“Five Hurtles To Radical Faith”

Hurdling is an exciting part of the Olympics. The idea is to run a distance of say 110 yards, and overcome the hurdles that are evenly set and must be cleared without knocking them over or falling, and be the fastest one to finish.
I don’t know where Dad got this outline, but evidently he was listening to a speaker and taking notes. Using a play on words, instead of “hurdles” he used “HURTLES.”
The story of Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter
Text: Mark 5.21-end
“And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet…”
1. DIGNITY: He was a ruler of the Jewish synagogue. While many rulers hated and despised Jesus… while Jairus did not. Jairus was a hurting, disturbed, broken man. Life happens, and when sickness and death comes, it shakes all concerned, even this ruler of the synagogue. In great humility, he falls on his face before the Lord. He did not care what others thought about him. He cared not what other “rulers” thought of him. “Dear Lord, I beg you, please come, I need you now,” was the only thing he could say. Dignity was “out the window” as he approached his only Hope for his daughter. Pride is gone, the hurt and pain humbles the greatest. Dignity disappears in His presence.
2. DELAY: “Hurry up!” “Let’s go right now!” The panic of his voice is easy to hear as you read the text. Yet there are interruptions that always seem to come challenging our patience and faith. In vv 25-34 there is a woman who has trouble of her own. She was bleeding, and not just for a day… this had gone on for twelve years! Doctors could not help… and again Jesus was her only Hope. She interrupts His journey to help Jairus, not meaning to, because she just wanted to touch his garment and be healed and disappear into the crowd. Question: What do you do when God makes you wait? We get angry because we want help NOW! “I’ll go and get another God if you can’t put my needs first!” In our time, we demand fast food, ATMs, Quick Lubes, and Drive-Thru dining. We just don’t want to wait. Even the Lord’s Supper is timed down to five minutes so as to keep us on schedule to get thru services on time to “beat the Baptists” to lunch. What a shame. Remember how Abraham was made to “wait” for the promised son, Isaac. Recall what happened when he didn’t. Remember how Moses had to wait 40 years to be ready to serve. When he was 80 years old, God says, “Ok Moses, it’s time to go see Pharaoh!” Then you have Elijah, Jesus, Paul and others… who experienced this “waiting” period, or call it “the wilderness.” This is a tough “hurtle” when we are hurting.
3. DESPAIR: Men came and told Jairus, “Your daughter has died.” “It’s too late… even Jesus can’t help you now.” “Don’t bother the Lord anymore.” The words of men are full of despair as all hope seems lost. Yet the words of the Son of Man quietly say, “Do not be afraid… only believe.” “JUST BELIEVE!” We get nervous with these words. We are ready for some doctrinal battle. Why does Jesus say this? What if we change this to “JUST TRUST ME!” That’s all He is saying. So many times I see in my life this is what is lacking. In times of trouble, in times of despair, when all seems lost, “JUST TRUST ME.” Jairus saw what GOD was doing.
4. DERISION: Professional mourners were already “doing their job.” The girl was dead inside the house, and everyone knew she was dead. It was now time to mourn the loss of something wonderful in this couple’s life… their daughter. While they cry out and mourn, Jesus tells Jairus, “She is not dead, she is just sleeping.” Everyone laughs and mocks Him. “Are you crazy… she is dead!” The Creator is mocked! The source of life is derided! The world is no different now as it was then when Paul says, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (I Corinthians 1.23). Jesus simply says, “JUST BELIEVE IN ME!”
5. DEATH: “It’s over, she is gone.” When Dad passed away, we were there. My sweet wife saw him take his last breath. She lay across him and cried. It still brings tears to recall. He was so much to us all. BUT…”I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4.13-18).
Jesus breathed his last, was taken from the cross, buried… BUT “death could not keep its prey.” He arose!

1. Does your faith separate you from the crowd?
2. Does your faith operate in the face of trials?
3. Is your faith evident in your home? At work?
“You can trust god to save ALL THOSE IN JESUS”

Grow in grace brethren.

Those of you who are searching for meaning in life, why not explore JESUS. My little study on www.jackexum.com is called “Redeemed,” and is especially for those who are searching for hope in life, in Jesus. Take the opportunity to study. These are short concise lessons that take you through the Bible. Well worth the time. God bless you.





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The Home: Problems And Solutions (Part Three)

This article is part 3 of 6 in the series Christian Home

mom and dad collage 1Children that grow up without respect and understanding of parental authority, not knowing the meaning of a (definite) “yes” or “no,” are going to have problems. The family is the foundation of society, and when there are “fifty shades of grey” between right and wrong, then “right” and “wrong” seem to disappear. Children are in need of clear guidance, and a knowledge of right and wrong. This begins in the home where parents are the authority. Government is good to an extent, but never has been a good substitute for raising children.
1. Parental authority is LAW. “Law” is basically a rule of action. It must be established – accepted – administered God’s way and must never be in doubt. Parental authority is not up for auction. When a man and woman are married and have children, they are in charge. Responsible for feeding, caring, clothing, rearing, teaching, disciplining, loving, nurturing, and protecting their children. Much like the old example which Jesus used in John 10 of the shepherd caring for his sheep. Much of the “shepherd and sheep” idea can be a good illustration of parenting children.
2. Take a look at some passages here:
Ephesians 6.1-3 “Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.” Point: IT IS WRONG FOR A CHILD TO DISOBEY AND DISHONOR PARENTS, AND WRONG FOR PARENTS TO ALLOW CHILDREN TO DO THIS.
Hebrews 5.8-9 “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by things which he suffered; And being made perfect , he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Point: LEARNING OBEDIENCE IS NOT EASY, BUT LEADS TO PERFECTION (MATURITY), ITS UP TO PARENTS TO TEACH.
I Samuel 3.13 “For I told him that I would judge his house forever, for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile and he restrains them not.” Point: PARENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR RAISING THEIR CHILDREN RIGHT. WHEN THEIR CHILDREN GO THE WAY ELI’S SONS DID, THEY MUST ACT TO RESTRAIN (STOP-DISCIPLINE) THEM.
Today, employees run the business, students run the school, minority groups run everybody (political correctness), children run the home! Old Chinese proverb says, “HE THAT RESPECTS NOT HIS MOTHER AND FATHER RESPECTS NO ONE ON EARTH.”
3. LAW does several things, it provides, prohibits, protects, and promises. Law is a rule of action, the basis of habits formed, the foundation of independence earned and learned, the father of understanding and provider of liberty. For example: Mom and Dad were our “supreme court,” what they said was law for us. Dad would say, “Jack, play here (and then he would lay the boundaries.) As long as I played within the boundaries provided, I was okay. I was free, to play to run, to hide or seek, to jump and laugh… I was obeying Dad’s law. I felt good about that. Its when I got too close, or crossed the line, that something happened. What happened? I was guilty, dirty, wrong INSIDE. Whether or not I was caught, I WAS WRONG. Similar to Adam and Eve when they disobeyed, “I was afraid… and I hid myself.” The innocence, the communion, the freedom and feeling of “rightness” was gone!
What if Dad had (as he did many times) caught me. Instead of getting a whipping or whatever the discipline required, if he had said, “Aw, it’s okay son… nobody going to whip you. nobody gonna touch you. Don’t worry son, I’ll protect you from everyone and everything.” As Dad said in his lesson, “You may as well give him a gun. He is not going to respect any authority.” Authority respected begins in the home, not in church or school! Surrendering parental authority to church or school is WRONG.
Want to solve some problems at home? Lovingly but firmly (re)establish parental authority. Lay out the rules and draw the lines, and the consequences for crossing them, and hold to it, “For this is right…”

Grow in grace!

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The Home: Problems And Solutions (Conclusion)

This article is part 5 of 6 in the series Christian Home

mom and dad collage 1 Make up your mind… one way or the other! CONSISTENCY is a jewel in the crown of parents. It gives meaning and force to ones words when raising children. Just a “look” from mom was often enough to stop us before “crossing the line.” We knew Mom and Dad said what they meant, and meant what they said. Parenting requires “perseverance,” and “stick-toit-tiveness.” It is the hardest job, and can yield the most rewards.
Let’s consider some Scriptures:
1.) Deuteronomy 6.6-7 “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” There is a reason why the Lord commanded this of His people. Passing on the teachings of the Lord takes time, determination, and consistency. We have a problem doing this for ourselves much less for our kids. If we want to reap the good harvest, we have to plant the good seed (Galatians 6:7). Take the time. Make following the Lord a habit not only for yourself, but your children.
2.) Proverbs 22.6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” “Well, I taught mine and they didn’t stick to it.” I will speak from experience, that even though a child may grow up and “abandon” his teachings at times, they always remember, and often come back, if you don’t give up. The door of the parents should always have a “welcome home,” mat not just for visitors, but for children. (Not to move back in.)(Smile!). Training’s success often depends on how the parent goes about the training, and the life (example) of the parent.
3.) II Timothy 1.5 ” When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” It’s hard to explain, and hard if not impossible to cover all that needs to be covered in this. However, the CONSISTENT EXAMPLE AND TEACHING of parents is the best “Bible translation” for children.
1.) Partiality is a “no-no.” Remember the struggle of Jacob with his sons. A child doesn’t like to feel he/she is being treated differently from the siblings. Bob is handicapped… has been since he was two years old. His handicap changed the dynamics of the home 100%. He went through many surgeries and rehabilitations. Casts, braces, crutches, wheel-chairs, bed-pans… but he got his share of the whippings. Mom and Dad often cried in their bedroom I was told, after these hard times. Yet the raising of children demands much of parents.
2.) “And it came to pass.” If you don’t give up, and grow in God’s grace(s), and let His love and teachings be center in your life and home, then “it will come to pass.”
3.) A CONSISTENT HOME is orderly and runs smooth, changes come slow, there is peace, strength and endurance, patience, and it is grounded and firm.
Don’t tell all your ups and downs, speak of your direction
1.) Let them be kids!
2.) Teach them true values (of family, love, money, work etc…)
3.) Teach them simple obedience and the importance of just doing it to BE RIGHT.
4.) Teach them to “finish what you start.”
5.) Bear kids burdens but not their responsibilities.

1.) Tell me what happened
2.) Do you think this is right or wrong?
3.) What should we do about it?
4.) What could/should you have done?
5.) What will you do next time?
6.) What would you recommend for your own boy? (For teenagers)

Grow in grace brethren!

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The Home: Problems And Solutions (Part Four)

This article is part 4 of 6 in the series Christian Home

mom and dad collage 1

With this article I am trying to bring some balance into the picture. “Law” is not a flexible topic… black or white, right or wrong. However to bring some balance I suggest that LAW MUST BE JUST, and CONSEQUENCES SHOULD BE CONSISTENT. The end of LAW should not be just be cold, heartless punishment for the offender. Use all the examples you want, but when you are the offender in a traffic situation, the only thing you are hoping for is MERCY. In the home situation, when the “law” is broken, there should be consequences. However, the consequences should not bring into question the love between a parent and a child, and should be considerate of circumstances, and maintain the goal of proper direction for the child, (cf. Hebrews 12.5-10).
Discipline involves several things: 1.) TEACHING GIVEN, 2.) LAW (Boundaries and consequences), 3. CONSISTENCY EMPLOYED (Can’t be one way when you feel good, and another way when you feel bad.) 4.) DISCIPLINE CAN BE ADMINISTERED (This doesn’t always mean a spanking.)
Let’s consider some Scriptures:
1.) Proverbs 22.15 “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Now I’m not an expert of Jewish society or culture, but I don’t think the “rod” was used for every infraction. Godly parents have the understanding of what is the right time for the “rod.” Today we might just use a switch. We grew up with it, we didn’t die, and always knew we were loved. Some parents have no idea how to be a parent… They know the “how” of having one, but not the “how” of raising one. A few have made “parenting” suspect, and “discipline” downright scary. Spock has spooked many a parent.
2.) Proverbs 19.18 “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” Balance is needed in all discipline whether it is “corporal” or not. Parents need to always allow themselves time to COOL OFF! A parent who says, “Do you want a whipping?!” Never gets the answer back, “Yes Daddy, give me a whipping.” Of course they want no punishment, but sometimes, even when there are tears, the discipline is necessary, or else respect for parental authority is diminished, and important lessons are lacking in enforcement. Do it while there is time. The wife says, “Whip him!” Husband says, “You whip him, he’s six feet tall!” Train him before it’s too late!
3.) Proverbs 13.24 “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” It’s weird isn’t it? The political correctness group sees “the rod,” “discipline,” as a negative… The child of course doesn’t enjoy it. Yet when a parent loves a child, and disciplines out of love and concern, later the child says, “THANK YOU!”
4.) Hebrews 12.5-11 “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
Read the above Scriptures carefully, and read with parental eyes as well as with brotherly eyes. Loving, caring for, and disciplining your child, and a brother who strays, is not too different. The source is a heart of love, the discipline is meant to bring them back to the right path, the fruit is good.
My brother Ed, (sorry to pick on him so much) once told Dad when he was about to get a whipping, “It ain’t gonna do no good Dad.” Now I would never have said this, but Ed was cut from a different cloth. He was more of a free-thinking-challenging sort. Dad looked at Ed, and said, “Let’s try.” Dad never backed off from doing what was NEEDED. Yet he never whipped us when he was angry…
Principles we learned and now pass on:
1.) Never threaten. Do what you say, or don’t say it.
2.) Keep teaching simple and clear.
3.) Softly and Firmly
4.) Never be vengeful
5.) No embarrassment. It doesn’t help a child to embarrass them (cf. Eph. 6.1-4).
6.) Afterwards – The goal is always “afterwards,” and while children don’t recognize this… the parent most assuredly needs to have this in mind. What is your end game? What is your goal in discipline? Same when dealing with brethren who fall. What is your end game?

exum1014 “Grandma’s glasses” (Article from www. jackexum.com)
They were stair-cased kids, just old enough to be in school. Bad boys – really not, but mischievous would be a better word for it. With both parents working, it was an open door of opportunity, and the daily ‘rap’ sheet was continually being filled with bad reports. The parents had to have some relief.
Vacation time came and arrangement had to be made for someone to ‘keep the kids’. The word was out and all refused the job at any price. From the parents view, two weeks away from them was an absolute necessity. Without this ‘time of recovery’ the parents would be permanently enrolled in the “Ha-Ha Hotel”.
Even professional ‘baby-sitters’ knew about the boys and were conveniently booked for the dates they needed. Taking the boys with them was out of the question.
At the last resort, Grandma said, “I’ll take em!” This possibility had already been discussed and quickly dismissed. Grandpa had died in recent years, and Grandma was still living alone. The small but comfortable farm house had been her home for nearly sixty years. She was old and frail and would be no match for the challenge of two kids that were clearly out of control.
She insisted and assured her son and daughter-in-law that things would be fine. After all, she had experience having raising her own family. Having no alternative they packed the bags for them and made the drive to the country.
It was a beautiful old house that was nestled under three large Oaks. With thirty acres to roam the boys would know true freedom for the first time.. They had never been to Grandma’s before. This would be a real learning experience. It was a glorious day. The air was clean and crisp and the leaves had already begin to turn. The white picket fence that bordered the house was a lovely invitation to bring people in, not to keep them out. The room, the space, the open spaces was something altogether different from city life. At home it was “Stay in the yard” which meant a 50 by 200 piece of ground, hardly big enough to occupy the energies of two growing boys. The car door swung open and the kids hit the ground running, whooping and hollowing. Years of being bottled up were suddenly turned loose on the acreage that lay before them.
The parents kissed their sons goodbye and left with the simple instructions, “You boys try to be good and help Grandma around the house”. As they drove away the mother said a silent prayer as the father looked at Grandma in the rear view mirror. She was holding hands with her grandsons, one on each side.
Things were different at Grandma’s house. She laid down some simple rules and expected them to be followed. The meals were cooked on an old black wood burning stove, but the food was fresh and good, different from the take out food that was brought in at home. When they lied or disobeyed, Grandma always seemed to have a small switch from the peach tree handy and didn’t hesitate to use it. “Don’t do that again,” was her simple reminder.
As they lay in their bed the first night the older boy said, “Grandma is strange. She seems to know everything we plan to do even before we do it”. His brother observed, “Yeah, and she’s strong”. They heard Grandma praying nightly through the paper thin walls, and one night they had to go help Grandma get up off her knees. She said it was the change in the weather that caused it.
Beginning the second week, the older brother turned into a miniature Sherlock Holmes, and the younger brother had nothing but the mantle of a fat headed Watson to fall on his shoulders. As Grandma was taking her afternoon nap, ‘Sherlock’ snitched her glasses. They found they’re favorite spot in the barn, and with a bit of reverence and care, the older brother carefully removed the old beady looking pair of Grandma’s glasses.
“Them’s is the answer,” he said ” I been thinking about it all night”. The younger brother looked on with special interest. “What do you mean, them’s is the answer?” he replied. “Those ain’t nothing but a pair of old glasses”.
They looked the glasses over very carefully, and then the older brother said, “Did you ever know how much she was see through these things? Every time we were cold, or hot or hungry or tired out, she looked through these things and knew all about it.” The younger brother looked up and added, “and each time we told a lie, or snitch something from the kitchen or poked the pigs, she looked right through these old wired up things and that was it”. They held the glasses carefully in their hands and thought of what great power there was in them. “Last night she told us about heaven” the older boy whispered. “I know”, came the uneasy reply. “I think she’s been there and come back!” “No, she ain’t” came the stern rebuke. “She told me she sees heaven through these glasses.” They moved to the corner of the barn where there was a window, and as they lifted the glasses toward the sky you could hear them murmur, “Wonder if we see heaven through these glasses?”
Solomon wrote, “By humility and the fear of God are riches, and honor, and (Grandma’s Glasses) life”.  – (Proverbs 22:4)
The prodigal son in Luke 15 is a prime example of love and discipline and grace… read and learn!
Grow in grace brethren!

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The Home: Problems And Solutions (Part One)

This article is part 1 of 6 in the series Christian Home

Writing about “the home,” is challenging. Some may say, “You don’t have the right to write on this since you’ve been through divorce!” Simply put, I disagree. That being said, I will proceed. Here are several simple points to begin with.
1. Normal children are born normal. There are exceptional children, those with deformities such as blindness, crippled, retarded and there are many more “deformities,” both mental and physical. Normal children are born normal. Suffice it to just say here, that not one is born a homosexual or a lesbian. Children are born with brains, but not with “mind.” There is a difference.
2. Children come into a home pathetic and helpless. They come with one desire, to grow, mature and fulfill a purpose. They are like soft clay… pliable, moldable, teachable, changeable, moveable. All depends on the ones entrusted with molding, teaching, changing, and moving them.
3. Early years of a child are the most important since these are the most impressionable years. By the time a child is six months old he knows (senses) a mother’s love. Sixty percent of the broad concepts of life are realized by age six. Eighty percent of one’s vocabulary is fixed by age twelve.
1. The concept (definitions) of life are TAUGHT by parents.
Words spoken: Much is conveyed by how loud or soft, harsh or loving, hasty or slow, words are spoken.
Attitudes: Outlooks- dispositions and how life is to be lived, whether it is to be enjoyed and positive in its outlook or negative and to be dreaded and filled with sorrows, are conveyed early in life. “Mama, can we go to the park for a walk?” “NO! You will fall, or fall into the pond and drown, or be snatched by some twisted pervert!” “Daddy, can I sleep on the couch tonight?” “NO! Beds are made to be slept on, only slobs sleep on the couch!” “Can I have my friends over to play?” “NO! Our house is a mess, and the furniture is bad, and they will go home and tell their parents how poor we are. Besides, I’m tired!” “No!” “No! “No!”
Fears: Often parents pass fears on to children without even realizing it or meaning to do so. Anxieties, worries, frustrations can be planted, nurtured, cultivated, encouraged, fertilized, and harvested. “You can’t!” “Look out!” “You’ll fall!” “You’ll never make it!” We threaten and bribe to get what we want from them. “If you don’t go to sleep I’ll turn out the lights in the hall!” “If you don’t do your chores, eat your food, do your homework, take a bath, clean your teeth, etc., and the treats (which we never intend on following through on) flow.
Attitudes: Attitudes towards people, neighbors and friends, enemies, elders, deacons, preachers… we often teach our children and they take hold of our thoughts and make them their own. “Dirty crooks!” Trying to rob you” “Dog eat dog world” “Rat race” “All hypocrites” “They just want your money” We just don’t think of all the things we do and say which pour into the minds of children during the first six years, and wonder why they later end up the way they are.
Spiritual concepts: What about God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, church, missions and missionaries? “Hide your wallet, the missionary is in town!” What do we teach our children about these things. How many children hear parents using Jesus’ name in crude, rude, and just nasty ways? “God this!” “God that!” Enough! It is time for parents to wake up to what is happening to children.
Perfect parents just don’t exist! The “Christian home” is made of human beings that struggle through life and try to do the right thing at the right time, but just don’t always do it. Many problems that come, just come and are unexpected. What are we saying in this part of this study??? Pay attention to your most important role… PARENTING.
Parenting is not easy, and having struggled through having children and watching them grow up, and seeing some do great and some not, my thought is always, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP ON THEM. Like the stork standing in the swamp that has caught a frog and has it almost gobbled down but the frog hasn’t given up! Its hands or paws, are wrapped around the neck of the stork and squeezing as hard as possible. What’s the frog thinking? “It ain’t over yet!”

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The Home: Problems And Solutions (Part Two)

This article is part 2 of 6 in the series Christian Home

 It is absolutely true, “God is no mocked; for whatever a man sows, this will he reap also” (Galatians 6.7). This was always a negative verse to me. (Sometimes it still is.) The old acronym BTDT (Been There, Done That) carries many regrets and thoughts of what I would “do over,” if the chance were given. Thoughts and actions planted result in reflective plants grown and a harvest of consequences.
When children grow up with the idea that they are not amenable to Mom and Dad’s law (authority), it often results in teens and adults that see themselves as not amenable to God’s laws and man’s laws as well. The harvest is not good. Where to begin?
PARENTS MUST TEACH! Their WORDS, MODEL, and TOTAL IMAGE, are completely grasped by children as they grow up and often emulated in their life.
Instructions, law, direction, rules, responsibility, accountability are to be taught.
Solomon wrote “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck” (Prov. 1.7-9). I grew up with the teaching of “B.H.D.” (You have to BE before you HAVE and DO.) Today this has been changed to H.B.D. (You have to HAVE before you can BE and DO.) The development of character is vital, and yet it is sorely missing today. “For I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgement” (Genesis 18.19). Growing up we didn’t have much but it was more than most. Dad worked at preaching, and Mom worked at home (a job which is unfortunately ‘put down’ by many today). We kids (there were three of us, then four, then five, then six!), never were in need of what was important. We had .25 cents for allowances, and loved the trip to Woolworth 5 and 10 cent Stores. The table was always full of food. Even when Mom made a big pot of RUNNY mashed potatoes. Dad told us, “Eat up boys!” Okra was a now and again thing. Slimy things that they were. Dad always said, “Slide me some.” Mom served two things… TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT! WE ALWAYS KAD PLENTY, BECAUSE DAD SAID, “YOU’VE HAD PLENTY.” Things have changed now haven’t they? What is lacking is Dad’s that will guide and command in the right way, and Mom’s that will back him up, and kids that will follow.
Paul says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor your father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6.1-4). “Go learn what this means,” Boys can BE without HAVING!!! (Dad often joked about his Dad having him work at home. “He only wanted us to work half a day and the other half was ours, he didn’t care which half it was either.) Learning involves guidance, teaching, rules, commands. responsibility and accountability. These don’t come easy to a child.
Children are growing up in an age when “image” is “Fifty shades of Grey.” Black and white are quickly disappearing. It is politically incorrect to say things like “”Flee immorality…” “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify god in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6.19-20). References like Ephesians 5:21ff; Matthew 19.1-11, need to be taught in love. Mistakes have horrendous consequences. Truth is still truth, and to do otherwise is sin, and even though there is forgiveness… scars still remain. Scrambled eggs cannot be unscrambled, but must be eaten.
Begin early teaching and setting the example of the right way to go. TEACHING PLUS TIME = MIND, MIND PLUS TIME = CONVICTION, CONVICTION PLUS TIME = CHARACTER, CHARACTER PLUS TIME = DESTINY.
I grew up with a solid idea of who I was. I had a Father and Mother. My Dad was: 1.) A MALE. (“God create them male and female” Moses wrote in Genesis.) He had (like his Dad) a crop of hair growing on his chest. I didn’t! I wanted to be LIKE DAD. He said, “Jack, Eat your spinach!” I looked at the green stuff on my plate, and yuk! He said, “It will put HAIR on your chest.” Yummy, give me some more! He had no problem being a MALE. I wanted to grow up to be a MAN like Dad. Lovingly, people need to hear the message, HOMOSEXUALITY is wrong! Unnatural! Confusing to a child’s image (Romans 1.24-32)! Soup commercials that have two “fathers”, and one says, “I’m your father.” and the other says, “No, I’m your father,” speaks loud and clear to the mess children are in today, and should be “boycotted.” 2.) A FATHER. Someone who was the “head of the house.” The leader, the guide, the “supreme court.” My youngest brother Ed, was getting a whipping and Dad asked, “You have anything to say Ed?” Ed said, “I want to speak to the supreme court.” Dad said, “You’re speaking to it son.” Don’t get me wrong, Dad’s are not perfect. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory, Paul said. Dad’s grow with time as well, and learn from mistakes. Dad’s you may not be perfect, and you may make mistakes, but BE A DAD! 3.) A HUSBAND. This is a role which the man cannot miss. If you are married treat your wife with the love and respect she deserves. She is a partner not a slave. She is your completion not your play toy. She is yours and you are hers, (I Cor. 7.1-5). Read Ephesians 5. 22-31. Think about the comparisons made, and the love shared. BE A HUSBAND.
Then there was Mom. Mom was a 1.) FEMALE. She and Dad were equal in that what Mom said carried the weight of Dad. Dad backed her up. When she said, “Dad will deal with you.” Our day was over! (We thought our life was over.) God created them male and female. God was and is wise in His way of doing things. Just think where we would be if He started with John and George instead of Adam and Eve. Mom was a female, and my sister identified with MOM. They wanted to be like her. They wanted nothing to do with “hair on the chest.” They played with dolls, and we played with army men. DIFFERENT! 2.) A MOTHER. She was everything to us but a Dad. She was the doctor when we were hurt, she was the mediator with Dad for us (which is why we are still alive), she was the one who made sure we had clean clothes, patched clothes, food in our bellies, warm coats on our backs, a clean room, she drove us to school and back, she loved gently, firmly. She was a teacher, a disciplinarian, a guide. She and Dad were together always, and never argued in front of us. Their disagreements were taken care of behind the bedroom doors, always! 3.) A WIFE. Mom was Dad’s wife. There were no others, nor should there be. Sin camps at the doors and the “grass just looks greener on the other side.” Sixty one years they were married. Perfect? No! In love? Yes! Mom and Dad have passed on now, and they are together again.
Divorce is a problem. It is not unforgivable. The guilty (as I have always believed) don’t need to unscramble the egg as it were. People cannot be divorced too many times so as to be unreachable by the blood of Christ, as one preacher said to a three time divorced lady. Christians are not perfect either, but God’s grace and forgiveness is always available. God help us all to understand and reach out to the hurting.
Command + Example = Image. It all begins at home. Teaching and setting the example needed by children to follow can pave the way to a good life. This puts a big responsibility on parents, and a tremendous joy as well.
Grow in grace friends!

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Growing Up… (In Christ)

Growing up is not always easy. Abuse is more rampant than we would like to admit. Parenting seems to be harder than some would like to admit. Growing up is natural but as the seedling pine needs to be “staked out” as it grows, even so the child needs teaching, guidance and discipline along the way.

Growing up spiritually is pretty much the same. So why have so many missed this much needed process? When a person gives their life to Jesus, having repented of sin and been born of water and Spirit (as Jesus says in John 3), the past is forgiven, the present is a new beginning in Christ, and the future is a walk in grace. How far is the walk? God only knows (cf. Matt. 20.1-16). However, all are walking, growing up in Christ at different rates.

Growing up “in Christ,” is a step by step process. Legalism doesn’t help the process. Liberalism doesn’t help the process. Growing up in Christ isn’t a “hit or miss” process, it is a combination of “fearing God,” “loving God,” and “desiring God.” The babe in Christ may not realize all of this, and this is why good disciplers are needed. Avoiding the extremes of legalism and liberalism and just seeking to know the Lord and follow the Lord and as newborn babes drinking of the milk of the Word without all the traditions of man. “I just want to be a disciple,” is on the heart of all new believers. So the process begins.

Taking baby steps means taking steps which probably involve making mistakes. What baby doesn’t throw up or poop their diapers. Question: Where are the ones who will lovingly feed, help and clean? Often what happens when one is immersed into Christ is we give them a Bible and in essence say, “Good luck!” No wonder they get discouraged. We expect them to simply come to church and go through the same motions weekly and hope they will be “raised in church.” Church does not take the place of parents physically nor spiritually. The one who brought and taught them should be the one(s) who stick with them and help them grow. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes spirituality and gentleness (Galatians 6.1-5).

Growing up in Christ is also very exciting. A new life (old things are passed away) (2 Cor. 5.17), and what a life it can be. What could possibly hinder the new Christian? In a word SIN. It takes time to understand and learn how to appreciate the armor God gives the Christian (Eph. 6.10-17). It takes time for the babe to understand the blessing of the indwelling of the Spirit, what grieves Him, what quenches Him, what He wants or doesn’t want. The new Christian will have “baggage” from the past, and it takes time to deal with this. It takes a caring spiritual parent who understands the dangers that lie ahead.

Growing up in Christ can take some real twists and turns. Sometimes a Christian gets side-tracked, and falls, doing something just wrong. Is this the end? Is this a time for dis-fellowshipping? Is this a time to disown or turn our backs? Is this a time to give up on them? Of course this will not help. Growing up in Christ means growing up in the relationship the Christian has in Christ, and it is hard to lose that. While trying to grow up in a legalistic system “in Christ” is easy to fall from, because we can never seem to “do enough,” “give enough,” “pray enough,” “Sing enough,” “be good enough.” What is needed is a healthy balanced understanding of God’s grace. This is so because a Christian cannot, must not ever come to think of himself as sinless, and thus outside the need of God’s grace. While Christians do sin, and prodigal sons/daughters are found not only in Luke 15, they certainly should not enjoy, boast or gloat in sin. It should grieve them, hurt them, for they have sinned against God. Repentance is to correct ones direction, and it is not just a one time thing, just as growing up is not just a “one time thing.” What is needed is more understanding of the process, as well as encouragement, loving discipline in some cases to bring the fallen back on course. Ignoring the fallen will not help. Gossiping about the fallen will not help. “Black-balling” will not help.

Growing up in Christ may be summed up in the phrase “be patient with me, God isn’t finished yet.” Parents don’t quickly dump a child, pre-teen, teenager, or even a child grown up… “Blood is thicker than water” as the old saying goes. Even when a child has sorely hurt his parents, and caused their hair to turn grey prematurely, they still love. Even when a parent must discipline the “child” the parent will often say or think, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” The Hebrew writer records,

“and ye have forgotten the exhortation which reasoneth with you as with sons, My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, Nor faint when thou art reproved of him; 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye are without chastening, whereof all have been made partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. 11 All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness. 12 Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down, and the palsied knees; 13 and make straight paths for your feet, that that which is lame be not turned out of the way, but rather be healed. 14 Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest there be any man that falleth short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled; 16 lest there be any fornication, or profane person, as Esau, who for one mess of meat sold his own birthright” (Hebrews 12).

Growing up in Christ means beginning, continuing, falling, getting back up, going on to the end in grace! You cannot get many to heaven with fear (of punishment), but you can with love. love can and should be tough and tender, for we all need it.

Dad once told me that back years ago when I wanted to marry, “I wanted to kick you in the pants.” I often think now how I could have used a kick or two. If I had received it, I would probably not liked it at the time, but looking back, it would have been the best thing. The only way this could be is if I knew that Dad really loved me, and I did and do.

Don’t give up on brethren. “Mark” carefully. “Correct” with love. “Avoid” sparingly. Encourage, correct, lift up, help liberally. Who knows, one day you may need it as well. Pine trees need to be ‘staked out” when they are young, but then sometimes even later when the storms come and are too great for the tree, weakness appears, and it’s time to get to work brethren. It is important to win the lost to Christ, but even more, we are to keep the saved.

Grow in grace!





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“Take A Stand”

Did you hear about t

Jack H. Exum Sr. (Dad)

Jack H Exum Sr. (Dad)

he man who, during the Civil War was sympathetic to both sides? He lived on “the line” between the North and South. To show his sympathy for all concerned, he decided it would be good to dress like both… so he combined his uniform. He wore the Confederate Gray coat, and the Union Blue trousers.
All seemed to go well for a while till he found himself in thew midst of a hard fought battle. The Federals shot him in the coat, and the Confederates shot him in the pants.
The moral of the story: “Take a stand!” Stand up and be counted for Jesus. Study, pray, do your own thinking,. “Stand your ground!” No one loves those who are continually indecisive. Jesus said if one is not for him, he counts them as an enemy. STAND FOR CHRIST.
Matthew 12:30 “He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (ASV). In Matthew 6:24 Jesus says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
I don’t know from which bulletin Dad cut this little article, but it brings smiles, and makes you think.
What we add here is this… 1.) Do your own thinking, 2.) Look for principles in the scriptures and ways to apply them. One of the dominant complaints from those in the seats against those in the pulpit is, “There’s always a lot of scriptures but very little application. People are seeking and needing “help for the day.” They do not need a “social Gospel,” nor a “all is great” sermon… scriptures are our only authority but how about fearless application.
Take for example Romans 14-15… How to deal with the weak brother? Most Christians understand about the historical setting of this, but strong preaching applies the principles in the setting of today. Here are a few ideas…
Negative Principle: “Never build a church on issues.” (The important thing about issues is how you deal with them.)
2. PERSONAL CONVICTIONS AND OR CONSCIENCE OR OPINIONS MUST NEVER BE CONSIDERED AS CONGREGATIONAL LAW. (People have a right to their opinions but not the right to push that on others.)
3. A “STUMBLING BLOCK” IS DIFFERENT FROM A “GRUMBLING BLOCK.” The “stumbling block” Paul speaks of is eating meat sacrificed to idols. He say he would not eat meat if it would make someone fall. The one who is strong and will not fall away from Christ should not be using this to “get his way.” He may go to another congregation, but this is his/her option… He can “have his say, but not necessarily get his way.” The “grumbling block,” should be dealt with as such, and not as a “weak brother.”
The “hard head” will not consider other options, opinions, differences. He is like “Johnny one note,” who found his one note and would not play any other. Not all scripture is as clear as others, not every command is given for every culture and time. Give time to consider the who, what, where, when and why. Try and be consistent, and always make sure your conclusion fits within the overall story of the grace of God and His Bible. (Scriptures do not contradict scripture.)
5. APPEASMENT IS NOT UNITY. Preachers musty break free from the thought that they cannot preach what they believe fully or else they will lose their pay check. Elders should not want a “yes-man” in the pulpit. This helps neither the man in the pulpit nor the shepherds who need to grow as well. Appeasing some brother to “keep the peace,” is not the way to unity. Eventually things will come to a “head” and “unity” will be disrupted. Shepherds must deal with the “hot-head.”
Other thoughts on the scriptures:
1.) “The mainest thing is the plainest thing.” The plain teaching of scriptures is that coming to Jesus means faith is seen in repenting and being immersed for the remission of sins. The Spirit of God is then given to each believer (Acts 2:38-39).
2.) Context is still king.
3.) There is a big difference in “can’t” and “won’t.” When someone says “I can’t do…” just ask if they mean “I won’t do…”
Thoughts on the congregational makeup, since most congregations have:

A good principle here is: Each congregation has Christians that are at different stages of development and growth… or the lack thereof (cf. Hebrews 5:11-6:2).
Grow in grace brethren!

Jack Exum Jr.
Jack and Wiwik Exum

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