Under The Influence 2

Hopefully, each of you worshipped at a Bible-believing and teaching assembly this past Sunday. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another…” (Hebrews 10:25a). It is important that the church’s doctrine is biblically sound as hearing it taught each week will have an eternal impact on the lives of your family. 

There is another influence almost as powerful as the preaching. The collective influence of the church body is a force not to be underestimated. God intended that force to be for good in helping those attending live consistently with His Word. However, the world has infiltrated so many churches through the members’ worldly lifestyles that even though their doctrine may be good, the influence on your family may not be. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). 

Sometimes a look at the youth will reveal the “fruit” of the church. What is the youth group like? What do they do in their meetings? “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes” (Luke 6:43-44).

Just because an organization calls itself a church, it doesn’t mean the outcome of its influence is good. 

Under the Influence

On occasion we hear of someone who was stopped for driving under the influence (DUI). It is very easy to wonder “what were they thinking?” They know to drink and drive is not only illegal but dangerous. However, if they were thinking rationally, they wouldn’t have made the dumb choices that led to that consequence. 

Frankly, it is beneficial that we step back and consider, “What influences am I under?” Hopefully, none of us are under the influence of alcohol or drugs that alter our minds, but we are all under many influences. What might some of those be? 

  • people we spend time with
  • people we admire
  • music we listen to
  • what we read
  • what we watch

There are influences that will benefit us and others that will harm us. How aware are you of each of them and their differences? Are you seeking to fill your life with good ones and avoid bad ones? This is such a critically important topic that more words are needed. To be continued. 

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). 

Posted in: General

A Tragedy

I spoke with a man who by today’s standards was an outstanding dad. He spent time with his son and took him to church. Sadly, his adult son can barely hold a job, lives for drugs, and has no relationship with the Lord. Most would agree that’s a tragedy! However, even if a child has a great job, is happily married, but doesn’t know the Lord, that still is a tragedy. 

We know that children tend to look to their parents and love what Dad and Mom love. What/Who is it that you love and can’t live without? Might it be entertainment, sports, hunting/fishing, etc. Or do you love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37-38).  Brothers, is it the deep, deep desire of your heart—to love Him, Who first loved you (1 John 4:21) and to follow Him (Matthew 16:24)? 

Do you want to grow? Do you want to serve Him? Do you want to lead others to Him? There is no lack of challenge there, no room for boredom, no time to love the world. The world and all it offers is death. Opposite to that is Jesus Christ and life in Him, which is true life. “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27). As you live a life of love for Christ, your children are watching. What you love, they will love.

Almost as Good as Sugar

This summer, before her wedding, Sarah went to a local florist to order her flowers. After working through it all and a nice visit with the florist, Sarah thanked her for all her help, great prices, and wanting things to be the way Sarah desired them. Then the florist had a very surprising and sad response. She said, “You know, Honey. I work hard to make the flowers exactly the way the bride wants them for her special day. Sometimes it takes a toll on me. But the only ones I ever hear from after the wedding are the ones who are unhappy about something.” That statement grabbed both Sarah and my hearts. Obviously even though she was being paid for her work, she was putting more into it than it simply fulfilling a job and her heart yearned for some recognition of that.

With our U. S. Thanksgiving holiday coming up soon, I wanted to focus on expressing gratitude to others for ways they bless us, like the florist who goes beyond her duty to make a wedding beautiful. As I went for verses that endorse this thought, I came up dry. The closest verses I found were general suggestions that thankfulness to someone might fall into like:

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31).

From these verses, we would probably agree that being grateful to someone for something they have done is a way of being kind to them. It is also how we want to be treated so Luke 6:31 encourages us that is what we would do to another. We like to be thanked when we have done something for another and can feel taken for granted if our kindness isn’t acknowledged. 

The multitude of verses in Scripture that have to do with thanksgiving, though, tell us to be thankful to God. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). And, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). 

In the end, when we are blessed by another person, God is the reason. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

This brings us to consider if perhaps we become so involved in thanking others when they bless us – which we should do – that we neglect to thank the One Who allowed the blessing to come to us. Could it be that we thank the Lord for what He does that another human being couldn’t do such as providing rain when it has been very dry or healing a sickness or injury, but  we aren’t as often thankful to Him for His blessings through other people?

I want to thank those who bless me like the florist and let them know my genuine appreciation for how they have served me. I also desire, though, to thank my God, from Whom comes every good and perfect gift. The more my thoughts and words are involved in gratitude and expressing them, the less I focus on myself and the less my words descend into complaining. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Philippians 2:14). May we be women of thanksgiving, first to God and then to others.

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Got Fruit?

Consider the farmer who fuels up his combine and heads out to the field for his fall harvest. When he arrives at the field, he is devastated because he sees no standing corn, only weeds. What happened? More accurately the question is: “What didn’t happen?”

As absurd as it sounds, he has no harvest because he didn’t want to take the time to plow and prepare the soil prior to seeding. Or he didn’t cultivate so the ground would accept rain. Or he wasn’t vigilant in dealing with pests and weeds. 

Isn’t it amazing the work it takes for a good harvest? Hmm, sounds like what it takes to raise children who will love the Lord. Even with all the work, there are no guarantees with farming, but still the farmer invests. Yup, sounds even more like raising children in Christ. 

“A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 8:5-8).

What is the Difference?

Every loving parent has had a time when words of encouragement for a child to follow your instruction weren’t enough. You explained clearly, and they repeated back to you what was expected. Yet the child simply would not choose to do it, therefore chastening was necessary. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not (Hebrews 12:5-7).” 

I don’t like to receive chastening, yet I’m grateful the Lord loves me and wants His best for me. I want to learn as quickly as possible when He sends chastening my way. How do I tell the difference between the problems of life and chastening? How do I discern if something is chastening and if it is, what might be the area of disobedience God is trying to correct?

In verse 7 we are told that “God dealeth with you as with sons.” Our God is the ultimate good father and a good father tells his son why he is being chastened. We can be sure that God has been “telling” us via His Spirit or the Word about an area of disobedience in our lives. We sincerely need to ask Him with an open mind. If still in doubt, our wives might have an idea too.