one of many reasons NOT to spoil your children

Parents! if your children do not meet with a spirit of piety in your houses, if, on the contrary, your pride consists in surrounding them with external gifts, introducing them into worldly society, indulging all their whims, letting them follow their own course, you will see them grow vain, proud, idle, disobedient, impudent, and extravagant! They will treat you with contempt; and the more your hearts are wrapped up in them, the less they will think of you. This is seen but too often to be the case; but ask yourselves if you are not responsible for their bad habits and practices; and your conscience will reply that you are; that you are now eating the bread of bitterness which you have prepared for yourself. May you learn thereby how great has been your sin against God in neglecting the means which were in your power for influencing their hearts; and may others take warning from your misfortune, and bring up their children in the Lord! Nothing is more effectual in doing this than an example of domestic piety.

Especially as we approach the Christmas season, as parents, let us keep “the main thing the main thing” (i.e. the salvation of the souls of those whom the Lord has entrusted to us for this brief season) and NOT get caught up in lavishing our children with every earthly pleasure, except it be for those which might draw their hearts toward the great glories of our God (i.e. the demonstration of His very character: love, patience, kindness, self control, etc.).

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This Year’s Resolution

This is another re-post. This time, the blog is authored by Paul Tripp. I thought it very appropriate considering the holiday today:

10,000 Little Moments

Well, it’s that season once again. It’s the fodder for blogs, newspaper articles, TV magazine shows and way too many Twitter posts. It is the time for the annual ritual of dramatic New Year’s resolutions fueled by the hope of immediate and significant personal life change.

But the reality is that few smokers actually quit because of a single moment of resolve, few obese people have become slim and healthy because of one dramatic moment of commitment, few people who were deeply in debt have changed their financial lifestyle because they resolved to do so as the old year gave way to the new, and few marriages have been changed by the means of one dramatic resolution.

Is change important? Yes, it is for all of us in some way. Is commitment essential? Of course! There is a way in which all of our lives are shaped by the commitments we make. But biblical Christianity—which has the gospel of Jesus Christ at its heart—simply doesn’t rest its hope in big, dramatic moments of change.

The fact of the matter is that the transforming work of grace is more of a mundane process than it is a series of a few dramatic events. Personal heart and life change is always a process. And where does that process take place? It takes place where you and I live everyday. And where do we live? Well, we all have the same address. Our lives don’t careen from big moment to big moment. No, we all live in the utterly mundane.

Most of us won’t be written up in history books. Most of us only make three or four momentous decisions in our lives, and several decades after we die, the people we leave behind will struggle to remember the event of our lives. You and I live in little moments, and if God doesn’t rule our little moments and doesn’t work to recreate us in the middle of them, then there is no hope for us, because that is where you and I live.

The little moments of life are profoundly important precisely because they are the little moments that we live in and that form us. This is where I think “Big Drama Christianity” gets us into trouble. It can cause us to devalue the significance of the little moments of life and the “small-change” grace that meets us there. And because we devalue the little moments where we live, we don’t tend to notice the sin that gets exposed there. We fail to seek the grace that is offered to us.

You see, the character of a life is not set in two or three dramatic moments, but in 10,000 little moments. The character that was formed in those little moments is what shapes how you respond to the big moments of life.

What leads to significant personal change?

  • 10,000 moments of personal insight and conviction
  • 10,000 moments of humble submission
  • 10,000 moments of foolishness exposed and wisdom gained
  • 10,000 moments of sin confessed and sin forsaken
  • 10,000 moments of courageous faith
  • 10,000 choice points of obedience
  • 10,000 times of forsaking the kingdom of self and running toward the kingdom of God
  • 10,000 moments where we abandon worship of the creation and give ourselves to worship of the Creator.

And what makes all of this possible? Relentless, transforming, little-moment grace. You see, Jesus is Emmanuel not just because he came to earth, but because he makes you the place where he dwells. This means he is present and active in all the mundane moments of your daily life.

And what is he doing? In these small moments he is delivering every redemptive promise he has made to you. In these unremarkable moments, he is working to rescue you from you and transform you into his likeness. By sovereign grace he places you in daily little moments that are designed to take you beyond your character, wisdom and grace so that you will seek the help and hope that can only be found in him. In a lifelong process of change, he is undoing you and rebuilding you again—exactly what each one of us needs!

Yes, you and I need to be committed to change, but not in a way that hopes for a big event of transformation, but in a way that finds joy in and is faithful to a day-by-day, step-by-step process of insight, confession, repentance and faith. And in those little moments we commit ourselves to remember the words of Paul in Romans 8:32 – “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us, how will he not also with him freely give us all things.”

God bless

Paul David Tripp

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Fearless Confidence in the Lord

I came across this blog post this morning and it was so good that I decided to repost it here:



You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.—Isaiah 26:3

The only fear I have is to get out of the will of God. Outside of the will of God, there’s nothing I want, and in the will of God there’s nothing I fear, for God has sworn to keep me in His will…

And He’s able to do it, He’s wise enough to know how to do it and He’s kind enough to want to do it. So really there’s nothing to fear.

I get kidded by my family and friends about this, but I don’t really think I’m afraid of anything. Someone may ask, “What about cancer? Do you ever fear that you’ll die of cancer?” Maybe so, but it will have to hurry up, or I’ll die of old age first. But I’m not too badly worried because a man who dies of cancer in the will of God, is not injured; he’s just dead. You can’t harm a man in the will of God. Success and the Christian, pp. 80-81.

“Lord, ‘outside of the will of God, there’s nothing I want, and in the will of God there’s nothing I fear.’ Amen.

May this be our prayer as well.

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Are you Ready for Christmas?



“Are you ready for Christmas?” asked the barista as she prepared a warm, winter drink at my local coffee house. “No, not at all,” replied the customer. Then, while she waited for her drink, she went on to relay the long list of gifts she still had yet to purchase for her family.

As I sat listening to this conversation the other day, my heart began to sink. Was the customer’s response a fitting answer to the question? Is that what it really means to be “ready for Christmas?” Is preparedness for the advent of our Lord simply relegated to having all of the gifts wrapped under the tree, the fridge full of prepared menu items for Christmas dinner, the family over for a gathering, the Christmas cards in the mail, or any other earthly thing that has come to mark the “Christmas season” here in America? Is it possible that we have come to miss the true meaning of Christmas all together?

What is a fitting response to the question, “are you ready for Christmas?” If Santa, gifts, food, family, cards, jingle bells, mistletoe, ornaments, carols, Christmas trees, lights, reindeer, or any other thing be stripped away this holiday season, would it still be possible to experience the fullness of Christmas? What exactly is the true meaning of Christmas anyway?

In an effort to help answer this very question, Pastor John MacArthur delivered a comprehensive message, “The People Who Missed Christmas,” on this very issue from Luke chapter 2. While this message was originally delivered in 1979, the timeless truth of God’s Word makes it incredibly relevant today. I commend it as a means of growing in understanding of this very issue … and to help cultivate a fitting response to the question, “are you ready for Christmas?” 

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More Joy!

This article was recently written by a faithful Pastor shortly before he lost his battle with cancer:
More Joy
God has graciously given me 41 years to walk before Him (Gen. 17.1), to walk with Him (Gen. 5.22), and to walk after Him (2Kg 23.3).  What an incredible privilege God gives His sons and daughters.  Looking back now, with terminal cancer for the past two years, here is one thing I would like to have done better – I’d like to have enjoyed my walk with the Lord yet more. 
God wants that, as it is written, “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psa. 100:2), and again, “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart” (Deu. 28:47).  Every father feels that foot-dragging obedience from the child is sad and short.
Joy is a distinguishing mark of Christianity.  False religions chant and whine.  They don’t sing with joyful lips and melody (Psa. 107.22).  We are those who “rejoice in Christ Jesus” (Php. 3.3).
Paul defines the goal of his ministry as joy.  “Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy” (2Cor. 1:24).  He measured the progress of the believer by this virtue.  “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith” (Php. 1:25).   And so that the Philippians would not miss the point, he repeats his exhortation, “Again, I say, ‘Rejoice'” (4.4).
The Lord Jesus was a “man of sorrows”, but yet excelled in joy.  It was a mark of His supreme anointing, as it is written, “Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions” (Heb. 1:9b).
But I feel I made the Christian life too hard.  Sure, we are in a battle.  Sure, we are called to hate our own lives (Lk. 14.26).  But there is a sense in which good days are all right, as it is written, “For he that will love life, and see good days” (1Pe 3:10).  What happens?  Fears and unbelief rob us of our joy.  Joy comes through believing (Rom. 15.13).  Especially as a pastor, if I’d had a bigger view of God, I could have lain back some, left the results with Him, and enjoyed the scenery more.  After all, I am His.  It is His church.  It is all His.  He can handle it.  Not only do fear and unbelief rob us, subtle as they are, but “dead works” hinder, with such thinking as, “I don’t want to be too happy, and if I’m carrying a burden, surely that makes me more worthy of the ministry and more worthy of the support received in the ministry.” 
Oh, we husbands ought to enjoy our wives (Pro. 5.18).  Our time together with our dear lover is over so soon.  Don’t miss it.  Make each meal to be a ‘date’.  We fathers ought to enjoy our children.  When our first child was born, we were carrying him out of the hospital and the nurse shouted, “Enjoy him.”  It was good advice.  And you children, a lot of what God wants from you is to just make your father and mother glad (Pro. 23.25).  Look up the exhortations in the book of Proverbs.  It is replete.  We believers ought to enjoy one another (Acts 2.46).  We are under command to not be selfish, but we are to share.  Share what?  Our joys with one another (Phil. 2.17,18). Turn loose.  Let go.  Get out of yourself.  What friends we have!  No, they are not perfect, but nevertheless they are real and in any true church, they make up such a real part of our lives.  God ordained it so.  The brother who is wrapped up in his own life – to that degree he is simply going to miss much of God by not spending time with the people of God – their joys, their victories, their insights, their answers to prayer, etc.
Solid joys are ours – sins forgiven, Christ indwelling, immortality, good deeds, good words and sufferings rewarded with extreme glory, all things are ours, and our names are written in heaven (Lk. 10.20)!  “Rejoice in this!”  And the Lord Jesus at that time “rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit.”  Why?  God’s sovereignty in salvation!  Joy unspeakable belongs to us!  Let every tear be dry.  It is a powerful testimony to the watching world, as it is written, “Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, ‘”The Lord has done great things for them”‘ (Psa. 126:2).
– Bob Jennings
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Tikvah = HOPE (part 6)




Well, the story of HOPE continues as our little girl, Tikvah Hadassah Kirkland, turns 1 year old today!


We were not sure that we would ever see this day, but we give all praise, glory and honor to the King of kings and Lord of lords for His great mercy and grace in allowing us to get to know this precious little girl over the past year. Thus far, as best we can discern, God has sovereignly knit together a fun-loving, energetic, high-spirited darling girl, who has a very sharp, determined mind and is increasingly delighting in her relationship with her older brother (Hezekiah – age 3 1/2 … although, there are still times when she would rather have a break from him). 


At this point, God has apparently healed her little heart with nothing more to show for it than a scar & a murmur (all glory to God)! We have been told by her Pediatric Cardiologist (one of the best in the nation) that she will not likely need any further heart surgeries or internal procedures. She is hitting all the milestones for her age, including crawling and standing on her own (walking with help). She has started saying simple words, like “ma” for more, and “mee-mee” for mommy, “da-da” for daddy, and “ya-ya” for Kiah (her brother’s nickname).


She is joy and a delight and really embodies the word for which she is named: Hope. My husband and I are just so grateful for the kindness of our Lord expressed in the gracious way He has allowed us to enjoy our budding relationship with this eternal soul who He has entrusted to our care for the time being. We marvel at His work in her life and look forward to the day when we can rehears it all for her as we seek to point her spiritual heart to its Maker.

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Christian Voter, Are You Still Undecided?

As a Christian, I am not defined by political party affiliation. Rather, I am a follower of Christ. However, there are some stark contrasts in morality between the 2 ruling parties in our nation today. The Republican and Democratic parties alike, while they do not hold to any specific religious affiliation, nonetheless hold to fundamental moral/religious beliefs that inform their respective party platforms. Consequently, they advocate various moral issues that infringe upon God’s domain.

Dear Christian, as our nation approaches perhaps one of the most critical Presidential elections, are you still undecided as to how you should vote? Or, have you made up your mind, but are unclear as to how the prominent political issues relate to your life as a Christian? Or, have you been engaging in political conversations with non-Christians, attempting to defend your political position as a Christian but unable to articulate the exact reason for your convictions? 

If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, then I would strongly urge you to listen to the following sermons by Pastor John MacArthur: 

1) Abortion and the Campaign for Immorality

2) Homosexuality and the Campaign for Immorality

While I am not advocating any particular candidate or party, I do strongly encourage Christian voters to be biblically informed of the issues that currently face our nation. Please take the time to listen to this biblical presentation of such issues and prayerfully consider your options … for the glory of our great God!

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God’s Glory IS our Greatest Good (part 2)

The account in Ezekiel looks at the same event (“the wilderness wanderings”), but provides a deeper insight into the mind of God. It helps to shed some light on God’s motives behind the situation:

” On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. And I said to them, Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. But they rebelled against me and were not willing to listen to me. None of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt… 

14 But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out… 17 Nevertheless, my eye spared them, and I did not destroy them or make a full end of them in the wilderness.

18 “And I said to their children in the wilderness, Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor keep their rules, nor defile yourselves with their idols. 19 I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules, 20 and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God. 21 But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned my Sabbaths. “Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness. 22 But I withheld my hand and acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out… I did it that they might know that I am the Lord

39 “As for you, O house of Israel, thus says the Lord God: Go serve every one of you his idols, now and hereafter, if you will not listen to me; but my holy name you shall no more profane with your gifts and your idols.

44 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.

Both accounts in the Psalms and in Ezekiel contrast Israel’s rebellion against God with God’s utter kindnesses and steadfast goodness toward Israel. However, in the passage found in Ezekiel, God informs us that it was primarily because of His own name’s sake that He did not utterly destroy them. (Moses had it right when he interceded for Israel’s salvation in Deuteronomy 9:26-29.) It was due to God’s zeal for His own renown that Israel experienced such lavish blessings from the hand of the Lord. In like manner, it is for the sake of God’s glory that we experience such lavish, undeserved grace even today.

In summary, it was the “sake of [God’s] name” which spared Israel in the past, and it is the “sake of [God’s] name” which secures their future hope of restoration as well. But for those of us who are in Christ now, it is the “sake of [God’s] name” that is the basis of His dealings with us too. God’s zeal for His own renown is the motivating factor behind all the good that He bestows upon His people. Truly, God’s glory IS our greatest good!

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God’s Glory IS our Greatest Good (part 1)

As a New Testament believer, I had always assumed that the truth taught in Romans 8:28-29 was taught in Scripture as a New Testament principle:

” 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”- Romans 8:28-29

Basically, the principle here is that, for those who love God (i.e. all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ), God supernaturally works all things in their lives together for their benefit, namely that He might be glorified through their manifestation of His Son’s character. 

However, in the Lord’s providence, I happen to be reading through Psalm 78 AND Ezekiel 20 this morning in my study time. Both citations recount Israel’s wanderings through the dessert from different perspectives: from Israel’s perspective and from God’s. Psalm 78 records the following:

12 In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders
    in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
    and made the waters stand like a heap.
14 In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
    and all the night with a fiery light.
15 He split rocks in the wilderness
    and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
16 He made streams come out of the rock
    and caused waters to flow down like rivers…


23 Yet he commanded the skies above
    and opened the doors of heaven,
24 and he rained down on them manna to eat
    and gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Man ate of the bread of the angels;
    he sent them food in abundance.
26 He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
    and by his power he led out the south wind;
27 he rained meat on them like dust,
    winged birds like the sand of the seas;
28 he let them fall in the midst of their camp,
    all around their dwellings.
29 And they ate and were well filled,
    for he gave them what they craved…

36 But they flattered him with their mouths;
    they lied to him with their tongues.
37 Their heart was not steadfast toward him;
    they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he, being compassionate,
    atoned for their iniquity
    and did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
    and did not stir up all his wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
    a wind that passes and comes not again.

– Psalm 78:12-16, 23-29, 36-39

The inspired account in Psalms records the good that God did to Israel, despite their constant waywardness and repeated rebellion. But as we will see in the account in Ezekiel, the motive behind such goodness is not so much based on God’s devotion to Israel as much as His devotion to His own glory!


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Entrusted with a Child’s Heart

In reading through a recent radio blog post, “Entrusted with a Child’s Heart,” from the radio ministry hosted by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (of “Revive our Hearts” ministry), I found the following excerpt incredibly helpful and practical:

Betsy Corning: The heart is depraved, and just isolating it is not going to work with the depravity of heart. So we have to figure out how are we going to deal with these things knowing even by accident our children are going to get exposed to things we absolutely in our hearts would never want them to know or see. 

Nancy: How are you thinking through the process of guarding your children’s hearts, protecting them, but also not isolating them?

Gina: We had a really interesting season of every method of schooling, which directly bears upon how much they get exposed to different things at different ages. And the Lord is so gracious to show me the pros and cons of each: public education, private education, and home schooling.

It was a really big fear or a concern because no one really had the right balance or answers. And it is different for each family. But having this dichotomy of two sets of children, I realized the TV really cannot even be on with even innocent shows that are on basic TV without me being aware of what’s on. Even cartoons and things that you would think are harmless, they promote messages that are so subtle that are really anti-Christian and anti-Bible…

Sometimes parents give too many choices to their children. “Do you want A, B, C, D, or E?” Well, one of the best things that I learned from Betsy years ago was you don’t need to overwhelm them with so many choices and put them in the driver’s seat all the time. It’s nice to maybe give them maybe two choices if it is age appropriate and that just really helped me to refine what our goals are for our family…

Betsy: I think a big part in here is that when your child does encounter evil, and we have taught them what evil is—what the world is and how it is counter to the things of God—that they flee. They need to learn to flee temptation. But then they also need to internally decide how they manage those things. Sometimes they need to just learn how to repent of those things and turn away. But a key is to build self-control in their life but not just an outward behavioral self-control, it has to be an inward rendering, surrendering to the Lord.

It says, “I will set no abominable thing before my eyes.” It’s just when children grow up with these lessons, when they encounter those things, they know that they have a way back to the Lord through repentance. And other times they need to recognize evil and just say, “I flee from that.” Then to be able to come and tell their parents because they’ll have this connection with their parents, hopefully, that they can talk to them about.

I think the big thing is really to have a connection between parent and child. You have to have family standards set up when your children are really young so they don’t think that you are just being so mean and blocking them off from everything their friends are doing. So it’s just really important.

Nancy: How important is it to let your children, as they become teenagers say, express what they’re thinking and what they’re feelings are about the rules, the boundaries, the policies of your family? How much do you let them engage with you on that?…

Betsy: Well, initially, mom and dad have to decide those standards and stick by those standards. This would be age-appropriate because maybe your response to that to a ten-year-old is going to be completely different than to an eighteen-year-old, where you’re going to say, “You know, we understand this. We want to see what kind of wise choices you make.”

Nancy: But you certainly don’t just start that at age eighteen…

Betsy: No, you start that really between the ages of five and twelve when we are giving them some leeway to see how they respond.

Nancy: So you let them start making some decisions?

Betsy: Yes, but when it’s your family personal convictions and standards, that’s a completely different story. You and your husband decide, “This is what our family is about.” And you stick to them. In fact, I say, I put my fingers together like this and I say, “Dad and I are like this. This is what we’ve decided.” And you really have to hold tight to those because kids will challenge those every step of the way, and you can’t be wavering on those. I would say that is really a different story than guiding children by influences of choices that they are making for their lives and you are teaching them wisdom.

This is the matter of personal convictions you have for your family—sort of some standards that you have. This is the wonderful thing about kids. You’re going to watch your children and find out, “Are they internalizing these things for themselves?” And that’s what we call owning their faith.”

 To listen/read this radio program in its entirety, simply click here.

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