Some day….

February 27, 2018

There is a phrase that I heard all too often as a young person; words that frustrated and demoralized me. (Why is it that when we know something is unhealthy or bad, we perpetuate it?! I don’t know either.) I have tragically carried the sentiment of this phrase into my adult years. I don’t necessarily say the words but I sure live my life under their tutelage all too often. The phrase you ask? I can hear my father’s voice as I write this, “One of these days I’m/we’re going to ___________.

Maybe I would have understood this better if he had said, “I have something that I would really like to do. It’s a dream of sorts. I don’t know if I will ever get, take the chance, or be able to afford to do it, but it’s somewhere stored in the back of my mind.” I think I could have taken that without the immense frustration of believing that it was actually going to happen. It’s not unlike my kids asking for something and me saying, “We’ll see.” It doesn’t take long before they realize that’s just another way of saying, “No.” But “we’ll see” gives them just enough hope that I don’t have to argue with them about it and “one of these days” is far enough off in the future that it gives something to look forward to down the road. And it instills optimism that maybe, just maybe, it might get pulled off this time.

Each year I tell a new batch of Pre-school parents this same thing, “Don’t make the mistake I made. Don’t think that you have ‘time’ to get to things. YOU DON’T! Before you blink, these little ones will be finishing elementary school. And then you will blink again and high school is over. One more blink and they are gone to live on their own. You do not have time! If you’re going to do ‘it’ then do ‘it’ now.” I don’t know if anyone listens to me at these gatherings. Well, actually, that’s not true. The grandparents who attend are all nodding in affirmation as I speak the words above. THEY KNOW! They know because they said “one of these days” too many times themselves.

I have certain friends whom I envy. Why? Because it seems to me that they have never heard or uttered the dreaded phrase. They do “it” now. No doubt they will have their share of regrets in their final days, but I doubt it will be because they did not do “it.” I can’t be sure of that.

So where is this leading? Basically I am very concerned for the future of our children. In particular, I am wondering where they will get their moral and religious grounding. To think that they will just “pick it up as they go along” is actually correct. The question is WHERE and from WHOM will they “pick it up?” If you are guessing that it will be values taught to them at home… guess again. If you think it will be in church… um… they and their parents actually have to be involved in a church for that to happen. Let me make that VERY clear… not be “members” of a church but INVOLVED IN A CHURCH. Less than 10% of the young people in Elizabeth Forward have ANY involvement in a church. That means Christmas, Easter, you name it. For many young people their first time in a church is when a family friend gets married. Trust me, they will not pick up their values here.

If you are a parent (or even a grandparent), are you comfortable with your kids learning their life’s values, morals and principles from social media, television or their friends? Because without an intentional effort on the part of parents to teach and expose their kids to Godly values, THEY WILL NOT LEARN OR ADOPT THEM. They will, however, learn about pornography, sexting, broken families, drugs, alcohol…

There is not much in the Bible about Jesus and children. But what’s there says a great deal.

Matthew 18: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

This is not lovey-dovey, lamb on his lap, gentle, flannel graph Jesus. This is “if you hurt or mislead children I will take no prisoners!” Quite honestly not teaching our children Godly values is one form of “causing them to stumble.” We are responsible for them.  We are the reason they grow up the way they do.  God help us if we hurt them or lead them astray… oh wait… God won’t help us if we hurt them! As a matter of fact we will be fitted for a millstone.    

Do not make the mistake of thinking that there is time to teach our children and grandchildren Godly values. Or time to teach them about the love of Jesus Christ.  Or time to instill in them the mercy of God.  THERE IS NO TIME! DO IT NOW!  Trust me, if you wait the consequences might be dire.  They might even be eternal.

Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

I need to add one disclaimer. There are surely occasions when even the best of parents “lose” one of their children.  Their sons or daughters succumb to the values of this world and reject family, faith, and those who love them.  Clearly Satan is the Prince of this world and we are in a constant battle against him and his minions.  Tragically, those we love can sometimes be consumed by this spiritual warfare.

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News

February 23, 2018

Hello Friends, it’s been a while. Since I last wrote a number of things in our world have occurred; two in particular in the past couple of weeks.  I.  Rev. Billy Graham passed into glory.  2.  Once again, a mad man walked into a school in Florida and murdered over two dozen young people.

I doubt that I have much to add to the Florida massacre that has not already been said but if I can mention a couple of things by way of “de-politicizing” it.

Each time these things happen, the politicians, special interest groups and goofy people come out in full force to voice their opinion and to defend their “side.” I find myself someplace in the middle.  I honestly do not see why the public needs to have access to weapons that can kill loads of people in a short period of time. Call these weapons what you will.  There are clearly lines that need not be crossed.  There is a reason we do not have access to rocket launchers, bazooka’s, grenades, or nuclear weapons, right?  Or are some saying we should have access to those things?  I just don’t see it.  On the other hand no one can be sure that outlawing these “mass killing” guns will solve the problem of these insane people. But I’m willing to take that risk. If it will save the life of one innocent 15 year old, I’m good with that.  But again please keep in mind… no matter how passionate you are for your side, we have no idea how to correct these problems.  None.  Yours is just an opinion, like so many others, including mine.  Don’t misunderstand… I am not in favor of outlawing ALL guns.  I get it… 2nd amendment, hunting… etc.  And by the way, what sort of hunter needs a semi-automatic weapon?!  Have a little pride in yourself!  Filling the woods with lead as quickly as possible is sort of a sissy sport, isn’t it?  If you have never read the short story “Bless the Beasts and Children,” you need todo so.  Semi-automatic weapons that can do what was done in Florida?  I suspect we can do without them.  And arming teachers and administrators… um…  Sadly, when does someone step up and say, “Our society and culture are going to hell in a handbasket?!”  Literally “going to Hell.”

In the end, I believe this wickedness can be traced back to the demise of The Family and the continued shrinking influence of Christianity in our country.  But knowing why these things happen and fixing the problem are two very different things!  I’m not sure if this statistic is still correct, but it’s probably close enough.  The school district in which I am located has approximately 2500 students from K-12.  Any guesses on how many of them are involved in a church or Christian organization on a regular basis?  Best guess… less than 10%.  Less than 250 kids in my community have any exposure to the Gospel or the person of Jesus Christ.  Please do not misunderstand… I clearly implied that the other 90% have NO exposure.  That includes Easter, Christmas etc.  Oh, they have lots of exposure to other things like alcohol, drugs, broken families, adultery, self-centeredness, violent video games, sexting, pornography, sports and other activities on Sunday mornings… but the Gospel… the Good News of Jesus Christ… nope. I see more brokenness down the road, not less… no matter what we do with guns.

On to more glorious things. My grandmother (the only one I knew) died when I was 12.  She was the only person in my life as a youngster who I thought was “spiritual.”  When she passed away my mother came into my room sometime after the funeral and said, “Your grandmother wanted you to have these.”  (Honestly, I have no idea if that was true.  My mother may have just been trying to comfort me.)  So, what did she have for me?  3 books.  One was a Bible commentary.  One was a Bible dictionary.  And one was a book by Billy Graham.  I no longer have them.  Honestly, I was thrilled that I was given something from my grandmother, but REALLY?  No 12 year old is sitting around waiting for those kind of things!  But of all the material effects that are gone from my childhood – my baseball card collection, my comic book collection, my baseball glove that I saved and saved for – nothing would be more precious to me to have than those 3 books.  Not because I can’t go buy them myself.  Actually I have dozens of books that are just as informative.  But those books don’t remind me so much of the impact my grandmother had on me at an early age.  And she was like so many others of her generation… she loved Billy Graham.

If you were not raised in my generation or older it will be hard to have any concept of his impact on our nation and the world. In the end, I suspect that is incalculable.  But I would like to try and correct one thing that is bandied about by the press and others.  “Evangelicals” have gotten a bad name in many circles recently.  You may not know what that means… and that’s just my point.  The word has been used to describe so many Christian groups that it no longer has meaning.  It’s not unlike saying “I’m an American.”  What does that mean?  It may mean something about where you reside, but it says next to nothing about what you believe.  When I was young the word “evangelical” described Billy Graham and others like him.  He crossed all sorts of religious, cultural and political barriers because he exuded the love of Jesus, first and foremost.  He seemed to be able to avoid political affiliation.  But even that was not appreciated by some.  When he came to Pittsburgh for his last crusade a couple of decades ago Pittsburgh Presbytery was the only Denomination or Christian religious group that did not endorse him.  What a bunch of morons!  Whoops, did I say that out loud.  I meant to say, “Oh my, that was unfortunate.”

So, when you hear someone fussing about “evangelicals” or the press writing about them (and honestly who is less qualified to write about Christianity than the pagan press?); please know that the word means little. Until our terms are defined we can hardly use that one.  When I hear “evangelical,” I prefer to think of Billy Graham.  Those of us on this side of glory will never see another like him.  EVER.

Thank you God for bringing servants like Mr. Graham to model the love of Christ for the rest of us!

Blessings.