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Honor Everyone Above Yourself!

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:1-7, NIV)

“While they were in Bethlehem, the City of David, the time came for Mary to give birth. She gave birth to a son; wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger as there was no room for them in the hostel.” (Luke 2:6-7)

“And they nailed Jesus to the cross. They divided up his clothes and threw dice to see who would get them.” (Mark 15:24)

“Jesus literally sliced through years of rabbinical law and cultural norms with the extreme love of God that sees the treasure in every human heart.” (Danny Silk, Culture Of Honor)

There is an extremely powerful meaning in front of the reality that Jesus was born into this world seemingly impoverished. He was born in a dirty stable in a feeding trough as there was no room for them in the hostel. Mary and Joseph did not partake of the inside accommodations of the hostel; there was no room. Instead they were regulated to the barn. Jesus, the Son of Man, the Messiah, Emmanuel, God With Us, was born in a barn with stinky animals. Perfect love was born.

Jesus lived His life faithfully trying to serve His Father’s will and desire. He obeyed His Father even unto death; death on a cross. Jesus did not seek fame, power or position as the world understands it. In the end, Jesus gave up everything. He gave the greatest gift anyone can give another, His life. It was one of the most brutal death methods in His day; to have His hands and feet pounded through blow by blow as the iron cast hammer forced the large metal nails inward. Jesus, The Lamb of God, The Only Necessary Sacrifice, Our Savior, Our Lord, Our God, was cruelly, physically murdered amidst ridicule, hate and revile. Yet, Jesus lives on forever through His perfect love.

If the Son of God was able to humble Himself to be born an impoverished human, like us, one of us and then be sent to a horrific slaughter like a criminal guilty only of proclaiming His Father’s Name and loving others unconditionally, our response should be to humbly honor others above ourselves through the perfect love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our value is never in question. We are creations of the Most High God. The challenge before us is, while recognizing our own value in Christ, see everyone through the perfect, loving eyes of Jesus. See others always more valuable than ourselves. That is honor at its highest level. That is the perfect love of Jesus.

Love Can Hurt, What a Blessing!

1 Peter 3:8-18, 8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Growing up I was surrounded by people who would love through service, sympathy, empathy and humility, yet be hurt by others. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the famous author of The Great Gatsby and other literary works, wrote this: “You are the finest, loveliest, tenderest and most beautiful person I have ever known---and even that is an understatement.” We’ve all known those people in our lives who are simply easy to love due to the love they pour into others and yet these people are vulnerable to hurt.

Today I have people in my life who truly love others even though they know it is going to hurt eventually. Shellie, my wife, prays daily earnestly, endlessly for others. Often, she does not know if the prayer was answered because she prays for people all over the country; the world. It is not that this intercessory prayer process is not difficult. Shellie considers it her call, her mission from the Lord out of love. So, she continues. Anthony, my son, a Senior at the University of South Carolina, is one of those rare people who really, really believes Jesus’ tenet, “We should love everyone.” We have family and friends who are moms, dads, pastors, factory workers, teachers, office workers; from every line of work. Each morning when they wake and their feet hit the floor, it is their daily call to love above all else, no matter what. These people are an inspiration to me.

The movie “I’m Not Ashamed” opens this weekend. It is the story of Rachel Scott, the first to give her life during the Columbine School tragedy on April 20, 1999. At the very end of her life, Rachel was asked one more time if she still loved her God. She gave one more “yes” before she gave her last breath. The ultimate love and sacrifice she gave; the pain is caused but the blessing it has given continues to resound today.

So, the next time we are insulted and hurt; treated in an unloving manner, remember, Jesus, the Son of God, came to this earth and was wrongfully accused, publicly humiliated, scorned, beaten beyond recognition, nailed to a cross and then gave us the greatest gift of Love He could possibly give, His Life for Eternal Life! What a blessing!

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The Way They Should Go

There is a way that children should go. It is a straight and narrow way. It is a way that will lead them to right living, moral uprightness, respect for authority, care for others, and love for God.

It is the role of parents and those they call on to help them, to train up their children so that when they mature into adulthood, they will stay the course. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

Our post-Christian culture is sending a message to Christian children that their parents are out-of snyc with the new normal. It is packaged as a generational difference; religious adults are holding on to old-fashioned values while the rest of the world is showing tolerance, respecting diversity, and fighting for the civil rights of oppressed people. Many Christian kids are caught in the middle. They want to honor and obey the teachings of their parents on one hand, but are barraged by changing cultural norms that are reinforced by celebrity media, Facebook friends, and even the White House. Parents are playing defense and hunkering down but this storm won't be weathered soon.

For two millenia, Christians at odds with the culture have survived their minority status by providing their children with an important support system - the Body of Christ. Children have been raised and influenced not just by parents, but by significant other adults that have served to reinforce the Biblical values and principles that have given them identity as followers of Christ. Extended family, neighbors, church and school leaders, scoutmasters and others have provided reinforcement which forms in children Biblical identity.

Sadly, the pillars of people support are eroding and kids have never been more isolated. Alone in their bedrooms with their screens, they are learning about the world from Google and You-tube. The biblical foundation that mom and dad have established in the home is under seige by a culture that demands conformity to a new set of ideals.

This is where Christian schools have such high impact. A Christian community of students, parents, teachers, and coaches, will form in children the reality of Christian identity. Ehics and values, drawn from the Scriptures and reinforced by adults and older students, provide a good framework for Christian child development. This simply won't happen with a child and his Bible app. People need people and young people need lots of them. Christian schools are an anchor for children in a society that has lost its way because they provide great role models that re-inforce Biblical living. In the world of Christian schooling, our superheroes are ordinary people that help parents by stepping into the lives of children, demonstrating for them the way they should go.




I Can't Help But Wonder

One of the beautiful things about children is their curiosity. Life is new to them and they think and wonder about things all the time.

We have all noticed how frequently they inquire why things are as they are. But what happens to a society when its children stop wondering? When the answers to questions become a click away, does the actual thinking process in children become compromised?

The mental process of thinking, pondering and reasoning calls for something in short supply today - time. Good teachers understand that when they ask a student a question, they must allow for processing time because the physiological development of a child's capacity to think has not reached full maturation. Simply put, kids need more time to process than adults. Unfortunately, modern media doesn't want to wait. In today's marketing bombardment, selling products to kids or their parents calls for image to trump information. The feel good takeaway has become the norm in sound bite advertising and consumer processing time disrupts this flow. We have become a "right now" culture and waiting is not only passe, it's irritating. Nobody likes a slow computer, a slow movie, or a slow coffee pot. Patience, once a virtue, has become replaced by velocity- we demand immediate delivery of information and services and we're training our children to live that way.

When the demand for information surpasses the natural pace of human thought, we have to wonder about the cost, not only to our children, but to society at large. Benjamin Franklin wondered about losing most of the heat up the chimney; his wondering gave us the Franklin stove. Mark Zuckerberg wondered about personalizing the computer and Facebook was born. American innovation has rested on the concept of thinking and wondering to improve the human condition. When a society diminishes its wondering because individual curiosity is no longer necessary, will that civilization's lifespan be near completion?

A low thinking culture affects our children the most. In their formative years, when kids need touch, spoken words, human interaction, books, and most importantly, time to ponder, we are providing them with digital stimulus way beyond their capacity to digest. We may be innoculating them from the very cognitive development they require to become adults.

It is most unfortunate that our society has come to value answers more than questions. Asking questions, in true Socratic tradition, is essential for proper cognitive development. When a child muses "what if I do it this way" or, "if I add one more, what will happen", that child's brain is exercising the same way his legs are when he rides a bicycle. Children need a hypothesis to ponder not another button to push.

Kids that wonder out loud soon learn that the world is full of people with gadgets who want to short-circuit curiosity. Well-meaning friends are quick to provide information that answer questions and solve problems. For some of us, we don't have a problem and are not looking for a solution. We actually enjoy a good wonder. The cognitive process of thinking, musing, and pondering things is good for the brain - isn't that why we have one?

A life of beauty and creativity requires wonder and wonder requires time. Slow is the natural rhythm of childhood. We have been created to think deeply, it is this ability that allows us to pursue our Maker and comprehend His majesty.If a child fails to exercise his mind in his early years, will he be forever relegated to superficial thinking? We all want children to reach their potential, why not their potential to think deep thoughts? Wonder is a gift from God that no man or gadget should take from us.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (Ecclesiastes 3:11a)

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