RSS Robot

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  1. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Among the many evidences for verbal inspiration, both within and without Scripture, is the frequent interchange of God recognized as the author of a particular passage with the human author who actually ... More... View the full article
  2. In part one of this post, we explored the first seven qualities of toxic leadership. Are you ready for the next seven? We are discovering “what not to be” when it comes to spiritual leadership. For leaders, these are fleshly tendencies that can arise within any leader. By God’s grace we can be grounded in the gospel, secure in Jesus, and resilient as leaders. This will help us serve and care well for God’s people, in spite of the potential of being hurt. For those under leadership, these are qualities to avoid as you seek a godly environment for your soul. And these are warning signs that should give you pause when following someone in spiritual leadership. Ask God for wisdom and clarity in these matters. So, let’s dive in. Here are the next seven qualities of toxic leadership: 8. Removes Scripture from Clear Context to Enforce Personal Opinion—A toxic leader will use scripture to build a case that scripture doesn’t support. It’s a fearful thing to misuse God’s word. Without faithful boundaries of textual exposition, the Bible can be made to say nearly anything. A toxic leader begins with an agenda or personal opinion, and then forces the Bible to support it. (Again, when you are loose with context, you can make it say things that it just doesn’t say.) A servant leader begins and ends with the word, and he lets the Bible say what it says. Also, this leader isn’t afraid to distinguish between clear biblical truth and personal opinion or preference. In other words, he states preference as preference, and scripture as scripture—separating the two, which is respectable. 2 Timothy 2:15 “15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 9. Emphasizes Why “We” are “Better than Others”—Toxic leadership attempts to generate an “us against them” mentality that the Bible expressly speaks against. Comparison of standards and stylistic preferences are used to lift up “our form” while “putting down” that of other Christians—which makes “us” better, more spiritual, more biblical, etc. This thinking divides Bible-believers rather than drawing them together in humility. It breaks down what Paul called your “fellowship in the gospel.” (Phil. 1) This mentality creates a pharisaical, stifling spirit in Christians, who are so busy examining and avoiding contamination from other Christians that they are unable to carry on a relational conversation with someone who isn’t precisely like them. This is, spiritually, very nearly the way the Pharisees behaved in the first century. 2 Corinthians 10:12 “12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 10. Minimizes Accountability and Multiplicity of Leaders—One guy running things, handling money, and unilaterally making decisions is always a really bad thing; and yet it’s quite common. (As a side note: young church planters are usually an exception, as they are likely early in the process of reaching and discipling new leaders who can help provide accountability and structure.) Toxic leaders elevate themselves up into a position where they are not designed to function. Other leaders threaten them. Accountability agitates them. Conversely, servant leaders set up boundaries that protect the ministry even from them. They desire financial accountability; they employ best practices; they enlist and train a team of leaders; and they share a mutual commitment to organizational integrity and longevity. The New Testament clearly teaches a multiplicity or plurality of leaders (Acts 6 and 13, Hebrews 13 clearly teaches “obey them…” plural.) God never tells me to mindlessly “obey” a single Lord except Jesus. He does call me to place myself into a context where I’m being influenced and led by godly leaders who are mutually accountable to each other, and He does call me to obey Him and them in the context of godly under shepherds who “watch for your souls.” (Hebrews 13:17) This doesn’t negate the need for a senior leader, but it does negate the possibility of a solo leader who may be manipulative, exploitative, or controlling in ways God would forbid. Notice in the verse below the safe context of obedience—multiple leaders, giving godly care, held to a higher accountability, for your profit… Hebrews 13:17 “17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” 11. Avoids the Command to be “Given to Hospitality”—God’s command to spiritual leaders is to be “given to hospitality.” It’s simple, but rare. In toxic leaders, a hostile demeanor replaces a hospitable spirit. Anger and frustration replace joy and delight. Furthermore, toxic leaders aren’t known to the people they serve. They avoid growing close to people—perhaps because they’ve been hurt; perhaps because they were taught to protect themselves; perhaps because they are simply insecure. Jesus didn’t do that. Servant leaders spend time with people, opening both their hearts and their homes. They make themselves vulnerable, and gladly take the risk of being hurt in relationships that they might nurture the hearts of others. While toxic leaders avoid the transparency and relational closeness that hospitality affords, servant leaders embrace it, love it, and foster it! 1 Timothy 3:2 “2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” 1 Peter 4:9 “9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” 12. Emphasizes Performance-Driven Culture Over Grace-Driven Culture—The focus of a toxic leader is “what you do.” The focus of a servant leader is “who you are!” Toxic cultures are driven by incessant busyness, but healthy cultures are driven by increasing community and spiritual growth. To servant leaders, relationships and spiritual health matter most, because ministry is about loving people. To toxic leaders, relationships are almost viewed, at best, as a waste of time, and at worst, as a threat. Therefore activity minimizes relationships. Busyness prevents closeness. Toxic leaders drive people rather than leading them, and are sometimes even threatened by people who develop close, godly friendships. Servant leaders will strive to allow God’s work to be led by God’s grace, which will provide for both a culture of thriving community as well as thriving ministry. In this culture, God’s people will love one another and serve one another, and it will be organically driven by grace rather than man-made coercion. To put it clearly: Grace invites someone to serve. Coercion shames them for not serving enough, or for needing to take a break. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 “8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.” 13. Fosters a Personal Demeanor Characterized by Hostility—Toxic leaders are hostile—inappropriately angry, or generally grumpy and agitated. Sadly, this demeanor repels both believers and unbelievers. No one wants this Christianity, except perhaps other angry/hostile personalities who are looking for a like-minded place to park their bad spirit. The testimony and reputation of this leader precedes him. His social media posts expose him. He creates a persona that is characterized by hostility and criticism in many various forms. He is a man who is known for stewing—he stews his way through life, rarely finding a reason to rejoice. This man dramatically limits his ministry and influence by his caustic and unrestrained hostility. The irony of this model is that it’s like a bug light that attracts other hostile temperaments. The leader eventually finds himself surrounded by hostile people and wonders why. His hostility was contagious. He then becomes more angry and hostile as the organizational culture declines in a downward spiral. Contention has birthed more contention. A contentious leader produces contentious leaders and contentious followers. The leader rarely sees the source in his own heart. His temperament has become culture, and that toxic culture eventually turns on the leader. The whole environment ultimately devours itself like a colony of cannibals. The last one alive wins, but not really. Galatians 5:15 “15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” This is one of the most perplexing and paradoxical qualities of spiritual leaders. Isn’t the gospel “good news?” Doesn’t the word of God give us hope? Aren’t we commissioned to love each other and the lost, as Jesus does? Isn’t the fruit of the Spirit made of love, joy, peace, gentleness, long-suffering, etc.? How are any of these things compatible with a hostile spirit? These leaders are unable to disagree agreeably. They make everything personal. I can appreciate someone having a varying opinion on methods or philosophy of ministry. What I don’t grasp is the emotional hostility in a person who is called to be spiritually mature. A bad attitude is simply not compatible with the work of the gospel, and if it isn’t dealt with in the leader’s heart, it will prevent God’s work from moving forward. 2 Timothy 2:24 “24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,” 14. Avoids Admission of Wrong, Apologizing, Repenting, and Reconciling—Finally, a toxic leader can’t humble himself to accept reproof, acknowledge wrong, apologize, and ask forgiveness. This leader will blame-shift, rationalize, cover-up, misdirect, argue, accuse, avoid—anything but accept responsibility, admit to a mistake or misunderstanding, and simply apologize. With a toxic leader, you are always the problem. Furthermore, this leader will quickly “cut-off” others. People, who are not hostile or hurtful, like former staff or church members, are inexplicably on a “black list” for no reason other than the leaders’ hostility or insecurity. That insecurity fosters the “us against them” narrative that isn’t necessary or appropriate. A servant leader will take a different view of offense and of transitioning relationships. His goal is to reconcile, not to win. And in the event of transition, this leader’s goal is to preserve the relationship and remain in loving fellowship, even from a distance. This leader will absorb hurt, accept responsibility, seek reconciliation, and willingly apologize to win back a broken relationship. This leader will be emotionally and spiritually anchored to the gospel in such a way that he can be vulnerable. By God’s grace, he can lose himself to reconcile or retain a loving relationship. For this leader, it’s not about winning an argument; it’s about winning a heart. It’s not about having control; it’s about protecting Christ-like fellowship. Romans 12:10 “10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” 2 Corinthians 5:18 “18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;” —————— Much more could be said, but this post is too long. Admittedly, this is a sensitive topic and could be taken “offensively” by leaders who are stung by this content. My prayer is that the sting itself will reveal areas where God invites us to grow in grace. Hopefully it has been encouraging and not “stinging.” Hopefully it gives you permission to lead from a gospel-driven heart of grace. Whether you’re a leader or follower, if your response to reading this post is frustration, let that be a warning light of what’s within you, and how the mirror of God’s word has exposed it. As a leader, if you find these traits within your leadership style—repent and grow. As a follower, if you have experienced these traits, remember that responding with hostility would make you no different. The good news is this—toxic leadership is avoidable. As leaders, we can grow in grace. We can repent, mature spiritually, and allow God to deal with the insecurities and character gaps that drive these tendencies. As leaders, we can rest in God’s acceptance, and anchor our hearts deeper into the stability and security offered in the gospel. In Christ we can mature in our insecurities, own our flaws, and trust God to help us lead as servants. We can trust that God does a special work in the hearts of His people—they thrive under shepherds who care well and help them flourish in spiritual health. To be an influential leader, you must first be a vulnerable leader—hurt-able and approachable. To someday turn around and see growing hearts following your example, you must begin by letting go. Grasping for control guarantees that you don’t have it, and won’t ever have it. Letting go of control, and serving in love, guarantees that God will work through you to help others flourish as they follow Him! It is counter-intuitive but true. Toxic leaders fight for authority but lose it. Servant leaders relinquish authority to Jesus, and then gain influence under His authority. It really is an exercise in downward mobility. As followers we can encourage our leaders to be humble, accountable, and spiritually submissive to God’s pattern for leadership. We can assure them that they are loved as they are, and that we view them as growing Christians in the local church family. We can remind them that they aren’t expected to be perfect, don’t have to pretend, and aren’t “in this alone!” We can come along side them as fellow Christians and friends, and let them grow in the security of their identity in the gospel of Jesus. We can reassure and encourage them that growing through these insecurities is a good thing. Finally, when unavoidably necessary, after doing all that we can to encourage growth—we can determine to step away from the influence of toxic leaders who manifest these qualities with an unrepentant spirit and unwillingness to grow. May God give us His grace to be more like Jesus in our leadership and follower-ship! View the full article
  3. What Is Life?

    “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) We often overlook the fact that the Bible text uses a unique word for “life” that is never applied to plants and vegetation. The word choice of the Holy Spirit is chay (and its derivatives) and occasionally the word ch... More...View the full article
  4. Fed Up With False Teaching: Calvary Chapel Church Says “So Long” to the CC Association LTRJ Note: “Co-incidentally,” Lighthouse Trails had just posted an announcement about the Great Lakes Prophecy Conference this fall, when 30 minutes later we received this news brief reporting that Calvary Chapel Appleton is withdrawing from the Calvary Chapel Association. Lighthouse Trails was expecting this to happen in the near future based on information we had […] The post Fed Up With False Teaching: Calvary Chapel Church Says “So Long” to the CC Association appeared first on . View the full article
  5. 2016 Great Lakes Prophecy Conference with Lighthouse Trails Speakers and Others . . . September 9-11 (Appleton, WI) The 2016 Great Lakes Prophecy Conference at Calvary Chapel Appleton (Wisconsin) will take place on September 9th through the 11th. If you live within driving distance or can fly in, this will be a great time of fellowship with like-minded believers and a chance to hear some wonderful teachings and information. This year’s conference will […] The post 2016 Great Lakes Prophecy Conference with Lighthouse Trails Speakers and Others . . . September 9-11 (Appleton, WI) appeared first on . View the full article
  6. Ministry Update From Roger Oakland – “From the Heart” By Roger Oakland Understand the Times, International It has been some time since I have written a personal note sharing about the progress in the ministry of Understand The Times and expressing things that are from my heart. Those who are close to me know that the last six months have been among the most […] The post Ministry Update From Roger Oakland – “From the Heart” appeared first on . View the full article
  7. Last Sunday we had a visiting preacher, Chesford Carr. You can pick up a couple of his sermons online. I won’t try to cover what he did Sunday morning – there was much more than I can fit into this space. Just know that we began in Hebrews and looked at several other verses. The admonition in Hebrews 2:1 caught my attention early on: Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. (Hebrews 2:1 KJV) It’s a well-known English idiom that we are capable of letting things slip away from us, but the Greek παραῤῥυέω carries that same concept of being swept by or missing. The thought is also shown as: lest the salvation which these things heard show us how to obtain, slip away from usThat thought is continued in the next two verses: For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:2-3 KJV) We have all had opportunities slip by us. I won’t even go into examples because I know that some of mine are similar to some of yours. We let time slip by, too. We’ve lost contact with people we care about simply because time passed and we let that contact slip. But what does happen if we let these things we’ve heard about God, about Jesus, about His followers, about His message – what happens if we let this slip away from us? What happens if we do neglect so great salvation? That determines how we will spend eternity, if God is real and eternity exists. If it doesn’t, there is no difference. We could do as Nero did and allow our world to burn. We could do as Hitler did and be the worst example of mankind for generations – until someone else came along, but it wouldn’t matter. Philosophers, prophets, intellectuals and the most common of mankind have spent time on that question. Belief is a very personal matter. I believe God does exist, has existed before time began and will exist after time ceases. I believe God created the universe we see and the spiritual world beyond it. I believe what we do makes a difference here and in God’s kingdom (which is a very poor manmade word to describe eternity.) I believe what we do here, determines what we do there. I believe God inspired Paul to describe what does happen: For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:9-15 KJV) I am not the least bit interested in what you build – I’m concentrating on being certain on the foundation, which goes back to part of yesterday’s thought from Matthew 7:24-27. We’ve heard, haven’t we? What have we let slip?View the full article
  8. The Good Confession

    “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession.” (1 Timothy 6:13) Young Timothy also had “professed a good profession [same word as ‘confession’] before many witnesses” (v. 12), evidently of similar substance and quality to that in th... More... View the full article
  9. This painting by the Danish artist Carl Heinrich Bloch depicts Jesus teaching His disciples at what we call the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew chapters 5-7. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, (Matthew 5:1-2 KJV) I’ll hope you click on the reference to read those three chapters, or pick up your Bible to do so. There’s a great deal of Christian beliefs defined in Jesus words. Many of these verses are used stand alone to offer solace or uplift hearts. A few are used as pejoratives to express contempt toward professing Christians who do not live up to standards set by men. Jesus took His disciples up into a mountain – the verse does not describe the multitudes accompanying them, but it is possible others besides the disciples heard His words. Matthew was inspired to write them down. The other gospels include the lessons, too, indicating He was consistent in His descriptions and sermons. How they were received, though, is of interest. He was with these disciples for only three years. How long have we spent learning from one person outside of family? Our parents, yes. Our spouse, yes. Our children, yes – we do learn from them. But a non-family member? How long? Yes, I have had friendships that lasted years, but I’ve never spent three years traveling and discussing religion with one person. These disciples did not get the message in those three years, either, did they? They heard Him prophesize His death, but abandoned Him at Gethsemane. Peter followed to see what would happen, but ended up denying Him three times, as He prophesied. None of them buried Him and only women came to see to His funeral Sunday morning. One was the reason He was taken at the garden. For that, he received money, which was appropriate since he saw after their finances. Judas’ guilt brought anger, regret, a change regarding his desire for money – but no indication that he turned to God to acknowledge his sin. His actions show no indication that he believed Jesus’ messages. Yet could have at the very last moment of life asked to be remembered when Jesus’ kingdom came. A thief did, and received a promise. (Luke 23:39-43) These three chapters are filled with Jesus’ teachings – many of them familiar through multiple tellings, both in and out of churches. How we apply them to our own lives tells much about ourselves. Too often we see other’s examples where we should see ourselves. It would do us good to remember one very short verse: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21 KJV) How can we do the will of God until we study what is known of God? I believe that comes through scripture, as Paul wrote Timothy: And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:15-17 KJV) That’s where we get our doctrine – which astounded people as the Sermon on the Mount closed: And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29 KJV)View the full article
  10. Creating Life

    “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” (Genesis 1:20) The two most fundamental laws of science state that matter can neither be created nor destroyed and that all processes tend to lose order, wear out, and eventually stop functioning. This i... More... View the full article
  11. Raphael’s depiction of Paul in Athens is similar, but yet different, from street preachers today. Instead of going to Athens, we see him leaving Berea, where his words were met with learning and researching but detractors couldn’t stand that interest in his words. (Acts 17:11-14) In Athens, Paul reaches out to his primary audience: Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. (Acts 17:16-17 KJV) He has an audience with a long cultural history with their own beliefs, along with temples, statues and monuments to their deities. As a Jew, Paul would recognize idolatry, but as a follower of Jesus, he cared about what happened to the Athenians. What he said did not condemn them, and they were interested in learning more: Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. (Acts 17:18 KJV) There’s a place in Athens where people expect to hear new ideas. Paul stands before them without protest signs. That’s not necessary in a city that prides itself on education and debate – they have platforms for speakers to share thoughts. (Acts 17:19-21) Then, Paul preached. (Acts 17:22-33) Please read that for yourself. He did call them superstitious – the Greek word used is δεισιδαιμονέστερος, a compound word that combines “more” and “religious”, which could be taken two ways: in a good sense reverencing god or the gods, pious, religious in a bad sense superstitious I believe we can take away a serious lesson from Paul’s interaction with the Athenians as we interact with people of other faiths – and our opportunities to do just that will grow and grow as our nation diversifies. We have opportunities today. Across my work years, I interacted with devout believers of Atheism, Christianity (in its various interpretations) Hinduism, Islam (both Shiite and Sunni, perhaps Wahhabism), Judaism (Conservative, Orthodox and Reformed), Sikhism, Taoism and Wicca. A kind Jewish gentleman taught me how to break a number of Religious Laws by eating a ham sandwich on a high holy day. A Wiccan explained how he left Catholicism for Wicca. I also heard how an abused wife left Christianity as her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s abuse was justified by their church with Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18, completely out of context. One supervisor, a Catholic, Jesuit trained for priesthood, explained to me how wrong it was to use biblical references, which should be left up to a priest to interpret for today’s world. I’ve discussed my beliefs under a number of circumstances, but the simplicity of Paul’s sermons is as valid today as it was in Athens. The only better of his sermons (in my view) was before Agrippa. (Acts 26:1-28) That’s all we can do – tell of Jesus, His life, His teachings, His death – but most of all, His resurrection. We can refer to the apostles who wrote of Him, the changes in their lives. We can refer to changes in our own – but that’s all. And, we can move on when we’re told – as Paul was: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (Acts 26:28-29 KJV) View the full article
  12. NEW BOOKLET: Signs & Wonders! Five Things You Should Consider NEW BOOKLET: Signs & Wonders! Five Things You Should Consider by David Dombrowski is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet is 10 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own […] The post NEW BOOKLET: Signs & Wonders! Five Things You Should Consider appeared first on . View the full article
  13. One of the easy traps for parents to fall into is having shortsighted goals for their children. If I can just make it through today… (particularly in the preschool years) My child’s greatest problem is to change _______ behavior. If he can just make a higher grade… If she could just have more friends… While it is good to make it through another day(!) and behavior, grades, and friends do matter, 3 John 4 gives one of the greatest goals any Christian parent can hold: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” This is a long-term goal—that your children would set a lifelong direction of walking in the truth. By the grace of God, Terrie and I can personally attest to the joy of having children who not only walk with the Lord, but are actively pursuing Him and serving Him. We thank the Lord that all four of our adult children are loving and serving the Lord with their spouses. What helps set the direction for your children on the path of walking in the truth? Here are a few things we’ve learned over the years through our family life and through counseling hundreds of other families. 1. Have a spiritual relationship with your children. I believe you should have fun with your children. You should play games and have family days and talk about what’s going on at school. However, realize that your children don’t just need you to be their friend. They need you to be their parent. They need you to be a spiritually nurturing authority in their lives. It should not be abnormal for your children for you to talk about spiritual things—to ask them what they learned in church, how their walk with God is, how they’re doing in resisting temptation. Ask your teen, “What is God teaching you lately?” When I was in high school, my mom was so good at this. She would come to my room in the evening while I was doing my homework and just ask me about my day, tell me she was praying for me, and sometimes share a Scripture verse with me. Those moments—not so much individually, but accumulated—made a profound impact on my life. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.—Deuteronomy 6:6–7 2. Know your children’s friends. Influence is a powerful force. Your children’s friends can be a tremendous force—either for positive or for negative. So make it your business to know who is influencing them and what they are like. When our children were still at home, I was a little bit like an FBI agent when it came to who their friends were. I wanted to know who was influencing my children and how. So it mattered to me what their friends listened to, talked about, thought was funny or cool, and (if I allowed our children to go to their houses) what their homes were like. No children are perfect—not yours and not your children’s friends. So the point isn’t that they can only have perfect friends. The bottom line is simply that you do not want your children around people or in environments that are going to undermine the values that you’re teaching them at home. He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.—Proverbs 13:20 3. Watch their social media. Social media is often a window into a young person’s heart and can be a place where they reveal very private thoughts and even information that could hurt them in the future. If you allow your child to have social media accounts, you need to be involved. You need to understand how it works, what their privacy settings are, who they are connecting with through it, and what they are saying. The Internet is one of the most dangerous places in the world to allow your child to simply find their own way with no parental oversight. (This is why there are two entire chapters in Making Home Work on navigating through the challenges of media.) For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.—Ephesians 5:8, 11 4. Be involved with the authorities in their lives. Know your children’s teachers, Sunday school teachers, youth pastor and workers, coaches, and anyone who is an authority in their lives. And help your child get to know them as well. Invite them over for dinner, make effort to see them at church, ask them specifically how your child is doing. Children need a united front between their authorities. Don’t allow your children to pit you against another authority. If you ever have a concern regarding how one of your child’s authorities is handling a situation, go directly to that person, and work out the difficulty between the two of you. Also, be sure your children’s authorities always know you are available for any concerns they have and that you will listen to and believe what they tell you, even if it is that your child is struggling in a way you did not see. He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.—Proverbs 15:32 5. Set the right example. The greatest gift you can give your children is a good example. If what you tell them does not match what you show them, they are likely to reject what you tell them. No parent is perfect (and no child expects his parent to be perfect). But every parent is an example. If you want your child to love God, engage in the body life of the church, develop character, respect authorities, and invest their lives in eternal values, don’t leave it to the youth group to teach them. Model these in your own life. Children do what children see—and especially what they see in their parents. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.—1 Corinthians 11:1 Parenting children can be difficult and is definitely challenging. But in the difficult moments, look further than the immediate problem in front of you to the long-range goal of seeing your children walk in truth. Ultimately, each person will make their own choice regarding the direction they take for their life. But, as a parent, make sure that what you are doing today contributes toward directing your children to walk in truth…for a lifetime. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.—3 John 4 Related posts: 7 Practical Ways to Teach Your Children to Love the Ministry How to Protect Your Children How to Pray for Your Children View the full article
  14. The Invisible Law

    “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.” (Romans 1:20) Are you aware that all science rests on an invisible law of science? The most certain and universal of all scientific principles is that of causality, or the law of cause and effect. The... More... View the full article
  15. The Dazzling Spider

    “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” (Proverbs 30:28) There is incredible detail and beauty in a typical spider web. Scientists have found that web strands are comparable in strength to fused quartz fibers. Zoologists discovered that spiders have one to four pairs of spinnerets located in their abdomen (the normal number are... More... View the full article