Summer Break

For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis, I have two things.  One, thanks.  I really appreciate you taking time to invest in this.  Two: I'm sorry I haven't written in several weeks.  Quite honestly, it's been a tough summer.  In short:
1. Got the worst food poisoning I've ever had. At a graduation party.  I have NEVER been sick like that before.
2. Developed kidney stones. Three days before a mission trip.  I have NEVER felt pain like that before.  Geesh!
3. My computer died unexpectedly.  Three days before a mission trip.  With every file and record for the trip on it.
4. I haven't felt right physically much at all this summer.
5. Our Kings Island trip was the roughest I've had in a while.
6. We were turned down for a sabbatical grant that we were REALLY hoping to get for next year, after tons of work went into it.

So, there is my whining.  BUT, there is the other side as well:
1. Got to take a Sunday off and go mountain bike riding with a bunch of guys who have been asking me for ten years to go.  One of the best days I've had in a long time!
2. I've taken several vacation days, and got to hang out with Jill and the girls a bit more this summer.
3. Our Atlanta mission trip with the senior high was AMAZING and I saw God work in so many people over the course of the week.
4. All of my "sickness" is pretty petty, and non-life threatening.  I am so grateful for that.
5. I've started a second job working at the local bike shop in town as mechanic.  Such a generous opportunity from God for sure.

In the midst of all this, I haven't been writing any.  And I can tell.  I mainly write on here for cathartic purposes.  It's just good for my soul and mind to write.  I've missed it.

Now, I have a lot of vacation days coming up, along with middle school camp in Wisconsin for a week.  I simply won't be on here regularly.  But I am going to do my best to write more than I have, just for my own sake.

How about you?  How is your summer going?  I'm sure there are several things that are tough right now, and quite likely they are much, much more serious and worse than my little issues.  But what about what God has blessed you with this summer?  I want to encourage you to stop, and write them out.  He is SO good to us, far beyond what we can ever hope for.  Be sure to take some time to practice saying "thanks" today.  It's good for you.

Raising Solomon in a Fool's World (new blog post)

In the book of Proverbs, Solomon writes down line after line of wisdom.  The book is considered one of the most important writings on wisdom in history.  It's quoted everyday.  We put it's proverbs on pillows, posters, coasters, cups, and business cards.  The writings in it have influenced kings and presidents, and been used to teach children worldwide.

That's why I think it's so interesting in chapter one when Solomon begins the whole book with this advice:

"7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, 
but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 
8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 
9 They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck."
There are two things that jump out to me from this beginning set of instructions.  One, we are supposed to be teachable.  In a world where knowing the right answer is so important, where we are judged on how much we know. where you can win thousands of dollars for pointless trivia on game shows, Solomon says to develop a teachable heart.  Be willing to learn.  Be humble.  Listen to others and take it in.  Only fools despise wisdom and instruction.  Yeah.  I've got a ways to go on this one.
The other thing that hit me is the call to parents.  We are supposed to be teaching our kids Godly wisdom.  Its our job.  The kids are supposed to be willing to learn, but we are required to teach it.  That means we have to have it to teach it.  Hmmmm......  How seriously are we taking this idea, moms and dads?  What do you and I need to do to pursue God's knowledge and wisdom, so that we can pass it on to our kids?  It's assumed we will.  But are we?
Do we need to sacrifice pursuing foolish things some times in order to pursue wisdom?  I gotta be honest, I hear parents much more concerned about what movies they've seen recently, than about the wisdom they are intentionally tracking down.  What needs to change in us, you and I, that we can have a better handle on this wisdom?  Where will our kids find it, if not with us?
I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on it.

Why Do Your Kids Act Like They Do? - a new post for parents and parents to be

As parents, it can be so tough to discipline our kids.  I remember when I was growing up, I was pretty convinced my parents enjoyed it.  At least, it always seemed to be easier for them than it was for me.  But that didn't last long.  As soon as I had to be in charge of a youth group, and be the one handing out discipline, I realized what an incredibly heavy burden it can become.   Then later, as a father myself, it has only grown even tougher.

But I also know how important it is.  I work with students every week who are not given enough discipline at home.  They are allowed too much freedom, and given it too early.  Parents, I promise, I understand how hard it is, how exhausting it is, how defeating it can feel.  But it is SO incredibly important.

In 1 Kings 1, David is dying.  One of his sons, Adonijah, decides he will be the next king.  So he begins to set things up to make it happen.  There is a very interesting set of verses in the story for us to look at:

"5 Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, “I will be king.” So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him.
6 (His father had never rebuked him by asking, “Why do you behave as you do?” He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.) "
Do you catch what is going on there?  David never disciplines his kid.  This story is seen over and over in David's family.  The king who is called "a man after God's own heart" doesn't discipline his own kids.  The one who took Goliath on head first, who built a world super power in a tiny land, who survived assassination attempts and countless wars, he chooses not to discipline his children. It's understandable.  He is giving his heart and attention to so many other things, he ignores his own families needs.
But at what cost?  Three of his sons try to take his kingdom.  They all die.  One of his daughters is raped by one of his sons.  His family is constantly in disarray.  It's horrible.
The same holds true today.  We can short cut discipline because it's hard, because we want to be cool and loved, because we don't do it well, because it makes us feel icky, or a thousand other reasons.  The truth is we are simply delaying the pain.  It will come back, and it comes with interest added on.  
I want to encourage all of us as parents; lovingly, carefully, thoughtfully discipline our children.  Jesus tells us to make disciples of all nations.  Deuteronomy six tells us it starts at home.  The word disciple and the word discipline come from the same word.  
If you want some resources to help with discipling your kids well, contact me or Evan Casey, our children's pastor.  We'll point you to some good tools.  If you love your kids, discipline them.  God does, so should we.
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