Jan 18

Caring for Aging Parents

Hands by Bas Van Der Pluym at freeimages.com

Americans are living longer and our medical system is the most advanced in history!  Both of these seem like wonderful blessings, but in reality they come with new challenges for our present generation.  One of those is the need to provide care to aging family members.

God has always commanded His people to honor and provide for their parents. The fifth commandment was to “honor father and mother” (Exodus 20:12).  Paul taught Christians to be responsibility for taking care of parents and family members in need (1 Timothy 5:3-4; 8). Jesus strongly rebuked the Pharisees for “voiding the word of God” by their traditions because they concocted a tradition allowing them to give money to the temple practically alleviating their duty to care for their parents (Mark 7:6-13).  Jesus declared their worship was in vain because they so twisted the Word of God by rejected this fundamental duty.

Since it is clear God expects us to do it, the question becomes how do we effectively carry out this challenging responsibility in today’s culture.  Here are some suggestions.

  1. Be grateful!  While being the caregiver can be a burden, remember to have a grateful heart as you go through the process.  Many children would love to be able to spend more time with their parents.  Be thankful for the time you are able to have with your parents (1 These. 5:16-18)
  2. Practice the golden rule (Mat. 7:12).  As you try to make difficult decisions rely on the principle of treating your parents the way you would want to be treated and the way they would want you to treat them.
  3. Keep perspective.  Your parents are more than who they are at the present!  Sometimes let your mind’s eye dream of the past when they were a child, a young person, a newlywed, or parent.  Even consider what they were 10 years before and remember to treat them with the dignity and respect that their whole life demands.  It will encourage you and help you keep perspective.
  4. See it as a ministry.  Often when people are caring for a family member they feel guilt because they can’t do their normal service to the Lord.  Let me remind you that your caregiving is a high and noble ministry to the Lord.  You are right where you should be!  You are a powerful witness to the world of the love of Jesus.
  5. Remember that God knows your labor of love.  The Bible assures us that God will not overlook our secret services that often go unnoticed by the world.  You do what God calls you to do and he will bless you (Heb. 6:10; Mark 9:41; Gal. 6:9).
  6. Learn to accept the fact that life inevitably changes.  Most of us don’t like changes, thus we tend to resist them.  We must realize our roles in life will change over time.  Even David the giant slayer was told by his army that he could no longer fight in battle because he was almost killed (2 Sam. 21:15-17).  God desires for us to embrace our position in life and use it for his glory as best we can.
  7. Be attentive to your own emotions and health.  The caregiver must also see to their own needs.  They will battle various emotions and will need space, friends, and spiritual encouragement to carry out their duties.  The caregiver should allow others to help and seek to lean on God.

May God bless and give strength to all those who are caregivers.

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Many of these ideas came from Steve Higgenbotham in “Caring for Aging Parents”  Spiritual Sword (April 2016).

You can also listen to a sermon on this topic in the Audio Resources.

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Jan 11

Preachers and Busyness

Time is going. . . by koraw from www.sxc.hu

What do preachers say when you ask them how things have been going?

Most all of us will say, “We have been really busy!”  We may even give you way more information than you desired about all the things we have been doing.

This is a typical response from most working Americans today. We believe if we aren’t busy then there is something wrong.  Ministers have traditionally be the butt of jokes about how they only work a few hours of the week.  Most people, including church members, do not understand what a preacher does during the week.  Many ministers have abused the freedoms with their work and been known for lazy or selfish behaviors.  With the church paying the minister and the minister wanting to justify his pay, it is common for ministers to be ready to share all they have been doing.

We don’t talk about it a lot as preachers, but I believe preachers struggle with busyness and feeling like they have to be busy.  But we must realize we don’t have to justify our work in words, if we are doing it!  We have to work on our own psyche and attitude about our own worth and value.  We have to focus on efficiency and outcomes rather than just busyness.

We must consider what it says to our family and church members whom we are serving if we always give the impression that we are “too” busy.  They will feel like we never truly have time for them or their concerns or needs are not worthy of interrupting our busy ministry.

Jesus should be our model.  He had more to do than anyone who has ever lived, but he lived in the moment. He took time to pray, to get away with just his disciples, to rest, and to be interrupted by anyone who had needs.  He lived in the moment, yet stayed focused on his larger goals.  He was not too busy for the little children or the repeated questions of his Apostles.

I have to constantly work on this, but I don’t want to live a harried, stressed life.  I want to live in the moment, willing to serve, listen, and help whoever crosses my path.  I also want to value rest and hobbies.  Our worth doesn’t come from what we do, but from who we are in Christ.

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Jan 10

My Class on the Law of Moses

By the Providence Lithograph Company (http://thebiblerevival.com/clipart/1907/ex20.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We study from the books of Moses (Genesis – Deuteronomy) regularly in our classes.   I have taught many lessons from these, but never had I taught a systematic study focused solely on the Old Law until this last class i taught.  Most teachers, and especially students, perceive that it will be too dry, boring, or difficult to study the Old Law.  I am not going to say it was the most exciting or practical class, but I believe it was a powerful and rewarding study for me and the students.  My focus was on understanding the overall law and looking at some specific aspects of it.  I laught the class to our Wednesday night auditorium class which involved about 30-40 students, mostly older men.  We were able to have good discussion and we sought to relate every study back to an illumination of Jesus and the gospel He brought.  The class went from September until January 4th.

Here were the class titles and themes.

  • The Old Law Overview (I am attaching this 7 page document which I taught over three class periods.)
  • Ten Commandments
  • The Types and Meaning of Sacrifices
  • The Festivals
  • The Priesthood
  • The Tabernacle and its furnishings
  • The Sabbath and Year of Jubilee
  • Clean and Unclean with a study of dietary rules and ceremonial uncleanness
  • Stewardship principles
  • Sexual regulations and principles
  • The Law and social justice
  • The Law and the poor and stranger
  • Cities of Refuge and Justice

The primary resources I used were . . .

  • Barnes Charts – Old Testament charts
  • Lessons from Truth for Today found at www.Biblecourses.com
  • Holiness to the Lord by Allen P. Ross. This is a lengthy commentary on Leviticus.  It is wonderful though.  The first 80 pages are an incredibly rich overview of the law.  Then the commentary portion of Leviticus is written with expositors in mind.  The author seeks to relate the Law back to Christ as the fulfillment of God’s purpose and plan.  The book is somewhat expensive, but it is a gold-mind of resources for this study and the book of Leviticus

I hope this will help encourage you to teach a topical study of the Old Law.  I don’t mind emailing you some individual lessons if you need them your own class.  Most are in Powerpoint or Keynote format.

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Jan 04

Scratching Your Spiritual Itch!

donkey by Myriams-Fotos at www.pixabay.com

Americans are growing less religious, but more spiritual.  This may, at first, seem like a contradiction. But surveys are indicating that while attendance and membership with religious bodies are decreasing,  spiritually, which relates to feelings of peace, wonder, and well-being are on the rise.¹  In America, with our predominantly Christian based culture, this has often been expressed as “I hate religion, but love Jesus.”

Dangerously connected with this generations rise in spirituality is a historically low Biblical knowledge.  Consider that only about 55% of the public knew that the golden rule is not one of the ten commandments.  Even more disturbing is that fact that only 45% knew the four gospels, which tell the story of Jesus, are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.²  While the Bible is more accessible than ever in history, most people are generally ignorant of it.

What this means is we have a society of people who have an itch, but don’t know how to properly scratch it!  They are seekers of God and are marvelers of the wonders of the universe, but because they have little religious training, low Bible knowledge, and a wariness of organized religion, they lack the resources to adequately and properly address their need.

How Should People Scratch their Spiritual Itch?

  1. Humble themselves before the Lord.  “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  The first step to finding spiritual connection with God is recognizing your need for God.  We live in a world of determined individualist who want to do their own thing.  Before they can truly scratch their itch, they must surrender to His will (James 4:6-10).
  2. Begin reading the Word of God.  The Bible is God’s word written to every individual.  It has turned many skeptics into believers!  If someone wants to know about God and spirituality, then they must read God’s book to them.  Scripture is the revelation of God; it reveals Him.  Jesus was the Word in flesh.  He came to show us the Father and reveal His message (John 1:1-15).
  3. Realize that true faith involves a community of fellow believers.  Sadly, many have been hurt by “organized religion.” They are put off by the perceived accountability and demands of the church.  But God created us to live our faith in relationship with others.  We need the support, encouragement, accountability, and love of fellow believers.  To desire Jesus without his church is to decapitate the head (Christ), from his body (the church) (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:22-33).  Seekers should desire to find a congregation that is teaching and practicing the Bible and wants to be simply Christians.
  4. Seek holiness and service in daily life.  Very significantly the seeker must understand that to be pleasing to God involves turning from wickedness and living a holy life.  The Bible says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).  A person will always fail to scratch their spiritual itch if they cling to their selfish, sinful ways.

Will you scratch your spiritual itch in 2017?

—————-

¹  “Americans may be getting less religious, but feelings of spirituality are on the rise.”  http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/21/americans-spirituality/

²  U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey – http://www.pewforum.org/2010/09/28/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey/

 

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Jan 03

Are you Determined?

It is 2017!  What will be accomplished this year in your life?

I have been listening to David McCullough’s fine biography of the Wright Brothers. The Wright brothers are famous for inventing the airplane and conquering the scientific problems of flight.  After the world had finally recognized their success they received many medals.  One of the ceremonies was at the White House and involved a speech by President Taft.  There is one line which jumped out at me to consider for my on life as 2017 begins.

“You made this discovery by a course that we of America like to feel is distinctively American – by keeping your nose right at the job until you had accomplished what you had determined to do.” 

(Wright Brothers with President Taft in Ceremony. http://www.libraries.wright.edu/)

My first thought was to consider, “Is this still an American quality?”

My next thought was to consider, “Is this an attribute or characteristic that I possess?”

The Wright brothers story is one of extreme determination, resolve, and courage.  They spent countless hours and years of determination testing and experimenting with flight.  They suffered ridicule, risked their own personal wealth, and sacrificed personal pleasure in order to accomplish their goal.  Their journey was one of rugged determination.

Most of our victories and accomplishments as Americans can be attributed, at least in part, to determination.  Are we still a determined people?  Do we still have the mental and physical toughness that determination requires?

2017 is an opportunity to accomplish much for the glory of God.  May we have the determination to keep our nose to the job until our mission is accomplished! 

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Dec 28

Top Ten Posts of 2016

It has been a blessed year for the Life in the Kingdom website. I appreciate all of the readers and listeners to the website’s content.  I look forward to 2017 and trying to produce more worthwhile content to encourage you in seeking first the kingdom of Christ.

These are the most read posts of 2016.  Check out what you might of missed.

  1.  You are the Trophy -3-29-2016 – By far the most read post on the site this year.  It was even reprinted in the Christian Chronicle.  It is about some advice Austin received from his grandmother after his Lads-to-Leaders speech.
  2. Pre-marital Sex:  5 Reasons you shouldn’t give Privilege without Commitment.  -10-30-2016
  3. A Business with the Right Idea -4-18-2016 – This post is about a Christian based ladies’ clothing store who make it their aim to sell modest clothing.
  4. We are Failing to Protect our most prized Possession. 5-13-2016  – Dealing with the issue of transgender restrooms.
  5. Honoring the Homeschool Mom.  8-11-2016
  6. The Story of How I Realized You Must Have a Ticket to Get In. – 2-16-2016
  7. How I Preach from My iPad Mini – 8-6-2014
  8. Eight Challenges of Being a Preacher’s Wife – 10-16-2016
  9. What I Wish Everyone Knew about the Church of Christ – 8-14-2014
  10. Why Your Children Should Visit Nursing Homes – 4-2-2013

Thanks for reading!!  May you have a blessed 2017.

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Dec 24

Merry Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS!

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Dec 21

Anxious? Consider What You Are Thinking About!

White Knuckes by Kristen Price at www.freeimages.com

Anxiety is common to all of us.  We have worries and stress because of life!  The Bible tells us many things about how to control our anxiety and worries.  It can affect us physically and spiritually.  It will rob our joy and even replace God in our lives.  Satan can use it to keep us from being the powerful servant God wants us to be.

Most of us know Paul’s teachings in Philippians 4:4-7.  He tells us to rejoice and not be anxious.  He says that the peace of God will guard our hearts.  But I think we too often don’t connect verse eight with this passage.  Verse eight is the many “whatever” verse!  It says,

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

I believe this verse is crucial to us being able to rejoice and not be anxious as we endure all of life’s trials.  We have to focus on good and honorable things.  

Are you anxious?  What are you thinking about?  Do you feel anxiety after watching the news with all the murders and crimes?  Do you worry over your nest egg after watching the market all day?  Does time on Facebook leave you tense and agitated?  Is the latest movie you watched something that put good or bad into your mind?

We can control our daily anxiety and tension in many ways just by controlling our environment.  We must determine to focus on good and excellent things.  They may not be bad or sinful things, but they can be causing us anxiety.  Choose to manage your mind input, and you will see your anxiety decrease!

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Dec 16

Farm Report #9 – Growth and Harvest

I haven’t shared about our farm since June in Farm Report #8.  Our relationship to the farm is maturing.  We are settling into farm life and finding more rhythm with it.  We did lots of fencing this year to allow for our plan of rotational grazing.  Our animals have been healthy and our numbers are growing.  Here is our current farm population:

  • 8 Dexter Cows (1 bull, three cows, 3 heifers, 1 steer)
  • 15 Barbados Blackbelly Sheep
  • 9 Chickens (7 hens and 2 roosters)
  • 18 American Guinea Hogs
  • 5 cats (3 adults and 2 kittens)
  • 2 dogs (1 Golden Retriever and 1 Great Pyrenees)

This year has seen us be able to supply basically all of our own meat from the farm.  This is one of our primary purposes of the farm.  Here are some pictures and highlights from the year I wanted to share.

Amanda making elderberry juice.

  1.  Amanda had some firsts this year with the farm.  She started canning.  She canned pickles and other vegetables.  She froze several vegetables as well that we have been enjoying.  She loves picking berries too.  She finds it joyful to go out on hot summer days with long sleeves and pick wild berries!  It seems crazy to me, but I think the secret is the solitude from four kids!  She made wonderful blackberry jelly from our farm.  She also made elderberry juice which has lots of medicinal value.  We were also given some pears and she turned them into marvelous pear jelly.  I love the fruits of her labor!!
  2. The beginning of our bacon!

    I had some firsts this year as well with the farm.  I cured some bacon!  I salt-cured bacon and smoked it.  It turned out good.  It is a little too salty for us, so I will shorten the time it sits in the salt next time, but we have enjoyed it.  It is wonderful on BLTs.  I also did something, I once never thought I would do, I slaughtered two of my own animals.

    Us working on slaughtering one of our pigs.

    We had two pigs that had prolapse and needed to be harvested before they got an infection.  I learned very much in the process and had a great little helper in Landon.  The biggest mistake I made in processing these suckling pigs that weighed about 40 lbs each was not letting them hang or set for at least 24 hours.

    One of our whole pigs smoked.

    Because of this, the meat was somewhat tough.  We also processed a deer and grown our own meat.  I hope to soon grind a hog and make sausage, bratwurst, and hot dogs.  We also had two of our lambs processed.  We are enjoying eating it.  I smoked one “leg of lamb” which turned out very good.

    The leg of lamb smoked.

  3. We are preparing for the future also when it comes to plants and nuts.  We prepared an asparagus bed.  It will be about three years before we will enjoy the asparagus, but it will be good and should last a long time.

    Our asparagus bed we built.

    We also planted blueberry and blackberry bushes.  We also love pecans, so we planted three pecan trees for the future, though it seems they have been damaged by deer and rabbits.

  4. We painted and updated our barn.

    The barn before renovation.

    Since purchasing the farm, the barn has been needing some work. In  September of this year we power-washed, painted, and put wood boards on the front of the barn.  We took down all the old plastic and used leftover wood from the house to create a wood slat exterior cover.  It turned out well. We repaired the window doors.  The next barn project will be adding sliding doors on the front and end.

    The barn after renovation!

  5. We enjoy the beauty of the farm.  Enjoy these pictures Amanda took! That gives you a quick farm report with some highlights over the last 6 months.  Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.

 

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Dec 13

Why Was Jesus Born?

from www.freeimages.com by Oseias Ferreira

While we don’t know the exact day of Jesus’ birth, we do know he was born! Have you ever thought about why he had to be born?  Couldn’t the God of the world and savior of mankind just come as an adult and skip the growing up years? Why did he have to spend nine months in Mary’s womb?  Why was he a toddler and, even better yet, a teenager?

Let me suggest three reasons why Jesus was born.

  1. He needed to fully share in humanity.  Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is the Devil.”  There would have been something inadequate about his understanding and sympathy for humanity had he not of gone through the complete human experience.  He was fully man!  The God of the world humbly became a baby in order to identify with us.  Because he had lived as a man, he can serve as our advocate and sympathizing High Priest (1 John 2:1-2, Heb. 4:14-16).
  2. He needed to live a sinless life.  It was necessary that Jesus never sin in order for him to be an appropriate atoning sacrifice for our sins.  He was tempted, yet he resisted (Heb. 4:15).  One of the purposes of his temptations by Satan was to prove his worthiness.  He was tested, but he prevailed!  His example of overcoming sin gives each of us a pattern and strength as we face our own sin.  Thus Peter could say, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).
  3. He needed to be born so he could die for our sins.  We are all, in a sense, born to die.  From the time we are born our lives are marching toward their physical end.  Jesus needed to be born in order to accomplish his purpose and destiny of death on the cross.  Jesus understood his purpose from a young age and sought to be about his Father’s business (Luke 2:49).  He saw his purpose on earth as obeying the Father’s will.  He willingly humbled himself to the point of death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8).  His purpose brought great anxiety and stress upon him as was shown in the garden of Gethsemane.  Yet, he determined to do his Father’s will above his own (Mat. 26:36-46).

The miracle of the incarnation is truly powerful when you consider its depth and significance.  It shows the determination, patience, and love of Jesus to willingly undergoing subjection as a man, yeah even a fetus, baby, toddler, adolescent, teenager, and adult all for us.  May we ever marvel and surrender our lives to him.

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