Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tozer's Prayer. My Prayer

Tozer prayed, and most of us should too
 ”Oh God I have tasted Thy goodness and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious for my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. Oh God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee! I long to be filled with longing. I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, rise up my love, my fair one, and come away. Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wondered so long. In Jesus’ name, A-men.”

That says enough.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Diversifying Blogs

If you are looking for my blog on parenting, it has moved to Blogging on other subjects will remain here. The parenting blog post archives will move from here to the parentlab blog soon. Thank you!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Hard Work of Sanctification

Meditating on the Word this morning, I was reminded of the work involved in growing in Christ. He gives us salvation when we reach for Him, acknowledging that we cannot save ourselves, as Scott Dawson so well said Sunday as 6,000 worshipped with us at First Baptist Concord.

But sanctification is a partnership. It requires our effort. Let this passage instruct us, and let us use it to challenge and teach others.

"My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." -- Proverbs 2:1-6

Let's break this down.

"My son -- We belong to Him. Therefore, as His possession, bought with a steep price, we are expected to follow Him, to intentionally obey and grow

"if you accept my words and store up my commands within you" -- that is, if you willfully, volitionally, choose to believe (put trust in) His Word and make the effort to memorize Scripture

"turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding" -- If you did the previous, then you are choosing to turn to wisdom -- to actively listen -- and to turn your heart to comprehension and application of truth

"and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure" -- This accepting, storing, turning, applying sequence requires working. It means we look for truth within Scripture, not merely scan it, not merely systematically read it (nothing wrong with that, too), but we search out as we know our need. We look as if looking for hidden treasure. That clearly speaks of the value of what we find. You want treasure every day? Digging into the Word is fishing is a stocked pond! There is no reason not to catch if you just keep fishing. It just takes the perseverance and effort to stay with it.

"then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God" -- Read: guaranteed success. You will find. Remember, we are His and He called us 'Sons,' and He says that He is "loving Father that desires to give good gifts to His children."

"For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." -- A-men and a-men. If we want our people to truly have wisdom, knowledge and understanding, we will challenge and instruct them with the truth that it takes work, it takes digging, it takes fishing. But how hard can that be when you are guaranteed a catch?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Trials & Stress are Great Teachable Moments

I was obviously a little down, and grumpy, this morning as I drove my kids to school and went to the office. Just had a lot on my mind. As they got out of the car, 14-year-old Tori turned to me and said with a smile, "Read Psalm 46."

Good idea. (And as an aside, isn't it nice as a parent to see/hear your counsel come back around?) That leads me to my point today:

Are you handling trouble and stress in such a manner that your children can see God moving?

To do so would require handling trouble/stress properly, and handling (selectively, wisdom required!) it in front of or with your children enough for them to know how you do it.

Psalm 46 begins, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

Do your kids see you running to the right type of refuge(s)? Is your strength from him or some artificial, self-powered substitute?

Do they see, by your actions, that you believe God is a very present help in trouble?

I encourage you to read the rest of the Psalm, as well, but at the foundation of it is v. 1 and v. 10, which reads in part, "Be still, and know that I am God."

Let me cut to the chase: So often we scramble in our own power, with nothing more than 'man wisdom' to handle our problems and stresses. Our lives show that doesn't work!

Our kids are watching as we do that. We can't control ourselves, so our stress from troubles flows out of us, and they often see a very unhealthy picture of how to manage it.

But if we model -- and the best modeling is not merely talking about how we would handle trouble and stress -- stillness and trust in God in the midst of trial, they will learn.
  • They will learn that He is ever present and eager to help in troubles.

  • They will learn that He gives strength.

  • They will learn He is the only safe place to run to!

  • They will be still and mediate on God and His Word, because it brings peace, then clarity, then power.

  • They will not fear as deeply or for as long (see v. 2), because they know Who has them and His great power.
That is the model -- and I struggle to return to it in each trial! -- for handling trouble and stress. Teaching it to our children means we must adjust to living that way, but must also be transparent enough to let the children see some of our struggles. Some parents want to put on the 'everything is OK face' all the time. I might be tempted to do that myself -- if I was capable of it! But my trouble, my mood -- my heart -- is, frankly usually on my sleeve.

It's not so bad to wear your heart on your sleeve if you can consistently turn it to Christ. I'm still striving for that.

Links, Notes, Quotes

* Please go and register for 'Surviving Parenthood,' our parent conference on April 10. If you care enough to give one day to becoming a better parent, this is the day. Practical, Biblical help for parents of all ages.
* I am not endorsing every word spoken in this video, or taking a stance about education styles, but this is thought-provoking enough to be of value to you.

* Are you part of, or do you know, a blended family? Check out this site, share with others in the same situation:

* While we're writing about handling trouble and stress, if you have created it via sin, consider what a new believer from Iran said at a ladies conference she was attending: “What a release it is when you don't justify yourself, but repent."

* Let's talk to our kids about sins of 'omission' as well as 'commission.' For that matter, let's talk to ourselves about it! Per Proverbs 3:28, if you have the ability to meet a need, do it. Right then.

Monday, March 22, 2010

19 Days to a Better Family

Fellow Parents,

The next three weeks could be among the best ever for you and your family as you pray, confess and worship together. Let me explain: From now until April 10 four events will help your family grow closer to God and closer to each other.

PowerNight is an incredible night of, well, Power! Holy Spirit Power. This Wednesday, March 24, join us at 6 pm in the sanctuary of the Kington Pike campus for a very Spirit-led, intimate prayer time. Several families were at the last PowerNight (normally the first Tuesday of each month) and were completely engaged. There are no other activities on campus that night because Pastor Sager has called us together as family and families to seek our Lord.

Next up is Maundy Thursday, April 1. Anytime between 6 and 8 pm come to the Kingston Pike camus sanctuary to take communion with your family. This tradition began at FB Concord last year, and those participating experienced great fellowship with each other and the Lord as they took a few minutes to reflect, confess, renew and then take communion, whether administered by one of the pastors of the head of the family.

He is Risen! Easter Sunday, April 4, is a great time for your family to celebrate the Risen Savior together. Make it a great day of thanking God for your familly.

So far you've prayed together, confessed and renewed together, and celebration salvation together. Now come as parents and refine your parenting skills. Do you have ONE DAY to give to being a better parent? This is the day. April 10, 9 - 5 pm, Surviving Parenting will be a powerful, practical conference that will help you, whether you parents teens or toddlers. Go to register.

Families, this is a great line-up, spread over just a 19-day period. Make the most of it, and be the best family you can be!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Are Your Children Hungry For?

I have an important question for you: what hunger are you nurturing in your children?

The natural hunger of a child is for its mothers' milk. The natural hunger of a child of God is for the Word of God, which is the expressed essence of the truth of God.

1 Peter 2:2-3 reads, "as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious."

The Holy Spirit through Peter was speaking to new believers, babes in Christ. The two terms -- new, babes -- are supposed to go together, but in today's 'cultural Christianity' there are many who regard themselves as long-time Christians, yet are 'babes' in maturity. That is mostly because they are following their cravings, having not been disciplined to focus on what is best for them.

We are instructed to "desire the pure milk of the word."

As a parent, you are nurturing hungers -- desires -- of your children, the question is whether you recognize it and do it with purpose. When a child expresses a hunger, you either feed it (enable it, grow it, satisfy it, thus nurture it) or suppress it, hopefully causing it to go away.

Examine the hungers of your child(ren). Do they hunger for healthy things? If they hungered for dog food, you would suppress it! You wouldn't let them anywhere near the dog food. But if they hunger for the 'things of this world,' do you deny them, or indulge them? And where is the line.

The line is at the point of self-control, where a desire supercedes a person's (child or adult) ability and willingness to redirect to better things.

Parenting requires a lot of observation, thinking and measuring according to the Word of God. You must shape the mind of your child.

1 Peter 2 continues in verses 4 and 5 by saying that we are "living stones, being built up as spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

You and I are not here to be about the business of the world, but to be about the business of the King, our Lord, in the world. The world is our location, not our identity. We must live that way as parents, and prepare our children that way. That means feeding them pure spiritual milk, limiting and often outright cutting off anything that isn't good for them. Note the careful wording there -- our job as parents is not to merely keep from from what is bad for them, but to at least strongly limit what is not good for them.

Oswald Chambers wrote (May 17 devotional), "It requires a conscious decision and effort to keep our primary goal constantly in front of us." As parents, let's laser-focus that thought on the hungers of our children, and what we're allowing them to feed on.

I love Steven Furtick's quote, "We aren't raising our children to survive the world, but to change the world!"

Links & Quotes

* Go and check out info about the April 10 parenting conference. Do you have one day to give to becoming a better parent? Join us. And tell others!

* Let this quote be a life filter, and discuss it with your children: "Most of us spend most of our lives accumulating the wrong things for the wrong reasons." -- Mark Batterson

* This isn't a pastor ranting at his people, it's a pastor digesting this himself and letting you watch. 'Giving' has many context. Please consider:

* Board material from Chambers: "Never allow yourself to think that some tasks are beneath your dignity or to insignificant for you to do."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Status Quo Is a No-No

My friend and mentor Alvin Reid (; @alvinreid on Twitter) quotes, "When people in need of change face multiple options, the tendency is to choose the status quo, even if that is not the best path."

There is a great risk of this in parenting! As we see the need for change in our children, and thus in our parenting approach, family schedule, etc., we face the enemy of 'everyone else does it that way.'

To be an effective parent, you will have to be different than the culture. The status quo has a dictator, his name is Satan. He looks good so that you won't give the best to your family.

This is brief today, but I just want to encourage you -- literally enCOURAGE you -- to make the changes you need to make.

And if enough of us do that, we won't be alone. We'll be a community of Christ-following families who have identity in Him and support in each other. That's a model our children can learn from.

* Discuss this with your children. "One of the big lies of our culture is that sex is only physical & has no spiritual, emotional & relational consequences." -- Rick Warren.

* Got to talk about this quote with teens!: "Genuine love is unselfconscious - the opposite of how people act in dating when they're worried about making an impression." -- Rick Warren

* Check out Longhollow Pastor David Landrith's (@DavidLandrith) blog post on modesty, which includes some guidelines I previously sent from Michael Hyatt, but are worthing of review and of sharing with your daughters.

* This is one of the best-stated, most insightful things I've ever seen written on the issue of knowing the sexual past of your potential marriage partner. It might become relevant for late teens, so I know it's pushing the limits of the audience of this blog, but it is so good that it still might help inform you as parents as you deal with this with your children in the future.

* Top internet searches of 2009 for kids and teens. Parents, pay attention!