How to Say “I Love You” without Cymbals

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“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

I assume you have hopeful expectations for good things in 2018. Sure, hardships await in some measure. But I hope you anticipate some big things, some great things. With God, all things are possible!

Yet, no matter what we say, accomplish or give in 2018, without love, it amounts to noise. Without love, I sound like “gong and clang” when I speak (ask Sue). My efforts and works are meaningless, no matter how grand.

In chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians, we’re told that love is not only essential, but it is the ultimate Christian value. It never fails (quits or ends) (v. 8). Even faith and hope don’t measure up to the greatness of love (v. 13). This chapter provides God’s criteria to evaluate our love life, from which I’ve created a checklist. This checklist is worth referring to occasionally to help us hear what we really sound like when we think we’re saying, “I love you.”

“I Love You…”
“Gong, Clang, Gong…”
□ I’m Patient with you □ I’m Angry & Irritable with you
□ I’m Kind to you □ I’m Rude & Dishonor you
□ I Delight in Truthfulness □ I Delight in Wrong-doing
□ I Always Protect (on your Side) □ I’m Boastful (Protect me)
□ I Always Trust (Give you Benefit of Doubt) □ I’m Arrogant (Benefit goes to me)
□ I Always Hope (Want the Best for you) □ I’m Envious (Want Best for me)
□ I Always Persevere (in all your Failings) □ I’m Resentful & Unforgiving
□ I Endure All for You (Prefer you over me) □ I’m Selfish (Prefer me over you)

I hope 2018 will be a year of saying, doing and gaining great things for you and your family.

3 Ways Christmas Was Only Meant for Children

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 “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-4

1. Christ Came as a Child: Christmas celebrates the day God became a child. Both Son of God and Son of Man, he was born to take away the sins of the world, by living and giving the only sinless life that the world has known. Yet, he took no short cuts nor assumed any special privileges for himself. He was born to humble people in lowly conditions. He required the same love and care that every helpless child needs.

2. Children Gladly Receive Free Gifts: Jesus is the greatest gift ever given. Unfortunately, as we grow, we become increasingly skeptical of “free” gifts. We eventually learn that “nothing in life is free.” There must always be strings attached. A gift, by definition, is free and so is forgiveness of our sins in Christ. Children have no problem with the freeness of a gift, especially the Gift of God’s Son.

3. Only Children Can Receive God’s Christmas Gift: God’s gift of eternal life in his Son cannot be earned. There’s nothing we have to offer to merit this gift. Thus, the only way to receive the gift of God’s Son is through childlike humility, freely by faith. God doesn’t turn away adults for adulthood. He turns away those who attempt to come with self-sufficient pride. God’s Christmas gift can only be received like a child.

This Christmas, I hope you can become like little children, putting aside any pride or self-strength, and freely accept the Gift that God has freely given.

 “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27-29

God’s Process for Making Kids Grow

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“The Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.(1 Corinthians 3:5-6)

Only God can cause someone to grow in Christ. Yet, he has assigned essential tasks to both the home (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) and the church (Acts 2:42-47) to contribute to his process for growth.

The Home

No one has more potential to influence a child’s faith than mom and dad. This doesn’t require parents to be perfect or to hold a family church service in their home each day. But it does call for consistent planting and watering. There are lots of simple ways to impress (Deuteronomy 6:7) the things of God on your children at home. Even 2-3 times a week will make a big difference. Natasha Crain provides some great ideas for doing this on her blog.

The Church

Scripture teaches us that every Christian is a part of Christ’s body, the church (Romans 12:4-5). No body part can survive separated from the body. And no Christian can grow apart from the body of Christ (John 15:5). For children to grow in genuine faith, they need to be firmly connected to the church.

Unfortunately, the average child’s attendance rate at church is just 1-2 times a month. That’s not enough to grow on. Nor is it sufficient to counter the countless hours of media and screen time children consume each month. And we wonder why over half of all kids “raised in the church” are walking away from their faith when they leave home. Are you and your children securely fixed to the main body of Christ?

God knows how to grow his children. Make sure they don’t miss out on the planting and watering that he has assigned.

Blessings,

Dave

Our 35-Year Marriage Poem

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“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:6)

A couple months ago, celebrating our 35th, we took a fantastic trip to the west coast that included an Alaskan cruise. Since I don’t sleep in very well while traveling (where Sue has no problem), I had lots of time to myself each morning. One morning at sea, my years of Dr. Seuss training took over and I wrote what I originally named “Our Love Boat Poem.” Marriage is worthy of honor (Hebrews 13:4) because it honors God, who created it. So, I share our love boat poem in honor of marriage and our God who made it.

My whole adult life has been your whole life too
For 35 years what is me has been you

Two made one in Spirit at the same baptism hour
Two made one in flesh by God’s marriage power

Then just babes in Christ and the world, there’s no doubt
Our future firmly secured but no details worked out

Quickly God gave a first, second, third little girl
Through them He transformed our love, worry and world

So young ourselves, God stretched our faith and our treasure
As they too received life in Christ without measure

Rapid years filled will joy, success and some parent mistakes
Still endless prayers that Christ’s love they’ll never forsake

Oh and the Church, our family, the body we’re forever a part
How greatly it taught us love, service and our Savior’s heart

Days and years made our faith, like gold, more pure
So little of it easy, that’s how God makes it sure

You always faithful to me and I always to you
No two friends could be more sincerely true

Yes, with some hurts the foe whispered, “you’ll last no longer!”
Yet by God, yet by Grace, we only grew stronger!

Hair now graying and grand kids so fun
What shall we say of us two still the one?

My, how you’ve changed and, yes, so have I
More sure of this love till the day that we die!

So for us and for all we pray His word true:
What God has made one let no one make two!

Nothing You Desire Can Compare With This


Children need biblical wisdom now more than ever.

Above all, Scripture makes us wise for salvation through faith in Christ (2 Timothy 3:15). It also instructs and transforms us in godly wisdom for daily life.

The book of Proverbs is one of the richest sources for helping parents guide themselves and instruct their children in godly wisdom.

The instructions in Proverbs are given from the home, from father and mother, to son (Proverbs 1:8, 31:1). This is God’s wisdom. It is more valuable than silver and gold (Proverbs 3:13-15), and its purpose is clear:

“…for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young.” (Proverbs 1:2-4)

Below are some highlights from Proverbs that mention children. Some speak to the blessing wise parents are to their children and grandchildren. Others describe the reward a wise son or daughter is to their parents. All are helpful for a healthy life (Proverbs 3:8).

Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. (8:32)

A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. (13:22)

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. (13:24)

Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. (14:26)

Grandchildren are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. (17:6)

To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool. (17:21)

A foolish child is a father’s ruin. (19:13)

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death. (19:18)

 Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother is a child who brings shame and disgrace. (19:26)

The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them. (20:7)

Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright? (20:11)

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (22:6)

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away. (22:15)

The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. (23:24)

Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire. (29:17)

Her (the wife of noble character, v. 10) children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. (31:28)

Make the book of Proverbs a regular part of your family’s pursuit of godly wisdom.

Nothing you desire can compare with her.” (Proverbs 3:15)

 

 

A Template to Thank God as a Family

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Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
He remembered us in our low estate. His love endures forever.
He freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever.
He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1, 3, 24-26)

Psalm 136 provides a superb outline for a family prayer time that helps remind us to always “give thanks to the Lord.” As the psalmist does, family members can take turns stating a specific attribute, work or provision of God and pairing it with the refrain, “His love endures forever.” This can be done around a family meal, while riding in the car, or at a child’s bedside. You can make it fun by passing a ball or other item to the person who takes the next turn to thank God.

You can offer up thanks to God for his awesome character and power over nature, for specific family needs he has met, and for his goodness and grace to all people. Since every good gift comes from God (James 1:17), every good thing is in play.

Give thanks to the Lord, for another birthday. His love endures forever!

 

 

 

 

Is Your Love Light On?

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“Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” – 1 John 2:10-11

My love for Sue causes me to walk around in darkness. I’m natural ly an early riser, up before the sun and Sue. Sue hates light when she’s sleeping, even the smallest glow. We have a piece of masking tape over the kitchen microwave timer display to block the slightest emanation of light from reaching the bedroom. So, I make my way around the bedroom creating as few rays as possible.

Because I’m very familiar with the bedroom and take careful note of things out of place before bed, I’m relatively comfortable and have had very few stumbles over the years (like when our Labrador is off her bed).

But I hate walking in the dark in unfamiliar terrain. My first reaction is to turn on a light so I don’t stumble. God is love (1 John 4:8) and he is light (1 John 1:5). Therefore, love for our brother is the spiritual light bulb in our daily walk. It’s the power to our spiritual lamp.

By loving our brother and sister we eliminate within us any spiritual stumbling stones. If we don’t love our brothers and sisters, we’ve turned off the spiritual love light that allows us to see where we’re going. Unfortunately, this condition is very deceptive. Thinking we can still see quite well, we keep on walking, bumping around blindly in spiritual darkness.

If you seem to be stumbling in your relationships, check to see if your love light is on.