Shaping Influences

125 posts

People pleasing – a fatal attraction!

Luke recounts a story in Acts about how the early Christians were caring for each other’s needs. He specifically mentions a Cypriot Levite named Joseph who sold a field and brought the money from the sale to the apostles. Joseph was such a blessing that the apostles called him Barnabas, which means son of encouragement. This was a good thing. There was a married couple who apparently observed Barnabas’ good deed and the appreciation he received for it. So they sold some property that they owned. But something happened to these two when they collected the money from the sale. While we can’t be exactly sure of their thoughts, Luke does tell us about the plan that they conceived, a […]

The shopping trip

Once I was shopping at the grocery store. An eager four-year-old started to wander off from her mother. The mother spoke to her child in a calm but icy voice. She said something like this, “I knew it was a mistake to bring you shopping. If you don’t come here right now, I’ll never take you shopping again.” The little girl sadly turned back to her mother with her head down. She was being treated as her mother thought she deserved. Mom seemed pleased that her power play worked. Often this tactic does not work, but for this little girl, earning her mom’s approval was all that mattered. For her part, Mom had no idea of the devastating impact of […]

27 Years

Today is moving day; moved into this house 27 years ago. 5 kids under the age of 9. New state, new church, new opportunities, new people. Our lives were all in front of us. I tried to remember what I thought life would be like looking ahead into the future. It is not surprising that what God unfolded was nothing like I had imagined. Now 27 years later I’m moving again. Only this time instead of moving with my wife and 5 children, it is only me. The Lord took Ruth home 3 years ago after a 3 ½ year chapter entitled brain cancer. The kids are all grown and have their own homes and families. 20 months ago I […]

Excuses or repentance

Excuses keep us from trusting God, erode human relationships and weaken character. The default mode for the excuse maker is to shift blame instead of looking to God in repentance. Repentance brings hope. Excuses result in frustration and blame-shifting. This how the Holy Spirit describes the difference: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 Concealing sins—making excuses—destroys trust in God. But repentance yields mercy and the blessing of God. Listen to yourself. Listen to your children. If you hear responses like these, look for patterns of excuse making: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be angry.” “I guess I’m just tired.” “He was mean to me.” “If you were […]

“I’m sorry” or “please forgive me”

“I’m sorry” or “please forgive me”, does it make a difference? Aren’t they just two different ways of saying the same thing? Not really. “I’m sorry” can lead to regret, which leads to enslavement. “Please forgive me” leads to repentance, which leads to freedom. Saying I’m sorry doesn’t really require a change of heart. For example, one child takes another child’s toy truck without permission. He is caught in the act. He is told to go to his brother, give the toy back and say he is sorry. He does this, but inside he is still unhappy he doesn’t have the toy. His brother, on the other hand, is happy to have the toy back, but he is upset that […]

Delight in your children

School has started. School is about performance.  Report cards and grades are the measure of success. There are tests to be taken and teams to tryout for. But evaluating performance is not the true measure of a child’s worth. No child can bear the weight of thinking he has to measure up to a standard in order to be appreciated and have worth.  Academic pursuits are not a true measure of worth. Neither is academic excellence. Do your children know this? Do you believe this? It is one thing to say that your children are a blessing to you and that you delight in them. It is another for them to actually believe this.  Don’t misunderstand, failing to discipline and […]

Going for the Gold

Life is about competition and winning. Or at least it seems that way. The Olympic Games show the drama and stunning capabilities of athletic achievement. But in the end, all eyes are still on the gold. This fascination with athletic success is a human thing. Tedd Tripp puts it this way: “That is why we enjoy watching sports on TV. We love to marvel at amazing feats that ordinary mortals cannot accomplish. Whether football, basketball, ice skating or skiing, we love to be dazzled by athleticism.This is uniquely human. There are no diving competitions for penguins in the Antarctic. They dive from massive ice floes, barely breaking the water, and yet no one scores them. At the end of the […]

Three keys to make your instruction attractive

Are you interested in having your children respond gratefully to your instruction? Most parents I know would answer with a tentative yes. Why tentative? Because most believe gratitude and instruction are polar opposites when it comes to instruction. Let’s see if we can change that. Here are three keys that go hand-in-hand with making your instruction a blessing: First: listen before you speak. To be a good listener you must be able to repeat the words you hear back to the speaker in such a way that he can affirm that you really do understand what was said. You don’t always have to agree, but you must always understand. This attentiveness shows respect, first for God and then for your […]

Emotions: first responders of your heart

In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit has provided you with a guide book for understanding emotions. Biblically, emotions can be thought of as the first responders of the heart. If the heart is good and well-guarded emotions can work for us, not against us. If the heart is left unguarded then emotions can bring much damage. This is why Solomon is adamant that the heart be guarded above all else (Proverbs 4:23). The book of Job tells you right away the value of emotions. Job feared the Lord and shunned evil. His strong emotional fear of God protected him from evil. This is the same emotional response that protected Joseph when he fled from the […]

You were made to remember

There are times when memories seem as a curse. The pain is strong enough that you bless the minutes, the hours, the days when those memories are absent. Then there are the good memories, the ones you want never to forget. These good ones are etched in your mind. They bring joy. God made you this way, he made you to remember. Why? He made you to remember him. He commands you to remember who he is and what he has accomplished for you. It is the memory of God that keeps all of your other memories in perspective. The Lord will make right and wipe away the tears from all that is painful and destructive. His great goodness reminds […]