Shaping Influences

125 posts

Your Hurt and Your Hope

Paul Tripp comments on Psalm 51 about what brings us our greatest hurt.  While we look to blame people and situations, the one greater reality that we must face when looking to sort out the true source of our hurt is our own heart. Paul says is it this way: It is your fault! Sin is a matter of the heart before it’s ever an issue of behavior. Sin is a matter of what lurks in us before it’s ever an issue of what happens to us. It’s the evil inside me that connects me to the evil outside me. So we must confess again today that we are our biggest and greatest problem in life. You and I don’t […]

Manipulation: The Subtle, Enslaving Sin

Those who manipulate often masquerade as lovers. Apparent care and concern are a tempting lure for those who are hurting and vulnerable. But the heart of a manipulator is really the heart of an abuser. Once someone commits to the masquerade, the care that appeared to be love morphs into the servitude of enslavement. The changes begin subtly. But the reality is that they were always present. Biblical love cannot be duplicated, only mimicked. Learn the true characteristics of love so that you can recognize the true intent of masquerading manipulators. Biblical love that is genuine will not be diminished by your failures. A manipulator will at first appear to tolerate or dismiss your shortcomings. He or she may even […]

A Prayer for Exhausted Parents

Parenting is exhausting. When the day is done, parents are weary not only because of the trials of the day just finished, but also weary because tomorrow is just a few hours away. In this in-between time, the exhaustion reaches its peak. Well-meaning advice and stress-reducing plans offer little consolation. Even Bible verses may seem disconnected from the pressures of getting ready for tomorrow. Perhaps the most discouraging realization is knowing that in the morning you will wake up as wiped out as you are now. Isaiah 55:8 reminds us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and that his ways are not our ways. Weariness tends to overtake us when we see life’s responsibilities and burdens in isolation from […]

Which Question Will Your Teenager Answer?

An unexpected temptation arises in the life of your teenager.  She was not planning to make a life-altering decision, but the moment arrived nonetheless.  When this moment occurs, your teenager will ask one of two questions: “What do I want to do?” “What does God want me to do?” Joseph was confronted by a passionate and powerful woman demanding to have sex.  He was alone in a pagan land.  Rejecting the advances of this woman would surely bring both pleasant and unpleasant consequences. Yet he had just one question on his mind: How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? So, Joseph literally ran from the temptation before him. He was more motivated by what would […]

Are You a Hypocrite?

Hypocrisy is something you cannot avoid. You tell your children not to fight and then you argue with your spouse. You tell your children God is in control and then you become angry or despondent with the circumstances of life. You tell your children to put God first, and then you realize you told them that for selfish reasons.   Your children are intimately aware of your hypocritical tendencies. It is as if a child is born with a fully-functioning, super-sensitive hypocrisy checker built in. Hypocrisy: something you and I cannot avoid! What can you do? You begin by telling your children is the natural state of all humans. That means that you, just like your children, will at times […]

Churchill and My Dad

My father served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. Winston Churchill served as Prime Minister of Great Britain. My father served in the Pacific Fleet. Great Britain is in the Atlantic. My father earned the respect of the 120 men he led as skipper of his warship. Churchill earned the respect of millions with his brave leadership against the Axis powers. My father admired Churchill. Churchill never knew that my father existed. “So,” you might be asking, “why is this article is titled the way it is?” In the providence of God, Winston Churchill made a decision that impacted my father’s life. Churchill was concerned about how Allied Forces could successfully invade European beaches and drive out a […]

Specks & Planks

Jesus was the most extraordinary communicator in all of human history. He was the ultimate guide for bringing truth to everyday life.  So it is not surprising that his craft as a carpenter provided rich illustrations for his teaching.  Specks of sawdust were part of his life. He used words with the skill and grace of the ultimate master woodworker. His crafted vivid word pictures that connected his hearers to everyday life. Thus, in Luke’s gospel, he uses the common elements of his carpenter’s life to connect to my life and yours. Here is what Jesus says: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own […]

Does your pastor know you?

Does your pastor know you?  It’s an important question! You are struggling with financial issues and are battling fear and worry — does your pastor know you? You are feeling overwhelmed with your obligations as a parent — does your pastor know you? You feel the weight of anxiety and depression — does your pastor know you? Your teenagers have questions about their faith — does your pastor know you? Tensions in your marriage are rising — does your pastor know you? You are burdened about the political and social unrest in your country — does your pastor know you? You often question how can God be good when there is so much evil — does your pastor know you? […]

The Gift of Adornment

The Holy Spirit makes a vital connection between adornment and protection!  You care about your children. You want to protect them from harm. So you take the obvious precautions: you use car seats, you dress them in warm clothing, you install a security system, you take them to the doctor and you do everything possible to keep them physically safe. But what about spiritual protection? Children who are spiritually adorned are also spiritually protected. It is the fear of the Lord that will keep your children from being deceived by the traps and enticing snares of this world. Proverbs 1:8-9 helps us see that instruction regarding the fear of the Lord is to be given as a precious gift to […]

Your Guide to 2019

In the twenty-third Psalm, the Holy Spirit provides what you need to make your life count for God in 2019. Whatever issues you may face this Psalm provides the biblical framework for you to make a difference for God. This wonderful psalm is for everyday life and the trials and pressures of each day. The psalm provides two great truths to give stability and comfort for your life:  God is your shepherd (verses 1-2). The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. The first two verses of Psalm 23 make a beautiful, comforting statement: God is your shepherd! What kind of shepherd do you […]