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TRAIL GUIDE: The Purpose of Strengths

QUEST Trail Guide Devo

The “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Loving God with all our strength: part 3: The Purpose of Strengths

Remembering back to our first lesson on strength we said that, “First, He is the fountainhead of our strength. Second, He stands ready to renew our strength if we will seek Him, trust Him, and wait on Him. Third, God gives us strength not for our own selfish interests or nonsense but to glorify Him and do the good works of the Kingdom that He has prepared in advance for us to walk in.”

Let’s talk this week about that last point. The Bible teaches that as followers of Christ we have been given the right to be called “children” of God. It goes on to teach us to imitate God, “as dearly loved children.” In what ways can we imitate God? The Living God is in His essence a savior and defender. Psalm 68 says He is a “Father to the fatherless and defender of widows.”

Psalm 34 tells us that He is “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 82 extends these duties to us. “Stand up for those who are weak and for those whose fathers have died. See to it that those who are poor and those who are beaten down are treated fairly. Save the weak and those who are in need.”

Do not make the mistake of thinking that this only applies to physical oppression either. Jesus says of himself (and by extension his followers), “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”

The Spirit of the Lord is upon all of His children now and in His strength we are to be imitators of our Heavenly Father. The fact that Jesus immediately moved from loving God to loving our neighbor isn’t coincidence. This makeover isn’t to be kept to ourselves. God saved us, but left us in the world for a reason. We are being made over for a purpose! Let’s get to it!

“The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.” -Psalm 28:7a

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Heb 13:16 | Phil 2:4 | Lk 6:38 | 1 Jn 3:17
Gal 6:2 | Rom 15:1 | Eph. 2:10

TRAIL GUIDE: Remember When?

QUEST-Trail-Guide-Devo“Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 3, Lesson 3: Remember When?

Why is it that God spends so much time in the Bible telling His children to “remember” Him? I’d like to venture four reasons I believe are grounded in scripture. When we fail to remember God we risk…
1. …Falling into idolatry/trusting ourselves or our possessions (Deut. 8:13-14)
2. …Never growing in trust of/faith in God (Isa. 40:20-21)
3. …Stumbling into sin and suffering the Father’s discipline (Deut. 8:19)
4. …Forfeiting a generation to the enemy (Judges 2:10-11)

So how can we use our minds to remember God? Here are five ways, listed below, that God has ordained for us to remember Him, who He is, and all that He has done. Help your kids use their memory to love God this week.

1. In His Word – God’s Word is our primary means of remembering who He is and all that He has done throughout history. As adults our most important duty in the kingdom is to take the words of God and, “Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).
2. In song – Remembering God in song is a theme we see in scripture over and over again. How wonderful it is that our Creator gave us music, knowing the power it has to help us remember as well as to connect our heads to our hearts and emotions.
3. In prayer – Prayer should not only be about asking for help but about remembering to God all that He has done. When we thank God in our prayers we are “remembering” that God alone is responsible for providing our every need. (Nehemiah 9)
4. In true Christian fellowship – Fellowship is much more than potluck dinners or bowling night. It is about gathering together to remember God to one another. (1 Corinthians 14:26)
5. In traditions and memorials – Traditions and memorials are things that we, in the bible church movement have largely banished from the life of the church. While a healthy dose of caution about tradition becoming idolatry is warranted, the Bible is also clear that God has given us tradition and memorial to help us “remember” who He is and all that He has done. (Joshua 4:4-7, Luke 22:19)
I hope that these will serve you well in helping the children in your group apply their minds to remembering God for who He is and what He’s done.

“Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely  changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.”    -Romans 12:2

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Josh 4:21-24 | Prov 22:6
Psalm 103:1-5 | Jn 14:26
Deut 11:19 | Prov 3:1-6
Deut 8:1-5 | Deut 24:9

TRAIL GUIDE: Mind Marinade

QUEST Trail Guide DevoThe “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 3, Lesson 1: Mind Marinade

When we talk about our mind, what exactly do we mean? What are the functions of the mind? When we talk about the mind in the Bible we are talking thoughts, attitudes, imagination, will, purposes, convictions, intelligence, understanding, and memory. In the Bible, the mind and the heart are closely tied together. Many times they are used interchangeably. They communicate and work together to influence our actions.

What would the mind of a Jesus follower increasingly look like? The transformed and renewed mind of the Christian will love God, seeking Him with the intellect, meditating on His Word in prayer, taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ, deciding to fix its thoughts on Christ and the things of heaven, serving with the will, remembering who God is and what He has done, and employing all its power of imagination and creativity to glorify God. Worshiping God with the mind will have repercussions in the heart and soul.

Help the children understand that the life of a follower of Jesus is more than good works and nice words. It is a life of integrity that includes your way of thinking. This renewal happens as we marinate our minds in the Word of God.

“Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely  changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.”    -Romans 12:2

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

2 Corinthians 10:5 | Numbers 15:40 | Col 3:2 | 1 Chron. 28:9

Shark Wranglers continued…Lucas’ story

Continued from previous post… I learned a lesson that day. When our mission is just and godly we cannot let fear stop us. 

The Great Claim & The Great Promise

What could be scarier than going on a rescue mission into a hostile world in the name of Christ?  Most of us are familiar with the Great Commission as recorded for us in Matthew chapter 28. In this famous scene Jesus commissioned the disciples, and those disciples not yet born, to go into the world and share the gospel with the nations.  What most of us forget is that there are bookends to the Great Commission, namely the Great Claim and the Great Promise.  Let’s take a look.

     “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [the Great Claim]. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.[the Great Promise]”

Number one, Jesus first claims the authority, all authority, to say what he is about to say.  No one in their right mind charges into battle on the orders of a Private 1st Class.  It just doesn’t happen.  We want to know authority backs up the orders. Jesus has been given all power that exists, in heaven and on earth.  This command comes from the highest of all authorities.

After Jesus lays this very scary battle plan on us, he follows it up with a promise.  “Not only do I have the authority to send you on this mission, but I myself will be fighting along with you every step of the way.”  Do you believe him?

Lucas continued

When we left Lucas he was beginning to attend a new school, a gathering of the worst of the worst from the city’s overburdened school system. Their first “field trip” would change his life forever… Lucas’ class would be going to a local swim school that had been contracted by the city to teach swim lessons.  A shark wrangler by the nickname, “Zinho,” is the school’s owner as well as a former coach for Brazil’s Olympic program and a follower of Jesus Christ. He was on hand that first day.  He looked on as these unruly delinquents plunged willy-nilly into the pool. One of them in particular caught his well-trained eye.  This smallish, Afro-Brazilian boy dove in headfirst and, although he had no idea how to swim, he seemed to be at home in the water. Zinho called Lucas from the pool and asked if he would like to learn to be a competitive swimmer.  Lucas wasn’t sure what was involved, but he sure liked the pool and figured it was a good chance to spend more time there.

Zinho, Lucas and Michael

Right to left – Lucas, Zinho, and my son Michael

me and lucas

Lucas & me

In those days our organization, Open Arms, was also beginning to lead Bible-based, civic and moral education classes in Lucas’ new school.  Because my sons were also swimming at Zinho’s academy, he and I talked a lot together about the school and about Lucas.  We agreed that Open Arms would start a Bible study with the children on the swim team. Zinho recruited an older gentleman from his church to also meet with Lucas for one-on-one discipleship every week. Lucas began to split his time between our home and the swim school, where Zinho had made up a room for him. 

DSC_0139

Our Family at Christmas in Brazil

It was a bumpy road, as Lucas had no experience with limits or personal discipline of any kind. His brothers were drug users and well-known thieves and tough guys in one of the most notorious neighborhoods of the city (coincidentally one of Lucas’ brothers was incarcerated with Eduardo from our earlier story). His mother had no interest in caring for him but held on to legal guardianship in order to receive a small pension that was intended for his care. He once asked me tearfully, “Why did GOD give me such a terrible family? Why couldn’t I have a family like yours? Why couldn’t Maikinho and Rapha (my two boys) be my brothers?”

Lucas swim 2011

Lucas still has a lot of hurt to overcome, but in the context of a safe, healthy relationship with godly men and their families, Lucas gave his own life to Jesus.

Today Lucas talks of college and eventually a wife and family.  He told me recently, “I will never quit now. I know what I want and I know what GOD wants of me.”  For Lucas, the psalmists’ words are his own, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” (Psalm 27:10).

 

The Spirit of GOD works through the lives of men committed to be fathers to the fatherless.  It’s time for the shark wranglers and bull elephants of the Church to stand up and step out. It can and will make difference in the lives of the children you touch. 

Raphael the fearless…Shark Wranglers continued

Raphael the fearless

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

Early on in our work in Brazil we made a lot of rookie mistakes.  One in particular led to a wonderful story of the fearless faith of a child.  I think it might just encourage the shark wrangler hidden within you.

We had begun our first outreach using a building belonging to a little church.  As we reorganized the space to make space for our material we encountered a room full to the ceiling with used clothes.  Clothing had been collected for a bazaar and these were the leftovers. The clothes were in good condition, but no one was quite sure what to do with them. So after getting permission from the pastor, we set a date to take the clothes and distribute them in a favela (slum neighborhood) adjoining the neighborhood where the church was located.  On a typically balmy Brazilian summer afternoon we loaded the clothing into the back of our pick-up truck and headed out.  My two boys, Michael (9) and Raphael (7) were riding along, as well as Pastor Tiago, my friend Marcelo, and another boy from the outreach, Adriano. dnfr

A Just Cause

As we pulled to a stop in the neighborhood we were immediately approached by curious children and then adults asking what we were doing.  When they realized we were giving things away, the word went out and in an instant a sea of humanity surrounded us.  People pushed and shouted as we tried to distribute the clothes in some semblance of order.  About that time the door of the pick-up opened (I had forgotten to lock the door in the confusion) and some children jumped in and started grabbing at whatever they could find.  My soccer ball went first and then one of them grabbed my handsaw and took off up the street.  My youngest boy Raphael saw the whole thing and yelled to me, “Dad, that boy stole your saw!” I told him we had bigger problems and that we just needed to lock the doors now so that my wallet wasn’t next.  He insisted, “But that wasn’t a donation!  That’s stealing and it’s wrong!” Again, I told him to forget about it.  Next thing I know, there goes by little boy, barefoot, up the street, through the favela after the saw.  He didn’t hear me when I called to him so I asked Adriano to tail him and make sure he didn’t get into any trouble.

After a few minutes I was getting worried.  The throng began to subside as the last of the clothing was carted off. Where was my son?  I looked up and my heart jumped as I saw Raphael walking back toward the truck…with a triumphant look on his face and my saw in his hand.  As scary as that was for a dad, I learned a lesson that day. When our mission is just and godly we cannot let fear stop us.  

Shark Wranglers continued

see previous post...https://lastmanstandingchurch.com/2014/02/21/shark-wranglers/

Substitute “Strong Man”

Brothers, we all know it is our GOD given duty as men to care for our own children, to protect them, to fight off the sharks of this world and guide our children on the narrow path that leads to life.  But as Christian men we have a call that goes beyond just our own little ones.  “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16.  It is not enough to hide with our children, or the children of the church on shore, within our homes, our safe neighborhoods or the walls of the church building, when there are still children in the water with the sharks.

Ladies, are you laboring with the men in your life as a team to pull more children away from the sharks, like the aunt in our story, binding up the wounds of one child while he goes back for more?  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, as a substitute.  When the “strong man” in the life of a child has been removed we, as Christ imitators, the last men standing, have the privilege to step into the gap, in the name of the Savior, as a substitute and sure up the walls in the life of that young person. bridgingthegap

Does that sound scary?  Sure it does.  But “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).  If this is a mission from our Father, and it is, then we must trust in the words that GOD said to Joshua and to all those warriors who would follow, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9).

 

Eduardo continued… From “Last Man Standing” the book

Eduardo continued

…When we left Eduardo he was serving out his time in the infamous FEBEM juvenile prison system of Brazil, never hearing from a single “friend,” his only visitor being his mother.  But then he got a letter that would change everything. The letter, came from a an old P.E. teacher from his grade school years, Marcelo, and was accompanied by a photograph of the two of them together with some other boys from one of the many schools he had passed through in his childhood.  Marcelo wrote that he had heard from some friends of the trouble Eduardo had gotten himself into and let him know that he was praying for him and would like to catch up with him upon his release.  It was a simple letter, but it was also the only letter Eduardo would get from anyone throughout his 18-month sentence.

The day of his release came and it wasn’t long after getting home that his so called, “friends” came to welcome him back. Their first order of business was to invite him on a home invasion they were planning in the coming days.  He accepted.  In the mean time he thought he should at least track down Marcelo, this P.E. teacher who he still couldn’t believe remembered him, and thank him for the kind letter.  He found Marcelo, thanked him and, after a little chitchat, was ready to go back home, mission accomplished.  But then Marcelo invited him to come out to a party with some youth from his church.  Eduardo was leery of going to a “church” thing, but Marcelo assured him it was purely social and not a worship service.  He accepted, completely missing that the night of the party was the same night as the planned robbery.

Attending that party with Marcelo, Eduardo was taken aback by the other youth he met.  They were different.  The way they talked to each other and to him was completely foreign to him, but he liked it.  The next day his “friends” came around and asked why he had blown them off and not shown up as planned.  Eduardo made some excuses and rescheduled for another night the following week.  The day of that robbery Marcelo paid an unexpected visit to Eduardo and invited him to join them again for a night out.  This time Eduardo jumped at the chance, completely forgetting that he was “double booking” himself yet again. Once more he had a great time with Marcelo and his new friends and was more and more intrigued by what made them so different.

The next morning the old crew showed up at his home, even more frustrated with being dissed another time.  Eduardo wasn’t so sure of the sincerity of his apology this time, but

Marcelo & Eduardo (center)

Marcelo & Eduardo (center)

rescheduled once more just the same.  The day came and this time it was Eduardo calling Marcelo to ask if he could please come to a worship service being held for the youth at a local church that night.  It was the last time Eduardo would schedule a robbery, because that night, as Marcelo shared the good news of Jesus with the youth gathered together, GOD stole Eduardo’s heart for good.

Eduard at FEBEM

Eduardo outside the juvenile detention center

Soon after, Marcelo introduced Eduardo to Patricia and me at an Open Arms outreach project and we got him plugged in as a volunteer, teaching hip-hop dance to the kids.  Marcelo, Patricia and I have been walking with Eduardo ever since.  He has lived in our home, sharing a room with our boys, when things were going badly in his.  He has shared meals and holidays with our family.  Eduardo has gone on to go to college, has planted (at the time of this writing) three Open Arms outreach projects, has shared his testimony all over Brazil, began an outreach back into the same juvenile facility he spent time in, and has led untold numbers of children and youth to Christ.  Eduardo says today, “After about three months of resisting the temptation of returning to drugs and crime, my so-called “friends” stopped coming around.  Had it not been for my new-found faith in Jesus and friends from Open Arms, I don’t think I would have made it.”

DSC_0251

Eduardo and I at an Open Arms Outreach

Du e Claudia

Eduardo and his bride, Claudia

An interesting footnote to this story of Eduardo is that, on one particular evening soon after his conversion, he was invited with some of the other church youth to a meeting at a house belonging to the family of one of the girls in the youth group, one of his new best friends.  As they arrived at the house Eduardo’s jaw dropped.  It was the very same house he and his crew had planned to rob the day he went to jail, the day a voice inside him said, “Not this house.”  He knew now whom that voice belonged to.

Trail Guide Devotional

This ran recently on the Reston Bible Church blog.

TRAIL GUIDE: God’s Word is Our Strength

QUEST Trail Guide DevoThe “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

FREE CLIMBING, LESSON 4: Victory Over Sin

“It’s an open-book test.”  Those words can indeed be beautiful to hear in the face of a difficult exam.  I remember clearly the first time I heard them in a high school chemistry class.  At once, my heart jumped because I had not studied well for the test.  In fact, I hadn’t studied well for the whole year in that class.  I thought, “This is a gift!”  Sadly, my joy turned to nervous sweat as I frantically thumbed pages and scoured the index of a book I had barely cracked all semester.  I quickly learned that, without a good working knowledge of the book, an open-book test isn’t much easier at all.  I needed the answers now and there just wasn’t time to find them because I didn’t know where to look.

The temptations or tests that we face in our spiritual lives are “open-book” tests too.  “Your Word is like a lamp that shows me the way. It is like a light that guides me.”  “How can a young person keep his life pure? By living in keeping with your Word.”    The psalmist says that the one who meditates on the Word day and night is “blessed.”  When Jesus was tempted in the desert after forty days without food, his weapon of choice against the Devil was the Word.  “It is written…” Jesus answered three times and Satan retreated.  When Satan distorted the words of God, Jesus knew how to answer him.  What if Jesus had, like Adam and Eve, simply listened to Satan’s lies and had no response?  Rather than being hyper-vigilant and sheltering our children, we must exhort them to be prepared for what WILL come.  And when they are tempted they will be able to say, “I have hidden your Word in my heart so that I won’t sin against you.”  It’s an open book test.  Know the book.

“How can a young person keep his life pure? By living in keeping with your word.” 
“I have hidden your word in my heart so that I won’t sin against you.” (Psalm 119:9,11)

“So obey God. Stand up to the devil. He will run away from you.”  -James 4:7

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:
Psalm 119:9,11
1 John 5:4-5
Matthew 6:9,13
James 4:7

Bull Elephants and Shark Wrestlers

continued from  https://lastmanstandingchurch.com/2013/12/14/being-imitators-of-god-continued/

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

In the following chapters we will explore what this might look like in your life.  We will hear testimonies of men and their families who are engaged in the fight in very real and practical ways and hopefully encourage you to step into the fray.

Chapter 5 – Of Bull Elephants and Shark Wrestlers

To begin unpacking Psalm 68:5-6 we need to first explore what it means to be a “Father to fatherless,” the critical role the church can and must play as the last man standing.  We will see how that is reflected in the life of a godly man and, should he be blessed to have one, his family. We will also examine the role for the godly woman and the local Christian congregation in what at first may seem like mostly a “guy thing.”

Elephants behaving badly

Those who know me well know that I love a good story, especially a true one and extra-especially one with dangerous animals involved.  My mother would tell you that not much has changed in that regard over the 42 years of my life.  I am hoping that you like them to because I have a couple I’d like to share with you. This first one made headlines back in 1999 when it appeared in a report by CBS news.  The tale goes something like this,

In South Africa’s Pilanesberg Park, white rhinos began turning up dead in astonishing numbers, nearly forty to be exact.  This was alarming and confusing: alarming because it represented 10% of the whole population of white rhinos, and confusing because the deaths hadn’t been the result of poaching.  The latter was made clear by the fact that the highly valuable ivory horns had not been removed.  A little bit of investigation led the park rangers to the culprits, juvenile male elephants. But why?  This was not normal behavior for juvenile elephants at all. What could possibly have led them, as was subsequently observed, to form into violent groups and rampage through the park, molesting, tormenting and eventually killing white rhinos?  The answer to the question can be found by looking at the history of the park as well as elephant social structure.

For the sake of full disclosure, I am not an expert on elephants, but this story intrigued me so I did some reading.  In elephant “culture” the young are raised by the females of the herd until a certain age.  We’ll call that age adolescence.  At that point the male elephants are pushed out of the group and will seek out the older bull elephants of their family (grandfathers, father and uncles presumably) in the wild where they will essentially, “learn what it means to be a bull elephant,” which, by the way, does not include murdering rhinos.

Street Thugs of the Savannah

So what went wrong at Pilanesberg?  For that answer we need to travel back some twenty years from the time of the rhino killings.  In those days another large reserve in South Africa, Kruger National Park, was having an elephant over-population problem.  A government veterinarian (it just had to be the government right?) developed the ingenious plan to sacrifice the adults, because they were too difficult to move, and instead relocate only the babies. Where to?  To Pilanesberg of course.

When these now “fatherless” baby boy elephants reached adolescence; they went out into the wild to look for their male “kinfolk.” When there were no bull elephants to be found these youngsters stuck together and formed gangs.  Yes, gangs.  Interestingly enough, one of the things older bull elephants do for their juvenile counterparts is to discourage them from mating too young.  This keeps their testosterone in check and, as a result, diminishes some of their more aggressive impulses.  Without older bull elephants to lead the way, the young bulls began mating and seeking to mate at a very young age, stimulating their testosterone levels through the roof and, just like that, dead rhinos and other such mayhem.  Sadly, several of these delinquent elephants were put down before someone finally had a stroke of real genius.

 

Elephant Big Brother Program

Using modified trucks, larger, older bull elephants were trucked in from Kruger Park by rangers.  What happened then must have seemed like a miracle.  A new hierarchy almost immediately emerged as the older bulls quickly established themselves as dominant over the younger, smaller bulls.  Through sparring with the younger elephants, the older bulls successfully discouraged them from being sexually active. This, predictably, lowered testosterone levels and the rhinos, once again, were safe to roam the savannah.  In fact, since the big bulls arrived on the scene, not a single rhino has been molested.

Taking a page out of the playbook

Is this so different from what is happening with fatherless children in communities all around the world?  It is precisely what we described when we talked about “street activity” and the missing “strong man” in our communities. So what is the lesson here?  Fathers are important?  Yes. Youth, and boys in particular, are trouble if left alone without supervision?  Clearly.  We’ve already established that the “strong man” has been tied up and what the ramifications of that are for our children and society.  But this is more than a wild kingdom mirror image of what is happening in our communities and around the world, it is a road map for how the last man standing, the church of Jesus Christ, could and should respond.

Our neighborhoods are overflowing with fatherless children, both boys and girls, who are in desperate need of interested adults: in need of a provider, protector, teacher and friend.  Remember what we said previously, it cannot be just any old mentor but a godly father figure, one who is committed to modeling a Christ centered life, is equipped for the battle and one who is engaged in actively teaching the truth within the context of a loving and safe relationship.

These children are waiting for the old bull elephants to come and put things straight.  Whether they realize it or not, these “youth gone wild” are desperate for an old bull to come along and say, “Whoa there boys, not the rhino’s. That’s not how we roll. You follow me and I’ll show you the way it’s done.”

Fatherless girls need to hear an old bull say, “Sweetheart, you are precious in GOD’s eyes. You are loved. Don’t let those young bulls fool you into giving away your heart.  Don’t throw yourself at them. Give them time to mature.  Stick with me and I’ll protect you and value you for who you are, not what you can do for me.” 

Several studies published over the last twenty years have focused on children identified as “students at risk” for behaviors ranging from out-of-wedlock pregnancy, drug use, and alcohol abuse.  The students who did not get involved in those behaviors identified one common reason; someone took a personal interest in them in such a way that they felt loved and connected.  Children at-risk are in need of some old bulls to ride in and say to Satan and his workers, as Jesus did in Matthew 18:6, “If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Can it make a difference?  Can you make a difference? Let’s see.

Being Imitators of God (continued)

If our Father GOD is a “Father to the fatherless” a “defender of widows” who “places the lonely in families,” then we, as his children, his imitators, should be mimicking these traits in our lives.

Is this line of reasoning born out elsewhere in scripture?  I believe it is.  GOD gives specific instruction for treatment of the fatherless and the widow.  His law, as laid out for us in the Old Testament, is chock-full of commands to care for the fatherless and the widow among us.  James repeats these calls in the New Testament when he makes this radical statement.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

In the following chapters we will explore what this might look like in your life.  We will hear testimonies of men and their families who are engaged in the fight in very real and practical ways and hopefully encourage you to step into the fray.