in this issue “What would Jesus do?
Probably not what we
3 Three Tips for Your Family Charles R. Swindoll
6 Why I Don’t Ask, “WWJD?” Steve Johnson STRONG FAMILY
10 Teaching a Social Conscience Scott Tolhurst
12 TV or Not TV Phil Callaway Help Me Understand
15 Stress Insight for Living Canada
Copyright © 2012 Insight for Living Canada. All rights reserved. No portion of this monthly publication may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the publisher. Insights is published by IFLC, the Bible teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. IFLC is an autonomous ministry and certified member of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture passages are taken from the NASB. Printed in Canada. Unless otherwise noted, photography by IFLC staff.
Three Tips for
Your Family by Charles R. Swindoll
The longer I live, the more con-
vinced I become of how easy it is to allow irretrievable moments to slip away. I thought I learned this when Cynthia and I reared our four children. I’m finding it just as true now with our 10 grandchildren. Regardless of our demanding schedules and in spite of our many responsibilities, we need to treasure those precious moments our children offer. Let me get practical right up front and ask the question that’s on your mind, “How do you do that?” I’m glad you asked. I have learned that we can capture those irretrievable moments by following three simple, two-word applications.
“Most parents of adult children have one major regret. They regret not having more fun.” 4
First, give attention. By that I mean we must notice more than the needs of the child; we must give attention to the child. I like the way one woman put it. I love her honesty. I never really looked at [my children]. When I looked at their mouths, I saw dirt around them. When I looked at their noses, I saw them running. When I looked at their eyes, I saw them open when they should have been closed. When I saw their hair, it needed combing or cutting. I never really looked at the whole face without offering some advice. For over twenty years, I invited myself into their lives. I put sweaters on them when I was cold, removed blankets from their beds when I was hot. I fed them when I was hungry and put them to bed when I was tired. I put them on diets when I was fat. I car-pooled them when I felt that the distance was too far for me to walk. Then I told them they took a lot of my time. I never realized as I dedicated my life to ringaround-the-collar that cleanliness is not next to godliness—children are.1 Take a look at yourself for a moment. Have you allowed yourself to become persnickety around the house? Are you so nitpicking that everything has to be constantly clean? Is that really next to godliness—or is it your
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attempt to maintain control? The dirt will just come back. But truth be told, the children may never want to come back. Give attention to the children. You can train them without breaking their spirits or degrading their self-worth.
Second, take photos. Capture those special moments in pictures. When they first learn to water-ski and they are barely staying up, take a picture. When they mark on the walls with permanent markers, take a picture. Is it their first date or first corsage? Grab the camera. Photos at birthdays, graduations, and weddings are obvious. But I’m talking about those daily moments in the lives of each one of your children that are irretrievable. Capture those moments permanently by taking photos. Make your kids individual photo albums to give to them when they have kids of their own. You capture so much more than images when you take photos. Third, start laughing. I’m serious! We live in one uptight generation! I mean, we are TENSE! One of my contributions to our family is a sense of humour. I will commit myself to it for the rest of my life. They may never remember my sermons, but I hope they always remember that I’m the guy who threw their mother in the pool and lived to tell the story. (Throwing her into the
pool was no big deal . . . but living to tell the story . . . well, that’s altogether different.) Most parents of adult children have one major regret. They regret not having more fun. Fun times are the moments kids log in their memories. They remember those times when something didn’t go as planned, or when Dad tripped and spilled his dinner in the restaurant, or when Mom, for an April Fool’s joke on Dad, had an attorney call him threatening a lawsuit. “April Fool’s, honey!” If you can laugh about it, so will they! Regrettably, they also remember when the slightest spilled milk turns into an hour of blame and ridicule. Without a sense of humour, you as the parent soon become the grim reaper. Your kids will feel an awkward, constant tension when they are around you . . . and they will yearn for the time when they don’t have to be. What a tragic way to grow up! So lighten up . . . and start laughing! You’ll regret it if you don’t. Laughter in the home begins with you. Time with our kids and grandkids is precious. It is irretrievable time . . . never to come again. My advice? Give attention . . . take photos . . . and start laughing. 1. Bombeck, Erma. Family—The Ties That Bind . . . And Gag! New York: Fawcett Books, 1987, (218–19). Photograph of Chuck Swindoll © 2010 by David Edmonson
This Month’s FEATURED RESOURCE
Three Years with Jesus A Pictorial Journey Through The Ministry Of Christ Imagine spending three years with Jesus! With beautiful, full-colour photographs and insightful devotionals, this book is a chronological look at the most important events in Jesus’ ministry. 5
Why I Don’t Ask, 6
“WWJD?” by Steve Johnson
n the 1890s, a man by the name of Charles Sheldon penned the famous book In His Steps. The novel follows several fictitious people with various backgrounds in their quest to live ethical lives. In the story, Sheldon’s characters are challenged with ethical situations where the overarching question is continually asked: “What Would Jesus Do?” It is from this novel the “WWJD?” acronym found on bracelets and fridge magnets is derived. In recent decades this fad has resurged. Today, Christians ask themselves and fellow Christians “What would Jesus do?” when confronted with a situation in which they don’t know what to do. I don’t believe it is a good question for us to ask and here’s why. What would Jesus do? Probably not what we would do. This is because we’re not Jesus. And, frankly, the last time I checked that’s the point of Christianity. Jesus was God come to Earth to redeem it and us. He was, the Bible says, perfect. Sinless. Holy. He always made loving choices. He always did the right thing. He always had the right answer. More often than not, we don’t do the right thing or have the right answer because we’re imperfect, driven by our appetites and desires; we’re selfish and wounded. I believe it’s presumptuous to think when faced with choices we would do what the perfect Man, the Son of God, would do. He was capable of miracles. He
is unlimited. His options were far greater than ours. So in most situations we face today, because of His capabilities, we don’t know what He would do. He might walk across the lake instead of driving around it. He might miraculously feed the multitudes instead of organizing a potluck. Maybe if I could do miracles I could ask, “WWJD?”
“If I am trying to decide whether to be a teacher or an engineer, asking what Jesus would do isn’t going to help.” As well, we are culturally and historically removed from Jesus’ day. The choices we have and the situations we deal with are technologically far more complex than then. Jesus walked or rode a donkey. I drive a car. He never owned a house. With the rising cost of gas and the great distances I have to travel I wonder about buying a cheaper car and continue commuting versus moving. I don’t know what Jesus would do, or which car or computer He would buy or what kind of accommodations He might select. I can only guess. When we ask the question and make our choices, can we truly say to others, and ourselves, “I did what I thought Jesus would do?” Or do we ask the question and then proceed to do what we would do any7
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way? The problem is we don’t really know what Jesus would do, so we guess, taking all practical things into consideration, and we make decisions based on what we think. Jesus also had a different mission than we do. He said, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you….” The only part that applies to us is the sending. The Father sent Jesus with a specific mission to accomplish. When He finished His mission He sent His disciples, including us, on a different mission—to make disciples of all nations. Jesus’ purpose and mission in coming was what guided His choices and actions. His mission was why He went here and not there—why He did this and not that. If I am trying to decide whether to be a teacher or an engineer, asking what Jesus would do isn’t going to help. Neither of those are what Jesus was called to be. In trying to ask WWJD we also may find
ourselves becoming immersed in Pharisaism and legalism. The quintessential example of this is the very same novel In His Steps. Among the things the people decide that Jesus would do is avoid all secular entertainment, such as sporting events. These types of decisions led the congregation into a new kind of Pharisaism, as they began insisting on doing and not doing things that aren’t taught in Scriptures anywhere. Asking the WWJD question causes us to speculate on what we imagine Jesus would do, rather than pointing us to the Scriptures. By meditating on Scripture, we have all the information we need to know about how God expects us to live. WWJD? The prophet Micah had the best answer I know of when he said, “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). Follow that and you’ll do what Jesus did. But it’s difficult to fit onto a nifty bracelet or fridge magnet. Steve Johnson is the executive director at IFLC.
on the air in may:
Volume 5: God W ith Us — A Survey of Matthew–Acts
Emmanuel. Suffering Servant. Saviour of the World. Head of the Body. God’s long-awaited gift to an unsuspecting world arrived as any other ordinary Jewish baby. But Jesus was far from ordinary. Living out His mission to seek and to save the lost, His life was a fresh breeze across the landscape of stale religion—a gust that eventually swept across continents and centuries, bringing life to all who would believe on His name.
Upcoming Messages Include: Matthew: Let’s Meet the King Mark: The Servant at Work Luke: The Physician’s Opinion John: That You May Believe Acts: Like a Mighty Army
Did you know
Social Conscience by Scott Tolhurst
he job description of a parent is pretty basic. We’re to prepare our children for life and eternity. Of course, that entails instruction in a myriad of tasks— from brushing teeth and good dating habits, to undiluted character and a spiritual heart. The list of parental objectives is daunting enough, but I dare to add one more. If our children are to navigate their larger world well, they’ll need to carry a social conscience. Some think a social conscience applies only to environmental causes or is covered by governmental policy. Hear Micah’s prophetic voice (Micah 6:8). We are to walk humbly with God on the path 10
of justice and compassion. We are not allowed to privatize our faith and care only for our backyard. A social conscience extends compassion and justice to all. That’s what God does. It’s what we ought to do, and our children as well. I am not naive. I’ve had kids. The egocentric bend in all of them is a gravitational pull towards “If it doesn’t involve me, then it can’t be important!” But they also possess wells of empathy and a compass for what’s fair. Their bend can be straightened. Let me offer some targets to aim for and practical suggestions to help hit the bull’s eye.
Comment on this article Avareigh Enns, 10, has a “crusader’s heart” as her mother says. Not only has she raised money for wells in Africa and collected bottles for microfinance loans, she recently started a ministry creating pen pals between Canadian children and Ethiopian children living in a leprosy colony.
We want to shape our children’s: Vision—to see God’s world This is God’s world. All of it. It doesn’t belong to the devil or to us. It’s true that the world is broken with real danger in it, but it is still God’s. Help your family to look at the world and see God in every part of it. Heart—to care about God’s world Since God owns and inhabits our world, apathy is not an option. What happens down the street and around the globe matters. It matters to God. It matters to us. Will—to engage God’s world Seeing and caring intersect in responsibility. Open eyes and open hearts compel us to face the challenge of justice and compassion. The enormity of that challenge may tempt us to run and hide. But don’t. Allow your child to start small and then dream big. Hand—to redeem God’s world Here is the core of social conscience. Many see the need, shed a tear, and offer good intentions, but justice and compassion are actions, not just ideals. It is something we do. God has borne the patient pains of redemption through Jesus Christ. We carry His grace to the broken places around us, even with patient pains. Faith—to trust in God’s good purposes Compassion and justice are not failing
efforts. We may sense frustration and confusion in the unfolding of God’s plan but there is no debate about the destination. God’s Kingdom comes. Hope in it. That’s our lesson plan for shaping our children’s social conscience. But how do we actually do it? We start now, even if it hasn’t been on our radar before. Then we lean completely on the grace of our Lord. Only God can shape a soul. Next, there are practical ideas that can steer young spirits. Here are some suggestions for starters, which you can add your own to: • Get out of the four walls of home and church. Don’t let fear paralyze you • Educate yourselves on global and local issues • Less sitcoms and more documentaries or news programs • Institute a family project to address a community need • Do a neighbourhood walk to pick up litter • Sponsor a child through a compassion agency • Volunteer weekly with your local food bank, hospital, community garden, etc. • Escort your kids on a cross cultural experience and don’t use an airplane to do it • Practice neighbourhood hospitality and use table talk to enlarge perspective • Make sure that what you want to see in them—you see in the mirror! Scott is the senior pastor at Richmond Bethel Church in Richmond, BC.
TVor NOT TV by Phil Callaway
“I’ll give you something really special if we can go without TV or videos for two weeks.” 12
hen my daughter was five she came from a sleepover at a friend’s house. “What did you do?” I asked her. “Watched movies,” she replied. “What kind of movies?” “James Bond movies.” After my wife peeled me off the ceiling, we carved a new rule in stone: no movies until you phone home. Then I went over to visit her friend’s dad. And put Kool-Aid in his shower head. Next I sat down with the boys to watch a harmless football game. For the 350th time, one of them had hidden the remote control. Before I could locate it, an ad for the latest horror movie robbed them of three night’s sleep. I stood to my feet, pushed the power button and calmly proclaimed: “Let’s blow up the television. Let’s blow it up real good.” At first the children seemed rather excited. After all, they were not used to this kind of violence off the set. But when I confessed I didn’t have any dynamite and was merely going to unplug the tube, they weren’t so sure. “I can’t live without it,” said Jeffrey, who likes to watch. “I’ll just die,” said Stephen, clutching his chest and slumping to the carpet. “Tell you what,” I said, thinking quickly, “I’ll give you something really special if we can go without TV or videos for two weeks.” “TWO WEEKS?” said Stephen. “Will you give us a million dollars?” said Jeffrey the dreamer. “I wanna be a millionaire.” “Yaright,” I answered. “Tell you what. I’ll double your allowance for a month. You’ll
be able to buy more candy and rot your teeth quicker. Then we’ll have a big party in two weeks. Give you toothpaste.” “What kind of party?” asked Jeffrey. “I know,” said Stephen, standing to his feet. “A VIDEO party!” Rachael came into the room, clutching the dog tightly. “I don’t think I’ll make it,” she said. I understand how they felt. I went without television once. For 19 years. When I was a kid, we didn’t have the thing in our home. On my 11th birthday I asked my mother if she could give me one good reason we didn’t. She came up with four. I believe they were in this order: 1. We are broke. 2. TV talks too much, but doesn’t say enough. 3. TV takes our minds off our minds. 4. You will learn more watching a lima bean grow than watching television. “Television is the bland leading the bland,” echoed my father from the couch. “I find it very educational. When it’s on I go into the other room and read a book. As for me and my family, we will go without it.” So we went to our friends’ houses and watched their sets. In ninth grade, on a rainy evening, as darkness began to cast its mantle on our small town, I sat in a friend’s living room and watched both hours of Jaws, a film in which Steven Spielberg coaxes the entire cast to don swimming suits and become shark bait. During the dark walk home I decided not to enter a lake or a swimming pool that summer. And if I had to take a shower, I would at all times keep one eye on the drain. 13
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For two weeks we unplugged completely. Then pulled a pizza from the oven to celebrate. Sitting around the table we talked of the last 14 days. Days best summarized with the following chart:
What they gave up…
What they replaced it with...
Watching football, basketball, hockey, curling, lawn darts, and ping pong
Playing sports with kids, talking with wife, writing about not watching TV
Radio, music, reading, friends
Reading, hitting brother, saying sorry to brother, reading to brother
Playing with Lego, thinking about cartoons
During those two weeks, I saw some changes in my kids. And I saw some in me. To be honest, I missed the sports, but for the most part, not watching television freed up time for better things. Things like wrestling with the kids. Reading good books together. And loving my wife. I also had time to do some meditating on verses like: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right…it won’t get high ratings on prime time” (Phil’s reversed version). And I’ve even had time to print off a little computerized certificate for the top of my television: “I will walk in my house with a blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing” (Psalm 101:3). Strangely, I’m more convinced than ever that I can do all that without unplugging the TV. Or blowing it up. That I can walk before God with a blameless heart by careful attention to daily discernment. By listening to the right voices. By modelling for my children that black and white can still be found in a grey world. And by the way, I did find the remote control. It was in the VCR. 14
Phil is editor of Prairie Bible Institute’s Servant magazine. Visit him at laughagain.org
“I just might crack.”
There never seem to be enough hours in the day. Although I’m up at (what feels like) the crack of dawn each day, by the time I finally collapse on the couch I’m still running behind schedule, letting people down, and getting nothing done. Even though I’m exhausted each night sleep rarely comes and my mind never seems to shut off. The term “stress” is an understatement. You tell me how to successfully navigate through a life like mine. I bet you can’t. I’m this close to my breaking point nearly every step of the way and if things don’t slow down soon I just might crack. I’ve stopped talking about how exhausted and drained I feel because people are always so quick to offer solutions rather than the listening ear I’m hoping for. “Get counselling,” they say. Or, “Talk to your doctor about something to help you sleep.” Friends are supposed to sympathize, not tell me I’m failing at life and can’t do it on my own.
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Our Problem—Stress is that state that occurs when we are pushed away from a state of mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical equilibrium. Good or bad things can be stressors therefore stress is unavoidable. Anything that stresses one aspect of our being affects our total being. The greatest stressor in our life is our sin separating us from the God of peace and this affects every aspect of us.
God’s Answers—God’s answer to stress is recreation (re-creation). He makes us new creations in Christ, recreated when we receive Christ as our Saviour. In Him God provides us with rest for our souls (Heb.4:9-11); Jesus offers personal rest through knowing and obeying Him (Matt. 11:28-30). This is the foundation for thinking and acting biblically, which is the key to managing stress. The Solution
1. Ultimate true rest begins with a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Admitting we have strayed from God and returning to Him by trusting Christ as Saviour is the beginning of stress management. Trusting and obeying God is the ultimate antidote to stress. When we sin we must confess, repent, and be restored in our fellowship with Him to avoid the stress caused by guilt and unconfessed sin. 2. Understand that stress tends to accumulate. The more an action or sin is repeated the greater the stress it produces. Stress builds until something gives way. Then we finally burn out, break down, or blow up. Regularly relieving stress avoids accumulation.
“Good or bad things can be stressors therefore stress is unavoidable.” 3. Breaking actions that produce stress begins in the mind by not dwelling on false expectations or wrong subjects, confessing sinful thoughts and actions, and deliberately thinking on what is true and right (Phil. 4:8). Negative stress is rooted in not thinking biblically and theologically. Seeing and responding to life from God’s perspective reduces stress. 4. Because God made us as unified beings comprised of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional aspects we need to approach stress management in multiple ways: • Having a daily time of prayer and Bible reading provides the opportunity to deal with sin, feed our soul, and find rejuvenation for our spirit (Isa. 40:30-31). • Being sure to get the proper amount of rest provides for refreshing and renewal. The provision of the Sabbath was for this purpose. The Sabbath principle still holds true today (Ex. 20:10-11). Rest is an activity too! • Emotions should not be repressed but need to be expressed and released in a healthy, non-destructive way. Participating in active recreation gives an outlet for pent-up physical, emotional, and mental tensions. • Taking time to relax and move our bodies and brains in a different direction than they do normally relieves stress for our physical and mental processes. Engaging in a different kind of activity than you are used to is refreshing. by
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Peaceful Moments to Begin Your Day: Devotions for Busy Women Devotional gift book by Grace Fox, 288 pages (previously titled 10-Minute Time Outs for Busy Women)
Using real–life stories and Scripture– based prayers, these short, inspirational devotions are designed to lead you into a deeper understanding of God’s truth. Each book is signed by the author.
Mother’s Day Gift Idea!
Secrets of a Nurturing Home single CD message
Chuck holds out fresh hope to every parent. Regardless of the mistakes you’ve made, it’s not too late to start doing what’s right. The secret is nurturing.
CLEARANCE! Parenting: From Surviving to Thriving workbook by Charles R. Swindoll, 183 pages
on sale April
Chuck explores 12 essential parenting lessons, including the best-kept secret of wise parenting, why kids rebel, restoring broken relationships, and more. Ideal for individual or group study.
order/donate at insightforliving.ca or call 1.800.663.7639 offer expires May 31, 2012
FEATURED RESOURCE Three Years with Jesus: A Pictorial Journey through the Ministry of Christ softcover devotional, 11” x 8”, 72 pages
Imagine spending three years with Jesus! With beautiful, full-colour photographs and insightful devotionals, this book is a chronological look at the most important events in Jesus’ ministry.
additional $ copies:
I Used to Have Answers... Now I Have Kids paperback by Phil Callaway, 248 pages
These 43 short stories of laughter and hope will remind you that even at the worst of times, the best is coming. This updated volume contains all the original John McPherson cartoons.
When God’s Gift Comes Specially Wrapped
Top Temptations Fathers Face
booklet by Charles R. Swindoll, 31 pages
booklet by Charles R. Swindoll, 44 pages
Chuck discusses how the Lord sees disabled children, the relationship between sin and birth defects, how to engage people with disabilities, what specialneeds children teach us about God, and more.
Fathers face more temptations than ever! Chuck shares powerful principles to help dads recognize and eliminate temptation through the power of God’s Word.
ON THE AIR this Month Family Matters: Investing in the Things That Last 5 DVD messages + Bible companion
Chuck challenges you to invest heavily into your family’s stock and presents a winning investment strategy that includes time, love, and communication. The dividends will last a lifetime.
2012 Easter Message: Victory on a Triumphant Morning single CD message
Death is one of our greatest fears. In this message, Chuck disarms our fear by pointing to the hope that through faith in Christ, believers will live beyond the grave.
Getting Past the Guilt of Your Past single CD message
Cynthia Swindoll shares her personal story about dealing with disappointment and self– doubt, discouragement and recovery, pain and forgiveness, and God’s faithfulness through it all.
A Life Well Lived 4 CD messages + study guide
God wants us to do right, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him. Chuck explores how to achieve these three pillars of character and the stumbling blocks to watch out for.
A Life Well Lived hardcover by Charles R. Swindoll, 106 pages
Church attendance. Scripture memorization. Is that what God wants from you? Based on Micah 6:8, Chuck clarifies what God desires for His children, making each quality come to life through Peter, Joseph, David, and Daniel.
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Published on Apr 10, 2012
Insights Magazine is the monthly publication of Insight for Living Canada, the Bible teaching ministry of Chuck Swindoll.