Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Deceit, Discipline, Faithfulness, Following, Lies, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

STILL UNRULY

HOSEA 11:12

Ephraim surrounds Me with lies and the house of Israel with deceit; Judah is still unruly against God, even against the Holy One who is faithful.”

When I worked in children’s homes, it wasn’t unusual for a child or youth to come into the home very unruly and out of control. After a period of time and much love, they would begin to calm down and settle in. But quite often that same child would resort back to their old way of behavior. It seemed they just couldn’t maintain a calm demeaner. Even though the staff was consistent and loved them, they preferred chaos.

Hosea tells us Ephraim, Israel and Judah acted the same way. Even though “the Holy One” was faithful, they rebelled. Lies, deceit and unruliness were how they responded to a faithful Father. They gave way to flesh. They let their old sin nature take over. It didn’t matter how much God loved them, they acted out against Him.

APPLICATION

Now, if you don’t see yourself in today’s verse, well… We are all the same. We know how much the Lord loves us. He sent His Son to die for us. He gave us exactly what we needed – salvation. And we still rebel. We still take Him for granted. Oh, we say the right things. We go to church and throw a few dollars in the offering plate and think we have done enough. We don’t want to obey – just like the Israelites.

Aren’t you tired of living that way? God wants you to surrender to Him. He wants you to yield to His will. Matthew 11:28-30 tells us to come to Him. We are to take His yoke on us. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Will you trust Him today to lead you in His yoke. Stop the unruliness and yield.

I still battle that sometimes. I even think I am yielded only to discover I’m not. That’s a bit embarrassing, lol. But I truly want to be. I don’t want to rub against the yoke. I want to follow Him in the yoke. I want to learn to walk with the Master. Don’t you?

Oh Lord, I praise You for putting up with my stubbornness. I thank You for Your patience with me.

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Abiding, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Choices, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Obedience, Parenting, Protection, Scripture

FIRST STEPS

HOSEA 11:3

Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them.”

I can’t remember my first steps as a baby. Why would I? I mean, I was pretty young, right? But I do remember my children’s first steps. We spent weeks helping them stand up and then watched them “cruise” around furniture. Then that day arrived when they took those first steps. How proud we were as parents! First steps are a milestone.

Jehovah helped Israel walk. He guided them by His strong hand. He held them up when they toppled. He led them along a safe path, only to have them jerk away and start walking in their own direction. How painful that must have been for our God to see His beloved children walk away.

APPLICATION

Sadly, we do the same thing. Think about your own walk. When you came to Christ, He was the one who led you on your first steps. He pointed you toward the direction He would have you walk. He held you up when you stumbled and fell. He picked you up and dusted you off. He was always there.

But we get comfortable in our walk and don’t think we need Him anymore. We see a path that looks better than the path He has for us. We explore new walkways and leave the safety of Jesus’ path behind. And what happens? Almost every time, we fall. We trip. We are attacked by our enemies. All we have to do is remain on the sure path, but we want to walk our way.

The older I get the less I want to wander. I like the assurance of Jesus holding my hand. I don’t want to jerk away and go my way. I have learned His way may not be as “glamorous,” but it is trustworthy. I know He will never lead me wrong. So, why would I ever want to “explore” another path? Never!

Lord, I praise You for holding my hand as I took my first steps with You. But You kept holding it. You kept leading me.

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Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, God's Will, Gospel, Grandchildren, Mentoring, Parenting, Praise, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

LOST CHILDREN

HOSEA 9:12

“Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them of their children until not a person is left. Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them!”

My wife and I have a little girl in heaven. Cathleen Marie only lived six hours. She was born and died on September 11, 1987. There’s not much more sorrowful than to lose a child. The pain can seem intolerable. You feel deserted. You feel hollow. Praise God, we knew Him then to get us through that dark valley.

The people of Israel were going to experience that pain. Their children would be taken away from them. Some of them would be killed by their invaders. Others would be carried off into exile as slaves, separated from their parents. All of this because of the nation’s disobedience and betrayal to their Lord.

APPLICATION

No one wants to lose a child, physically or spiritually. Our main job as parents is to lead our child to Christ and then disciple them to walk with Him. All our efforts in child raising should point to that. Do you agree? Anything else is really superfluous. You are not always going to be around, so they need to know how to live in this world.

Perhaps your children are grown. Do You have grandchildren? How about kids in your church or neighborhood? Whatever your situation, you have an opportunity to invest in the lives of children. While they are young we have the chance to teach them the Word of God and how to apply that to their lives.

I don’t want to see a child lost to this world. I will do all I can to point them to Jesus. Nothing gives me more joy than to see a little one give their heart and lives to Him. How about you? Will you join me in reaching out to the children in your circle of influence? Talk to their parents. Talk to the children. Share Jesus with them today.Father, I love to tell the story to everyone, but especially children. Lord, allow me to see Your children come to You.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Friends, Greetings, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture

NEED A HUG?

3 JOHN 15

“Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.”

I’m a hugger. One of the hardest things about dealing with the covid-19 virus is not being able to hug people. There is just something about getting or giving a hug to someone, especially someone you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s more than just a hello. If you’re a hugger, I don’t have to explain.

The word “greet” used in today’s verse means to “enfold in one’s arms.” I bet John couldn’t wait to give Gaius a hug. Of course, that is just speculation. However, John knew to greet each other was more than just to say “hi.” I think we can learn from that, can’t we?

APPLICATION

One great skill to teach your children is how to greet someone. We all know our children go through shy periods. That can be cute, but they can’t remain like that, can they? My dad taught me to look someone right in the eye, stick out my hand and give a firm handshake. Greeting someone warmly and politely goes a long way.

Greeting someone in Christ’s name is even more important. How do we teach our kids that? By simply showing love and a smile. Sounds easy, huh? Well, it is if we teach them to let Jesus greet them. What? Yea! Teach your children to see everyone in the same way He does. That way they will greet them in love.

Who do you know that needs a hug? Why don’t you give them a “greeting”? Embrace them in your arms. Wrap your arms around them (if they’ll let you). In this time we are in people need a good greeting. Do it today.

I am so thankful You greeted me, Lord. You took me in Your warm embrace and welcomed me into Your family.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Fellowship, Friends, Greetings, Hugs, Listening, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture

MOUTH TO MOUTH

3 JOHN 14

but I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face.”

Now, when you read the title for today’s blog you may think I am going to talk about kissing. Nope! I didn’t have that in mind at all. I am just translating the last phrase of the verse literally. John could have said “we will speak mouth to mouth.” I agree “face to face” sounds better, lol.  In this day we are in right now, though, we are missing that. The masks we are having to wear block that, don’t they?

I wonder what John needed to tell Gaius. We don’t know. But if you will read the entire letter of 3 John, you can pretty well guess. John would have words of encouragement for him. He would have probably hugged him, kissed him on each cheek and sat down for a great meal together. They would have fellowshipped for hours. Hmmm, I wonder if that phrase “mouth to mouth” hinted at a potluck dinner, lol.

APPLICATION

During these days of covid-19 don’t let your children forget what you look like behind these masks. That may sound funny to say, but I have been concerned about our younger children especially spending this past year staring at people with masks on. Facial expressions are important. Just think about how you communicate with small children using them. I am not advocating being unsafe or spreading the virus. I am just saying let your kids see your face.

Explain to your children the importance of face-to-face communication. Explain to them the importance of being able to see someone’s face to communicate. You don’t know behind a mask if someone is smiling or frowning. You don’t know if they are sticking their tongue out at you or not. There’s a reason John wanted that face to face or mouth to mouth visit with Gaius.

Who do you want to go see “mouth to mouth”? I hope there is someone on your list. When you see them, talk about Jesus. Take off that mask safely and express yourself. Let them see your smile. Communicate fully. Love them with your face. That sounded kind of weird, didn’t it, but I think you get my drift.

Thank You, Lord, for meeting me face to face. I long one day to see You in heaven and behold Your glorious face and see Your smile.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Fellowship, Inspirational, Listening, Mentoring, Relationships, Scripture

WORDS

3 JOHN 13

“I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing to write them to you with pen and ink;”

How many times have you written an email or text and decided it was best to not send it? Boy, I have. In some of those occasions I found out my information had been wrong and if I had sent that message it would have made matters worse. Other times a face-to-face conversation was better so the other party could feel my emotions. That’s hard to express in words.

John had much to say to Gaius and some things just couldn’t be expressed in the written word. Perhaps there were some things that he just didn’t want written. They were more heart words. John loved Gaius and wanted to express them personally. I can just picture John putting down the quill and ink (or whatever he was writing with) and saying a prayer for Gaius.

APPLICATION

Don’t let your children become so comfortable with texts and other social media that they forget how to talk to others. This is not usually a problem until they get into those tween and teen years, but it can start earlier. FaceTime and Zoom have helped us connect with our faces more. It’s real time, too, so we can see each other as we talk. I am not advocating for this, but it works if you can’t get together personally.

Let me ask you a question that you can pose to your children. Do you think Jesus would have chosen zoom over a face-to-face conversation? I don’t think so. I truly believe He would have wanted to sit around that campfire and talk. I believe He would have wanted to put His arm around your shoulder and walk with you. That’s how I want to talk to others.

May I encourage you to reach out to at least one person this week in this way? I know it’s hard in this covid world we are in right now. But I bet there is someone with whom you can get with and talk. We need personal touch. Do it in the name of Jesus. Let His love flow through you. Put down the phone or tablet and talk face to face with someone.

Lord, I am so glad You are a personal God who desires to talk with me. Lead me to someone today who just needs to spend time with a believer.

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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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