August 3rd, 2011 by Louis Smith
During the first two years of life, a child learns the fine art of talking. It begins with “oohs” and “aahs” in the first couple months and then quickly turns to babbling. The babbling, in turn, becomes real words (like “mama” and “daddy”). The child steadily steps into the world of language. By the third year, the little talker can even carry on a conversation.
February 2nd, 2011 by Louis Smith
American country music singer Willie Nelson scored a colossal hit in the early eighties with the beautiful love song, “You Were Always on My Mind.” In fact, it soared to the number one spot on the country music charts. People who didn’t even like country music found the haunting tune touching, and they all remembered the part, “you were always on my mind.”
January 26th, 2011 by Melvin Eugene Surface
True religion honors God and reaches out to human need.
Jesus rocked the boat of those who were content to practice religion without a real connection to God’s mercy. He broke the mold of religious rule-keepers. He lived a blameless life, but He showed holiness from His heart. He made religion relevant as He brought God’s love and power to bear on human needs.
September 21st, 2011 by Anonymous
“My house is filthy!” I said to my mother who had come to visit. “With a preschooler, a toddler and a baby, I feel like I’m cleaning all the time, but I just can’t keep up! What am I going to do?”
January 12th, 2011 by William Batson
As I was growing up it was not unusual for me to watch the comedy variety shows appearing on television. A comedian I remember vividly was Rodney Dangerfield. He still pops up now and then. Dangerfield’s act consisted of telling about events in his life surrounding his relationships with people. There was one line he used which became his trademark: "I don’t get no respect!"
Some of you may have shouted "Amen!" as a declaration of what is happening in your marriage. A wife wrote of how her husband shows her no respect: "He comes home from work, eats, and goes straight to bed; gets up for work and doesn’t even say bye. I’m getting worried that he is falling out of love with me."
A major ingredient in building a lasting marriage is respect. The Bible is clear that husbands and wives are to express their love for each other by being respectful and considerate (ref. Ephesians 5:33 and 1 Peter 3:7). Let me mention just three ways you can build mutual respect in your marriage:
Respect each other’s feelings.
A healthy marriage exists where the two mates work toward being open, vulnerable, and honest with each other about their feelings. In doing so you are revealing an intimate part of your life which will draw you closer to each other. Steve and Jill struggled to build an intimate relationship. Steve had been involved in a men’s group where husbands were encouraged to be open with their wives about their feelings. However, every time he tried, Jill would shut him down with, "You shouldn’t feel that way." He figured there was something wrong with him and retreated to his cave. In turn Jill was frustrated when Steve would not let her into his world.
All feelings are legitimate. You don’t have to understand or agree with your mate’s feelings, but you do need to honor those feelings. Affirm the feelings and then look at how you both can move toward each other in love.
Respect your mate’s thoughts.
Honoring your mate’s ability to think and reason is a powerful tool for blessing. This does not mean that you have to agree with every thought. God gave you each other to complement and strengthen each other. Viewing your mate’s different point of view as threatening and dis-respectful impedes God’s plan for your marriage. Think about this: One of you would be unnecessary if you both thought the same way and did things the same way all of the time.
Respect each other’s actions.
Bob had unfair expectations of Ellie. When he came home from work he complained and criticized her for how she treated their young children. He thought she was too abrupt and insensitive. Bob failed to consider what had been going on before he arrived home – the constant activity of toddlers, the flurry of phone calls from bill collectors and telemarketers. He eventually learned not to be too quick to criticize, judge, or condemn Ellie for her actions. Instead, he would give her a hug and ask how he could help relieve some of her stress. Actions speak louder than words.
Honoring your mate’s feelings, thoughts, and actions helps protect you from the destructive power struggles that divide many marriages. It intimately communicates the value you place on the person and your marriage.
January 27th, 2010 by Steve Farrar
Children form a great deal of their understanding of God as Heavenly Father by what they see and hear from their earthly fathers. A father’s tasks are numerous and sometimes quite difficult. Fathering requires tremendous attention, discipline, and self-control. Deuteronomy 6 is a fundamental chapter for fathers who want to be effective. Seven steps for effective fathering can be found in this passage:
1. Fathers are to initiate action.
2. Fathers are to teach.
3. Fathers are to discipline.
4. Fathers are to communicate.
5. Fathers are to be available.
6. Fathers are to be aware.
7. Fathers are to be involved.
Men Leading the Charge – Member Book
Men Leading the Charge – Member Book
A change has occurred in American families over time. Children have fathers who live in one city and mothers who live in another. Families are being separated geographically, emotionally, and spiritually. But God has given the father the responsibility of keeping his family anchored in Christ. When the father leaves, abuses, or neglects his wife and children, the family begins to drift.
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to concentrate on improvements you need to make. All fathers are strong in some areas and weak in others. Thank God for the strengths He has placed in you and ask Him to help you make improvements in your areas of weakness.
1. Initiate Action
Deuteronomy 6:1 says, “These are the commandments, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” God has placed on parents the responsibility of teaching their children.
The responsibilities of fatherhood in Deuteronomy 6 revolve around taking initiative. That means you cannot wait for something to happen before you decide what to do. It means you give your children a moral base on which to stand. You teach them how to deal with temptation and how to control their anger. If you can maintain an attitude of anticipating and heading off problems, you will help your children embrace a godly life. God desires that you lead your children just as He leads you.
When you take an active role in the life of your children, you will find that your main task is to teach. All of life is an education, and you must take the lead role in what your children are taught.
Teaching is done through actions more than words. You will teach your children by what you do or by what you do not do every day of their lives. Your children will remember your example long after they forget your words. As a teacher, your first priority is to practice what you preach. Your children will follow your example regardless of what you say. The habits that you teach them now will manifest themselves for the rest of their lives.
A nation is only as strong as the families that live in it. God chooses to work through fathers to raise righteous children. If you are absent emotionally or physically, your children will suffer the consequences.
Teaching your children will give them a foundation by which they can succeed in life. It is giving them a heritage and reason for living in a world that is full of people who feel disconnected and meaningless.
Fathers are not only to initiate and teach, they are to discipline. Discipline is a form of teaching that sets proper boundaries that guide behavior. In other words, discipline is rules and regulations for living. Discipline involves praising children for correct behavior and lovingly applying consequences when rules are broken.
What is the purpose of discipline? Deuteronomy 6:2 says, “So that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord.” The goal is to instill respect for authority and accountability for personal actions.
Too often men leave all the discipline to their wives or are the “heavy” disciplinarian at the end of the day. The result is a child’s lack of respect for the father. The “rod of discipline” (Proverbs 22:15) is that action from the parent that provides consequences for a child’s actions. If a parent has an attitude of love and self-control, those consequences will be effective but not harmful.
Discipline is not abuse but rather the establishment of boundaries and consequences that teach appropriate behavior.
Fathers are to communicate. Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Fathers are to communicate the Word of God to their children in all aspects of life. This does not mean you can only have a set devotion time at the evening meal or afterward. Bible teaching can be done anytime, anywhere.
Pray and read Scripture when you face difficulties from day to day. This does not mean that you are a walking seminary, but it does mean that your words, attitudes, and actions reflect Christ.
Communicating with your children can be a daunting task. Often it may be easier to talk to them rather than with them. Talking to them may be interpreted as preaching or nagging, and they may tune you out. Talking with them is the work of entering into their lives. It communicates caring and concern. Talking with them involves knowing the world in which your children live. Ask what your children are thinking and feeling. Never dismiss your children’s thoughts and feelings as unimportant. Communicate your love for your child often.
5. Be Available
Availability is a rare commodity for most men. You have work obligations that demand time and attention. You have personal interests that are necessary for relaxation. You have a relationship with your spouse that requires time and attention. Unfortunately, your children are usually the ones left out of the picture.
To father your children properly, you must make time to be available to them. They must know that they are a priority in your life, or they will look for the attention they need elsewhere. Both sons and daughters need your time. Boys see their fathers as examples of what men should be. Sons will relate to their wives the same way you relate to your wife. Daughters see in their fathers the type of man they will look to marry.
6. Be Aware
Fathers are to be aware of the needs and interests of their children. Awareness requires focused, undivided attention on the things your child considers important. In this age of cell phones, beepers, and wireless Internet, it is increasingly difficult for a father to leave work at the office.
When you are spending time with your children, focus your attention on them. Ask questions. Ask about their thoughts, likes, dislikes, and feelings. Take precautions against distractions. Let your child choose how to spend your time together.
7. Be Involved
Involvement with your children may require a sacrifice of your time. If you want to teach and mentor your children, encourage them to tell you about their days, spend individual time with them, eat meals together, and do homework together.
Involvement also includes knowing what your children are reading, watching, and hearing. Can you name your children’s favorite television shows, radio stations, movie stars, musicians, or sports celebrities? Can you name your children’s teachers and friends? If not, find out by asking questions that reflect interest without judging. If you hear something from them that displeases you, gently lead them to other activities or interests.
The reward for this kind of fathering is found in 3 John 4: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” A father’s job well done is a child’s life well lived.
October 20th, 2010 by Nate Adams
“What do you think—red or black?”
I looked up from my reading to see my wife, Beth, standing in the doorway. In one hand she held a red dress, in the other a black dress. Her question reminded me that I would soon need to join her in getting ready for the banquet my company was hosting that evening.
She continued: “I think I wore the greenish pantsuit last year, because it was right after we had Ethan [our youngest son], and I needed something looser fitting…”
Suddenly, panic set in. This question wasn’t a simple choice between red and black. This was one of those trick “greenish pantsuit” questions—the kind that if answered carelessly could bring days of marital strife.
I tried to rewind my mind to the last time I answered a question like this, remembering only that I had answered poorly. The details sailed through my brain: Green pantsuit… Beth was pregnant… Football was on the tube… I gave a half-hearted answer… Beth stormed out of the room… I was in the doghouse.
Experiences like the greenish pantsuit, if revisited often enough in a marriage, will eventually give a husband the training he needs for discerning the difference between the question that is asked and the questions that is intended.
The first few times I went through this training, I was naïve enough to think my wife actually wanted my opinion on what to wear. Ha! What foolish thinking I was prone to in those early years.
You see, my wife is bright, independent and fairly decisive. Not only are her fashion tastes light years ahead of mine, she’s actually been herself for years now. While we make many decision together as a couple, I could count on one hand the times she has helplessly come to me for advice. But I couldn’t begin to count the times she has come to me for affirmation. And that’s what I suddenly remembered. She didn’t want advice; she wanted affirmation! She needed a little confidence.
So now I was ready for the trick question. The one that isn’t so tricky once you know the trick. I put down my book, stood up and went over to inspect the dresses. I wanted her to know that she had my undivided attention. (If you’re watching television when the “What should I wear?” questions comes, hitting the mute button is OK, but turning off the TV scores bonus points.)
I began my response circuitously. “I don’t know; you look good in both of these dresses. Which one do you like best?”
“Well, I was kind of leaning toward the red one, but I wanted to know what you think…”
“Yes, the red one’s nice,” I said with a smile. Then I took Beth’s hand, looked her in the eyes, and told her what she really needed to hear: “I know it can be a big deal to dress up and go out with all these people I work with, and that you want to look nice. I don’t know if I’ve told you this recently, but every time we go out like this, I am so proud to have you by my side. You are beautiful and poised and intelligent. Whatever you wear, I know you’ll look great and you’ll be charming, and it will be one more time that I’ll be so glad I married you.” It was sappy, but it was honest sap.
I’ve relied on this approach many times since, and it always invites a kiss, and a hug, and puts a life in my wife’s step as she goes to slip on the red (or black, or green) outfit. And then, 45 minutes later, as she puts the finishing touches on her hair, I’ll walk through our bedroom and into our closet.
And when I come out with a shirt and tie that I consider a pretty snazzy ensemble, she’ll look up at me with a pained expression and say, “You’re not going to wear that, are you?”
By Nate Adams
August 10th, 2011 by Morris N.
On July 10, 2009, my son Kelvin was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles for what the Doctor had told us was to be a minor surgery to correct his voice box. We went out, and as I prepared to pray with my wife for our son, a woman by the name Hanna came and to us and said, "All will be well with you." She then asked us where we were from and we told her that we are Kenyans. She was so thrilled because she had visited our country in August 2007 for a mission. She prayed for us and for a quick recovery for our son. After about thirty minutes, we were called back by the doctor for an update; they told us that our son needed more tests. He had a swelling on his voice box and they said they were going to put him on tracheal tube temporarily to help him breathe. Kelvin stayed in the hospital for about three weeks. All the tests the doctors did came back negative; they put him on medication to treat the infection without a concrete answer as to what they were treating.
My son was released on August 6 from the hospital with the tracheal tube. We were trained on how to take care of him. The boy adjusted very quickly but when on Sunday August 9 we prepared to go to church Kelvin said he did not want to go to church because his friends would laugh at him. My wife explained to him that good friends don't laugh at friends when they are sick; she suggested to him that we attend another church until he felt comfortable, and he agreed. And since they had visited Covina Assembly with a family friend, he agreed to go there and everyone was happy. At kids’ church my son had a special connection with his teachers and the other kids. When my wife asked how church was, he said, “IT WAS AWESOME, MOM.” At that point we knew God was at work in Kelvin. We have since become members of the church, my kids also suggested that we begin coming to church every Wednesday.
The real miracle though happened on December 13 at 8 a.m. as we were preparing to go to church. We usually change Kelvin’s tracheal tube on Sundays. I removed the old tracheal tube and Kelvin cleaned the hole, but when I tried to put in the new one, the hole was closed completely. What we did not notice was that the boy was breathing well. We rushed him to the ER. We got there at 8:20 a.m. and the doctor at the ER tried but he could not put in the tracheal tube either, and he asked, "When did you remove it?" We told him, “about twenty minutes ago.” He could not believe it. He called Children’s Hospital, and he was advised not to force it back in, but to cover it with a gauze and wait until Monday when we could see Kelvin’s doctor.
When we were released from the ER, Kelvin said he wanted to go to church and sing. We told him that he could sing in the 11 o'clock service. We drove back home, and we were in church in time for the service but with a resuscitation bag in the car, as advised by the doctor. Both he and his sister Natalie sung in the children's choir. On Monday, December 14, just one day later, the doctor at Children’s Hospital thought we had removed the tracheal tube one week ago. They even called the school nurse to confirm that Kelvin had the tracheal tube on Friday.
The nurse at the school said it was a miracle and that is what it is. GOD is good and he is a miracle worker, and he has been active throughout the period and more now. Kelvin is doing well in school, still on medication, and the doctor has confirmed that he is breathing well. We thank GOD, for he has good plans for our son.
October 12th, 2011 by Anonymous
Learning to wait on God to come through can be tough and sometimes frustrating. Abram and his wife, Sarai, discovered this. God had made some wonderful promises to them and their descendents. But they had one big problem—they were childless; they had no descendants.
They waited, and they waited. After nothing seemed to change, they tried to “help” God accomplish His will. Genesis 16:1-4 presents the focal point of their plan. Their efforts to help God created a family struggle that continues to this day in the Holy Land region.
Abram and Sarai’s account provides some valuable lessons for today. First, we should not get ahead of God, regardless of how long He chooses to wait to bring His perfect plan and will to pass. When we do, we always mess things up. Next, we need to learn that God has a time frame of His own, and He operates within that schedule. Chances are, it will be different from ours. We may get anxious waiting, but we can be sure He always does what He says at the right time. As someone once said, “God is never late, although He may miss some wonderful opportunities to be early.” Finally, we need to remember that faith waits regardless of circumstances. Even if there is no hint of any change in circumstances, faith still believes. Faith’s most difficult moment is often the last half hour of our wait.
When the waiting gets long, remember that God’s schedule is almost always different from ours. Keep matters in God’s hands, because taking them into our own usually makes matters worse.
Devotional Prayer: Oh, God, when the waiting gets long, help me to remember that you have never been late yet.
October 5th, 2011 by Anonymous
When I read Matthew 6:25-26, I picture an old man who each day takes a break from his duties to sit on a park bench and toss pieces of bread to pigeons. The pigeons learn that the old man will be there each day to supply their food, so each day they gather to eat from his hand. Then at the end of each feeding, the old man stands and walks away. His break is over, and the day’s more important duties beckon, leaving the birds to go their separate ways, to spend the rest of the day taking care of themselves.
Then I picture our heavenly Father and His children. Like the old man in the park, He delights in the opportunity to meet needs, in knowing that the hungry know He is their reliable source for nourishment. But unlike the old man in the park, God does not rise to walk away. He stays all day, dispensing His never-ending supply of the Bread of Life. He stays because there is nothing more important awaiting Him.
Worry is a sign that we have wandered away from the man on the park bench—from God—that we have strayed from Him and that it is time to return to the One who has promised to meet all of our needs. When worry sets in, we need to picture God sitting on His throne, outstretched hand offering exactly what we need, waiting for us to return. We know where to find Him, because He is always there waiting for us.
Devotional Prayer: God, thank You for continually supplying my needs even when I may not be aware it’s You.