Reading and Faith

Back in the day before I had children, I used to buy books. Eventually I came to realize what a waste this was. Once I read them I was done with them. It’s not like the endings change.

Non-fiction books make a little more sense to own if you use them as references. But even there it became obvious to me the absolute vanity of owning books (vanity as in emptiness more than pride, although both can factor in).

Which brings me to the book of Ecclesiastes, “of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” There are approximately 2.2 million books published per year now.

About 8 of those are worth reading. Two are worth owning.

Faith is about much more than study. By saying this I don’t mean you should cut down your study time. What I do mean is that we should make sure we are applying what we are studying, otherwise study is pointless.

For one who loves reading–You need to get your nose out of a book and go apply some stuff.
For one who hates reading–You need to go home and read.

Even if you read a crummy book, it will make you think. Why is it crummy? Analyze how they use Scripture and see if you can figure out how they arrived at such goofy opinions. What would you say, from Scripture, to refute them?

There is no better book to read than the Bible. If you do not have the Bible freshly rooted in your mind continually you will be out to sea being tossed about with every wind of doctrine.

Read the Bible. Then read it again. And again. And again. There’s more in there you haven’t seen and there’s way more you don’t remember. Too many people take another person’s word for what the Bible says and this destroys faith.

In all your reading, make sure you apply, apply, apply. In all your application, make sure you read, read, read more of the Bible.

How to Detect a Really Bad “Christian” Book

In the last ten years I have read 400 “Christian” books. Over this time I have detected ways to identify really bad Christian books just by glancing at them. Yes, Virginia, you can judge a book by its cover.

Most of the Christian books I read are non-fiction (unless written by a Calvinist or Pentecostal, then there’s a fine line between fiction and non-fiction). The below only applies to non-fiction Christian books. I will say right out of hand, if you are contemplating reading a Christian Fiction book, your soul is already in danger.

If you are contemplating reading that new non-fiction Christian book everyone is talking about, refer to this list. If the book in question has more than four (4) of these characteristics: AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE! Adhering to the message of this book may indeed result in you receiving plagues.

1. The author’s face is the predominant feature of either the front or back cover. If their face is on both front and back, this counts as two points against

2. The author’s name is in larger font than the title. If the title has the word “Jesus” in it and is in smaller font than the author’s name, this counts as two points against.

3. If the author, editor or main character has gone to heaven, hell or purgatory

4. If the first seven pages are filled with blank pages and endorsements by Christian celebs.

5. If the biggest endorser on the front or back cover is an entertainer/singer.

6. If pages have more white space than word-space, or uses funky fonts throughout in sort of a magazine layout.

7. The book has been written in the past ten years.

8. The book has the name “Joel Osteen” on it.

9. The book was an Oprah Book Club selection.

10. Has one of those funky covers that feel rubbery. If nothing else they make your fingers smell weird after reading and I hate that. It’s not worth it.

11. Book is written by a tan, grinning man who looks like he’s about to wink.

12. Book is written by a woman and you are a male reader.

13. Author’s name is attached to a string of initials–PhD, DMin, etc.–on the front cover.

14. Author is currently a popular athlete.

15. Author is, was, is thinking about being a politician, or once had lunch with a politician.

16. Title gives no clue at all that it is a Christian book.

17. Amazon shows that the book has five stars. If everyone likes it, it’s bad.

18. Title includes the word “Code.”

19. Title includes the words “Breath,” “Breathe,” “Breathing,” “Wind,” “Windy,” “Whisper,” “Whispers,” “Whispering,” “Whispered,” or any other icky word along those lines. Yuck. I feel creeped out already.

20. Cover has a person gazing longingly into the middle distance.

If your book contains FOUR (4) of these things, you’re in for it. You can still read it, but I warned ya. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya. Cuz I did. I’m warning you right here. You’ve been warned. Read carefully out there; they’re out to get ya.

Why I Don’t Like Christian Books and Yet Do

Not long ago I mentioned that I read a lot of books, many of which are “Christian.” I was asked by a faithful reader to mention some of the good books.

The problem with this is that many of the books really aren’t good. Rather, many are average (usually containing some good insights with a degree of odd theology), some are really bad and there are a few that I think are excellent.

If you’ve hung about this blog, you know I like everything written by A. W. Tozer. I really like Oswald Chambers, Harry Ironside, and I’ve now read everything by C. S. Lewis (Mere Christianity and The Four Loves are the tops, everything else is downhill from there).

I have gained a lot from John Piper and John MacArthur, but those of you who read this blog also know a huge area where I disagree with them! I have enjoyed Philip Yancey and Ravi Zacharias but they often get too philosophical for my liking.

Most Christian books miss the deal, in my mind. Many delve into the author’s experience and a desire to turn everyone into the author. That if you don’t have the author’s experience you don’t have Jesus.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I mean seriously, nothing. Not even atheism. Atheism is better than personal cults. Atheism is at least honest in its denial; personal cults are tricking you into thinking you are following Christ when you are really following a person.

I recently read a book about a woman who traveled to the Holy Land to “find Jesus.” She already knew Him in her head, now she wanted to know Him “with her heart.”

Oh gag.

The point of her 160 page ramble was to say that just as the Holy Land sights are all debated due to reliance upon tradition rather than facts, so to is theology. Theology puts God in a box; she wants to follow the Spirit. The Bible exists to argue against, to rankle under its strictness and for giving you pithy statements from Jesus to make deep sounding pronouncements about mundane observations.

I quite honestly wanted to poke my eyes out and shave the top 6 layers of skin off my fingers so I would be prevented from being able to read another book.

This idea that theology limits God and is somehow opposed to being led by the Spirit is one of those things that will send me into orbit. The notion that the journey is the destination, that uncertainty means you’ve arrived, that the Bible can be debated away so you can have “mystery,” has to be the essence of Devilish deception.

“Hath God really said?”

So, I looked this book up on Amazon to see if others had the same problems with it I did.

Nope. Not a one. One of the highest rated books I’ve seen for quite some time.

Oh Lord, help us all.

So, that keeps me from talking about books because I get irritated with it all. What passes for sound theology these days, what passes for godliness and “Christian” is appalling.

And then, just when you think you could never read another book by a Christian again, along comes a beauty of a book that restores hope and brings you closer to Christ. That is what I read for. The diamond in the rough. If diamonds were common, they wouldn’t be valued!

The Rise of Apostolic Succession

“There is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church. If you leave the Church of Christ you will not come to Christ’s rewards; you will be an alien, an outcast, an enemy. You cannot have God for your father unless you have the Church for your mother. If you could escape outside Noah’s ark, you could escape outside the Church.”

Here is another quote from Church History, this one by Cyprian of Carthage (200-258). I think if his use of the word “Catholic” was meant in the actual definition of “universal, all believers everywhere” way, I guess I’d go along with him. There is no way to the Father except through Christ. All who are in Christ make up the Church, the Body of Christ.

Except I know that’s not exactly what Cyprian meant because he has a context. Just as yesterday’s quote had a context. Yesterday’s quote is from Spurgeon, and has much to do with the Calvinistic idea of limited atonement–Christ only suffered for the sins of the elect not, as the Bible says, for the sins of the world.

Cyprian’s context has to do with apostolic succession. God granted Peter and the disciples the power to loose and bind. This was interpreted as “forgiveness of sins can only happen from the apostles.” That being the case, the disciples passed on this authority to their guys before they died and they passed it on and so forth.

So, Cyprian’s idea is that unless you go to a church where one of these guys who can trace back his authority to an apostle is, you cannot be saved. This is sheer hooey.

The notion of Apostolic Succession was invented as a means to keep power centralized. There was a priest named Novatus who suffered persecution from the Roman authorities for not partaking in pagan sacrifices. He then claimed that his suffering granted him the ability to forgive sins.

Well, we can’t have any old, persecuted fellow out forgiving sins! So up came the invention of Apostolic Succession and our need of “mother church.”

Did Christ’s Sufferings take ALL of God’s Wrath for Sin?

“At the cross the Son of God died a death in which all the weight of divine vengeance for sin was compressed into a few hours of bodily and spiritual anguish.”

When I read this statement my brain hiccupped. Really? I’m not sure it is wrong, but then again, it sure doesn’t sound right. Let’s consider if it were true:

1) What is hell then? If “ALL the weight of divine vengeance” against sin was here, what is going on in hell? Is hell not God’s wrath, anger and vengeance being poured out on unconverted sinners?

2) Does bodily suffering really remove sins? I know we are healed by His stripes, but is this the same as saying bodily suffering removes the punishment of sin? If ALL the weight of sin’s vengeance were here, might I be able to suffer some pain for my little, tiny lie I told? Can I pain my way through more sin and get its punishment removed?

3) What was the point of resurrection if bodily suffering removed sin’s punishment? Couldn’t He have just suffered and called it a day then?

4) What about the discipline of the son whom God loves? Why would God ever punish anyone for any sin if ALL the vengeance has been poured out already?

5) When Ananias and Sapphira died for their lies to the Spirit, was this double jeopardy?

I imagine it was thinking along this line that lead people to invent purgatory, where a guy could work off his sin with bodily suffering. I imagine it also had something to do with monks who would flagellate themselves for their sins and felt they were removing sin. In fact, this statement was probably invented by a guy trying to refute Catholic thinking. “Christ suffered so I don’t have to” kind of thing.

I have a feeling that this is a fine sounding statement that overstates the point. I imagine it is heard with much head-nodding and “amen”ing. But I have some reservations about it. How about you?

Satan’s Attacks are Irritating

There are stories in the Northwoods about bears that break into people’s houses and do damage. I imagine if I were all snug in bed and I heard a bear break the back door down and start smashing up my kitchen, I would get out of bed and attempt to do something.

Can’t have bears snacking on my cookies. Not to mention my wife and kids being in danger.

But there are other times when little things happen at night and I’m all snug in bed. Sometimes I hear thunder and think, “I should go unplug the computer so it doesn’t get blown up be lightning.” But the bed is so cozy and I don’t want to get out. I consciously decide that it would be better to just buy a new computer than it would be to get out of bed right now.

Human nature is funny. Big things stir us to action but little things, even if they are potentially costly, have a harder time getting our attention.

No doubt, if someone came up to you tomorrow and said, “Hey, moron, there is no God.” You would be able to stir yourself to defend your faith. It would be easy to get a rise.

But Satan is much more subtle. He rarely does full-frontal assaults. His way is the way of erosion–small change over time that wears on you. Constantly.

In the Garden of Eden he did not tempt Eve by saying, “Hey, Eve, there is no God.” No, instead he said, “Did God really say?” He played around with doubt. He tried subtlety. Remember, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.”

The problem with subtle problems is that we can ignore them. They creep in slowly, they might wake you, but rarely do they call you to action. Soon enough, over a process of erosion over years, he has rounded our corners and eventually wears us down from boulders to pebbles.

Satan doesn’t want so much to eliminate the Gospel as he wants to subtly change it. Leave enough of it there to assure you that you’re good with God, but change it enough to guarantee you never will be.

Be ware of his constant, irritating, annoying, wearing, wearying attacks, and stand firm.

Games Theologians Play

I have read over 40 books so far this year and over 20 were “theological” in nature. I read theology. It’s what I do. Through the years of reading these books I have picked up on theologian tricks.

One of the common tricks of theologians is to state a point, list a number of verses that back it up and then say one of the following

“It is obvious to the studious reader of the Bible. . .”
“It is abundantly clear to the intelligent reader. . .”
“Conscientious  believers will know. . .”
“This overwhelming evidence is irrefutable to the serious-minded individual. . .”

Or some such thing. This always perks up my ears to go back and analyze what I just read. Anyone who has to compliment the one who agrees with them, or use extreme words to belittle you into agreement, must know their argument is weak.

C. S. Lewis once said about the use of adjectives:

“Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please, will you do my job for me.””

I think this point can be carried over to these phrases theologians make.

Anytime someone tells you they just came up with “irrefutable evidence” of some theological point, set about to refute it! By using such words they are banking on you not checking what they just said!

Anytime there is an appeal to a better person (intelligent, serious, studious, etc), immediately set about studiously refuting the blather you just heard. This is a win-win.

You may find yourself agreeing with them and -WIN- you can go about your day knowing you are a serious, studious, intelligent person who “gets it” and how cool is that?

Or, you may find that the theologian is wrong and -WIN- you can go about your day knowing you are even more studious than serious, studious, intelligent readers!

Watch out for these lazy tricks of logic oft employed to bolster a weak position. Beware any theologian who has to belittle the character of those who disagree with them and elevate the character of those who agree. Something is fishy if a guy has to use charm and flattery to get his point across.

Being Respectable is Conformity to the World

One of the primary virtues of social living is being “respectable.” People feel a need to dress and talk respectably and own respectable stuff. This seems like a fine thing to do, what could possibly be wrong with being respectable?

Respectable is defined as “worthy of esteem, of good social standing.” Sounds like a fine virtue, might even be a Christian virtue.

You would certainly think so by observing professed Christians who look very respectable.

But let’s throw some Bible in here shall we? Yes, yes we shall. Jesus once said, “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” If being respectable means being “worthy of esteem” and God despises what man esteems, it seems God is steamed when we are esteemed.

“Be not conformed to this world” is one of those phrases we quickly pass over in Romans 12. I think it deserves some attention. Conformity is nothing more than living for the esteem of those around us, in other words, conformity is “being respectable.”

Now, this doesn’t mean Christians need to do what is not respectable, in other words, our goal is not to flaunt conventions of society in an effort to put ourselves on display.

Rather, Christians are people who esteem what God esteems and this will look different and will lead to choices the world will not respect.

Many Christian groups over the centuries have attempted to come out from among them and be separate and yet have based their nonconformity on a list of rules:

No dancing
No movies
No smokingNo drinking
No blue jeans

But this is merely replacing one bit of conformity with another.

The idea is to be so sold out to Christ, so moved by what He says, that nothing else sways us. If we are truly living sacrifices, we won’t need someone to tell us to follow their nonconformity, we will be to busy being transformed into Christ.

The Spirit’s role in our transformation is critical and cannot be replaced by a checklist. Checklists will never result in Christ-likeness.

Being respectable is worth nothing in the scope of eternity. The fact that you are fashionably dressed means little when your neighbor is going to hell. If we were truly living after Christ our nonconformity would shine in this dark world and lead us into some true, honest persecution.

“The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.”

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

The Gospel’s Many Witnesses

Most Christians are so familiar with the Gospel they think they know everything there is to know about it. Unfortunately, much of what we know is surface. In fact, we don’t even cover all the surface.

Paul sums up the Gospel very nice for us in the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 15. When I was a kid I had to memorize these verses as “what the Gospel is.” It goes like this:

Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

This certainly is the basic Gospel, can’t argue there, but note that there is a colon at the end of the quote, not a period. Also note that the next word is another “and.”

Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:And that he was seen of Cephas

In all our Gospel presentations, how often do we mention that the resurrected Christ was seen by many witnesses? What would be the point of mentioning witnesses?

1. it gives credibility to the testimony of resurrection
2. seeing the resurrected Christ changed their lives
3. it lends weight to the apostle’s testimony as 500 saw Him at once
4. they witnessed the change in Christ and His resurrected body

One of the aspects of the Gospel we need to constantly remember is that this isn’t just what Christ did for us, it is what we are in Christ. We were crucified with Christ, buried and raised with Christ to newness of life. What Christ did all believers join Him in.

What is the significance of being seen by many witnesses in light of this? Perhaps we also join Christ in our outward testimony of a changed life. The Gospel is power; it’s not just a set of facts to agree with. The Gospel changes, transforms and rebirths us.

Are there witnesses to resurrection in your life? It’s part of the Gospel so there should be. Or is your understanding of the Gospel head knowledge that has little connection with day-to-day living? Die with Christ and be raised up with Him and let that light shine!

Being a Friend of Jesus

Friends are nice. Knowing someone who knows you, understands your words before you’ve even said them, is willing to forgive, grant the benefit of the doubt and move on, shares in the same activities and views life the same way, is tremendously refreshing.

Friends are people you can relax with, there’s no pressure to conform or serve, it’s just sweet, calm, enjoyable peace. Friends don’t make demands, they help you meet your own.

One of the most often quoted verses of the New Testament is “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Oh man, that just thrills the soul don’t it?!

Jesus is a friend, a friend who is willing to do anything for you, even to die for you. How much He must love me and think I’m swell! This verse makes it sound like Jesus does it all for me and I just sit back in my easy chair, sip on some Dr. Pepper and have Jesus do my laundry. Jesus is MY friend, no one talks about being His friend!

I think this is the typical view of Jesus in our day–the guy who does everything while I do nothing. But the best way to understand any verse is to look at some context.

Here’s the verse with a little more context:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Wait a second! What was that? You are Jesus’ friend if you do what He commands? That doesn’t sound like a friend; that sounds like a servant! How about some more context:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

Seems as though Jesus anticipated our reaction! Servants are not confidants, they don’t know what the master is doing, all they know is to do what they are told. But if you are a friend of the master you will know all his business dealings, his struggles, pains, victories and defeats. You’ll fully know his mind.

This is what Christ brings us into. Friends serve each other–we like to make much of Christ dying for me, why so lazy on our end? I wonder. Jesus isn’t just our friend who serves us; we’re His friends who serve Him–you are my friends if you obey.

Being a friend of Jesus means to know what He knows and He knows a lot! He promises to show us the Father and to know His mind fully. We, in fact, will have the “mind of Christ.” The cool thing about friends is that they can read your mind. They know what to do for you before you even ask.

This is the type of service We can grant unto God. We will know His commands and obey His commands because we’ll fully know why they are there, what they mean, and how to carry them out.

Friendship with Jesus is not some flippant junior-high “oooo, we’re besties” kind of giggly, flightiness. Oh no, it’s a deep, rich relationship with the eternal God leading us to be an ultimately pleasing friend of our Creator. What a beautiful thing. And what an honor!

My Problem with Christian Music

I like all kinds of music. I do not mind Christians entering into non-typical forms of Christian music to sing about faith and whatnot. When you can mix the perfect tune with the perfect lyrics, I tell ya what, there are few things more emotionally wonderful than that.

Which brings me to a problem I have with Christian music:

In order to have good Christian lyrics the writer needs to have spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is in short supply, certainly shorter supply than an acceptable guitarist or drummer.

I enjoy a lot of forms of music that would be termed “young people’s music.” The kind of stuff parents are supposed to tell their kids to turn off, as my dad used to say, “It sounds like gym shoes in the dryer.”

I like a raucous song, a song with a beat and a tune that you can play loud and maybe even bang your head to a little bit.

Christian attempts at this often fall flat for me though cuz the lyrics are so banal.

Spiritual maturity takes years. Old people have spiritual maturity. I honestly don’t think a young person can have spiritual maturity. They can have more than someone else, they can be mature for their age, but sorry, there’s nothing like age and living through pain to lead a person to greater depths of spiritual insight.

I’m not claiming to be the spiritually mature person, I’m merely pointing out a problem I see with much contemporary Christian music that is driven by youth culture and written by youth: youth who have little spiritual maturity.

Most contemporary songs are about the singer, look at me and my struggles and how I am being me in my struggles and oh yeah, Jesus.

That’s how they all sound to me. One reason I like hymns is because they are written by old people. They know what spiritual maturity is, the intersection of theology and life. I doubt highly anyone will ever match the lyrics of a Charles Wesley or an Isaac Watts.

If they did, they wouldn’t be cool enough to attract a good youthful form of music.

Hymns are often too dull, they sound old because they are old. I like the sound of an old hymn, but not everyone does. I have no solution, just trying to articulate my thoughts on the Christian music industry. The fact that it’s an “industry” doesn’t help either.

There’s a rapper named Lecrae who is attempting to put theology in his music. I disagree with his theology on a lot of points but I applaud his efforts. But I think rapping a John Piper sermon can only be done so many times before that well runs dry.

I’m tired of singing about song writer’s angst. I’d like a good song about God, written by someone who knows who He is on a real, experiential level, set to a modern musical atmosphere, one that doesn’t embarrass Christianity either by vapid lyrics or corny copying of a worldly model. Just a simple request.

Belief and Pleasure

“That they all might be damned who believed not the truth,
but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Just want to make another point about faith before moving on. I want you to note that the opposite of loving the truth is having pleasure in sin.

Does sin feel good to you? Do you take pleasure in it? Furthermore, do you take pleasure in other people doing sin? Enjoy watching movies with cussing, killing and fornicating?

If a sin-filled movie you watch gives you pleasure, exactly what does that say about you? Is there any sorrow affiliated with your pleasure in what is wrong?

Seems to me, one who believes the truth not only will not find pleasure in unrighteousness but will actually find a degree of displeasure that sin repels you.

Now, the flesh is a beast. It’s lusts can overtake you in a minute. Lusts work off the basis of pleasure. Without pleasure there really is no lust.

Living for God’s pleasure is a higher calling, one that will satisfy for eternity and keep us from much dumb foolishness. Paul later describes unbelievers as “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”

This is the issue: what would you rather have: fleshly pleasure or the pleasures of God?

It’s amazing that our flesh can confuse this issue and make us highly irrational. The answer is not just to fight off unrighteousness and feel bad about feeling pleasure. The answer is to love the truth, the rest will take care of itself.

Love of the truth is probably a deep subject, one we have barely scratched the surface of. Jesus said, “I am the way, the Truth, and the life.” John says “they word is truth.” Do we delight in and love the truth? That’s the question.

Biblical Faith

Based on the last couple days’ posts, faith is “submitting to God to the extent you obey what He says.” I think this adequately sums up biblical faith.

When it comes to salvation, many teach that faith is “believing the Gospel.” This is true, but I fear we don’t explain what “believing the Gospel” means.

What is the Gospel? As far as Paul sums it up–Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures and He was seen of many witnesses (although you’ll rarely hear that last bit in a Gospel presentation).

Notice that 1 Corinthians 15 has a verse before this explanation of the Gospel. Paul says he declares the Gospel to them “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”

It is possible to believe in vain! It is possible to believe the Gospel to no fruit, to be pointless. Paul says it is possible to believe the Gospel and yet not be saved by it. You are only saved by it if you keep it in memory (that continuation thing again) unless you believed it in vain.

You can believe the Gospel facts and yet still be dead in sin. Even the demons believe, don’t forget. They not only believe they also tremble.

I know many a person who claims to believe, they even tremble and are afraid, but there is no evidence of biblical faith. They struggle and are tossed about, double-minded in all their ways. They want peace but can’t get it. They want sin’s battle over, but really want the guilt to stop so they can sin with better self-esteem.

But biblical faith, believing the Gospel, is obedience to the Gospel. The Gospel is about Christ’s death and resurrection. If we are to obey The Gospel, guess what that looks like?

Obedience to The Gospel looks like death and resurrection. We are crucified with Christ, our old man is dead with its affections and lusts and we are raised up with Christ to newness of life.

Faith in The Gospel is not proved by saying you believe it; faith in the Gospel is proven by death and resurrection. A real, tangible, proven, I am dead and Christ lives in me, life. That is what biblical faith in The Gospel is. This is not done by willpower and goal setting, it is only accomplished through the Spirit and the Gospel’s power.

You can disagree if you like, but come Judgment Day you’ll discover this to be the case.

Faith is Obedience

My children are out of school, which means they are now bouncing around my house. I work from home, so this means my children are bouncing around me.

In order to help them (and me) through their bouncing days, I find things for them to do. I grant them direction for their copious amounts of free-time. When children act bored in my house, or get too irritating to others, they find themselves doing work.

“Go trim all the grass around the house and the trees.”
“Go clean the porch.”
“Clean your room.”
“Do the dishes.”

How do I know if my kids heard me? Not if they say “Oh, ok dad, I will wash the dishes.” After 13 years of parenting, words from children mean next to nothing to me. I know they heard me when the dishes are done (click here to see that Jesus felt the same way about children’s words!).

I don’t care about a momentary statement made from the mouth, I care about acting on what you heard.

Faith is all about hearing. How do you know if someone heard you? When they do what you said. This obvious point shouldn’t need to be made, but in our day it needs to be.

Too many have the notion that faith is something you did one time when you nodded your head to the facts of the Gospel. But faith is a living reality. “The just shall live by faith.” Paul several times brings up the idea of salvation being contingent upon continuing.

Saving faith is a living faith, it continues and perseveres. It is no temporal, one-time event.

Now, this “faith is obedience” thing is not my theory, this is the testimony of Scripture. Again, from Romans 10 we see it said, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?”

Paul equates obedience with faith. Isaiah did not say, “Who hath obeyed our report” but “believed our report.” This quote backs up his point “have they not all obeyed the Gospel.”

Paul makes this same point a couple other times in Romans when he talks about the “obedience of faith.”

To say you have faith in Jesus Christ means you obey Jesus Christ. This seems all too obvious, but in our day the obvious is under attack by the muddied. Don’t get muddy: hear, believe and obey. Trust me, this is what you will be judged on at Judgment Day.

Why I am Not Told to Submit to My Wife

So far I have said that faith is about hearing and submitting. We are to submit to God because we know what He has said and we can trust that He will do what He says. If a person says stuff and doesn’t do it, there would be no reason to submit, but if they always kept their word it should be no problem to submit.

Now, here’s where ol’ Jeffy boy wades into deep water. It’s chilly out here, brothers and sisters. Not much company.

Paul says in Ephesians 5 that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and wives are to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ.

Remember, submission is based on trusting what someone has said. The Church submits to Christ because Christ’s words are trustworthy.

Now, I have heard many times FROM WOMEN that women change their minds all the time. Again, I hear this FROM WOMEN. “It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind” women have told me with knowing smiles.

womanmindSee! I can even find a thing on the Internets saying it and the Internets never lie!

That’s fine, change your mind all you want, as long as you are content with never being listened to about anything. Be careful what traits you celebrate!

I have lived with my wife for 17 years. Before that I lived with my mother for 18 years and there was a female respite for about three years in between, which was nice in its own way. But as for my observation of the female character, yeah, they change their minds. All the time. About everything. Constantly.

I can not tell you how many times my wife has said “We’re having spaghetti for supper” only to hear later, “Oh sorry, we’re having chicken and rice instead.” She makes plans for the day. “Saturday morning the kids and I are going to an art fair.” Saturday morning comes and goes with no art fairing at all.

Again, let me just remind you, this is not merely my opinion, I have heard FROM WOMEN how they have the right to change their minds and do so with impunity.

Therefore, Paul cannot, with any shred of credibility, tell a husband to submit to his wife. What in the world would he know to submit to? By the time he figured out what to submit to, it would all be changed anyway.

Instead, husbands are told to love their wives. Now this makes sense. I have no assurance at all, whatsoever, in what I might be having for supper or what wifely plans will actually take place. What I do know is that no matter what, I am to be patient and kind and all that other love stuff.

This all makes complete sense to me and is one more example of the wisdom of God on display in the Bible. Carrying that wisdom out is another issue!

Faith is Submission

I am told by the New Testament to submit to my government leaders and their laws. This has always been tough for me and is increasingly so!

I do not get worked up over government censoring my faith or get all high and mighty about my religious rights like most good Christians do. That’s not really what bothers me, I expect that stuff. What bothers me is the sheer stupidity of government rulers.

I can deal with evil; stupid is what irritates me.

For many years we have had perfectly fine light bulbs that give perfectly fine light, which have now been messed with so I have to buy stupid light bulbs that don’t give hardly the same amount of light.

This is done to “save energy” except I now find myself turning on more lights because the “energy-saving light bulbs” hardly give any light! Sure they last 5-billion more hours, but I must have 5-billion more light bulbs on during those hours.

This is the sort of government intrusion I find highly irritating. Persecute me all you want; just leave my lights alone.

I have a hard time submitting to stupid. One of the reasons I find submitting to God perfectly fine and reasonable, is because God is definitely not stupid. It is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance. I can submit to a good God.

Although there is no specific verse that says “faith is submission,” it can be seen many places. Perhaps one of the clearest is in Romans 10.

In Romans 10 Paul is talking about Israel’s failure to attain the righteousness of God because they sought it by works of the law and not by faith. The answer is in Christ, not in your works, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

In the verse before this quote, Paul says they “have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

Paul says there are two ways to attain to the righteousness of God: 1) Faith in Christ and 2) Submit to it. Seems to me, Paul is equating submission with faith.

The problem with submission is it requires humility. Humility and faith go together. “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner” is evidence of faith and humility, certainly a picture of total submission.

God is good, He is trustworthy, He has told you He loves you. He has proven all these things true. Therefore, submitting to Him shouldn’t be that difficult. Anyone who has faith in Him would concur!

Submission is something we are told to do, not just citizen to government, but also kids to parents, wives to husbands, all of us to one another! Generally, we view ourselves as the power in these setups or else we don’t talk about it.

I’ve rarely heard a kid celebrate submission! As a husband, my wife is to submit to me. If she doesn’t, my assumption is that she is in rebellious sin. In reality, she might just be evidence that I am an untrustworthy, selfish jerk!

Perhaps your kid’s rebellion is proof that you don’t listen to yourself. If your kids and wife both don’t submit to you, well, yeah, you might want to think about knocking off the selfish-jerk role you’re playing.

If you want true, faithful submission, you love as Christ loved. You become more like Him and less like you and this will work much better for everyone involved.

Faith is Hearing not Seeing, Take this Blind Guy’s Word for It

The Sunday School teacher asked her class, “What is faith?” A little boy said, “Faith is believing something you know aint true.”

He was sort of right!

“Seeing is believing” is the way the world defines faith. Our world is filled with lies and even heathen scum people are skeptical. They don’t believe anything until there’s proof. Although this definition of faith fits nicely with the scientific method, it is not how the Bible defines faith.

According to Scripture, faith has to do with hearing, not seeing. “We walk by faith not by sight.” Faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear.”

Quite frankly, if a person sees something, he no longer needs faith. Faith is based on taking someone’s word for it. God knows and has seen things we have not. He has told us about these unseen things. You have no sighted evidence that what He is saying is true, you haven’t seen it. By faith you take His word for it.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

Many Christians at this point are thinking, “Well, there is some proof by sight that what God says is true. I may not have ever seen heaven but I’ve seen good things on earth that lead me to believe heaven is possible.”

There is some truth to this as well. No one has an excuse to miss the fact that God exists. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen” “so that they are without excuse.”

There are visible proofs of God’s existence–the heavens declare–but no man has seen God at any time. According to Paul, God’s existence is so obvious there is no excuse to miss Him. At the same time, one must believe because no one has seen God.

I can not see well, I am legally blind. I play shortstop on our church softball team. There are games where I really can’t see the ball at all based on the background or lighting.  Through years of being legally blind, I have learned ways to pick up clues as to where the ball is.

I watch the way the batter swings. I listen to the sound the ball makes off the bat. I watch the way fielders move. I pick up clues and this helps me focus my eyes and pick up the ball (usually!). I cannot see the ball, but I have evidence of where it might be and, lo and behold, it is often there.

Although this is a weak illustration, it serves enough to make my point. I am moving through life with many clues that God exists. I have never seen Him, but I fully expect, if I keep paying attention to the clues and moving toward Him, one day, I will see Him!

When I see Him I will no longer need faith: I will have the real deal! I sincerely can not wait. I hope you are there with me.

The Woman at the Well is not About Evangelism

Frequently, John 4’s, the woman at the well, is used as an example of how to evangelize. Apparently, this is Evangelism 101 for the aspiring soul-winner. I have been confused by this idea and wonder exactly how this scene would play out if I were in the part of Jesus. How exactly would it go then?

After a long days journey in the heat, I come to a well and sit. A woman comes to the well to get water.

Me: Give me a drink.

Woman: What, you don’t have hands?

Me: I do, yes.

Woman: Well, then get your own drink.

Me: Oh, er, sorry, just thought maybe you could help me out.

Woman: What, am I your servant here or something?

Me: No. I was just, uh, you know, thirsty and whatnot. No offense.

Woman: What? Just because I’m a woman you assume I’m here to serve you? Am I supposed to be in awe of you that I’d just hand you a drink and thank you for the privilege?

Me: No, no, of course not. You know, never mind. I’ll get my own drink. You actually are the one who needs a drink.

Woman: Yes I am, that’s why I came to the well.

Me: Indeed. I can give you a drink and you’ll never thirst again.

Woman: What are you some kind of pervert or something?

Me: No, I just meant I can give you living water.

Woman: Yeah, uh-huh.

Me: Uh, why don’t you go get your husband.

Woman: OK, listen buddy, I don’t know what you’re up to but I’m feeling kind of creepy. I have mace in my pocket and I’m not afraid to use it.

Me: So, you have five husbands, eh?

Woman: What?

Me: And you have another man who isn’t your husband.

Woman: Sir, I perceive that you are a loony.

Me: No, I’m not. You’re supposed to ask me where you should worship the Lord now.

Woman: I’m leaving.

Here’s my point: The only way a John 4 conversation could occur is if you were the Messiah and you knew people’s heart and details about their life. I can’t do a John 4 evangelism deal because I don’t know what a person is going through, nor what is in their heart. The reason she was impressed by Jesus is because she perceived He was a prophet.

No one has ever mistaken me for a prophet, because I’m not one. I don’t know hidden things about people that I could draw out and impress them. Jesus never shares the Gospel, never does a sinner’s prayer, never even talks about atonement.

The entire impression He makes is chalked up to His prophetic knowledge of who she is. Unless you become a stalker, you can’t pull this off.

John 4 has little to do with evangelism. It has to do with the Messiah being appealing to Gentiles and Jews missing the point. Are there basic principles of evangelism a guy could borrow from this? Sure.

1) Talk to people.

That’s about it.

Kids and Spiritual Stuff

Kids are individuals and have to make individual choices that will shape their lives. As much as I’d like to make all the decisions for them, I can’t. My job is to train them to be able to make good decisions without me.

One of the most important areas of a child’s life is their spiritual development. Are they saved? This is a tough one. I pray every day for the salvation of my children. The fact that I pray for their salvation doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t saved, it means I pray for their salvation every day.

Being a pessimist, I assume that everything I do in life is working to ruin my children. My wife feared when she was pregnant that she would give birth to the Antichrist. The jury is still out.

A number of people have asked me over the years how I handle spiritual things with my kids. I give the following principles as my thoughts, what I am doing, and they may not be what you should do. You are you, and your kids are your kids. In all things by prayer and supplication. Never once does the Bible say, “In all things by what Jeff Weddle says.”

1) Communion–at what age should kids take communion? I think this should be determined by the parents and not the child. I look for an awareness on the part of a kid that they know what Communion is about, they know the Gospel and have begun to show its impact in their life. Is there an awareness of sin, sorrow and appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ? I am also waiting for my kids to take an initiative in wanting to take Communion.

2) Baptism–when should a kid be baptized? Not as an infant! Absolutely nothing in the Bible about infant baptism. I would give a similar answer here as to the Communion one above. Do they know the Gospel? Do they get the picture of baptism? Do they get the reality of being crucified, buried and raised with Christ to newness of life? Are there marks of spiritual maturing going on? Baptism is for believers.

3) Biblical education–how do I teach my kids about the Bible? Some go militaristic on this and make Bible reading mandatory or no breakfast. Others never bring it up and figure kids will read the Bible if they feel like it. First off, if you want your kids to read the Bible, read it enough yourself so they have an example of this being a realistic option that real humans choose. Secondly, don’t make it a chore for them. Put some work into it yourself. Ask good questions. Show some enthusiasm when reading about biblical events. Don’t be afraid to read the weird books of the Bible  (Leviticus, Judges) with them and see what questions they come up with. Have the Word in your mind so much that your conversation is sprinkled with verses. Show the relevance of your faith to life. Show your kids how your faith determines what decisions you make.

4) Church attendance–Should I make my kid go to church? Yes. Kids are too stupid to make right decisions. As long as they are under your roof you are accountable for their spiritual development. Again, show this by example. If you constantly miss church for every little other entertaining option out there, your kids are going to do that.

5) Salvation–How can I be sure my kids are saved? You can’t. This is the brutal truth. Lots of people will tell you you can, but I won’t. You can get your kids to “say the prayer,” take Communion, get baptized, go to church, study the Bible and they still might have a heart of stone (see the history of Israel and their dependence on the one time act of circumcision to get assurance of salvation). Kids often walk away from the faith as they grow up. Shoving the Gospel down their throat til they agree to swallow it probably isn’t doing them any favors. I believe salvation is a personal thing, one you can’t do for me. I am not sure at what age I was saved, one thing I do know is that I am, because I keep growing. That’s what I look for in a kid–do they want this? Do they show a desire for more of Christ and less of themselves? Do they voluntarily read the Bible? Are they showing compassion and interest in others? Are they? Or are they just pleasing their overbearing parents? And how do you know?! Salvation is never defined as a one time event; salvation is a way of life–the just shall live by faith. Are they progressing? That’s all I can help them do.

In my opinion, the worst possible thing you can do for your kids is to convince them they are saved. You don’t know this. Look at all the kids who grow up and walk away. If you tell me your kid is saved at 6 when even 10-year olds forget what forks are for, I will be highly skeptical. The salvation of children is not for the easing of parental minds–it is a matter between a person and God. Don’t play the pope in this one and declare who is saved, it’s not your role. Many an assured kid has dropped into a horrible life of sin after leaving mommy and daddy and maintain that they are saved because mom said so. Hell is filled with folks who feel assured of their salvation. Most of them were assured by their parents.

These are my thoughts because people have asked me and this is what I say. You may disagree. That’s fine. Do what you gotta do with your kids. To loosely quote Joshua, “As for me and my house, this is how I roll.”

The Making of an Atheist

A study on members of college atheistic groups to find out why they are atheists has revealed some interesting insights into Christianity. Leading characteristics of people turning atheist were:

They had attended church
The mission and message of their churches was vague
They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions
They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously
Ages 14-17 were decisive
The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one
The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism

For the whole article go here.

It has long been suspected that our seeker sensitivity has made Christianity not worth seeking. Our mindless drivel that passes for “church” these days is not doing anyone any favors.

“That these students were, above all else, idealists who longed for authenticity, and having failed to find it in their churches, they settled for a non-belief that, while less grand in its promises, felt more genuine and attainable. I again quote Michael: “Christianity is something that if you really believed it, it would change your life and you would want to change [the lives] of others. I haven’t seen too much of that.””

11 Parenting Principles I’ve Applied to MY Children

I am not the world’s greatest father, that I know of. I have flaws and I get impatient. The way I raise my kids is not the way you should. I have to live with these people, so I am raising them in such a way that it is easier for me to live with them.

I have never asked for parenting advice from anyone. I do not want to know how you raised your kids. Raise them the way you want–you have to live with them and that’s fine with me. Just don’t be surprised if they are never invited to live at my house.

If God wanted you to raise my kids, He would have given them to you. If He wanted me to raise yours, He would have given them to me. I got mine and here are eleven principles of parenting I have applied to them:

1) When dad speaks–do what he said. I do not count to 3 or to 10 before I get my response. Oh no, when I tell them to do something it should already be acted on by the time I’ve finished my sentence.

2) Kids are supposed to be happy. Happy kids are loud and destructive. I have never purchased a new piece of furniture since we’ve had kids and I don’t plan on it until they leave the house. Don’t buy nice stuff, it will only be destroyed.

3) My kids will leave my house when they are 18. I have told them this since the day they were born. They can come back for very short visits, but they will not live in my house. Get out and start life. Take it by the horns and subdue it. My job is to prepare them to be ready for this. If they can’t, it’s my fault.

4) I represent God to my children. This is the scariest aspect of being a dad–my kids will live the rest of their life hearing about “God the Father” and “we are children of God.” Every time they hear that they will think of me. Am I doing my job in such a way as to give them a proper view of who God is? This keeps me awake some nights.

5) I praise what deserves praise. I do not praise my kids for showing up; I praise them when they do something worthy of praise. If your last at-bat was a strikeout, I will not tell you “hey, it was a good cut though.” A “good cut” is one in which the ball was hit.

6) Weddle’s don’t strikeout. I put pressure on my kids. I say things to them where they know there is pass and fail. They must learn to handle pressure and be able to perform when there are stakes involved (or steaks for that matter). I have reasonable expectations for my children. Expectations that are reachable with some work. I try not to frustrate them, but challenge is needed.

7) Be nice to your brother and sister. There will be very few people you know right now whom you will still know 20 years from now. But you’ll still know your brother and sister. We are a family. Be nice to your family. You’ll be around us for a very long time. Plus, I don’t want to hear your stupid arguing.

8) No allowance. My children do not do work in my house for pay. They do work in my house because they get breakfast, lunch, dinner. clothes, a roof over their head and everything else in their life. You do chores in the house because I tell you to, unless you’d like to start paying for food, rent, insurance, etc.. You’re the ones who made the mess anyway.

9) Kids need challenge. Too many kids have lost a lust for life. Seeing depressed, mopey kids is pathetic and rips my heart out. I always come up with odd things for them to do–run down to the mailbox in barefeet when it’s 20 below zero, jump off the roof when there’s two feet of snow on the ground, jump off the canoe in the middle of the lake and see if you can get back in. There’s fun to be had; go have it.

10) Punishment is supposed to hurt. If punishment doesn’t hurt, it’s not punishment. This doesn’t imply physical hurt either. Losing out on privileges, removing freedoms, doing something that actually impacts their way of living is the only thing that gets their attention. Giving your son a 10-minute lecture does nothing. Constantly warning that bad things will happen doesn’t work. Newton’s First Law of Parenting: Kids will do what they want until acted upon by an outside force. Be that outside force for your kids. Every kid is different, so choose the thing that will affect them the most

11) Mom and Dad are on the same team. My kids are not allowed to play mom against dad. If dad says “no” you will get in big ol’ trouble if you go ask your mom after that. My wife and I talk about our kids all the time. We are on the same page. I get more upset when my kids don’t listen to their mother as when they don’t listen to me.

Those are a few of my general principles I have used to raise my kids. My kids aren’t done yet, but that’s what I’m going with. All of these can be taken to a ridiculous extreme, I endeavor to avoid such things.

Again, if this is outrageous to you, then don’t do it. The only people that need to obey them are my kids! When they have their own kids you can ask them if what I did worked!

Kids Need Mature Men to Show them Better Forms of Stupid

Kids are goofy. Kids are always up for some crazy, fun stuff. Unfortunately, adults aren’t. Maturity for many means “not able to have fun anymore.”

One of the things I’ve loved about having kids is that I can do crazy stuff and it doesn’t look completely odd. If I did it by myself, I have mental and emotional “issues.” But if my kids are with me I’m just “a dad having fun with his kids.”

Getting on my kids’ level has never been an issue for me.

There are too many dads who are too stuffy to have fun with their kids. They are either so caught up in all their man-talk that they aren’t paying attention to kids or aren’t seeing the goofy potential that exists in a refrigerator box and a staircase.

Some guys look so nice they can’t get dirty. They don’t want to mess up their hair or ruin their nice new pants. This is wrong on many levels and I will refrain from further comment.

Kids are dumb and this cannot be changed. All a dad can hope for is that their dumb is released in better ways than the dumb that kids will come up with. It is my contention that if you do not show kids how to be properly dumb they will be in jail very soon.

At the same time a dad gets on a kid’s level, dads are also supposed to raise kids to a higher level. Again, God is my example. God knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust, so what did He do? He became dust like us.

But His purpose for getting on our level was to raise us to His level–the heavenly took on an earthly body so we in the earthly body might be made heavenly. Kids need to see how an adult acts and handles consequences of dumb.

But please, please, please adults, understand that the Kingdom of God is filled with those with childlike faith. Being mature and an adult does not mean we don’t do crazy stuff–it means we do totally awesome crazy stuff.

Adults sit around whining about all the problems in the world. Kids are having fun, doing their thing with their whole heart, letting someone else worry about the problems they can’t do anything about anyway. That’s sort of what faith is.

Being mature has to do with priorities, understanding cause and effect, knowing that no one is coming to the rescue and if you jump off this cliff you will clean up your own blood. Kids need to have someone they can trust to help them through that. Kids need a little pain and crazy to know where limits are and they need adults to be there with them in this.

Adults are boring. When groups of people are together I’ll probably sneak away at some point and goof with some kids. They know what’s up. Kids need a grown man to say “That was awesome” when they completely blow a jump and have blood pouring out their leg. Be there with them in their dumb and call them to better things, better things that still involve fun and daring. That’s where life is.

When you have kids: Your Life Is Over. I’m Not Joking.

Seriously, I’m not joking. As soon as your child takes their first breath, you should already know what aspects of your life you are going to eliminate.

Kids are a huge responsibility. They will tax your energy and patience. You cannot afford them.

In order to have the energy, patience and money to raise kids you have to stop doing some stuff you were doing before. You have to.

Before I had kids I used to golf. I do not golf anymore. It was too expensive and took away much of my patience. I used to have cable television. I do not have cable television because it costs too much. I used to go on vacations with my wife. I do not vacation anymore. I used to have dreams and hobbies. Not any more. I used to buy books like crazy. My wife works at the library now.

In order to be here for my kids, I chose to eliminate many fun activities from my life. I have some resentment about that, but in all honesty, not much. Having kids was something we wanted, so I’m the idiot who chose this.

I have seen many fathers carry on as if nothing happened. They keep doing all their hobbies and projects and stuff as if nothing changed. Then they get mad at their wife and kids because they have no money or time.

No, the main reason you don’t have money or time is because you keep doing stuff you shouldn’t be doing anymore. As the “man of the house,” if anyone sacrifices, it should be you. That’s why God made you a man.

You must give up on your life when you create another one. Again, look at God. What was He doing before He created the world?

No one knows! Why not? Cuz He stopped doing it once He made us! It’s not even important enough for Him to bring up.

God’s life changed radically once creation showed up. Imagine how much more God could get done if He didn’t have to put up with our constant, whiny rebellion.

Don’t be a martyr about this either. Keep a couple things, a few interests that are cheap and don’t burn up too much time, energy or money. I write, run and play guitar. Those are my three interests. None of them stresses me out, none of them costs a phenomenal amount of money and none of them demand specific times when it has to be done.

(I’m not saying you have to do my things, I’m saying limit yourself and pick a couple things you enjoy that don’t cost money or occupy specific lengths of time that will keep you from bending to fit in kid stuff. These are my three things that do that for me.)

Don’t try to live like a single guy when you have a wife and kids. I find it mind-boggling how many men haven’t figured this out. Hey, your kids are your doing. Give them a solid 18 years of your time. It’s what you signed up for.

Ridding Your Child of the Idiot Part

When our first child was about a year old we were sitting on the living room floor playing with blocks. When we were done I told her to put the blocks back in the box. She put a couple in and then stopped.

“Put the blocks in the box.” I said. She put one more in and stopped.

“Put the blocks in the box.” I said again. She didn’t. She just sat there looking at me as though the English language had ceased to exist.

“Put the blocks in the box.” I remember this episode because I said that phrase approximately 4,000 times in the next hour. She eventually put the blocks in the box.

I made all other life everywhere cease until these blocks were put in the box. Sure, it would have been easy for me to clean up her mess, but I am not about what is easy, I am about what is right.

There have been many times in my fathering where I have sat somewhere for an hour repeating myself. I will not be defeated. I will win. You will not get away with not doing what I am saying.

Which leads me back to yesterday’s post: stop saying stuff. Unless you are willing to sit there for an hour to make sure the job is done, don’t bring up the job.

At present, in this same child’s life, I can say to her “Go do the dishes” and she will and I generally don’t get the huffy teenager attitude with it either. She knows I mean what I say and the block picking up episode is one reason why (even though she does not remember this). It was my constant mindset.

Now, a word of caution. Dad’s will should win, but this does not mean the child does not have a will, nor that dad’s will means the child’s individualness does not exist.

The point is to show that Dad’s will is better, but Dad can also bend His will to fit the child. I learned this from God. God had Samson tie foxes together and set them on fire to judge Philistines. This is awesome.

But God never let Jonah do this, nor did He let Job or Daniel do this. Each person in the Bible is unique and God uses their uniqueness with His will.

When my son came along, putting away blocks was simpler with him. I’d say “Put the blocks in the box” and I’d throw one across the room into the box. This was awesome for him and he began shooting hoops with blocks.

Our middle child learned to let her brother and sister do all the work.

God’s will is right and better than ours. My will is better than my kids’ will. I know more and I’m in charge and also the one at fault for family idiocy. It is my job to be in charge. But I am not to be a raving lunatic dictator, I can bend my will to accommodate individuals, just like God does. Also, like God, I am willing to change if they bring up a fine idea–Moses intercession for Israel changed God’s mind about judging them.

My kids have free will. They can choose to do really dumb things. Just as we have free will and can reject God’s will. God is faithful, willing to forgive, but He will also judge us on how well we did His will. He is in charge, therefore, we should do His will. My kids should feel the same about me. God is patient, He endured Israel’s stubbornness for 40 years!

If you do not know who God is, or you have a twisted view of God, it will affect your parenting. Know God. Be patient. Do the work of making your kids do the work.

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