February 8 – Order in the House!

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Many times as a parent I come across areas that need attention in my own life. This has proven true so many times that I’ve come to believe this is the primary reason for God giving us children. My parents refer to this as “paying for your raising!” Orderliness is one of these areas for me.

Recently, I walked through my boys’ room, and to my surprise (HA), the place had exploded once again. Automatically, I started to let them have it. “How many times do I have to get on to you boys about this room? This place looks like a tornado hit it! Now get it back together!” And I meant every word of it.

Then, as God would have it, I immediately walked back into my OWN room, only to find my closet strangely resembling my boys’ room. OUCH. How did this happen? I know full well how necessary order is in our life, and yet I found myself once again “behind on the basics.” Maybe you can relate.

And if so, there is great news. God never reveals what He, with your help, can’t heal. This is true with any issue we face. So I didn’t take much time whining over my shortcomings. I simply admitted them to myself, AND my boys. I had dropped the ball. And from there, I didn’t spend another moment beating myself up, NOR did I let myself off the hook by making an excuse.

 I believe as long as we are on this planet, we will all have adjustments to make. So, if you are human, there is a possibility you have some unorganized areas to fix. Order is the key component to anything God has set before you.

But don’t panic. If anyone understands our challenges, He does. And He’s already made provision for our lack of vision. So before we can say “help,” wisdom and comfort will come running to meet us.

Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40 NKJV

Biblical Meditation: Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.

 

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January 5 – Coming Through!

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I read a quote one day. “Remember: God sends children through you, not to you.” I remember thinking out loud, “Wow, that’s good!” It wasn’t until years later, when I was holding my own precious babies, that the quote really jarred me. All of a sudden, I felt out of control and powerless. Their destinies are in the hands of the One who sent them.

Dr. Luke’s historical account of the child who would one day be known as John the Baptist is quite insightful. What an entrance he made into the world! An angel pronounced his birth, a woman past the age of childbearing carried him, and a daddy who couldn’t speak declared his unexpected name.

So, you knew this baby was on his way to the top of his class and would surely be the next High Priest of Israel. On the contrary! The Bible says he lived in the desert. This great man was hidden from mainstream society most of his days. For all practical purposes, he was a social misfit; I mean the guy had a diet of grasshoppers and wild honey!

But, at the proper time, God brought his purpose to light. Everyone then and now can see and receive the precious Gift of God because he followed God’s plan for his life. Maybe you wonder if your “spirited child” will ever get it together. Be encouraged.

Our children are in His grasp. To Him, they are time capsules set to go off at the proper time. Indeed, they have landed on this planet through you, but always remember to Whom they ultimately belong!

 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. Luke 1:80 NIV

 Biblical Meditation: Psalm 127

February 16 – Not Such a Dirty Word

Wise discipline imparts wisdom; spoiled adolescents embarrass their parents
Proverbs 29:15
Discipline your children; you’ll be glad you did—they’ll turn out delightful to live with. Proverbs 29:17

Discipline: Education; instruction; cultivation and improvement, comprehending instruction in arts, sciences, correct sentiments, morals and manners, and due subordination to authority. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

This little “D” word is so often misused and totally misunderstood. If the truth be told, even when we aren’t trying, we are “disciple-ing.”

Our actions, or lack thereof, educate, instruct and cultivate the lives round about us.

So why not focus attention on the ways of wise counsel, mixed with self-disciplined examples?

Kids, co-workers, or kinfolk don’t care how much you know…until they know how much you care.

Lorenzo

October 28 – Enduring Principal

A good man leaves an inheritance [of moral stability and goodness] to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner [finds its way eventually] into the hands of the righteous, for whom it was laid up. Proverbs 13:22 AMP

Loans are commonplace and have been throughout human history. And any that I’ve known about had two things in common, principal and interest.

For instance, in buying a house, most folks put up a certain amount toward a down payment and seek a lending institution in borrowing the rest. When they make that monthly payment, a portion goes to the principal and the rest to the interest.

For some, it’s common knowledge that this payback is not a 50/50 deal. As a matter of fact, in the early days of the loan, most of that monthly payment goes to the interest category. But for the unsuspecting first-time home buyer, this can be quite a wake-up call.

To me, children make home worth the investment. And no matter how much you are able to pay on that mortgage a month, the most important payout will be the daily sort. Because long after that house is paid for and leveled to the ground, the moral coins you filled those “precious human coffers” with will be paying interest in a generation you will never see, but will thank you just the same.

Stop hustling so hard to give them everything in style and on television. It doesn’t last (look at the pictures of when you were in school and see what the style police told you was “in”). Nice things are nice, but if they jeopardize right being right and wrong being wrong, or love being love and hate being hate and their proper place in life, they are not so nice in the end.

So never send “stuff” to represent you in your absence. Chances are, you could wind up bankrupt when it’s all said and done. Never forget, there is no substitute for YOU in your children’s life.

October 16 – Can I Get a Witness?

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 NKJV

I am a talker and I married a talker. That seems to be pretty unusual. However, we differ in our styles of communication. To describe our styles using traveling terms, I would be more of a world traveler and Jenny is the direct flight type.

But over the years and in the process of raising a few children, we have become aware of the fact that even though we communicate very differently, often we are saying the same thing. And that provides a more balanced counseling approach when assisting friends, family, and loved ones (and ourselves) in decision making endeavors.

As the Proverb states, multi-counsel has an element of safety woven throughout, because, when you have more than one view point, you’ve got more than ONE point of view. And time and testimonies galore shout out, “Get a second opinion!”

A perfect example is studying what Jesus said by way of the Gospels…Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. For the sake of time here’s one account when Jesus made a statement about the price and benefit of following Him (discipleship):

“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” Matthew 10:40-42

For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. Mark 9:41

He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” Luke 10:16

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” John 13:20

I think Matthew was kind of like me and the rest of the guys were like my wife (she’s straight to the point). Nevertheless, when you listen to the four points of view, you come away with a more balanced foundation on what Jesus was truly saying. Then, application, if any is necessary, can be approached with a bit more confidence and assurance.

The Lone Ranger is a classic western story, but, in my estimation, not one to be emulated in real life. None of us have it all together or are without need of outside direction and encouragement from time to time. Let the wisdom of the wise provide you direction and guidance. There is safety to be had!

September 24 – Judge Not

These six things the Lord hates, indeed, seven are an abomination to Him: Proverbs 6:17 AMP

The other day, my five year-old Abby came running in the house all up in arms about Libby Nell’s latest “misbehaving” moment. Apparently her little sister wasn’t playing by the rules and she needed correction, in her professional estimation.

However, at the dinner table, this same sweet herald of copious conduct eloquently falsified information concerning a dinner she didn’t prefer. It mysteriously found its way into the wastebasket, but she assured us it was accidental. Thankfully, little Miss Joan of Arc ain’t our first rodeo!

The truth is, all of us find it more natural to look out rather than in. Even when we battle self-esteem issues, passing judgment on how people are treating you and the reasons why is “hair-trigger easy.”

That’s why today’s Proverb grabs me. Check out the order of the things God can’t stand…note, murder is third on the list:

A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others], a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath], and he who sows discord among his brethren. Proverbs 6:17-19 AMP

How about that proud look? Guilty, right…every last one of us?! And without knowing it, most of us are guilty of number seven, stirring the pot of discord among kinfolk. And we justify it in many different ways.

That is why He gave us His Spirit and His Instruction to guide us and protect us from unnecessary correction. He doesn’t hate us, He hates the things that keep us from enjoying life as He intended for our us and our fellow man.

May I be found looking in and judging myself and not so much the mistakes of my brethren.

August 26 – Tough Love

My son, do not despise or shrink from the chastening of the Lord [His correction by punishment or by subjection to suffering or trial]; neither be weary of or impatient about or loathe or abhor His reproof, For who the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12 AMP

Oh, how my heart breaks when the media uncovers yet another would-be legendary athlete who lost his credibility by way of a violent temper tantrum. So many have come and gone in my lifetime, yet each of them has at least one thing in common. When it came to rules and regulations, they lacked the integrity of character to adhere to and abide by the ones that “cramped their style.”

Honestly, that is the main difference I see between the Hall of Famers and the Hall of “Shamers.” To be great you have to be able to receive loads and loads and loads of correction and direction.

Beyond the sports arena this fact bares truth, even in practical living. In light of today’s Proverb, I’ll share a moment in my life where I was out of alignment with God in an area of my thinking and desperately needed some help.

My wife and I felt very strongly about having children when we married. And God blessed us with three beautiful babies in the first five years (eighteen months apart)!  And though I was overjoyed they were here and healthy, I was unpleasantly caught by surprise when in that fifth year, my sweetie informed me of the soon arrival of our fourth child.

Not wanting to disappoint or upset her, I began to internally worry about the future. I felt it was my responsibility to figure out how to feed, clothe and shelter all of these people. So, as the days ticked on, my heart became more calloused and cold toward God, my wife and my kiddos.

But that all changed on December 5th, 2000, when my wife called me at the office to tell me I needed to come home right away. Hours later, we said our goodbyes to our baby.
To date, that was one of the hardest things I have ever lived through. You talk about broken, I was indeed a shattered mess of a man that day. It took me all of eight months to seek God about what happened. Regardless of the “whys,” I knew my worries about future provision consumed me all the way up until that dreadful day.

I could say what I wanted (or what everyone else was saying), but our baby was not feeling loved and welcomed or appreciated by his Daddy. Therefore, I got just what I deserved and couldn’t handle the truth. And this is where God stepped in and applied needed direction, with just the right amount of mercy and love, to get me back up on my feet and back in the game.
That’s been eight children ago. But every single time I known someone’s coming since then, the first thing I say before I do anything else is, “Welcome to the Dunford Clan. We’ve been expecting you!”

But without God’s “chastisement,” I could have grown bitter and blamed Him for the unknown and never put the focus where it truly belonged all along: on my fear-filled heart.