World-Proof the Child

World-Proof the ChildProtecting our children is one of the primary jobs of parenthood, and the list of dangers seems to be growing exponentially.

  • There is BPA in your bottled water and hormones in your meat.
  • There are predators on the Internet and cyber-bullies on social media.
  • There are addictive drugs and addictive video games.
  • There are terrorists hijacking our planes and the TSA hijacking our dignity.

It makes you long for the days when seesaws and merry-go-rounds were still allowed on playgrounds.

The fact is that new dangers are popping up every day, and it is impossible for even the most vigilant parents to keep up with them all.

That doesn’t mean you can’t protect your children. It just means that doing so will become increasingly complex and require some added intentionality.

There are three general principles that can help guide the process:

  1. SET THE EXAMPLE.
  2. A culture of safety — whether at work or at home — starts at the top. If you want your kids to wear helmets when they ride bicycles, then you probably should, too. Same rule goes for seatbelts, overeating, cigarettes, alcohol, or anything else. Most values are “caught” not “taught.”

    “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,and sound speech that cannot be condemned…”
    - Titus 2:7-8 (ESV)

  3. SET THE STANDARD.
  4. Talk with your kids. Point out the dangers as you become aware of them. Let them know what your expectations are. Set a curfew. Curfews aren’t tyranny; they are parents showing that they care! Then enforce the standards you have established. A rule that isn’t enforced is no rule at all.

    “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”Proverbs 22:6 (NASB)

  5. SET THEM FREE.
  6. The ultimate goal of parenting isn’t to have large children, but to have fully functioning adults. The only way to achieve that goal is to gradually shift responsibility from your shoulders to theirs. This is probably the hardest, but most important, part of the whole process. You will never be able to make enough rules to protect your children. They must internalize safety consciousness themselves. They must make it their own. Making it their own often means making mistakes. It can be hard to watch as our children attend the school of hard-knocks, but sometimes “experience is the best teacher.”

    “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”1 Corinthians 13:11 (NASB)

The temptation is to simply be “helicopter parents” — ones that are always hovering, always micro-managing, always trying to smooth the way and make the decisions and manipulate the circumstances — but that is a fool’s game. No parent can child-proof the world. A parent’s job is to world-proof the child.

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Love Your Wife: Revisited

I commissioned my wife to do a little subway art for me this week. Here’s what she came up with:

Love Your Wife | subway art printable from http://alltruthisgodstruth.com

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought it might serve as a good reminder for husbands that showing love to your wife is something you should do every day of the year — not just on special occasions.

Want to print a copy to keep? You can click on the image above to download a free printable PDF of the graphic.

You’ll find a matching “Respect Your Husband” graphic on my wife’s blog this week. Follow this link if you want to print that one.

Two expectations that will kill your ministry

Doug Flanders:

This is a short but powerful blog, the lessons of which apply to parenting as well as ministry.

Brick Laying

Originally posted on ctkblog:

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given in ministry came from a man in Houston, Texas named G.B. Shelbourne.  He is a life-long missionary and has spent decades of his life working with people on the continent of Africa, and is a man I love and respect tremendously. He told me something one day that I’ve never forgotten, and I’d like to share it with you and invite you to be curious about how this might impact you.

G.B. and I were talking about ministry, and as a very young pastor, I was complaining about some of the more tedious tasks of ministry, and all he said was…

“When you build a house, people brag about the windows and the rooflines, not the foundation.”

Hey, nice siding!

Hey, nice siding!

As I asked him to explain to me what he meant, and I learned a lot in a short…

View original 375 more words

Don’t Beat the Other Slaves: 6 Principles of Forgiveness

Don't Beat the Other Slaves: 6 Principles of Forgiveness | http://alltruthisgodstruth.comJesus tells the story of a slave who was forgiven a great debt by his master. The slave went out and almost immediately began beating a fellow slave in an attempt to extract a much smaller debt. Needless to say the master was not pleased to discover the first slave’s merciless behavior.

Yet, how often do we act just like that ungrateful slave when it comes to sin?

Invariably, we want mercy for ourselves, but justice for everyone else. The things that ensnare us always seem SO minor compared to the heinous crimes committed by our fellow-man.

Jesus’s message was clear: Stop beating the other slaves! Learn to forgive, just as you have been forgiven.

Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel and the heart of every healthy relationship. This is especially true of the marriage relationship. The sheer volume of time a husband and wife spend together — day after day, year after year — translates into ample opportunity both to offend and to take offense. Your marriage will not thrive, and it may not even survive, unless you learn to forgive.

A successful marriage, Ruth Bell Graham reminds us, “is the union of two good forgivers.” I believe that’s true.

What follows are six principles that have been helpful to me in seeking and extending forgiveness to both my wife and others:

  1. When requesting forgiveness of anybody, we should always begin with God.

    Ultimately, all sin is an affront to Him. We must go to Him first. The price has already been paid through Christ’s blood. We must repent of our sin and ask Him to help as we seek forgiveness from others. (Psalm 51:1-4; 1 John 1:9)

  2. When seeking forgiveness from others, we must be prepared to make restitution.

    Sometimes seeking forgiveness requires more than just saying I’m sorry. We should convey sincere remorse for the wrongs we have done, certainly, but we must also seek to make amends to the best of our abilities and to the degree that restitution is possible. (Numbers 5:7)

  3. When extending forgiveness to others, we should work towards restoration.

    Ideally, forgiveness is just the first step in restoring a broken relationship. When grudges are held, the relationship suffers or is non-existent. Forgiveness allows healing to begin. It is like draining an emotional abscess. The only true way to conquer an enemy is to make him a friend. (Luke 17:3-4; Galatians 6:1)

  4. When restoration is impossible, forgiveness is still important.

    Even if the person we need to forgive is dead or in jail, forgiveness still has its place. Learning to forgive others is as much for our own benefit as it is for theirs. Maybe even more. (Mark 11:25; Ephesians 4:31)

  5. When walking in God’s forgiveness, we need to also forgive ourselves.

    Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do. We may have asked God’s forgiveness and even made restitution, but we just can’t let it go. We must stop beating ourselves up! Self-flagellation is not only unhealthy on multiple levels, but it implies that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was insufficient. (Romans 8:1; Psalm 103:12)

  6. To live a life of forgiveness, we must learn to forgive God.

    This may seem like a strange concept, but look around. The world is full of people who are angry with God.

    Perhaps they are angry about the way He made them: Too short or too tall, too skinny or too fat, ears too big or feet too small, no good at math or music or sports.

    Perhaps they’re angry about their life circumstances (often understandably so!): Why did I get laid off from that job I loved? Why did my spouse leave me after twenty years? Why did my sister die so young?

    They reason that if God is ultimately in control, then He is ultimately to blame. We may never have intellectually framed it in those terms, but emotionally we all need to forgive God for something.

    Such forgiveness springs from the knowledge that God has a purpose and plan for our life and that He is able to work even bad things together for our good and His glory. If we are harboring bitterness and resentment against God for perceived wrongs of any kind, the real problem lies not in His actions toward us, but in our attitude toward Him. (Romans 9:20; Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28)

And there we have come full circle. The list begins with God and ends with God, as all things do. (Revelation 1:8) The good news is that once we’ve learned to “forgive God,” we actually begin to trust Him. As our trust in Him grows, we one day find that we are learning to love Him just as He loves us. It is a love rooted in forgiveness, and that love and forgiveness can then spill over onto our fellow-man, so that these principles really start to become second-nature. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Husband, Listen to Your Wife!

Husband, Listen to Your Wife! | All Truth is God's TruthMy father-in-law used to watch a lot of television. He was a little hard of hearing, so he usually kept the volume turned up pretty loud.

My wife’s mother would sometimes try to talk over the television to tell him something, but instead of muting the program and focusing his attention on her, Dad would just cup his ear and lean in closer to the set. Rather than tuning out the TV, he tried to tune out his wife!

Although we don’t have a television at our house, my wife still catches me “tuning out” occasionally. She’ll be in the middle of telling me a story, and I’ll be staring off into space, mentally rehashing some event or conversation from earlier in the day. Whether the distractions are internal or external, our wives can easily tell when we’re not paying attention.

Calvin Coolidge once said, “It takes a great man to be a good listener.” And do you know what? He was right.

So how can we learn to listen better? Here are five basic things husbands can do to hone their listening skills:

  • First, minimize distractions.

    Kids who are being boisterous should be made to settle down or sent to another room. Televisions and radios should be turned down or completely off. Laptops should be closed and cellphones pocketed. I normally place my phone or tablet face down beside me to physically demonstrate to my wife that she does, indeed, have my full attention.

  • Second, make eye contact.

    It may feel awkward at first, especially if you are accustomed to staring at your shoes or at the newspaper, but this is essential to letting your wife know you care about what she has to say. Look into her eyes, even if it’s hard. One of our sons had a difficult time looking people in the eye when he was younger. Even so, we insisted he do it, because we realized his habit of avoiding eye contact would cripple his ability to communicate and might even make him appear untrustworthy. With practice, he was able to overcome that unconscious quirk and is now one of the most comfortable, confident, and outgoing young men one could ever hope to meet.

  • Third, give frequent affirmation.

    Do you get what your wife is saying? Nod your head in understanding. Do you agree? Let her know that. Say positive things like, “Uh-huh” and “I see.” These things will communicate to her that you are paying attention and following her train of thought.

  • Fourth, ask questions.

    If you don’t understand something your wife has just told you, don’t pretend like you do. Instead, ask insightful, intelligent questions. This allows you clarify any ambiguities in what you think you heard her say (and it also helps her know for sure when she’s gotten her point across).

  • Fifth and finally, summarize.

    Repeat back, in a nutshell, what your wife just told you. This serves to cement what was discussed into your memory and reassures your beloved that she has truly been heard.

Although these five suggestions may seem difficult initially, they will begin to flow more naturally after you’ve gotten a little practice doing them. The best part is that, once you really begin to listen, you’ll be amazed at what interesting thoughts your wife has to share!

Why Switchfoot won’t sing Christian songs

Doug Flanders:

This is a great article that really captures the “different parts of one body” concept we see described by Paul in the New Testament.

Originally posted on ctkblog:

Lead singer Jon Foreman was asked if Switchfoot is a “Christian” band. His response is worth pondering.

Switchfoot is going secular. Sort of.

Switchfoot is going secular. Sort of.

“To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship

View original 435 more words

Life Expectancy in Women

Factors that lower female life expectancy (source  - http://alltruthisgodstruth.wordpress.com)
With all the recent discussion about so-called fourth-trimester abortions, I thought some statistics on life expectancy were in order.

Praying for Your Wife from Head to Toe

Praying for Your Wife from Head to Toe
As I mentioned in 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife, praying with and for your wife is a critical component of a healthy marriage.

Here is a companion graphic to go with my wife’s Praying For Your Husband From Head to Toe. She made them both, but it made more sense to put this one on my blog than hers.

Whether you reference this prayer guide or not, I hope you will make it a habit to pray for your wife daily. If you’d like to download a free printable version of our head-to-toe plan to use as a reminder, just click on the image at right. Enjoy.

  • Pray for Her Brain:
  • Pray that God would mold her into a capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman and would keep her thoughts centered on whatever is true, lovely, right, pure, noble, and worthy of praise. (Proverbs 31:10; Philippians 4:8)

  • Pray for Her Eyes:
  • Ask God to give her eyes of compassion, so she could see others as He sees them. (Matthew 9:36; 1 Samuel 16:7b)

  • Pray for Her Ears:
  • Pray that she would listen for God’s still, small voice and would remain ever attentive to the His promptings.
    (Matthew 11:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:19)

  • Pray for Her Mouth:
  • Ask that God would fill her mouth with skillful and godly wisdom, that the law of kindness would remain on her tongue, and that she would only and always speak the truth in love . (Proverbs 31:26; Ephesians 4:15)

  • Pray for Her Heart:
  • Pray that God would fill your wife’s heart with love and respect for you and with tender patience toward your children. (Ephesians 5:33; 1 Thessalonians 2:7)

  • Pray for Her Arms:
  • Ask God to gird your wife with strength, making her arms strong and firm. Pray that He would bless the work of her hands and that she would do her work cheerfully, as unto Him. (Proverbs 31:17, 31; Colossians 3:23)

  • Pray for Her Womb:
  • Pray that God would bless the fruit of her womb by giving her children who walk in truth. (Psalm 127:3; 3 John 1:4)

  • Pray for Her Legs:
  • Ask God to strengthen and sustain your wife, so that she can walk and not faint and not tire of doing good. (Isaiah 40:31; 2 Thessalonians 3:13)

  • Pray for Her Feet:
  • Pray that her feet would be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace so that she might faithfully pursue righteousness and love. Ask God to lead her in the path of wisdom and truth and to keep her foot from stumbling. (Ephesians 6:15; Proverbs 21:21; Proverbs 4:11-12)

Wine, Waiters, and Rorschach Tests

The ancient Greeks thought that the best way to discover a person’s true character was to serve them a couple glasses of wine. As inhibitions fell, underlying personality traits would shine forth. This is the philosophical underpinnings of the modern-day business party — get people to let down their guard and loosen up, so that you can see what they are really like.

The Waiter Rule is another tool employers commonly use when evaluating potential hires. Interviews are conducted over lunch, where the applicant’s treatment of the wait staff can be closely observed. His kindness to the girl refilling his water-glass tells much more about his true character than his courtesy to a prospective employer.

For years, psychologists have used inkblot or Rorschach tests to analyze personality types. The patient is shown a series of nondescript splotches of black on white and asked to identify the shapes. If every inkblot looks like a monster with fangs, there is likely an underlying problem.

Wine, waiters, Rorschach tests — each of these methods have proven helpful at revealing what a person is really like.

When a post my wife wrote a few weeks back went unexpectedly viral, we discovered a new way to find out what people are really like — by reading their blog comments and associated discussion boards!

The anonymity of the internet is the electronic equivalent of a couple of drinks. People tend to let their hair down when they are online. Some let it way down. And then, much like a waiter, the blogger is put at the mercy of the commenter.

But angry, hateful replies reveal more about the person leaving the comment than about the post they’re attacking, especially since hurling abuse at a blogger is even less risky than being mean to a waiter: a blogger isn’t going to spit in your food.

If you are reading this, you may already be familiar with my wife’s blog 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband and my corresponding blog 25 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife. We wrote these posts the same week we celebrated our silver wedding anniversary, to commemorate the 25 happy years we’ve spent together.

These articles have enjoyed immense popularity/notoriety, with well over three million views and 400,000 pins on Pinterest, not to mention the 1000+ comments they have generated. We’ve passed through as many of these comments as we could, both good and bad.

The positive replies were full of kudos and encouragement. The negative replies were full of indignation and outrage.

We normally edit out curse words, but a few of the dissenting opinions were so vile in language or imagery that they couldn’t be cleaned up adequately to publish. The discussion boards were even worse, enough to make a sailor blush. While it does not bother us that some readers disagree with our ideas, we’d prefer that they do so in a well articulated, intellectually honest, and mutually respectful way.

What we found most striking about the negative responses — once we moved beyond the foul language — was the vehemence and venom with which many were written. Pure, undiluted anger. You could almost sense the writers’ blood vessels about to burst as they pounded out their comments on their keyboards.

Whenever you give a two stimulus and get a ten response, there is eight of something you don’t know about contributing to the reaction, especially when literally hundreds of thousands of people think the stimulus/blog is terrific. It made me wonder more than once what is smeared on the windshields of some people’s lives that makes such a beautiful thing appear so ugly to them.

The next thing that seemed almost universal to the negative responses was that Self is clearly on the throne. Positive responders seemed to understand that putting your partner first is the bedrock of a healthy relationship. The dissenters made it abundantly clear in tone and just as often in words that their marriage is more about what they get than what they give.

Of course, no one likes to be considered self-centered, so some of them tried to get partial credit as a caring person by slipping in the old, “I respect my husband, but…” Then they’d list all the ways they refused to show it.

If somebody tells you, “I’d love to come to your party, but…,” you can be fairly certain that they aren’t coming.

The last thing we couldn’t help but note was the hypocrisy displayed by many of these writers on virtually every level possible. If asked about “hate speech,” I’m certain that every negative responder would decry it. Yet many of them had entire websites dedicated to mocking and attacking Christianity in the most abusive ways they could come up with. Many insisted that women should be free from oppression, then proceeded to cuss out a sweet stay-at-home grandma who was just trying to celebrate her silver anniversary. They argued that women should have their own voice, but repeatedly and systematically tried to block my wife’s blog on Pinterest. They insisted that women should make their own choices, then venomously berated my wife for making hers, calling her life “worthless” and her choices “disgusting.”

The message they sent was clear: “Don’t let a man abuse you… that’s our job!”

What is amazing to me is that, through it all, my wife has maintained her serenity. I asked her whether she were bothered by all the angry comments, and — here again — her response speaks volumes to her character.

“I’m not bothered in the least for my own sake,” she assures me, “but I feel sad for theirs. It makes me want to pray for them.”

So that is what we have committed to do. We are praying that their hearts and eyes would be opened and their lives would be blessed.

Jesus said, “Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.” (Matthew 5:44)

If you have been following this blog and understand the concept of unconditional love, we invite you to join us is praying for those who need it most. Pick a name or two from the negative responses and lift them up in prayer over the next week or month or year.

If — on the other hand — you hated these blogs, feel free to send us a railing reply. We’ll be happy to add you to our prayer list!

Spiritual Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is often called the “silent killer.” The one-third of adults who suffer from it don’t look or feel different than anyone else. Many don’t even realize they have it until it is too late and the damage has already been done — damage such as strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure to name a few.

As I was recently reading about the fall of Babylon in 539 BC and thinking about the pride that led to that fall, it struck me that pride is a sort of “spiritual hypertension.” Those who suffer from it look and feel roughly the same as everyone else around them; often, they are not even aware that they have it. Yet, just as high blood pressure silently erodes the body, so too pride quietly erodes our spiritual life. Specifically, it damages our relationship with God, our relationship with others, and eventually our relationship with ourselves.

James 4:6 indicates that “God opposes the proud.” He doesn’t just pity or tolerate the proud; He actively opposes them. Look at what happened to His top angel, Lucifer, when he became prideful. God cast him out of heaven, never to return. Apparently, God takes pride very seriously even when we do not. It is extremely difficult to have a positive relationship with God when He is opposing us!

Pride also limits our human relationships. In marriage, when one spouse views the other with contempt (of a lower station or class than themselves), the marriage is almost always doomed to failure. Friendships likewise depend on a sense of equality, not in wealth, talent, or intelligence, but in essence or kind. We must view each other as peers in our humanity, the details being entirely secondary. Pride wants to group others into categories not worthy of our attention, quickly limiting our pool of potential relationships. Pride is a lonely path.

Eventually, however, life bumps up against our pride. We then come face to face with the fact that we aren’t perfect, we aren’t always right, and we aren’t better than everyone else. Often it is a loss in our life — loss of a job, of our health, or a treasured relationship — that clues us in. This can be a great time of growth and self-awareness.

Unfortunately, pride has a tendency to become angry and fight back. It shouts, “It’s everyone else’s fault, not mine!” When this doesn’t work, it becomes depressed and moody. It whispers, “It really is everyone else’s fault” in the back of our mind. It makes us a miserable wretch, clinging to a falsehood we want so desperately to be true.

But, if somewhere amidst the crests and troughs of our turbulent sea of wretchedness, we can let go of pride and grab the lifeline of humility, we will find that God does indeed “give grace to the humble” just as His word promises. No longer opposing us, He begins to calm the seas around us. We discover we aren’t alone after all; the sea is full of others clinging to similar lifelines. And although each one is unique in many ways, each is still nothing more or less than we are — a simple human being in desperate need of God’s grace.

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