Don’t Waste Drive Time With Your Children

Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach them diligently to your children…when you rise

 One of the greatest times of my day with my three oldest children is the 5-10 minute drive from home to school. This is such a key time to teach them something meaningful.   Below is a list of what I am seeking to teach my children over the entire school year. These are foundational life principles that I believe to be of most importance.   I teach them one a week (sometimes it takes two weeks).   They love doing this each morning.   I try to make a big deal about it each morning.   Feel free to take my list and tweak it or steal it.   Don’t waste drive time.  

 FOR TY, KARIS AND KATIE 2014-2015 SCHOOL YEAR

  1. JESUS, MOMMY AND DADDY LOVE YOU…NO MATTER WHAT

Romans 8: 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

  1. GOD MADE YOU WITH A PURPOSE. Your job is to find out what your gifts skills and abilities are and use them to glorify Him

Psalm 139: 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

  1. BE HUMBLE – Think of others as more important than yourself

Philippians 2:Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves

  1. WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE? LOVING JESUS

Matthew 22: 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

  1. BE TEACHABLE – Listen to those wise people God has put in your life

Proverbs 19: 27 If you stop listening to instruction, my child, you will turn your back on knowledge.

  1. BE COURAGEOUS – Do what is right even when it is difficult or frightening.

Joshua 1: This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

  1. BE RESPONSIBLE – Take responsibility for your actions and for other people God has put under your care

1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers and example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

  1. BE COMPASSIONATE

Mark 6: 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things

  1. HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE

Colossians 4: 2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving

10. THE THREE P’S OF MARRIAGE – PROTECTOR, PROVIDER, PASTOR

11. SHOW ME YOUR FRIENDS AND I WILL SHOW YOU YOUR FUTURE. 

Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

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Dear Richard Dawkins, YOU ARE WRONG

Richard Dawkins is a world-renowned atheist that is known for his polarizing stances on a number of issues. The latest shocking statement he made was in regard to women who find out they are pregnant with a child who may have Down syndrome (DS). I would not usually take the time to address something said by Richard Dawkins, but I feel that I must address this issue because his comments hold the power of life and death. He has a large audience and there are many who will agree with his statement.

Here is what Dawkins tweeted in relation to someone pregnant with a child with DS: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

I believe his comments to be ignorant and murderous. What we believe about life and death, animals and humans has everything to do with our worldview. Dawkins is an atheist who believes we all came from nothing. Therefore, in his view, animals and humans have the same value and any human who cannot further the human race should be discarded. To him, people with DS are simple genetic anomalies that are the result of random chance and should be killed before they have a chance to feel pain or cause difficulty in the lives of others.

The article continues, “But faced with a stream of dissenting comments, he wrote: “Apparently I’m a horrid monster for recommending what actually happens to the great majority of Down Syndrome foetuses. They are aborted.””

What bothers me most is not what Richard Dawkins said, in fact I would expect him to say that, I am bothered by the fact that most people who find out they are going to have a child with down syndrome do choose to abort their child. In some places the statistics are as high as a 90% abortion rate! 90%!!! That is genocide. This could very well be related to the fact that when most women prenatally test for Down syndrome and the results come back positive, what is explained to her is a list of all the things that will be wrong with her baby (when in fact, it’s a list of things that MIGHT be wrong, and many issues can be corrected with surgery and therapy). Obviously not in all cases, but as a whole in our mainstream medical community, abortion is very much encouraged with these mothers and they are led to believe that they are doing “what is best.”

Why abort the child? I think people abort their children for a few reasons:

They think it will be too hard to raise a child with special needs.
They think their child will have no quality of life.
They believe it will cost too much.
They think their child is a curse and will ruin their life.
They believe their child will be destined to a lifetime of ridicule.
They just don’t want to spend the rest of their life taking care of someone else with special needs.

I would like to remind everyone that the hardest things we do in life are the most rewarding. Those who make a great impact on the world are not those who say, “I want the easiest path” but those who decide to do what is right and best in spite of the personal cost to themselves.

Back to the issue at hand, Richard Dawkins and anyone who believes that people with Down syndrome are not as valuable to society as “typical” people are dead wrong. I would argue the opposite to be true. Perhaps people with Down syndrome are some of society’s most valuable members.

Most people assess value in terms of production. Value in the world is assessed in questions like: What can a person produce? Are they a great worker? Are they a great thinker? Are they strong? Are they beautiful? Are they talented?

I want to explore that there are other, perhaps greater, measures of value. What about things like faith, hope and love? Producers are important. Thinkers are important. Doctors, teachers, firemen, secretaries and 1000 other jobs are important. While all of these professions are vital, I have found that the greatest need that people have is to feel love, experience hope, and have faith in something.

The unique genetic makeup of people who possess DS seems to allow them to possess superhuman amounts of faith, hope, and love. Surely we cannot lump every person with DS into the same category, but I believe this generally to be true.

Every person I have ever met who has DS that I took the time to talk to has made me feel better. They made me feel accepted. I felt no judgment from them. The one thing I felt from every person with DS is love. To say people with this special and unique gift should not be given the chance at life because they may have some physical and intellectual challenges is ludicrous. Every single one of us has something wrong with us. There are no perfect people. Eugenics is a dangerous game that leads to the kind of atrocities that Hitler committed.

On a personal level, I have an amazing 8-month-old little girl named Joy who happens to have Down syndrome. When she was born I experienced the most painful and intense emotions of my life. Most of it could be boiled down to fear. I feared what most people perceive about people with Down syndrome. Before Joy, I would have thought that having a child with DS would be one of the worst things that could happen to a family. I WAS DEAD WRONG! Joy has been our family’s greatest gift.

Joy has her challenges. My wife and I are constantly concerned with her health and development. We want to give her the best chance in life that we can. I am telling you no lie when I tell you that she is pure JOY. She brings so much joy into the lives of everyone she touches. She has yet to meet someone she doesn’t like.

If you or someone you know is pregnant and have recently found out that you might possibly have a child who has Down syndrome, please, from the bottom of my heart, please give that child a chance at life. Do not let your fear nor the untrue societal stigma keep you from giving your child life. Talk to parents who have children with DS before you make a decision to kill your baby. I would be glad to talk with you about it. IMG_1762IMG_5161  IMG_3069

13 Reasons You MUST Go!

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“Pastor, why do I need to spend over $2000.00 and fly all the way across the world when there is so much ministry that needs to be done right here in our city?”  This was the question that was posed to me by a sincere church member who was counting the cost of going on our first international mission trip as a church.  Some people that ask this question are simply looking for an easy way out or just want to argue, but I knew the heart of this church member and his question was a sincere one.   I gave him an answer and I do not remember exactly what it was but it did not feel sufficient.  I was haunted by the question for weeks.  I had been in other countries and I knew in my heart that there was a great need for all who could go, to go, but I was having a problem articulating exactly why.  The man who asked the question did end up going on the mission trip and God used him in a powerful way.  Our church has taken international trips to Haiti and to Argentina.  God did what God does when we step out on faith.  He showed up and changed lives.  While it is fresh on my mind I would like to articulate a bit more clearly 13 reasons why I believe every Christian who is physically able should attempt to go on an International Mission Trip.  If you are a pastor or a leader who gets asked the question that I was asked perhaps this will help you articulate it more clearly.

1)      You understand the beauty of the body of Christ in a way you could not unless you went – You cannot get the full picture of what a blessing it is to be part of the global body of Christ until you have the chance to meet people that are totally different than you in almost every way.  You have an instant bond because of Jesus.  In both Argentina and Haiti we met people that we had no knowledge of before we left and now they are family.  This is because of our bond in Christ.

2)      Americans have a significant impact on the world that we do not have in our hometowns – Many cultures in the world look at Americans as some sort of novelty.  They are very intrigued by us.  They believe we are all rich, which compared to them, most of us are.  It makes a huge impact when you tell lost people in another culture that you spent a lot of money to come to their country because you love them and desire to tell them about Jesus.

3)      Going on an International Mission trip gives you a small picture of what it means to suffer for Christ – While I would not call a mission trip suffering in the sense that you are dealing with daily persecutions, you do get a small picture of what it means to be uncomfortable for the cause of Christ.  You know you may get sick.  You are sick for Jesus.  You know you will be extremely tired.  You are tired for Jesus.   You may suffer financially.   You are giving to go tell others about Jesus.  You know you will be out of your area of comfort.  You are uncomfortable for Jesus.  While this may seem like a small thing it is big for comfortable American Christians.

4)       It Humbles You – Humility is one of the greatest Christian virtues.  We are all naturally inclined to pride.  Philippians 2 tells us we are to follow the example of the humility of Christ.  It brings great humility in your life when you see how little you do with how much you have.  Then you have the opportunity to see how much other believers do with how little they have.   Truly humbling.

5)      It gives you a passion for the lost world – In America we are so rich and happy it seems that no one needs Jesus anymore.   When you go to another country it is very refreshing to see that the world has a hunger for Christ that America has lost.

6)      It gives you a chance to expand your kingdom influence – You will meet lifelong friends in another country.  Because of the expansions of technology and social networking cites like Facebook you can have continued influence on those you meet.   You can even disciple new believers from afar.

7)      It serves as a great encouragement to the church you are serving alongside in a foreign country – The churches we worked with were so blessed that we came to minister alongside them.   We were able to do things they as a church would not have been able to do without us.  The church was totally blessed by our coming and it provided great encouragement.

8)      It will deepen your love for the Lord – Everything about all you do on the trip will make you love and appreciate Jesus more.

9)      It will clarify your calling – It has been my experience that each time I go on an international trip God speaks to me more clearly than any other time.   Perhaps this is because your singular focus is on doing His will for an entire week or more.

10)   It will give you a chance to experience the power of the Gospel in a new way – Since people are more open to the Gospel in other countries you have the privilege of seeing more people submit to Jesus than in the states.  This reminds you of the power of the Gospel and how the simple message still transforms lives.

11)   You will become a family with the team in which you serve alongside – We took a team of eight from the church in which I pastor.   We left as friends and we came back as family.  You will laugh, cry, worship, pray, eat and sleep together.   You will never look at the people you go with the same again.  You will always share the common bond of life change.

12)   Your faith will grow – Every step you take to go on an international mission trip will force you to grow in your faith.  Most of us do not have two to four thousand dollars laying around to spend on a mission trip.  Money, safety, and the unknown are all areas that you must trust God with.

13)   JESUS SAID GO!!! – The great commission has never changed.   Jesus told us to tell the world about Him.  If they do not hear they will go to hell.   If we believe this then we MUST be compelled to go!