Category Archives: Spiritiual-Parenting

A Bridge of Balls

Thursday afternoon I began looking for balls that I could deflate, and put in my luggage for the return trip to SVG.

Now to some of you a football or soccer ball may seem unimportant….

But they are actually priceless ministry tools.

One of the first lessons I learned as a missionary is relationships are incredibly important. These relationships are what I like to call “Gospel bridges.” The goal of this bridge isn’t to share the Gospel right away (though I’m willing to do that), but to connect with an individual, and develop a true friendship with them. Over time, the Lord will give “God moments” that can then be used to share the Gospel in a direct way.

The thing about Gospel Bridges is they aren’t “one size fits all.”

  1. A Gospel Bridge can be giving someone a job, and paying them well
  2. It can be a bowl of rice and chicken
  3. It can be a listening ear, and kind words
  4. It can be a ride to the grocery store
  5. Or it can be an afternoon playing at the park

Of course you cannot build bridges with everyone (I wish I could!)

So you have keep your spiritual eyes open….

The Lord often brings individuals into our lives who are struggling, or open to the Gospel. It’s our responsibility to notice those people when they come, and then begin building a bridge.

God allowed me to begin building a Gospel Bridge with a man in the community a few years ago. It began with his washing a neighbours car, and me jokingly asking if he would wash mine. A few Saturdays later, we negotiated a weekly price, and I officially became his client.

Since that time we’ve had many conversations about the Lord, many counselling sessions on my porch, and Bible reading sessions. Today he faithfully attends church, and isn’t saved yet to my knowledge, but the Lords working on his heart.

These kind of bridges aren’t easy

  1. They take lots of time and energy
  2. Satan will attack you, as well as the individual
  3. And you have to be very patient

But it’s worth the work.

There is a brother and sister who live across the road from me. We had a good relationship going before my cataracts slowed daily ministry down considerably. Because of that and the time away because of the medical furlough, now that ministry needs to be rebuilt with playtime, and Bible stories.

May the Lord help me search for hungry hearts, and do whatever it takes to build a Gospel Bridge towards them.

Starving the Sexual Sumo

Editors Note: While I don’t become graphic in this post, it does refer to male sexual temptations in an honest way. Please feel free to skip, or not read it if you aren’t comfortable doing so.

A little over two years ago I was helping at a local computer lab ministry one afternoon with a group of boys. Somehow the conversation turned to girlfriends or physical relationships, and one of them asked me if I’d ever had sex. I told them that I was (and still am) a virgin, which led to their laughing hysterically.

In a room of early teen boys, I was the only one who wasn’t sexually active…

To be honest I’m not surprised by that because sexual activity is beginning earlier and earlier in todays culture. While there are many reasons for this, one of the greatest is young men don’t have male role-models that display sexual integrity. Therefore when they see someone living that way, to them it seems like a joke

The Lord through this and other experiences created a burden to not only live with this kind of integrity, but also challenge young men to do so, and give them tools necessary to do it.

One of the more useful tools for this is “Every Young Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arteburn, and Fred Stoeker. It deals extensively with sexual temptations a young man would face, and practical help for following God’s standard.

One of my favorite principles they shared in the book is what they call “starving the sumo.”

Obviously this refers to your sexual temptations as a sumo wrestler who you try to wrestle with (don’t give in, hold to God’s standards). The problem is, no matter how hard you try to overcome those temptations, they always win in the end.

Arteburn and Stoeker explain the problem isn’t you don’t desire this victory enough. Instead its far to easy to “feed the sumo of sexual temptation” constantly during the day.

While we normally view things such as pornography as things that feed our sexual desire, there are a huge amount of other things that can do so. Things I sometimes refer to as “look away moments.”

They aren’t openly sexual, but can definitely feed your lust. Sadly we don’t stop and think about how much of life is filled with “look away moments”, and every time we don’t, the sexual sumo gets a snack.

The answer to this problem is obvious but very difficult….

we must starve the sumo

This means drastically removing anything that can feed our lust (specifically television programs, places where we know there will be temptation, social media sites, etc). This will be VERY HARD at first! However, over time, the sexual sumo will go from a 600 pound behemoth to a 100 pound weakling (usually takes about six-weeks).

My heart breaks for the young men of this village who buy into the worlds lies about their sexuality, and many I believe who want to do better, but can’t. May the Lord allow me to help them “starve their sumo” (while keeping mine in a weakened state) and show sexual integrity is a life of fulfillment instead of a joke.

When Walking Away is an Act of Love

Last year three brothers began coming by me every day for a Bible story. I was excited about them not only being there, but working very hard.

  1. They reviewed the books of the Bible at home and could quote both the Old and New without any problem
  2. They also daily reviewed that weeks memory verse so that they could quote five to six of them at a time
  3. and always gave me their full attention

After ending my Bible club ministry at Church I would come by their home during the week to give Bible studies on the porch. It was a joy to see them excitedly run out the door and down the steps after hearing my voice call them.

And then something happened……

One of them started becoming very rude and disrespectful

He happened to have some cousins who didn’t think things like memory-verses, Bible songs, or studies from Scripture were “cool.” Slowly they began to influence the way that he responded to me when I came by. A few times when I would come while the cousins were there, he would be incredibly disrespectful in a way to show off for them

I responded by leaving and not seeing them at all for a time, while making clear to him acting that way towards me would not be tolerated. Shortly after I started returning he was disrespectful again, so I’ve stopped ministering to him altogether

This is incredibly hard because I remember the boy who loved to hear the Word of God, and part of me wants to keep pursuing him. However, continuing to minister when he chooses an attitude of arrogance and disrespect sends the message those actions are okay.

So I’ve walked away from his hardened heart, knowing this is the most loving thing that I can do

walking away doesn’t seem as an act of love at first I know. But it is an incredible act of love because I am no longer allowing him to use me for attention. I’m well aware that he’s using me as a way to make himself look cool or strong in front of his cousins. Continuing to come will just feed his desire for attention, and enable stronger disrespect.

Walking away is also loving because it makes him realize just how sinful his actions are. Continuing to come would make him think being disrespectful isn’t that big of a deal (I’ll just come back) but going weeks without seeing me shows he is in the wrong.

In a deeper sense walking away is a confession that there’s nothing I can do to break his hardened heart. Its true that teaching of Scripture can break his stubbornness but this is only if he is willing to listen. When the arrogance and disrespect is going on, he refuses to listen.

Walking away also keeps me from wasting my time (I say this lovingly, don’t view him as a waste) on the hardened hearts, and focus my energy on tender hearts. Its easy to become so focused on the rebellious that we completely overlook those who want to serve God.

Finally, walking away is love because over time God through the Holy Spirit will convict his heart about this sinful attitude. The Holy Spirt is the only who can break a hardened heart, and its my prayer that during this time God will lead him to repentance.

In my heart I believe the Lord will soften this young mans heart so that our relationship can be restored. But even if it never is, I’ll thank God for the days he excitedly ran down the steps to hear Gods Word, and and know that saying goodbye is the most loving thing I could do.

Remember They are Watching

A few months ago I began visiting a family in the community who had four children for a Bible club with songs, memory verses, the books of the Bible, and a lesson. It started with some visual aids but eventually I began using an open Bible, and working through either books of the Bible, or character studies.

yesterday afternoon one of them asked me “where is your Bible?” which was a strange question, but I told him it was in the front pocket of my bag. He proceeded to take it out, turn to the book of Esther, mark it with one of my bookmarks, and proclaim he was teaching the lesson.

He actually did a very good job of teaching a lesson (with review questions) and even got some help from his brothers and sister.

It was pretty neat watching this young man teach us a lesson that he’d recently learned in Sunday school. The deeper application for me though was just how much children pattern themselves after us.

  • He took the Bible that I always used when teaching the lesson
  • Turned to the passage first like I always do
  • Marked it with a marker like I always do (wind turns the pages)
  • Read along with the verse with his finger like I usually do
  • Followed up with review questions like I always do
  • And gave out “bible club dollars” like I always do

To be perfectly honest I was shocked at how much he patterned himself after me! After all, they only see me for around thirty-minutes at a time, and not every day of the week. But during that time, they are watching me very closely.

This is at the same time an incredible blessing, and a great responsibility

it is an incredible blessing because we can all have a strong influence on children’s lives. Many of them (particularly boys) are constantly looking for “role models” who can show them how an adult is supposed to act. Sadly today we don’t see as many positive role models as we used to, so this opportunity for influence is a precious gift.

Of course this is also a great responsibility because they are closely watching. If this young man paid that much attention to what I did with my Bible while teaching, it means he is studying intensely how I live my life. This means my testimony must be one of excellence in front of him.

What is a testimony of excellence? It is what Jerry Bridges calls “Striving for Holiness” in his book, “The Pursuit of Holiness“. In basic terms it means living a life centered on self-denial and self-discipline for God’s glory.

Practically a testimony of excellence would involve things like:

  1. Being organized, and detail oriented instead of procrastinating
  2. Living in a way that deserves respect, and expecting them to respect you
  3. Owning your mistakes
  4. Exhibiting self-control over your emotions
  5. and being willing to obey God when nobody else will

A testimony of excellence is very hard work…but it’s worth it

Because those who continually observe a testimony of excellence will develop their own testimony of excellence

Yesterday was a humbling experience for me. Its my prayer that with the Holy Spirits help, my testimony will do more than just teach the people of Barrouallie how to hold a Bible.

The Dreaded Poochie Lip

1 Kings 21:4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.

As a child my mother always played tapes of “patch the pirate” on the way to school in the mornings. It got to the point where I hadn’t just memorized the songs, but much of the characters lines as well!

One of my favorite songs was “The Poochie Lip Disease” (probably because I had the bad habit of pouting when I didn’t get what I wanted), which is included below.

Even without Patch the Pirate music, the phrase “poochie lip” is clearly understood by the children and young people who I occasionally visit. Basically it refers to a child who doesn’t get what they want, and then respond in anger, or moody pouting.

Thankfully for most children the “poochie lip” only makes an appearance when they are having a really bad day. However there are some for whom it is a way of life.

I Know boys and girls in Barrouallie who when they don’t get what they want;

  1. Will immediately become incredibly disrespectful
  2. Will blow up in violent anger
  3. Will begin crying and feeling sorry for themselves
  4. Or will isolate themselves, refusing to interact with anyone

The really sad thing is responses like this seem to be more and more common, along with a very disrespectful attitude towards those in authority.

This is probably a combination of too little time around their parents (people who will tell them no), and being used to getting whatever they want. But in my opinion, it comes from parents or authority figures allowing the smaller forms of rebellion (crying, self-pity, isolation) to continue until it becomes a more serious problem.

While I’m not a parent I have seen the danger of these passive rebellions, and notice they don’t stay passive. So with the Lords help I’ve begun disciplining the poochie lip.

Now when I use the word “discipline” please understand I’m not referring to anything physical. Instead a child who displays the wrong attitude won’t be given a reward or be allowed to play if we have a game-time. Also in extreme cases I just stop visiting that child.

The point is, the passive rebellion never really stays passive….its going to become bigger. So the wise thing to do is deal with the self-pity like my parents did when I was a child, before it becomes a violent temper-tantrum.

Part of being a spiritual parent is putting a stop to the children who show are constantly disrespectful and rude, but it also means putting a stop to the poochie lip disease.

« Older Entries