• Tuesday, April 28, 2009

  • The gospel-centered home starts with a model – you! 2 Timothy 3: 14 – 15 states, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:5 tells us that Timothy leaned it from his grandmother Lois and his mother, Eunice.

    You as a parent have an undeniable influence and effect upon your children by the example you set. In the teaching of children, they always learn far more by starting with a visual example before you begin instructing. You should be explaining things to your children after they have observed the example.

    John Piper wrote, “It is impossible not to teach children about God, because not to teach them is to teach them plenty. It teaches them that Jesus does not matter much, that mom and dad don’t consider him nearly as important or exciting as new furniture, or weekends at the lake, or dad’s job or all the other things that fill their conversation. Silence about Christ is dogma. Not to teach the infinite value of Christ is to teach that He is negligible.” (Will the Next Generation Know by John Piper, July 25, 1982,

    How do you begin to model the gospel? It starts with recognizing what the power of God can do in the life of a family. It can transform the family. Romans 8 teaches us that society, creation and we will be transformed one day. Everything will. Does your family life show that this is a reality? Do you show a love for Christ? Does the Word of God matter in your home? Are you as a parent growing in character? Do you demonstrate to your children a conviction over your own sin? Do you confess your sin publically so your children know? Are you cultivating godliness in your character? Are the evidences of the fruit of the Spirit in your life shown with consistency?

    Can you say to your teen that you want them to continue in the things they are learning and becoming convinced of in the home? If not, begin now and make sure they will soon.


  • Wednesday, April 22, 2009

  • On the way to an early morning appointment at the breaking of daylight, I noticed that Spring has brought a sudden and stunning change to the landscape. Flowering trees illuminate, flowers are breaking open, and the brown ground is turning bright green. You cannot escape it.

    What almost spoiled it for me was when I turned on the radio about five minutes from my destination, I heard it was Earth Day and the commentator spoke in terms of how the earth needed to be worshiped (he did not use that term but certainly described the elements of worship).

    How can we teach gospel-centered truth about the creation to our children and preach it to ourselves?

    First of all, the creation is not an end in itself. It is only a signpost that points to something far greater, far more beautiful, far, far, more joyful. The beauty of creation is to what it points to – the Creator.

    When we stop and call the creation the extent of our pleasure, we risk moving to worshiping the creation. C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, “Surprised by Joy,” about finding great pleasure in a rose – the variegated color, scent, and overall beauty. But the rose says, “It is not I. I am only a reminder. Look! Look! What do I remind you of?’ Augustine wrote this about creation, “We are not thy god, seek above us…He made us.”

    Scripture warns us that those who exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for an image that is formed in nature are fools. (Romans 1: 21-23)

    Secondly, as beautiful as creation is, Romans 8: 18-22 reminds us that the creation is groaning and suffering until it is released. Sin and the curse persist in our lives and like creation, we wait for the time when “there shall no longer be any death, there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain.” (Revelation 21:4) The resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s signpost to the believer that a day is coming for creation and for us to be redeemed from the curse of sin and death.

    Lastly, the creation expresses the joy and goodness of God that we have now because of the gospel – that Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for our sin, had satisfied the wrath of God, and has conquered sin and death to point creation and ourselves to a future resurrection for all who believe (a new heaven and new earth for creation and a new resurrected body for us). We have joy in and through Jesus Christ and the creation has a joy also as a signpost for to point us to God…”Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar and all it contains. Let the field exult and that that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the Lord, for His coming. For He is coming to judge the earth.” (Psalm 96: 11-13)

    I stand with those who want to protect and steward the creation for its beauty, but I know what the beauty stands for. Teach it to your children and preach it to yourself.


  • Tuesday, April 21, 2009
  • Charles Spurgeon once wrote this about his mother:

    I cannot tell how much I owe to the solemn words of my good mother. It was the custom on Sunday evenings, while we were yet little children, for her to stay home with us, and then we sat round the table, and read verse by verse, and she explained the Scriptures for us. After that was done, then came the time of pleading: there was a little piece of Alleine's Alarm or of Baxter's Call to the Unconverted, and this was read with pointed observations made to each of us as we sat around the table; and the question was asked, how long it would be before we would think about our state, how long before we would seek the Lord.

    Then came a mother's prayer, and some of the words of that prayer we shall never forget, even when our hair is gray. I remember on one occasion, her praying thus, "Now Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ." That thought of a mother's bearing swift witness against me, pierced my conscience, and stirred my heart."
    .....Spurgeon, Autobiography, The Early Years, Banner of Truth Trust

    "My mother said to me once, after she had long prayed for me and had come to the conviction that I was hopeless. "Ah" said she, "My son, if at the last great day you are condemned, remember your mother will say 'Amen' to your condemnation." That stung me to the quick. Must the mother that brought me forth and that loved me say 'Amen' to my being condemned at last?' ........ Spurgeon, "The Chaff Driven Away." Sermon October 23, 1859

    How are your family devotions going? Is the gospel being proclaimed?

    The Gospel-Centered Home: Qualifying for Earth but Not for Heaven

  • Tuesday, April 14, 2009
  • A home may be of Christian parents, but it does not mean it is a gospel-centered home. When we are governing our homes by parenting with behavior modification techniques and throwing in Scripture, we can produce “perfect” children who may end up breaking our hearts. Consider the rich young ruler of Matthew 19: 16-20. And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Wow! Who would not want that resume’ for their teenager? He even asked a very spiritual question! However, the narrative does not end there. In verses 21 and 22 we read, Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. The perfect teen breaks your heart. A young man so close, yet so far away!

    John Angell James, a British Pastor in the early 1800s wrote in his book, The Christian Father’s Present to His Children, “But how it would embitter our last moments, and plant our dying pillow with thorns, to leave you on earth in an unconverted state; following us to the grave, but not to heaven. Or should you be called to die before us, how could we sustain the dreadful thought…that the very next moment after you had passed beyond our kind attentions, you would be received to the torments which know neither end nor mitigation? And when you had departed under such circumstances, what could heal our wounds or dry our tears…O! no: they may qualify for earth but not qualify for heaven.”

    (More to come on the gospel-centered home and how to be reaching to the heart with the gospel of Jesus Christ)


  • Monday, April 13, 2009
  • I have found as a teacher and a pastor over the years, there are topics of discussion that put you into an immediate argument. As a high school teacher, it was always music and dress. As a reluctant user of technology, I am finding that social networks are moving quickly into this category. So here I go....let's start the argument. I wrote this several weeks ago after receiving a number of "have you seen what so-and-so has put on their facebook?" So not to move to the Facebook police, I offer to you this article and link to another one by Steve Altrooge of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

    SOCIAL NETWORKING: Discerning Connections Through the Internet

    Social networking online is the use of websites to share information with others and connect with them by creating a profile that may include a personal web page and a blog. These sites allow users to add friends, send messages and comment on other’s profile pages.[1]

    This is not designed to mandate or to discourage anyone from participation in social networks. They have proven to be a great tool for contact with others and expressing interests. Facebook and My Space report that together they have over 280,000,000 registered users and now joined with Twitter, most teens and many adults are regular participants.

    What the following is proposed to be is a call for discernment. Several concerns have arisen and in an attempt to be pro-active rather than responsive, I would like to present some considerations that may have implications to spiritual maturity and to matters of the family. Along with the positive factors of social networking, there are also issues that can create peril and have moral impact. These must not be ignored.

    One issue is self-control. Do you identify with any of the following testimonies?

    Joshua Harris, Senior Pastor of Covenant Life Church in Maryland, author, and blogger states, “I just don’t have enough self-control not to check my page constantly. In one week I saw what many of you warned about: it’s addictive. I found myself tempted to update my status every five minutes. Joshua Harris is walking across his office. Joshua Harris sitting in his office chair. Joshua Harris is wasting valuable time describing what he is doing.”[2]

    Joe Carter who is the Director of Web Communications for the Family Research Council writes, “During the week I get so busy that I never find time to be alone with God. So I’ve decided to dedicate this Sunday afternoon to prayer, solitude and study. But before I get started I should check my e-mail so that I won’t have any unwanted distractions. Thirty-two new messages? My inbox was already overflowing so I should probably reply to at least a few of these right now. Six e-mails – no, wait, I really need to answer that one too – OK, seven e-mails down. Ah, I just got some invitations from Facebook. Those are easy to clear out so let me click through and accept those and I’m, hmm, I didn’t realize I had more notifications. Looks like Stacy finally launched a blog; I’ll just click through really quickly to check it out. A lot of posts on here already, some great stuff. I really should add her blog to my RSS reader before I forget… Now before I get started with prayer I should check….”[3]

    Tim Sweetman who is an 18 year old journalist and contributor to Boundless Magazine with Focus on the Family says, “I see two issues at play in the realm of social networking and technology. One is lack of self control. I should be writing a paper, but I’m online; I should be reading God’s Word, but I’m online. The other is a little harder to perceive. It’s a notion that holds that words of mere humans are much more interesting to follow than God’s Word; the lives of mere humans are much more fun to get to know than God Himself.”[4]

    It is not just the missing of devotions that can be the problem, but the other tasks and priorities in our lives that are taken away by the pull of reading the latest posting or email. It may be a project at work that is not getting done or the responsibilities around the house not being accomplished. When you spend time online at a social network site, you are giving up something else. What is it and what is the expense? Are the updates of what is mostly random trivial information keeping you from the duties that are yours in the home, in the workplace, or as a student?

    Another issue to address is what is being posted on the sites and who is invited to participate. There seems to be for some a freedom to post details of their life and feelings presented for what is literally the world to know. Especially in consideration to those who invite “friends” of the opposite sex and are married to participate. Along with this is contact with people from your past that it would be prudent not to have such social contact as former boyfriends or girlfriends. A rule to consider before you post something is, “would I be willing to say this to this person face-to-face with my spouse (or for teens, my parents) next to me?” There is a line of intimacy in details that is meant to be preserved between spouses, parents, and children. Do you consider that when you post on a site like Facebook, it is presented on the world-wide web. It is for the world to see and it is in one way there forever. Even if you erase it, someone may have saved it. Many people have lost jobs and job opportunities because of things posted or misbehavior on social networks. What is and has been on their sites has cost some Christians their witness for Jesus Christ.

    There is one more issue which is tougher to explain but does need to be pointed out for consideration. These social networks can be a tool that feed the flames of thinking way too highly of oneself and not pursue what would be biblical self-forgetfulness. What is being written become issues of concern about what others are saying about you and you lose focus on what God has said. No one needs a place to build up themselves more than they already do.

    Al Mohler, the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a social commentator offers several suggestions for safeguarding yourself on social networks:
    1. Never allow social networking to replace or rival personal contact and communication. God made us to be social creatures that crave community. We cannot permit ourselves to substitute social networking for the harder work of building and maintaining personal relationships that are face to face.
    2. Set clear parameters for the time devoted to social networking. These services can be seductive and time consuming. Social networking (and the Internet in general) can become obsessive and destructive of other relationships and higher priorities for the Christian.
    3. Never write or post anything on a social networking site that you would not want the world to see, or anything that would compromise your Christian witness.
    4. Never allow children and teenagers to have independent social networking access (or Internet access, for that matter). Parents should monitor, manage, supervise, and control the Internet access of their teens and children. Watch what your child posts and what their friends post.
    5. Do not allow children and teens to accept any “friend” unknown to you. The social networking world can be a dangerous place, and parental protection here is vital.
    6. Use social networking technology to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but never think that this can replace the centrality of face-to-face evangelism, witness, and discipleship.[5]

    Social networking is a wonderful technology. The opportunity to make contact with people is a marvelous tool. Lets just make sure we capture it under the mandate that we do all things to the glory of God and not allow it to become an idol.
    See also Steve Altrooge's article FACEBOOK MEETS WISDOM at



  • Thursday, April 9, 2009
  • In an earlier post I presented an article by Carolyn Mahaney from the website Girltalk. There are several more articles and a must read for moms (dads would be served as well reading them). Please check them out at


  • In 1976, the late Dr. S.M. Lockridge preached the sermon, "That's My King." As we come to Resurrection Sunday....Do you know this King?

    RESCUE: The Non-Christian Christian Home

  • Monday, April 6, 2009
  • I find Luke 6: 27-36 haunting at times..“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

    Jesus distinguishes between the one who has been touched by the mercy of God and those who have not. I am haunted because I often act like the one who has not been and in doing so, I am no different in my actions than the unbeliever. In fact, they can look more “Christian” than I can.

    And so it is with parenting. Why is it that those without Christ as the center of their home can parent so well and we who have Christ do so poorly? There is an ingredient available to the Christian that can be distinguished from all other homes. It is the gospel. There is a difference in a gospel centered home and the unbeliever’s home. There is even a difference in a gospel centered home and many Christian homes.

    How is the difference distinguished? The gospel centered home will be focused on how the gospel informs every aspect of our living and not on behavior modification. Some ways to know a home is ruled by the gospel:
    1. Everyone will know that Jesus is our redemption and has set us free from the slavery of sin. Discipline will be Christ-centered with the focus rejoicing in Christ, our Redeemer.
    2. All will understand that Jesus is victorious over sin, Satan, and death. It is a home where the strength to deal with tough issues will be nourished by the finished work of Christ.
    3. Knowing that we are all justified in Christ where our sin has been taken away and the righteousness of Christ given to us so that we will not be weighed down by the guilt of sin but will deal with it confidently in Christ.
    4. The family will know that Jesus has cleansed us from all our sins that we have committed and all that have been committed against us. The obstacles of broken relationships have been removed so that forgiveness and reconciliation are possible.

    More to come….


  • Saturday, April 4, 2009

  • Being the parent of a teenager ought to be the easiest and most delightful time of parenting. For many parents, it is just the opposite. A famous leader of a national family ministry once commented that we should put our children in a barrel when they are 13 and then let them out when they are 18. Hardly the words of encouragement for parenting!

    This series of posts will be recapturing and expanding on many of the items brought to the parents and grandparents who went through the parenting teens class at church last month. I will try to post 2-3 times a week and invite your participation through comments or direct email to me.

    The goal of the class was not to provide answers for all the things a parent faces but to help change the paradigm of your home to one where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of your parenting. You and your teen do not need a behavior modification program which will contribute to the pocket of some therapist. What is needed is the transformation of hearts that are oriented to God though Christ. It is knowing that whatever the issues are that you face, God has provided a means of redemption through Jesus Christ.

    The place to start in renewing your parenting is to renew your commitment and love for the gospel. At the top of this blog page is a logo for “Two Ways to Live.” Click it and review the message of the gospel. Do it everyday for awhile and let the message of the gospel sink deep into your heart so you see the workings of Christ in all aspects of your life. Then be ready to move forward as a parent with a new confidence that God will do a mighty work in you so you can be His instrument to bring it about in your teen.