This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

This is the gift that God reserves for His special proteges, talent and beauty he gives to many.  Wealth is commonplace, fame not rare.  But peace of mind—that is HIs final guerdon of approval, the fondest sign of His love, He bestows it.  Most men are never blessed with it, others wait all their lives—yes, far into advanced age—for this gift to descend upon them.

Joshua Liebman


This Day's Verse

Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.  Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.

Psalm 73:23-24
The King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The essential fact of Christianity is that God thought all men worth the sacrifice of his Son.

William Barclay


This Day's Verse

The LORD will guide you continually,

Isaiah 58:11
The New Living Translation


This Day's Smile

I can hardly think I am entered this day into the seventy-eighth year of my age.  By the blessing of God, I am just the same as when I entered the twenty-eighth.  This hath God wrought, chiefly by my constant exercise, my rising early, and preaching morning and evening.

John Wesley


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- This Week’s Sermon


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

MY LORD AND MY GOD

by Simon Rundell

 
Thomas as Everyman: Doubting Thomas or Believing Thomas?

Thomas must have felt that he had a bit of a raw deal. For he really missed out on that first Easter Sunday. Thomas must be the definitive everyman, for there is a little bit of him in each of us, and what he missed has much to teach us.

Firstly, Peace.

“Peace” Jesus said to the disciples in the locked room. What a relief for them, a frightened, persecuted, and bewildered group, hidden away in a locked room “for fear of the Jews”. It could conceivably have been the same upper room that was the site of Christ’s final, most significant teaching: triumph become disaster within only a few days. His first words were “Shalom” – “Peace”. He could have spoken first of his disappointment, of his anger at them for their denial, abandonment, misunderstanding and betrayal. However, Peace is what he bestows on his disciples, and in saying this he echoes what he had said in that same room on the last night he had been with them: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid”

And Thomas missed the peace.

Next, Pardon.

Our Lord had already forgiven or pardoned the disciples when he bestowed peace upon them; but he spoke explicitly of pardon when he spoke of forgiving and retaining sins. What Christ empowered the apostles to do, his Church continues…

The pardon of our Saviour can be available to us, only if we make some concessions: God cannot fill our cup with forgiveness if it is already filled to the brim with bitterness.

God cannot embrace us with forgiveness if our arms are carrying the heavy burden of resentment.

God cannot take our hand in forgiveness, if our fists are clenched in anger.

God cannot forgive the malevolent, shadowy side of our spirits if our minds are darkened by revenge and hate.

In his cry of doubt, Thomas shows his own unwillingness to make concessions to Our Lord, expecting Christ to come to him and show even his most intimate wounds, associated with the world’s greatest humiliation, with nothing given in return.

So Thomas missed out on the pardon of Christ.

Finally, Presence.

The real, concrete, Glorious Presence of God came to those disciples. Woody Allen said that “95% of life is just ‘showing up’” Thomas had simply failed to ‘show up’.

And so Thomas missed the presence.

He missed out, and that must have hurt; especially for one so previously intimate with our Lord. Peace, Pardon and Presence, Thomas missed them all. In their place he demanded a substitute for them, something which our cynical society constantly craves, and which we, in our inmost, darkest times before the dawn hanker after, another “P” – “Proof”

And this is why I must conclude that Thomas must be the definitive everyman, because although graced with apostolic sainthood, he is shown to be above all like us. In our struggle to maintain the Christian life, we too miss out on Peace, Pardon and the Presence of Christ, and in return we torture ourselves over Proof.

Despite being promised how blessed we would be if we believe without physical proof, the burden of rationality rests upon our faith like a cumbersome weight – `Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe’. Thomas craves certainty, clarity, proof: an empty tomb and the reports of his colleagues are simply not enough. And these things have not changed: the quest for proof to bridge the gap between us and the living Godhead remains constant through the ages: from the Upper Room, past the Enlightenment and into our present age.

Thomas. How like the rest of us, Thomas manages to be; unwilling to commit to faith, I imagine him being borne by the tide of apostleship: to join the band, caught up but not caught in.

How often we treat our membership of the Church like this: caught up, but not caught in. A central part, a leader of worship and a focus of ministry even, but without having that final act of faith.

So, was Thomas just going through the motions of discipleship? Was he incapable of commitment to faith beyond proof? I think not, for he learns in his shame that his Lord was indeed his God: a shame almost comparable to the remorse felt by Peter when he had denied Christ. Both are forgiven, both are justified by the risen Christ, and they are used as examples to us, we the less immediate disciples: learn from Thomas and believe without having to put your hand into his side.

Recall in your mind that great painting by Carravaggio, where Jesus lets Thomas get right up close to see his wounds. Thomas is bent over – at eye-level with his pierced side, and Jesus is guiding his hand so that he might feel the wound for himself. Most graphically, Thomas’ finger is buried in the gaping hole in Our Lord’s side, all the way up to the knuckle.

We do not have that privilege; but how much we would all like to swap places with Thomas, and to be able to quench those nagging doubts once and for all with a little physicality.

When Thomas was given the opportunity to experience the risen Christ, the Presence of Christ in his life, he was also able to experience the Pardon, a blessing even, and through that he is able to experience the Peace; a true peace which can only come from an intimate, life-changing encounter with the risen Lord. Thomas therefore was ultimately able to catch up with those special events, and through this, to be able to conclude that he was faced by “My Lord and My God”. He did not miss out.

‘Blessed are those who believe when they have not seen’ .  John the Evangelist speaks directly to us at the end of this Gospel passage, a ‘direct-to-camera’ piece which reminds us of the purpose of his gospel, the purpose of all the gospels, which is to enable us, nearly 2000 years after these marvelous events, to be able to believe. He says to us that “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book” , events which may have been trivial: encounters, comforts, healings even, which the risen Christ took part in during those heady days between Easter and the Glorious Ascension, proof which existed, but which we do not need.

The other passages we have learnt from this afternoon speak of another “P” – Permanence. Through the resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ he has demonstrated the undisputable permanence of God: more than simply a prophet, more than simply a teacher, more than even a King of Israel like David, who was as corruptible in the body if not the soul as the rest of us. Not merely content with being seen on earth, the incarnation of Christ, and the resurrected Lord offers us an incorruptible place, the route to which can only be found by faith. This was the faith that Thomas was able, at last, to capture. Peter also speaks of permanence, an enduring faith which becomes so real to those experiencing it that it becomes the purest they can imagine: a faith as precious as highly refined gold.

As Thomas discovered, faith is therefore not something which can be scientifically rationalized, and all such rationalizations have been ultimately disappointing in their conclusions. Thomas thought to begin with that he needed a concrete solution, and failed to realize that he ignored the qualitative, the abstract, the core that makes up Faith; for this he nearly missed out, and the danger is that we too may miss out.

Look beyond the Proof – and there is proof out there, if you really want to fruitlessly search hard enough for it – and seek the faith that is found behind this account; a faith that is as pure as gold that has been tested by fire.

We will always remember Thomas as the one who dared to question the reports of his fellow apostles – “doubting Thomas”. However, his one definitive statement is the finest example of New Testament Christology – “My Lord and My God”. How dare we call him doubting Thomas after that: “professing Thomas”, perhaps, “confessing Thomas”, and now, most undoubtedly, “believing Thomas”

“My Lord and My God”. We declare. We bear witness. We believe.
Amen.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Fathers and mothers of families should bring up their children virtuously, looking at them rather as God’s children than their own; and to count life and health, and all they possess as loans which they hold of God.

Philip Neri


This Day's Verse

And even when you do ask you don’t get it because your whole aim is wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

James 4:3
The Living Bible


This Day's Smile

Err in the direction of kindness.

George Saunders


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The Christian who lives in the Spirit speaks with authority.  His plans and efforts are in union with the thoughts and ways and words of God.  He is increasingly aware of his privileges through faith and of his limitless possibilities through redemption.  He was not built for the temporal; therefore, he will settle for nothing less than the eternal.

A. P. Gouthey


This Day's Verse

But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:7
The Revised Standard Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Ten minutes spent in Christ’s society every day, ay, two minutes, if it be face to face, and heart to heart, will make the whole life different.

William Drummond


This Day's Verse

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:13
The New King James Version


This Day's Smile

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

G. K. Chesterton


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

To know about Christ is not enough.  To be convinced that He is the Saviour of the world is not enough.  To affirm your faith in Him, as we do in the Apostle’s Creed, is not enough.  You really don’t actively believe in Christ until you make a commitment of your life to Him and receive Him as your Saviour.

Billy Graham


This Day's Verse

Stop being angry!  Turn from your rage!  Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm.

Psalm 37:8
The New Living Translation


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Though the world needs reproof and correction, it needs kindness more; though it needs the grasp of the strong hand, it needs, too, the open palm of love and tenderness.

H. W. Beecher


This Day's Verse

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 16:18
The English Standard Version


This Day's Smile

Prayers should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.

English proverb


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- This Week’s Sermon


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

WORSHIP

by James Capps

Worship is one of the purposes of the church. Worship is the main thing the church has been called to.

WHY IS WORSHIP SO IMPORTANT?

Worship has always been the main thing for the church to be involved in….Actually this began long before Jesus came on the scene…Worship was central to the lives of the folks in the Old Testament…and most of our understanding of worship comes from them…

Originally worship was a relationship with God as the two humans, Adam and Eve, walked with God in the Garden…PERFECT RELATIONSHIP WAS POSSIBLE BECAUSE THERE WAS THE ABSENCE OF SIN

HOWEVER, after the fall…after sin entered, in things changed…now worship became a thing of sacrifice to cleanse us so we might can enter into the presence of God

YOU SEE THE MAIN THING THAT WAS LOST IN THE FALL WAS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD…THE REST OF THE O.T. IS THE STORY OF HOW GOD WAS WORKING TOWARD RESTORATION OF RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM….

IT IS IN WORSHIP THAT WE ENTER INTO GOD’S PRESENCE….IT’S WHAT MAKES A RELATIONSHIP POSSIBLE…WORSHIP IS THE KEY

WHAT IS WORSHIP?

Worship isn’t just something we do at church…it should encompass our whole lives putting God at the center of our lives. We do this as submit to Jesus’ Lordship…WHEN WE DO THIS WE ARE WORSHIPPING GOD

WORSHIP isn’t just following an order in a bulletin or being a watcher of the leadership…IT IS ENTERING INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD…hopefully those things we do usher you into God’s presence

WORSHIP YOU SEE ISN’T A CEREBRAL EXERCISE…IT’S EXPERIENCING THE VERY PRESENCE OF GOD

Matt. 15:8-9 “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ ”

JESUS WAS TALKING ABOUT THE WORSHIP HAPPENING THE “RIGHT WAY”…THAT IS THE RIGHT WORDS, THE RIGHT ORDER…BUT IT WAS EMPTY…WHAT THEY WERE LACKING WAS REAL LIFE…THE SPIRIT OF GOD WASN’T EXPECTED BECAUSE THEY HAD IT ALL DOWN PAT

But isn’t this what it becomes so many times…just another Sunday…another service….we leave the same way we came in…

Worship magnifies God

Do you remember what Mary said after learning she was going to be carrying the Son of God?

Luke 1:46-50 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.

The Psalmist said… Ps. 34:3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

To magnify means to make larger or greater…to Magnify God doesn’t mean we make Him any bigger than He already is…EXCEPT IN OUR LIVES…AND BEFORE OTHERS!!  THE WORD MAGNIFY HERE TALKS OF NAME AND REPUTATION, IT IS OUR JOB, OUR JOY, TO LET OTHERS KNOW OF HIS GREATNESS IN OUR LIVES…THAT’S HOW WE MAGNIFY HIM

GOD IS LOOKING FOR REAL WORSHIPPERS!

John 4:2224 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

WHAT JESUS WAS TELLING THE WOMAN WAS “YOU KNOW WHO TO WORSHIP, BUT YOU DON’T KNOW HIM!”

Think about your greatest hero (someone you don’t personally know) you can know all about them, without knowing them.  The same thing happens with God, we can know all about Him without having a relationship

LOOK WHAT JESUS TELLS US TRUE WORSHIPPERS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO DO…

John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

1. WE ARE TO WORSHIP IN SPIRIT, this word in Greek is PNUEMATI…which refers to a human’s regenerated spirit so to be a true worshipper we must

a. Be in a relationship with God…

b. our mind, our will, our emotions are used to express ourselves…you know that’s one of the main reasons God gave them to us

2. WE ARE TO WORSHIP IN TRUTH… John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

TRUTH MEANS –

a. knowing what God requires and do it

b. having a revelation of who God is and making it part of our lives

c. living in a way that becomes the truth for others

we are to worship according to the Word, the scriptures..it is to be God centered..centered in on Jesus and what he had done for you

3. WE ARE TO WORSHIP IN FREEDOM!

John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAS HURT US IS WHEN WE GOT DIGNIFIED

Now I like order and we are to worship in order…but sometimes our notion of order is to be as boring as we can possibly be.  Sometimes that orderliness just runs God right out of the mix of our worship

We need to be free to express ourselves without fear of what someone else might be thinking

I HOPE YOU CAN SEE THAT WORSHIP IS ONE OF THE PURPOSES GOD HAS ORDAINED THE CHURCH TO BE PART OF…THAT IT’S MORE THAN JUST SHOWING UP AND FOLLOWING THE ORDER IN THE BULLETIN, BUT IT FOLLOWS US OUT OF HERE AND INTO OUR DAY TO DAY LIVES IN THE WORLD…FOR WORSHIP IS THAT THING THAT THE CHURCH HAS BEEN CALLED TO DO…AND TO BECOME…LET’S WORSHIP THE LORD OUR GOD.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Do not honour Christ here in church by wearing silk, while you neglect him outside the church when he is cold and naked.

John Chrysostom


This Day's Verse

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ,

Galatians 2:16
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

Cry the gospel with your whole life.

Charles de Foucauld


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation.
Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice.
Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.

Francis of Assisi


This Day's Verse

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.  You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.  O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!

Psalm 30:11-12
The New Living Translation


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Most people really believe that the Christian commandments (e.g. to love one’s neighbour as oneself) are intentionally a little too severe—like putting the clock ahead half an hour to make sure of not being late in the morning.

Soren Kierkegaard


This Day's Verse

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Ephesians 1:17
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

I am sorry God that I forgot my prayers but remembered my breakfast.

Samuel Johnson


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday

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This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known—it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing.  The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open.  The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.

Pope Benedict XVI


This Day's Verse

The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.

Psalm 145:14
The King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

In the Old Testament the New lies hidden; in the New Testament the Old is laid open.

Augustine of Hippo


This Day's Verse

Oh, give thanks to the LORD!  Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples!  Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!  Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!

1 Chronicles 16:8-10
The New King James Version


This Day's Smile

Christianity can be condensed into four words: admit, submit, commit and transmit.

Samuel Wilberforce


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- This Week’s Sermon


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

THE BIBLE

by George Rennau

 

I have found that in times when I lacked wisdom God’s word answered my questions, and gave me direction.

The political convention was in chaos. Each delegation wanted something different. Some favored states rights, others wanted a stronger central government. Larger states wanted greater representation, and small states wanted an equal voice.

Debate dragged on and on. Finally the committee chairman admitted the situation was hopeless.

After weeks of fruitless effort, the oldest delegate rose. Addressing the chairman, he said, ”The small progress we have made after four or five weeks is melancholy proof of the imperfections of human understanding.

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs the affairs of men”.

Citing the Bible he added, “And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

We have been assured sir in the sacred writings that “except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in political building no better than the builders of Babel.

The speaker? Benjamin Franklin.

It is ironic that Ben Franklin, who for most of his life was not considered devout, turned to the scriptures in a time of crises.

At 81 years of age, using the Bible for his examples, Benjamin Franklin brought a clear vision to the convention, that eventually brought the delegates together, and a great document was produced, the constitution of the united states of America.

I have found…

That in times of crisis Gods word has been there for me faithfully holding forth hope, and encouragement.

I have found…

That in times when I lacked wisdom Gods word answered my questions, and gave me direction, and

I have found…

That in times when I am not sure what is right God’s word helps me discern the truth

Benjamin Franklin turned to God’s word in a time of Americas crisis, and in so doing he found help, and direction

Where do you turn in time of trouble?

Where do you turn for encouragement?

What is your source of truth?

My message today is that God has given us His word, let us turn to it to find what we need for life.

I.  In times of crises God word faithfully holds forth hope, and encouragement.

John Jay was a delegate at that first continental congress. At a very young age JAY was one of the smartest and most respected lawyers in the colonies. You may have never heard of John Jay before, but in the early history of U.S. government, Jay was responsible for single handedly averting a war with England through his diplomacy.  It seemed that everything Jay touched turned to success.

Then in May 1802 after 28 years of marriage his wife Sarah became very ill.  As her condition became more serious, John and their children gathered at her bedside.

When death came the famous and powerful father felt weak and defeated.  With his children by his side he turned to the Bible for strength. and began reading I Corinthians 15, which concludes with this verse.

“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true. Death has been swallowed up in victory, where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?”

When he closed the Bible, with tears in his eyes he spokes to his children and assured them from God’s word, of the promised reunion they would all someday have with his Sarah.

In times of crisis God’s word is the only hope that can bring true peace to our souls.

God’s word has the answer if you are:

Discouraged…

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you, Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Worried…

I Peter 5:7″cast all your cares upon him for he careth for you”

Lonely…

John 14:18 “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you”

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”.

Depressed…

Psalm 34:17 “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles”.

Confused…

I Cor. 14:33 God is not the author of confusion

Psalm 32: 8 “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way thou shalt go”

A young Christian family moved into town and rented the only house that was available. The house was in a run down section of town and the closest neighbors lived in a terrible poverty stricken condition.

In an effort to love their neighbors the couple went over to their neighbors house. They were invited inside to discover that conditions were worse then they first expected. As they were leaving the home the husband noticed a dust covered Bible under a rickety table in the house.

As he left he said “there’s a treasure in this house which if discovered and believed would make you all rich”.

The family began to search their house.  They wondered could it be a jewel or a pot of Gold.  After searching and searching they found nothing.

Not long after that the mother picked up the old Bible, and began to look through it.  As it happened on the inside cover of the bible was written these words: “Thy testimonies are better to me than thousands of Gold and silver” (Psalm 119:72).

She thought to herself “is this the treasure our neighbor spoke of”.  She and the other members of the family began to read the Bible, and a change took place in their hearts that were formerly filled with sin, pain and discouragement.

The next time the neighbors came for a visit to their surprise they found a completely changed family.  They said “we found the treasure and we received it, and we received the savior.”

The Bible is the power that changes lives, and when you are in a crisis it is the power that will strengthen and encourage you a second thing.

II. I have found that in times when I lacked wisdom Gods word answered my questions, and gave me direction.

The Word of God has the answer for me–for everyone living throughout the world.  The Bible is universal in its appeal because it isn’t just a book.  It is God’s living word.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Isaiah 55:11 “And it will not return void it will accomplish that which it is sent forth to do”

It was applicable in the 1st century in the 1700’s, in the 1950’s and it will be in the future not because its well written, but because it is alive.

An American missionary was traveling across Korea by train. At a busy station an old man boarded and sat across from Him. The man was Korean and he addressed the American in his native tongue.

The Missionary responded in the only Korean phrase that he knew which was “I DON’T UNDERSTAND”.

A few minutes later the Korean tried again, but the missionary could only say ” I DON’T UNDERSTAND”

The Korean then tried a third question, only this time the American recognized a familiar word YESU which means JESUS.  The American pointed to himself and said YESU.  The Old man did the same thing with a smile of delight on His face.

The Korean then unwrapped the bundle he was carrying . It was a large Korean a Bible.  He turned to a page and pointed to a place that he wanted the American to read.  Remembering that oriental Bible are written from back to front . The clergy men took his own Bible and counted the number of books and chapters from the back to the place that the old man had pointed to.  The old man had pointed to Mark 3:35 “Whoever does the will of God is my brother”

The American searched for a suitable reply. He counted out and pointed to it in the Korean Bible. It was Psalm 133:1 “Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” The Korean man read it and smiled in agreement and for the rest of the journey, these two men, ages apart in culture were brought together in a remarkable friendship as they pointed first to one verse and then to another. Their separate Bibles had a common language of the Spirit.

The word of God is a universal appeal and it can direct you as it has directed me,

It directs us in our job

It directs us in our finances

It directs us in our Character

It directs us in our lifestyle

It will direct you in your relationships

and it directs us to CHRIST…

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all”

Lastly

III. I have found that when I was not certain what was right God’s word helped me to both understand and do what is right.  The truth of the word of God doesn’t stand in my life as a rule book of do’s and don’ts.  The Bible never says and you shall know the rules and by them you shall be bound.  It says, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.  By allowing Gods word to guide me into truth it allows me to be free.

The world is filled with delusion and false ideas all trying to bring us under bondage.  But Gods word brings real freedom.

A few years ago at USC there was a professor of philosophy who was a deeply committed atheist.  His primary goal for one required class was spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God did not exist.  His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic.

For twenty years he had taught the class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him.  No one would go against him because he had a reputation, at the end of every semester on the last day of class

He would say to his class of 300 students,  “If there is anyone here who still believes in Jesus, stand up!”  In twenty years no one had ever stood up.  They knew what he was going to do next.

He would say, “Because anyone who does believe in God is a fool.  If God existed he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking.  Such a simple task to prove that his God and yet he can’t do it.

And every year he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom, and it would shatter into 100’s of pieces.  All of the students could do nothing but stop and stare.  Most of the students were convinced that God couldn’t exist.  Certainly a number of Christians had slipped through, but for twenty years they had been to afraid to stand up.

A few years ago there was a freshman who happened to get enrolled in the class.  He was a christian and had heard the stories of the professor.

For three months that semester he read the Bible and prayed that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said or no matter what the class thought.

Finally the day came. The professor said, if there is anyone who still believes in God , stand up.  The professor and the class of 300 looked at him shocked as he stood up.

“You Fool!” “If God existed, he could keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!”

He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off His shirt cuff, onto the pleats of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away, unbroken.

The professors jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk.  He looked up at the young man and then ran out of the lecture hall.

The young man who had stood up, proceeded to walk to the front of the room, and share his faith in Jesus for the next half hour.  300 students stayed and listened, as he told of God’s love for them and his power through Jesus Christ

How has Gods word impacted your life?

Do you turn to it in time of trouble for encouragement?

Do you turn to it when you need direction?

Has it become your source of truth?

Or is it down the line in your priority list of things to do?

God’s word contains the things we need to make our life fulfilling.

Let us commit to turning to its pages for our lives.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The disappointments of life are simply the hidden appointments of love.

C. A. Fox


This Day's Verse

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Ephesians 1:3
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

Now let us do something beautiful for God.

Mother Teresa


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

In the evening of our lives we shall be examined in love.

John of the Cross


This Day's Verse

Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy.  As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:8-9
The Revised Standard Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Special Note


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Special Note from Eric Elder, founder of The Ranch: Our daily thoughts will be posted shortly, but before that I wanted to ask for your help.

I’ve recently published one of the most important books I’ve ever written. It’s called, Loving God & Loving Gays: What’s A Christian To Do? For those who may not know it, I used to be involved in homosexuality myself until I put my faith in Christ and married a woman beyond my dreams.

With so many Christians being impacted personally by this issue today, I felt it would be helpful to share what I’ve learned over the past 30 years of not only dealing with same-sex attractions myself, but also having ministered one-on-one to hundreds of others who have experienced such attractions.

Loving God & Loving Gays: What's A Christian To Do?
Would you be interested in reading this new book and sharing it with others?

If so, there are three simple ways to get a copy, any of which would help greatly in spreading the word out about this important new book.

1) Post a 1-2 sentence review on Amazon. If you’d be willing to read the book and post a short review on Amazon, I’ll send you a complimentary PDF version of the book that you can read first. After reading it, just post a 1-2 sentence review on Amazon. If you email me afterward with a link to your review and your mailing address, I’ll send you a paperback version of the book as well! Your reviews are so helpful in encouraging others to read this biblical perspective on such an important topic. To request a PDF copy to review, just email me at eric@theranch.org.

2) Make a donation of any size to our ministry. If you’d like a copy without posting a review, just make a donation of any size and I’ll send you a paperback version of the book, anywhere in the world, as our way of saying thanks. Your donations help us to continue creating resources like these so even more people can hear about the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. Click here to make a donation and request a paperback.

3) Order the book directly from Amazon. You can also get a copy of the book, in paperback or ebook versions, directly from Amazon. All proceeds go directly back into our ministry to create more resources like these. So whatever way you get it, know that you’re blessing others as well as yourself. This book is also available in Spanish thanks to one of our subscribers who helped us get it translated so we could share it with even more people. Click here to order a copy in English or click here to order the Spanish edition.

Could I ask 2 more things before I close?

1) Would you be interested in joining an online “Book Discussion Group” on this topic? If there’s enough interest, I’d like to host an online book discussion group starting next week, May 31, and continuing for 12 weeks, discussing 1 chapter per week. We would meet on Thursday nights from 6:30-8:30 pm Central Time using an online chat tool where you can join the conversation via audio, video, smart phone or tablet. If you’d be interested in joining such a group, click here to learn more or email me at eric@theranch.org.

2) Could you pray for me? I’ve been asked to speak on this topic several times in recent months, which I’ve been very happy to do. Each time, I’ve seen a significant response in those who have heard this message as they learn more about a topic that is close to so many people’s hearts. You can watch some of these talks online at these links: Eastview Church (7 minutes), Eastview Youth (42 minutes), Ax Church (56 minutes; my interview starts 31 minutes into the video). Would you pray for me as I continue sharing Christ in this way in the coming months, that even more people would hear the life-changing power of Christ? And if you’d like to talk about having me speak to your group or church, just email me at eric@theranch.org.

Thanks for your help and for reading this special announcement. Our daily thoughts will follow shortly!

Eric


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness.

Meister Eckhart


This Day's Verse

Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Isaiah 35:10
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

Every ordinary thing in your life is a word of God’s love: your home, your work, the clothes you wear, the air you breathe, the food you eat, the flowers under your feet are the courtesy of God’s heart flung down on you!  All these things say one thing only: “See how I love you.”

Caryll Houselander


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Tuesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Speak, move, act in peace, as if you were in prayer.  In truth, this is prayer.

Francis Fenelon


This Day's Verse

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the LORD your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6
The Revised Standard Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Grace is not sought nor bought nor wrought.  It is a free gift of the Almighty God.

Billy Graham


This Day's Verse

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Psalm 107:8-9
The New International Version


This Day's Smile

Peacefully do at each moment what at that moment ought to be done.  If we do what each moment requires, we will eventually complete God’s plan, whatever it is.  We can trust God to take care of the master plan when we take care of the details.

Katharine Drexel


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- This Week’s Sermon


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Moral Issues: Sex

by Rob Harbison

When sex is about intimacy in marriage it is beautiful. When it is about lust and lewdness it is tarnished.

Many people who are unfamiliar with the Bible think that it presents sex as an ugly—although necessary—thing for the purpose of procreation. Many Christians who are unfamiliar with the Bible think the same thing.

Both are wrong. And both of those misguided perspectives have caused problems for people regarding their sexuality.

SEX IS GOD’S IDEA

God Created Sex. Whoever thinks there is something dirty about sex itself doesn’t understand God’s perspective on it. When He created man and woman He provided them with the ability to procreate—then encouraged it (Genesis 1:27-28). The Bible says this of all God’s work, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31).

God Recognized Man’s Need For Companionship And Intimacy. “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” (Genesis 2:18). He created woman. Then man was complete.

Marriage And The Marriage Bed Are A Special Thing. Sexual relations between a husband and wife are not just a concession in order to achieve procreation. They are also designed for a couple to share love, acceptance, intimacy, emotional bonding and satisfaction (Hebrews 13:4).

Sex In Marriage Is For Rendering Affection. Actually, what some people might consider “dirty” is a beautiful expression of love between two people who are committed to one another in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Sensuality and sexuality in marriage are applauded, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you are all times; and always be enraptured with her love.” (Proverbs 5:18-19).

What a beautiful expression of love! Some of the problems we experience today with adultery come because we are not developing such an intimate union with our spouse. If you are enraptured by the love of your wife, someone else’s wife isn’t going to be able to attract you nearly as strongly, “For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress?” (Proverbs 5:20). Keep it at home where God intends for it to be.

The Bible Is Not Responsible For Sexual Repression. Sin is the cause of irresponsible sexual expression. Anyone who uses the Bible to stifle sexuality in marriage, doesn’t understand either the Bible or sexuality.

SEXUAL SINS ARE MAN’S IDEA

Man Invents Abuses Of Human Sexuality. There’s the rub. We are not advocating some old-fashioned, puritanical sexual suppression. We are trying to identify those things that GOD says are an abuse of human sexuality—things that are not a diversity of sexual expression but a perversity of it!

How Much Sexual Freedom Do We Have? Some people say that no one has the right to say what can and cannot happen in someone’s bedroom. God does! Make no mistake about it! He says, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4).

Fornication. It is the sin of sexual contact with anyone besides your spouse—anyone! Or maybe we should say anything too (Hebrews 13:4; Galatians 5:19-21)!

Adultery. It is the sin of sexual contact with another married person. Lack of fulfillment in a marriage, loss of love, marital difficulties—none of these are acceptable reasons for having an adulterous affair (Hebrews 13:4; Mark 7:20-23).

Homosexuality. The gay and lesbian lifestyle is gaining more popularity as we throw off moral restraints. Nevertheless, as expressions of our sexuality, they are condemned by the Bible (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Multiple Expressions of Sexuality. Incest. Bestiality. Phone sex. Fisting. Voyeurism. Sexual abuse. Pedophilia. Multiple partners. Unmarried cohabitation. Orgies. Do we need to continue? We cannot list them all.

Our Obsession With Sex Is Disturbing. According to a weekly report from Webtracker (which tracks the most popular search engine queries), of the top 500 keyword queries on popular search engines, 20% to 25% of the searches are pornographic.

God made sex a beautiful thing between a husband and wife. One Old Testament book—the Song of Solomon—is very sensuous. It shows the beauty and intimacy of married love.

When sex is about that intimacy, it is beautiful. When it is about lust and lewdness, it is tarnished.

God’s instructions for our sex lives will lead us to the greatest fulfillment. Those guidelines give us something that sinning against our own bodies—through some of these other outlets—can never give us (1 Corinthians 6:15-18). They give us physical and emotional satisfaction.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

There is nothing that God cannot accomplish.

Marcus Tullius Cicero


This Day's Verse

The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.

Psalm 29:11
The New King James Version


This Day's Smile

Speak only well of people and you’ll never have to whisper.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Thursday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.

Thomas Aquinas


This Day's Verse

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26-27
The New King James Version


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Wednesday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The hardest part about letting God fight your battle is that He sometimes waits until the eleventh hour so you will have no doubt of where the power is coming from.

Stormie Omartian


This Day's Verse

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe;

Hebrews 12:28
The Revised Standard Version


This Day's Smile

We’ve all got both light and dark inside of us.  What matters is the part we choose to act on.  That’s who we really are.

Sirius Black


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Monday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

All that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—is the long, terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

C. S. Lewis


This Day's Verse

Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.

Psalm 31:24
The New King James Version


This Day's Smile

A forgiving heart grows stronger with exercise.

Amish proverb


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This Day’s Thought From The Ranch- This Week’s Sermon


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

A Recipe For Successful Parenting

by John Hamby

 I made a startling discovery soon after our child was born, they do not come with an instruction manual. The way that we dealt with this emergency was to call our moms, with questions that went something like this, “Mom she doing so and so, is she suppose to do that?

Most parents feel a little like the story I heard about a young student of child behavior who frequently delivered a lecture called “Ten Commandments for Parents.” He married and became a father. The title of the lecture was altered to “Ten Hints for Parents.” Another child arrived. The lecture became ‘Some Suggestions for Parents.” A third child was born. The lecturer – so the story goes – stopped lecturing. [Paul Lee Tan. Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations. (Rockville: Maryland: Assurance Pub., 1979. # 635] The truth is that we never have more opinions about child rearing than when we do not have any ourselves. We say things like, “MY, children will never do that!” Those words can sure come back to haunt you.

Mark Twain, the humorist, had these words of advise on raising children. He said, “When they become teenagers put them in a barrel and fed them through the knot hole. When they turn sixteen stop up the knot hole!”

Two children were heard discussing their parents. The first said, “I’m really worried. Dad slaves away at his job so that I have everything I need, so I’ll be able to go to college some day. Mom works hard washing and ironing, cleaning up after me, taking care of me when I am sick, driving me everywhere I want to go. They spend every day of their lives working for me. But I’m worried.” His friend asked, “What have you got to worry about?’ The first little guy replied, “I’m afraid they’re going to try to escape some day.”

James Dobson in his book “The Strong Willed Child” said, “ Child rearing is like baking a cake. You don’t realize you have a disaster until its too late.” But success in both child rearing and cake baking is best achieved by following the recipe, so this morning I would like to offer you “A Recipe for Success for Parenting.

The first Ingredient in our Recipe for Successful Parenting is the Recognition that Your Child is a Gift from God. If we are going to survive the challenges of parenting, we must remember that your child is a gift from God. Psalm 127:3-5 “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. (4) Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. (5) Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; …”. (NKJV)

If you want to survive parenthood remember that your child or children are worth the struggle and are a gift from God even if they sometimes act like the devil.

The Second Ingredient of our Recipe for Successful Parenting is Unconditional love. Deal with your child as God, your heavenly father, deals with you, that is with patience, grace and unconditional love. Never allow your child to think that your love is conditional to his behavior.

The Third Ingredient of our Recipe for Successful Parenting is Recognize and Work with our Childs Natural Bents.

If you want to survive parenting we absolutely must realize we have a duty to “train up our children.” There is nothing anymore challenging or rewarding than the privilege and responsibility given by God to parents to raise their children. Scripture says in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NKJV) Training children in the way they should go has always been a huge and vital task in every generation because of all this is involved in the process, however, there has never been a time when the challenges were greater than now.

Sometime this verse is taken as a guarantee that if we are good parents we will always produce good children. That is not what this verse says. So what does it say? Well I am glad you asked! A paraphrase might read something like this, “Adapt the training of your child so that it is in keeping with his God-given characteristics and tendencies; when he comes to maturity, he will not depart from the training he has received.”

Every child has natural bents both good and bad, these are the basic tendencies unique to this child. You might be surprise to learn that the root word of “train up” in the Hebrew is a word used to describe the palate or the roof of the mouth. It was used to describe the actions of a Hebrew mid-wife who after helping to deliver a baby would dip her finger in a paste made of dates and rub it on the gums of the new baby to create thirst and start the baby’s feeding instinct. (Charles Swindoll. You and Your Child. ( Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1977)

The parent is in like manner to create a thirst in their child for the right things. What is your favorite food, my guess would be that it is what you grew up enjoying. The Christian parents job is to create such a thirst in our children for the things of God. Deut. 6:5-7 says , “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (6) And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. (7) You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (NKJV)

The Fourth Ingredient of our Recipe for Successful Parenting is Consistent Discipline. Perhaps the greatest responsibility we are given is to discipline our children. We are reminded in the book of Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” And again in verse 17, “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” (NKJV) These Proverbs clearly remind us that godly discipline of children will bring delight and rest to your soul, but failure to do so will bring shame and heartache.

Some years ago the city of Houston Texas waged an ad campaign to deter juvenile crime, the Houston Police Depart-ment came up with “Twelve Rules for Raising Juvenile Delinquent Children.”

1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.

2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think that it is cute.

3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and then let him “decide for himself.’

4. Avoid use of the word “wrong.” It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.

5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility on others.

6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful, that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.

7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they won’t be shocked when the home is broken up later.

8. Give a child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own.

9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified.

10. Take his part against neighbors, teachers and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.

11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourself by saying, “I never could do anything with him.

12. Prepare for a life of grief. You will likely have it. [Quoted by Charles Swindoll. You and Your Child. (Nashville, Nelson Pub., 1977) pp. 63-64.]

Ephesians 6:4 has two words which describe the responsibilities and methods that we are to use in child rearing.

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (NKJV).

The first word translated, “training” (paideia) it is the word we get pedagogy from. It can refer to discipline but normally contains the broader meaning of education , the entire training particularly of the very young.

The second word, “admonition” (nouthesia) comes from the combination of two Greek words one meaning “mind” and the other “to place” and involves the idea of reasoning and gentle or friendly reproof. It is more appropriate to the child as he gets older when they can have a better understanding of the spiritual and moral issues of their own behavior.

We must recognize the necessity of discipline. Five simple reminders about discipline:

1. Never discipline in anger.

2. Pick your battles, not everything is worthy of a battle.

3. Realize that even children need to express anger from time to time.

4. Choose the best time and place to discipline. Never discipline in anger. Always discipline in private.

5. Choose your words carefully and speak in a soft tone of voice.

Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” (NKJV) Discipline of course, means conflict and far to often parents attempt to resolve conflict with a yelling session with their children. This does no good and may do a lot of harm.

The Fifth Ingredient of our Recipe for Successful Parenting is Be willing to admit when you are wrong.

Every parent is also a human and all humans make mistakes. When you make a mistake with your children admit it. It may come as a shock to you but, your children all ready know that you are not perfect, seeing and hearing you admit your mistakes will make it easier for them to recognize and admit their own mistakes in life.

You may be thinking well my children are all grown. Then invest your wisdom and experience in a young couple with children. Be a mentor. And if you have the privilege of grandchildren be a godly influence in their lives.

The idea that good parents always produce good children and bad parents always produce bad children is just not true. We all know families were the parents were a walking disaster, yet their children turned out to be very decent people, good citizens and responsible adults. By the same token we’ve all seen godly parents who sought to raise their children up to know the Lord, yet one or more or those children ended up in serious trouble.

Scripture give us governing principles for training our children, not guarantees. Parents who apply these principles are far more likely to produce godly children than those who do not. The bottom line is to know God’s word, use it, trust it, pray consistently for your ability as a parent and for your children, love them deeply, take nothing for granted and cling to the Lord.


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This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Friday


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

The most profound essence of my nature is that I am capable of receiving God.

Augustine


This Day's Verse

Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

Isaiah 51:11
The King James Version


This Day's Smile

Enjoy life.  It’s later than you think.

Muhammad Ali


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