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Parenting: From This Side of Life

Sunday, May 19, 2019

I know many young parents may just pass off what I’m about to say, — because my wife and I did — but, enjoy your kids while they’re home because it will all go by very fast. Maybe we dismissed that because it sounded like something our parents would say. But, here we are ... in our mid 40’s with one gone and one ready to go. And, looking back — it did fly by, ...the teen years especially. You may not be able to believe this now, but sometime over the next decade or two, you’ll be making remarks about how fast it went ... just like we are now. (We do sound more like our parents as we age... )

There was no way, in 1996, that we could imagine our life experience and situation in 2019. And, while we had a plan and knew a lot more then than we do now, the joys, fun, smiles, laughs, challenges, disappointments, setbacks, success and growth leading to the life we have today were impossible to see. Some of the things we said our kids would never do, they did. Some of the things we said we would never do, we did. But it all did work out. And, of the things that aren’t quite worked out yet, we trust that they will. We didn’t do things perfectly, and neither will you. There were many things we did do right, and so will you.

So, what are some words of encouragement for those coming on behind, with kids still at home?

Commit your marriage and family to God’s way. You will need to be just as determined as Joshua who said, as for me and my family, we will worship the Lord, Joshua 24.15. Your kids need to see you fully committed to the Lord and have zero doubt that everything in your family will be measured by His standard — not the world’s. Any pressure to conform will be resisted and not apologized for because God’s way is what is right.

Remember the way you live is the way you communicate. You can constantly expound on your faith and trust in God, but what your kids will emulate is what they actually see. It has been said, the eye is a better pupil and more willing than the ear: fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear. Desirable outcomes in our children will be largely produced by our determination to live out our values in the small moments of life. Let your “yes” mean “yes” and your “no” mean “no,” James 5.12b.

Be intentional with your time. As the years go by, it is easy to get caught up in your career, tending to aging parents, hobbies, or recreation. It is also easy to take for granted that the time will always be there.The years where they are young and constantly cling to you will disappear as the teen years approach. You’ll be much farther down on their priority list (except when they need money) and you’ll be wishing for more time with them. So, be intentional to make time to talk about God, read Scripture, and learn the pleasure of living for the Lord, especially when they're young. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up, Deuteronomy 6.6-7.

Be humble. No matter where you are in parenting, you do not know it all. And, the current techniques and pop psychology found in magazines, websites, the universities, and television will never replace the eternal, time-tested principles of God’s word. Don't neglect the wisdom and experience of those Christians who are farther down the road than you. Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old, Job 12.12. You may not agree with every parenting style, but the principle remains the same ... there are others who have been there and done that. And many of them are eager to help you avoid the pitfalls they experienced. Not everyone in previous generations got it wrong and they bring a wealth of information, grace, and love to the table — and are very desirous to come up along side you for any problem you experience.

Don’t ignore reality. Those who have been through decades of parenting will tell you this is not the same world it was when they began. Times have changed and the social / moral fabric of our nation is declining with increasing rapidity. This is not pessimism — it’s reality — and you need to be vigilant in protecting your children. You may tire of hearing about the need to monitor their social media, their YouTube, SnapChat, text messages, online friends, and real friends, but you must go out of your way to do so. Today’s teens are comfortable with leading a double life with an increasing brazenness. Know your kids. Know their friends. Know where they are. They will think you are over-the-top, but it doesn’t matter. One of your primary jobs is to protect and shield them. Do not shirk this responsibilityIn the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly,. Stay away from people like that. 2 Timothy 3.1-5 (NLT). This passage is more than adequate in describing the times we live.

The Psalmist said, Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him, Psalm 127.3. This is so true. I remember when we found out Becky was expecting Emilea. I remember thinking how much our life was going to change ... and boy did it ever. ...And as we reflect back, it’s been so good. We are so blessed with two children who love others so much and are both committed to serving others. If we had to do it over again, we most definitely would. Tell them every day you love them and how important they are to you and everyone else in the family. Never, ever, ever, take any day for granted, because every day is a blessing from God.

— Matthew Allen

The Reality of Eternal Punishment

Monday, May 13, 2019

Matthew 25:46 states an important fact: the righteous will inherit eternal life and the unrighteous will inherit eternal punishment. While most people believe in heaven less believe in the reality of hell. A survey from a number of years ago revealed that only 60% of Americans believe in hell. And out of that number, only 4% thought they would go there! But, what did Jesus say, Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7.13-14.

While a majority agree that hell exists, a growing number of individuals question the duration of punishment.

In Revelation 14:11 we are told the lost are tormented forever and ever, and they have no rest day or night. John continues his explanation of the torment of hell by stating the devil and his angels will be tormented day and night forever and ever, Revelation 20.10. Regarding heaven, Revelation 21.25 and 22.5 tell us there will be no night. Heaven will be one eternal day of joy where the redeemed will worship and serve God. Hell will be the exact opposite. The Bible describes hell as a place of outer darkness (Matthew 25:30; 25:41, 46). Hell will involve separation from everything holy. 2 Thessalonians 1:9 says, These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. Matthew 25:41 indicates a punishment that will involve a fire that burns throughout eternity! Since the punishment and fire are eternal—we must assume that those receiving it will remain conscious throughout eternity!

Both heaven and hell will be places of everlasting consciousness. Everlasting awareness is not the same as everlasting life. Whereas heaven will be a place of eternal glory, honor, peace, and immortality, hell will be a place of eternal separation (death) from God and the saved. In hell, the lost will experience indignation, wrath, tribulation, and anguish, Romans 2.6-11. The eternal destruction of which the Scriptures speak is a loss of well being—not a loss of being, 2 Thessalonians 1.7-9.

What is the bottom line? You don’t want to go to hell! Do whatever possible to get home to heaven! Have you received forgiveness of your sins? Are you prepared face eternity?

— Matthew Allen

Opening Our Homes and Hearts For Others

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 4.8-9

What comes to your mind when you hear the word hospitality? For many of us, the first picture we see is having someone in our home for dinner — extended family, close friends, etc. While that is not inaccurate, it is important to know that the hospitality mentioned by the apostolic writers involves much more.

In the original language, hospitality comes from a word that literally means “to love strangers.” This takes the concept to a much higher level; one where we go beyond the circle of our closest friends and associates extending our kindness to those we do not know. In the gospel accounts, Jesus captured the true spirit of the word when he recited the parable of the great banquet:

“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

— Luke 14:12–14

As you think about how to apply Jesus’ teaching and combine that with what Peter wrote, focus on the Christians right here among you. Think about members of our spiritual family outside of your normal circle of closest friends or family. Who is someone that you don’t know well? Is there a person or family new to the congregation that you could welcome? Is there someone grieving the loss of a loved one, suffering a physical challenge, or entering a new chapter in life that you could encourage? Who are some of our young people that you could get to know better? What better place to do this than in the comfort and warmth of your home?

Please note how Peter’s command in 1 Peter 4.9 is directly connected to the previous verse, which talks about loving one another earnestly. Hospitality is not just about an action, it’s also about an attitude. It expresses sacrificial love and an open heart that stretches and strains to go out of its way for others.

Many of us intend to follow through on this, but life often gets in the way and things get pushed back. Resist the urge to make any excuses. (Some don’t think their home is good enough / large enough, etc.) May what you’ve read here encourage you to be intentional and make an opportunity happen. You’ll be glad you did.

— Matthew Allen

Three Things to Look for in a Church

Monday, April 29, 2019

Welcome to the Kettering Church! We’re glad you’re here. Just about every week we have local guests from our community stop by to worship. It’s great to meet new people and to have the opportunity to encourage them on their spiritual journey. Maybe today is your first visit to Kettering. Perhaps you’re looking for a church. What are some things we think you should look for?

Good, humble leaders who are forward minded. What kind of leadership does the congregation have? Are those who serve men of God? Are they among the people? Is their attention and care easy to see? Are they an example to the flock, 1 Peter 5.3? Are they wedded to tradition or are they open to new ideas and fresh initiatives, while of course remaining true to the Biblical pattern? At Kettering you have all these things. Our three shepherds have over fifty years combined experience in the eldership and over a hundred years of combined experience as Christians. They are committed to service and genuinely care for each member of this congregation.

A vision for the future with a real plan on how to get there. If a local church is to thrive and prosper, it needs direction for the future. Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, Proverbs 29.18. When a person is looking for a church he or she needs to know if the leadership is committed to not only supplying present needs, but also equipping the saints for the purpose of service and spiritual maturity, Ephesians 4.12-13. At Kettering, our shepherds spend almost half the year evaluating current needs, and shaping our teaching and preaching program to help our members grow toward spiritual maturity. We publish a book each year that outlines our plan and explains the importance and relevance of doing so.

A committed family of believers who care. How dedicated are the members to spiritual service? Is there a close, warm, inviting, and loving atmosphere? In Romans 12, Paul outlined some important things to look for: love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another, Romans 12.10, 13, 15-16a. Here at Kettering, you’ll find just that. Brethren who will be with you during the good times and the bad. Brethren who genuinely care and regularly demonstrate it through prayer, kind words, and companionship. Members at Kettering are never alone in their spiritual journey to heaven.

We hope you enjoy our service today. Please plan to include some time after the service ends to get to know the family. You’ll be glad you did. If we can serve your spiritual needs in any way, please do not hesitate to talk to one of our shepherds or the minister.

— Matthew Allen

Dealing with Damaged Relationships

Monday, April 22, 2019

Over the last few months, our Wednesday classes have been covering the book of Acts. About six weeks ago we were in chapter 15.36-41, and covered the section where Paul and Barnabas go their separate ways after a sharp disagreement over John Mark. Relationships, among brothers, are not always smooth. Let’s examine the text, observing the principle characters and a couple of key points:

Mark - disappointed. Mark had withdrawn from them once before. Why is not stated, but everyone has disappointed and been disappointed. Everyone has not “been there,” when needed and expected.

Barnabas - good intentions. Despite Mark’s failing, his cousin wanted to bring him along. Is this Barnabas giving Mark a second chance? Knowing Barnabas, his intentions were good regardless if what he proposed was wrong or right.

Paul - insisted. The wording in Acts 15.38 means that Paul did not think it was wise to take John Mark along. Is this Paul holding Mark to his own high standard? Is Paul being unforgiving, forgetting that Jesus gave him a second chance?

Separation - contention came because these two friends could not agree. What is good is that both men continued to do good even if it meant doing it without the other. Nevertheless, division is always regrettable.

Healing - Paul and Mark healed their riff, 1 Timothy 4.11, where Paul said that Mark was useful to him in ministry. Mark wound up being the person who wrote the second gospel account.

What lessons do we learn? My preaching friend, Perry Hall, observes:

  1. As outsiders, we don’t always have all the facts, so we need to be leery of taking sides.
  2. Even if someone close to us shirks their responsibility, it does not mean we should.
  3. Past failures do not predetermine future success.
  4. Forgiveness is the key to healing all separations.
  5. Our God is one who gives second chances, and so should we.

— Matthew Allen

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