Shaping Influences

125 posts

School and your marriage

It is August and summer is practically over. School is starting. There are lists to check: clothing, textbooks, supplies, transportation, after-school activities and more. You know the drill.  However, there is one important matter that you don’t want to overlook – your marriage.  The challenges of school demand much of a marriage. Time, relationship, and communication are consumed by the demands of school.  The relationship between mom and dad can easily shift into one where scheduling and time pressure become the main focus. Is your marriage ready for school? Don’t be afraid to ask the question.  Fathers, this is your opportunity to deploy loving, wise leadership. Make it a priority to spend time with your wife. Talk about the challenges […]

Short answers

You observe your teenager talking non-stop with friends. Then you think about the typical conversations that you have had with your son or daughter. Instead of a lively back and forth your attempts at conversation tend to collapse into strained monosyllables.: “Did you have a good day?” “Sort of.” “How was your test?” “Okay.” “Do you have homework?” “Maybe.” “Do you have plans this weekend?” “Not sure.” “Is anything bothering you?” “No.” “Did you clean your room?” “Not yet.” “I thought maybe we could talk later on.” “Why?” “What did you think of the sermon?” “It was okay.” “Why are you so hard to talk to?” “Aw, mom.” You attempt to support your teenager with a well-intended comment of encouragement […]

Realities Unseen

The most significant parts of life are those that are unseen. If your view of reality is limited to what you can see, your understanding of life will be ill-informed. The culture tells us that life can be measured by what is seen: how much money do you have, stock market reports, opinion polls, how healthy we are. Thus, our assessment of these measurable things becomes the basis of our security, and more importantly, the basis of our fears. However, such thinking is unsound. As Elisha said over 2,500 years ago, Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. Elisha’s young servant was afraid. He saw a large army of enemy […]

Meek and Powerful

These are troubling days. The wicked appear to have the upper hand. But the word of God assures us that things are not as they seem. King David wrote a song that was used in worship to remind God’s people that the wicked have limits. David says that the meek shall inherit the land. Some 1,000 years later Jesus quotes these very words as he begins the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was letting his followers know that even though they would face persecution God would not abandon them or his covenant commitment to do what is right. Christians are to use the weapons of the Spirit and not of the flesh. Here the weapon of the Spirit is meekness. […]

What is a father?

A father is a man who knows his life is not his own. A father is a man whose identity is formed by what God has called him to be. A father first and foremost protects, nurtures and loves. A father’s love is dominated by how he shows the beauty of Christ to his wife. A father’s love to his children is strengthened by his love to his wife. A father nourishes rather than punishes. A father defines sacrificial love for his family. A father knows the captivating power of a gentle, confident spirit. A father persuades through pleasant words and firm allegiance to truth. A father knows that love and discipline must not be separated.  A father leads his […]

The mixed bag that is Father’s Day

Everyone has a father. That much is obvious. The problem comes when Father’s Day becomes a one-size-fits-all event. Everyone has a different life-experience regarding having a father, being a father or not being a father. Many are blown away by the faithful sacrifice of their dads. Sadly, many are also devastated by the selfishness of fathers. There are men who are thrilled with the joy of being a father. There are others who are not. There are still others who long to be fathers but are not. There are fathers who are deeply appreciated and just as deeply despised. There are those who continue to enjoy their father’s company but there are others who left with only a collection of […]

The human side of the gospel

God has a role for you to play in illustrating the atoning power of the gospel. No, you have nothing do to with the sacrifice that Christ made for your sin. But, yes, you have an important part to play in defeating the impact of sin here on earth.  Proverbs 16:6 demonstrates how you can show the beauty of the atonement: Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil. With these words Solomon reminds us of how important it is to live our lives in light of Christ’s sacrifice. By showing God’s special loving-kindness you participate in the application of atonement.  You have the privilege of showing what God’s atoning […]

Humility: helpless as a newborn baby

No one accomplishes anything apart from the express will and plan of God. We seldom think of God with that amount of reach and power into our personal lives. However, James gets it right when he says: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15) This is why humility is not a popular idea […]

Patience is not natural

We often refer to patience as something that we can lose – as in “you are really causing me to lose my patience.” But how would it sound if you were to say “you are really causing me to lose my love for you?” If love is patient, then “losing” patience can be equated to losing love. Said this way the idea of losing patience is not a pretty one. Have you ever said something like this to your kids? “Sorry I was upset. You know that I love you, but I am just so frustrated right now!” The words, “I love you,” are buried in the middle of this defense of angry behavior. They may well be familiar words. […]

Delight In God’s Commands — Really?

Law and delight — these are two words seldom seen as companions. You can have the law or you can have fun. Young people excited about God’s laws is not exactly the first thought that comes to mind. Instruction over iPads? I don’t think so. These comments are both comical and sad. Why? Because they both ring true. We don’t typically expect our young people to be excited about obeying God. And you can agree there is sadness connected to this fact. So how do we address this? Allow me to suggest one way. You can’t expect your children to delight in God’s direction for life if you it is not something that you also delight in. Jesus says the […]