“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42
Jesus makes a harsh statement about causing a little one to stumble. In another gospel He is talking about children who believe in Him. Jesus states that it would be better to be drowned in the sea than to cause a child to stumble.
Stumbling here is not the causing someone to fall down. It is causing someone to fall down in the belief in Jesus. He is more concerned with their spiritual welfare than their physical welfare. A person who physically falls only creates a short-term physical problem. Falling spiritually can cause a lot of greater problems that can last for all eternity, if not dealt with correctly.
The ‘little ones’ mentioned here are not just children, but all new believers. New believers are called infants in the bible and need to grow into maturity. And all believers are called the children of God, regardless of how long they have been a believer.
In the world it is easy for people to think that they do not have a major influence on other people, but that is not true. Every believer sets an example before every other person that they are around. Parents have a major influence on their children. Co-workers have a major influence on their fellow co-workers.
If someone sees a believer doing some sin as though it is nothing, it can cause that person to follow in that sinful way. This is different from doing an accidently sin, it is doing a sin on purpose. Purposefully telling lies, cheating, stealing, cursing others, disobedience and any other sin.
As a believer you have to be careful how you lead others or what you show others that Jesus looks like. You are the representation of Jesus on this earth. If you live your life in sin, while claiming to be a believer, you may cause someone to fall away from Jesus. At that point, it would be better if you were drowned in the sea.
Live your life in a way that does not cause others to stumble in any way. Be the shining example of who Jesus is. Lead people to Jesus, not away from Him.
I pray today that you will live for Jesus; that God will keep you from a life of sin; that God will strengthen you to not lead others in sin; and that you will be an example of Jesus to others around you.
October brings about a holiday that children all over the nation love. It is one that makes a child able to get a lot of candy. It is a time for both children and adults to dress up like someone or something else. Costume parties are located everywhere. It is Halloween.
Along with all of the fun, candy, and costumes that Halloween brings, there is also the element of scaring people. Some people go to extreme levels of dressing up in costumes. It is more than just a simple bed sheet as a ghost. Those who go to the extreme levels, make it appear as though they are physically injured or deformed. The realism of the costumes and makeup is amazing.
People usually fall into one of two categories of thought when it comes to Halloween. There are those who run with it and have lots of fun, regardless of the implications or thoughts behind it. The others run from it and will have nothing to do with Halloween at all, because the primary thought behind it is demonic or celebrating the evil in this world.
For my family, I have led them to never really celebrate Halloween for what it is. My children have never dressed up to go out and go trick or treating.
One thing that has become very popular in our area is the idea of trunk or treating. It is a time that churches, and now some other organizations, set up various games out of the trunks of their vehicles. Children from the surrounding neighborhood are invited to come and play the games and get free food.
Immediately in the minds of some Christians, there is a red flag that goes up. How can they take something that is demonic and make it good?
I fully understand the concerns that some people have. In doing this, there is some point of celebrating Halloween, when one does the trunk or treat, even though in word most will state they do not celebrate Halloween.
One of the things that is important for people to keep at the center of their focus is why they are setting up the trunk or treat. The trunk or treat should be an outreach to the community. Often it can be just a place to play games and get free food and candy. If that is the case, it is falling short of doing any good.
Every believer is called to be a witness of who Jesus is to every person they meet in this world. The whole purpose is to build God’s kingdom on this earth. God does not want anyone to die in their sins, so He sent His people out to be His witness to them of the salvation Jesus provides.
When a church is setting up the games and activities for a trunk or treat, the Great Commission should be kept at the forefront of their minds. How can they use the game to be a witness? How can they use the activity to point children and parents to God?
In being able to do this, it takes some serious thinking and planning. Each person involved in the planning must be planning it with lots of prayer. Be open to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit.
Psalm 19:1New International Version (NIV)
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
All of creation declare the work of God. When you look out on a field or you look up into the sky, you do not hear anything being said. However, if you open your spiritual eyes and ears and listen, you will see and hear the works of God. You will see that glory of God being displayed in creation.
Romans 1:20 New International Version (NIV)
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
All of these things show who God is and what He is like. These things are not things that are seen inside the church walls, they are out in the world, where the world can see them.
The trunk or treat games are to be set up outside of the walls of the church. This is where the world is located and are willing to be.
When games are set up for children to play, there should be some way to focus them towards God. Each game should be set up to be a witness of who Jesus is and what He can do for them. The workers of the games must show God’s love to each and every person that shows up.
Along with the children being able to have fun, they should be provided some food. For some of those children, that may be their only meal that day. It is showing God’s love for them, without any judgment.
While it is true that some of those children will only come for the games and food, there will also be a seed planted in their hearts and minds about God. That little bit of love and care may someday be the seed that changes their heart to follow Jesus. For some of these children, you may be the only Jesus that they will see.
Whether you do a trunk or treat, or not, that is between you and God. However, if you do it, be sure to keep God at the center of it. Make sure that in the process of doing games and food, Jesus is being proclaimed. This is using the things of this world to spread the gospel message. Be open to what God has for you to do today.
This was originally posted on the Sped Homeschool website. My wife, Cammie, wrote this and has been homeschooling for over 20 years and is still homeschooling several children. If you homeschool and have special children in your home, please go to their website. The group has been started to help homeschool parents with children who have special needs at a national level. The organization was originally started in Texas and has now been able to go national.
Have you ever wondered just why spaghetti sauce tastes best when simmered for hours over low heat verses just mixing all the ingredients up as fast as you can? Or why a roast is more tender and juicy when it’s slow cooked on a lower temperature than cooked on high for a shorter time? It has to do with being patient for everything to break down and come together in its own time.
Complex Parts Come Together with Time
It’s the same with homeschooling. We all have different ingredients in the form of employment, family size, level of special needs, appointments, therapies and curriculum. So why do we compare our family with that of another and try to recreate their recipe for success in our own homeschool?
Slow Cooker, Not Instapot
We are in a slow-cooker mama. Homeschooling and parenting go hand in hand and neither are recipes to be put into an Instapot to rush to the end. It’s a long slow journey with amazing rewards, but we need to recognize we are on our own journey and it isn’t going to “taste” like anyone else’s recipe or have the same ingredients.
Differences in Ingredients, Measurements, and Cooking Time
So as you daily add your “ingredients”, carefully measuring and selecting each one, be sure to add a measure of grace and a double portion of love. These two additional ingredients always make the recipe work out better.
Don’t rush, instead savor the smell of the beautiful unique recipe coming together in your homeschool today. You will be glad you did.
People get hurt by other people on a regular basis. This is more true with the more friends and family that you have. If you only have a few friends or very little to no family, the chance of getting hurt drops dramatically, but you also have a lot less chance of being loved and loving someone.
In today’s society, many people are blaming their actions on someone else. They look back to a time when they were a child and got hurt by a parent, a sibling, a relative or some other friend. Usually this hurt was something that occurred over and over again, over a longer period of time.
Being hurt by someone is something that will happen. If it has not happened recently, just wait it is coming. The difference is how much that hurt really hurts.
When an enemy does something against a person, most people just accept it, because they half expected it to happen. Very few people expect to be treated nicely by someone who is an enemy. In fact, with most of the world, if they are being treated nicely, chances are they are friends and not enemies.
Treating the enemy nicely is something that God talks about and even commands.
Luke 6:27-36 New International Version (NIV)
Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
However, what I want to look at is past hurts and the dangers of those hurts. As I stated above, the cases where someone gets hurt the worst is with a loved one, usually a family member. The one you love is the one that can and usually will hurt you the most. When they do something that hurts, it goes deep into the heart and soul of a person, because they lost trust and love that should have been there.
Many people grow up mad at their parents because of something that they had done wrong to them when they were a young child. Some of those things are very wrong, in both the eyes of the law and the eyes of God. Some of those things were done on purpose, with the purpose to hurt or take advantage of.
Other things were done by mistake and not knowing the best way to do things. Every person has things that they need to learn. In the process of learning those things, often there are many mistakes made. Many parents discipline in a way that was too harsh, causing pain and anger for many years to come. This is part of the learning process. Some parents learn over time how to do things better, while some never seem to learn to do it the best way.
The danger of being hurt comes in how that hurt is held on to. Thousands of family members are fighting with each other their entire lives, because they refuse to forgive each other. I have seen parents go to their death-bed refusing to forgive a child of some wrong done to them many years before. I have also seen children watch their parent die and refusing to forgive that parent of a wrong done when they were young.
Bitterness sets into the heart of a person that has been done wrong to, and he refuses to forgive and move on. Children refuse to talk to parents. Parents refuse to talk to children. Siblings refuse to talk to other siblings. All these things because of a past hurt and the bitterness that has set in.
With bitterness, there is no real joy in life. People look to things or other people to try to bring that joy. Always looking for the next thrill or person to love. All the while refusing to look to God.
Ephesians 4:31 New International Version (NIV)
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
God wants a person to get rid of all bitterness. Many, however, will say that they are not bitter. They say that they just cannot forgive the person and will not deal with them anymore. That is a sign of bitterness and not love.
We are told to forgive:
Ephesians 4:32 New International Version (NIV)
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
God had forgiven you of all the wrongs you have done to Him. Jesus went to the cross to pay the price for your sins, so that you could be forgiven. Think about how many times you have hurt God with a sin, both small and large. Yet, God loved you enough to forgive, rather than holding a grudge against you and being bitter.
Hebrews 12:15-17 New International Version (NIV)
15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Do not allow the root of bitterness to grow and manifest itself in your life. Just like a little cancer cell in the body grows to the point of killing a person, so a little bitterness can grow and kill you. It can kill you and others around you. It sets a pattern in your life and the lives you touch, to where others catch that bitter root.
God does not want to see you ate up by bitterness and anger, because of a past hurt. He wants you to work at forgiving and showing His love to the person who has hurt you in the past.
If you have been hurt in the past by someone, give it to God. Ask Him to show you His love for you and His great love for the other person who hurt you.
Ask God to show you how much He has forgiven you, so that you can work at forgiving the other person. Ask God for strength to forgive and move on, getting rid of all bitterness.
The hurt and pain may always be there, but love can override those things. Relationships can be rebuilt in God. As long as you and the other person are alive it is still possible to mend that relationship. There is always a chance to forgive. God will make a way for it to happen if you allow Him to do so.
Fourth of July is a time in America in which people celebrate the independence of America. It celebrates when the young nation had broken away from England to become its own country. They did not want to be controlled by or depend upon any other nation in the world. This new country wanted to be self-sufficient, self-sustaining–independent.
Parents push their children for independence. Once a child gets past the initial baby stage, they strive to work with their child to gain independence. The child learns to hold the bottle himself. Later the child is taught how to walk without holding a hand. Learning to eat with a spoon and fork is taught.
Learning to be independent does not end as a person grows up. It continues as an adult. People have to learn how to work a job and manage their money so that they can live on their own. Most do not want to be dependent upon others to supply their needs and desires.
While it is good to be able to work on your own and provide for your own needs, it is not totally correct.
Just working a job for money, means you are dependent upon someone else. You are dependent upon the boss providing the job with a paycheck. You are dependent upon people purchasing the services of your boss, so that he can provide the job and the paycheck. You are dependent upon the job that the people have that purchase the services that of your boss so that he can provide you a job and a paycheck. And the connection goes on indefinitely.
No one can really survive completely independent of anyone else. The person who lives alone deep in a forest is still dependent upon others to some degree. Most likely he has a gun or a frying pan that he did not make himself. He relied on someone else to make. He was dependent upon that other person.
Most people will not try to live alone in the forest and may say that this illustration does not apply to them. How many people drive a vehicle to work? Each person that does, is dependent upon those who made the vehicle. They are dependent upon those who made and maintain the roads.
The ultimate dependence a person can have is on God. While people can provide some things and can meet some of the needs of a person, only God can provide absolutely everything. He is the One who gives each person the ability to provide something for someone else. He is the One who provides the materials for anyone to make anything.
Think about it, without God there would be no earth or air. Without the earth or air, you could not exist. God provides the very air you breath and the ground you walk on.
God gave you life when you were born. He breathed life into the body you are now using on this earth.
While independence sounds good, it is not a reality. Everyone is dependent upon someone else. No person is truly independent of anyone else, whether they allow God into the picture of their life or not.
Believers know that they are supposed to be dependent upon God for everything. However, many do not live in that dependence. Many try to do things on their own, and only when it gets really ugly do they cry out to God for help and guidance.
How many times do you try to do something on your own, and then after you fail, you pray to God for His help and favor?
It is easy to think that you can do it. That is the way the world has trained you to think. And there is actually an element of truth in saying that you can do it. You can do all things. However, do not forget the reason why you can do all things. It is because God is with you.
In Christ Jesus you can do all things, because it is He who gave you the ability and power to do them. Again, you are dependent upon Jesus, it is not your own doing or power.
Rely on God to give you the strength, wisdom, and power to do what needs to be done. Do this for everything you do. Live this way each day.
Without God you really cannot do anything. As you rely upon Jesus for your forgiveness of sin and your salvation, so also rely on Him to provide you for your daily needs and guidance.
God is there for you and is not kicking you out to have you be independent. He is not raising you up to be independent. He wants you to be dependent upon Him.
As you celebrate, if you live in America, the independence day of America, remember that you, and America, are still dependent upon others. Keep your dependence upon God, the only One who has absolute power in this world.
A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother. Proverbs 29:15
People often talk about the need to discipline a child in order to have the child grow up correctly. Many parents always love the statement, “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Some will take this to extremes, even to the point of abuse. While others reject all discipline.
Arguments are continually made about how children are no longer disciplined. Their being undisciplined is argued as being the reason schools are now so dangerous.
While it is true that children should be disciplined for doing the wrong thing, there is one other group of people who need to be included in discipline. That is all the believing adults.
Every believer in Jesus claims God as their Father.
As a result of God being their Father, this means that each one is His child.
God in His great love is willing to discipline His children. The purpose of the discipline is to get each one back on the right track and keep them from walking or living in sin.
The dangerous part is that most adults do not feel that they need to be or should ever be disciplined. Adults often feel that they have “made it” and can do what they want, when they want and how they want.
Think about how many teenagers became adults and then spent the next few years partying and running around, just because they could do it. Later they start to settle down and remember the words of their parents and realize how wise they were.
As an adult believer in Jesus, you must also be disciplined at times by your Father. There are times you make bad choices and go down a path God does not want you on. Because of God’s great love for you, He will take the time to discipline you.
Just as a parent disciplines his child to keep him on the right path and bring honor to his mother, so God will do the same with you.
You will gain wisdom when you listen to God’s discipline in your life. His discipline will set you on the path for an abundant, fulfilling life.
Are you willing to accept it?
Or will you fight God, as a rebellious child?
I pray today that you will see God’s discipline in your life; that you will learn from God’s discipline; that God will reveal His great love and mercy to you; and that you will live your life for God.