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Don’t Fight at the Supper table

Dad and mom are busy people. They have many things to do and to worry about. They have to put food on the table and keep the roof overhead. They have to pay for braces on teeth and shoes on feet. Parenting is a consuming task. Most important is raising the children to be obedient and healthy and happy people.

Dad and Mom do not always agree. That should go without saying. But, they should not fight in front of the children. Really, they should not fight at all. They are allowed to disagree. That is normal but, they should not fight. Especially, they should not fight in front of the children.

Children need a sense of security and safety and significance. When parents fight or disagree loudly or even passively, the children lose their sense of security. The people they depend on become undependable. The people they trust lose their trust. The people they need become needy people. In short – life begins to fall apart. The world becomes a dangerous place. Life becomes threatened and the children go into self-protective mode. They begin to make their own decisions earlier than they should.

They realize that if they are to be protected they will have to do it themselves. That is not the way life is to be. Life is to be secured by those whom God has placed over us.

Church is the same way. Leaders are too busy and stretched too thin as they try diligently to provide for the flock. Shepherding is a consuming task. Sometimes the leaders do not agree. That is to be expected. But, they dare not fight in front of the flock. If and when they disagree they need to work out their differences and part ways if needed. They can take the liberty of bringing correction to each other. They should do that. But when they fight “at the supper table” they destroy the sense of security that their people need.

Are some of them right and some of them wrong? Probably. Certainly Paul and Barnabas disagreed very sharply. God used that to send the gospel two different ways. He can do that today also.

Are there times when Church leaders need to be corrected? Certainly! God sends prophets to teach truth and speak truth into the life of the Church. Paul certainly filled that role in the life of Peter. Words needed to be said and Paul said them and Peter listened. Peter’s life was changed by that and other needed corrections.

Working with youth for many years I have heard so many stories. The saddest of these are the stories of Church leader’s disagreements and Church splits. Are some splits needed? Of course, and most youth can understand that. But, when leaders fight, the damage is incalculable. The damage is not immediately apparent and so the leaders do not realize the damage they are causing. But, eventually, the damage becomes evident. Youth watch for a while in disbelief and then they slowly leave the fellowship. They leave emotionally first. This is barely noticeable. Eventually, they actually walk out. Then people ask, “What happened? What is wrong with that person?” Rarely do we ask if we, as leaders, have had a responsible part in what happened.

As on author says, “We say things go wrong in spite of what we are doing. Maybe we should say, Things go wrong because of what we are doing.”

What can we do? First of all realize the potential damage of contentions. Then realize the need to anticipate problems and deal with them in time. To allow polarization and escalation is to provide the soil for continued problems and for losing the youth.

When I write things like this people say, ‘you are talking about my church.’ No, it is just that the pattern repeats so often that it has become predictable. Some of the older people are sure that they are right so they argue and make their case and forget who they are damaging. It is happening so many places. We are forgetting who we are. We are forgetting who is the real enemy. We are forgetting that we are the Church of Jesus Christ led by His Holy Spirit.

Are there times when public shaming needs to be done? Of course. Paul says, “Those who sin rebuke before all so that others may fear.” Sometimes this is needed in cases of recalcitrant persons. It should be the exception – not the rule. And all of the quiet little “counsel meetings” held by parties of both sides are so destructive and hurtful.

How can these things be resolved? Is there not a wise man among you? Paul asks. Find those wise men and heed their counsel. God has the answers if we will listen.

Stop fighting at the supper table. It is destroying the family.
• Separate yourselves from those who walk disorderly.
• Have fellowship with those who walk in truth.

I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?
I Corinthians 6:5

I Did It My Way

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out

I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all so amusing to think I did all that

And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels

The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
Yes, it was my way

Frank Sinatra

If you want to know what is wrong with the world – this is it. People living “my way.” Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) took the reigning philosophy to the people via pop music. Even the people who never listened to this song or any other pop music of the era became influenced by the pervasive sense that infiltrated the entire society.

It may not be an accident that the erosion of the Mennonite Church was most evident during this time and following. The Brethren were also highly influenced. More of them actually listened to the music and so were directly moved. Hence – the broad erosion of the Brethren during this time.

What about today – 2014? Is this still the pervasive influence? Probably for many people it is. Especially for the 50+ crowd. Youth are now being impacted by different forces. That does not mean that selfishness is not in operation – it is. It is more subtle today than earlier but it is still there. However, it is not as prominent in the current youth as it was in the youth of the 50’s and 60’s.

Selfishness is the scourge of humanity. It is resident in our lives from our earliest days. The purpose of discipline is to eliminate selfishness from life. Early discipline removes selfishness. Self-less role models also are a necessary part of becoming self-less.

Stay away from the wrong influences of music, advertising, philosophies, education, counseling and/or other influence that promotes selfishness.

Paul told the Philippians that he had no one to send to them except Timothy because others put themselves ahead of the Church. He tells the Corinthians similar truths about Titus.

Let us be the Timothy and Titus of our generation. Let us be about the Kingdom of God and not our own will and self-aggrandizement. Leaders in God’s Kingdom are servants. Servants do not have rights. They have opportunities. They have responsibilities. Opportunities to be of service to God and others. Responsibilities to be about our Father’s business.

So, the future generations will not say of us that, “we did it our way” but that we did it God’s way. That we were controlled by the Holy Spirit of God.

Bless you as you do exactly that.

Guarding the Henhouse

It is so difficult to find willing and knowledgeable workers. So, when we needed help to guard the henhouse we looked for workers who were willing and knowledgeable about hens. One applicant was a very willing worker. It was Mr. Fox.

We explained our plight in having difficulty finding willing and knowledgeable guards. Mr. Fox was very understanding and was quick witted and sharp. Not to mention that he had a great deal of interest in hens and seemed to know a very much about the subject of henhouses. It seems that he had picked up some experience about this subject over the years.

He was impeccably dressed. Always, he wore an auburn suit with a contrasting white accent. He was bright-eyed and alert. He was impressive, to be sure.

And also, he was so pleased that we asked him to be one of the guards. He quickly volunteered to be on duty during the late night and early morning watches. Those are the most difficult times to find guards. How impressive! How comforting to know that the henhouse is being protected when we are sleeping.

Sadly, there were some who did not seem impressed with his credentials. They even questioned our judgment in hiring him. It took a lot of effort to dispel their concerns. Fortunately we had enough votes to over-ride their objections. Actually, we had to remove those stubborn individuals who persisted in demanding that we not hire Mr. Fox.

Now we can rest in peace knowing that the hens are safe and in good hands.

A Good Name

A good name is better than precious ointment,
And the day of death than the day of one’s birth;
Better to go to the house of mourning
Than to go to the house of feasting,
For that is the end of all men;
And the living will take it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
Than for a man to hear the song of fools.
For like the crackling of thorns under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool.
This also is vanity.
Surely oppression destroys a wise man’s reason,
And a bribe debases the heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:1-7

Girls are Not the Enemy

The “Two Monks” story could have been about any two men. The difference in the men is striking. They had different views of women, and of themselves.

Girls are not the enemy. Girls are beautiful creations of the Creator God. Men and women are created to be complementary parts of the human creation. Neither are to be exploited by the other. Neither are to be shunned by the other. Neither are to be used by the other. We are part and parcel of God’s plan for His creation. We are here as heirs together of His grace. We are here to live and love and respect each other.

When men are not real men they go either of two ways. Either they exploit the women or they stay away from them and see them as seductresses (whether the women have that self-perception or not). How sad can this be? What is the Godly way for men and women to relate?

Girls and women are waiting and longing for men who are real men: strong, safe, caring, compassionate, conversant, respecting and protecting. Men with real love who see the beauty of the heart in spite of any externals. Girls long for real men whom they could trust on the remotest island on the darkest night.

Real men see the beauty of the Creator in the beauty of the creation. They grieve for the pain that is caused by the dysfunction and abuse of God’s ideal. Real men are engaged in restoring that ideal. Real men respect all girls and women.

Most men, on the other hand, fall into the two above mentioned categories. Monk or preacher, teacher or mechanic, physician or physicist. Men are men and they need to see the hand of the Creator in the creation. Regardless of their station in life they need to see themselves as men of God first, before any other self-perceptions, earned or endowed.

The ideal is for men and women of all ages to honor each other and live Godly lives together on this planet. Married or single, we honor and respect each other. We do not fear each other. We complement each other in many ways and at all times. That is God’s plan

So, one monk can see the girl as an enemy who might make him fall into sin in fact or in thought.

The other monk can see the girl as a real person with a real need and meet that need with absolutely no thought of expectation of improper compensation. May his tribe increase.

Two Monks

Two monks were walking along. One old and one young. They came to a deep stream where a teenage girl was wanting to cross. The older monk crossed and walked ahead. The younger monk picked up the girl and carried her across. He then caught up with the older monk. They walked together silently for a mile.

The older monk spoke first. “Brother, we do not do things like that!” He went on to lecture the young man about proprieties.

Eventually the younger man responded: Brother,
“I put the girl down a mile ago. Are you still carrying her?”

Do Not Grieve the Spirit

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30


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