Category Archives: General

Nobody Likes Them

If you are in the practice of sharing your faith, someone likely has told you he didn’t want to be a Christian and be like the other hypocrites who say they are Christians. Hmmm. Let’s consider that thought. 

Let’s say I TRULY believe that Scripture says unless someone repents of the hell-bound path they are on and trusts solely in Jesus’ shed blood on the cross (propitiation, Romans 3:25) for the remission/payment for their sins, they will spend eternity in hell. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). 

Or I believe Scripture says you can’t be saved (or kept) by good works as many churches/religions teach.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If I truly, truly believe those things and don’t make sincere, constant efforts to lovingly engage those I encounter and share with them the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, wouldn’t you say I was worthy of being called a hypocrite? How could I sincerely love people who are headed for eternity in hell and not seek to turn them?

Brothers, is it any wonder this country, full of professing Christians, is throwing off everything of Christ in the pursuit of evil? Is your hand to the plow my brothers or the TV remote, gameboy, fishing pole, or whatever your pleasure might be? “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Remember

If you are like me, as you read the account of Israel’s exodus out of Egypt, it is hard to believe how often Israel questioned God’s love. Over and over and over again, they grumbled and rejected Him. We can see it in them, but how often do we have a similar attitude? You might see it in your children too. 

Here is a possibility for your family Bible time. Consider diverting from your current Bible reading for a week and read Deuteronomy 8 each night. Make the word “remember” a theme for the week (lifetime would be good too). The word “remember” is used 14 times and “forget” 9 times in Deuteronomy. 

Discussion possibilities your family has experienced:

  • God’s provision 
  • God’s protection
  • God’s love
  • God’s commandments
  • God’s chastening
  • God’s testing


How well has our country “remembered”?

“And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).

Posted in: General

The Wake-Up Call

Recently I had a health wake up call – blood glucose numbers approaching pre-diabetic levels. The Lord had been putting concern on my heart about my food choices, but I didn’t want to listen. Instead, I justified what I was doing with thoughts like these: 
I enjoy my treats. 
I deserve a treat. 
They aren’t so bad. 
I eat plenty of healthy food. 
My family loves me with treats and brings them to me. What can I do but eat what they give me?
My weight is okay. I can manage it all well enough.

What Is My God?

In the midst of those excuses was a nagging sense of guilt about the opposite of those excuses – the fact that they weren’t healthy, that I could make better choices if I needed a snack, and that my weight was going up. Along with the guilt were some verses that seemed to always stand out to me as I read Scripture with this one being the top, which talks about the enemies of the cross of Christ: “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).

I would wonder if my belly was my god because of how much I loved my treats, but again I could quickly send it away. No, I thought, Christ is my first love, not food. I reminded myself that everyone enjoys treats. That doesn’t make their belly their god. Then I would decide I should prove that by setting the treats aside for a time. Despite my best resolves and asking God to help me let go of the sweets, I was back at it fairly quickly, along with all the excuses.

God’s Chastening?

God answered my prayer, and He did it with chastening. “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” (Hebrews 12:5 – 6). I received those glucose readings as chastening from the Lord – a gentle chastening from my loving, heavenly Father while I could still do something about it – a nudge to move me to what I wasn’t choosing before.

Now I have been three weeks without sweets and other carbs in order to bring those glucose numbers down. At first, it was hard, very hard. I didn’t have any energy. I thought about the Mother’s Day treats I had been gifted with but hadn’t yet eaten since I askedSteve to put them somewhere I didn’t know. I planned when I would bring them back into my diet and how I would be much more careful eating them. I decided I could not continue eating this way because I felt so badly.  

I am past that, now, however, and I feel much better. Those thoughts about the goodies I am not eating aren’t filling my mind, and I am happy to be where I am.

What’s Being Excused?

I share my story because I wonder what there might be in your life that you excuse before the Lord but know in your heart isn’t pleasing to Him. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Maybe for you, it is food like me. It could be not exercising, wasting time on social media, not going to bed at night to get the sleep you need, or not spending time in the Word. There are unending possibilities. May I encourage you to surrender before the Lord brings chastening to your life? Even though I miss my treats, my heart is happier this way, feeling that sense of joy that comes from obedience. And by the way, my glucose numbers are down where they need to be! I’m committed to keeping them there. 

What a Strategy

Have you ever wondered how the enemy could have been so successful in hindering the church from reaching our country for Christ? We have had over 200 years to evangelize this country and sadly we now have a pagan nation. If Satan would have used persecution to hinder the evangelization of the United States, he knew it would have strengthened believer’s resolve. 

Instead, he used the “good life” and all the fun and exciting things of the world, that weren’t overtly sinful, to pull the hearts of God’s people away from our Lord and His command. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19-20a).

My brothers that is why we are to guard our hearts and set them on things above. Just because Christians approve of all sorts of things it doesn’t mean our Lord does. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30).  

I remember a Christian teenage boy who told me that he couldn’t imagine life without movies. For many, just fill in the blank instead of movies – TV, video games, sports, skate boards, hunting, fishing, and … For me it was flying small private planes, but I praise God He enabled me to put that away over 40 years ago. Brothers, what do you live for? Examine your time usage and thoughts. 

Loving Spring

I take great delight in springtime – new life appearing after months of death. The Bradford pear trees are beautiful but ubiquitous. When in full bloom, it is beautiful to the observer, but sadly, it bears no edible fruit. 

What a great time to reflect on the life in Christ that Jesus gives those who have repented and trust Him as payment for their sins. Hopefully, you have been praising the God of creation for the life He gave us in Christ. I marvel and am in awe — our filthy sins for His righteousness. Oh, my Brothers, it must not stop with our praise. We are His workmanship created unto good works. Are we surrendered and living, bearing fruit? “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). If we follow Him, abide in Him, we will bear fruit and not just look good to the observer. 

It Is a Serious Matter

Assuming you have to work for a living, you likely have noticed something at work. It is amazing to me how men generally act around women in the workplace. Regardless of which one initiates it, it is common for there to be interactions between a man and woman much closer and familiar than is appropriate for someone who is married. It has the appearance that one of them might be “fishing” so to speak. No wonder divorce is rampant. Hopefully, that doesn’t describe any Seriously Dads reading this. I pray that we take our marriage vows seriously.

Along a similar thought, could many be courting disaster? Do you know that we are “married to another” —the Lord Jesus? “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Romans 7:4). Our life is bound to His. He bought us with His precious blood. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). 

Surely you have noticed others espoused to the Lord, yet flirting with the world. Some give much more than just inappropriate attention. They have given their heart to another. Keep distance from the world. Set your heart on Him. Be in His Word. Consume it every morning.

The Mission

Jesus’ relationship with the Father and the mission He was on, were always at the front of His thoughts, even when He was young. “And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49)? 

Examples:
o “Wither I go, ye cannot come” (John 8:21).
o “But He that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him” (John 8:26).
o “When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” John 8:28
o “For I always do those things that please Him” (John 8:29).

My Brothers, how would you answer these questions? 
o “What is your driving purpose in life?” 
o “What consumes you?” 

Next even more important, what would your wife, children, and friends say they believe your driving purpose is and what consumes your thoughts? Ask them. 

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (John 16:24). Are we following? If not, as long as we have breath, there is still time.

“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6). 

Want a Good Harvest?

How it grieves my heart to observe children in church talking with their friends, playing games, or goofing off when God’s Word is being preached. When children aren’t being taught to pay attention to messages at church, they are being trained to ignore God’s Word.

You can imagine how delighted I was to hear how Nathan and Melanie are teaching their children to listen attentively to messages. Each child who has taken good sermon notes earns one dollar per message. At a Sunday meal notes are submitted, read aloud to be discussed, and reviewed to see if they pass the criteria. 

Here are their $1 note-taking criteria:

  • Name of presenter and date must be at the top of the page. 
  • Handwriting that is readable and accurate. IE. “Children are the future” and not “children are the furniture.” You can see that spelling is important. 
  • Notes on the whole sermon, not just the beginning and ending.

Benefits the children in this family told us they have observed for taking notes on sermons: 

  • Keeps them focused and engaged in the message. 
  • They work hard to understand for their notes because they know the notes will be read to the family. They prefer not to have their siblings laugh at their notes. 
  • They get to listen to other’s notes being read, which reinforces the points of the message and fills in points they might have missed. 
  • Helps them learn Scripture and good note taking skills. 
  • They like the dollar. 

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Posted in: General

The Best Memories

What memories and appetites are you giving your children during the Christmas season? A  Seriously Dad wrote after last week’s email:

“I just wanted to share what my family has done for the past 15 years. We bake some homemade Christmas treats (usually cookies and/or pumpkin bread). We prepare plates for about 10 of our neighbors with treats and a hand-written Christmas card. (Most of our neighbors are “good” people who don’t proclaim Jesus as their Lord and Savior.). We drive around the countryside to our neighbors (We live in a rural area.). We walk up to the door caroling (We choose a Christian song vs a Santa song.).They usually invite us in for a “visit” (often around 30 minutes each). It is definitely something that we enjoy each Christmas!”

One Brother said he thought that these days many are afraid of homemade baked goods. I suppose that is possible, but if you are concerned about it, you can buy small bags of individually wrapped chocolate pieces by Lindt or Andes. Either way, I encourage you not to miss out on an opportunity to be light in your neighborhood. AND it is not only a good example for your children, but also helps develop a love in them for sharing the love of Jesus with others.  

“Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”
(2 Corinthians 5:9,10)

What a Blessing

As I listened to Evidence Not Seen (by Darlene Deibler Rose) my eyes often filled with tears. Hearing what newly-wed missionaries Russell and Darlene endured to share Christ in New Guinea shredded my heart. They were driven by a fervent love for the Lord Jesus, wanting to be used as light to those in darkness. A few years after arrival on the island, Russell and Darlene were placed in separate POW camps when WW2 began. He died in his, and she somehow lived through it. 

What efforts are we willing to expend to share Christ’s love with those around us? It is by God’s sovereign will that each of us lives where we do. We don’t have to travel thousands of miles to our mission field; we already live there. 

 Would you be willing to discuss with your wife what you might do in the coming days and make a plan to carry it out? Here are some ideas to consider:

  • If your family can sing, carol to your neighbors. We have done that for many years now. We only sing the first verse of an easy carol and then “We wish you a merry Christmas.” We encourage you to keep it short. (Trust me.)
    • If you want to carol and lack voices, invite others to join you. Either a family or two from church or Christian neighbors. We seek to include the “cute factor” — little kids who stand at the front of the caroling group. 
  • If caroling is out of your ability, what about just a casual, short, outside visit to wish them a Merry Christmas?
  • Bring a gift of food whether you carol or not. Food isn’t expensive, and people love tasty treats. Some possibilities are: sweet bread, cookies, or homemade candy. We make poppyseed loaves (Poppyseed Loaf). They are delicious, and our neighbors tell us they look forward to them each year.
  • With the food gift, what about giving them a card with it?
    • In the card, include a personal note if you know them, and it not, a more general one where you express your desire in getting to know them. If they have had health challenges, and you have been praying for them, tell them. Offer to pray for other needs they might have. Include your name and phone number so they know you are serious.

Something done for the first time can be intimidating. However, our lives are full of activities that felt awkward the first time but in time became special. That is the way Christmas caroling to our neighbors began thirty years ago. It is now a rewarding annual family tradition that grew from the ten of us before our children began to marry, to about 30 (on a good year) of us with daughters-in-law and grandchildren. It is a delightful opportunity to show our neighbors we love them and share some encouragement in Christ. 

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).