Parenting

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February 5

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

My title for this devotion is Giver vs Taker.

There are tons of different people in this world. You know that.  We all do.  There are Go-getters and there are lazy people. There are Dreamers and there are “Today-ers.” There are Leaders and there are Followers.

There are Givers and there are Takers.

Now to clarify: I’m not speaking about money. I’m not talking about those who want handouts. I’m not even talking about selfish vs unselfish people.

I want to look at it from a different angle. I want to look at it from the standpoint of encouragement, of what you or I do when it comes to the emotional need of another. Paul says encouragement is a spiritual gift (Rom.12:8; I Cor.14:3-4). How cool would it be to have Joseph? No, not that Joseph. Another one. You might know him as Barnabas? (See…we don’t even know him by his real name).  This quality was so evident in his life the apostles gave him the name Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.”

We live in an age when encouragement is needed. My sister-in-law is living in a long-term care facility at this writing. I wonder how many there never see any family or hear a kind word? Remember the old song “Home, Home on the Range?” It has the lyrics: “Where seldom is heard a discouraging word/And the skies are not cloudy all day.” Many people cannot sing that song because they don’t hear an encouraging word at all.

So…are you a giver or taker of encouragement? Do you sit around wanting it and expecting it or do you make an effort to give it? Wouldn’t it be cool to be known as “the son (or daughter) of encouragement?”

“Father, life is hard enough as it is without living in discouragement. When I see someone today who looks lonely or is all by themselves and alone, help me to practice encouragement. Help me to be an encourager to someone today.”

February 21

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

My title for this devotion is Defensive Student vs Willing Student.

As I read this morning several thoughts came to my mind:

  • Defensive student is an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp and low fat butter.
  • I can choose to be a willing participant in my ongoing learning (classroom) experience or I can fight tooth-and-nail every moment along the line.

Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” Notice the four words: “Teach. me. your. way.” Teach me. That statement-those words alone-require a willingness of heart to learn.

Deuteronomy 6 is a real jewel. Not only does it include the Shema (“You shall love the Lord your God…”) but it also includes instructions for teaching one’s children. They learned the truth and they were to pass it along to their children. That required a willingness to learn on the part of both the parent and the child.

A student cannot be defensive. He cannot be argumentative. He cannot be closed-off. He cannot be arrogant. He cannot be a know-it-all.

A student must be receptive. He must be submissive. He must be open. He must be humble. He must be will to listen and learn.

God uses willing students. Defensive ones (if there is such an animal) are another story.

“Father, teach me your will and your ways. Find in me a heart that is willing to listen and learn. Help me not to be resistant to your teaching, but eager to learn. Help me to be a student. And as I learn, help me to apply. Help me to walk in your ways.”

February 20

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

My title is Ordinary People vs Extraordinary God.

A number of years ago the “rage” in Christianity was what I will call “the cult of self-image.” First, I need to say that I am not opposed to people, especially young people, having a good self-image. We have way too many young people (and adults) who have a self-image that stinks. But I think it was taken too far.

Let me illustrate. I once knew a family-the Doe’s- who had two children, John and Jane. Both were nice kids. They even liked me! 🙂  But mom and dad bought into the cult of self-image. John and Jane were extraordinary. They could do no wrong. They were pushed to be the top of everything (except sports). Mom was definitely very OC and pushed her above-average-striving-for-perfectionism on them. Remember I said they could do no wrong? Not in their parent’s eyes. Whenever something happened it was never John or Jane’s fault. John was going to be a doctor (they said so…he bought it). Oh, I forgot to tell you their age. He was barely into Junior High School and she was several years behind. Sadly, the cult of self-image became him and her. John was older so he adopted the “prima dona” mentality. She was still fairly innocent at the time but moving that way. To this day I have no clue what happened to either of them. Mom had surgery; went off on a hyper-charismatic tangent and the family left the church.

I use that illustration to make a point. Christ-followers, especially parents, have bought into the cult of self-image, i.e. my kid is the best and I’m going to keep telling him or her that until it is part of their psyche.

I once read of a club of boys who made up simple rules: “Nobody act big. Nobody act small. Everybody act medium.” Truth is we are all ordinary people who happen to serve an extraordinary God. I’m nobody special. Don’t put me or anyone else on a pedestal. To do so sets up a huge fall. When we stop thinking we are “all that and more” our lives will change. Only then will we be able to make much of God’s name. There’s only room for one at the top: Him or me. I don’t belong there.

“Father, You are the extraordinary God who uses ordinary people. I am not better than anyone else or visa versa. I’m still a work in progress. Mold me to your desire.”