What Mom Could Have Taught Dr. Spock

A child left to himself disgraces his mother. 

King Solomon

I was four years old and had learned a catchy new phrase from the bigger kids in the neighborhood. I was dying to try it out. I got my chance one fateful day as Mom was vacuuming the living room. I had hopped up on an upholstered chair and was waiting impatiently for Mom to cease from her interruption of my peace and harmony.

Then, it happened. Mom told me to get down off of the chair so that she could give it a quick going over with the vacuum. She had pushed me too far for the last time. It was time to end Mom's tyrannical rule and proclaim my independence, once and for all. In short... it was time for the phrase.

"I don't have to, if I don't want to."

In retrospect, this was probably the last thing that should have been said to Mom on this day. I won't go into the specific details of this case - the statute of limitations may not yet have run out - but I can tell you this: Technically, I was correct as I did not have to move if I didn't want to. But Mom, though woefully lacking in familiarity with Dr. Spock's theories on raising precocious children, was quite familiar with the Bible's instructions on discipline. And though, indeed, I did not have to if I did not want to, Mom was able to make me "want to".

Total elapsed time of the lesson: 2 seconds.

Total time that the lesson has been remembered: 48 years.

Dr. Spock may have sold a ton of books in his day, but he could have learned a lot from my mother. And... I will always love her for the wisdom and love she used in raising at least one hard-headed boy.

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.

Proverbs 23:13, NIV


A Prayer for My Family in Utopia

You do not have, because you do not ask.

James 4:2(b), RSV 


This past week, our family met in Utopia for a few days of rest and relaxation. Our girls rode in in separate cars and my wife and I picked up our son and daughter in law and grandson in their hometown and rode in together. Utopia is in the hill country of Texas, near San Antonio, and has the Sabinal River running through the heart of town. If it sounds familiar to you, the movie Seven Days in Utopia was filmed there a few years back.


Utopia is always beautiful, but particularly so at this time of year. The leaves are changing and the weather is just about right. As a matter of fact, this year was so perfect we joked that it was like we had ordered it out of a catalog just for our stay. We got a cabin on the river and my grandson - nearly four - spent most of his vacation attempting to throw all of the rocks in Utopia into the river. Since there are millions of rocks, we got the cabin for three days.


As glorious and relaxing as this setting was, our main purpose in coming together for this mini family reunion was not just for looking at the changing leaves and throwing rocks back into the river. We met for a definite purpose this year, and that purpose was to discuss our prayers for each other for the upcoming year. Prior to our trip, we had asked everyone to think of one big thing that they would like the whole family to be specifically praying about for their lives during this next year.


Since the girls had to leave early to get back to their jobs, we gathered on the front porch on the first night and talked about the desires of our hearts. Each one of us, from Carolyn and I to our 31 year old son and his sweet wife, our 27 year old daughter and our 21 year old daughter, revealed to the others what we would like for them to be praying for us. I won't tell you all of the specific prayer requests, but they were big, they were important, and they were the most pressing things that each of us had on our hearts. For two hours we laughed and dreamed and revealed our hearts to one another, and then at the end of that time we committed to each other that we would bring their prayer request before God, each day, without fail, as we went before the Lord in our own prayers.


We ended the evening in prayer.


Now, I don't know how you feel about this. You might think that it's a fine idea, but that it wouldn't work for your family, and you might be right. On the other hand, you might be surprised. As a matter of fact, you might be amazed at what the Lord can do when His precious children humbly beseech His will for each other in prayer. I know that I am looking forward to praying for the desires of my family's hearts this year, and I am looking forward to the results.


And I am thankful to God that He allowed us to be together for three days in Utopia to dream big dreams and pray big prayers.


And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

the words of Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 21:22, RSV 

What Everybody Wants

You will keep in perfect peace the man whose heart is stayed on thee.


When it comes down to it, one of the things that men crave most is peace. The reason that men want a happy home, women want a happy marriage, and men and women want to be wealthy is because they want peace.

We even put the desire for peace on our tombstones: RIP

If everybody want peace, why is it that we see so few people who have seemed to achieve it? The secret lies in the words of the Prophet Isaiah: Peace is only for those whose hearts and minds are steadfastly focused on God.

Now it's true that men look for peace in other areas. We look for it in power, in prestige, in wealth, in the accolades and admiration of our fellow men. Just fill in the blank, "I would be happy if..." and you will likely have to admit that your perceived happiness will come only as a result of something that will result in a more peaceful existence, and these perceived "somethings" are usually of a physical nature that can really never result in the deep and abiding peace that men crave.

That kind of peace - the peace that passes all understanding - can only come from God, and God reserves this particular gift for those who will serve Him in His way.

If you have been seeking peace all of your life, but have just never seemed to have found it, maybe it's because you have been looking for peace in the wrong places. For peace has never come as a result of things, or even as a result of physical environment. Lasting peace can only come as a result of serving God.

Do you... have this peace?

The fruit of righteousness will be peace;

the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,

in secure homes,

in undisturbed places of rest.

Isaiah 32:17-18, NIV

Where will it End?

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler. Whoever is led astray by them is not wise. Solomon

When I was in High School, everyone wanted to try them. When I entered the business world, all the sophisticated people seemed to use them. The ads and T.V. shows and movies are jam-packed with people who seem to have nothing but fun with them. But, in over 50 years of living, I cannot say that I have ever seen anything good come from the use of drugs and alcohol.

I have seen children abused by those who use them. I have seen marriages fall apart among those who use them. I have seen young people who have experienced loneliness and sorrow and confusion, when all they ever really wanted was to have a good time.

Why is that, do you suppose? Why do so many people run after things that are bad for them? Why don't drugs and alcohol make us cool and happy and carefree like the beautiful people in the commercials? Maybe it's because the ones promising us all of the fun are the dealers who are selling us the stuff. Maybe it's because they lie, when they promise good things from the party life. Maybe, just maybe, God was right when He had Solomon pen the words above. Maybe it's because those nerds who could never be cool because they didn't know how to party aren't so dumb after all. Maybe it's because it's way more fun to not wake up with a hangover than it is to wake up next to a fellow drunk who you don't even know.

I don't have all of the answers, but I can tell you this: I am tired of the pain that drugs and alcohol are causing to those I know and love. I am tired of the lies and deceit that always seem to accompany their use. And, more than anything else, I am tired of seeing these substances kill my friends. The sad thing is that we are at the end of another school year, and we all know what is coming. There will be parties to celebrate the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. And... some  of these young people are going to die. Some are going to get caught (the lucky ones) and some (the unlucky ones) may very likely experience what will be the beginning of a lifetime of alcoholism or addiction to drugs. 

The truth about drugs and alcohol is that they cause sorrow and confusion and death. The truth about God is that He would spare us from these things. If you find yourself caught in the grip of these substances, then get help. It will start with prayer through tears. It will continue with courage through the pain. But, it will end in joy. You can have the good life that God has intended for you, or...

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine... Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.    Proverbs 23:29-32, NIV


Yielding the Right of Way

Here lies the body of William Jay,

Who died failing to yield the right of way.

He was right, dead right, as he sped along,

But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong.

This poem showed up in a newspaper many years ago. It's point was well taken: There will be times when you are clearly in the right, but in matters that are so petty and insignificant that you might as well be wrong. How many times have we argued a point as if our very lives depended on being right, only to realize later that it did not amount to a hill of beans?

I wonder how many close friends have been separated because one or both could not stand the thought of losing an argument? Or how many marriages have been ruined because the husband or wife always had to be right? The point is not to suggest that we abandon truth or act as if there is no right and wrong in life - the point is that we don’t always have to be disagreeable over every disagreement.

This is especially important in the area of God’s word. It’s true that God’s will cannot be changed or compromised in any way. It is also true that we have a duty to rescue those racing headlong down dangerous paths. Having said that, we have to realize that most of us have the same desire: To find out what God wants of us and then to obey. We can either help each other along the way as we journey to heaven, providing each other with a kind nudge when we get off track, or we can seek to win every religious argument that comes up and then rub the loser's nose in it when he is wrong.

One way will be a pleasant journey to heaven. The other a contest between know it alls travelling a path to a different destination. Which would you prefer? We can be technically right, dead right, but what good will being right do us if we lose those we love along the way?

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. 

Proverbs 18:2, NIV


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