My life is half over by all estimation and while on side it’s a half full glass the other hand reveals a very depressing reality: I have wasted much of it.  I have wasted my life on meaningless endeavors, invested in idols that have never paid a return, breaded the meal of the flesh too many times to count only to be burned and held nothing in the end.  I have so many things, seasons, moments and dreams that will never be as it relates to my marriage, my children and God’s people – and in retrospect, I am satisfied.  Why? Because while I wish I had labored differently, I do have today.

This day is a gift from God and it is honorable not to waste it but to redeem the time.

Redeeming the time is not to catch up on past waste, but to manage what is mine this moment and be a Christ-filled steward of it. Here are a few thoughts from my journal as of late:

  1. With actual minutes and seconds: knowing that I have just moments in each day I resolve that it belongs to the Lord who created it for His glory. Remaining mindful of this, filled with time in the word and prayer, I pray He will honor my time and help me use it wisely.  Remember, God can do more with nothing than I can do with everything, so I need no MORE TIME, I just need HIM!
  2. Thoughts are my worst enemy. So I must put to death thoughts that carry me away from my Lord.
  3. Fleshly pursuits are not just greed, idolatry and sin, but also measuring my “needs” incorrectly and spending time on worthless s0-called enjoyable things that result in no fruitfulness.  This can include idleness, misaligned study, youtube, facebook, text messages, tv shows, music, books, etc. We must pay attention to these things.
  4. Invest in the GOAL, not the rest stops. This means that I should not spend time redeeming memories and lessons of life with my kids, but knowing that my role and most vital part of their lives is feeding them truth, showing them Christ, and walking with them into adulthood as a Christ’s siblings together. We often spend countless hours fretting on the “steps” and “memories” thinking they matter, but they don’t.  The End Does!
  5. Praying more for the Lord’s help, use, and purpose in all things gives me the perspective I need. So, if I am talking with someone about life, then I pray the Lord would help me hear them and HIM so that I may respond seasoned with saltiness, not worthlessness.
  6. Investing in what is clearly eternal. Time, friends, events, travel etc. Is it worth it? What matters for all eternity? Invest in those things; they bring the greatest joy and the highest reward.  For me, I write, think, pray, sing, listen to the Lord’s word, invest in other’s lives and pray the Lord would put me in the lives of others while not WORRYING about anything.  (Of course, I cannot do this… so the Lord must do it in me!)
  7. STOP TIME MANAGEMENT – At all costs!  Many years ago my time management actually had to be scheduled.  NOW, I live by boundaries and goals that NEVER change, ever. Period. I put the phone down at certain times, period. I won’t look at emails until it is time. Period. I refuse to alter some things, and I refuse to be a slave to the time management, leadership development cult machine.  It is not good, but boundaries are. When we live with boundaries we are more apt and able to invest in the lives of others, especially in crisis.  See my thoughts on Pastoral Ministry boundaries here.
  8. I often pray and say in my heart continually something like this, and it is my prayer this day….

Oh, how this day must be gleaned for opportunity that will shine the brightest light on the glory of God in all things! May this moment be expanded toward eternity by sharing, speaking and savoring the supernatural radiance of the magnificence of the Lord’s Light through the Son Jesus Christ in all conversations, all thoughts, all meditations, all time, all labor and all matters. While we cannot make up for time that we’ve lost, relationships that we’ve mismanaged, opportunities that have fleeted, the time is now to exult in Christ Jesus. After all, there is nothing greater and nothing more powerful to pull two people together with an intimacy that surpasses the logic of the greatest mind.

So for you:  Run to the Lord Jesus, cry for His power upon you, be filled with all His fullness, pray for others’ joy and peace and labor unto that end until the Lord returns or until the breath in our lungs has passed. Either way, it is a joyous and meaningful tarry.  Maranatha!


Pastor James

It often perplexes my mind when I hear people discuss their decision to “not” teach spiritual things to their children. For the staunch atheist or pagan I could understand, but this mind I hear from many professing believers. Some of their excuses include, “I want my children to make their own choices,” or “I just don’t think it is right to force Christian teaching on my kids.”  If this logic was equivocal on the plain I would accept it, but it isn’t. People make their children learn certain academic subjects that are truly just for the sake of being “well-rounded.” They encourage and reward their children to exercise discipline to learn mathematics, history, sociology etc. with the idea that these things are to be known for their good but yet they feel that spiritual teaching of God’s word is less than important.

Another reason that some believers don’t teach their children scripture is that they feel inadequate to do so but feel as though the “local” program for children can fill the gap in their ignorance. The truth is that children are more influenced by parental teaching than any other. SO, someone else can instruct children in spiritual things but if parents do not reinforce and at the minimum, show an interest in this learning, the child will soon depart from the heart of it. Keep in mind that I am not speaking of salvation, the new birth, justification, or anything else that comes by the work of God alone, but speaking of the foundations of such things: hearing the word of God.

Here are a few things in my mind, and in my experience, that should be considered regarding the teaching of children:

  1. Children must be TAUGHT EVERYTHING they are to learn. If we think they’ll get their “own” way soon enough, they most certainly will. Whatever we teach them they will learn. Learning is not belief or obedience, but learning brings the power of LIFE as the Spirit brings life through hearing by giving hearing. (Rom 10:17)
  2. Parental figures are the PRIMARY TEACHERS. Nothing will ever replace the direct and indirect teaching of parental influence. As an adult, I have many habits and practices that I realize I mimic from my father. These are learned behaviors and ideas that were not directly taught. Parents that do not love the word of God will have children that will NOT LOVE the word of God.
  3. Entertainment is the opposite of learning. So often people think that kids need to incorporate FUN FUN FUN with the learning of God’s word. When is the last time you ever saw a 1st grade teacher play dodgeball while teaching addition? How about a high school calculus class using drama to enforce a mathematical truth? All learning can be enjoyable, but it is a lie that it has to be a certain “level” of attraction for children: They learn more than adults anyway these days.
  4. Churches are often ill-prepared: Some well-meaning people pull kids out of worship and preaching to accommodate  their little weak minds while the scripture teaches that more children flocked around Jesus to listen than did adults at times. Jesus even said, “do not hinder…”.  When we separate the children from the teaching of the word, we hinder them against the command of Christ.  While children’s programming can be useful, in the long-haul, it divides the body of Christ and destroys the essence of future generations who feel like the church should “give me what I want…”
  5. Teaching and Living go hand-in-hand. The word of God is replete with examples of teaching and then exhortation to live out a teaching. Surely, as believers, we know that all good works are fulfilled by God, but we know the warning that if God is not transforming His people, then they are not His people because HE DOES and never leaves a child to rot. So, children need to hear and see the word lived out in adults. They need to see forgiveness and repentance. They need to see worship and affection for God’s people.
  6. Zeal and Love are different beasts. Loving the teaching of God without doing the teaching of God in loving His people at the cost of us is a lie according to John. We lie when we say we love orthodoxy but don’t LIVE according to orthodoxy. My hyper-grace friends can just click off of this now, as some of them may have cut much of the NT from their bibles. Having zeal for teaching our kids the right theology will never save them; living without love is condemnation, because Christ alone through Faith alone by Grace alone produces zealous love for God and His people.
  7. Love vs. Obey.  “If you love me you will obey my commands.” This is a very difficult pill to swallow from the mouth of Jesus. When we teach children we need to teach them that love is obedience.  Jesus loves the Father so He went to the cross in obedience. We love Jesus (because we have been born of God), so we follow after Him. Teaching children that one can love with a “feeling” while hating with “actions” is deplorable. Do children see US loving in this way?
  8. Teaching TRUTH is not revealing ERROR. So many polemics think they are making disciples by showing all the bad stuff. NEWS FLASH: you will never find time for truth and worship if your life is lived for the pointing out of the world’s error.  We know error because WE KNOW THE TRUTH; not the other way around. I know so many people who were taught by their parents of all the “bad”  things out there.  They know everything wrong in the world and yet they still know nothing right – ergo, they do not know Jesus Christ because they have been denied discipleship: teaching them to obey all I have commanded you!!!!!!!

Much more could be said and may well be said in the future. Add your voice and add to these points. My mind leaves me this moment so as for my children I want to show them, teach them, pray for them and trust in the Lord even when I royally destroy everything I employ!  So point 9 – The Lord is faithful, even when we are NOT!

Trust in the Lord and His word. Even when we as parents do it all wrong, if we invest in prayer and scripture with our kids, we can trust the Lord to bring the fruit!  Glad aren’t you!  Because otherwise, we are all miserable failures…. but alas, Jesus Christ came to save sinners.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Pastor James

Never has a child been more inept for life than the moment they graduate high school.

As a father of five, I am going to have many times to get the parenting thing right. Sadly, I never will and am OK with this reality, after all, I am pressing into a journey to “produce” children of a certain “type” and the truth is that the world (as it is) is not interested in my thoughts on how children are ready for life.  My oldest daughter is the first in succession, so I will point the remainder of my thoughts toward her and this season of her life:


While there is a million points of wisdom that one could give, I choose to focus on those things which hold gravity and are eternal rather than anything else.

  1. Understand that you have not finished anything, but are beginning everything. While your academic endeavors and goals are completed, their completion hasn’t done anything to merit accolade, it is the fulfillment of that which is required. As Jesus taught, [9] Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? [10] So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:9-10 ESV)
  2. Your education, academy, home study and all the points within are not better than any other form of education. The point is to learn to learn, which you have done; but also to remember you have much more to learn and if Christ is not the center of your wisdom in ALL THINGS, you have failed.
  3. While honors and scholarships are certainly yours, these things are wasted in the chasm of eternity when all that we are given is not used for the purpose of giving Glory to Christ.
  4. There is NO separation of your future plans from your future glory. The point of your existence is that you are to be KNOWN by your faith in Christ, nothing else matters. I have said since you were born that I would rather you be homeless living in a box honoring Christ, than to be wealthy and worldly in a mansion without Him.
  5. See that the reality of academic success is wide, not narrow. When I entered the Ph.D. program while in California I felt a sense of honor and pride. I was glad and hopeful that I would learn, add to the conversation of theology and effect change in the lives of others. I was sadly mistaken. There are millions of us in the same field, the same focus and the same academic ability and I was just a small ant in the mound of my mission.
  6. The world is NOT yours to take and make. The world is God’s and he has handed a majority of her over to reprobation, for wide is the path that leads to destruction, but narrow is the gate of righteousness. Be a light in the world, not a faded part of it.
  7. Never blend in with the culture. The culture of every nation is pagan, no matter what “ethics” it may portray. Resist the enemy of God, the temptation of your flesh and love the Lord with all your heart.
  8. Be willing to endure suffering and worldly failure for the cause of Christ. God has NEVER promised his church success in the world but rather eternal life as they “joyfully accepted the plundering of their property”, “rejoiced in fiery trials”, “always being put to death”… The world will offer you what it will, just as the devil offered the world to Jesus. Don’t take the bait.
  9. In that line of thinking, remember the rich young ruler who had the world at his fingertips, the wisdom of the scriptures, the ethics of holiness, the ministry of truth and the wealth of nations.  In the end, this young ruler thought he was righteous because of all he had done. This rich young ruler is the picture of success for many, but in reality, he could not believe that Christ alone is where his hope lay and he trusted “success” in the eyes of God by his works.  Jesus rebuked him and exposed that this young man loved the world and could not love Christ. Never forget that Jesus says that those well-meaning people who press their children into worldliness are wasting their lives and ignoring the promises of God–Gaining the world, but losing their souls.  [I edited this portion due to vague and assumptive thoughts relating to the topic that favored some theological heresies after publishing.]
  10. Don’t fall prey to materialism.  1 John 2:15-17 teaches that one cannot love God and the world. They are incompatible.  We cannot amass wealth on one hand while enjoying the wealth of glory on the other. It is easy to feel as though security comes through substance, but we know that is a lie of Satan. Security is in the one we do not now see, but we love with a joy that is inexpressible.
  11. Run and fight the good fight, the good race, the right dream.  The American Dream is a fool’s errand. While fallaciously I write without argument, this is my remembrance of those things that are already securely planted in your soul. God has never established such garbage for his people and has promised the opposite, “All who desire to live a Godly life will be persecuted.”
  12. Rest in the sufficiency of Christ.  Whether you go to college, get a career, give your life for missions, began a family, start a business, write, teach, dream or fly, never forget that God has you and all that you are is well established in His power and might. Nothing else is needed. Rest in Christ when you have to quit a job because the company is unethical. Rest in Christ when your friends leave your side because Christ’s word is preeminent over politics, family and culture. Rest in Christ when everything you are is hated and you lose it all. Rest in Him when you keep it all and it appears no pain is in sight; it is then you must fight the temptation to not be content in Christ.  Remember Paul’s teaching in Philippians 4.
  13. Live for the glory of God. Now and forever and don’t ever let anyone put you down for that. Even if I fall prey to the stupidity of men’s wisdom, listen not to those words but remember the words of the Lord as I have taught and prayerfully lived before you.
  14. Learn that you will always be a learner. No one is a master of anything and no master of anything is without a master. You will need to glean all you can and grow in Christ as you sort out the chaff of life from truth. Hold fast to the word of life because when the day of the Lord draws near, your knowledge of modulus and Cicero will be useless. That is one of the points of learning, that we see the futility of it all in the face of Christ.
  15. Laugh. Live with joy and know that happiness comes from Christ alone. Period. Nothing more… Take yourself as you are, learn to enjoy laughing at your weaknesses and trials as though you know the reality of the future; because you do. Smile and let the world see the beauty of your soul and the resolve of your heart.

I am proud to have you as my child, my daughter, my friend and my sister in the Lord. I am thankful to the Lord of Heaven for all He has made you to be and how he has given you strength above your age and wisdom above your years. Keep those things that reveal His power, hone those things that are in need of change but in all things, know that your parents are glad you are who you are and most of all I am proud in the Lord that He has saved you and that you do have a love for His truth. Keep that, let the rest go as it will, and you will be truly successful in all things.

Your Dad.

p.s. I may add to this as the Lord strikes me… prepare. 🙂

Over the last few months we have been looking into Ephesians and how Paul exhorts all of us to ‘subject’ ourselves to each other as to the Lord is we are truly believers.  He Also moves from the body of Christ to the marriage relationship and there are many things there I would love to focus on.

I want to look at the role of a child in the home.  As parents of four children, Robyn and I find that being ‘good’ and effective parents is the most trying job we have.  Looking at Paul’s teaching in Ephesians has opened my eyes to several things that all parents, grandparents and friends of those with children need to consider.

Ephesians 6:1-4 (ESV)

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),

3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Often times we take for granted the instruction here.  First, Paul is talking directly to children.  This is obvious as he states, ‘children’ – then tells them what he wants them to know.  This in itself may not seem that important but it gives an idea of the environment of the early church.  Children were a part of the doctrinal and biblical teaching.  Paul didn’t say, “Parents, tell your children afterward to Obey You…”  He told the children directly.  Why is it then do we usher children to leave the adults to ‘our’ business?  Often in our culture we want children to be silent and invisible until they act like children then we require of them the attitude of adults.  Sometimes I wonder if anyone actually wants children or if we would be better being born adults.  Anyway, to this point I come:  Children should be honored and allowed to be a part of ‘adult’ life in all things especially in the teaching of Scripture.  Some of the greatest memories are the ‘corrections’ and input from my children during our in home bible studies.

The instruction given to the children is to ‘obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.’  This doesn’t say, “Obey your parents boy or else” nor does it say that obedience is ‘required’.  It is teaching that allows the child the ‘choice’ of obedience, just as Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey me.”  In this sense, Paul is saying that “loving Jesus is shown when you obey your parents.”

I think as a parent, often I desire of my children a strict robotic obedience.  This is a huge mistake for several reasons.  First, it denies the child any real personality or thought.  When this takes place we teach our children that their feelings, although immature, are not important.  Second, it makes obedience a requirement rather than a gift.  Jesus willfully submitted to God’s will because His love and desire to Glorify the Father allowed His gift of submission.  Jesus even says that giving at all is a gift and that we should do it only as we are compelled by the Holy Spirit, not feeling pressured or obligated.  Finally, it teaches children that obedience is required in order to receive acceptance or love.  If we ‘force’ our children to obey – not saying that some times we shouldn’t in things of urgency – we in turn are causing them to harbor resentment and it could turn them from the truth of the Gospel.

Paul continues by quoting one of the ten commandments to ‘remind’ the children that by obeying their parents, they are in fact, obeying God and that just as God knows what is best for us, parents, as stewards, know best for them.  The ‘promise’ of a long life stems for the protection of the world, poor choices and hurtful situations that parental guidance offers.  A child who obeys has a better chance of avoiding those things that can cause death, sickness or harm.

The next ‘person’ receiving instruction here is the fathers.  Paul could be talking to the ‘parents’ collectively and I believe that it applies, but in the Greek, Paul is dealing specifically with fathers.  Several reasons I believe.  Fathers are usually the main disciplinarian in the home.  They also have a tendency to ‘set’ the temperature of the home in regards to attitude.  Fathers also are esteemed by children and spouses as a provider and someone who ‘does’ have the best interest of the family at heart.  Unfortunately fathers have failed to live up to their role and are non-deserving of their honor.  However, a child who obeys is honoring the Lord.

To the fathers Paul warns NOT to provoke your children to anger.  What does this mean?  Some would say that if your child gets mad when you discipline or correct them then you are guilty of this.  No, it’s purposefully or indirectly causing a child to have a reason for bitterness and rage.  Here a just a few things we discussed during our studies on how parents can cause their children to be enraged:


Over protection – if we don’t allow our children to experience anything in life, we will smother them and in turn, this will cause great resentment and an inability to cope with reality.

2. Favoritism – having a child that is ‘better’ in one’s eyes than another or showing special favors for one child over another.  This is a horrible parenting flaw.

3. Neglect – not providing for them in all ways or ignoring them all together.  Often fathers neglect their children’s emotional and spiritual well-being.

4. Discouragement – never allowing the child to dream or quenching their spirit through constant negativity or down-playing their ambitions.

5. Little Adults – we should let children be children and not expect them to be adults.  Honestly, do we really have it all together anyway?  We can learn a lot from a child – let them be.

6. Abuse – this is verbal and physical.  There is a time to say the right thing that may be harsh to accept and there may be a time to administer physical discipline but at not time should these be done in anger or with harmful results.  Your children should not ‘fear’ your correction because of harm or pain but fear your disappointment.

Finally Paul says to raise your children in the instruction and discipline of the Lord.  There is MUCH that needs to be said here, but to keep it simple, this instruction is BEING like Christ so that they will see Him in us as parents and also teaching the Word of God at all times.  Not nagging, but honestly teaching.

Paul tells Timothy in his second letter to never forget all the teaching of the scripture he had as a child and to remember what he, Paul, had taught him through example.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

If we take seriously God’s Word in our lives, we WILL teach it to our children.  They don’t need games or entertainment in order to learn or want to learn the scriptures, they just need loving and Christ centered adults who are willing to teach them.  (Nothing wrong with fun and games, but it is not required.)

So let’s learn from this and share it with someone else in regards to training our children in righteousness.  They are precious to Christ, they should be precious to us.