Thursday, January 27, 2011


Parenting Advice

So how do you identify a good parent? You look at their kids.

It is always hard to talk about what makes a good parent. Part of that is because we are so uncomfortable with kids who have not turned out well. We emphasize techniques and processes. Do this, do that, and you are a good parent. Then we hasten to add that even if you are a good parent, your kids may not turn out so well anyway.

That always makes me uncomfortable. I am not sure I am comfortable telling Godly parents that Satan and this world may prove stronger. I just don't think I believe that.

But at the same time, I am not sure that learning the "mechanics" of good parenting is the right answer either. I am unable to explain how parents that seemed to do everything right have kids that did not turn out so well.

So let me offer a few thoughts.

Define what good means for your parenting. For me, it comes down to one thing. Are my kids faithful Christians? That's it. Anything else is a bonus. And without that, nothing else really matters in the long run. Maybe that will help you focus your parenting time and energy.

Good does not mean perfect. My own kids made lots of mistakes -- tho not as many as their Dad. Sometimes they made poor choices. But they never lost their faith, never quit on Jesus. So don't expect from your kids something you can't deliver yourself.

Don't sweat the little stuff. My kids do not agree with me on every aspect of worship and doctrine and life. Big deal. They nailed the critical stuff: Jesus is Lord, be crucified with him, live in community, live out faith, share it with others.

Look for the movie, not the snapshot. Sometimes it is helpful to view your child's life as a whole, and not focus on where they are at any one given moment in time.

My parenting days are over. I am friends with my kids now. We are thru raising them. If I die tomorrow, I will have accomplished one of the purposes God had for me: I have turned two believers out into this world. And between them, they are turning out five more. Are they doing everything the way I would -- or did? No, and sometimes I think it is good and sometimes I am not so sure. But they are good parents I think. I will know in about 20 years. And so will they.

So what is the key? What are the processes and techniques? I don't know. As I have said before, the only things I am sure of about parenting are these: love God, love your mate, love your kids. Pray lots.

I sure messed up lots of techniques and processes, but I nailed the big ones. Mostly because I never quit. And maybe that is one of the keys. Never give up. God didn't quit on me and He is the perfect role model for a Dad.

So thanks God. Above all, they were -- and are -- your kids before they were -- and are -- mine.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Elder Study

This year our eldership at Southern Hills is devoting one meeting per month to studying the Scripture together. We are inviting our ministry staff to participate in these with us. It is important to us as elders that we lead the congregation based on God's Word. It is too easy to make decisions based on our traditional view of what we think Scripture says. In the same way, it is easy to jump on the latest trendy opinion without solid Biblical foundation.

We are not studying any topics with an agenda to change... or to stay where we are. We do want to see what the Bible says, discuss what it means, and see if there are applications for Southern Hills today.

Among the topics we are looking at this year are baptism, elder qualifications and function, corporate worship (particularly use of instruments and acapella worship), women's role in the assembly, and the Lord's supper.

Some will be upset and afraid that we are studying these topics -- either afraid we will change or afraid we won't. So again ... no agenda. Just leaders who believe we owe it to our flock to lead by example in seeking to know God's will. We may in the future lead the congregation in these studies also.

The first topic is baptism. We have made it a big deal. We need to why. So tomorrow night we are reviewing what Scripture says about this subject. Later we will look at what it means. And then how it relates and applies to us.

I am excited about this. I may even share some of my thoughts and conclusions as we work thru these things.

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Who is denominational?

In a discussion the other day about local churches working with para-church ministries, the point was made that the non-profit wanted everyone to know they were non-denominational and would not tolerate the insertion of denominational doctrine. This usually means they are concerned about the "church of Christ" doctrine of baptism as opposed to the "non-denominational" doctrine they practice: the believer's prayer.

I find that interesting. First of all, they have the right to hold to any doctrine they wish. It is their non-profit, not mine. They do not have to agree with me and I do not have to support them if I do not agree with them. I just find it odd that something in the Bible is labeled as denominational, while something not mentioned in the Bible is non-denominational.

Very strange. It occured to me that most of us think what we believe is non-denominational and anyone that disagrees is denominational.

So for me, I think the safest thing is just to stick with the Bible. No one has to agree with me, just don't draw lines where God did not and then call me denominational.

Just some of my reflections.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Jake turned five Sunday...

My grandson Jake Gilbreth turned five Sunday and gave me one of the greatest weekends of my life.

It started with the birthday party at the zoo. It was fantastic. But I really enjoyed watching Jake interact with everyone. He is sweet, polite, and generous. It's pretty cool to see your grandson becoming a good person.

But it was two other things that really stood out to me. He colored pictures for everyone who came to his party. 30 or more pictures. He gave one to everyone, including zoo personnel, accompained by a "thank-you for coming to my party." You are thinking that got to me because it reflects the whole becoming a good person thing. Nope. It gets to me because I think how much he is starting to reflect how Jesus treats people. I hope he never changes.

Sunday was his birthday and I happened to be preaching at Southern Hills. As is our custom, Jake went to Kid's Praise Time after our children's offering. I was just starting my sermon when he and his Dad came walking back into the auditorium. Bobby had told Jake I was preaching and Jake wanted to come hear Pops. Sat still and focused the whole time. Now that could be because my preaching is on about a five year old's level. It could because Bobby told him OK but only if he sat still.

But I choose to think it was tied up what Pops and Jesus mean to Jake. And I like that. He may not understand it all now. But he will. I pray everyday for Jake (and for Avery, Anna, Andrew, and Austin). I pray they will keep learning to live like Jesus.

So it was Jake's birthday, but I got the present. Oh yeah, he also told me that for his birthday he would come spend the night any time I wanted. I'll take him up on that.

So I love you Jake. You make me proud. And more important, you make God proud. Keep it up. (Mom, you will have to read this to him. He's smart, but not that smart yet.)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Deborah and Women Deacons?

I almost did not blog about Deborah, but since she is sometimes used as justification for what women should do in terms of leadership today I thought I would share a couple of quick thoughts.

Remember that she is an Old Testament judge, so she was not an elder, deacon or preacher.

She was, however, a prophetess and is described as leading Isreal. So at one time, God's people were led by a woman. So does that establish a principle for women leading today? I would be careful with trying to prove a point with that. If it means that men and women are equal and both could -- or should -- lead God's people, then why is she the only female judge mentioned. There are lots of male judges. Was there only one female qualified? Was she the only female with the spiritual conviction to step up and lead? You would think if God wanted to make a point about female leadership, He would have mentioned other female judges.

On the other hand, be careful to dismiss what the Bible says. She was leading Isreal. I have heard people say it was only because the men of Isreal would not step up that she had to lead. I am not sure Scripture teaches that. Much is made of Barak' situation (remember that Deborah told him to attack Sisera he said only if she went. She agreed but said the honor would not come to him, but to a women), but I am not sure he should be called a failure since he is listed in Hebrews 11 as a hero of the faith.

So what does Deborah have to do with female deacons, or women's role in the church? Maybe not one thing. I just know I want to be careful using Scripture to prove a point I have already decided is the correct position.

Next post I will give some wrap-up thoughts.

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