Moments in the life of a Pastor

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 14 Parenting Pandemic

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

“These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

In recent weeks we have seen many people gathering together to protest police brutality. So why are people protesting despite the dangers from experts who warn of another wave of the Corona virus? Because treating other people with disrespect and a lack of dignity and taking someone’s life regardless of race is wrong. We are all created in God’s image and it is time that we stopped looking at people’s skin and start seeing their soul. This like so many things has divided our nation. It is impossible to condone this action and call yourself a Christian. But I also believe it is just as wrong to condone the resulting violence. There is a big difference between protesting and violence. It is hypocrisy to say you are protesting murder with murder. The Bible clearly states in the Ten commandments “You shall not murder.” The media has told us that our problem is one of racism, but where does it come from? What we are seeing is the symptom but what is the source? What if we don’t have a police or a protesting problem but a parenting pandemic? I am sure there will be many who will be upset by these words, but children are not born racist they are taught it. In Deuteronomy 6:1-9 we are told to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” But we have turned from being lovers of God to lovers of self. As a result, we are looking to government not to God for the solution. Notice that it tells us that “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” In other words, not just a head knowledge but not a heart knowing. If God’s truth doesn’t travel from our heads to our hearts, we will have information without transformation. God’s Word here doesn’t just tell us what to do but also why, “so that you may enjoy long life.” God wants to bless us but the pathway to blessing doesn’t come through serving self but through seeking the Savior. We are also called in this passage to teach these truths to our kids. But you can’t teach something you don’t know. That is why scripture calls us to practice truth before we preach it. In order to teach something, I have to understand it. So, the challenge is are you living it or just lecturing about it? Because God calls parents to live out His law not just to lecture about it. The police officer who killed George Floyd should never have done what he did not because he had more police training but because he had been trained by his parents. Basic parenting 101 is to teach our kids to treat others the way they want to be treated. To respect other people and their property. Today we have a parenting pandemic. Many kids are growing up without the influence of parents. Sometimes this is because parents are completely absent from the home but many times its because parents are home but not present. Are you actively engaging with your kids to teach them about the love of God and the importance of loving others? As parents it is our job to impress God’s commands on our children. To talk about them when we sit at home and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up. This includes both formal and informal teaching. There are times when we need to intentionally sit down with our kids and teach them but there are also times where it’s not scripted and planned, where they learn because we are not just mouthing but also modeling God’s truth. More things are caught than taught. Your kids will mimic what you model and the fact that we are still dealing with racism is a sad reminder that we are teaching our children the wrong things. The goal of parenting should be the Glory of God, but many of us are making parenting about looking good instead of reflecting God. Our kids are messengers that we send into a time we will not see, the message we model will most likely be the message they mouth. Many of us have made the purpose of parenting more about how it reflects on us than on the Lord. We want our kids to achieve because it makes us look good instead of because they love God. What if we stopped focusing on the symptoms and started dealing with the source, our parenting pandemic. So let me ask you what messages are you modeling? Because preaching without practice is not just pointless its pernicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Pandemic Perspective – Part 13 Love not Hate

 

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Right now it feels like we are just moving from one pandemic to the next. In the last week we have seen another virus sweep through our country taking lives, one that is even more contagious than Covid-19, that of racism hatred and injustice. Like Covid-19 it’s a virus that creates fear and leaves a trail of destruction in its wake. So, what is the antidote to this anarchy and fear? In 2 timothy 1:7 Paul pens these words, ”For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” As believers in Jesus Christ our lives should reflect God’s Spirit not the worlds. Instead of fear, our lives should be characterized by power, love and self-discipline. But what kind of power are we talking about? Power that is constructive not destructive. God’s power created life out of nothingness, light out of darkness, His power created the planet we inhabit. It was His power that healed the blind and raised the dead and ultimately died for us to conquer sin. God has given us this power to bring good out of evil but only if we do things His way. The truth is we should be outraged when those who have been charged to serve and protect abuse their power and use it for evil instead of good. All life is sacred, and we need to stand up for those who are abuse mistreated and killed. Psalm 89:14 saysRighteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.” Righteousness, right living and justice the enforcement of God’s Law which centers around relationships not rules so that we live in harmony not hatred should be what rules the day. So, why does the day feel more like darkness because we are living our lives for self and sin. Our tendency when we see injustice is to react in anger instead of responding in action. We look outward when we first need to look inward. Before we can protest, we need to process to make sure we are protesting the right things. Revival always starts with repentance, but you will never repent of sins you don’t see. It’s easy for me to become angry at bad police officers or protestors who bring anarchy and chaos but before I look at them, I have to look at me. The problem is most of us are blind to the racism and hate that lingers in our hearts. That is why we have to look to God and let Him expose our hearts. In Psalm 139:23-24 we read these words, ”Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Is there anything in your life that offends God? Is there racism or hate in your heart, and it’s not just a black white issue. I have lived all over the world and seen people of all races hating each other. What we fail to realize is there is one race, the human race. We fail to see that we have all been created in God’s image it’s about our soul not our skin. Why do we have a race problem because we have a grace problem. We fail to see people the way Jesus does. We are so shallow that we choose to see only the surface, so we focus on their skin instead of the diving deep and seeing their soul. If we are going to see the power of revival, we first have to experience the power of repentance. Before we can protest, we have to pray, its only then that we will be able to answer the question am I part of the solution or part of the sin? If we are not careful, we will protest with revenge instead of righteousness. Along with power we also have God’s love. This is a sacrificial love not a selfish one. A love that brings life not death and destruction. It has been both heart wrenching and encouraging to see people’s hearts on display. While there are those who are choosing to operate out of a heart of hate there are those who are loving and caring for those around them. To see people linking arms and gathering around those who are vulnerable to protect them reminds me that love wins. So, let me ask you are you going to act out of a spirit of fear or one of love? Who have you been loving and caring for during this pandemic? Part of our problem as a nation is that we have shifted from a sacrificial to a selfish mentality, from caring for others to what’s in it for me. Not only do we have a spirit of power and love but also self-disciplined. This is a controlled life not a chaotic one. Driven by a calm assurance because we know Christ is in control. If we are not careful, we will focus on the crisis instead of Christ. The problems instead of His promises. Why does it matter if I am living a self-controlled life? Because when I am out of control it affects and infects those around me. We think this is a cultural problem, but it’s a human problem a heart problem. 2000 years ago the Jews wanted to riot and overthrow the Romans, but Jesus didn’t come to change a political party He came to change the world. What if we stopped focusing on saving America and started focusing on our call to see Americans saved? Some of you will take offence at that and say, what don’t you care about our country? Yes, I love this country but what is America, is it not it’s people and what kind of a country do you think we will have when its people all live for Jesus? What if every church in this land led a protest through praise because they understood that worship is our weapon? Yes, we need to protest but we need to remember we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. We need to put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. It’s time to responding in hope instead of reacting with hatred. What’s in the heart will come out, are you using your power to protect or to plunder? Are you living in love or living to hate, are you living a self-disciplined life that is helping or one that is hurting others? Before we can protest, we have to look inward, is there anything in you that needs to be protested?