Category Archives: Love and Wisdom

The Stranger


A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.

As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God. Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening. He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars.

The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn’t seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietly get up – while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places – and go to her room read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.

You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house – not from us, from our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted.

My dad was a teetotaler who didn’t permit alcohol in his home – not even for cooking. But the stranger felt he needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (too much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.

As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.

More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive. But if I were to walk into my parents’ den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name? We always called him “TV”.

He has a sister now. Her name is “computer”.

(Author Unknown, but seems to have appeared in circulation on the internet around 2007)

Just something to think about: What we allow to enter our minds also enters our hearts. And from our hearts, our life flows. What’s flowing from you?

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The Gift


The Gift

Christmas is a time of giving gifts. The word gift is defined as: “a thing given willingly to someone without payment. “ God is the original gift giver.

To begin with, we are given the gift of life. There is also the precious gift to a parent of a child. Likewise, there is a precious gift to a child of a parent. There are gifts known as husband, wife, brother, sister, and friend.

Throughout our lives, we are blessed with many gifts. There are gifts of health, a happy home, companionship, fresh air, beautiful scenery, sunshine and pure water.

There are also material gifts, things we call presents. These can even be in the form of a service of some type.

Then there are the gifts of the spirit: Compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, kindness, loyalty, integrity, charity.

Of all the different gifts there are, the most precious gifts ever known, are God’s mercy, salvation, and His great love for us. The birth of Christ Jesus is the gift given to us, so that we may have everlasting life with our Creator.

In the busy hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, while we are scrambling through the shopping malls, or searching online, trying desperately to fulfill our goals of gifts to give, let us not forget to be thankful for the gift given us that night long ago; the gift of a precious newborn baby boy, lying in a manger; the child that came to die for our sins, paying the debt we owe. Let us not forget to wish our Savior a “Happy Birthday”, since it is His birthday we are celebrating.

The simplest of gifts, a “thank you” and a “Happy Birthday” doesn’t seem like much. But when it’s wrapped in our hearts and given with joy, it’s a gift that Jesus loves.

As a gift to all of my readers, I’m sharing this video of Cloverton’s beautiful Christmas version of “Hallelujah”. I hope you enjoy it, and God bless! – Amber

 

Dealing With Peer Pressure


I’ve been working on a mini series of articles concerning daily issues for our young people, and how they cope with these issues. It is my hope that God will work through these posts to reach out to those in need of hope, encouragement and guidance, to let them know that they are not alone in their struggles. God cares about each and every one of us, and He wants to help us.

If you or someone you know has any ideas or suggestions about future posts, or are interested in doing a guest post, please leave a message in the comment section. As always, I’d love to hear from you!

I am very pleased to share with you the following guest post from Stephanie Kehr, a fine upcoming young author. Her article is on peer pressure, a subject that can be quite troublesome for us all. Please share, like, and leave a comment for her, and be sure to check out her blog, “Musings of a Creative Spirit”.

Thanks, and God bless! – Amber

Peer Pressure: What’s Your Strategy?

 by Stephanie Kehr

“C’mon, Stephanie.”

The sound of twenty pleading teens echoed off the trees, collecting at my ears in a mash of noise and confusion.

“You should try it.”

“It’s great.”

“You’ll love it.”

It was just a swing. Well, a large swing. I’d be strapped in with harnesses and fitted with a helmet and protective gear. But having already tried such a stunt at a previous event, I knew the high swing wasn’t quite my cup of tea. In fact, if I’d had any tea before that attempt, it would have been instantly regurgitated.

“Look, we even got Bethany to do it,” someone nudged me.

I looked to see Bethany climbing the swing, her face as white as Elmer’s glue.

“You’re the only one who hasn’t tried! C’mon, don’t you submit to peer pressure?”

I paused a moment, evaluating myself. “No,” I finally said aloud. “I don’t.”

***

I’m a pure-bred homeschooler. If it weren’t for the kids I babysit, it’s likely I never would have been introduced  to the popular video game, Call Of Duty. Unfortunately, I was introduced. But through the blood, gore, murder, and weapons, Call Of Duty actually taught me quite the lesson during my impromptu babysitting adventure.

If you don’t have strategy, you’ll be shot down. 

You waltz into a room unguarded, and the enemy’s standing behind the door. He fires his gun.  The bar turns red. Your man flashes and disappears. “End Game” appears on the screen. You toss down your controller, frustrated.

With peer pressure on the rise, teens and young adults are more and more often thrown at the mercy of their more popular (and often less intelligent) fellowmen. On the invisible battlegrounds of school, sports, parties, and even churches, the young adults striving for righteousness are often unguarded, caught by surprise, and slowly, but surely enticed by the people and things of this world.

Before we step out into society, it’s important for us to realize that if we don’t enter the battle alert and with strategy, we’ll be shot down.

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” [KJV]

If we aren’t ready with our weapons, we give the enemy the opportunity to shoot first. If we’re not wearing the proper protective armor, our bar will turn red. If we don’t know how to jump out of the way, we’ll blink and fade. We’ll perish. End game.

Peer pressure’s pretty scary for a teen living in a big, ungodly, unknown world. The most frightening thing about peer pressure is that it sneaks up on us. You don’t realize you’ve got the disease until it’s too late. We’ve already been shot. We’re already following the wrong crowd. How do we make sure we’re firing first? How do we set ourselves up to make it through the teenage years alive?

While I can’t speak for every teen out there, I can speak for myself. Below I have listed five little “strategies” I’ve used to combat peer pressure in an attempt to “shoot first.”

1)     Always, always, always, go back to the Bible.           

You know that group of girls always hanging out by the water fountain at church? They like to gossip, slander, talk about boys, laugh at inappropriate jokes, flirt, and evaluate everyone’s outfit. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Not really. You could find worse.

So, what do you do when an adult or fellow teens urges you to join their group? You go back to the Bible. Even if the girls may look relatively harmless, Proverbs is cram-packed full of warnings against hanging out with gossips, slanderers, and fools. Don’t be like them, the Bible says. Be called. Be chosen. Be different.

Likewise, Ephesians 6:17 says, “And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” [NASB]

The Bible is a weapon. If you’re constantly feeding on its truths, you’ll guard yourself against being pulled away by the lies of the world.  

2)    Keep your feet from evil

In other words, be wise. Don’t pack your head full of video games, dirty music, zombies, murder mysteries, and other garbage that has a bad effect on your mind and carries zero eternal value. Take Philippians 4:8 as an example:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” [NASB]

If you don’t allow yourself to become interested in the things of the world, you’ll be less likely to be pulled astray.

3)    Set your own standards and stick with them

I don’t tend to go to extracurricular youth get-togethers, because they often promote flirtatiousness, which isn’t something I want to get a heavy dose of. I strive to live set-apart. I don’t spent a huge amount of time with worldly friends. Mostly, when I don’t particularly want to participate in an event, I don’t allow myself to give in to the pressure. Think about Call Of Duty again. You only have a set amount of lives, right? Every time you give into some small and “harmless” pressure, you’re setting yourself up to give into something that might not be so small and harmless. You’re setting yourself up for the loss of that final life. The red bar. The flash. End game.   

Everyone has different God-given standards. What kind of standards have you set for yourself? Do you stick with them?

4)    Evaluate your influences and choose your friends wisely

If I notice myself beginning to slip spiritually, the first thing I do is look at my influences. I look at who I’m hanging out with frequently, and I ask myself who I’m looking up to most. Usually, evaluating, pinpointing, and dealing with the issues in my influential relationships solve half of my problems.

5)    Find older mentors

There’s no way to avoid peer pressure if you’re constantly hanging out with, well…peers. I often try to spend quality time with younger teens and kids in order to be a good influence and a blessing to them. However, I also make a point to spend a decent amount of time with older influences, too, whether they’re in their twenties, fifties, or seventies. We learn from older people, it’s true. The Bible talks about having older mentors and Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of council, but with many advisors they succeed.” Older councilors have been through peer pressure before us and can offer advice. Sometimes they catch our faults, too, and things we don’t see in ourselves. 

When we learn to put together a strategy to avoid peer pressure, we need to plan with the understanding that without prayer and a genuine relationship with God, our strategy will ultimately fail. He is the light in a dark world. He is our strength when we are weak. No matter how tough it may be or how far into the world we may venture, it’s important to always remember our God is faithful, loving, compassionate, and He wants you to lean on Him and Him alone.

Stephanie Kehr photo

Stephanie is a seventeen-year-old dreamer, child of God, and story crafter. She began penning novels as a twelve-year-old and completed her first book at fifteen. In 2013, Stephanie signed with Ellechor Publishing House as a teen author. The release date of her Christian fiction novel, Reaching Home has not yet been announced.

If she isn’t too busy dreaming up kingdoms and reciting poetry, Stephanie plans to graduate with an English degree before her nineteenth birthday. Currently living with her homeschooling family of eight, she hopes to get married one day and move to an isolated cabin by the sea.

Visit Stephanie’s website (www.stephaniekehr.blogspot.com) where she talks about writing, publishing, being a teen author, and her crazy everyday life.

 

Be A Real Man


What does it mean to be a real man and a good father?

Young boys usually learn the most from what they see and hear from their fathers. It’s natural for them to want to imitate their dad. Then they begin to learn more from the world view. There are only a few relatively short years a father has to help guide his son into becoming a grown man. Fathers, teach your sons. The role model you are is based on what is in your own heart, and is the blue print that will shape the man your son becomes. Do you want him to follow God, or the world? There is no other choice.

Do you want to teach your son to be dishonest? Let him hear you lie.

Do you want to teach your son to be rude? Let him see you treat others harshly.

Do you want to teach your son to be lazy? Let him see you get others to take care of your messes.

Do you want to teach your son to be undependable? Let him see you change your mind frequently, and not keep your promises.

Do you want to teach your son to be disobedient and defiant? Don’t follow the rules when you don’t feel like it.

OR

Do you want to teach your son to be honest and fair? Then show him how, be honest and fair, be a man of integrity. (1 Kings 9:4)

Do you want to teach your son to be helpful and kind? Then show him how, be a humble man of compassion. (Philippians 2:3)

Do you want to teach your son to be responsible and productive? Show him how, do your own work and help others too. (Isaiah 65:21-23)

Do you want your son to be dependable and trustworthy? Show him how, be a man of good character and be consistent. (Matthew 24:44-46)

Do you want to teach your son to follow Jesus? Then show him how, walk with Christ and your son will follow. (Luke 9:23)

Do you want to teach your son to be a real man? TEACH HIM HOW TO BE LIKE JESUS!

“…but as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord”.  (Joshua 24:15)

Only Love and Wisdom Can Prevail


With the invention of the internet and social media, today we literally have the world at our fingertips. And there is a full barrage of information available with it. It can be quite overwhelming at times. On Facebook alone there is a deluge of posts concerning everything from recipes, craft items, baby photos and such, to links to news articles regarding heinous crimes of rape, murder, torture, etc. It is the latter articles I would like to discuss.

In less than 30 minutes this morning, I read 3 different articles involving vile and evil acts committed by different individuals. And while I in no way, shape or form, condone the acts committed, there was something more that bothered me about these stories. It was in the responses left by many of the readers. Responses filled with hate.

Yes, these stories described horrible acts of violence toward innocent humans and animals. And no, I do not think these crimes should be dismissed, ignored, or go unpunished. While reading these stories a very deep sense of sorrow towards the victims was evoked in my heart, and even a sense of just rage. But I have to ask, where should that rage be focused?

I couldn’t help but notice the rage indicated in the readers’ comments. Several of the comments suggested torture, dismemberment and slow and painful death to the offenders. In these comments, the readers were exuding as much violence as the offenders themselves.

Should violence and hate be re-paid with more violence and hate? And will that solve the problem and make the world a better place for us?

The answer is no. It will not change the past, it will not make the future better, and it will not make the present any easier to live in.

The truth is that while it may be a sense of decency in a person’s heart that causes them to feel outraged over an atrocity, if they were to act on that violent rage, that seed of hatred would eventually rot away their soul. It would cause them to become no better than the very thing they hated. And the hatred continues to grow and spread. It will not make anything better, not even for the victims.

As a Christian, I was reminded of three things I have learned from the bible:

  1. To hate the sin, not the sinner. (James 5:19-20 AMP)
  2. Do not re-pay evil with evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 KJV)
  3. Overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21 KJV)

Evil was unleashed in the world a long time ago, and it is alive and thriving at an unprecedented rate today. The enemy has many weapons and tactics to use against believers and non-believers alike, aimed directly at our hearts. He knows that if he can cause intense enough emotions in us, then we may stumble and fall into his traps.

I’ll admit, to obey the above three verses is impossible for me, apart from God’s Holy Spirit inside of me. The enemy is very clever in appealing to my sense of justice regarding what is right and fair. But through God’s wisdom I can see where the deceit is also appealing to a false sense of pride. Pride that causes me to think I have a right to sit in judgment over the sin of another. I might try to excuse that pride with thoughts such as, “I may not be perfect, but I’m not as bad as…” or “I could never do such a horrible thing myself”. And those thoughts would lead me to feeling justified in the desire to hate and seek revenge. Basically, I would be putting myself in God’s rightful place in judgment and sentencing.

The idea of forgiving those that would commit such atrocious acts of violence against an innocent being is a very hard concept to swallow. But one thing to consider is this: hate will only teach more hate and it will continue to spread to others. On the other hand, only by showing love can it be taught and spread. And forgiveness is a major part of love. It is the only way we can let go of the hate and overcome the evil.

Perhaps some of you that are reading this do not believe in God. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to convert you, that is not my job.) But I ask you to consider this…if you plant a tomato seed, do you expect it to grow cucumbers? Of course not. In the same manner, planting seeds of hate in your heart will not grow anything else but hate and no good can come from it. And if that is all we can show and teach, how can future generations learn anything but to hate more, becoming even more violent themselves? Isn’t inflicting that kind of hatred onto others or the next generation an act of violence in itself?

In conclusion, I ask anyone that might be reading this to consider it for a moment. Do you want to be like those offenders, spreading more violence and more hate? Or do you really want these atrocities to stop? One by one, one day at a time, we can make a difference with our own choices. Only love and wisdom can prevail.

 

 

 

 

 

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