The Problem With Modern Parenting…


We’ve all seen it.  The 5 year old in the department store, stomping up and down demanding a toy or to go home or the 3 year old in the grocery cart reaching for the cereal screaming at the top of her lungs. And then there’s the mom.  She’s either embarrassed and apologizing to the other patrons as they pass by whispering to themselves or yelling advice, or she’s negotiating with her little terrorist child, bartering for peace and good behavior.

AND ON THE OTHER HAND…

We’ve seen the parents who, in those same stores, are issuing threats of violence or verbally abusing their little ones into horrified submission. In this case, you either see the child cowering like a scared puppy or you see the child quiet, acquiescent…yet, in their eyes you see anger, defiance, rebellion and sometimes hate.

You can tell in either scenario, this cannot produce well balanced children.  There’s a lot of emotion associated with both pictures and NONE of them are good.

FAST FORWARD 30 years…

These children are now functioning members of society.  They are holding jobs, hanging with friends of like mind, marrying and having children of their own…or NOT.  They are also very likely, belligerent, disrespectful, manipulative, abusive and in some cases, pathologically sociopathic. Or they run to the extreme of the other side of the spectrum: Mousey, diminutive in nature, willing to do anything to keep the peace. Both perspectives are the victims of what I call “Modern Parenting.”

All parents are guilty of it at some point.  We just want to get done what has to get done in order to survive the day. Isolated incidents of this are forgivable. It’s when it has become the rule, rather than the exception that it becomes a problem

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS.  And good friends. And good children.  And good marriages.  And good relationships…period.  Firm, clear boundaries based on truth and love, coupled with compassion and empathy…these are the things that keep us from becoming and being these cliché-type statistics rather than the victorious, abundant living creatures we were born to be.

I was having lunch with our church Keen-agers (our 55 and up members) after they had finished ministering at a nursing home one Saturday (as is their routine).  We started up this conversation about parenting and this subject came up. We talked about how bad habits create difficult children, which makes for difficult adults and sets us all up for a generational curse of bad behavior.

The question was asked, “How does God deal with bad behavior?”

Both the old and new testament refer to the fact that God’s discipline (or chastening) is a by-product of His extreme love for us and His desire to give us the best and for us to be the best. Sometimes, we are chastened very lovingly with a word of correction, telling us we’re going in a wrong direction. Sometimes, He comes more harshly with a stronger word, giving that behavior a name like SIN.  But what if we are more strong willed?  What if we have been raised, married to or employed by a “Modern Parent” and the more routine paths to correction don’t work?

Mother Willis (my pastor’s mom) made this observation.  “I don’t know, maybe this doesn’t work for anybody else but, the worse thing my mother could do to me if she had enough of me being disobedient was to stop speaking to me.  I could walk in a room, look her in her face and she would just act as if I wasn’t there.  To not have her speak to me, to treat me as if I did not matter was just too much for me to bear.”

Someone immediately responded, “But, is that scriptural?”

Let’s review.

King Saul, in his pride and desperation to satisfy “his people” lost his anointing, his kingdom and his favor with God.  King Nebuchadnezzar was reduced to a wild man, howling in the woods when God took His hand off of him. King David pleaded with abject desperation for God not to leave Him as he repented for his misdeeds. God will, even today, withdraw His Spirit from the heart of the disobedient because He cannot dwell in an unclean temple.

Real parenting is hard on the PARENT.  The saying, “This is going to hurt you more than it hurts me,” is the living truth for anyone who is determined to be the best for you and bring the best out of you.  AND THIS IS WHY it seems so much easier to surrender to modern parenting.

But what does it really cost you to be a modern parent? You pay the price of losing your HERITAGE…your LEGACY…your CREDIBILITY as a LEADER.

It’s time for us to REPENT for giving in to our weaker nature in all of our relationships and ask the Father of all Fathers to teach us once again what it means to be His children and then parents and leaders after His heart.  It will make us better friends, spouses and leaders.  We will never be a church without spot or wrinkle until we do.

 

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Thomas Called Didymus Pt. 2: Don’t Fill the Whole Picture with One Moment of Doubt


 

What I like of about John’s Gospel is that it’s not so much about the life of Christ; it is a powerful testament that Jesus was, and is, the very heaven-sent Son of God and the only source of eternal life.

John discloses Jesus’ identity with his very first words, “1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” And John sums up his description with verse 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

John tells us stuff that Matthew, Mark and Luke do not tell us.  John had a way of noticing things that others didn’t notice. And it is John who notices and records that Thomas, one of the twelve was not with them when Jesus came.  He doesn’t just tell us what is there he tells us what is missing.  This is a characteristic of a seasoned eye that is able to not only see what is there but what is missing.  Someone was missing. 

Sometimes we cannot move forward until we fix what’s missing.  We’ll all get to a point in our lives were we are going to have to deal with what’s missing.  Instead of putting on a façade and trying to convince people that everything is all right we need say God I need you to fix what is missing.

For does the Word not say that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above what we can ask or think according to the power that works in us? The Bible also says in Philippians, “being confident of this very thing that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Jesus is concerned about us being complete in him and he teaches us about the value of completion when he says to the shepherd if you have a hundred sheep and one of them gets caught up and goes astray leave the 90 and 9 to go after the one.  Is it the one that is so valuable? No it is the set that is valuable and the one missing completes the set.

A set of antique china is more value with all the pieces than when one cup is missing.  A pair of shoes has no value if you only have one.

The missing pieces become valuable when they are important to whole. That’s why our families are never complete when one of our children have been lead astray.

I believe that is why John picks this time to tell us that one of them is missing because God is about to take them through a transition and he doesn’t want to take half the group he wants to take everybody. 

Now for years I believe Thomas has suffered unjustly at the hands us teachers and preacher and we have undermined his character and assassinated his name and reduced him down to a description based on a brief moment in his life and called him doubting Thomas.

How dare you look at one sliver of your life and use it to define the totality of your existence. How dare you do that to yourself? How dare you allow what someone else did or said define who you are? You are not defined by one brief mistake you made when you were 20 years old.  How dare you and anyone else put a label on someone to define their entire existence based on brief moment of when their faith was weak?

How hypocritical of us to call him “Doubting Thomas”! Just like Thomas, we have our moments of doubt.  And the disciples doubted him, too.  Look at them…they were shut up behind closed doors, scared to death like a bunch of little girls! Isn’t it funny how folks will kill you over stuff that they themselves have been guilty of doing too?

Oh, I hope somebody’s getting a break through today.  People are crazy! They forget where they’ve come from; what has happened in their lives and they are ready to crucify you and talk about you as if they don’t remember how merciful God has been to them and what God has delivered them from! That’s why the bible says that if a brother is over taken in a fault you who are spiritual restore them in spirit meekness remembering yourself.

The bible doesn’t call him Doubting Thomas. Just because you have a moment of doubt doesn’t mean you are consumed by doubt.  I believe the only time doubt becomes a hindrance to your faith is when it prevents you from moving or action.  Faith requires action.  And I believe as long as we act on something God has a way of turning us around when we begin to go in the wrong direction.  But when we become paralyzed by doubt and fear that’s when we rob ourselves of getting into the flow of God. If doubt leads to questions, the questions lead to answers, and the answers are accepted, then doubt has done a good work.  It is when doubt becomes stubbornness and stubbornness becomes a life style that doubt has robbed us of our faith and destiny. 

A Legacy of Grace


Sin is a powerful catalyst.  It can push you or pull you in any number of directions.  Much like a pebble in a still pond, it can ripple for a moment on the surface of a life yet change the landscape of a soul way down deep for a very long time.

So often, much of life is more about the consequences of our actions or inaction.  So much of procrastination is blamed on fear of making a wrong decision.  So many big mistakes in life are blamed on making decisions in haste or wrong decisions based on emotion.    No one ever really wants to do the wrong thing.  “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:21).  Paul was onto something with that one.

Then, there are the wrong decisions made in justifiable perpetuity.  The way things are is the way things have always been and the way they will always be.  “This is all I’ve known.  It’s the way my mother and my grandmother was…it’s just who I am.”

So many people are so afraid of who they might actually become if they just made the choice to change.

What would happen if we changed the way we see the past? It may still be painful. But, what exactly was going on in the lives of those who supposedly made the past so hard to bear?  How did their circumstances effect how they related to you?   What insight do you have, or can obtain now that might shed a different light on how you see the whole story?  Truly our ability to see the bigger picture is linked to our level of maturity, both naturally and spiritually.

“When I was a child, I thought like a child, “(I Corinthians 13:11a). In our immaturity, we tend to see the world only as it pertains to our needs being met.  Much like infants, toddlers and small children, it’s hard to see another person’s perspective of a situation.  Naturally and spiritually, we are all the same.  Our development and evolution is primarily based on how we chose to respond to the situations in which we find ourselves.  And so much of how we are taught to respond is based on those who surround us and nurture us as we are growing.

When I became a man, I put childish things away (I Corinthians 13:11b).There comes a time when we choose those who will nurture us and those whom we will nurture. This is the point in our lives when we begin to understand that our lives are all inextricably linked to the lives of others, and each of these lives is JUST as valuable as our own.  Part of growing up is our ability to understand that there are other people involved and affected by our every experience.  How well we learn to integrate their perspectives into our decision making process can determine the success of our outcome.

In putting away the childish, one question is inevitably asked of all of us…What has been passed on to me that I wish to pass on…that is WORTH passing on?  This question is not asked by any human.  This is a question borne of God, imbedded in our very spirit by His Spirit.   This is a question of Legacy…

Thomas Called Didymus Pt. 1: Show up, Jesus!


Marion Henry is a modern day Apostle Peter.  She has a rough and ready word from God.  Passionate and straight forward, Marion is a Holy Ghost shotgun, loaded, cocked and ready for battle, with a heart so on fire for God, she receives some of the most divine revelations of who God is in the earth today.

One of the assistant Pastors at Lighthouse, Marion served for more than a decade as the All Nations Choir Pastor. A while ago, I heard her preach on “Doubting Thomas.” I will never call him that again. I truly believe this is a word worth sharing.

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 In the John 20:19-31, Jesus carefully instructed the disciples how to believe even after his death, yet they could not take it in. After he died and the first reports came back that Jesus was alive, the disciples could not believe it.

Twelve men, hand-picked by God,  left their families and all they had to follow Jesus without fully understanding who he was and what he was going to do.

When Jesus was dragged off to the cross none of those who had walked with him save John and his mother were anywhere to be found.  Not the woman with the issue of blood; blind Bartimaeus; none of the five thousand fed with fish and bread were there.

It didn’t take the disciples long to realize it was not popular for them to be associated with Jesus.  So they began to break. Peter went to cussing and Judas went out to potter’s field and tied hung himself and Thomas became so disenchanted with what was going on around him he disappeared. What was left of Jesus’ disciples was shut up behind closed doors like a bunch of scared little girls trembling in their boots scared they were going to be killed too. They began to examine everything wondering if they had made a mistake in following Jesus. Everything was coming apart for the disciples.

Some of the women had gone down to the tomb and said they had seen an angel that said he had risen from the dead but others had said he had not risen from the dead but somebody had stolen his body. When John and Peter heard the report from the women they ran down to the tomb to see and when they got there they were shocked to find that he was not there.  So they go back to the room and shut themselves up and try to figure out what to do.

Here they are: what was left of the twelve disciples shut up behind close doors trying to figure out what to do.

“Should I go back and try to get my old job back?”

“Should I go back to my city? And if I do that what am I going to say I’ve been doing for the last three and a half years? I’ve been running all over the country with this man called Jesus who has been taken away like a common criminal and murdered. And now here we are jobless with our hearts distraught and our minds confused?”

Can you image the tension in that room? Nobody was praying, nobody was singing songs, nobody was dancing, nobody was shouting all they could do was try to figure out what do when God doesn’t do you what expect him to do.

It was into this atmosphere that Jesus comes into the room.  I’ve got to stop here and thank Him for a moment.  I know we’ve been taught that it’s our faith that brings Him and our praise that brings Him. But I would like to tell you that there are times when your faith has gone dry and your praise has gotten choked up in your throat and in the midst of your doubt and unbelief Jesus will still come to you.  Jesus will still show up.

Is there anybody that knows what I’m talking about?  Have you ever had Him show up and you couldn’t even explain why a God like him would come after somebody like you?  And everybody talks about your faith and your commitment but you know something about yourself that others don’t know that it is not always your faith or your praise that gets you through but it is by His mercy that we are not consumed. And because of His mercifulness Jesus shows up.

Yes, Jesus…this is when I need you to show up: when life has kicked me down to the ground; when all hell is breaking loose and trouble is all around me; when I’m down to my last dime and my rent is due; when the doctor comes back with a bad report; when my son is on crack and my daughter is pregnant; when my body is tempted and my mind is distress; when I can’t muster up enough strength to raise my hand and give you praise. Show up Jesus! My God…Jesus will show up in the midst of trouble, in the midst of a storm Jesus will show up.

And it is in this atmosphere that Jesus comes in the room to minister to them. At this point after Jesus’ resurrection He stopped showing Himself to unbelievers. And here He comes in the room. It is here that John writes in verse 24  that Thomas, one of the twelve called Didymus was not with them when Jesus came.

The Rest of, “What About the Rest?”


I have a track record of over-thinking things to the point I can’t actually enjoy the experience or resolve the situation.  It’s kept me up more nights than it was worth.  But then, I got a hold of a passage of scripture that challenged my over-thinking and literally changed my life…

Hebrews 4: 1-11(NIV):

1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,

‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts.”[d]

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[e] just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

Israel lead by example in this kind of thinking.  They were determined to get the car without learning to drive.  What do you think that whole episode between Egypt and the Promised Land was all about?  Their poor driving instructor, Moses, did everything he could to guide them and give them the rules of the road.  Follow the traffic signs. Stay on your side of the road.  Pay your tolls. Stop at the Light.  Turn at the signal.

Technically, he was forced into retirement for losing his temper with their rash, impatient behavior.  Can you imagine going through Driver’s Ed for FORTY YEARS, still not getting your license and losing the car? The way it is recorded in the 4th Chapter of Hebrews, God says, “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’”

A whole generation of people died without entering the Promised Land. And another few generations kept neglecting the Rest, and continued on in a vicious cycle of losing and fighting to regain the thing that was rightfully theirs.

God does not want that for you.  That is why we have Philippians 4 and Hebrews 4. Scriptures like that (and so many others-look ‘em up).  To remind us what to focus on and to help us stay focused.  It helped Peter walk on water.  It helped Paul defy death…a LOT.  It can help you keep your faith strong and overcome ANYTHING.

I sincerely didn’t want to disobey God and I did not want my body betraying me anymore for lack of sleep, so I found all of the scriptures I could about rest and sleep and I put them everywhere I could possibly see them. Then, I put them all on a piece of paper (you can use your laptop) where I could read them out loud to myself before I went to bed. I also went herbal.  I found supplements (like melatonin and tryptophan) and teas (like mint and chamomile) that make sleep easier and I employed them right along with the word of God.  After a while, sleep came easier and easier.  It got to the point where I could speak those scriptures to my soul whenever I got too hectic and whenever I found myself distracted by the cares and the affairs of this life.

I pray that this will help you have sweet sleep tonight (Proverbs 3:21-26).

Focus on God’s promises.  He’s never failed.  Just remember to keep your peace you must TAKE YOUR REST!

 

What About the Rest?


Fear can be quite paralyzing.  It can attack your mind in ways that will literally cause your heart to stop.

The media keeps our attention with fear AT LEAST as much as they do with sex!  Are you really in good hands?  Are you sure you don’t have cancer? Is your spouse cheating on you? Is your water pure enough? Is your child protected at home? At school? On the bus? It’s 9:30; do you even know where your child IS? Is your food fresh enough? Does your refrigerator run cold enough? Do your shoes hurt your back? Does your chair hurt your back? Does your bed hurt your back? Will the dust mites in your bed make you sick? That kind of extreme fear pandering can cause a mind to wax psychotic! When you live in a culture of fear, the mundane and the ordinary can become horrors of epic proportions…in your MIND.

If you can relate to this scenario, I know exactly what you are going through.  There is a quote from “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” where one of the main characters says, “You know me…I take a problem and chew on it ’til all the flavor is gone. Then, I stick it in my hair.”

That’s me.

I think things through a lot…too much, in fact. And I ponder as often on good things as negative ones.  I don’t struggle with it as often anymore, but when I do, even now it can be quite a task to get it in check. I have to put in the work.  But it is a worthwhile endeavor.  Fear has a powerful impact on the physical body.  I suppose the Creator knew a little bit about that.

THIS is why I love the Word of God so very much.  A couple of God’s favorite words are PEACE (mentioned 400 times in the KJV Bible) and REST (380 times). God wanted His children to have reason to hope and not fear. God gives very specific instruction on how your thoughts can either help you to receive or reject the gift of His peace.  That was the whole crux of Philippians 4th Chapter: Think about and do these things so that God’s peace can be yours.

One of the things I have discovered is that Peace is the gift and Rest is the requirement.

Think about it like this: Just because your dad bought you a car doesn’t mean that you are licensed to drive.  And it certainly doesn’t make you a GOOD driver! There are very specific instructions and training that go along with driving a car or it will sit in the garage, going to waste. You have to learn the mechanics of driving and the rules of the road. You have to understand the elements that will inhibit your ability to drive and cause harm to you and others.  And then you have to practice a while before you are allowed to take it out for a spin.  The same applies to entering into the Peace of God and the Rest of God.  Once you have the Peace, you have to learn how to operate it so that you can experience the REST.

As it turns out, much like driving, resting has been a pretty troublesome prospect for a very long time.

And it’s the same dilemma throughout the ages.  If I don’t do it, will it get done?  And will it get done ON TIME?  Ok, so what if He’s God? He’s up there, I’m down here. Does He really see all the little details? Is He really going to take care of this?  Okay, so, He’s done this before.  He’s done it before for ME. What if this time is different?

I have a track record of over-thinking things to the point I can’t actually enjoy the experience or resolve the situation.  It’s kept me up more nights than it was worth.  But then, I got a hold of a passage of scripture that challenged my over-thinking and literally changed my life…

For the Teens, by Dylan Cruz


Dylan Cruz is a young man with a brilliant future. He comes from a dynamic heritage. Both of his parents serve as Senior Assistant Pastors at Lighthouse Church of All Nations.  And because I love his family as much as I do, that would have been enough reason for me to invite him to write something.  But as it turns out, Dylan has an awful lot going for him. He is an actor in his senior year of high school.  He is a preacher with several sermons under his belt. He is a singer with a nationally touring choir. And he is a gentleman who truly honors his relationship with God. I cannot wait to say, “I knew him when…”

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For the teens out there, I can relate to the things in the world as well as school and what the people out there try to throw your way. The enemy has many plans and obstacles for us teens to get sidetracked.  We become rebellious and make bad choices through pure pressure and respond to other things that take our eyes off God.

As you read this I hope this inspires you to always keep your eyes on the Lord, put Him first in everything you do, and take authority and rebuke the enemy and his plans, for he has already lost. God didn’t give His life for us so that we could get lost in the world. He gave his life so that we can be free from sin. We are the next generation that needs to stand up for one another, support and love one another. God’s creation of us came with destiny. God’s creation gave us purpose and it gave us a mission. His creation of us not only gave us life, but it gave us the opportunity to minister to others and take the gospel farther than generations before us.

We were created to stand in one accord, take authority over our life and put the enemy underneath our feet where he belongs. We can’t let the enemy get a hold of us. We have a mission here. We have gifts that are God given, whether it’d be singing, dancing, acting; we need to use them for Jesus.

I know how it is to have the world try to change you. Sometimes you just want to fit in but with the wrong group of people. And sometimes it’s not all about fitting in. Fit in the place that God has set for you. Because what the world has for you isn’t your purpose. Don’t you know that you were made for so much more than that? The world can’t give you what God already has for you. What God has for you is so much more. Have faith and walk in your favor. Once, my uncle said, the enemy may have the power distract us and make us stumble for a moment, but he doesn’t have the power to completely take us out, because we’re un-sink-able with God.

First Peter 2:9 says, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth with the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

We need to be ambitious towards the things of God, read His word, and continually give Him praise for He is the purpose that you are alive, with breath in your body, in your right mind, with a roof over your head and shoes and your feet, clothes on your back and food on the table. Trust in Him with everything you do and you shall be successful, blessed and highly favored. When you’re in need, call on the name of Jesus because He is always there. Be blessed and show the devil that you are a child of God whom he cannot touch


Kaleidoscope Perspectives:

Have you ever had someone come to you this way? I’ve been on both sides of this scenario. And I didn’t always get it right. Thanks for sharing, Todd!

Originally posted on Todd Pack's Messy Desk:

The other day, I stopped at Starbucks, and as I was walking in, I thought I heard someone on the patio say my name. I looked around, didn’t see anyone I knew, figured I’d misheard someone say something else and started in.

“Todd!”

That was clear, and insistent.

“Over here.”

I looked around and finally made eye contract with a woman who obviously knew me.

“You don’t know who I am, do you?”

I honestly didn’t. I had no idea who this person was.

“You walked past my office every day.”

Holy cow, that doesn’t help at all, I thought. This could be anybody from anyplace I’ve ever worked.

She finally told me her name, and then I remembered. She’d worked down the hall from me a couple years ago, but I didn’t really know her then. Other than saying hello in the hallway, I think we might have spoken only once…

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