Saturday, May 24, 2008

Planning for the Holidays

CJ Mahaney plans for his vacation in a way that most of us would not think of. He says:
I thought it might be helpful if I passed along seven lessons I’ve learned over the years, in hopes that your family vacation will be a God-glorifying, grace-filled, relationship-building, memory-making time together.
Here's his 7 lessons of which you can read about the first 2 here.
1. A Servant Heart
2. A Tone-Setting Attitude
3. An Awareness of Indwelling Sin
4. Studying Your Family
5. Skillful Surprises
6. Intentionally Together
7. Gratefulness to God

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Don't Waste Your Life - Don't become a Chamois!

If you're thinking about, approaching, or in your retirement you should watch this clip. If you're not quite there yet (like me), ask ourself this question: how and what are you planning for your future?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fear not men but let God be your fear

The title is a quote from one of Samuel Rutherford's letters written to one of his parishioners in the mid 1600's. I don't know about you but I certainly still need to be reminded of this truth today in 2008. I've been reminded of it today in a couple of ways.

First, our pastor Peter Grainger continued our series in the book of Acts today with a sermon entitled "The First Megachurch". His third point dealt with the account of Ananias and Sapphira and the "great fear" of God that swept through the early church as a result of these events (Acts 5:11). Peter quoted from Richard Longnecker's commentary on Acts:
…while we may be thankful that judgement upon deceit in the church is not now so swift and drastic, the incident stands as an indelible warning regarding the heinousness in God’s sight of deception in spiritual and personal matters.
You can listen to the whole sermon here. As Peter was preaching, it occurred to me how often I don't fear God as I should, but instead spend far too much energy focussing on sinful fears based on material worries and anxieties about family or what others think of me. In his excellent book Running Scared, Ed Welch shows us that the antidote to the fears that cripple us is a proper fear of God:
If you really want to fight fear, learn to fear Someone who captures your attention in such a way that your other fears suddenly seem pedestrian and unimportant...Can you hear the echo of the Sermon on the Mount? After Jesus reasoned with us about our worries and anxieties, he gave us the premier anti-anxiety treatment: "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" (Matt 6:33). You treat worries by pursuing what is even more important. Fear still reveals our allegiances, this time in a positive way. If we have a mature fear of the Lord, it means that we value and revere him above all else. That's how we fight fear with fear.
So by earnestly seeking to live in reverent fear of God, I counter the sinful fears that so often clog up my life and distract me from serving him as I should. Or to put it another way, when my life is full of worry and fear, it probably means that I am not fearing God as I should.
He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge (Proverbs 14:26)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Being Mindful as He is Mindful

How would you live differently in your day if you were seeking to do all to the glory of God?

Some of my answers, in no particular order:

1. Think before I speak
2. Pray before I think
3. Be more thankful
4. Exercise self-control when disciplining
5. Show and tell my family more that I love them
6. Fearlessly speak about Jesus
7. Forgive quicker
8. Exercise more patience
9. Ask for his help
10. Depend on His grace
11. Eat better
12. Switch off filler-time TV

"Pray that God will make you more conscious of the fact that you live every day under His all-seeing eye. While you may not be mindful of Him, He is certainly aware of you and sees every deed you do, hears every word you say, and knows every thought you think. Beyond that, He even searches out your motives. Let us then seek to be as mindful of Him as He is of us." Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins

Friday, May 09, 2008

Magnifying God & Money

Yesterday I asked how I might instill in my son a healthy understanding of money and spending and bring him up in such a way that he finds it more rewarding to give than to receive. Here are my thoughts on how we might magnify God when teaching our children about money.

1. Teach your children to love Christ more than anything else by loving Christ more than anything else.

2. Teach your children that every good thing comes from God and not because Daddy has a job.

3. Teach your children that Daddy has a job because God has given him a job.

4. Teach your children to be thankful for all that they have by being thankful for all that you have.

5. Continually thank God with your children for all that you have.

6. Continually thank God with your children for all that you do not have because Christ is better by far.

7. Pray with your children for those who do not have.

8. Give to those who do not have.

9. Teach your children to be good stewards by looking after property, clothes and toys.

10. Teach them not to worry about what they will eat or wear by trusting God for all that you need.

11. Don't spend what you do not have.

12. Share what you do have.


John Piper has a helpful sermon on Luke 12: 32-34, Magnifying God with Money.
32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Here are his main points from the sermon:

1. Do not fear when it comes to money & things

2. Have an impulse toward simplicity rather than accumulation

3. Maximise your treasure in Heaven, not on earth

4. Your heart moves toward what you cherish

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Teaching Kids about Money

I'm not sure about any of your experiences with kids and money but this is an area that I have given scant thought to. However, last week I found myself confronted with this issue and it has forced me to think about how I should teach my kids about money and spending. I decided to take my 4 year old on a shopping trip, just the two of us (without the girls) and hoped that we could spend (pardon the pun) some mummy and son time together getting in the groceries for the week and picking out a few other clothing items since Scotland is at last seeing some sunshine.

My son was excited at the prospect of getting pretty much undivided time with his mum and decided to make the most of it! It is not an exaggeration to say that every 2 minutes we spent in the shop my son would exclaim: 'Can I have this?' Normally this is reserved until we get to that dreaded part in the store where there are a few shelves of toys and books. But this time it was every aisle! He wanted specific kinds of yoghurts, fruit, crisps, sweets, drinks and even when we got to the clothes section he had a paddy (tantrum) when I declined to buy him the new pair of pj's he wanted with the picture of the sports car. I've never experienced anything like it. All of a sudden my son has turned into a shoppaholic and no amount of 'we don't have any money to buy that' or 'you'll need to save up some pennies for that' or 'perhaps this is something that you can get for your birthday' did not cut it with him. So, my big question is: how can I instill in my son a healthy understanding of money and spending and bring up a boy who is more concerned to give than receive?

I have a few ideas. Crosswalk also have their 10 Tips for Teaching Kids about Money. Any more suggestions?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Single in Christ

Continuing our discussion on singleness, John Piper preached this sermon last week which I have found challenging as someone who is married with children. There are many times when I find myself idolizing my marriage and family life. I needed to be reminded once again that these things are temporary and that my relationship with Christ defines the value of my life. To be in Christ is to have God's best, it is not his gift of a husband and children.

The following is an excerpt from the sermon of which I encourage you, whether single or married, to listen to and gain wisdom.
My main point is that God promises those of you who remain single in Christ blessings that are better than the blessings of marriage and children, and he calls you to display, by the Christ-exalting devotion of your singleness, the truths about Christ and his kingdom that shine more clearly through singleness than through marriage and childrearing. The truths, namely,
  1. That the family of God grows not by propagation through sexual intercourse, but by regeneration through faith in Christ;1
  2. That relationships in Christ are more permanent, and more precious, than relationships in families (and, of course, it is wonderful when relationships in families are also relationships in Christ; but we know that is often not the case);
  3. That marriage is temporary, and finally gives way to the relationship to which it was pointing all along: Christ and the church—the way a picture is no longer needed when you see face to face;
  4. That faithfulness to Christ defines the value of life; all other relationships get their final significance from this. No family relationship is ultimate; relationship to Christ is.

To say the main point more briefly: God promises spectacular blessings to those of you who remain single in Christ, and he gives you an extraordinary calling for your life. To be single in Christ is, therefore, not a falling short of God’s best, but a path of Christ-exalting, covenant-keeping obedience that many are called to walk.

If you don't have time to listen to all the sermon, here's a 5 minute excerpt: