Articles for June 2018

Train Up A Child – They’re Worth It! Proverbs 22:6


It has been my privilege over the past three years, to serve on the board of trustees for the Rock Lake Christian Association. My relationship with the camp extends back far beyond those three years as it impacted the life and Christian upbringing of my wife Jody, all four of our children, and now we’re beginning to experience the fruits of such an impact upon yet a third generation in our family as the first two of our grandchildren are experiencing camp at Rock Lake.  This year was Benjamin’s first taste of camp (Kindergarten) as he and his Dad spent an overnighter. Ben had a wonderful time, met some new friends and learned about Jesus in a camp environment.

Brooklyn, a second grader, stayed three days and nights – with no parents! This was Brooklyn’s second year at Rock Lake, so she was (in her mind) a seasoned pro! She also met some new friends and took to camp like a fish to water! But the thing that thrilled my heart more than anything else was this: on Tuesday night, after coming home from camp, about bedtime (for her) I got a phone call from Ryan, her Dad. He told me what a wonderful time Brooklyn had at camp, but what he’d actually called about was, before bedtime, Brooklyn wanted him to read her the story of the lost sheep. That was one of the stories they learned about at camp and she particularly liked it. Ryan knew it was in Matthew but wasn’t sure exactly where to find it. So we come to the conclusion she was talking about the Matthew 18 parable of the lost sheep, also in Luke 15. So he hung up and read her the story. Later he called back and told me how excited she was about the things she had learned at camp. Brooklyn is an exceptional reader for a second grader. She has a children’s bible with lots of pictures and narratives written in story form, but it seems that Brooklyn came home with the request for a Bible, “a real Bible with chapters and verses…like yours…”. She wanted an Adventure Bible, like the ones they had at camp.

In years past, other children have come back from camp with similar experiences, some with stirred desire to be baptized, some simply renewed faith and a closer walk with Jesus. Each year I see so many of our kids going off to camp and coming back again renewed and invigorated! And so many of these kids would most likely not be able to go were it not for the generosity and compassion of this congregation. Every penny spent is a penny invested in these young lives, in the Kingdom of God. Every hour of effort encouraging, teaching, supporting is an investment in the future, in the Kingdom of God.

Somebody said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I have no idea who said it, but they’re right. That’s why those first, early impressions are so, so important. They’re what sets the crease, the imprint.

The things we’re taught early on in life have a chance to set in. Those things you were taught in kindergarten; ABC’s, spelling your name, saying “please” and “thank you”, and “excuse me”, those are things that have stuck with you throughout your life. You don’t have to stop and think about those things. They’re engrained in you. That’s why those childhood years are called “formative” years.

So when you see our youngsters come up front in the sanctuary with quivering knees and recite scripture verses they’ve committed to memory, to earn points for camp….or When you find yourself wondering if all that work that goes into VBS is worth it… or You start to wonder if any of those kids in Sunday school classes are getting anything at all out of it…. Seeds are being planted.  Training is underway. Kingdom work is being done! And it’s not going unnoticed! It’s ALL worth it!

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

(Thank You for Giving to the Lord by Ray Boltz)

I dreamed I went to heaven And you were there with me
We walked upon the streets of gold Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing Then someone called your name
You turned and saw this young man And he was smiling as he came
And he said friend you may not know me now And then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday School When I was only eight
And every week you would say a prayer Before the class would start
And one day when you said that prayer I asked Jesus in my heart
Thank you for giving to the Lord I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord I am so glad you gave

In Christ, Rick

Fathers! Mow that lawn! Joshua 24:15

Oh how I do love springtime! I love the warmer weather. I love the birds singing. I love the trees budding out and the flowers coming up, and many of them blooming! Not so fond of the rapid growth of the grass in my yard though. But, that’s ok, it’s still springtime! After a week or two I’ll mow the lawn.

Fast forward two weeks. Man! My yard’s a mess! Sticks and tree branches layin all over, and the grass is out of control! This yardwork is going to be a nightmare! My yard’s never going to look nice like all the neighbor’s yards! Even when I mow it I’ve got piles of grass clippings everywhere!

The problem is a lack consistent discipline. It’s a little bit like the issue of discipleship. Whether it’s newly saved Christians, who are brothers and sisters in Christ, or those we are witnessing to in hopes of leading them to Lord, or those family members in our own household, we have been called to make disciples of all nations Mt. 28:19. Why? Because we need to share the gospel, for certain, but for those who already are Christians, they need someone to come alongside them; to mentor them, care for them, uphold them in adversity, teach them…disciple them.

Isn’t it interesting how similar “disciple” is, to “disci-pline”? And discipline needn’t take such a negative connotation. Discipline is really a very good thing. The dictionary defines it as ‘an activity or exercise to develop or improve a skill, training; a branch of instruction or learning.’ So to discipline is to improve, or to continue to do correctly; such as may bring to mind the influence and relationships of a father.

Just as that lawn, if ignored and allowed to simply take care of its self, will soon grow unsightly, too long to cut with a conventional lawnmower and with sticks and debris everywhere. In short, it needs to be cared for, disciplined, mentored. Left to fend for itself, chaos ensues. So goes the condition of any individual life, family, nation, church, school…where God is removed and righteousness is left to seek its own level. Even though we intend to do the good we know to be right, there are always forces seeking to prey on the weak and isolated.
1 Peter 5:8 Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Fathers, if that yard of yours is growing out of control, and you’re complaining about it. Who’s responsible for the condition of that yard? You are. You tend to that grass regularly, keep the sticks picked up as you see them appear, clean up the trash when you see it – and you’ll have a fine looking yard that would appear to be taking care of itself. Same goes for your family. You’re given charge of the welfare of those young lives; the care, protection, provision, teaching, spiritual leadership during their most impressionable years. If you leave them to grow up on their own, Satan won’t hesitate to fill their minds with weeds and trash and sticks and rubbish. And you may find at some point that they’ve become like that lawn that just got out of hand.

Father’s, it’s a tough enough job that we have teaching, protecting our families against the lies and evil of the world, when even our best efforts may and many times do fall short. Because, at the end of the day, our children all have a free will choice to make concerning Jesus. But their best chance at an informed decision comes through their upbringing by Godly parents, guided by their own heavenly Father.

This Father’s Day, think about this: Our Nation needs Godly leadership
Our Schools need Godly students
Our Students need Godly families
Our Families need Godly Fathers
Joshua 24:15 “…But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

In Christ,