finger, will God know which one I am going to raise even before I do it?”
The pastor answered, “Yes, God knows everything.”
Jobs then pulled out the Life cover and asked, “Well, does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?”
“Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.”
Jobs announced that he didn’t want to have anything to do with worshiping such a God, and he never went back to church.
Steve Jobs at Apple
This questioning on Steve’s part had no doubt been brewing for some time. And clearly no one, Steve’s parents included, had the answers which would satisfy this precocious teenager. This same inability to fill in the gaps for our older children will unfortunately lead to many falling away from their faith in their teenage years unless we parents are proactively ahead of the game. You cannot depend on your kids getting the answers they need from just going to Sunday School as far too many youth programs these days are focused on fun, fun, fun, instead of connecting kids with the truth that they really need. And if the Christian walk and talk only comes from mom, 85% of present-day teenagers will ultimately jettison whatever ties they have to Christianity. Everyone in the family knows that if a matter is really important, dad is involved, and so it must be with matters of faith. Dads, your genuine involvement in your kids’ lives matters so much more than you probably know.
Stay tuned for my next post in which I’ll share more about what I have in mind.
Heaven knew we needed a Savior!
Even now, the entire world longs for a savior, a deliverer, world peace, an end to famines, disease, and hopelessness. But most of the world is looking for a solution through other means than by way of heaven. In this respect, it was not that different 2000 years ago. A select few truly longed for the arrival of the promised Savior; the rest were either indifferent or unbelieving.
Christmas San Diego 2011
We’re about to start the celebration of Christ’s birth in my home. My kids are older so the starting hour is much more reasonable than years gone by. Stockings come first, and then we gather around the tree and listen to the Christmas story from Luke 2 as a family. The gift unwrapping will commence thereafter followed by a super breakfast.
We wish everyone who comes by this website a most merry Christmas this day, as we remember the birth our remarkable Savior Jesus who came into the world nearly 2,000 years ago that we might all be saved for eternity. Now that is a remarkable & unmatchable Christmas present. God bless!
My mom and dad arrived to spend Christmas with my family just yesterday. It was hurried around the house with a lot of comings and goings, including Linda and I taking off to help with our church’s huge living nativity program. I did, however, get a few moments to get the latest news from home, and what I heard shocked me.
My hometown in southwest Iowa is not unlike a lot of small (population about 1,100) rural towns which are struggling to survive. The towns in that part of the country are spaced almost perfectly on a 10-mile grid because that was a reasonable day’s ride on horseback 150 years ago. My hometown sits just far enough away from a large metro area that it is too far to do the daily commute, but close enough that local retail businesses have all but disappeared. The population has shifted to the cities; when my dad was a kid there were about 6 families living per square mile and now its down to more like only 2.
The disheartening news was that in lieu of very low church attendance over many past years, the local Presbyterian church (which my family has been associated with for over 100 years) and the local Methodist church decided to put a hail-Mary initiative up for a vote. From the 10,000 foot level, the initiative was fairly simple: join congregations, abandon both church facilities (mind you, they sit caddy-corner across from each other at the same street intersection in town), and build a new building! What is crazy about this idea is that both existing facilities are in disrepair for lack of funds, but people have deluded themselves into thinking that money will just poof into existence to build a new facility. This sounds a lot like the rationalizations going on in Washington, D.C. to me. And if that is not extreme enough, the average age of both congregations is well north of 65, many living on fixed-incomes. Sadly, the initiative passed.
My home church while growing up
Over the years, I have repeatedly seen that one of the most contentious things a church can ever do is enter into a building program. With all of the bickering and arguing which has already begun, this vote will likely be the end of both congregations which have heritages going back well over 100 years.
From my perspective, the problem is obvious: church attendance. It is not the church facilities! And church attendance is at an all-time dismal low because the mainstream Presbyterian and Methodist messages have quite frankly become irrelevant. How can you take unbiblical luke-warm viewpoints at best, on topics like gay-marriage, divorce, personal responsibility, abstinence, substance abuse, etc. and expect the younger generations to join ranks? When salt loses its saltiness, it is worthless.
What in the world does this have to do with parenting you ask? Everything. As parents, we can also delude ourselves into believing that what we need, or what our family needs to get back on the right track, is some new building program. The list of potential building programs is long: if only my spouse would lose 40 pounds; if only my son would get better grades in school; our marriage has lost its sizzle and I need a new partner; we need to make more money so that we can get out of debt; etc. God never intended our families to be built on all of this stuff, any more than my hometown church is really about a wooden building. The great family which every parent and every child yearns for begins with being sold out body & soul to Jesus Christ the savior of the world. Until He is the center, all of these building programs are ultimately for not. Even if the spouse does lose the 40 pounds, there will otherwise be some new problem raised and blamed for the emptiness which lingers on.
I can personally confess that starting out on some new building program is often easier than dealing with the real issues at hand. Especially if you have a type-A personality. In these last few days before Christmas, make the effort to put Christ truly on the throne of your life and your heart, and the things you will build in 2012 could end up being miraculous!