Parents, let’s take back our time with our children

PJ Bedtime story

Now, before I begin my rant (laughing but true), let me tell you that I realize that we are living in a technological age.  I also realize that long gone are the days of Etch-A-Sketch and crayons as it seems in the Mann household.  Apparently my 3 year old can work my Google tablet better than I can, and I also flipped out when I saw my one and a half year old pick up my phone the other day and took his little finger, swipped it to unlock it, then swipped over and picked one of the apps that I have for him to play with while we are in a restaurant or out in public to keep him behaved.  My immediate thought was, “HE’S A GENIUS!!”  And I hope that is the case, but last night I realized that they are spending way too much time on these things, and instead it should be time spent with me in the floor with building blocks or me pretending to be John Cena and Elias and Everett being The Shield or The Roadwarriors (You wrestling fans know what I’m talking about).  By the way, Elias’ favorite is Ric Flair. WOOOOOOOO! HAHA!  Anyways, back to my point.  I’m not upset that my children know how to work these things, and I know that in the world that they are going to grow up in, they will need all the education on these things that they can get.  But what I am trying to say is at what point in time do parents need to realize that we cannot let things things take up our precious time with them.  To top it all off, I read an article early this morning that talked about a new invention that will be released this year.  It is a pair of pajamas that will read your child a bedtime story for them.  If you don’t believe me here’s the link: http://www.wtop.com/256/3537293/No-fable-Smart-PJs-read-bedtime-stories-to-kids. Hey, here’s a brilliant idea…HOW ABOUT WE AS PARENTS TAKE THE TIME TO READ THEM A BEDTIME STORY!!  We need to be taking not just minutes, but hours a day with our biggest responsibilities that God has given us.  You see, I am a firm believer that we are going to be held responsible and accountable to the Lord as parents for the time that He has given us with these precious gifts.  The Lord has given us the PRIVILEGE of being able to raise our babies, but He did not just say, “Hey, here ya go.  Do as you please with them.”  Oh no friends.  In His Word He has given us guidelines of how to train up our children.  There are several passages, but the main one that comes to my mind is Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  It states, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.   You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.   You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  It is our duty to be training our children in the ways of the Lord.  We need to be teaching them to have a personal relationship with the Lord (Vs. 4), to love the Lord (vs. 5), to obey the Lord (Vs. 6,18), and to teach them to remember the Lord (Vs. 7-9).  But in order for us to do this, it takes time.  So parents, let’s get in the Word with our children.  Let’s talk about it throughout the day.  Take time to play.  And for the love of Jose Puertes (Whoever that is), let’s read our children a bedtime Bible story instead of letting their pajamas do it.

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When the Brethren Get Caught

Galatians 6:1-3 states, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”

This morning ended my personal study through the book of Galatians.  Wow! What a great book.  But this morning’s study really stuck out to me on two critical areas regarding the above passage, but in reality they are in twined together.

In this dark world, temptation is everywhere, and I do mean everywhere.  I don’t care what kind of a job you’re in, temptation can be there.  I don’t care how good your home life is, temptation to sin can be there.  The desire to give into the temptations of sin are everywhere!  (Can I get an amen?)  And it seems like on an everyday basis I hear people say, “Did you hear about Brother So and So, or Sister So and So?”  And might I also say that the world loves to make it public when a believer is caught in their sin, and they like to make a public display out of them.  But sadly, believers do the exact same thing.  Instead of coming along side of them and praying for them, and doing all they can to restore their fallen brethren, they run them down all the more, by gossiping about them or shunning them.  Believers, this should not be.  As with the writings of Paul here, our job is to restore.  I praise the Lord that He is in the restoration business!  And since we are His tools, we are to lift each other up, and be on the watch because every single one of us could just as easily fall.  Each of us deal with something, the only difference is that theirs is now public.  How would you feel if you were caught?  You would want to be uplifted instead of kicked when down.  And with all of this being said, verse 3 really says it all.  “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”  You see, that’s when we need to be careful and be watching.  When we start believing that sin can’t catch us, and then we give in, that’s when Satan’s got us.  Isn’t that what sin really is?  It’s an entrapment, and then it holds us there.  And I like how it says, “when he is nothing.”  Friends, in reality we are nothing without the Lord.  We need each other.  We need to lift up our fallen brethren in their time of need, because it could just as easily be all of us, because when all is said and done, none of us are strong enough to make it on our own, and when we think that we are, and that we are really something, that’s when we will fall. Proverbs 16:18 tells us, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Be there for each other believers.  Let’s not kick our own when they are down.  The only time that we should look down on someone is when we are helping them back up.  As verse 2 tells us, let’s bear the burdens with them so that we can “fulfill the law of Christ.”

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The Believer’s Role in Politics

I have to admit that when I was growing up, I would remember when the Presidential debates would come on tv and I thought that they were the most boring things on the planet.  I would much rather kick a wall with toothpicks under my toe nails that watch those things.  (OK maybe that was a little bit too harsh.  But you get my point.)  But now, I must say that I have been completely engrossed with this presidential election.  I have watched all three debates so far (2 presidential, 1 vice-presidential debate) and after watching them I feel the need for believers to rise up and take bold stances for what they believe in.  This morning, sitting at my desk, studying for an upcoming sermon, my mind continued to wander about the debates, and I couldn’t help but think, “Lord, what can I do?”  And so, I’ve decided to spend some time and write this out to the world of what I believe that we as believers of Jesus Christ can do during this election period.  Now, I’m sure that there are several other things than what I am about to declare, but let’s at least be faithful in doing these things.

1.  We need to be in prayer faithfully for our national leaders – Sure we may not agree with them on every issue, but we cannot miss out on the fact that the Lord allowed them to be in that position for a reason.  Daniel 2:20-21, “Daniel answered and said, ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His.  And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings.'”

2.  We need to exercise our right to vote and encourage others to vote as well – By God’s grace, we live in a free and democratic country.  We are not some kind of slaves in the middle of an empire (yet).  Very few people have a say so in their countries, but we have that very privilege.  Please don’t squander or ignore that right!  So, if we want to help our government fundamentally change direction to avoid economic and cultural collapse, then we need to get serious, focused and involved in this election.  Now, don’t just go out and make rash decisions.  Weigh out all of the information, and think, “Which candidate would be the closest to following God’s Word?”  Also remember that the candidates are not perfect.  We’re all sinners, and they are not exempt.  They are flawed candidates, so we must vote for the least flawed, most experienced, and most effective candidates during the elections.  But personally as a believer, I feel like it is a must that believers support pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-defense candidates who truly use the Constitution as their guide with all of our heart.

3.  Believer’s need to be involved in more elections –  You may feel like this is not the place for believers, to be in a political position, but that is where I say that you are wrong.  Think about great men in Scripture in which God placed them in political positions.  Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Queen Esther, and of course David.  What if such men and women would have refused to obey the Lord by serving in government?  Imagine how much more evil it would have been during those days.  But those who do place themselves on this field should do so with the highest and moral standards possible.  In other words, they should set the example of which the nation could be proud of.

And finally (And I know that some will not like this one)…

4.  Believers must not become addicted to certain party’s – I spoke with someone last week who told me that they were going to vote for a certain individul, even though they didn’t like him or his policies, just because of the party.  My response was…”WHAT?!”  And this isn’t the first time.  I’ve met other believers who are doing the same thing.  They have allowed their utter devotion to a political party to trump their essential committment to Christ.  We must search out the Lord first, and then let our hearts vote for the man that we feel is the one that God wants in the office that will look to Him and His Word.  Voting just for a party is like saying that it’s ok to vote for Hitler because maybe you felt like in the beginning the Nazis had some pretty good ideas.  (Now, I’m not saying that they did, that was just an example.)

But whatever the outcome, we need to remember that politicians are going to let you down, and only the Lord can sustain us.  So, make sure that you go to Him in prayer each and every day, and make certain that you are in prayer for each of these candidates.  May the Lord’s will be done.  In the end it will be.

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What Do Americans Consider “Regular” When It Comes To Church Attendance?

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This Morning I read an article about President Obama attending church with his family.  The title of the headline was “Obama Heads Out to Church” by Keith Koffler.  Now, the article was not really all that good, but I literally laughed out loud when I read this one line:

“Obama has been to regular Sunday services in Washington this year I think once or twice before this.”

Did you catch it?  He has been to “regular Sunday services…once or twice?”  Really?  Regular?  Now, to be honest, I do not know if the comment was made to be sarcastic or not, but the rest of the article had nothing in it that would make you think that he was being sarcastic towards the President’s attendance.  So, that really got me thinking about this.  And sadly, the more that I’ve thought about it, the truer this statement becomes with a lot of Americans today.  I know I’ve heard people say, and I’m sure that you have heard people say, “Well, you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”  And technically, that is true, but as a believer I want to fellowship and worship with other believers.  And then people might say, “Well, there’s not a church around here that I really agree with.”  Really?  In America today we have a church with different denominations on every corner.  Just last week, our church brought in some people from Ecuador to speak, and he told me how he could not get over how many churches he had seen.  So really, that’s no excuse.

Also, for people to say that they are believers but they do not attend church really disheartens me about their walk because Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”  So, for me, in a sense, we do see from the Word the need and the necessity of going to church.  But then that brings up the point of the topic.  Then you have people who really believe that they are “regulars” when they may only attend once or twice a year.  Even when you ask someone about church, they may tell you that they attend a certain church when really they haven’t been there in months, or maybe even years.  Webster defines “regular” as customary, usual, or normal.  So, I ask you, what is your customary, usual, or normal routine?  Sure it might be customary, or usual, or routine to attend on those certain dates like Christmas or Easter or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, but I want you to search in your heart, is that really “regular?”

To me, that’s not the word regular.  To me, it’s a different word…I call that LAZINESS. 

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Jesus Is Coming Tomorrow!!!…Maybe.

 

Hey everyone!  I have an announcement!!  Jesus is coming tomorrow!!! (well…maybe)  Now, before you instantly label me some nut or someone that is just too far gone please hear me out.  I know what Matthew 24:36 tells us.  It says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”  So, please do not believe that I am saying that He IS coming tomorrow.  But I was thinking today, what would happen if for once, Christians everywhere lived like He was?  Can you imagine it?  What a day that would be!  There would celebrations, urgencies to lead loved ones to the Lord, weeping for lost time.  There would be all kinds of emotions.  So, I guess my question of the day is, “Why don’t we live each day like He is coming tomorrow?”  We always feel like there is plenty of time, but we must remember that none of us know the day nor the hour, so why put off what you may or not have tomorrow.  Live for Him NOW!!  Don’t be regretting what you should have done.  Live expecting the Lord’s return at any moment.  Learn from the 5 wise virgins in the parable of Matthew 25:1-13:

 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming;go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

It could be tomorrow.  Very possible.  So…what are you going to do today?  Just something to think about.

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Revolutionary or Club Christian?

Some people go through life just fulfilling their role in whatever they do.  They get up in the morning, go to work, come home, watch some tv, spend some time with family, go to bed, and then start the next day.  I found myself thinking about this the other day, and then I thought, “Am I stuck in a rut?”  I hope not.  And if I am, I need to get out of it.  You see, personally, I want to leave a mark on history.  I believe that everyone does.  Sure, there may be a few people who do not care if they accomplish anything, they may enjoy the rut.  But for the most part, we all want to serve a purpose, and do it well enough that others will say, “Hey, they really did something.”  The same can be said of my Christian walk.  I want to make a difference.  But in order for me or you to do that, we have to be revolutionary.  Now, please do not hear me wrong.  I’m not saying that we have to change the message by any means, because the Word is the power source.  What I am saying, is that when it comes to our American Christianity, it seems like we have become a social club instead of being different for the Lord.  Think about your walk for the Lord right now.  Would you describe yourself and the other members of the group that you hang out with as being revolutionary Christians who are “all-out” for Jesus Christ?  Or would you describe yourself as part of a Christian club?  I guess what I’m trying to get you to think about today is, do you live your life with spiritual power each day knowing that God hears your prayers?  1 Corinthians 4:20 tells us, “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.”  In other words, being a Christian is not talking about Christ or knowing a great deal about Christ.  It is about living with the power of the Holy Spirit inside.  Is there power in my life to overcome temptation?  To overcome evil?  Is there spiritual power to disciple others in a way that is life-changing for them and for me? 

The tragic thing today is that there seems to be no revolutionary fire, even among Christians.  For the most part, the Christian field today in America is not in the world-changing mode.  It seems like there is no desire to upset the status quo.  We hear, and I even preach that we are in trouble today, and everyone sits there and agrees, but when the service is over nothing else is being done.  I believe that it is time to make a mark for Christ.  Boldly stand for HIm, and be revolutionary today.  Too many believers are straddling the fence for Jesus with one foot in the world, and one foot in the kingdom.  Friends, let’s make a mark today.  Let’s set both feet firm on the solid Rock!  Make a mark today.  Step out! Be different!  Be revolutionary for those around you.

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Spiritually Bored?

 

This week, the students in our area are on spring break, and it got me thinking about when I was in school.  Just like any other normal American kid, I so looked forward to when I could be out of school.  Whether it was spring break or summer vacation, I was ready for it.  I mean, even if I had been back to school for only a few days, my quote was “Let the countdown begin!” meaning that I was looking forward to the next break.  My favorite was of course summer break because it was the longest.  But you know what?  It never failed.  After only a few weeks of break (and maybe not even that) my parents heard something from me every summer.  They heard the dreaded words, “I’m bored.”  You probably know what I’m talking about.  I even stressed the word like this “borrrrred.”  Then they would ask me, “What do you mean that you’re borrrrrrrrrred?”  What I meant was, I wanted something to do.  Then my parents would tell me something and I would of course say no.  You see, what I really meant was that I wanted to do something that mattered.  And today, I got to thinking about that in a spiritual sense.  As believers, we all want to do something that matters, especially if it is for kingdom growth.  We all want to be able to look back at the work and have something to say like, “Yeah, I played a part in that.” We want to do something with our lives that really matter.  Maybe, in a sense, you are spiritually bored right now.  Maybe you are at a place in your life to where you feel like you are just taking up space, and you are not serving a purpose.  You might feel like you are doing nothing to help advance the kingdom.  And to be honest with you, maybe you’re not.  Maybe, because at some point in time you were working, but then you decided to take a break for a moment, but now you are stuck in that break, and you have achieved nothing for the kingdom.  Well, can I tell you that it is time to get back to work, (or go back to school – to get back to the analogy.)  I believe that there are too many believers on the side lines right now (because they’ve placed themselves there) and now they are spiritually bored.  There’s work that needs to be done.  Just open your eyes and look around.  When I would ask my parents about what I could do, they would always give me some ideas, because there were things to do, I just had to be willing to do it.  We’ll there is kingdom work that needs to be done, you just have to be willing to do it.  If you’re spiritually bored, then it’s your own fault.

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