3 Posts from April 2009

Spring Cleaning . . . in Your Home

As a follow-up from last week, let me urge you to use this spring as an opportunity to get next to your children . . . to come to grips with the barriers that are blocking the flow of your love and affection (and theirs) . . . to face the facts before the bruise leads to a permanent, domestic fracture.

Three biblical cases come to my mind:

1. Rebekah—who favored Jacob over Esau . . . and used him to deceive his father, Isaac, which led to a severe family breakdown (Genesis 27).

2. Eli—who was judged by God because of his lack of discipline and failure to stand firm when his boys began to run wild (1 Samuel 3:11–14).  Eli especially stands out for us as pastors, because he was in the ministry!

3. David—who committed the same sin against his son, Adonijah, by never restraining him or crossing him throughout his early training (1 Kings 1:5–6).

You see, no one is immune . . . not even Bible characters . . . not even pastors! So then, move ahead. Refuse to pamper your parental negligence any longer.

If this post spurs you on, it will have done its deed.


Training Children in a Pastor’s Home

Okay, let’s be honest. How’s it going with you and the kids?

Maybe that question doesn’t even apply to you. You may have already raised your brood and had them leave the nest. But I have a hunch that many of you pastors are still in the process of training and rearing . . . so—how’s it going?

What word(s) would you use to describe your overall relationship with your offspring?

• Challenging   • Impossible    • Adventurous      • Exciting
• Strained        • Angry           • Heartbreaking   • Fun
• Pleasant        • Threatening  • Impatient         • Busy

If you want to get your eyes open to the real facts, ask your kids at the supper table this evening. Ask them to describe their feelings about you and the home. But I better warn you—it may hurt! However, it could be the first step back in the right direction toward harmony and genuine love being restored under your roof. Remember, that’s an important qualification for us as pastors (1 Timothy 3:4–5).

Needless to say, having a Christian home—even a pastor’s home—is no guarantee against disharmony. The old nature can still flare up, habits can be set in concrete that lead to broken communication lines, and biblical principles can be ignored.

Face the truth, my friend. Stop right now and think about your home. Now, an evaluation is no good if all it leads to is guilt and hurt. To stop there would be like a surgeon stopping the operation immediately after making his incision. All it would leave are hurt feelings, a lot of pain, and a nasty scar.

Why not bite off a chunk of time this spring for a single purpose—to evaluate the present condition of your home and then to set in motion the necessary steps needed to strengthen the weaknesses you uncover.


The Battle Belongs to the Lord, Part 2

Initially, Joshua expected the battle of Jericho to be his war, but then he came face-to-face with his Commander in Chief and learned that the battle belonged to the Lord. Joshua’s part was not to win the war but simply to make himself available to the true Commander in Chief. Joshua first surrendered to God—only then could Joshua have victory. 

We can learn a great deal from Joshua’s response that can help us in our own seemingly impossible battles. I see several strategies emerge from Joshua’s experience.

Strategy One: Get a clear understanding of God’s plan. God said to Joshua, in essence, “March, blast your trumpets, and shout.” Before you can march to God’s orders, you must understand His plan for you. The first concerns your “opponent”—you know, that exasperating individual in your community, the one within your congregation, or that person among your church leadership. Our culture will tell you to retaliate. But God’s plan is for you to forgive the person—the most unnatural thing that two angry people would do with one another. Nevertheless, that’s His plan. Do you trust enough in God’s plan to obey Him in your impossible situation?

Strategy Two: Cooperate completely with God’s strategy. Nobody in Joshua’s company tried to do something else. God’s plan was simple and specific, it was clear and concise . . .  and it was obeyed. When God’s Word directs you to do something, don’t argue—just do it. You may need to ask Him for the strength and the willingness to follow, but determine to follow Him regardless. What do you need to do today to follow God’s strategy?

Strategy Three: Follow God’s plan by faith. Hebrews 11:30 explains why God’s strategy worked for Joshua. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days.” Joshua’s people followed God with childlike faith. They simply believed that this is what they should do. As a result, God honored their faith. I honestly think Joshua, in firm and confident faith, expected the wall to fall flat.

What is your Jericho? What is the battle in front of you? What is your challenge? Your opponent? Your struggle? Take a moment now to focus on it clearly in your mind.

Got it? Now face it.

Remember—you cannot fight it in your own flesh—it’s got to be the Lord’s battle. He takes pleasure in turning an impossible situation into a remarkable victory. But it means you need the courage to surrender to His strategy and do it His way—by faith . . . in His strength . . . and in His timing.

When you do that, and I pray it is today, you will be amazed how expected impossibilities turn into incredible opportunities.