Tips for Parents

I recently ran across this list of rule for Susanna Wesley. She had 19 children including hymn writer Charles Wesley and preacher John Wesley (The original Methodist). I am not sure if it is 100% accurate or real, but it is still an intriguing list. So here you go:

1.Eating between meals is not allowed

2.As children they are to be in bed by 8:00 PM

3.They are required to take medicine without complaining

4.They were to subdue their self-will so that they might be open to God’s salvation

5.Teach a child to pray as soon as he can speak

6.Require all to be still during worship

7.Give them nothing that they cry for, and only that which is asked for politely

8.To prevent lying, punish no fault which is at first confessed and repented

9.Never allow a sinful act to go unpunished

10.Never punish a child twice for a single offense

11.Commend and reward good behavior

12.Any attempt to please, even if poorly performed should be commended

13.Preserve property rights, even in smallest matters (respect what belongs to others)

14.Strictly keep all promises

15.Require no daughter to work before she can read well (finish your education)

16.Teach children to fear the lord.

One of her sons, John Wesley, said of his mother, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all of the theologians in England.”

My joy is not for sale

Not to long ago I shared a story in a sermon. It was about a man who wanted some gas in a strange city. He saw a station and pulled in to fuel up. He saw an open pump and stopped in front of it. Just then a man ran out of the building and began filling up his car. He thought about how great this service was until the man told him the total for the gas. Apparently he had pulled into the full service line and his great service came at a price. He was disgusted with the station, with himself and with life in general. All day long he thought about how much money he had wasted at the simple fill up. As a result he was angry with the lady at the restaurant, the man at the store and everyone else he had come in contact with that day.

That night when he finally hit the bed he took out a pen and piece of paper and did some real math. He suddenly realized his entire day was ruined for a little over seven dollars. Then he made the realization that he sold all of his joy that day for seven lousy bucks.

I reflect on that story this week. You see, my son forgot to lock his locker during basketball practice. He came back to find that his iPod had been stolen along with $30 cash for a total loss of around $300. Honestly, it makes me sad, angry and frustrated all at the same time. I could spend the rest of the week trying to get revenge or catch the criminal. We did go to the school principal and then to the police station. Even with that done I am not trying to dwell on it. I am not going to let some two-bit teen criminal rob me of joy. I am trying to remind myself this week that my joy is not for sale – at any price.

Seth Godin and Support

Business man and advertising guru Seth Godin posted a great article today on his blog.

It is entitled: “Cheering You On When You Lose”

Who is waiting at the finish line, and who will be cheering for you at the final banquet, even when you don’t win? Especially when you don’t win…

I’m not talking about the sometime fan who rewards the winner, or the logo-wearing baseball fan who shows up when the team is in contention… I’m wondering about the person that is in it for your effort and your passion and your tears.

Almost nothing is more important to the artist who dares to leap

Which Voice?

I heard it like this:

There was once an old native American and he described his life this way. He said, “I have two dogs living inside of me. There is a white dog that loves what is good and does good things. Then there is a black dog and it hates what is good and does bad things. Those two dogs are always fighting within me.”
Another man asked him, “Well, which dog wins the battle.”
The old man said “Whichever one I feed the most.”

I love that story. I love it because it is so true. I love it because there are dozens of applications.

For me, it reminds me that all of us have voices inside that are fighting. One voice tells us good things from God and the other tells us bad things from the Devil. One voice tells me I am loved and forgiven. The other tells me I am a failure and covered in my own filth. One voice tells me to care for others and another voice tells me to focus on myself. Always these competing messages inside my head.

Everyday I have to ask myself, “Which voice am I going to listen too?”

Whichever voice I listen too is the feed for that dog inside of me.

Pure Evil

Lately I have been having evil thoughts. No, not like that, I mean I have been thinking about the devil. The way I understand it, the Bible calls the enemy of God and all things Godly by a couple of names. He is called “Satan” which means “Adversary” since he is against God. He is called the “Devil” which means “slanderer.” Finally he is referred to in other descriptive terms such as “Deceiver” or “Tempter.” There are other names or descriptions but these are the ones that have caught my attention.

You see, I believe one of the biggest reasons we do not offer a second chance to others or the reason we do not accept a second chance is because of the work of the “Evil One.” His job is to work against the plan of God by spreading lies about us. He usually only needs to whisper it in our ear. He slanders the work of God in our lives by saying that we are not good enough for his grace or that we shame him with every new sin. He lies about our relationship with God and tempts us into thinking we are not loved.

Not only does Satan tempt us into doing evil, but he lies to us to keep us wrapped up in its dirty aftermath. Shame, guilt and depression fill our mind instead of the truth of God’s love, grace and mercy. Then once that has taken root we begin to view other people the same way. If I am that dirty and evil then they must be too. The end result is that we withhold grace from ourselves and we taken others captive by withholding grace from them.

As I see it, one of the biggest tasks of a Christian is not to listen to the lies, the deception and the slander that is whispered in our ears by the evil one. To close our minds to evil and open our minds to the truth of God.

Where sin abounds grace abounds all the more. Remember that and don’t let anyone deceive you about it.

Blessing or Curse?

The beginning of 2014 has been an unusual weather year for Homer Alaska. It has been warm all the time and at my house all the snow has melted. Currently the weather is in the upper 40 degree range and I have seen it hit 50 once on my thermometer. The forecast is for more warm weather the next week and it may not get below freezing.

The ironic thing about this weather is that while it is warm in Alaska it has been cold in the Midwest. I grew up in a small town in Indiana and the temperature there has been hovering around 0 degrees. The arctic cold has placed itself over the Midwest and the warm spring air is filling Alaska.

As you might imagine, my family and I are loving the warmer weather. Heavy coats are left on the hanger and I am thinking of heading out metal detecting tomorrow afternoon. To me this is a huge blessing.

The funny thing for me is that in the last 3 days I have had two conversations with long-term Alaskans. They are both very unhappy about the warmer weather. They like the cold and the snow. They like snowmobiling and sledding and cold winter activities. Both of these men said the exact same thing without even talking to each other. Both said, “Many more winters like this and I am moving down below.”

Today, after the second conversation, it hit me that what I see as a blessing others see as a curse. One experience but two totally different perspectives. Then I found myself wondering, “What is there is there in my life that I see as a curse that someone else might see as a blessing?” “What if I changed my perspective about the circumstances of my life?” Maybe a curse might turn out to be nice warm spring blessing.

You Have To Want It (A Marriage Post)

Last night my wife and I were talking about a few couples that we know who are going through marriage struggles. We spoke about how we could help and what we could do for them. As the conversation wore on we both reached the same conclusion. It is almost impossible to help a couple if only one person wants to work on fixing it.

Any couple who comes to me for counseling will experience the same first session. It is designed to ask the question, “Do you both want to work on your marriage?” One of the ways I do this is to listen, but I also ask for a follow-up meeting. Then I see how quickly each person works to make it happen. That is one huge indicator. If you want to fix your marriage you will drop everything to make it happen.

The second thing I do is assign homework. It is simple to do, just come back with a list of all the things you love about your spouse. Answer the question of “why you fell in love in the first place”. Then at the second session I look to see who completed the homework. If only one did the assignment then only one person cares about saving the relationship. That is indicator number two.

If one of the people in the marriage is not willing to drop everything and do whatever is necessary to save their marriage then I can rarely do anything with that couple. But if both people are willing to do the work then I know that couple will make it. The difference is not the words I say or the assignments I give. The difference is that one marriage has two people willing to work for it and the other does not. That makes all the difference.