Forgiveness, Patriotism, Heritage, and the Gospel


I love our family meal times. Not every meal time involves a serious discussion, but almost every Saturday morning I have been trying to focus my family on the Bible.

One of the themes that we've focused in on this past year is "Love God, Love Others." Some recent current events presented a great opportunity to explain Biblical forgiveness.

A few weeks ago, as I'm sure you know, Dylan Roof shot and killed nine people at a prayer meeting in Charleston, SC. Unfortunately, senseless murder is not too uncommon nowadays.

However the response by the remaining family members was striking. They offered forgiveness and prayed for God's mercy on him.



As a family, we discussed how we would feel if someone killed one of us. Sad. Angry. Upset. And those feelings are all valid.

Then I read Ephesians 4:32:
"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." 

Paul makes it clear that our actions should not be dependent on our feelings. Our actions should flow out of our relationship with Christ. That is, our love for God is directly connected with our love for others. And love for others should know no bounds, even if those bounds involve hate-filled murder.

More Thoughts on the Charleston Shooting

Brandon Smith writes in Reflect Christ, Deflect Satan:
"The gospel frees us from our own interests. Christians have an obligation to love God and love others well precisely because of the cross."
And my friend Jim Taylor, before he preached a sermon that I really needed to hear, shared thoughts on the Charleston shooting:



 

On a Related Topic . . . 

If you've been following the story of this shooting (and probably even if you haven't), you know that our country is awash in a Confederate Flag controversy. Again. (Yes, I know that the flag is technically the Confederate Battle Flag.)

A few days after it began, I tweeted this late one night:

And then I followed up a few days later with a 1500-word expansion on that thought.

Now, as we are about to celebrate our nation's independence, I want to expand on that thought even more. It's not just "Southern Heritage" that Christians need to be careful of. We can put any other identity issue in that tweet as well.

Here are a few other variations you can try on for size:
Any Christian who puts his Patriotism over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.

Any Christian who puts his family ancestry over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.

Any Christian who puts his work or ministry over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.

Any Christian who puts his ethnic group over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.

Any Christian who puts his hobby over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.

Any Christian who puts his (________) over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.

Examine your heart. What could you fill in this blank with?

Remember, Christian, any freedom you have in your heritage is trivial compared to the freedom Christ brought for you.

These posts may help you think through why our Christian identity should matter so much:

Final Thoughts and Related Links

I encourage you to spend some time reading one or more of these links:

**image courtesy of melodi2 via rgbstock

Favorite Tweets for June

Happy Summer!!

It's hot around here, which means it's a good time to do a little reading. I've read a few fiction books this month, which is abnormal for me. One of those books was To Kill a Mockingham, my first time reading this classic.

Hopefully, you get time to relax with a good book. And maybe some good tweets, like these:


From Others

@TGC20 years of marriage have taught me much about my own heart and the way in which God works to make us like his Son.

@StudentsFirst:  What the best schools have in common is that they set high expectations for students from day one:

@Gospel_Project It is important that we tell ourselves again today that we need the grace of Jesus right now as much as we needed it when we first...

@BRobson90 Any other desire of our heart will look like rubbish when compared to the immense riches and treasure of having Christ as our chief desire!

@GraceChurchCE:  "God is God. I dethrone Him in my heart if I demand that He act in ways that satisfy my idea of justice." -Elizabeth Elliot 

@ChrchCurmudgeon:  Due to our inability to find VBS clean-up volunteers, tomorrow's wedding will be jungle-themed. 

@JonathanOwens21Guys, we are not just "offended" by the Confederate Flag. It's pain. Real, real pain. I wish people would understand that.

From Myself

Thanks to generous church members, I just dropped off a check to provide partial scholarships for 5 kids to attend Long Branch's summer camp. 

I can't believe that & just had senior night, and we forgot to submit this for a memory.

"When teachers believe a student can perform at a high level, the student is much more likely to do so."

Big thanks to for giving its employees time off to volunteer in our community…

We have a dentist that gives out cookies, & an orthodontist that gives out popcorn (& rents out movie theaters for all his clients).

Any Christian who puts his "Southern Heritage" over our identity and unity in Christ, tramples on the gospel.

Had a great time at Landon Powell Hit House! Grateful for their investment in youth, and t…

5 Ways to Teach Financial Literacy to Children

Today's guest post is from Jessica Kane. I think you'll find this information to be helpful as you teach your children about money and finances.


There comes a point in every child's life when they realize that book bags and candy bars don't magically appear out of thin air. When this moment arrives, it's important to open a dialogue about money. The way you teach them when they're young will have ripple effects on how they manage their bank accounts in the future, so here are just five tips for starting a conversation about financial responsibility.

1. Play Games

Sit your child down for a lecture about personal accounting and they may or may not remember what you said three days later. Sit them down and play a game of Monopoly, however, and they'll learn all about saving, investing and spending within your means, no lecture required. Games that stimulate financial thinking are a great way to introduce your child to the concept that money is finite.

Here are a few others you can play for the same results:

- Life

2. Bring Money Into Everyday Activities

Many parents don't think of the amusement park as a learning opportunity, but with the right planning, it can turn into a real teachable moment. For example, give your child a certain amount of money and explain that it's all they have to spend for the entire day. Do they use it for games, rides or souvenirs? Do they exchange sodas for water to make their lunch budget stretch? Would an all-day pass be a better investment than paying for each roller coaster individually?

3. Give Them An Allowance

Most kids won't understand the value of money until they actually have it in their hands to spend or save as they see fit. You'll want to give them an age-appropriate amount, of course, but otherwise the sky is the limit in regards to how they earn it and how often they receive it. You can drive the lesson even further home by having a weekly discussion about the following topics:

- How much they have left
- What they'd like to save up for
- How long it will take them to reach their financial goal
- How much they'd still have if they hadn't spent their last allowance frivolously

4. Involve Them in the Family Finances

This is an excellent way to teach them everyday financial skills that will come in handy as they grow older. Young children can practice their arithmetic as you add up the monthly bills together; preteens and adolescents can learn about checks, taxes and credit cards. Once they've demonstrated a certain degree of financial wisdom, you can allow them to open their own savings account or take out a student charge card. The goal is to prepare them for handling their finances independently by the time they're eighteen and headed for college without your supervision.


5. Get Connected

It's the 21st century, and many children learn how to operate a smartphone before they can do long division. You'll need to be hip to the trends if you want to impress financial responsibility on them in a way they can understand.

Here are a few good websites where kids can learn about money:


Here are a few noteworthy apps:



There are many more, of course, but these should at least start a conversation about money.

At the end of the day, your children will look to you when it comes to financial literacy. Your example is the one they'll emulate; your lessons will be the ones they remember through adolescence and adulthood. If you're serious about teaching your little ones the value of a dollar, follow these tips for the best results.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who focuses on personal finance and other money matters. She currently writes for Checkworks.com , a leading supplier of personal and business checks.



Related Links:

Double-Birthday, Double-Vacation

Soon after my sons and I returned from our Arizona vacation, Sender was invited to join his cousins to a trip to Legoland. After having less than a days' notice before leaving, Sender eagerly said "Yes!"

We've been to Legoland before as a family, and Sender is in the right age range to still enjoy it. Plus, they spent a day in the water park, which we didn't do last time.

My brother and his wife took the boys to Legoland because it was their oldest son's birthday. But this trip also doubled our present to Sender for his "half-birthday." (Since his birthday -- December 23 -- is so close to Christmas, we buy him gifts 6 months earlier, or later. Don't worry, he still gets a cake and a special birthday dinner in December.)

Here are some pics of the fun:








Special thanks to my brother and his wife, who allowed Sender to tag along. With three boys of their  own, adding Sender meant an exponential amount of energy to the mix.

But apparently Sender followed our strict threats instructions to be a blessing to their family. My sister-in-law texted me:
"I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that he was a delight. He obeyed every time he was told to do something with no argument, and he was always offering to do things for us."

Now, if only he would be more like that at home . . . .

Related Links:

My Grandmother: A Woman of Influence

My Jewish grandparents had an immense influence on my life. While I didn't follow in their faith, I did learn a lot about hope and hard work.

They had hopes and dreams for my brother and I, some of which we didn't follow. But they never stopped loving us.

My grandmother, especially, poured out her time, energy, and money for our sake. When I look at the influence I get to have with the next generation, I see how her efforts have flowed through me. That is, not only did she bless me, but others are blessed because of her influence on my life.

I hope you'll read more of my story, and more about the story of my grandmother, on the Grace Church Women's Ministry blog. I had so much to say that I split it into Part 1 and Part 2.


Related Link:

Fatherhood Lessons


The biggest challenge and the most rewarding adventure I've ever had is being a Dad. I'm thankful for my three healthy, creative, goofy, and forgiving kids, and for my wife who helps me be a better father to them.

Ray Ortlund tells us some unforgettable lessons from his own father. I need this wisdom and these reminders:
  1. He was never too busy. 
  2. He was a Bible man. 
  3. He praised God. 
  4. He cheered me on. 
  5. He had a real walk with God. 
  6. He taught me theology in the backyard. 
  7. He loved us when it wasn't easy. 
  8. He helped me love the church. 
  9. He lived his faith simply and practically. 
  10. He told me ministry isn't everything.

And Tim Challies reminds us about The Most Difficult Time to Lead:
"You don’t lead because you are worthy, but because you are called. And, my friend, you have been called— commanded and called by God himself. 

If you are a husband, you have been called. If you are a father, you have been called. You have been called to lead—you and no one else. You have been called to lead despite your sin and your failure, despite your fear and apathy. 

There is no backup plan, there is no one to lead in your absence, no one better suited, no one better qualified."

Fellow Dads -- Keep leading. Keep pursuing Jesus. Keep loving. Keep learning.

As you celebrate Father's Day, remember that the joy of every day is in the privilege of servant leadership for our children.


Related Links:

A Gospel-Positive Approach to Dealing with Selfishness


Do your kids struggle with selfishness? If not, stop reading now.

But for the other 99.8% of us, I have some thoughts for you. I could have used any number of examples over the past few months weeks days hours. I will leave with one example.

Why this one? Because where I usually just overbear my children with commands ("Share, or else."), God showed me how I can engage their sinful hearts, while also affirm their value to God.

How is that? Read more on my latest guest post for the Family Matters blog, Gospel Positive Correction

I'm selfishly positive you'll want to do this.


Other posts on the topic of selfishness:

Selected guests posts on Family Matters: