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The 5th Commandment: Respect for Our Parents

We know that parents should love their children; to provide for their needs; to raise them with godly instruction; to demonstrate for them what the loving Father-heart of God is like. When we see a parent act in an unloving way toward their own children, we become disgusted and our desire to protect that child explodes within our own hearts. We think of the special place in hell that is reserved for those unloving, cruel parents (Matthew 18; Mark 9; Luke 17).

Now that we agree on the importance of parents loving their children, let’s consider how much GREATER the importance of adult children to have respect for their own parents. I’ll address the adults who are reading this, because we as adults need to have a clear understanding of the importance that God places upon our genuine respect for our parents.

The 10 Commandments (Exodus 20) are considered the pinnacle of all of God’s instructions and commands for us. The first 4 Commandments teach about our relationship with God, and the last 6 Commandments instruct us on our relationships with people. It is to these two distinctions in the 10 Commandments that Christ refers when He answered the question, “Which of the commandments is the greatest?”

“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.””

~ Matthew‬ ‭22:37-40‬

The very first commandment related to interpersonal relationships (surprisingly) is not in regard to parents loving their children (which does come later as a subordinate command of the 10 Commandments), but is in regard to children respecting their parents!

Let’s face it, we grow up from infancy into childhood, from childhood into teenager, from teenager to being a young adult, and from being a young adult to a mature adult. However, we are throughout our lives the children of our parents. The 5th Commandment applies to us throughout our lifetime, even beyond the eventual death of our parents.

The command to respect our parents is fairly easy to fulfill when we have had good parents. It is easy to reciprocate the love that has been received and experienced in the first decades of our lives.

But, what if you have had a horrible life experience because one or both of your parents have been unloving, cruel, and abusive emotionally, physically, or sexually? What if there was nothing about their parenthood that is worth a single penny of positive value? What if they lived out a cruel parenthood that has subsequently reserved for them that special place in hell for those who have been cruel to children (assuming they do not turn to Christ before their death)?

The word “respect” literally means “to invert.” That is, the adult child should invert their standing over their unloving parent and become a genuine servant that honors them.

This respect does not mean that you deny what your unloving, cruel parents might have done in the past. It does not deny they may still be manipulative, self-centered liers who have never admitted to their cruelty, much less sought your forgiveness. They may still be blamers of others, maybe even blame you for anything that happened (or still happens).

Respect does not mean that we surrender for more physical abuse. We can and should defend ourselves (and our own children, their grandchildren) from any future harm.

But, our respect should come from the heart, and sometimes it’s from a broken and empty heart. They may never change. They may never know the forgiveness of Christ… until you show them your own forgiveness. Respect means that we forgive them while maintaining a solid and centered stance in our own lives.

Too often, adults of an abusive childhood confuse forgiveness and respect with voluntary surrender to being abused again. In that emotionally-charged state, it is an easy confusion to have. But, a child of God whose heart is set upon Christ will seek the help of God to have a calmed spirit and a clear mind so they can truly—from the heart—fulfill the 5th Commandment, the first of the interpersonal relationship commandments.

I know it can be difficult. Though I have had a wonderful childhood and have not had to struggle at all with respecting my parents in my adult years, I have known and worked closely with far too many adult children whose childhood involved parental abuse, lovelessness, and abandonment. Please, for the sake of your own peace of mind and your own right standing with God, seek the Lord’s help in this area of your life. Who knows just how much good will flow from your own journey for the healing of many?

#PastorsTip #Parents #Children #AdultChildren #Abuse #EmotionalAbuse #SexualAbuse #TenCommandments #10Commandments

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When Christians Suffer Dementia

What happens to the salvation of Christians who begin to succumb to mental disorders of dementia, like Alzheimer’s or Frontal Lobe Dementia, which destroys their capacity to reason and to exhibit self-control?

It is heart breaking to watch someone descend into such a helpless state of being, when their life has exhibited a genuine love for God and love for others but they slowly lose their capacity to reason, unraveling their godly reputation by acting out in ways that they would be utterly ashamed of and embarrassed by if they were in their right mind.

Perhaps they begin to treat their spouse (whom they have loved and adored their entire married life) with disdain, suspicion, and even physical abuse. Their life of sharing and loving sacrifice turns into self-absorbed obsession and emotional isolation. They think and feel like everyone is out to get them, to steal their stuff, and to trick them. Family members find they can no longer reason with them because their capacity to reason has become broken and their ability for introspection has been lost.

When suffering these kinds of trials, what happens to their salvation? The apostle Paul said it well when he wrote:

“… I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”

~ 2 Timothy 1:12

When we believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ and we entrust to Him the safekeeping of our eternal soul, He does exactly that: He safeguards our soul! This includes safeguarding our eternal soul when we lose our capacity to reason, to exhibit the self-control that we would otherwise have the capacity to do and that we are called upon to exercise in our Christian walk when we are in our “right mind.”

If you have a family member who has been a follower of Christ, but has recently succumb to a form of dementia where they are “not themselves,” their eternal soul is safeguarded in Christ. They may have become lewd, crude, abusive, and many other things (as a result of their dementia) but Christ has them in His arms. Christ knows exactly when someone is not exhibiting their true heart, and when it is their broken and short-circuiting brain that is at fault.

The grace of God is sufficient for them, and the grace of God will be sufficient for you and your family as you patiently care for them during their final season in life.

#PastorsTip #Dementia #Alzheimers #SecureSalvation #GraceOfGod

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Remember Who Called You

Are you following the call of God everyday, but it seems so hard? Are you discouraged by the loneliness and lack of general recognition for what you do sacrificially for so many others?

Are you battling diseases of the body and depressions of the soul?

Don’t forget Who called you! Remember exactly Who called you! You have been greatly honored and entrusted with your Divine assignment.

David Livingstone, former Explorer and Missionary (commissioned by his earthly King and by his Heavenly King) was sent into the heart of the unexplored African continent to create avenues for trade and for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

He too knew the times of loneliness, of enduring a diseased body, and enduring a depressed soul. At some point he had his first experience (one of many!) with a day like you might be having.

He wrote in his diary something that was no doubt for his own reminding, but also a tremendous truth for the eventual readers of his diaries:

“If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”

~ David Livingstone, Missionary & Explorer of Africa

Remember Who called you. You have been honored with a Divine commission!

. . .

#PastorsTip #Commissioned #Called #CalledByGod #CalledToTheMinistry #Serving #Sacrifice #Honored

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Living In A Diminished Capacity?

Are you living with a Chronic Illness or a Diminished Capacity? Were you at one time a fully functioning individual with great muscle tone, great reflexes, a clear and sharp mind? Could you endure significant pain for brief periods of time (during exercise, sports, or even injury), and emotions that were rarely pushed to the brink?

Perhaps those days are behind you, for now. Today maybe your entire being is challenged with whole body chronic pain; fatigue that makes you feel like the weight of a thousand pounds is on your shoulders; your mind is foggy leaving you with the concentration, intellectual processing, and memory recall capacity of a simple light switch; your emotions are bouncing around like a super ball even before you get out of bed in the morning.

Maybe depression [due to a complication in your brain and body chemistry, or due to incredibly difficult circumstances) has darkened your mind and your outlook on every situation in your life. The darkness of depression swallows up any light of hope that might glimmer for just a moment, depression maintaining its occupation of the kingdom of your mind.

I know what it is like, because the above describes my journey. Some days are better than others, but on average these are my battles in this war.

There is something that I have discovered as I have journeyed through this terrain with God’s “ever present help in time of need.” There is one thing that we – the diminished capacity group – can do that is mighty and powerful. It makes the enemy of our souls rage with anger and frustration, and makes the angels of Heaven sing praises unto the Lord for His mighty work in us and through us:

We can be Brave and Determined!

While we are curled up in pain and suffering from the darkness of depression, and our eyes are bloodshot from crying our tear ducts dry, and we are feeling the sting of not having been able to live up to other people’s standards and expectations of daily performance in the most important of life’s responsibilities, there is one thing we CAN do.

If others will look deep into our eyes, past the bloodshot portions, past the colored iris, they will see a raging fire of determination to not only live, not only to survive, but to thrive in Christ! This fire is not of ourselves, it is a holy fire that has been sent from Heaven to burn upon our altar of sacrifice. It is the very altar where we put to death every day, several times each day, the world-inspiring scream of accusation, “Why me, God?!!”

No, the same God Who could instantly and miraculously send to us healing from Heaven has instead – for now – sent a holy fire to burn within us, demonstrating to everyone around us that God is not just a healer, but is also the one Who empowers the weak, encourages the hopeless, gives bravery to the fearful, and infuses supernatural determination into those who will ask.

What is your condition today? Do you struggle with all of the negative aspects that I have listed, but you have not experienced any of the positive things from God? Do you look deep within your soul and not see any fire of determination and bravery? You can, my friend, you can.

God and His fire of determination and bravery is accessed through prayer:

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

~ Hebrews 4:16

“When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.”

~ 2 Chronicles 7:1

As you reach out to God today, may you too experience the fire of Heaven that will burn strong within you. We as Diminished Capacity-ers have a tremendous opportunity to be used by God during these brief days that we suffer, to be used by Him to demonstrate what real Bravery and Determination look like when God is the source! Our bodies may fail us, our tears may flow, but our determination and bravery wages war in the spirit realm that destroys the enemy’s soul-works in others.

#PastorsTip #Brave #Determined #FireOnTheAltar #DiminishedCapacity #Disability #Depression #Darkness #BrainFog #Memory

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Lazy Complainers vs Diligent Pursuers

I’m overweight. Yep, I’m overweight by about 45-50 pounds, and I’m not happy about it. While I do battle a few chronic illnesses that keep me in bed, and I take a medication that is known to add about 10 pounds to a patient, I truly cannot look myself in the eye in the mirror and see a single excuse for my being overweight. Sure, there are several reasons, but no excuses.

The question I pose to myself today is this: am I going to be a Lazy Complainer or a Diligent Pursuer of slimming down my body? As far as I know, I do not have a genetic condition that makes losing weight almost impossible or requires major medical intervention (which some people DO have, and my heart empathizes for them).

If I am going to change from being a Lazy Complainer into a Diligent Pursuer, there are some specific things that I need to purposefully and passionately do:

FIRST: To begin, I’m going to engage in PRAYER, asking for God’s help.

“You desire but do not have… You do not have because you do not ask God.”

~ James‬ ‭4:2‬

SECOND: I am going to begin a deliberate ANTICIPATION of God answering my prayer by helping me.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

~ James‬ ‭1:6‬

THIRD: I’ll need His help with WISDOM for the “HOW-TO

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

~ James‬ ‭1:5‬

FOURTH: I’ll need His help with SELF-DISCIPLINE for the “JUST DO IT” aspect.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

~ Matthew‬ ‭26:41‬

Losing some weight is just one of several areas in my life where I want to become a Diligent Pursuer. It is going to involve prayer (asking of God), faith (anticipation that God WILL help me as I continuously pray and ask Him), and deliberate actions consistent with my goals.

What about you? Do you have some areas of your life that you find yourself being a Lazy Complainer, but you really need and want to become a Diligent Pursuer? Well, your victory at the Finish Line awaits you to run your race! “Run in such a way as to win” (1 Corinthians 9:24) Diligently take EVERY step necessary to reaching the Finish Line. The steps I outlined earlier for my own race with weight loss will be a great starting point for you.

HEALTH & MEDICAL.

Do you have a health challenge that is just waiting for you to “run the race in such a way as to win?” Regardless of how impossible it might be for a human resolution of your health issues, and regardless of how weak your self-discipline has been, cry out to God EVERYDAY! He loves to hear from His children when we have a need or desire, great or small.

Let’s remember the words of Jesus:

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’”

~ Mark‬ ‭10:27‬

MARRIAGE & RELATIONSHIP.

Do you have a marriage that you wish was emotionally intimate and supportive? Every marriage requires BOTH spouses to diligently pursue the same goal, but far too often the one who wants it the most (who is complaining the most) is not doing and being everything that is necessary for that rich relationship to become a reality. The Lazy Complainer strategy has been employed instead of their becoming the Diligent Pursuer, and their spouse is blamed for not being a Diligent Pursuer.

Sadly, some individuals will NEVER have their desired emotionally intimate marriage, not because of their spouse’s faults but because of their own actions. Their own actions are incompatible with what they say they want. God Himself is a Diligent Pursuer, He took great sacrificial steps toward us before we ever eventually responded, and we are called upon to do the same for one another:

“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

~ 1 John‬ ‭4:9-11‬

The most important start to having your prayers heard and answered regarding marriage is to engage today in being considerate and respectful of your spouse, regardless if they are inconsiderate or disrespectful.

“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

~ 1 Peter‬ ‭3:7‬

CAREER & WORK.

Do you have a job or career where you wish you would be promoted or assigned a special project, but it’s just not happening? The question to ask yourself is this: “Am I a Lazy Complainer or a Diligent Pursuer?” Rarely can a job be done well without great effort. Early in the book of Genesis, we are instructed that work will require “the sweat of the brow” which speaks of great, continuos effort.

My wife does mentoring of workers in various settings, and she warns them to guard against becoming “lost to mediocrity.” This wisdom is pure gold. A person who is swallowed up in the quicksand of being a mediocre employee, manager, or executive will also be a Lazy Complainer; they will become distracted during their race and they will never finish their race, much less finish their race well as a winner.

Of course, there are plenty of situations in life where we might already be Diligent Pursuers and we encounter others who are blocking the race track. However, we should avoid the blaming of others for being obstacles. Remember, God is the God of the impossible. We need to be Diligent Pursuers who pray, asking the Lord for His help with the impossible, and listening to Him for His guidance, wisdom, and insights.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS

Who knows, God may have arranged your encounter with a certain person who is an obstacle, not so you can run over them or “rebuke” them for being a Lazy Complainer or a purveyor of mediocrity, but so you can help pick them up, mentor them, and run with them for a while. Let’s not forget that God and people are far more important than the immediate achievement of our goals. We CAN finish the race while lovingly helping and mentoring others to finish their race too.

#PastorsTip #Lazy #Complain #Diligent #Pursue #Mediocrity #Mentor #Marriage #Health #Medical #SelfDiscipline #Pray #AskGod #Wisdom #Winner #Champion

A Short Devotional

{ Author’s Note: This short devotional is written for those poor souls whose attention spans have been diminished to the point of being only seconds in duration, due to a chronic social media addiction and consumption. }

 

God is good. God loves you. Be at peace.

… Squirrel!

Amen.

 

{ That’s all. }

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#PastorsTip #Devotional #AttentionSpan #SocialMedia #Addiction #Chronic #Consumption #Squirrel

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Foxholes & The Peace of Christ

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

~ John‬ ‭14:27‬‬‬‬

The Peace that Christ gives to His followers is not situational, it is not as a result of being surrounded by quiet circumstances.

Foxholes are the holes dug by soldiers that they can dive into when the enemy begins firing upon them. To be huddled in the midst of a firestorm of destruction and violence, it rattles and scares the most hardened and experienced warrior.

It is in times like these that the Peace of Christ settles our hearts and minds. The noise on the outside and the explosive forces that send bone shaking shockwaves through our bodies cannot overcome the Peace that calms the waters of our hearts like oil poured upon water.

The world says that your peace is dependent on your surrounding circumstances. Jesus says that your Peace comes from Him regardless of your surroundings. Have a great day, my friends, as you recognize the Peace that Christ is offering you.

#PastorsTip #Foxholes #Peace #PeaceOfChrist

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When We Christians Act Like Jerks

How much of our society’s disgust with Christians is not related to our clear, gracious representation and proclamation of the Words and the Spirit of Christ, but is tied directly to too many of us simply being jerks online and being so in the name of Christ?

Jesus did say that we as His followers would be hated by plenty of non-Christians (John 15:18). However, this hatred would be directly tied to the pure message of Christ that we communicate through word and deed.

Just because we include the topics of Jesus, Sin, and some theology in our online communications does not excuse any inclusion of our own demeaning words, angry tones, and self-centered actions that are not representative of Christ and His message. When we act this way, we are not focused on developing our audience’s understanding of Christ and (hopefully) their subsequent agreement with Him. Instead, we are simply feeding our own un-Christlike desires to be self-righteous, judgmental, and vengeful.

Taking a stand in our society against the progression of sin is a must, it is inevitable. But, when we are jerks in how we go about it, the message of Christ is stripped of its legitimacy and any attractiveness it might have had to others.

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without [our] holiness no one [else] will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

~ Hebrews‬ ‭12:14-15‬

#PastorsTip #Christians #Jerks #Grace #Kindness

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For Leaders, Problems Are Not A Problem

To My Fellow Pastors & Leaders,

Great leaders do not consider daily problems to be a distraction. Daily problems are THE terrain in which leaders journey. If there were no problems, most leaders would not be necessary.

When problems arise, displaying the proper can-do and will-do attitude builds confidence in those around us, and it encourages and equips them with a similar can-do and will-do approach to problems.

The retired 4-Star General, Colin Powell, said it well regarding leaders and dealing with problems:

“The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care.”

As leaders in various situations and settings, let us approach problems with graciousness, without complaining or degrading those who have the problem. Let’s approach the problems with a can-do and will-do countenance.

#PastorsTip #Leadership #Problems #Attitude #CanDo #WillDo

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Christians & The 24/7 Newsfeed

Dear Fellow Christians,

Today, another headline of the life-and-death conflict between Islamic terrorists and modern civilization, and between a branch of Islam and those who profess Christ to be The Son of God.

The headlines can get to be very dark and have a massive influence on our emotional health for the day or week. It makes us want to avoid EVERY nuance of news, and to bury ourselves in the humor of funny memes on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

With the easy access to the 24/7 news cycle, we can soon become over-consumers. We can over-feed on the news: our intellect can become shallow, our opinions can become soured, our view of life can become clouded with an unhealthy smog.

Just as unhealthy as chronic news consumption can be for us, so can our deliberate ignorance be very unhealthy. The attitude of burying our head in the sand (like an Ostrich does to hide from danger) leaves us unable to pray for specific trends developing in our world.

Each person is different on how much news they can handle, how much news amounts to over-consumption and taxes their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

Let each of us find the balance that the Lord would indicate is appropriate for us according to how He uses us in prayer, evangelism, and service.

See you at the altar in prayer.

#PastorsTip #News #NewsCycle #News247 #Prayer #Ministry #Service #FairAndBalanced #ABC #CBS #NBC #MSNBC #CNN #CNNinternational #FoxNews #CNBC #BBC