A.L.I.V.E.—The “E” Is For Engagement Of Christ’s Followers

Let’s get some insight into the Greco-Roman and Jewish mindsets of the first century AD. Specifically, the mindset of men. 

There is a well-known letter written June 17, 1 BC, from a man named Hilarion, who was gone off to Alexandria, to his wife Alis, whom he has left at home. He writes to her: “If—good luck to you—you bear a child, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, throw it out.” This letter captures the male-dominated mindset in the Roman world concerning women and children. In a word: inferior or even disposable. 

This mindset wasn’t limited to the world the Jews called “pagan,” but it was prevalent in Judaism too. Every day Jewish men began their morning prayer time with, “God, I thank You that You did not make me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” 

With this background, it makes it startling that a Jewish man (who prayed that prayer thousands of times) writing to people in Rome (who undoubtedly had the same mindset as Hilarion), begins his list of thank you notes with gratitude to two women! Paul goes on to list no less than 8 women, even giving preferential treatment to a wife (Priscilla) over her husband (Aquila) when he mentions her name first! (see Romans 16:1-4, 6, 12).

William Barclay wrote, “Anyone who asks the question: ‘What has Christianity done for the world?’ has delivered himself into a Christian debater’s hands. There is nothing in history so unanswerably demonstrable as the transforming power of Christianity and of Christ on the individual life and on the life of society.”

Indeed Christians changed the lives of at least four groups:

  1. Women (especially in the role of marriage)—divorce was so common that it was neither unusual nor particularly blameworthy for a woman to have a new husband every year. Yet Christians taught men to esteem their wives and for marriage to be honored by everyone (Ephesians 5:28; Hebrews 13:4). 
  2. Children—who weren’t even considered a part of the family until they had grown up and proven their worth to the father. Yet Christians taught fathers to nurture their children (Ephesians 6:4).
  3. Senior citizens—the pragmatic Romans had little to do with those they considered less valuable. But the first blind asylum was founded by Thalasius, a Christian monk; the first free medical dispensary was founded by Apollonius, a Christian merchant; the first hospital of which there is any record was founded by Fabiola, a Christian lady.
  4. The weak and sick—when a plague hit Rome, all the young, healthy people left the sick and elderly behind. They ran away, but the Christians stayed to help. The Christians taught that everyone (regardless of age, sex, or wealth) was valuable (1 Timothy 5:1-2). 

That was just the start of Christianity. Men like William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln were Christians who opposed slavery; Clara Barton was nicknamed “the angel of the battlefield” and founded the Red Cross; Paul Brand was a doctor who ran to leprosy patients when everyone else shunned them; Mother Teresa loved those poor, dying souls whom others ignored. 

So what’s your conclusion? Throughout history Christians have been martyred for their faith, but not only are they willing to die for their belief that Jesus is alive, but they continue to do good to those who persecute them. Would people do this to perpetrate a hoax? Or does this sound more like the real deal?

Please check out the other evidence I have presented for the resurrection of Jesus:

Saturday In The Psalms—Happy!!

…happy are the people whose God is the Lord! (Psalm 144:15).

Happy indeed are people who have learned that there is only One God, and have also acknowledged Him as the Lord of their life.

David lists some fabulous blessings for those have made God their Lord…

  • …are equipped by God for victory
  • …experience His lovingkindness
  • …are intimately known by God
  • …know that God bends heaven and earth to help those who love Him
  • …are protected from evil people
  • …have new songs to sing
  • …experience God’s miraculous deliverance and rescue
  • …see blessings on their children and their work and their home
  • …are used as peacemakers and unity-restorers

Happy, happy, HAPPY!

Happy are the people who are in such a state;
Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!

Saturday In The Psalms—Generations

I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord… (Psalm 78:3-4).

If George Santayana* was right about the dangers of unlearned history lessons for the general population, he identified something even more vital for those who follow God.

Asaph recounts a history of God’s people where God blessed them, the people became complacent in His blessing, until they turned from God and became subject to His wrath. The cycle, sadly, repeats again and again.

Asaph wants today’s generation to learn this lesson and to break this cycle. 

He calls on this generation to continually remind the next generation of God’s blessings for obedience, and God’s judgment for disobedience—

Make them known to their children (v. 5).

The children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children (v. 6)

For today’s parents this means…
No complacency. 
No assumptions. 
No letting kids “figure it out on their own.” 
Constant diligence.
Constant communication.

May this generation speak words of life to the generation to come!

* George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And he also noted, “A child educated only in school is an uneducated child.”

 

How Guys Unintentionally Sabotage Their Relationships

There is a relationship killer that seems to be particularly hard for men. It’s hard because men’s brains are designed in a way that sometimes prohibits them from even seeing this issue.

Bill & Pam Farrel wrote a book called Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. The Farrels identify how men tend to compartmentalize their lives. That is, guys can be so absorbed in one “box” in their life that they are completely oblivious to the other boxes. For instance, when a man is at work he seldom thinks about the other areas of his life (his wife, his kids, the bills that need to be paid, what he’s going to have for lunch).

In addition, men’s brains are also designed to stay in those boxes where things can be quickly fixed. A guy likes fixing things, so the boxes where he can do something and see an immediate result is a box he’s going to keep going back to again and again.

Here’s the trouble… Relationships don’t fit in nice, neat boxes. Neither are relationships something that can be “fixed.” And relationships are never, ever fixed or improved quickly.

So if a guy isn’t aware of these things, he can be unintentionally sabotaging the relationships around him.

King David illustrated this in his unintentional lack of involvement in three of his sons’ lives—

  • Amnon pursued an unhealthy relationship with his step-sister. David got mad but never did anything about it (2 Samuel 13:21).
  • Absalom got revenge for what Amnon did and then fled the country. When David finally allowed him to return to Israel, they never met to resolve what went wrong (2 Samuel 14:28).
  • Adonijah wanted to be king after David, but the Bible says, “His father had never interfered with him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’” (1 Kings 1:6).

Dave Wills wrote, “We all tend to craft a self-focused view of the world where we emerge as either a hero or a victim in every scene. We’re never the villains in the story. The truth is, though, that we’ve all been the bad guy more often than we’d like to admit. A life of love requires that we look in the mirror and give an honest and humble self-assessment.”

The way to defeat this relationship killer is to become aware of it through humble self-assessment. David learned this truth and shared his prayer with us: “Search me, O God. Show me any areas in my life where I am off-track” (Psalm 139:23-24).

In response to this prayer, the Holy Spirit must have showed David how he had unintentionally starved his relationships with Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah, because he became highly involved in his son Solomon’s life.

So much so that as Solomon talked to his children about how they should live, he also told them where he had learned how to do this—his father taught him (Proverbs 4:1-4).

Guys, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been unintentionally in another box. It doesn’t matter how strained the relationship may have become. If you will humbly ask God to search you, reveal to you where you’ve messed up, and ask Him to help you get better … your relationships WILL begin to improve!

Don’t wait another day to pray that “Search me” prayer!

Poetry Saturday—A Man

Edgar A. GuestA man doesn’t whine at his losses,
A man doesn’t whimper and fret,
Or rail at the weight of his crosses
And ask life to rear him a pet.
A man doesn’t grudgingly labor
Or look upon toil as a blight;
A man doesn’t sneer at his neighbor
Or sneak from a cause that is right.

A man doesn’t sulk when another
Succeeds where his efforts have failed;
Doesn’t keep all his praise for the brother
Whose glory is publicly hailed;
And pass by the weak and the humble
As though they were not of his clay;
A man doesn’t ceaselessly grumble
When things are not going his way.

A man looks on woman as tender
And gentle, and stands at her side
At all times to guard and defend her,
And never to scorn or deride.
A man looks on life as a mission.
To serve, just so far as he can;
A man holds his noblest ambition
On earth is to live as a man. —Edgar A. Guest

10 Commitments For Dads (book review)

With Father’s Day just around the corner, I’ve got a great book that every Dad needs to check out. Think of this book from Josh McDowell as a Father’s Day gift you will give to yourself and to your family. The book is called 10 Commitments For Dads.

Whether you are a soon-to-be-Dad, a rookie Dad, a veteran Dad, or a Granddad, there is always more to learn and more to do for our kids. Since God has placed His precious children under our care, it’s wise to seek practical, biblically-sound counsel to help us do the best we can. Right at the outset of this book Josh lists seven objectives Dads need to strive for before our kids leave home:

  1. Form a right relationship with God
  2. Develop healthy relationships with others
  3. Have a healthy self-image
  4. Resist sexual pressure
  5. Be a person of integrity
  6. Develop deep and convictions
  7. Know how to handle success and cope with failure

This requires some diligence on a part, beginning with listening to the wise advice Josh shares in this book.

A commitment is not a guarantee, but it is rooted in a strong passion to do the very best that we can do. As Josh leads us through these 10 commitments, you will learn from some of Josh’s successes and missteps, you will learn what the Bible has to say, and you will learn the “whys” behind the “how-to’s” of fatherhood.

10 Commitments offers no quick-fixes for fatherhood, but it does offer hope for those Dads and Granddads who are willing to let God help them do their very best. I would encourage you to also use this book as a discussion starter. You will need the help of your wife, a friend, or a pastor to be at your very best, and the concepts presented in this book are great starting points for evaluations and conversations with your helpers.

Go get this book for yourself, Dad, and then enjoy many, many happy Father’s Days!

I am a Harvest House book reviewer.

Kids In Jesus’ Day

the-bad-habits-of-jesus“Kids in Jesus’ day were to be seen and not heard. Small children (under age 5) were associated with death. All children were associated with dirt, noise, and annoying habits. It went without saying that they shouldn’t bother the rabbi.

“Even Jesus’ disciples thought He wouldn’t want to be interrupted by rambunctious children. Sound familiar? Many of our churches today banish children to distant parts of the building during worship, then bemoan their absence from church when the same kids reach adulthood. Instead of Jesus’ ‘Let the children come unto Me,’ the church says, ‘Let us babysit your kids while we dazzle you adults in worship.’

“Jesus’ idea of children and childhood was radically different from what was normal in His day. Jesus taught a faith that you might call adultproof. Today we childproof our medicine and our faith, making them as hard for children to get into as possible. In contrast, Jesus made faith child friendly and adult averse, meaning Jesus did everything He could to protect children’s faith from adults and to help even the most adultish among us become more childlike so as to get into the Kingdom without messing it up.” —Leonard Sweet, in The Bad Habits Of Jesus

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