The Stones of Curiosity

February 15, 2013 at 10:36 am | Posted in Joshua, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 16 Comments
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Joshua was leading a new generation out of the wilderness and into the promised land of Canaan. Only he and Caleb were still alive from the old generation to see God’s chosen people finally cross the Jordan River. Despite what many of the old hymns proclaim, this is not a picture in Scripture of making it to Heaven. There were still battles, wars, enemies, and obstacles to be overcome in Canaan; there will be no wars in Heaven. No, the crossing over into the promised land is a picture of believers claiming their inheritance in the Lord, and receiving the promises of confidence and assurance by faith.

The priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant went down into the Jordan and God stopped the waters like He had done at the Red Sea. The people crossed as on dry land. Then the Lord spoke to Joshua and told him to choose twelve men – one from each tribe – to gather big stones and put them in the river at the place where the priests had stood.

Some Bible scholars believe that this was to be a symbol of faith in the unseen. Once the stones were in place, the waters of the Jordan would cover them up, and future generations would believe by faith that they were there. Others argue that the stones would only become visible in times of drought when the water went down – to remind people to be faithful during hard times, and to trust God to send water – life-giving water – which would once again conceal the stones.

http://daughterbydesign.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/a-memorial-to-gods-faithfulness-josh-4.jpg?w=365&h=260

It is generally agreed that these stones were to be some kind of memorial, and, as they say, either of those interpretations “will preach.” As Christians today, we should set up memorials in our own lives to remind us of the great things God has done, but we must not make idols of God’s past accomplishments. God can do even greater things in the future.

What I want to do is look a little closer at the passage of Scripture.

And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Joshua 4:5-6 (emphasis added)

We can imagine children asking their fathers, “Dad, what mean these stones? Dad, I want to know about those stones – there in the river. People still talk about them. Tell me again why they’re there.” But that is not precisely what Joshua 4:6 is telling us.

That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Joshua 4:6 (emphasis added)

That’s the question for us today, dads, grandpas, Christian men. The question is not, “What do these stones mean?” The question is, “What do these stones mean TO YOU..?” Because that’s what our children are really wanting to know. “Dad, what does that Cross mean to you? Is it just a decoration? Just something to wear on a chain? Just a design on a t-shirt or a bumper sticker? A bookmark in your Bible? A tattoo for rock stars?” I don’t think we should ever stray from the theological truth of the Cross, but our children need more than a theological discourse. They need to know more than what the Cross means. They need to know what it means TO ME.

Whenever God has entrusted you to fulfill some responsibility for your family the right way, and you don’t want to do it, the devil or the world has someone waiting in the wings who will be glad to do it the wrong way. Satan could explain the theological meaning of that Cross far better than any of us could. He could tell us exactly what that Cross means. He could tell us more about that Cross than we ever thought we knew. What your son – your daughter – your grandchildren – want to know is, “What means this Cross TO YOU?”

“Why do we go to church, Dad?”
“Because of that Cross, and what happened there.”

“Why do you sing songs about God and Jesus, Dad?”
“Because of what happened to Jesus on that Cross – and what happened to Him after they took His body down.”

“Why do we do things differently from the other kids at school, Dad? Why can’t we go to those kinds of movies? Why can’t we listen to that kind of music? Why can’t we dress like everyone else? Why can’t we say some words? Why do have to have a Bible study in our house, Dad? Why do we have to say our prayers and pray before we eat?”
“Because of that Cross. Because of what that Cross means to me – and what I want it to mean to you.”

The King of this universe – the One True God – the Creator of everything – came to die on that Cross for me – and for you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your children – your whole family – are not watching you. They want to know what is important to you. You must have a desire for your Father if you want to be “a” father.

We must bring the Cross of Jesus Christ into our daily lives and everyday conversations – especially with our children.

“Dad, they told us in school that the earth revolves around the sun, and the earth rotates.”
“That’s true, sweetie, but did your teacher tell you that the earth doesn’t just rotate – it ‘repents’ – over and over again – it turns to darkness, and then back to light. And the sun is like God – it shines its glory. Did she tell you about the moon? We want to be like the moon. The moon reflects the glory of the sun onto the part of the earth (the world) that’s turned away from the sun. We need to be ‘moonlight’ Christians. We don’t care about shining our own light. We just want to reflect God’s light on a dark world.”

You can have conversations like this with your children if you are prepared – if the “stones” that memorialize what Christ has done in your life provoke your children to curiosity.

Raising a Four Year Old

January 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 7 Comments
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Four years ago today, with some trepidation and with my wife doing all the technical stuff, I posted my first entry on The Deep End. I thank the Lord for granting me the consistency to keep posting, and for the ways He has blessed it and used it.

Four years old is about the time when children start to accumulate lasting memories, so if I think of The Deep End as a four-year-old kid, then I pray that this will be a year of memorable impact. As a parent of actual children, I am a steward or a manager over them, and they really “belong” to God. I feel the same way about this blog. It belongs to God and He allows me to manage it.

As a parent, I have certainly had my share of ups and downs, and, frankly, it is one of my weakest spiritual areas. This initially made me reluctant to teach or post about parenting. I once heard a preacher say that, while we might prefer to teach about areas where we have experienced blessings, it is not valid to withhold Biblical instruction in areas which are outside the realm of our personal experiences altogether. After all, he said, I’m going to have to preach about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, although I’ve certainly never been crucified myself!

So, in honor of this anniversary, here are the links to previous posts under the category called “Biblical Parenting:”

1. Spending Your Retirement on Your Children
2. Naming Neighbors
3. Like Father, Like Child
4. What to Be for Your Kids
5. What to Do for Your Kids
6. What to Buy for Your Kids
7. Chuck E. Church *
8. This Big Light of Mine
9. The Know-It-Alls that Don’t Know Much
10. Don’t Let Distraction Lead to Division
11. The Raptor and the Captor
12. Hijacked Hearts
13. The Unbiblical Concept of “Teenagers”
14. A Snapshot of the Lord’s Adolescence
15. Pavlov’s Kids
16. Boys Will Be Boys, but Boys Should Want to Be Men
17. The Dangers of Fatherhood
18. The Early Bird Gets to Wait
19. Show and Tell
20. Fathers and Daughters
21. The Stones of Curiosity
22. The New Girl Arrives
23. How Many Sermons about Purity Do Boys Need to Hear?
24. Christ’s Childhood Preparation
25. When Is It Good to be Proud? (Spoiler Alert: Never)
26. Don’t be an Abusive, Angry, Absent, or Addicted Parent 
27. The Problem with Popular Parenting (Genesis 21:1-11; Ephesians 6:1)
28. The Problem with Pecuniary Parenting 
29. The Problem with Petulant Parenting 
30. The Propriety of Paragonal Parenting
31. A Child’s View of God’s Supremacy
32. Children’s Bible Catechism
33. Kingdom Teaching for Children
34. Our Kids Are Not Good Kids
35. Children Need to Know that Death Is Real
36. The Gross-Out Factor for Kids (Mark 2:16-17)
37. Even the Children (Psalm 148)
38. The Most Important Children’s Ministry Tool (II Timothy 3:15)
39. Don’t Teach Fables (Matthew 12:38-41)
40. Don’t Teach Feelings (Proverbs 28:26)
41. Don’t Teach Finesse
42. The Blessings and Hazards of Companionship (Proverbs 13:20)
43. Babysitting Tips for Dads
44. It’s Time to Grow Up
45. Proverbs 22:6: Promise or Principle?
46. A One-Question Quiz for Boys (Psalm 119:9)

* most-read post in category

A Snapshot of the Lord’s Adolescence

October 30, 2009 at 9:12 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting, Luke | 4 Comments
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“Dad, can we go play in the youth building?” Billy (aged 12) asked his father, during a break between speakers.

“I’m sorry, son,” said Billy’s father. “We’re here to strengthen our faith in the Lord, and to learn from God’s Word.”

“But, Dad, we’ve been here for hours. We’ve sung, we’ve prayed, we’ve heard preaching. I’m bored with this conference.”

“Well, let me ask you something,” Billy’s father said. “Are you a ‘Christian?’”

“Yes.”

“Who are Christians supposed to act like?”

Billy thought for a moment. “Christ… Jesus.”

“That’s right, son. Now, I want you to read Luke Chapter 2, and tell me what Jesus was interested in doing at age 12.”

Does this exchange between a father and son sound familiar to us today? It probably doesn’t, but it should. If we profess Christ, then His life must be our example for Christian living.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

Luke 2:41-46

Jesus Christ, approaching what this world calls His “teen years,” was not interested in vain amusements, dabbling in youthful sin, or filthy entertainment. They did not have Guitar Hero for XBox in His day, but if they had, you can believe He wouldn’t have played it in the synagogue.

Our Lord’s affections were set on sitting in the house of God, among the elders of the church, listening to the Word of His Father.

Hijacked Hearts

September 29, 2009 at 9:14 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 4 Comments
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It sounds like a crazy notion, but we might wonder if Satan has been reading his Bible. If he has seen Malachi Chapter 4, Verse 6, then he would know that God’s desire is to see the hearts of children turned toward, not away from, their parents. “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” And that would motivate the devil to work very hard to do just the opposite of what God wants. Does this explain the state of most of the parent-child relationships we see in the world today?

Malachi 4:6 is actually the very last verse in the entire Old Testament. Malachi is prophesying in part about the ministry of John the Baptist.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Malachi 4:5

John the Baptist was not Elijah reincarnated, but he did minister in the spirit of Elijah.

Between the end of Malachi and the beginning of the New Testament there is about 400 years of silence, as far as recorded Scripture. Then, in Luke 1:17, the angel of the Lord tells Zacharias, concerning John the Baptist: “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

The devil has turned the hearts of many of our children. He has turned them to drugs, immorality, worldly entertainment, popular culture, their own vanity, and even to their peers. Dads, moms: no modern-day John the Baptist is going to catch your children at the shopping mall, rock concert, or make-out party, and convince them to repent. However, we have One greater than John the Baptist. If we can get them to Jesus, He will turn their hearts to Himself, and back to us. It’s a great thing to pray for your kids. God can protect them in ways we can’t. However, He has ordained us, parents, in a very real, personal, and hands-on way, to take the steering wheel of their hearts, and guide them in the right direction.

Chuck E. Church

August 3, 2009 at 9:13 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 6 Comments
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Rollerblading for senior citizens? “Teen” night on the Weather Channel? A bouncy water slide for widows’ ministry? Needlepoint-and-prayer meeting for toddlers? Let’s face it, some activities are not for everyone. Some activities are limited by interest, physical ability, and even age. But is the main reason for church attendance – the hearing of the preaching of the Word of God – one of those activities?

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:… Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

Ephesians 1:1; 6:1

Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.

Joel 2:16

It sure looks like, from the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, that all different types of people, children of all ages, and adults, all met together and heard the preaching of the Word of God together as a matter of regular practice. The wisdom of man says that a person’s need is to be rescued from boredom, for which specialized entertainment is the solution. The wisdom of God says that a person’s need is to be rescued from sin, for which instruction, training, and exhortation from the Word of God is the solution.

What to Buy for Your Kids

July 23, 2009 at 9:49 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 9 Comments
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The Bible tells us of three things that parents should be for their children:

Be an enforcer.
Be an encourager.
Be an example.

It also tells us three things that parents should do for their children:

Pray for them.
Play with them.
Pay attention to them.

Now, let’s conclude by looking at what parents should buy for their children.

We are not talking about material things, although obviously parents should provide certain material things for their children. We are not even talking about things like paying medical bills, or paying for their education. Those things are good, and I understand that parents want to give their children all the things they didn’t have when they were growing up. But “thou shalt give thy children all the things that thou didst not have” is not a command from Scripture. In fact, the things that your children don’t have – the things that aren’t given to them – the things they have to work for themselves – may just be the very things that God uses to make them the kind of men or women God wants them to be.

The Bible tells us what parents should buy for their children – and what parents should teach children to buy for themselves.

Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

Proverbs 23:23

Now, I know that “the truth” is not really for sale, but what the proverb means is that there are some things worth sacrificing for in this life, and the truth is one of them. I can spend my time as a parent investing in worldly or material things, and my children will learn to do the same. Or, I can invest in eternal things, and “buy” for my children something much more valuable. “Buy the truth and sell it not.”

As one preacher warns, “Do not sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the immediate.” Good works done for Christ will last. Everything else is vanity, and will not last.

Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

Proverbs 23:23

From where does wisdom come? It comes from the Lord. Instruction is the obtaining of wisdom, and the application of truth. Understanding comes from knowing God and His Word. These things are so valuable that they are invaluable. They are worth too much to be traded for anything.

When we see a Bible verse like Proverbs 23:23, we can do one of two things. One thing will bring great blessings, and the other thing will bring a great deal of trouble.

We can say, “I know that’s the Bible, and that’s God’s Word, and I see now that what I’m doing is different from what God says. Therefore, I’m wrong, and God is right, and I must change.” This attitude stings, but it brings great blessings.

Or, we can say, “I know that’s what the Bible says, but I’ve got my own way of doing things. Besides, that verse couldn’t be for me because it would be impossible for me to do things differently from the way I’m doing them now. God will just have to understand. My kids are different. My work schedule is an exception. My financial situation is an exception. God will just have to give me a break on this one. I can provide for my kids on my own. They’ll have a place to live, they’ll have nice clothes, something to eat, they’ll be happy.”

By taking this attitude, we cut ourselves off from God’s help.

All parents need to know this about God’s will: God’s will is perfect.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

God will never command us to do something, and then make it impossible for us to do it. He will never ordain something for us in His providence, and hold us accountable for it, unless He has made it so that we can handle it.

Parents will give an account before God of what we did with our children, along with (and possibly even before) giving an account for our time, talent, resources, and even our ministries.

Dad: Are you the most faithful person in your household? Are you the one who insists that your family will not miss church unless it’s absolutely necessary? Are you leading the way in Bible study, in prayer, in worship, in personal holiness?

As a father, on the day of accountability, I will not be able to say, “But Lord, I needed to earn more money to give to missions. I needed to spend more time with my friends – I was trying to get them to come to church.”

If “my” children, who are really “His” children, are lonely, needing affection, needing their father, needing somebody to protect them and keep them from going astray, I will answer to God for that.

When I do anything right as a father, I have to admit that the Holy Spirit gets the credit. But if I mess up, that’s on me. The truth is, I will do more right on accident while being led by the Spirit, than I will do on purpose leaning on my own understanding. However, that is not an excuse for me to just sit back, do my own thing, and trust that the Lord will fill in for me when I’m not on the job, leading my family. God is sovereign, but it may well be that, in His sovereignty, He has ordained me to be the means by which He protects and blesses my children.

The last two verses in the Old Testament are Malachi Chapter 4, Verses 5 and 6: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

The next time you’re out in public, take a moment to really look at the kids you see. I know we don’t judge people strictly by their outward appearance, but when you see the wildly spiked, multicolored hair – when you see the bizarre-looking piercings and tatoos – when you truly can’t figure out if some of the kids are boys or girls – see if you do not agree that today the hearts of children are turned away from their fathers like never before. I may be wrong, but I think the devil knows that the great and terrible day of the Lord – the day of the return of Elijah – is getting near. I think he’s doing everything he can to turn children’s hearts away from their parents.

My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

Proverbs 23:26

We must teach our children to keep constant watch on their attitude, actions, and acquaintances.

Goin’ off the Deep End

June 18, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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To the faithful readers of this blog – all five of you (you know who you are!): I will be offline for a little over a week. But, by the grace of God, unless Christ Jesus comes for His Church first, I shall be back.

In the meantime, if you find yourself struggling with insomnia, feel free to read up on some Biblical violence, Biblical parenting, Biblical doctoring, Quarterback Commandments, highlights from the Book of Acts, or other assorted posts.

Thanks!


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