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Leaving a Legacy for your Children (Part 4)

 

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”   Proverbs 31:8-9

Queen Mother said, “As the King, you need to speak up for the destitute, judge fairly and defend the poor.”  These are important contributions of a King.  But we all have the power to some degree to serve those in need,  All we need are compassion and conservation.  Compassion says, “I care for those in need.”  Conservation says, “I save some of my resources for those in need.”

A few years ago, my older daughter raised money to rescue girls from human trafficking.  More recently, my younger daughter handmade and sold jewelry to support a clean water project in a third world country.  They learned that it takes only a little bit of time and effort to make a big difference.

As Christians, we have the command and example of Jesus Christ to serve those in need.  But how do we pass down this worthwhile legacy to our children?  One way is by the books your children read and the people they meet.  By association.

Parents, model for your children compassion and conservation to serve those in need.

(Come to the Yard for new ideas and inspirations every Wednesday.)  

 


Leaving a Legacy for your Children (Part 3)

 
“It is not for kings, Lemuel — it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.  Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish!  Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.”  Proverbs 31:4-7
 
Someone has said, “Life is hard and then you die.”  Life is hard.  In our fallen world we will all face loneliness, boredom, failures, disappointments, betrayals, illnesses, accidents, and tragedies.  Queen Mother wants her son to handle hardship in a healthy way rather than to medicate the pain with alcohol.
 

In the book, Loving Your Child Too Much, Drs. Tim Clinton and Gary Sibcy wrote, “A good portion of the sin [disobedience to God] we commit comes from the choices we make as we attempt to soothe our discomfort….  People who are sexually impure are often trying to fulfill unmet emotional needs.  If we hope to minimize our sin [and obey God], we must see God as our ultimate source of emotional comfort instead of booze, drugs, sex, food, or any other substitute.” 

Sometimes God comforts us by fixing our problem.  Sometimes God comforts by giving us His supernatural peace.  Sometimes God helps us go and grow through our trial.  Sometimes God sends someone He has comforted to comfort us.  And God always comforts by going with us through our pain.

Handling hardship in a healthy way is a vital legacy to leave with our child.  Here’s why.  Our children will surely face hardship.  And they will have to choose to handle it one of two ways, alone in unhealthy ways, or with God and people who love them, which is the healthy way.

Parents, model the value of handling hardship in a healthy way.  Children, find a godly person you can talk with about difficulties you face.

(Come to the Yard for new ideas and inspirations every Wednesday.)  

 


Leaving a Legacy for your Children (Part 2)

 
“Do not spend your strength (or wealth) on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.”  Proverbs 31:3
 

I remember teaching a High School Sunday School class.  It was an hour-long class.  I finished my lesson in forty-five minutes.  So I asked the Seniors to share with the Freshmen in that class, “words of wisdom.”  Every Senior said the same thing:  “Be careful about the friends you choose.  Chose those who care about you, not those who just want something from you.”

Queen Mother was saying something similar.  She was not saying don’t date or don’t romance your wife.  She was saying don’t associate with those who can ruin you.  Ruin your character.  Ruin your relationship with your parents or with God.  Ruin your hope for a bright future.

I grew up as a latch-key kid and ran with the wrong crowd from elementary school through 7th grade.  As a result, I cut school, got into fights, and was exposed to things that could have ruined my hope for a good future.  Then in 8th grade through high school, I hung out with a different set of friends and came to know Jesus.  That set a new direction for my life.

The late Charlie Jones, personal development guru, said, “You are the same person five years from now except for the books you read and the people you meet.”  I would include, “the TV you watch, the websites you visit and the celebrities you follow.”

1 Corinthians 15:33 tells us, “Bad company corrupts good character.”  The reverse is also true, “Good company can repair bad character.”  Join church small groups, and encourage your children to join youth and college fellowships.  Those we rub shoulders with regularly, rub off on us. 

Parents, model for your children intentional positive association.  Children, choose friends who want the best for you and bring out the best in you.
(Come to the Yard for new ideas and inspirations every Wednesday.)   


Leaving a Legacy for your Children (Part 1)

 

“The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.   Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!  Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!”  Proverbs 31:1-2

Our culture and society sometimes see children as a lifestyle inconvenience and a financial burden.  Not so with God, and not so with Queen Mother.  Queen Mother passed down to her son his identity as an answer to prayer, a gift from God.

Everyday our words and our interaction with our children say “you are a blessing” or “you are a burden.”  It is true that children are costly to raise.  They cost our energy, money, time and training.  But objects of great value come at a high price.

It is difficult to communicate to our children that they are a gift from God.  We may not be comfortable with these words.  And here’s what else.  When our children are uncooperative or unpleasant, we may not feel they are a gift from God.

So here is a word for children, or for parents to teach your children.  Children, make parenting you a blessing, not a burden.  Here are two suggestions:  Thank your mom and dad for big and little things they do for you.  Secondly, when you don’t get your way, negotiate.  Don’t go negative.

Psalm 127:3 reads, “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.”  Our kids are gifts from God.  Not that they are always pleasant, but because God gave them to us.  And if we train them well, they will be a gift we send into the world.         

Parents, see your children as they really are – as gifts from God.  Children, make being your parent a joy – appreciate and respect your parents.
(Come to the Yard for new ideas and inspirations every Wednesday.)  
 


Sustainable Servanthood (Part 3)

 We read in Mark 1:37-39:  “… and when they found [Jesus], they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”  So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

 

People were looking for Jesus the next morning.  They wanted Jesus’ service, either to be taught or to be healed.  But Jesus had other plans instead. 

Not every need or cry for help is God’s call for us to respond.  But how do we know which we are to respond to or not?  This is where meeting with God to refocus on God’s plan for a new day helps.  We can’t do everything there is to do.  Here are three questions that can help us be selective and to sustain our service. 

Question 1:  What has God called me to do that only I can do?  I cannot outsource my responsibility as my children’s father or as wife’s husband.  Someone else cannot do pushups for me or eat healthy for me.  The church hired me to pastor the young adults.  So I need to be involved in discipling young adults.  What has God called you to do that only you can do?

Question 2:  What has God not given me the capacity to do?  Even when there is a desperate need for choir or worship team members, I will not volunteer.  Otherwise, I would be doing you, me and God a disservice.  What has God not given you the capacity to do but you were pressured into doing?  

Question 3:  Who has God put within my reach to do better or well enough what I feel the need to do?  My older daughter can do the dishes well enough.  My younger daughter can fold the laundry well enough.  The highway patrol can do better for a stalled car than I can.  So I don’t pull over to help, but I call 911.  Who has God put within your reach to do better or well enough what you feel the need to do?  Delegate or call on these people to serve.

Let me close with a story.  A father asked his 12 year-old son to move a pile of rocks from the back yard to the front yard for landscaping purposes.  The son moved all the rocks he could carry, but many more large rocks remained.

The father said to the son, “What could you do to move the rest?”  The son thought for a moment but couldn’t come up with a solution.  The father smiled and said, “You could ask for my help.”

Sustainable servanthood recognizes the One we serve, serves with us.
 
Use the above questions to evaluate the needs or requests for help before committing to serve.
(Come to the Yard for new ideas and inspirations every Wednesday.)  


Sustainable Servanthood (Part 2)

Mark 1:35 tells us, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” 
 

Jesus had an exhausting day of ministry.  He probably knew another grueling day of ministry was ahead of him.  He chose to meet with His Father in Heaven before meeting the challenges of a new day.  

Mark correlates Jesus’ prayer life with His sustained servanthood.  We don’t know how or for what Jesus prayed.  But we do know Jesus recovered from the previous day.  And He refocused on God’s plan for a new day.

These would not be the only goals for meeting with God.  But these would be two good goals for meeting with God.  To recover from yesterday.  And to refocus on God’s plan for a new day.  Let’s look at recovering from yesterday.

Most of us end our day by surfing the television or Internet.  Some try to get just one more thing done.  Others are exhausted and can’t wait to get into bed.

And when we wake up, we gear up to speed through another day.  Wash and dress.  A quick breakfast.  Drop off the kids at school and off to work. 

No time to recover from the previous day.  So we carry the discouragement, the mistakes and the anger of yesterday into our new day.  This is not a healthy way to live. 

Jesus might say, “Take time to meet with God.  If you’re night person, meet with God at the end of the day.  If you’re a morning person, meet with God at the beginning of your day.” 

Read the Bible to be reminded of God’s power, goodness and love.  Listen to worship and praise music.  Open up a devotional reader like the Daily Bread. 

The goal is to remember that God is bigger than our problems.  To get to the point where God’s love and forgiveness is more real than our sins.  To cast our cares upon God because God cares for you. Being still with God is a choice that can sustain our lifestyle of serving.
 
Take time each day to be still in God’s presence to receive His comfort and to cast your cares upon Him.
(Come to the Yard for new ideas and inspirations every Wednesday.) 
 


Sustainable Servanthood (Part 1)

 
Mark 1:29-31 records:  “As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.  Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her.  So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.”
 
After an exhausting day of serving, Jesus went to the home of Simon and Andrew.  Instead of resting, he found Simon’s mother-in-law sick with fever.  As expected, Jesus healed her fever.  Here was what was not expected:  Jesus allowed her to immediately serve him and the disciples.

 

Yes, Jesus said that he came to serve and not to be served.  That meant everything he did was not self-serving but motivated by his want to serve others.  So even the choice to be served by Simon’s mother-in-law was motivated by his want to serve others.

Some call this self-care.  Caregivers know that they need to receive care for themselves if they are to provide care for others long-term.  The choice to be served by other is the choice to be refreshed, re-energized, refueled.

One obstacle to being served is cultural.  In the Chinese culture, to be served by another is interpreted as troubling others or owing others.  In the Christian culture, to be served is often wrongly interpreted as being weak or even lording it over another.

The truth is, when we let others serve us, we are allowing them to mature, to express their care and concern.  And we mature in humility, and experience help or encouragement.  Let others serve you.  Both, they and you will grow 

Another obstacle to being served is financial.  Some couples work full-time stressful jobs, raise young children, and care for elderly parents.  To save money, they cook every meal, press every shirt, hand-wash their cars.  If they would budget for take-out once or twice a week and for a car wash once a month, their lifestyle of service would be more sustainable.
 
Plan out ways several times each week to receive help or service from others so you can be refreshed.
(Come to the Yard for new ideas and inspirations every Wednesday.) 


Last Words on the Cross (Part 2)

 

John 19:26 records, “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

Family is the community where we experience love, security and help.  But the human family is fragile.  It is good to know that the support from God’s family, the Church, is available.  

When there is loss in the human family due to death or divorce, or harm caused by abusive or absent father or mother, God’s family is there as a support the human family.

Thank God for and become an active part of God’s family, the Church.
(Come to the Yard for new ideas and inspirations every Wednesday.) 


Last Words on the Cross (Part 1)

 

On the cross Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).”

You ask, “How could Jesus ask God the Father to forgive those who nailed him to the cross?”  Here’s how:  Jesus knew the condition of man and the compassion of God.

The condition of mankind is spiritual blindness because of sin.  The husband won the argument but scarred his wife emotionally.  The women who gossiped felt good about herself but ruined another’s reputation.  All of us need forgiveness for our wrongdoing, but few of us see our need.  This is the condition of mankind.

The compassion of God is to give us what we need, not what we deserve.  We deserve punishment for our wrong.  But we need forgiveness.  The compassion of God gives us forgiveness.
 
Ask God to show you your sin and His forgiveness.
(Come to the Yard for new ideas and inspirations every Wednesday.) 


Wise, Winsome and Honest?

Paul says and I paraphrase: “To be effective in missions, you need to practice wise living and winsome speech.” Wise living could open doors of opportunities to share the message of God’s love through Jesus Christ. And winsome speech could more likely open the ears of listeners to hear the message.
 

You say, “That’s why I don’t share with others about God’s love through Jesus Christ. I don’t live a godly life and I’m not good with words.”

Someone told about a lady on the first day of her job in a high-rise building.  She warmly greeted the operator with a smile as she got into the elevator.  The operator said, “You must be a Christian.”

She was surprised and answered, “Yes.  How did you know?”

To which the operator replied, “Most of the people who work in this building care only about money.  They don’t smile much or care about people.  I’ve found that those who greet me kindly have been Christians.”

From that day on, whether the lady struggled with her eating disorder, with her marriage or with her co-workers, she smiled, put on a facade and kindly greeted the elevator operator.

I’m not suggesting we tell everyone our feelings or failures. But neither do we pretend all is well to appear wise and winsome. Here’s two questions that could help us be honest, wise and winsome.

Question One: Are you wise enough to trust God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ when you fail? Yes or no? Wise enough to ask for God’s forgiveness of your guilt, shame and past mistakes?

Question Two: Can you tell others God forgave your sins because Jesus paid the penalty for sins on the cross? Yes or no? Wouldn’t most others want the same forgiveness and freedom from guilt and condemnation?

If you answer “yes” to both questions, you are practicing wise living and winsome speech.

I heard a funny story a couple of weeks ago. A man walked into a Cannibal Restaurant. As he looked at the menu, he was surprised to read: Pastors – $30, Missionaries – $30, and Politicians – $150. The man asked the server behind the counter about the price difference. The server replied, “Have you ever tried to clean a politician before cooking him?”

The truth is we are all sinners in the hands of a gracious God. And the cost of cleaning sinners is more than $150. The Bible tells us it takes the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse us of our sins.
 
Ask God to show you how living according to the good news of Jesus Christ is wise, winsome and honest.
(Come to the Yard for new ideas and inspirations every Wednesday.)