Monthly Archives: February 2014

Teaching My Children Mercy!

Recently I was preaching in our county jail and trying to explain the gospel and its various implications. I told them what Jesus did on the cross was “Substitutionary Atonement.” Of course, they were not familiar with this theological truth, nor did I expect them to understand it. That is why I was there explaining the gospel right?
You might be thinking, “I thought this post was about teaching his kids mercy.” Well, the following is how I taught my daughter mercy and the previous is the context to which I used the teaching of my daughter to explain the gospel. So, I have two agendas here. One, to help you teach your sons and daughters mercy (showing them the gospel) and proclaiming the gospel to others; whether that be through experiences at home or however.
Now, the teaching of mercy. The other day one of my daughters broke one of the rules in our home. The one who received the breaking of the rule came to me in order to inform me of this violation. So, I called the one who broke the rule to come and speak to me about it. She was quick to admit her wrong and I was thankful for that. Nevertheless, she was less reluctant to admit her need for punishment. I began to explain how God cannot look over sin. He is holy and just, therefore he must punish sin. So, I asked her, “If your brother hits you, do you think it is necessary that I punish him for hitting you?” And she replied, “Yes!” Again, I asked, “If your sister takes your toys away from you, should I punish her?” Again she emphatically replied, “Yes!!!” Now I turned the question to her, “Is it fair that I let you get away with no punishment for breaking the rule you have admitted to?” She then (with understanding) replied, “No, I do need to be punished.”
With that having been established, I then proceeded to teach her mercy. I explained to her that mercy is NOT getting what you DESERVE. But, in order to remain just (like God) someone must take the punishment for the crime. So I began drawing conclusions about this foundation. I indicated that she had admitted the breaking of our rules. She agreed that God is holy and just and cannot NOT punish sin. (I know I used a double negative but it was needed.) And she understood her need for punishment.
In light of this, I then moved to the substitute. I told her that I was going to take the punishment for her and that she would be the one who was to deliver the punishment. It broke her heart that I was to receive the punishment for her sin and that she had to do it. Human pride rose to the surface as she discovered my innocence and her guilt. She did not want to do it. She wept with tears as she lightly tapped me with our paddle. I then began to tell how Jesus Christ had done this for her sin and if she placed her trust in him, for her punishment, she would be saved.
As I shared this with the guys at the jail, they sat there with amazement and hopefully a clearer understanding that God had to punish sin and he did on his Son. But, it is not yours unless you repent and believe in Christ. We will see as I twice a month preach to these guys.
So, have you ever shown your children mercy (the gospel)? Do you now understand the gospel better…substitutionary atonement, propitiation? Maybe you yourself need to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. In him you will find mercy. In him you will have your sins forgiven and receive his righteousness. Praise be to God for reconciling himself to us!

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Fighting the Fight of Faith Together

It is Valentine’s Day. I have to be honest. I don’t know what it means–past or present. How one participates in such things may or may not reveal knowledge of the event. Nevertheless, we do use it in our family to think of others in a special way. In particular, my wife and I take time to focus on each other with a gift and letter to each other.

It is particularly important that you think and plan what you will do on Valentine’s Day. The gift is important but the thoughtfulness of the gift and the planning of the gift are more important. It says something when you go pick out flowers (or whatever) days in advance rather than stopping by after work to get them. You might ask, “How will they know?” They know. Okay. They know.

I recently watched a promotional video for a book by the Ken and Joni Tada. I have not read the book but I imagine it is great. In the video, Ken mentions that he has realized more clearly that they are in a spiritual battle. Then he says something like this, “I cannot imagine fighting this battle with anyone else in the world except my wife Joni.” She is a gift to Ken to fight the fight of faith together.

I applaud this. That night, after watching the video, we are on our way to church and I reach for my wife’s hand then tell her about the statements made by Ken Tada. I then tell her the same. Marriage is an army that fights the battle of sin together. She is my eyes at the mall to protect me from seeing things I don’t need to see for example. I was glad to read last years journal entry. It revealed my joy in walking WITH my wife in the journey. Here is entry:

Valentine’s Day is not very significant in our home. It is a day to help us think of others. And that is simply what we do. A break for my wife–out for dinner. A small gift of flowers to show that I thought of her yesterday (everyday). They should be delivered today to “my earthly dearest.” May she know how special and loved she is to me. Thank you Father for the gift my wife is to me. She is a means of growth and perseverance. She has (and for more that I could imagine) kept me from a multitude of sin. Grace. More grace. Father please strengthen and grow our marriage.

Hebrews 13:4 “Let marriage be held in honor among all.”

1 Peter 3:7  “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”


Weekend Opportunities

I must say, discipline during the week is easier for me. I have a set schedule. I get up and go to bed pretty much the same each day. I know what I can do with each minute. However, the weekends often fall apart for me. The schedule changes. There are different things that need to be done. You cannot plan when things around the house will break. Therefore, I usually fit time in with the Lord when I can. Now, you know what that means. Sometimes I miss it altogether.

Those weekends that are void of time with the Lord are not fruitful. I need a daily diet of truth from God–especially on the weekends. It seems I was struggling with this a year ago. I wrote:

Lord help me with weekends. I desire more discipline in the word and prayer. Forgive me Father. I need you.

I can say there has been some progress since asking for help. One of the things that I miss is the praying for members of our church. I have specific people divided over each day of the week to pray for. I noticed those who I pray for on the weekend were being missed. My relationship with them was off. I had not been setting my mind to think about them and their needs. Therefore, this has been a motivation to be more diligent on the weekend.

There are multiple opportunities to have a deeper and unhurried time with the Lord. As good as the weekdays are I still have to stop and go to work. But, on the weekend I could spend much more time and see many more wonderful things in God’s word. So, let me encourage you with this if you struggle like I do. One of the elders of our church suggested that I keep the same schedule of going to bed and getting up as the weekdays. This is the key for quality time everyday. I could say much more but this is by far the main reason I miss it. He is worth sitting down with on the weekends–and everyday of your life!

Psalm 143:8 “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”


A Prayer of the Needy

From my journal Feb. 1 2013

LORD,

Please use me, your adopted child, today for your glory. May I live as a child of the King and proclaim your rule. All that is allotted to your children is not yet but let us live in anticipation of it. Come Lord Jesus. Come.

2 Peter 3:3-9  “…knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”