A Nanny for the Family

People sometimes wonder why I’m such an advocate of filtered Internet access. We’ve used a product called SafeEyes from internetsafety.com for years. But when they sold out to McAfee, and their product support was shipped overseas, the company began making numerous missteps, in my opinion. I wanted something different, however, there didn’t seem to be anything comparable. But recently SafeEyes has simply slowed my computer and my connection speeds down to impossible to use, so we looked again.

Last night, we installed NetNanny from content watch.com. I am dumbfounded at the speed of my connection again! I forgot how much I depended on my laptop and how fun it was to use…. Really, it had gotten that bad that I hardLy used my laptop anymore.

So, if it was that bad, why not just get rid of the Internet filter? In my personal devotional time this morning, I read this:

And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” (‭Job‬ ‭28‬:‭28‬ NET)

Wisdom doesn’t come from an open internet. Wisdom doesn’t come from the news. Wisdom doesn’t come from an always connected family. Wisdom comes from spending time with God. Shunning evil helps us do that. Keeping evil away from my house is important. Just like I wouldn’t let cable companies bring garbage into my house (if I had a cable connection), nor am I about to allow the Internet to bring me garbage through unintended web searches, through accidental typos, and neither from our selfish hearts.

And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” (‭Job‬ ‭28‬:‭28‬ NET)

Good words for today….

Updated: 8/31/2015

A couple of months ago we started having troubles with Net Nanny. It quit filtering, uninstalled itself, and wouldn’t reload at times. We’ve now switched to Covenant Eyes filtering. We’ve been doing so for several months and like it a lot. 

My Son, Myself and Fire

When I was about three or four years old, my mom and dad were smokers. One day I picked up a book of matches. I played with them on the coffee table by batting around, flipping it here and there. Finally, I got around to opening it. And I fingered the little red matches long enough and one came out. I finally figured out how to light the match, and was mesmerized by the flame burning brightly… until it hit my fingers and I screamed! Bad experience. However, it didn’t deter my love of the flame. I’ve always liked fire. I’ve always played with fire.

Fast-forward ___ years….

My one year old son really, really likes fire too. When I start the wood stove in the morning (a near daily affair), he loves to come and watch. He’s learning to stay back, but we do have a fence up to remind him not to get too close. He likes to test us. He wants to make sure we really mean no. He thinks his way is best. Did I already say, he’s one…?

But I realized his nature: fire intrigues him. I realized that watching the fire was in his very core of who he is. He just wants to touch it. He loves to watch when I start the fire. He loves to lay in front of it when he gets his diaper changed – and will lay still while I change him, if he can just watch the fire. I love to watch fire too. It feels good. It’s relaxing. It’s mesmerizing.

So? Should I let him?

A few nights ago, we decided to open the doors of the fireplace/wood stove and roast hot dogs (should’ve done marshmallows, but didn’t think of it until now). As 4 of my kids crowded around the fireplace with the metal sticks and hotdogs a-roasting, my son crowded in behind them. He wanted to get close too. But he couldn’t. He was like Zacheus – He was too short to see over the crowd. But he JUST HAD TO SEE IT AND GET CLOSE AND TOUCH IT. I mean, it’s in his very nature. He is attracted to fire. (He’s not attracted to cold – go figure….) Then he saw a way around the girls and went for it. He ran beside them and was going to get in close. Fortunately the 12 year old saw him and stopped him. He screamed, he cried, he really wanted in to touch that brightly colored fire.

I know what he was saying. I don’t speak in tongues, but I still knew – I could see it in his eyes and read his facial expressions. “You don’t love me, or you’d let me!” “You must not care for me, you are telling me no!” “It’s who I am! I want that!” I could see it. I could hear it. Believe me, I could hear it!

Should I let him, because he wants to? Because it’s in his nature? Because he was born that way?

Of course not! The most loving thing any parent can do at that point is to say no. Love doesn’t mean agreement. Love doesn’t mean acceptance of everything, but it does mean acceptance of everyONE. I did the most loving thing I could do – I provided a safe place for my son because I told him no and put the fence back up after the hotdogs…. And one day, when he realizes what could have happened to him, he’ll thank me. I’m sure of it.

It ought to be the same at church. I would hope that when I’m headed down a faulty way, someone (ANYONE!) would tell me to stop. I’m not talking about people outside the church. I’m talking about people inside the church. We help and support each other. Church should be a safe place. And a safe place isn’t where I’ll get burned. A safe place is where I choose to follow the “law of liberty” the Bible talks about. Any help along that path, I’m grateful for.

Leadership Vs. Bossy

girl second coming heavenI have a daughter who is probably a bit bossy. But I think and believe that God has endowed her with that “ability” in order that she learn to lead.

Leadership is different than being bossy. Bossy is when a person simply takes charge and begins commanding others after themselves whether they have been given the right to do so, earned the right to do so, or is respected in a way that allows them to be in charge. Leadership on the other hand is something that is earned and respected.

How do you teach leadership to a bossy child. I will tell you that it’s not by telling them, “Stop being so bossy!” Rather, leadership is taught by giving principles that s/he can do and teaching her/him how to take charge of the situations s/he finds themselves in.

Some of those principles I’ve been trying to teach are:

  • You can’t lead by yelling
  • You can’t hit people and expect them to keep following
  • Take charge of the things you’ve been given charge over
  • learn to be an encourager, not a complainer
  • Let go of the little things others do
  • Take a look at the big picture and point the direction there

So now the question is…. Did she learn how to be bossy from me? And am I rethinking my own leadership issues at church and at home?

Parenting…Ah the joys….

I just finished reading a book called, “Raising Godly Tomatoes” by L. Elizabeth Krueger. It’s a great book on child-raising, filled with practical advice and most of all, it seems, Godly advice. I suppose I wished I would have had this when my oldest children were young.

This woman has raised, is raising 10 children ages 7-27! Wow…that’s even better than my wife and us! But one of the things that struck me towards the end of the book is when she said (paraphrase) It’s understandable that secular people go to secular humanism to find out answers to raising their children. But why do Christian parents do that. Sadly, most parents don’t even know all the evidence towards raising children that is found in the Bible.

I bought the book – even though you can basically get it for free by reading the website. I find books easier to read than websites. I recommend it highly and found very little I didn’t agree with. You should read it if your kids are anywhere between the ages of 0-20. I wish I would have had the last couple of chapters years ago – the note to raising the parents….hmmmm….

Parenting is full of joy. But it can also be frustrating. The goal isn’t to raise kids to be mannerly and responsible – although we should strive for that too, but the goal really ought to be to raise our kids into Godly Adults.

My wife’s and my personal mission statement is this: “As we grow in holiness we are called to raise responsible leaders who are shot out as flaming arrows to ignite the world for Christ.”

Get the book – it’s worth the read (even if you are a grandparent).

Don’t Try [It], You’re Just Going to Hate it

thegame_1_resize_240_240I didn’t remember the words to the whole song, but I remembered these words that Queen sang in 1980. “Don’t try suicide, you’re just gonna to hate it.” That year I was also confronted with a classmates comments in a Pastoral Counseling class when he said, “We all know that we’ve all contemplated suicide….” I fail to remember anything else he said, because I had never considered it – before or since….

Yesterday, I got word that a pastoral colleague, friend of mine, died at 51. Word on the street is that it was suicide. It just really tears me up inside, because whatever he was facing, it was overcomable. 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV “13No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

This man came to Colorado and did two simultaneous evangelistic meetings for me over a 4 week period in two towns. This was back in 2005 and we had one of the largest baptisms we ever had. He brought 100s, maybe 1000s to Christ.

I’m saddened that the devil won this battle, but am willing to leave my friend in God’s hands because I don’t believe that suicide is the unforgivable sin…. Certainly God knows where a person’s depression has led them to this. 1 Corinthians 10:12 ESV “12Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

I long for Jesus to come. RIP my friend….

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – how to make them

I find decisions extremely frustrating sometimes. The decisions that are the hardest to make are those  that have some serious long-term implications. If I choose this career path, it closes that one pretty much forever. What if I don’t like it? If I get married now, what if someone else comes along? If I spend this money, what if I need it later? If I commit to this vacation, I won’t be able to go…

I had that kind of decision to make when we moved back to the Northwest. We loved Colorado. So, what if the church didn’t like me? I’m already at a church that does like me. Will I be shooting myself in the foot by moving? What if the rain really is too much? What if I wished I would have stayed put and settled in long-term there?

But I face those kinds of decisions over seemingly little things too. When we built a house once, I wondered, Should we set it off the straight property line so as to view the mountains better? I stressed over that one for days. We did put it off kilter and until the day we moved, I wished we would have done it even more….to see the mountains even better. But once the foundation was poured, there was no changing it.

arrowsA long time ago, I heard a song called Netherlands. In the middle of the song, it tells a story of someone standing at a fork in the road and not knowing which way to go. We all face that kind of dilemma from time to time. It’s hard when we stand there not knowing which way to go. But the song says this: “When I made my decision, my vision became my release.”

There are two possible interpretations to this:

  1. I made a decision and never looked back or
  2. I made a decision and a) found out I made the right decision, or b) found out I made the wrong one and was able to get off and go the other direction. Either way, we are still better off than simply standing there wondering which way to go.

It’s like my dad used to say, “Don’t just stand there, do something!”

But I find that sometimes people are stymied by trying to do the “right” thing. What does God want me to do? I don’t want to do the wrong thing.

Imagine this: You have a choice to make and three possible answers. You pray about it, you seek to listen, but you aren’t getting the clarity you hope for.  Three possible choices: one would be displeasing to God, the other two are pretty much a toss up as to which is best.  I think I hear God saying, “Don’t mess with the bad one, but choose either of the other two and I’ll bless that decision. If you are doing it for my glory, do it with all your might and I’ll bless it. You choose, it doesn’t matter to me.”

That’s how I chose to come back to the Northwest. I heard God saying, it probably doesn’t matter either way, because you are trying to bless me and my work with that decision. I’ll keep blessing you if you keep following. So, we chose and God has blessed.