For the Parents

cropped-13235445_10207760587905824_3504105606349192008_o.jpgA new year quickly approaches. The time many begin to start fresh. We make plans. We resolve to improve our lives and the life of our family in some way. So, since you are thinking that direction, I want to encourage you to get your children more active in spiritual activities. Specifically, I encourage you to get them involved with a group of children (youth) their age at a local congregation of God’s people.

Some time ago a study was conducted to determine what effect parents’ attendance in Bible School had on their children when those children became adults.  I found the following statistics from that study in a church bulletin from Oklahoma.*

  • When both parents are active in a Bible Class; 85% of their children were faithful as adults.
  • When only one parent was active in a Bible Class; 26% of the children were faithful, 27% were  sporadic in their faith, and 36% were unfaithful as adults.
  • When both parents were not active in Bible Class; 67% of their children were unfaithful as adults.

These results are not shocking.

These results are not shocking. If Bible Classes and Bible study are not a point of emphasis in our homes, we cannot expect spiritual growth or continued faithfulness to Christ from our children.

As this year closes and a new one begins, I encourage parents to rededicate themselves to Bible Classes, worship, and Bible study. I encourage you to talk about the things of God “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).

When our children see their parents treating the Bible as the most important book and subject on earth, they are more likely to develop a similar life focus.

-Scott

*(MacArthur Heights Church of Christ – 08.24.2003)

Coming to the Close

hamlet-300x282

Image: thehamletproject-rss.blogspot.com

2017 is quickly coming to a close. As I am wrapping up the year, I am going back through some old posts and read this from 2011:

The proverb says, “he who laughs last, laughs best.”  Actor and comedian, Del Close must have believed those lines.  According to the BRI (Bathroom Reader Institute), a source of much trivial knowledge, Mr. Close played the role of Polonius in productions of Hamlet. Polonius is the father of Ophelia and the chief counselor of the King. His most memorable line (at least the most quoted) is from Act II Scene 2, “Though this be madness, yet there is a method in’t.”  The common way to say that is “There’s a method to his madness.”  But I digress.  Mr. Close longed to play another role in Hamlet, he wanted to play the Jester, Yorick.  But alas, poor Yorick is dead.

However, Del Close got the last laugh.  After his death in 1999, his will had specific instructions that his remains be cremated, and his skull preserved and donated to Goodman Theatre in Chicago to be used in productions of Hamlet. The playbill was to read in the cast, “Yorick played by Del Close.”

I find Close’s humor oddly funny.  He found a way to get his wish and to live on.

I do not know of Close’s faith, his religious or lack of religious life.  I do not know whether he died with an expectation of heaven.  I do know that you and I can live on and not in a theatre as a skull with our name in the playbill.  We can live on because in Christ, we do not have to die the second death.  In Christ, we may die physically, but we live on in eternity.  Thanks be to God who us this victory in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Scott

Gifts that Last

MerryChristmasWelcome to the time of year when we rush around looking for those last minute gift ideas. You know, the office party you forgot about, your child’s teacher(s), your child’s best friend, and the one you have been putting off because you are looking for the “perfect gift.”

I am taking today to remind you of a few gifts that last.

Four Gifts that Keep on Giving

Respect: This to me is the thrust of Jesus’ statement in what we call the golden rule of Matt 7:12.  This is what Paul commends in Phil 2:1-4.  Treat other people respectfully.  We do this by our actions and by our words.

Compassion: This is another way to say “understanding” or “empathy.”  Look into the eyes of others and do your best to know them and to know what makes them who they are and leads them to do what they do.  How many times in Scripture do we read something similar to this, “Jesus looking on them had compassion . . .”  Look at others with the eyes of Jesus.  This will keep us from judging unrighteous judgement and will help us be a better influence on those around us.

Listening: This is a gift everyone of us wants.  We want others to hear what we say.  I am not talking about the words, but the meaning behind what we say.  When we talk about our lives, our families, our successes, and our failures, we want others to respect us enough to listen with compassion.  We are not always wanting others to solve our problems or to pat us on the back, but we do want to disclose part of who we are to those we trust.   Are you listening?

Love: Ultimately this is what the other three communicate. Love respects others space, time, and feelings.  Love works compassionately for the benefit of the other. Love listens to my dreams, desires, and disasters.  With respect to Whitney Houston; Love for others (not yourself) is the greatest gift of all.  Remember the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

One of the greatest blessings of these gifts is that once you bless someone with them, you often get them in return.  Even if you do not, you receive benefit from giving – Acts 20:35.

-Scott

Anticipation

AnticipationI heard one of the school age children (middle school) say to their peers, “I can’t wait until we are out for Christmas!” Our college students are saying, “We can’t wait until finals are over.”

Waiting. Waiting is nothing new.

  • Adam had to wait for God to create a companion for him.
  • Noah had to wait over a century while he built the ark for the rains to come.
  • He had to wait for the water to recede once the rain stopped.
  • After not waiting for God, Abraham finally waited for God to provide and heir.
  • Jacob waited to see if Esau was still angry.
  • David waited for Saul’s reign to end before taking power.
  • Elijah waited in caves for the Lord to speak.
  • Israel and Judah waited for the Messiah to come.

What are you and I waiting for? Spiritually we are waiting for Christ to return so that we can be with Him eternally (1 Thess 4:13ff; 2 Pet 3:10-15).

Bonus Thoughts:

We need to learn this concept of waiting and apply it to our temporal life.

  • I can wait to make that purchase until I can afford it.
  • You can wait for sexual intimacy as a part of marriage.
  • I can have patience with you and with myself as we individually and collectively mature in Christ (1 Thess 5:14).

-Scott

What Do You See at the Cross?

crossI found the following story in my files. A quick internet search revealed it in various forms but with no attribution.

Just a Story?

Nine-year-old Braun lived in a little village not far from London. Braun’s parents were agnostics, but they felt that at least once in his life, he ought to go to church. So they dressed him up in his little black suit and black bow tie and asked the governess to take him.

That Sunday, the preacher told about the crucifixion of a Man. He described the nails driven through the Man’s hands, the crown of thorns jammed upon His head, the blood that ran down His face, and the spear that ripped into His side. He described the agony in His eyes and the sorrow in His voice when He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Halfway through the sermon, little Braun was crying. Wouldn’t somebody do something? Wouldn’t the crowd rise up together and take the Man down from the cross? But as he looked around in astonished surprise, he saw that the people were complacent. “What’s the matter with these people, Nanny?” he asked. “Why doesn’t somebody tell them to take that man down from the cross?”

Patting Braun on the shoulder, his nanny nervously whispered in reply, “Braun, Braun, be quiet. It’s just a story. Don’t let it trouble you. Just listen quietly. You’ll soon forget about this old story when we go home.

I wonder . . .

I wonder, have we heard the story of the cross so much that we are unaffected? Do we pass it off as if it is just some story? Have we closed our minds and our hearts to the excruciating reality of Christ’s death? Does it no longer motivate us to living for Him?

What do you see when you see the Cross of Christ?

Do you see the reality of sin?But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

Do you see God’s hatred of sin?Are you not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof. You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he? (Habakkuk 1:12-13)

Do you see God’s love for sinners?For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8)

Do you see God’s plan for reconciliation / redemption?In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10)

Christ lived to die so that in Him we die so that we might live.

-Scott

Cleaning Up the Mess

WHAT A MESS!There is a song stuck in my head this morning. You know the type of song; irritating tune, annoying voice, the type you do not want playing on your morning soundtrack. This particular song this morning has a very annoying voice singing with children. It is a song I have not heard in a while, but after watching a bit of news and reading a few news posts, it intruded. You may already know what song it is and it may be stuck in your head now as well. I would apologize, but misery loves company.

If you have no clue what song I might be thinking of, I’ll let you in on the secret the rest of us are regretfully sharing.  If you don’t want to know the song skip the next few lines.

“Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.” – You are welcome!

Society – Western society, American society – made a mess and we are drowning in the trash. We have sown the wind and are reaping a whirlwind (Hos 8:7). We are reaping what we sowed (Gal 6:7).

The news today is replete with stories of sexual misconduct on the part of news anchors, actors and actresses, politicians, religious leaders, and more. Why are we shocked that these things are occurring? We created the mess! Media portrays women as sexual objects not as people. Lyrics and videos from R&B artists sometimes push a violent sexual agenda. Country Music lyrics encourage women to shake certain parts for men. Movies and television promote promiscuity. And we support it. Then we wonder why we are in this mess.

Then we wonder why we are in this mess.

We need to clean up the mess. We need a return to virtue. Turn off the shows. Refuse to go to promiscuous movies. Don’t download the songs that promote lasciviousness. Remove the offenders from power. Start with you and your children. You keep your hands, lips, and anything else off of anyone you are not married too. Teach your children the same. (Okay you know what I mean. I am not talking about kissing your children goodnight nor kissing your parents on the cheek).

I will let the apostle Paul close out this post,

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:19-24)

-Scott

Shortened Stories

cropped-books.jpgName these novels:

  • A man and a woman overcome their first impressions and fall in love.
  • An orphaned boy gets in with the wrong crowd but is saved by wealthy man.
  • An old man catches a big fish, ties it to his boat, it is eaten by sharks, the man goes home and dies.
  •  A woman tells of the events in a small southern town that lead up to her bother’s broken arm.

Some stories are hard to tell in a few short words. Yet a few words can communicate a great deal of information. If someone knocks on your door and tells you, “Your house in on fire!” It means much more than the simple statement you heard.

There are similar messages in the Bible.

Jonah’s message was a short eight words in English, “Yet forty days and Ninevah will be overthrown.”  Wouldn’t it be nice to carry a short message from God?  Most of us can remember eight (8) words (“Hey diddle, diddle the cat and the fiddle.”) In his recording of the life of Jesus as the Christ John gives us an eight word message of good news: John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” There you have it: the eight word Gospel! For a fuller understanding consider the context of John 1:14 by a quick look at John 1:1-14;17

  1. Christ was in the Beginning: John 1:1-4
  2. Christ is the Light of the World: John 1:5-11.
  3. Christ Brought Salvation: John 1:12-14; 17.

Eight words, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

  • We can remember that.
  • We can herald that!
  • We can LIVE that!
– Scott

Praise

heb 13-15This morning as I drove to my study, I became lost in thought about so many things concerning God. I reflected on:

  • His creation.
  • The variety of the seasons.
  • The beauty of His handiwork.
  • The people in my life.
  • His people the Church.
  • The peace I have in Christ.
  • The simple joy of following Him.
  • Salvation from wrath to come.
  • and so much more.

God is great and He is gracious.

-Scott

They Were Broken

You have to be broken to need God and you are broken without HIm

  1. His alcoholism embarrassed  his children.
  2. He took matters into his own hands and made a mess of things. His son and grandsons often repeated his mistakes.
  3. Good things followed him. People followed him. He was important. God used him for good things, but he took the credit.
  4. Pride. Pride is the downfall of many men and women. He was no different. He had great potential and even did great things, but his pride lead to an early death.
  5. He was indecisive at best and cowardly at worst. He second guessed much of what he was asked to do.
  6. He had a physical characteristic that lead him to lose his temper; as a result people died.
  7. He was a financial cheat, at least that is what most people thought. It was likely true.
  8. His impulsive behavior and unfiltered tongue got him into trouble more times than not.
  9. They were quick to judge others and ready for a fight.
  10. He was a terrorist responsible for the death of many innocent people.

But they all have one thing in common.

They had their different weaknesses. They were and are examples of a broken creation. Yet God took Noah, Abraham (Isaac and Jacob), Moses, Samson, Gideon, Elisha, Matthew, Peter, James and John, and Paul and used them for His glory in His grand purpose. They were useful to God.

They were broken, but God could and did use them.

Father,

Thank You for showing us the flaws in the characters of Your story. Seeing their flaws and inconsistencies reminds us that although we are not perfect, we can still be Yours. Thank You for perfecting us in Christ. Use us to do Your will on earth.

In Jesus’ Name . . .

Reader, know that God desires you, as you are, to come to Him. You do not have to be perfect for Him to accept you. In truth, you have to be broken to need God and you are broken without Him. He is there (here) for you to take you just as you are and mold you into the image of His Son.

-Scott

Just a Little Something

psa 100_4Thank you for reading The Morning Drive. I began this adventure in 2009 and some of you have been with me the entire way. I truly do appreciate your loyalty, comments, and I covet your prayers that my thoughts may in some way help folks focus on what is good and right.

With Thanksgiving approaching in the United States, I am going to take a break from writing as I spend time with family. I will miss you. I hope you will miss me. I will be praying for you and your family and especially those that are travelling for the holidays.

Before I go, I want to leave you with a quote and a question or two:

“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.”

William Blake (https://www.brainyquote.com)

As you think about that quote, tell me:

  1. What you think he meant and why you agree or disagree?
  2. What application does this have to our daily life?

-Scott