Rule #1 – Say what you mean; mean what you say!

My first rule of parenting – Be consistent in your communication.  Say what you mean; mean what you say!

  1. You cannot exaggerate in your threats.   Parents have a tendency to make outlandish sounding threats to their kids to get them to obey or pay attention.  As your children become pre-teens and teenagers – they know you.  They know what you will or won’t do.  You cannot make a threat you have no intention of carrying out.  If you tell them that they will lose their iPhone for a week – than it better be gone for 7 days if they disobey.  If you tell them they are grounded for a month, then make them stay home for a month.  Don’t cave because it is easier for you.   You cannot lose this discipline method while they are a teen – it is really all you have.

2. If you tell them you are going to do something – do it!  Don’t make excuses.  Follow through on your promises.  If you tell your son you’re going hunting next weekend – you better be dead if you don’t go.  Your teens are now cynical.  They have a lot of people letting them down – don’t be one of them.

3. Don’t yell.  Yelling does no good.  If you yell all the time, it will have no affect upon your teens.  It is just how you communicate.  Teens respond to authority figures that use few words but really mean what they say.  Your home needs to be the peaceful oasis that the rest of the world is not. Don’t yell.  Yelling is a cheap replacement for those that don’t  have control.

  • Pastor Wes Gunther
Metaphor showing communication between generations against white

Parents – you are in charge!

Parents today have relinquished control of their families.  The children are making the decisions.  Instead of telling our children what they are to do we ask them.  For example “Jimmy, it is time to clean your room.”  Too often today we hear “Jimmy, would you mind tidying up your room?”   Big difference.  Parents have given up the authority they have.  Following is an article I have recommended many times.  It is secular – but accurate.  I hope this is helpful:

http://www.macleans.ca/society/the-collapse-of-parenting-why-its-time-for-parents-to-grow-up/

A stark example for us from Daniel.

While preaching from Daniel 9, I was struck by this fact: Daniel’s prayer in this passage was answered as he was “praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, Israel”.  Verse 5 tells us “we have sinned and have committed iniquity”.  Daniel was confessing and seeking forgiveness for the nation of Israel.

Let’s recap the history here:  Israel rejected following God and ignored the pleas of the prophets that preached repentance.  Due to Israel’s sin and rejection of God, God allowed both the Northern and Southern kingdoms to be taken into captivity.  Daniel was a young man who was taken back to Babylon due to his intelligence and potential.  There, in captivity in a foreign land, Daniel remained faithful to God.  We see from the beginning as he and his three Hebrew friends set themselves apart with their standards on what food they would or would not eat.  Daniel showed his faith in the Almighty by interpreting the dream for Nebuchadnezzar.

Now, in chapter 9 we find Daniel working under King Darius which is an entirely different empire.  Daniel has remained, throughout his life, a faithful ambassador of God.  He has little to no support group:  no church, no synagogue, no Bible study.  We find him praying by himself each day in his home (where his enemies find him praying leading to his being thrown in the Lion’s den).  Daniel has lived a faithful life and is living and working in Babylon under various kings and rulers all while suffering the wages of his country’s debt of sin.

In spite of all of this, we find Daniel taking the responsibility upon himself to pray for the sins of his people.  Daniel is not a political leader or spiritual leader of his country, yet he takes it upon himself to confess and beg forgiveness for the sins of Israel.  Why?  He did not commit these sins.  In fact, many of these sins happened long before he was even alive.

Why?  Because Daniel was the one that had a relationship with God.  Daniel was one of just a handful that knew God, prayed to God, walked with God and understood what God was doing.  Daniel took that great burden upon himself.  What an example to us.  We so often want to see our country repent of their sin and turn to God.  Daniel knew the people of Israel weren’t going to turn to God, they didn’t even realize they were away from Him.  Likewise, we, who know Him, must take it upon ourselves to pray on behalf of our country.  We must be confessing the sin of our country.  We are the only ones that know and understand how essential this is.  We cannot expect the lost to do the right thing.

Let me emphasize the point here once again:  It is one thing to pray that those in sin and committing sin will turn from their sin and repent, calling out to God.  In this example of Daniel, he is taking the sin upon himself and is confessing FOR them.  That is spiritual leadership!!

Are we producing ‘Snowflake’ pastors and missionaries?

As a Pastor I receive a constant barrage of phone calls and emails from prospective missionaries who are looking for support and an opportunity to come to our church and present their ministry.  I have noticed over the past couple of years a distinct change in the ministries that are contacting us.  More and more of the missionaries that are looking for support are church planters in the United States.

I am all for planting churches in the United States – though I am not fully convinced that this qualifies as being a missionary who needs to raise support.  As a pastor of a church that has steadily grown – it is my belief that churches should plant other churches.  Instead of building bigger facilities to house more people, perhaps we should be starting satellite churches in other areas to better reach those geographical needs.

My father planted a church.  He started a church with three families (including ours) that amounted to twelve people.  We met in a living room of one of the families.  After about six months and averaging about 40 people, we rented a building.  For the first three years my Father worked full time at a local factory on the third shift so that he was available to do the work of the ministry during the day.  He believed that we, like the Apostle Paul, were to be ‘tent makers’ as required to get the job done.

I did not plant a church, I became pastor of an existing church.  This church only had about 25 people and I as well worked full time for the first six months of the ministry.  Even after quitting my career job and pastoring the church full time, I still worked several odd jobs.

These young men that want to plant churches need to get a job. They need to work while planting a church.  No, it is not easy.  No part of planting a church is easy.  Ministry is not easy.  Get a job!  Work!

The value of man (and brown bird)

We took our grandsons camping overnight a couple of weeks ago. Our three year old grandson wanted to bring along his favorite toy. Usually this stays with his parents, but since it was overnight we told him he could bring along ‘Brown Bird’.

Brown Bird is a Fisher Price Little People Zoo Animal.  It has the letter ‘N’ on it’s chest to teach the children their alphabet and on this particular bird it stands for Nightingale.  It has brown wings so my grandson calls it ‘Brown Bird’.  He carries it everywhere he goes.  I foolishly vowed to my son that we would keep a close eye on Brown Bird and make sure the toy made it back home safely.

After setting up camp and eating dinner we were playing outside with the grandkids when realization struck me and I looked at my wife and said “where’s Brown Bird?”   She looked immediately concerned and we both realized we had not seen this toy for a couple of hours.  We spent the rest of the evening secretly looking for this toy without purposefully alarming our grandson.  We moved everything, looked everywhere we could imagine and then looked again.  No Brown Bird!

The next evening as we were driving the boys back home my wife texted my son to let them know we were coming back minus one very important toy.  We stopped by a Walmart on the way – but they didn’t have anything like that.  After dropping off the boys, we immediately got on Ebay and found someone that was selling Brown Bird – it was less than three dollars (plus shipping of course) so we ordered a new Brown Bird right away.  Within a couple of days, my grandson was reunited with a new Brown Bird, he didn’t know the difference and was happy as can be.

Why was Brown Bird so important?  Was this little Fisher Price toy valuable?  No.  Was it rare? No.  Was it a collectible?  I don’t think so. It was valuable because of the value my grandson put on it.  It was his favorite toy.  We searched and searched and eventually ordered a new one because it was important to my grandson.

The Word of God tells us that we were formed from the dust of the ground.  In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we find that God made everything that existed from nothing with just His very Word. Except for mankind.  With mankind, He formed the dust into a human being and breathed into him the breath of God – and then man became a living soul.  When man sinned – God sent Jesus Christ to die for him.  Why?  Man has do value.  He is from dust.  Why didn’t God just do away with the sinful one and create new perfect ones?

Because mankind was valuable to God.  God loved man and was willing to die in order to redeem him.  The value of man’s soul is determined by his Creator.

(And Brown Bird is not allowed at Grandma and Grandpa’s anymore).

What is ‘Walking in the Spirit’?

We often teach and preach about the importance of ‘Walking in the Spirit’ but what exactly does that look like?  Specifically, what should change in my life if I am walking in the Spirit?  How do I do it and how do I know if I am walking in the Spirit?

 

1) To walk in the Spirit, we must first be aware of God’s Spirit and we must be aware that His Spirit resides in the life of the believer.  We too often don’t act like we have God’s Spirit within us. We must spend time studying Who the Holy Spirit is, How He works in us, and How we are to respond to that. We must be aware of Him.

2) If I am walking in the Spirit I will look at things spiritually.  I will take a spiritual application on a subject.  My first response in any situation should be with God in mind.  Problems that come my way, people that I meet, conversations that I have, blessings that I receive; all of these should be opportunities for me to grow in my relationship with my Savior.

3) I must feed the Spirit.  When we feed the flesh we will think and respond in the flesh.  When we feed the Spirit we will respond spiritually.  I feed the Spirit by reading the Word of God, by studying the Word of God, by listening to teaching and preaching on the Word of God, etc.  The Bible is our spiritual food.

4) I turn to the Spirit first in time of trouble.  When I am faced with a crisis how do I respond?  Where do I turn for help?  When I am walking in the Spirit, I rely on the Spirit when troubles mount.  I pray first.  Instead of throwing up my hands in despair I rely on my faith and God’s promises.

5) I am offended by worldliness. When I am walking in the Spirit, I am offended by sin.  I find that I am increasingly in contrast to culture.  Light and Darkness have nothing in common, therefore I should be offended by culturally acceptable positions that are opposed the Scripture.

6) I am sensitive to my sin and desire to make quick confession.  When I am walking in the Spirit I am quick to make confession to my sin.  I will immediately understand that my relationship with my Savior is not what it should be because of the sin in my life.  I will immediately repent and confess my sin as sin unto God.

7) I am growing and not complacent.   When I am walking in the Spirit I will be growing in my relationship and knowledge of Christ.  When I have no desire to grow or learn I should quickly reevaluate whether or not I am walking in the Spirit.

..”that which was right in their own eyes”.

I was watching the Today show this morning and Caroline Kennedy was being interviewed about the JFK Profile in Courage Award that was being presented to President Obama.  In the midst of the interview she was asked how President Obama had displayed courage.  She responded that politically he showed courage by “doing what he thought was right”.

Doing what he thought was right.  Is that how one displays courage? Isn’t this a clear indication of a clear change in our culture?  One can be courageous in many ways and certainly one of those would be that you can be courageous when you do the right thing regardless of the consequences.  It is an entirely new angle to be considered courageous for doing what YOU think is right.

The Bible specifically mentions this as a problem in past generations. A time when every man did that which was right according to himself (Judges 17, 21 and Proverbs 21).  We are living in a day when this is accepted as good.  We should be doing that which is right according to God and that which is morally right – instead every one determines for himself what he feels is good.  Then we reward this as courageous.

You are responsible for YOU (Lesson 5)

After twelve years of being a pastor I have conducted many sessions of marriage counseling.  There seems to be one consistent theme:  each individual wants me to tell their spouse what they need to fix.  No one ever comes in thinking that they themselves are the problem.  They all “know” that their spouse is the problem.

The Word of God teaches us that we must all give an account before God.  We are going to give an account of ourselves.  We are to judge not because we will stand in judgement before God for our own deeds.  Suffice to say: we are only responsible for our actions.  We can only control our own actions.  We will give an account for our own actions.

We cannot change someone’s actions or thoughts.  We can, however, change our own.  That is the only control we have in any relationship.  We can make sure that we are doing the right thing, that we are responding the right way and that we are handling each situation the way that God wants us to.

Our reaction is the difference (Lesson 4)

As a Christian it is our reaction to the situations in our life that set us apart from those without Christ.  Regardless of the circumstances that come our way – good or bad – we know Who is in charge and we know from Whom our strength comes.

To those that do not know us very well, the fact that we are a Christian may not be readily obvious.  Lots of people are nice, hard working, patriotic, family oriented, and involved in their communities.  Those qualities are not exclusive to a Christian – though they should be evident in a Christian.  It is when things suddenly go wrong – when the crisis arises – that the faith on which the Christian rests is suddenly tested.  The Christian should not panic when others are frightened  The Christian should not gloat when he is recognized.  The Christian should not lash out when they are wrongly accused.  The Christian does not complain when life seems unfair.

Our testimony and our faith is on full display when life sends a big moment.  Good or bad, our focus should be on God and our purpose should be for God to get the Glory!