January 22 – Ears to Hear

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Mr. Alexander wouldn’t let me off the hook. I had a habit of making excuses for my irresponsible actions.

I realize now that my behavior stemmed from a reluctance to obey authority. It wasn’t blaringly obvious, but it fueled my occasional tardiness and lack of excellence in the classroom.

When I would walk through the door to Mr. Alexander’s office, ready to give an array of excuses for being late, he would say, “Close the door and read the sign.” The sign on the back of the door read:

EXCUSES

Excuses are tools of incompetence

that build monuments of nothingness

Those who are good at excuses

are seldom good at anything else.  After having to read that sign in my teacher’s office more than a hundred times, I began to see some real change in my habits. I wasn’t “cured” overnight, but I did begin to take responsibility for my actions.

Mr. Alexander would say, “When you make excuses for poor behavior or for lack of obedience of a command, you are seeking to persuade the other party to be okay with your behavior and lack of consideration of their time. “ Wow.

Obedience is crucial in every arena of life.

It is one of the highest forms of responsible living. We all have a higher authority we must submit to, and ultimately, as a believer, God is that authority. But if we can’t obey those who are in natural authority over us, chances are we aren’t following God very well either.

Take time to do a self-examination of your attitude. You might even ask your spouse or a close friend to help you (if you are really brave). Are there areas in your life where you are making excuses for disobedient behavior?

If you find anything, don’t let shame beat you up. Just tell God you apologize and ask for His help. Start practicing by “letting your yes be yes and letting your no be no.” (Matthew 5:37) The following “I WILLS” from Character First help enforce an obedient attitude:

 I WILL obey my authorities immediately

I WILL have a cheerful attitude

I WILL complete all that I am expected to do

I WILL not complain

I WILL go the extra mile

When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. John 10:4 The Message

Biblical Meditation: John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

 

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January 9 – Obedience is Life and Death (Jenny)

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One of the sorest subjects around our house in our entire marriage involved an animal. Let me be more specific: a 120 pound black lab puppy. (He was not the first pet to be a part of this story, but I won’t go back that far!)

I completely dropped the ball when it came to helping this active and enthusiastic dog. Of all the obedience training I attempted to put in place while Lorenzo was at work, nothing seemed to stick! Several places on our home’s light beige carpet stuck around to prove my ineptness. In spite of all the success of my sisters and other friends and family with their pets, I just couldn’t get it to sink in.

Truthfully, I was too inconsistent to see any real progress! We do live in a society that values obedience training in our pets. And I know lots of animal lovers that do an amazing job. But the stakes really get high when we start talking about the pursuit of obedient children.

My husband has always said that whatever we see in our 2 year-old that goes uncorrected, “multiply that particular behavior” by a 16 year-old. It usually doesn’t give a pretty picture. Research has shown that the foundation to our children’s character is formed by the time they turn five.

What may look like cute antics right now in our toddlers won’t be so cute when they are ten, or older. In much the same way as our dog, (and even more so), our children are begging us for boundaries! They not only need to know “yes, no, who’s in charge, and I love you,” but they need to be trained how to respond in certain situations.

All of us have moments we need our children to stay close to us and not run off. So when our first three children were four and under, I would take them to the mall (a big, safe space) on a morning that wasn’t busy, and I would tell our older two that “our job today is to stay by mommy.”

Then we would walk around the mall, as I reminded them of the goal as I pushed the baby in the stroller. If one of them ran off, I would bring them back and give them a gentle reminder. After fifteen minutes of this kind of training, we’d all be ready for a reward.

Moments like that can really pay off in the long run. We can practice situations at home that will come up later, such as eating in a restaurant, sitting quietly through a wedding, etc.

Obedience doesn’t come just because we demand it, or even from using discipline, it comes from building a relationship. And it is life and death, because we can all face a time when a child tries to run towards a busy street. Then, obedience can save their life.

God loves an obedient heart. He’s certainly not into condemnation, nor does He hold our wrongs against us.

Mistakes will be made. But just as Jesus willingly went through the last moments of his life as God revealed His will to him, so should we cultivate the riches of obedience in our children. And their response to us will always reflect the level of our obedience to the Father as well. Spend time training your heritage towards obedience.

And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] you shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6,7 AMP

 Biblical Meditation: James 1:25

Favorite Source: Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull

November 25- The “Something” He Wants

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Ephesians 5:11-14 The Message Bible

 I have come to realize there are a whole lot of actions that are permissible for me. I can act on them and they aren’t necessarily wrong and won’t cause any major problems for anybody, so I tell myself. If you are in any way tempted by such human tendencies as I am, may I be a source of encouraging insight to you today. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean it’s the “something” He wants you doing. Don’t allow your selfishness to pull the wool over your own eyes; every step is ordained, planned and orchestrated by the Author and Father of all Creation. There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman at the end of the day. All that we are belongs to Him and He has established some guidelines to help us decipher His will for today. If you have any desire to stand before Him on that “tallying-up” day with a clear conscience and a completed work order, you will have to spend some face time with Him now – day by day! So don’t waste your time in the dark alleys of “I know what’s best for me.” Get on your knees and report for duty with the Master Foreman and get to working in the Light.

 

 

 

November 24th- Every

Psalms 139:13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

When I was 19 years old, I worked for an inner-city sports camp called Kids Across America. Located on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, it was a paradise of forests, beautiful water, gorgeous sunsets, and a few mosquitoes. It was the perfect set-up for hours of really hard work that can help bring “light-bulb” moments.

While I spent the summer there at KAA, I was privileged to listen to a wise mind of our century, Mr. Joe White. He founded KAA along with the huge organization of camps called Kanakuk. While speaking to my group, he persuaded us to be a student of the Word of God. He shared how powerfully he had seen growth in his own life because of time spent reading God’s letter to us.

There was one big problem he seemed to face in his pursuit of time with God. Consistency. Don’t we all know what he’s talking about? As a college student, my lack of consistency had yet to rear its ugly head. After all, I didn’t have anyone else to think of but myself! But Joe knew we’d come to those moments when many others, namely the ones we love the most, might have to be the victims of the times we “drop the ball.” I was thinking of this when I looked at a pile of 4 loads of laundry on my rocking chair, unfolded. Or the list of thank you notes, not finished. Projects started, many still underway…..the requirements we are under could go on and on.

But I then MADE my mind go to the rest of that precious “gem” God gave me through Joe White: “EVERY.” He explained that every morning as he goes into the bathroom mirror, he sees a yellow post-it note with the word “every.” This reminds him to go to the main thing he knows he must do every day. He must spend time with the Author of the day. When he does this, everything else can fall in place, or he can “go with the flow” when it doesn’t! God said to Moses, “Tell Pharaoh that I AM sent you.” God is the God of today! He is not the God of yesterday and its mistakes, nor the God of tomorrow and its worries. For the rest of our “days,” may every day count as a treasure as we walk out our “life-book!”

Jennifer

Biblical Meditation: Matthew 6:27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

 

November 23-To Buf’ fet (buf-it) or to Buf fet’ (bu-fay): That is the Question!

I Corinthians 9:27

Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit]. Amplified

My daddy took me to my first “all–you-can-eat” restaurant when I was about 11. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It was breakfast, one of my very favorite meals. They had absolutely everything. Hot cakes, eggs anyway you wanted, sausage, bacon, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, everything. You can imagine what my plate looked like! This was not a morning to be eating oatmeal, if you know what I mean. This was the real deal. My daddy even let me have my own cup of coffee. By the time I was done, I was doing the Penguin shuffle! To say I overdid it was an understatement!

Over the years I’ve gotten better about moderation when I go to buffet- style restaurants, but I have to be intentional before I walk into the establishment or I will find myself going overboard. The problem isn’t the abundance of food at my disposal; it is my human tendency to get “just a little more.” Every person on the planet has this challenge in one area or another, because we are greedy and selfish by nature. You watch a couple of two-year-olds play together, it won’t be long before somebody’s crying about a toy they want and the other won’t give it back. Doesn’t matter that there are plenty of other toys to play with; no, they have got to have that one.

But here’s the deal, this word spelled “buffet” has another meaning. When you shift the accent it means “to deal harshly or to strike.” Every one of us has a continuing challenge when it comes to ourselves; we are going to either buf’ fet (restrain) or buf fet’ (indulge). As God’s master pieces, we have His Spirit living in us giving us the ability to know where we need to be aware. So, set your heart today on this nugget of I Corinthians 9:27. Let the Lord guide you as you train your “self.”

Lorenzo

 

November 19-Words With Wisdom

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. Proverbs 18:21 MSG

Today I am reminded that the way I use my words can change a person’s life. Once I got really upset with one of my sisters and said something rude about how she looked. Later on my dad told me that mean words can hurt the way someone thinks about himself. So as you go through your day, watch what you say to those you love!

Nathaniel

November 17-Accustomed

Luke 2:41-43 Every year Jesus’ parent went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.  

Change can mess you up, if you let it. My oldest daughter loves to rearrange the kitchen and she does it with no warning. The first time she did it, I couldn’t find anything for days! Cups had changed places with bowls, pots and pans swapped space with the storing containers, and Lord knows where the silverware went. Up until that time, I thought of myself as a fairly flexible individual. In reality, I was no different than anybody else when it came to change. I believe it is just woven into the fabric of our humanity to dig ruts and camp out. It happens to us before we even know it.

Going to Jerusalem was a yearly thing for Mary and Joseph’s family and apparently quite a few people traveled with them from their home town of Nazareth. Jesus wasn’t on their minds as one of the youngsters who needed their attention. Needless to say, they were probably flabbergasted when they realized he was nowhere to be found. If you have ever misplaced a child, you are familiar with what they were going through! But add to the equation they had traveled a whole day home before they discovered he was gone!

What happened? How in the world do you leave your child somewhere and don’t miss them for a whole day? You become accustomed to the trip, the people, the event, and even the child. We do this all the time, everyday. Customs have their place, but in the midst of building our daily traditions, it is important to remember everyday is a new day. God is all about showing us something new right smack-dab in the middle of a routine we’ve done for years. So today, keep your eyes on Him and don’t take anything for granted, not even your own kitchen!

Lorenzo

Biblical Meditation: Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.