Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Friends, Inspirational, Kindness, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Reputation, Scripture, Testimony

ANOTHER BROTHER

3 JOHN 12

“Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.”

Do you have people in your life you can trust? I mean people whom you can tell anything and know they will hold that in confidence. We all need those kinds of people in our circle. I don’t care how grounded you are in the Word, there are times when we just need to talk about stuff. I have a couple of guys like that. They could be my Demetrius.

John mentions Demetrius and really brags on him. Now understand something. John could only brag on him because he was proven. John says he had a good testimony. Actually, John says he “has received” a good testimony. That verb is in the Perfect tense which means it happened with lasting results. Demetrius’ testimony was proven. And it was based on “the truth itself.” John really believed in him.

APPLICATION

Our children need to build reputations like that. Those don’t come quickly and can be lost so easily. We can help our children build those kinds of testimonies by holding them accountable and teaching them the truth. Their word needs to be trustworthy. Their actions need to be honorable. When we continue to point them to the Word, they learn to incorporate that into their lives.

When our children mess up, and they will, we point them back to the Word. We make sure they apologize and make things right if necessary. We model this behavior in front of them when we have wronged someone. We show them examples from Scripture of individuals who messed up but made things right with God.

Are you a Demetrius to someone? Do you have a Demetrius in your life? Wouldn’t that be great? Demetrius (at least this Demetrius) is only mentioned right here in the New Testament. But his name was important enough for John to put in this letter to Gaius. His name has been read through the centuries by millions of believers probably without a second thought. Think about him today and thank God for his testimony to John, Gaius and others.

Father, help me be a Demetrius to others. Let my testimony point to Jesus in all I do.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commands, Devil, Exhortation, Imitation, Mentoring, Parenting, Satan, Scripture

IMITATION

3 JOHN 11

“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.”

Some say imitation is the best flattery. To imitate someone means you want to be like them. I can’t think of anyone I would want to imitate except Jesus. Everyone else I know has flaws that would inevitably come out. No one is perfect, right? We imitate people. We have imitation products. We even imitate voices. But there is only one original.

John is telling us to focus on imitating good. That word “imitate” only appears four times in the New Testament (three positive and one negative). It is always in the Middle voice, which means you have to choose to do it. No one is going to make you do it or do it for you. So, John is saying it is our choice whether to imitate evil or good. One choice points to God and the other points to the evil one.

APPLICATION

Man, is this a message for our kids or what? Probably no other decision is going to face them more than this. They are going to be bombarded with choices like this. The evil one wants nothing more than to confuse and bring down our children. If he can get them to choose evil rather than good, he can control their lives.

So, what do we do as parents to protect them? After all, it’s their decision, their choice. We have to fill their minds with the Word of God to help ward off these attacks from the devil. There’s nothing we can say or do. But God’s Word is living and active. It’s sharper than any two-edged sword. It lives within us. If it’s in us, we can ask anything of the Lord, and He will do it for us. That’s the secret weapon.

Are you hiding the Word in your heart to protect yourself from choosing evil? Don’t think just because you are an adult that you have the power to resist the lure of the evil one. No one is immune from his charms. But you can detect and avoid those evil choices simply by staying in the Word. Dig in today. Let it point you in the right direction.

O Father, You are the only one I wish to imitate today. Point me to Your Word so I can learn more and more about You.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confrontation, Enemies, Exhortation, Modeling, Parenting, Peace, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

CONFRONTATION

3 JOHN 10

“For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.”

A lot of people do not like confrontation. They will do anything to stay away from it. Others dive right in before knowing all the facts and can make matters worse. Of course, the best approach is to gather all the facts before confronting someone to make sure what you have heard is true. Your purpose for confronting is to correct a wrong and set things straight.

John had gathered his facts. He had been informed about Diotrephes’ actions against him, others and the church. With the apostolic authority he possessed, he planned to confront Diotrephes. Why? Did John just want to get him back? I don’t believe so. I believe John wanted to restore a brother. We don’t know what happened between John and Diotrephes. I guess we will find out in heaven if this was settled biblically.

APPLICATION

Children have to be taught how to settle disputes according to Scripture. That does not come naturally. Our flesh almost always wins out. How do we teach them this life skill? I can think of two ways. Let’s make that three ways. Prayer, God’s Word and modeling the behavior.

You are probably saying Okay Carl, I like the first two, but I am so tired of you telling me to model behavior. I understand, but it does no good to teach them to pray for others and search God’s Word for direction if we aren’t living that out before them. We have to show them what it looks like to confront in love. We have to be their example to follow during difficult times. That’s parenting.

Is there someone in your life whom you need to confront in love? Perhaps there is a family member who professes Christ but is not living like it. Confront them. Maybe a co-worker consistently takes the name of the Lord in vain. Confront them. Don’t be afraid. Jesus is with you and will guide you. He will give you the words to say at just the right time. Follow His lead.

It is not easy to confront others, Lord. Give me the courage to speak truth in love.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Enemies, Humility, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Submission, Testimony

GOT TO BE FIRST

3 JOHN 9

“I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.”

Some people just have to be first. They push to be first in line. They insist on being recognized first in meetings. They give their opinion loudly even when no one wants to hear it. Don’t those people aggravate you? Be honest. You probably try to avoid them. Am I right?

Well, it appears Diotrephes was that kind of person. He rejected John’s counsel that was sent to the church in a previous letter. Obviously, Diotrephes wanted to be in charge and discounted John’s advice. We don’t know why he did that. Perhaps he didn’t like John. Maybe he just wanted control of the church himself. Whatever the reason, John called him out (check out verse 10).

APPLICATION

While it is good for our children to be ambitious and push themselves, it is never good for them to let their ambitions run over others. I am reminded of the story Jesus told about the wedding guests. He said it was better to sit at the lower seats of the table and be asked to move up than to sit at the best seat and be asked to move down.

This is really about humility and submission. Diotrephes refused to humble himself and submit to John. John! A disciple of Jesus Himself. The disciple Jesus loved, probably more than any other disciple. That was the person Diotrephes was rejecting. Teach your children to respect those who have walked the walk. They need to show honor to such followers of Christ.

Do you find yourself pushing for recognition or are you content to serve unnoticed? The Lord will exalt the humble, but He will also humble the exalted. If we insist on “tooting our own horn,” we may find ourselves without a horn to toot. Don’t be a Diotrephes. Submit yourself to those in authority over you. Allow them to direct you. This honors our Lord, and He will honor you.

Thank You, Lord, for placing people in my life to lead me. I want to honor You by submitting to their leadership.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

A PARENT’S JOY

3 JOHN 4

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

I have been in ministry over forty years. That’s a long time. Sometimes I feel like Moses – herding sheep for forty years or wandering in the wilderness for forty years. But sometimes I hear from someone I had the privilege to lead to the Lord, and they tell me how they are still walking with Jesus. That brings me such joy. It really warms my heart.

John was expressing the exact same feeling. He was thrilled to hear about Gaius. It is obvious from this verse that John had played some part in Gaius’ salvation experience. We don’t know exactly where or when that was, but John was a spiritual father to Gaius. As a father to Gaius, John longed to see him grow spiritually. Nothing thrilled his heart more.

APPLICATION

If you have not experienced this joy as a parent, I pray you will. Watching our children come to Christ is awesome. Praying with them to receive Christ is stupendous. But watching them walk with Christ daily thrills your soul. This is especially true as they get older and start making more and more of their own decisions. Watching them choose Christ makes all the bedtime prayer rituals worth it.

One big question we face as parents as our children get older is how do we continue to influence them spiritually. How do we help them in their walk? Our role changes from caregiver to coach to cheerleader to consultant. In this last stage we have to wait for them to come to us for advice. Advice not asked for is seldom followed. Continue to pray and be ready when asked.

Do you have a “child in the faith” whom you are praying for? Is there someone you are watching walk with Jesus whom thrills your soul? I pray you are investing in others daily. I pray you are encouraging them. I promise as you encourage them, you will be encouraged. Be obedient to Jesus as you follow His example to disciple others.

Oh Lord, nothing thrills me more than to see my children walk with You. Help me encourage them daily as they trust You.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Direction, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

YOUR TESTIMONY

3 JOHN 3

“For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth.”

Years ago I used to do some consulting with other children’s homes in the area of accreditation. During those years, accreditation was getting more and more attention, and many states were starting to require it from licensed facilities. My reputation as a consultant began to be known, and I was contacted by a lot of agencies that were unknown to me. Others had talked about me which led to new contacts for me. Your reputation matters.

John is telling Gaius that very thing. Other brethren had come to John and told him how awesome Gaius was representing Christ. He was walking in truth. Now listen, that was not always easy, especially for a first century Christian. Persecution was real. However, Gaius was standing for truth. What a testimony! Don’t you know John was proud to be known as his friend.

APPLICATION

Our children need to learn early that their reputation, their testimony matters. It takes years to earn a good reputation, but one stupid mistake can erase all of that. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. I am not talking about making mistakes. I am talking about deliberately choosing evil over good. I am talking about walking down the wrong path, knowing you have taken the wrong path.

So, how do they keep their testimony pure and pointing others toward Christ? By relying solely on Him daily. By surrounding themselves with godly friends who will help them in their walk. By reading God’s Word daily and making application of it in their lives. By spending time in prayer daily. You see, all of these things point them to Jesus and away from the world. Taking their eyes off of Jesus will only cause them to stumble.

How is your testimony? If those brethren had visited you and gone back to John to report on you, what would they have said? Hmmm. I pray they would have given the same report they gave about Gaius. Are you walking in truth today? Follow Jesus and truth is your path.

Truth is my goal each day, Father. I want to be known as someone who walks in truth.

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Accountability, Affection, Asking, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Friends, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer, Scripture

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER

3 JOHN 2

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”

How many Trekies do I have out there? If you ever watched the original Star Trek series, you are probably familiar with Spock’s typical farewell. He would hold up his right hand, form a V with his fingers by holding apart his second and third fingers and then say these words Live long and prosper. I do that often with friends just as a joke. If you’re not a Trekie, you don’t get it.

John wasn’t holding up his fingers and quoting Spock, lol. He was praying for Gaius to prosper. And he wasn’t asking for a one-time prospering. The verbs “may prosper” and “prospers” are both in the Present tense which conveys continuous action. John was praying that Gaius would prosper and prosper and prosper. The word “prosper” implies real success.

APPLICATION

I bet you want your children to prosper. Am I right? Of course, you do. All parents want to see their children do well. They want them to succeed in life. But I want you to look back at the verse for second. Look at the last part of the verse. John wants Gaius’ soul to prosper as well. It’s not just about succeeding in life. We should be praying that our children prosper spiritually.

How do they do that? Well, it’s not possible to prosper spiritually unless you spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. That’s your role as a parent – to teach them to how to read and study God’s Word and how to pray. By doing that, you are laying the groundwork for them to prosper spiritually. You are preparing them for success in their faith. You do want them to “live long and prosper” don’t you?

Are you doing that? Are you more concerned about prospering financially than spiritually? How much is enough for you? So many believers get bogged down in achieving material wealth that they neglect their spiritual health. Prospering with God is not about things. It’s about faith. It’s about walking with Him daily. It’s about sharing the good news with others. So, are you prospering? Really?

Lord God, help me to prosper according to You. I want to be seen as a spiritually wealthy man.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Deceit, Deception, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

BY INVITATION ONLY

2 JOHN 10

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;”

I have, on occasion, received invitations to exclusive events. These events had limited seating and only certain people were invited to attend. Those decisions to limit the number of people may have been due to the venue size or the budget of the event. Whatever the reason, I always feel honored to be invited.

However, John is talking about something we should do to limit our audience. He is basically telling us to not invite anyone into our home who does not agree with God’s teachings. Wow! I thought we were supposed to reach out to the lost. We are. John is guarding us against false teachers. They should not be invited. Others should be so we can teach them the truth. We have to be so careful who we listen to, especially today.

APPLICATION

I pray your children invite their lost friends to your home. What better way for them to hear truth than to be welcomed into your home. Now, we should not let our children sit under anyone who teaches anything contrary to Scripture. But we should welcome any of their lost friends to hear the Gospel in our home. We want our children to be the influencer, not the influenced.

Does that make sense to you? I hope so. Don’t assume that every teacher or small group leader at church is teaching correctly either. Check them out. Make sure you have the right to sit in on a class or small group to find out. Any leader who doesn’t allow that is not open to accountability. Talk to your child’s Children’s Pastor or Student Pastor to find out who will be leading your child. It is, after all, your responsibility to disciple your child spiritually.

Have you opened yourself up to wrong teaching? Sometimes we do that without knowing. We hear about this great Bible Study available on dvd or online, so we dig into it. Always check out any study before you begin. Check out the author. Check out the publisher. And as you start the study, be aware of any inconsistencies with Scripture. As John says, “Do not give him a greeting.”

O Lord, keep my eyes open to falsehood. I want to honor You in all my relationships. Guard my heart.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Rearing, Conceit, Following, Humility, Inspirational, Life, Love, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

HAVE YOU GONE TOO FAR?

2 JOHN 9

“Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.”

Some people just can’t help themselves. Well actually, they can, but they just choose not to. These people have to be out front. They have to be the ones calling the shots, even if the shots are wrong. I’ve known folks like that. It’s really hard to deal with them. Why? Because their focus is totally on themselves and not on others.

John talks about those people in verse 9 of 2 John. He even says if they go too far, they are not abiding in the teaching of Christ and they don’t have God. Now, that’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? What John doesn’t say but is implied here is there is no humility. You see, you can’t be humble and put yourself out front. And we know that humility is a characteristic Christ showed.

APPLICATION

We are always pushing our kids to excel, aren’t we? We want them to make straight A’s. We want them to be the captain of the ball team. We want… You get the picture. By doing that, we can unintentionally create a monster. We want our kids to do their best, but we don’t want them to put themselves above others in a negative way.

We have to teach our kids how to excel without getting the bighead. They need to know that any achievements they have are the result of God’s blessing in their lives. Sure, they may have worked hard for it, but God gave them the ability. With every triumph, point them back to Jesus. He is the one who gives them the strength and wisdom to achieve great things.

Have you ever gone too far? Have you put yourself over your spouse or work colleagues? If you have done that, confess that as sin and make it right with those whom you have harmed. That’s where the humility comes in. A humble leader can lead armies.

I am so thankful for the way You have gifted me, Lord. I thank You for allowing me to achieve great things for You.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Inheritance, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Reward, Scripture

HOW ARE YOUR EYES?

2 JOHN 8

“Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.”

If you have read many of my blogs, then you know my love for hunting and fishing. It’s hunting season now, and I’m actually on a hunt in Mississippi as I write this. One thing I brought with me on this hunt was a pair of binoculars. Why do you think I did that? Because I might be in a place where I need a little extra vision to see what might be coming. I don’t want to miss a shot because I didn’t see something and prepare for it.

John tells us in verse 8 to “watch ourselves.” The Greek word for “watch” means to see something physical, with spiritual results. The verb is written as a command also. So, John is telling us to look closely with spiritual eyes. Why? To guard ourselves. To keep from losing what we’ve worked for. And by doing so, we will receive a reward. Who doesn’t want that?

APPLICATION

Children love rewards, don’t they? And there is nothing wrong with giving them rewards. When our kids do something good or right, we should praise them. Little rewards when they are young can give them the incentive to continue doing good. But all those rewards come only when they do what is good. That’s the hard part. Some kids want to be rewarded for breathing, lol.

So, how do you teach them to watch themselves? Most kids, left to watch themselves, will make a mess. We teach them to use the only guide, the only source that will help them. They must know how to use God’s Word. They must know where to turn to find the answers. I can’t stress this enough. This book has the answer to every question, if we will just take the time to look. Will you teach your children that?

How about you? How are you watching yourself? We adults are quick to point out our children’s failures and mistakes, but we overlook our own. Has your child ever pointed out something you’ve done that wasn’t right? How did that make you feel? I say it a lot but we have to model what we teach to our kids. They learn best by watching us. So, watch yourself today!

O Lord, thank You for giving me spiritual eyes to watch myself.  Do want to receive my reward, but only because I have pleased You. 

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