Posted by: Michael | May 30, 2012

The Fruit of Man

Fruits and vegetables

Whats in your fruit basket?

 I have blogged on the Fruit of the Sprit in the past.  However, I was recently discussing this with my wonderful wife about the other side of the coin.  We as Christians often speak about the “Fruit Of The Spirit”.  Sometimes we seek these qualities in our own lives and often in the lives of others.  We have read that it is an outward expression of a changed heart for Christ.  As Christians we need to be aware of the need not to judge others as we seek these fruits.  It is not our place to question their faith and commitment to Christ.  Scripture is very clear that none of us are perfect:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy.  But who are you to judge your neighbor?  (James 4: 12)

Therefore, you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges.  For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. (Romans 2: 1)

At the same time we are advised to use discernment in our dealings with the world. 

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1: 9-11)

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14)

We are to observe the actions of others to be aware of their hearts.  There is one piece of scripture that is often memorized and taught in our churches.  It is highlighted as a measure of the heart of another. 

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  (Galatians 5: 22-24)

These are listed as guideposts for us as we learn to build discernment of the world around us.  We attempt to see them in those around us and hopefully within ourselves.  We are encouraged to be as I have said before “Fruit Inspectors”.  However, how can you judge a piece of fruit to be desireable unless you know what a rotten piece of fruit looks like. 

There are several places in scripture where God makes this knowledge known to us.  I believe that it is repeated for a purpose.  We need to be aware of the “Fruit of Man”.  What is the product of someone who has not whole heartedly accepted the grace and mercy of Christ.  Someone who still knowingly lives under the law. 

But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law.  Now, the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.   I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5: 18-21)

Paul’s list is not all encompassing.   It does touch on three main areas of the human condition: sex, religion, and human nature.  Three areas that drive the predominate areas of our lives.  We also see these guideposts repeated in the book of Romans. 

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice,.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness.  They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.  (Romans 1: 29-32)

I am not sure about the rest of you but this last verse really hits home.  There are some powerful words that many of us struggle with on a daily basis.  We will hopefully never commit murder – but do you have angry thoughts towards your brother.  How often do we have those moments of faithlessness?  Do we ever have times of envy or covetousness? 

There is a tendency to look at the fruit on our shelves and only see the fresh and shiny ones.  Too often we don’t want to see the slightly moldy one or the one at the back that is all dried up and wrinkled.  These “Fruits of Man” can sit quietly within us while we focus our energy on the others.  Take the time to clean out your fruit stand.  Do a little self assessment on what you have and at the same time do not be distracted by the one piece of shiny fruit in the midst of a rotten bushel. 

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  (Galatians 5: 16-17)

Posted by: Michael | May 21, 2012

What is Normal?

I have talked about this story and its impact on me for sometime.  Most recently I was speaking about it when I was presenting at the OCHEC homeschool conventions this year.   When I was putting together my presentation on “Homeschooling through adversity”, God brought this story back to the forefront of my mind.  Over the past week It has been there again, this time in relation to our own journey.  Therefore, I felt compelled to give it some more time and thought.

Several years back I had the great pleasure of serving as a Hospital Corpsman in the US Navy.    My specality during this time was that of a Psych Technician.  I had just graduated from my advanced school (Psych) and was fresh on the ward at the Naval Hospital Great Lakes.  I have to confess that I was a little full of myself and my training.  I was a new, hard charging, sailor ready to change the world.   As I was walking the ward a patient approached me and asked “What is normal?”  I, being the super Psych Tech that I thought I was, launched into a wonderful 10 minute speech on the world’s view of “normal”.  When I was finished she looked into my eyes, smiled, and said “Nope – It’s a setting on a washing machine”.  This one little statement struck me to the core.  It is something that I have pondered often and God has developed in me over the years.  At the time it forced me to think about things a little differently – including my arrogance.  Over the years God has further developed this into looking at where and why I am in my life.

So many times in our lives we struggle with the storms of life.  We find ourselves engulfed in what ever the strife is at the moment.  We so often proclaim “I wish things would just return to normal”.  Well, other than that setting on your washing machine, what is normal?  What is that state of exsistence that we are so eager to return to?  I am here to tell you that “normal” is where God has you right now!  I know that can sometimes be a hard concept to swallow.  Especially when things look pretty dark.  However, we need to remember that God is in control.  That His hand and purpose is in every aspect of our lives.  There is never a time that He is leaving us alone.  We have to lean on God!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and and do not  lean not on your own understanding”  Proverbs 3:5

He is in control.  Everything we face is used to strengthen us and prepare us for the future. That future may be yet another challenge or it may be the opportunity to walk with someone as they face their own challenges.  When you are on this journey with Christ it is always forward.  To crave a return to the past is moving in the opposite direction of Christ.  God wants us to keep moving forward, to continue to grow in Christ.  These challenges are used to strengthen us to face the challenges of the world and to develop perserverence.

“Consider it pure joy by brothers when you face trials of many kinds, because  you know that the testing of your faith developes perserverence.  And perserverence must be allowed to finish its work if you are to be mature and complete and lacking nothing.”  James 1: 2-4

Those of you who know me know that this is one of my favorite verses for a variety of reasons.  It is so true and speaks of our journey of faith.  When these storms are raging, do not look back, keep looking forward.  Stand firm in the knowledge that God is in control.  The God we serve is the creator of the universe.  He is bigger than the problems we face and always there with you.  Do not look back at the past, but at the glorious future that he has laid out before you.  So the questions remains:

What is the setting on your washing machine?

“I am not saying this because, I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through HIm who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4: 11-13)

soy sauce [119/366]

I wanted to make a special dinner for my wonderful wife on Mothers Day.  I settled on some wonderful Asian recipes that I just had to share.  For any of you that are living in the Oklahoma City area I can really recommend Cao Nguyen Market downtown for most of these ingredients.  If you have any issues with food allergies…please feel free to substitute.  I hope you all enjoy as much as we did and you will pass along your opinions and improvements.

Asian Chicken Skewers

2 lbs of chicken breasts or tenderloin

1/2 cup of soy sauce (we use the gluten-free variety)

1/3 cup of brown sugar

2 Tbs of sesame oil

3 cloves garlic (minced)

1/2 cup green onions (thin sliced)

1 Tbs sesame seeds

Cut the thawed chicken in to thin strips and thread onto skewers.  Layer the skewered chicken into slow cooker.  Combine soy, brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic in mixing bowl.  Reserve 1/3 cup of mixture and pour remainder onto chicken in slow cooker.  Cook on low for 2 hrs and the turn and cook for 1 hr.  Transfer to serving dish and cover with remaining mixture, green onions, and sesame seeds.

Serve with Jasmine rice.

Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry Romaine Wraps with Citrus Soy

1 lb chicken

3 Tbs fresh ginger (minced)

1 Tbs Garlic (minced)

1/2 tsp dry chili flakes

3 Tbs soy bean oil or vegetable oil

2 heads romaine lettuce, cleaned

1/2 fresh cup orange juice

1 Tbs fresh lime juice

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 ounce scallions, sliced thin

2 Tbs soy sauce

Dice the chicken into tiny pieces.  Place the chicken in a mixing bowl and add 2 Tbs soy bean oil, ginger, garlic, chili flakes and 2 Tbs soy sauce.  Mix together until well mixed.  Let marinate in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

Mix together the citrus juices, and soy sauce with a whisk .  Reserve until needed.  Clean the romaine lettuce, chopping off the stem, peeling each spear and running under clean cold water.  Reserve in refrigerator until ready to use.  chop scallions into rings and reserve chilled.

Coat a very hot saute pan lightly with soy bean oil.  Lay the chicken around the saute pan being careful not to lay too many on top of each other.   Sear the chicken until crispy and golden brown, about 2 1/2 minutes.  Once chicken is brown, toss gently in the  pan and sear for another 2 1/2 minutes.  The pan will appear to burn, but that is the carmelization and where all the flavor comes from.

Add 1/2 of the citrus soy mixture to the saute pan and coat well.  Let sauce coat the chicken until it is glazed, and thickens on the chicken.  Add more or less depending on how wet you want your chicken.  Spoon chicken onto a plate.

Wrap the chicken mixture in romaine lettuce and top with scallion rings.  Serve and enjoy!

“Taste and see that the lord is good; Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him”  Psalm 34:8

I recently presented this at the Tulsa and OKC homeschool conventions.  There were several in attendance who asked for a better transcript of the talk than the take away that I had on hand.  In addition, I hope that it may reach out to others who are currently in the storms of life and are thinking of giving up and throwing in the towel.  I pray that these insights from our own journey will encourage and help you to carry on.  Weather you are coming out of the storm, right in the middle of one, or see one on the horizion.  It is my hope and prayer that these words will help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

A Journey of Faith

Several  years ago I was taking my first graduate course in human resources.  The professor did not require any books to be purchased before the first day of class.  However, he came in and handed out to each of us a copy of “Everything I need to know in life I learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum.  For those who have read the book you are aware that it contained such simple truths as:  Play fair, Don’t hit people, and Say your sorry when you hurt someone.   He advised that if we could get our managers to understand these simple truths then our jobs as HR professionals would be so much easier.  Simple truths that we used to know and understand that we have forgotten over time.

As I look back over the past nine years that we have homeschooled, I see a road lined with adversities, challenges, and opportunities.  These have included: hurricanes, house fires, and life changes.   However, through it all we have learned a few things.  Foremost, most of what we needed to endure could be summed up in much the same way, six simple faiths.  I cannot give you a miracle pill or a magical solution to get through where you are.  However, I can point you to six simple faiths that you may have forgotten as well.  One of our favorite quotes comes from a wonderful speaker and writer by the name of Joyce Meyers and sums this up fairly well.

“When fear knocks on your door – send faith to answer and no one will be there” -Joyce Meyers

Faith in God

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5)

We need to remember that God is sovereign over all or not sovereign at all!

There are so many times that we find ourselves and our families in the middle of a raging storm of issues and challenges.  We look beside and in front of us and cannot see God.  It is at these times that we start to belive that He has abandoned us, left us to flounder our way to dry land.  I have learned this is so far from the truth.  These are the times that He is been behind me – Holding me up, keeping me from falling back into the maelstrom of life.  This is a simple and powerful truth that we cannot afford to lose sight of.  It is a  reality that has kept us moving forward through some tough times.  The reminder that we are not going it alone, that God is always there.

“Consider it pure joy my brothers, as you face trials of many kinds.  Becuase you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance and perseverance must be allowed to finish its work if you are to be mature and complete and lacking nothing.” (James 1: 2-4) 

Faith in your decision to homeschool:

Sometimes as you are traveling on a journey your focus is straight ahead.  occasionally you need to look in the rearview mirror and see where it is you have been, where you came from.  Why did you make the decision to homeschool?  What was it that was the deciding factor for you and your family to make the switch to homeschooling?

Was it because homeschooling is such an easy road?  Was it because you wanted to ensure that your children could be “socialized” by society?

No!  You did it so your children could become the Joshua Generation.  So that they could be the leaders of tomorrow.  So your children can impact the world for Christ for generations to come.   Sometimes you have to pause and remember why you made this decision.  Focus you heart and thoughts on the truth that it is the right path to follow.  That your decisions are and were the right ones.  Don’t allow yourself to second guess decisions that were made during the times of calm for reactions that occur during times of duress.

As one of my favorite mentors used to say.  “Like a pig in a python…this too will pass”

Faith in each other:

Wives:

You were created by God to be emotional, to be nurturing and supportive to your children and to your husband.  This is all part of God’s perfect plan.  In times of stress these emotions cannot be trusted.  The enemy will say to you:” You cannot do this, your kids are going to be dumb!  Why did we do this…they are better off in public school!”

Do not listen to these voices!

  • Get out of the loop:  You don’t need to be plugged into every activity during these times. Slow down and drop out of the loop for a while…it’s ok.
  • Put down the homeschool magazines:  We all get these and like to read them.  However, this is not the time to be looking for new ideas and directions.
  • Distance yourself from “Suzy perfect homemaker”:  With all due respect to Suzy…  We all know her.  8 kids, 2 co-ops, 4 sports, and  a perfect house.  Give yourself some time and don’t compare.
  • Listen to the wisdom of your husband:  He is the spiritual leader of the home. (Husbands – your part is next).  Trust in his calming judgement.
  • Refer often to the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-8)

“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 ind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6: 4-8)

Husbands:

Husbands, I have three words for you:  Supportive, Engaged, and Teamwork.

Supportive:  Your are the spiritual head of the family.  Listen, support and encourage your wife during these times.  This is not the time to be Mr. Fix It.  Our tendency is to want to be the Knight in shining armor who rides in from the office to make everything right.  Save these times for when the sink is leaking or the A/C is on the fritz.  Your wife is strong  and knows what to do.  You need to listen, encourage, and motivate.  This is the time to give her a hug and a shoulder.  To say that everything will be ok and you believe in her.

Engage: Get off the couch and help!  What a time for you to grow closer to your children and at the same time help out.  Too often we buy into the idea that all we are is the “Principle”.  However, we need to be engaged as teachers as well (even in the good times!).   What a great time to come home and do some of those science experiments, help with grading, and teach a class or two.

Teamwork:  Remember we are in this together.  This is not something that she can do alone or something that you can do alone.  Even in the good times it is something that takes teamwork.

Faith in our flexibility:

We are not public school!   Let me say this a second time:  We are not public school!

We do not need to school Monday to Friday 8-5.  Embrace the flexibility that we have in what we do.

Push things back and re-arrange as needed.  Use the time you have to your advantage.  Remember, every moment of every day has the potential to be a teachable moment.

Faith in simplicity:

 “Read something, Write something, Calculate something” (Dana Wilson)

A very good friend of ours reminded us of this simple phrase when we were in the middle of a tough time.  Keep to the basics.  As long as each day they are reading, writing and calculating you are ok.  This could be a favorite book or even the cereal box.  Keep it simple until you get things back on track – focus on the basics.

Maybe you have to drop the 2 co-ops, 3 sports, and 2 dance classes.  They will be there in a few days, few weeks, or even months.

Faith in the value of life lessons:

God allows adversity to occur to prepare our children for later life.  If you throw in the towel then you are robbing them of this preparation.

The opportunity for your children to see how you handle adversity is beyond measure.  It cannot be taught in school or any text-book.  The chance to walk with them through hardship will build the skills that will serve them their entire life.  They may or may not use chemistry, calculus, or a foreign language.  However, life skills and managing adversity  is something they will carry with them their entire life.  We need to show our children how to persevere when times are difficult.  We have stressed to them the value of homeschooling.  If we quit when the times are difficult then we teach our children to quit when life becomes difficult.  This is something that they will then apply to their lives, careers, and marriages.

“When God brings an unwelcome disturbance into our lives, He never asks if it is convenient.  The Lord expects to be trusted.”  (Joyce Meyers)

Conclusion:

Several years ago when I was serving as a Hospital Corpsman my speciality was mental health.  I had just graduated from my advanced school (Psych) and was fresh on the ward.  A new hard charging sailor ready to change the world.   As I was walking the ward a patient approached me and asked “What is normal?”  I, being the super Psych Tech that I thought I was, launched into a wonderful 10 minute speech on the world’s view of “normal”.  When I was finished she looked into my eyes, smiled, and said “Nope – It’s a setting on a washing machine”.  This is something that has stuck with me for all these years.

What is normal?  Normal is where God has you right now.  How often do we say in times of stress..”I wish things would return to normal.”?  What is that?  Life before homeschooling?  Life before we started the adoption process of our three little ones?   I can attest that we would never go back to the worlds definition of “Normal”.  The Key is to trust in God.  Accept that He is in control and that normal is exactly where God has you right now.

“I am not saying this because, I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through HIm who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4: 11-13)

Posted by: Michael | May 6, 2012

My Jesus

 

 

I have always been a huge fan of Todd Agnew.  I love his music due to the strong messages that he puts into them.  I often hear from some people that modern Christian music is lacking the impact of the classic hymns.  However, in this case I would really recommend you listen to his songs and read the lyrics before writing them off.  I can truly hear Gods word within his songs.

The song “My Jesus” is no exception.  As I was sitting here listening to it.  I was struck by the power of the words in this message. 

If Ephesians says to imitate Christ
Then why do you look so much like the worldCause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant
So which one do you want to be?Blessed are the poor in spirit
Or do we pray to be blessed with the wealth of this land
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand

Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins
He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the rich
So which one do you want to be?

Who is this that you follow
This picture of the American dream
If Jesus were here would you walk right by on the other side
Or fall down and worship at His holy feet

Holy
blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion
Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins
But the Word says He was battered scarred
Or did you miss that part
Sometimes I doubt we’d recognize Him

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and the least of these
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable
So which one do you want to be?

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on his feet might stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despises the proud
I think He’d prefer Beale ST. to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can hear if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!
Ooooohhhhh

Not a poster child for American prosperity, but like my Jesus
You see I’m tired of living for success and popularity
I want to be like my Jesus but I’m not sure what that means to be like
You Jesus
Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for me
Can I be like You Jesus?
I want to be like You Jesus.
I want to be like my Jesus.

 
These are some powerful words and leave some thought-provoking questions for us as Christians. 
Which Jesus do you follow?
Which Jesus do you serve?
 
Do we look too much like this world or do we stand out and shine like the light of Christ?
During our family devotion tonight we read from the book of Romans: Chapter 1.  The following verses tied all this together.
 
“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.  they are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness.  they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they  know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”  (Romans 1: 29-32)
 
These words were written so long ago.  Yet, they ring so true today.  Even within the body we see these things happening.  They are not only practiced..but they are endorsed.  They are endorsed not only by our silence but by our laughter as we watch them on television and the movies.  We hear the word of God taught and yet we do not heed the words of our heavenly Father.  We choose the world. 
 
The question remains.  Who is your Jesus?  Would he be welcomed in your church or would the blood and dirt on His feet stain the carpet.  Are you ready to give up the ways of this world and walk the road that Christ walked?
Posted by: Michael | April 26, 2012

Fathers – Engage

A derivative collage from two other files - ca...

A derivative collage from two other files - captain Jean-Luc Picard in his quarter on the USS Enterprise-D (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a large chunk of my life I have been a huge fan of Star Trek.  All the way from the early Star Trek episodes  (James T Kirk and crew) thru the latest Star Trek movie (although some of the scenes were pushing limits and a little weird).  One of my favorite scenes is from Star Trek- The Next Generation. I loved it when Jean Luc was on the bridge and they were about to embark on a new adventure.  He would boldly proclaim the course and speed of the USS Enterprise.  Laying in the course for those who followed him.  He would then proudly proclaim “Engage” and off they would go on a grand adventure.  What a wonderful symbol of leadership and confidence.  Calmly and confidently leading his crew into the great unknown of the universe.  Those around him caught up in his courage and ready to face the unknown- sure and unafraid.

What if we as fathers had that same confidence?  If we would take the helm of our family and bravely lay out the course to follow.   What if we left the comfort of our careers and arm chairs and embraced the journey that God has placed out there for us to follow?  If we accepted the role of spirtiual leader with the same zeal that Jean Luc accepted his role as captain of his crew how different would our families look?  I understand that Jean Luc had the confidence of an entire stage crew at his beck and call, the safety and security of a well written script and syndication.  However, we have something better.  We have the assurance of our Lord.   The calm certaininty that He is there with us, that we will never face this journey alone.

Fathers, scripture is filled with instrucion and words of encouragement for you.  The wisdom and knowledge that our God has given us in grace and love.

Husbands, love your wives,   just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her   26 to make her holy,   cleansing[b] her by the washing   with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself   as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives   as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife   as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  (Ephasians 5: 25-33)

4 Fathers,[a] do not exasperate your children;   instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephasians 6:4)11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy   of God, who calls   you into his kingdom and glory.(1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

Homeschool dads, the time is now to engage  your children.  I often speak of the value of the father being involved during times of stress and adversity in the home.  The question is: why should we wait for that time?  We often sit comfortable in our role of “prinicpal”.    Why can we not share in the role of teacher? Share the experience that we have during our daily journey into the world.  Share the wisdom with your kids that comes with our journey.  Fathers: the time is now to embrace the grand adventure that God has promised us.  He never promised us that the journey would be smooth and free of peril, only that we would never go alone.

Homeschool: the ultimate frontier. These are the voyages of the homeschool dad. His ongoing mission: to explore strange new curriculum, to seek out Gods will and future for his family, to boldly go where many men fear to tread.

Ok…so that’s a little out there.  However, let’s go on this journey.   Take a chance and trust in the Lord.  Lean forward in that command chair!  Chart the course for your family….Lay in the speed of the journey and proudly exclaim

Engage

Posted by: Michael | April 18, 2012

State of the Bible 2012

KJV Bible

I was reading an article today on the State of the Bible in America and I was slightly shocked and amazed at what I read.  I just thought I would share a little of it with you.  The good news according to the article is that the Bible is still the No. 1 best seller in America with an estimated six billion copies sold.  However, according to a new survey by The American Bible Society, it has lost some of its ability to affect people’s lives.  Here are two of the key points:

  • 82% of Americans revere the Bible as sacred literature.  This is down from a year ago when it was 86%.
  • When asked if the Bible contained “Everything a person needs to lead a meaningful life”  69 percent agreed either strongly or somewhat.  This is down from 75% the previous  year.

I have to believe that it is amazing that we live in a land where the Bible is the #1 selling book.  It is amazing that 82% of this country still hold it as sacred literature.   It is sad that there are still those that do not view it as sacred.  However, this should be a motivating factor for all believers.  The time is now for us to get our there and share the word of God.  To speak boldly of the Gospel.  The great commission says it plainly enough.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always , to the end of the age” (Matthew 38: 18-20)

The word “Go” is there for a reason.  It is an imperative.  A command.  A call to act.  It does not say…when you have time or when you are comfortable.  Maybe on a Sunday afternoon.  Jesus was very direct.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”  So what are we waiting for….lets go.  The fields are ripe and the workers are few….will you join me?

Posted by: Michael | April 13, 2012

Family Worship

Our family worship and devotion time has become a vital part of our family’s day.  However, while I would love to say that it was always that way, it was not. In fact, we used to put much more emphasis on television than we did on our God.  Family time meant that we were all in the room at the same time and usually around the television.  Our family was one that feared God and worked to keep His commands.  However, we were not walking with him daily and were not working to grow closer and build up our relationship with Him.

There came a day where I was reading my Bible and listening to a wonderful lesson on being a father from Visionforum.com .  The lesson topic was about the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) and the meaning it held for fathers.  Those who follow my blog will often see me quote from it.  Simply put it has become a foundational passage for me in my role as a father and husband in my family.   That passage changed the way I interacted with my family and my wife.  For years she had been praying that I would accept my role as spiritual leader in our home, that I would step out in boldness and lead my children and my wife as God intended.  However, this was something that I always shied away from (for a variety of reasons…all of them weak).  Fathers, this is something that I know many of you too still try to avoid.  I hope by sharing my thoughts and journey that some of you will pick up the mantle that God has given you, that you will put aside your insecurities, doubts, and fears and take on the role as the spiritual leader of your home.  I know your wives are praying for you to do so.   I know that your children are wanting you to and I know that your God has ordained this as your role.

This post is geared toward the fathers out there that are fighting the great fight each and every day.  It is not only for them.   I encourage the wives and mothers to read and share.  I encourage the men who are engaged to read and take heart.  I pray that the young men starting out on their own journey will read as well.  Men, if we accept the role that God has laid out for us, I am certain that we can alter the path that the modern family is on.  This indeed can change the world for Christ.

I have often quoted that the hardest part of every journey is the first step out of the door.  So let’s take that step.

“Hear O Israel. The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart ans with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the door posts of your gates. ”  (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) 

 This verse is known as the Shema (Hebrew for “hear”).  It has become known as the Jewish confession of faith and is recited twice a day by the devout.  To me it has become my guide post for where I need to lead my family.  It teaches that our teaching and knowledge is not only for Sunday and the occasional Wednesday night. but it is to be taught and discussed from morning to night.  We are to teach it to our children each and every day.  So often we delegate this role to the “professionals”, the  youth leaders and Sunday School teachers.  While I agree there is value in these programs, I must also state that the ultimate responsibility and resulting accountability belongs to us.  This is not something that we need to hand off and walk away.  It needs to be something that we look forward to.  The chance to share the joy of our Heavenly Father with our family.  To share and discuss His teachings in our home.

The little ones watch us to see how we live out our lives.  We need to demonstrate that God’s word is a vital part of our lives.  We need to show that it is for more than an hour on Sundays.  Take heart, it is not as difficult as you may think.  When I first started doing the family devotions I was like a cheap lawn mower.  I would start out strong and the sputter and fail.  Then I would start-up again and sputter and fail.  The problem was that I was trying to be like the “professionals”.  I wanted what I said to be smooth and polished.  The reality is that we don’t need to be.  We just need to share what God has laid on our heart.  We need to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

Devotion and family worship does not need to be some complex evolution.  It most certainly does not need to be a stressor added to your lives.  Keep it simple coming out of the gate.  There may be times that you put some time into preparation.  Other times you may just let the Holy Spirit lead you as you read from the word.  We have been blessed with a wonderful church where the idea of family worship is key.  The fathers are charged with leading their families.  We could be considered radical in that there are not Sunday schools or youth programs, that job has been returned to the fathers.  I am so thankful that the elders of the church were more than willing to come alongside me and help get me on the right path.

They and my wonderful wife have been wonderful in reminding me that it does not need to be some fancy structured event.  It can be as simple as talking about scripture around the dinner table.  Letting your conversation guide and reveal what God has done in our lives that day. It does not need to be every night of the week to start out.  It can begin with just a few nights a week.  There is also no need to be fancy and polished.  We are currently reading through the book of Acts.  We could have gone out and purchased a fancy study guide.  However, that does not fit our relaxed style.  We just start reading  and discuss whatever God lays on our hearts.  Sometimes we wander off topic…and you know what?  That’s ok.  Just remember the goal…..Sharing the teachings and the love of God with your family.  It is amazing the discussions that are born out of these times.

Don’t let it stop there, look for each and every opportunity to share with your children.  During those trips to the store.  Turn off the radio and just start talking.  Look for those opportunities to share your triumphs and yes even your failures.  Our children need to know that it is ok to struggle on our journey.  To understand that we are all works in progress.  How else will they learn to trust in the Father and lean on him unless we show them the way.  Once you start looking for these opportunities you will be amazed at the opportunities that have been slipping into the fog of the past.  Don’t let them slip away.  Treasure and seize those moments.

Men, Please do not forget your wives.  Our wives are splendid and wonderful gifts from the Father.  Spend time with your wives in prayer.  Share  your heart and fears with the Lord together.  Spend some time on your knees as a couple.  Bring God into your marriage and let Him lead your lives as a couple.  Make prayer a major part of all of your decision processes.  Let Gods will in your life lead your decision-making process.  Remember to make prayer your first resource and not your last resort.

Finally, don’t neglect your own spiritual life.  Devout time each day to God.  Don’t make it that five minutes at work right when you arrive.  Trust me I tried..and it does not work.  The distractions of the day will move in to fill that time.  I have often heard it referred to as “the tyranny of the urgent”.  It is so true.  These distractions can and do become a wall between you and your heavenly Father.  Clear your calendar and your mind and be open to where God leads you.

Fathers, get out of your comfort zone and take the lead.   Become the spiritual leader that God has intended you to be.  Remember, you will never be walking alone.  Jesus will always be there to guide the way.  I promise you will not regret the decision.  As I stated earlier.  Your wives are praying for this.  Your children are waiting for you to do it and God has called us to this.  Take the leap of faith.  Leave your comfort zone behind.

Posted by: Michael | April 10, 2012

Key Lime Pie

key lime pie

key lime pie

Growing up in Florida, my favorite desert was always Key Lime Pie.  Even though I am miles from the sunny beaches of Florida.  The taste of this wonderful desert always brings back wonderful memories of that warm breeze blowing in from the ocean.  The warm sand between the toes and the sound of the wind in the palms.  This one is my favorite.  I hope you enjoy as much as I do and that it takes you to that wonderful place in a hammock by the sea!

For those that are Gluten Free.  Please feel free to use your favorite Gluten Free crust!  I highly recommend the one they sell at Whole Foods.  It has a wonderful short bread type crust.

Ingredients

 9″ Graham cracker pie shell (or gluten free variety)

14oz can sweetened condensed milk

3 egg yolks (whites not used)

1/2 cup Key Lime Juice (I recommend Nellie & Joe’s Famour Key West Lime Juice)

Combine Milk, egg yolks, and key lime juice.  Blend until smooth. Pour filling into pie shell and  bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes before refrigerating.  Just before serving top with whipped cream and garnish with lime slices.   Enjoy!

 

Posted by: Michael | April 7, 2012

He Is Risen!

He Is Risen 1

 He is Risen! 

What a powerful statement.  We often hear it on Easter morning when we enter the church and are greeted by our fellow believers.  However, what a meaning is behind it.  The sheer concept that our God sent his one and only son to die for those that despised him and were still deep in their sin.  That he would be willing to leave the glory of heaven to be born into a fallen world.  To lead a perfect life, free of sin.  To do the will of his Father.  To be betrayed, scorned, and rejected by the world He came to save.

He was despised and rejected by men;   A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;  and as one whom men hide their faces He was despised and we esteemed Him not.  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  (Isaiah 53: 3-5)

The good news is that even death could not contain Him.

“But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where he lay.” (Matthew 38: 5-6)

The amazing and wonderful truth is that through his death and resurrection we can live.  That the sting of death is broken.  sadness and despair have been replaced with hope and joy.  We can have an eternity with our Lord and Savior.  As we go out into the world on Easter.  Remember it is not about the easter bunny, the baskets, the candy….it is about the greatest gift that has ever been or will ever be given – Jesus Christ.  The gift of God’s one and only Son.  So we can be cleansed of our sins and iniquities.  When you go out the door tomorrow and you are greeted at church with “He is Risen”.  Take a moment and remember the sacrifice and the gift and sound off in a loud voice…

He Is Risen Indeed!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

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