A Father’s Day Reminder: You’re Already the Smartest Man in the World

52 things kids need from dad

Today’s guest blog post is from Jay Payleitner, the “dad encourager” and bestselling author of 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, as well as several other books on parenting and marriage. 

I was nine years old. It was the annual Payleitner pilgrimage to the shrine at Clark and Addison. When I was growing up, my dad made sure we made it to at least one Chicago Cubs doubleheader every summer.

One of the great traditions was filling out my own scorecard with two freshly sharpened Cubs pencils purchased from a vendor just inside the Wrigley Field turnstiles. In the 1960s, scorecards were a quarter and pencils were a dime. I never asked for foam fingers, Cubs pennants, or Billy Williams jerseys. That scorecard and pencil were my souvenirs. And that was enough.

About the second inning, tragedy struck. My pencil lead broke. Of course, I could sharpen it at home, but how was I going to complete my traditional duties tracking Kessinger, Beckert, Williams, Banks, Santo, Hundley, and company? I couldn’t ask for another pencil, could I?

I showed the unusable writing utensil to my dad and he didn’t miss a beat. He took it and within 20 seconds handed it back sharpened and ready for the next batter. Now, you may be able guess what he did. To an adult, it may seem obvious. But to a nine-year-old, scraping that pencil at just the right angle with just the right pressure against the concrete floor of the grandstand was nothing short of brilliant. My dad was a genius!

Dad, for a season of life, you too are a genius. It won’t always be that way. There will come a time, hopefully, when each of your kids knows more than you. But for a while, you want to be the one man they look up to who can solve any crisis—large or small.

When your son panics because he needs to paint a green dragon but only has paint in primary colors, show him how to mix blue and yellow. He’ll be astonished.

When the printer cartridge runs out as your daughter attempts to print a 12-page homework assignment, you know a gentle shake will loosen up enough toner to finish the job. She’ll be ever-so-relieved.

As long as you can, dad, I urge you to store up genius points. Offer brilliant solutions to your children’s biggest challenges before they realize that it’s really just a matter of life experience.

Believing their dad is the smartest man in the world is a great gift for a young child. But don’t get too cocky—there will soon come a time when their challenges require significantly more complicated solutions. Still, you want them to come to you.  Because the solutions offered by the world (friends, media, the culture) are quite often the worst possible choices.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to schedule a family trip to the ballpark this summer and teach your kids to fill out a scorecard. Happy Father’s Day!

“I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’” —Job 32:7

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5 Steps to a Stronger Family Foundation

Holding Your Family Together

Parents have the most spiritual influence over their children, so how can you be sure you’re building strong faith habits for your kids? To start, treat spiritual habits like you would other daily habits. You encourage your kids to brush their teeth in the morning, eat their fruits and vegetables, and do their homework, right? In the same way you hold them accountable for everyday habits, encourage them to build spiritual habits.

The 5 at-home faith acts

According to counselor and author Richard Melheim, author of the widely popular book, Holding Your Family Togetherthere are five key steps to keeping your family together and bringing them closer to God. Every night, he encourages families to:

1. Share your highs and lows

Neurologically speaking, sharing the high points and successes from your day sends powerful neurochemical transmitters that bolster the immune system, regulate hormonal systems, and trigger positive electro-chemical changes throughout your body. Science lesson aside, sharing insights from your day opens up communication with your kids and helps them build healthy habits for future relationships. It also encourages them to always find something positive about their day, and the Bible calls us to share our joy together (Romans 12:15).

2. Read a Bible verse or story

According to Melheim, by the time kids reach age 18, they’ve been exposed to 60,000 hours of media, 11,000 hours of school, and only 2,000 hours in quality conversations with their parents. Instead of filling their minds with outside influence, enrich their lives with the Word. As Paul writes in Philippians 4:8–9, we should fill our minds with things “honorable” and “true.” There’s no better way to achieve this then by spending time in Scripture.

3. Talk about how the Bible reading relates to you

This requires digging into your day and Scripture. Even though you might not see a connection on the surface, it’s there. Here’s Melheim’s perspective: “. . . fill your children’s lives and imaginations with God talk, God’s story and your connection to God’s story, and your children will grow up knowing they are precious children of the beautiful Savior, the king of creation.”

4. Pray for one another’s highs and lows aloud

Praying aloud involves a deeper level of communication that most families don’t practice. It demands that you pay close enough attention to the highs and lows of your child’s day that you can repeat them back and ask for the Lord’s guidance. It not only shows that you’re listening and care, but it also teaches them who to bring their thoughts to every day: God. It acknowledges that although God already knows everything about them, they can’t build an intimate relationship with Jesus unless both sides communicate.

5. Bless one another before turning out the lights

Melheim regards this as the most beautiful and profound step of all. He writes: “Words have the power to change realities and usher in new realities. When a blessing from God is spoken in faith and received in faith, it has the power to transform lives and invent a future of hope, power and joy. When we are blessed, we feel love, value and hope coursing through our veins and hearts.” Blessing our children empowers them to feel loved and secure every single night.

By making these nightly habits, building a strong family foundation will become second nature. But the hardest part isn’t starting the plan, it’s following through with it. Get all of the advice and guidance you need to stick with these five faith acts: get Holding Your Family Together: 5 Simple Steps to Help Bring Your Family Closer to God and Each Other for just $9.74!

 

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Limited-Time Sale: Get 15% Off a New Logos 5 Base Package!

New BP Blog Header

You’ve committed to daily communion with God. No resource offers deeper insight into Scripture than Logos 5, which couples the world’s smartest theological resources with the best study tools. It sets you up to save hundreds of hours of research time and find biblical answers to life’s toughest questions.

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Still on the fence? Here are three awesome benefits of Logos 5:

1. You’ll study like an expert with a library tailored to fit your interests

Building your dream library is easy with Logos 5. We offer a variety of base packages to suit your theological background, from Reformed to Lutheran to Anglican, along with a new library specially designed for chaplains. You can customize your library by adding topical bundles that help you grow in your field, like the Preaching Bundle, Marriage and Family Bundle, Counseling Bundle, and more. In fact, for a limited time, you can add any bundle to your library for 50% off!

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2. You’ll save hundreds of hours of research time

Find exactly what you’re looking for in seconds with Logos 5’s smart tools and datasets. Put the Word in historical context with the Timeline, visualize Scripture with rich maps, family trees, and infographics, and understand the meaning behind every biblical word with the Bible Sense Lexicon. Logos 5 acts like your personal research assistant, so you can spend less time floundering in your study and more time finding answers and building relationships.

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Don’t wait: now’s the time to start becoming a better student of the Word. Get 15% off a new Logos 5 base package today!

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Spiritually Training Your Child: It’s a Lifestyle, Not a Competition

iStock_000021005439SmallToday’s guest post is by Linda Weddle, author of How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph. Weddle’s 30-plus years of experience as a teacher, curriculum writer, author, speaker, and ministry leader make her an important voice on ministry to children, youth, and families. She is the senior designer of core Awana programs and has been involved in nearly every aspect of Awana over the course of her life.

Spiritually training our children is a lifestyle, not a competition with other parents.

But sometimes we forget that.

We know the verses in Deuteronomy 6 that tell us to teach our kids when we’re sitting, standing, walking along the way—in other words, all the time. Some parents translate that to five minutes at the breakfast table when dad reads a short devotional and prays. The kids then head off to school (but not before arguing about who left the top off the markers), and mom looks at her to-do list and complains about having to teach the lesson in children’s church next Sunday (too much else to do), and dad murmurs a few unkind words about his boss before he goes out the door.

But they DID do that five minutes of devotions, and even though they may forget them in a few hours, it did come up later in the day when mom was talking to her friend. The friend was regretting that her family didn’t eat breakfast together to start the day. Mom said (in a very “spiritual” voice) they always ate together because that’s when her husband read a devotional and prayed at the breakfast table. The friend was impressed—her husband never ate breakfast with the family.

The friend’s husband did do other things, however. He always mowed the elderly neighbor’s lawn, asked the kids what they learned at church and discussed it with them, challenged them as they walked through the museum to think about the evolutionary-based explanations on the fossil display (gently bringing them around to the right answer). Yes, he needed to leave for work before the kids got up, but he lived his faith throughout every day.

Stop competing

Spiritually training our children is not a competition. We don’t have a stat sheet for each kid that details how many days the family had devotions, how many verses the child has memorized, or how many minutes the family spent in prayer. Yet, sometimes that’s what it feels like. If we aren’t comparing those stats, then we’re “gossiping” about what other families are doing wrong. (As if we knew everything that went on beyond the four walls of their houses.) Or, when we see someone else’s child make a bad choice, we instantly share what we feel are that family’s parenting faults.

Another aspect on the whole spiritually-training spectrum is our motivation. Why do we push our kids to learn the most verses, go on the most mission trips, or brag about our five-minute breakfast devotionals? Is it truly because we desire to spiritually train our kids or is it because we want to look good to others? Instead of making church a time for family enjoyment and learning, do we make it a burden? Do we complain about going, but yell at the kids for their own bad attitudes in not wanting to attend? Do we push (and yell about) our kids learning their verses for youth group, but never, ever sit down and learn a verse with them?

Start living

We often talk about Timothy’s mom and grandma teaching him Scripture, which they did and did well. But look closely at what Paul wrote about Timothy’s childhood: I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well (2 Timothy 1:5). Their influence was not dependent on an hour of teaching each morning (or however long they taught), but that they lived their faith—all the time. Their faith wasn’t an external show, but it dwelt within them, a very part of who they were.

The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about Eunice and Lois, but I’m guessing they were good neighbors. I’m guessing they baked bread or made soup to take to a sick friend. I’m guessing they helped the poor and obeyed God in all they did. They lived their faith, and Timothy watched that and learned so that his faith became a part of his life, too.

Five-minute breakfast devotionals can be good, but they are only one minuscule part of spiritually training our kids. Spiritual training is conveyed through living our faith every minute of every day. Spiritual training is taught by exemplifying God’s love and grace through everything we do and say. Spiritual training is unique for each family because God has created us as unique individuals. Instead of analyzing how other people are living their lives, we need to be focused on how we’re living our own lives and be honest about what message we’re giving our own kids.

Because spiritual training is not a competition—it’s a lifestyle.

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Learn more about spiritually training your children and encouraging them to develop a strong faith foundation: get Linda Weddle’s How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph on Vyrso today!

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Just Announced: 70% Off Father’s Day Bundles

Daddy DaughterThe next two weeks are all about celebrating dad. Every weekday through June 13, we’ll offer a new 24-hour ebook bundle that offers wisdom and encouragement for dads everywhere. For today’s bundle, get four fatherly resources for just $8.99 with the Wisdom, Prayer, and Laughter Bundle.

Wisdom, Prayer, and Laughter Bundle

1. 31 Days with God for Fathers: Powerful Devotions, Prayers, and Quotations Find encouragement and wisdom every day of the month with this 31-day devotional, specifically designed to energize dads with the Word. Covering guidance, contentment, discipline, and responsibility, these real-life, Bible-based meditations will help guide men to be the fathers God intended them to be.

2. Prayers and Promises for Fathers by John Hudson Tiner Get 150 Scriptures and prayers specifically written for dad. Every verse offers a compelling reminder of God’s promise to bless fathers who speak to him with humility and live faithfully. Covering compassion, protection, teaching, and more, this is a perfect way for dads to start their day and draw closer to God’s Word.

3. God’s Wisdom for Your Life: Men’s Edition by Ed Strauss What fatherly topics do you have questions about? Leadership? Success? Temptation? This easily digestible book dissects the 70 key life topics for dads and draws from Scripture to respond to each one. Each category is accompanied with practical application tips, quotations, and prayers.

4. Heavenly Humor for the Dad’s Soul: 75 Inspirational Readings from Fellow Fathers (and Those Who Love Them) With just the right blend of mirth and spiritual refreshment, these 75 lighthearted readings by fellow fathers remind you of the joys of fatherhood and the wisdom of our Father in heaven. Learn about relationships, leadership, peace, and trusting God in this inspirational book—sure to make you smile, laugh, and reflect.

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Discipleship in the Most Destitute Places: Tim Keesee on the Front Lines of Missions

Dispatches from the front

Today’s interview is with Tim Keesee, a veteran missions mobilizer and author of the new book Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places. This captivating travelogue gives incredible accounts of Christians testifying and spreading the gospel across the globe. With stories spanning from China to Pakistan to Iraq, this book highlights the bold faith and sacrificial bravery of God’s disciples. Keesee has traveled for Frontline Missions International for over 20 years: download his firsthand account of global missions today!

1. When and how did you first get involved in missions?

My first foray into missions was years ago when I worked on behalf of persecuted Christians behind the Iron Curtain by organizing letter-writing campaigns for Christian prisoners and raising funds to smuggle Bibles into the Soviet Union. After the Berlin Wall came down, I was in Eastern Europe with pastors—teaching and learning from them. It was there that I first saw the power of gospel partnerships.

2. How have these experiences of witnessing the gospel’s advance affected your view of God?

God has become so much bigger to me! My understanding and love for the gospel has grown as well. I’ve seen the transforming work of the gospel in scores of very diverse cultural contexts all over the world, and you can’t see that and not glory in the truth that the “gospel is the power of God unto salvation” and that he is bringing people to himself from “every tribe and language and people and nation.” What the apostle John saw in Revelation 5:9 is unfolding before our own eyes!

3. Are some people “called” to be missionaries? If so, what does the call look like? How can someone know if they are called?

In Matthew 16:24–25, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” That’s the first calling we have—to take up our cross and follow Christ—to fully identify with him, fully embrace him, fully “follow” him. So in “losing” our life in this way, we truly begin to find it. Unfortunately, we add so much mystery to all of this that I’m afraid many people wait for “the call” as if it’s a lightning-strike experience or a voice from heaven, when what we’re called to is radical obedience to the one who said “follow me.”

Obviously, the Lord uses our experiences, gifts, and relationships for unique kingdom impact. For some, that means taking those skills and experiences to reach people in distant cross-cultural settings. I’m grateful that more and more believers are seeing that their professional skill sets as teachers, nurses, pilots, entrepreneurs, baristas, and more are the very skills needed to gain long-term access to restricted-access countries.

4. What are the pros and cons of short-term mission trips?

Short-term mission trips can be great eye-opening and learning experiences about cross-cultural ministry, or they can be an enormous waste of energy and resources on purposeless “feel good” projects that actually do more harm than good to the ongoing work on the field. Here is my advice about how to avoid such a pitfall:

  • Before you leave: Careful screening and preparation of team members in the context of the local church is the place to start.
  • Attitude and longitude: Short-termers should go in humility as learners, and the host veterans should be committed to mentoring them and pursuing ministry goals together. This will likely mean keeping the group small.
  • Follow up: Systematic follow-up is important not just for accountability, but also to continue to disciple (How did the short-term experience stretch them? How did it grow their faith? Deepen their prayer life? How has it changed them now that they are back in their comfort zone?).

5. What are some of the differences you’ve seen between Christians in the US and those you’ve met around the world? What are some of the similarities?

Other than the obvious differences like language, dress, food, culture, and worship styles, one of the differences I have observed is that “church” is more about people than about buildings and services. I work primarily in countries of persecution or where the rapid growth of Christianity forces believers to meet in apartments or in a rented hall or under a mango tree. Therefore, “church” for them is more about the people involved than the building they meet in.

Actually, when you get past the obvious cultural differences I mentioned above, we are remarkably similar. We are all subject to sin and fear, yet we are all transformed by the power of Christ who saves sinners. Christ’s kingdom has no borders, so I don’t really think in terms of an “American Christian” or a “Chinese Christian.” We have a tendency to think of the greatest Christians as being “over there” or “over here,” but we have to lay aside those questions of greatness and guilt and focus on the grace that is available to all whom Christ has called.

6. How can someone who lives in the US help spread the gospel around the world?

First of all, be part of a vibrant, Word-centered church here. Be faithful and active in speaking the gospel to others. Get to know cross-cultural gospel workers in other countries—invest in them, pray for them, and, if the opportunity presents itself, visit them. All of these things will fuel your love for Christ and the gospel. As John Piper has famously remarked, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” Missions isn’t about passport stamps and frequent-flyer miles—it’s about Christ and gathering more and more worshipers from every nation to praise the Lamb who is worthy!

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Learn more about the powerful work God is doing all over the globe, then discover how you can join the movement: get Keesee’s new book, Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places, on Vyrso today!

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Gender Roles: Goodness and Grace in God’s Design

Recovering biblical manhood

What does it mean to be a man or a woman? Christians from all walks of life ask this pressing question every day. Recent news events regarding kidnapped girls in Nigeria and domestic violence against women have troubled me deeply. How could these things happen? What kind of man would willingly commit these awful crimes? I’m not alone. Many Christians are asking the hard questions concerning how men and women should treat one another.

There’s no doubt that at the heart of God’s plan for humanity lies the goodness of gender. God created male and female to live in right relationship with one another. However, our first parents broke covenant with God and one another by sinning—eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We now live with the fruits of that history-changing event in the midst of broken relationships.

The Bible is full of stories that capture sin’s hold on us as women and men who exploit and manipulate one another. I always shudder at the story in Judges 19 of the Levite’s concubine, who was left on his porch to be violently raped and murdered so that he could be safe inside his home. This isn’t merely a problem that happened in biblical times and doesn’t pertain to us now. Broken relationships that produce hurt and sorrow are ubiquitous. Maybe you can relate—you’ve lived, or are living, with the brokenness that can come from being female or male in this world, whether it’s in relationships that have soured or in the realization that being a man or woman is more than just having a steady income and grown-up responsibilities.

However, brokenness and confusion isn’t the end-all, be-all of living. Christ has come! Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, says:

“. . . for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:26–28).

Christ has come to redeem us from our feelings of worthlessness and confusion. He has also given us a better way to live and interact: through love and mutual submission to one another.

Understanding God’s design for the Christian man or woman is important. Even better is seeking guidance from mature Christians who have thought about these issues and want to help others grow in godly femininity and masculinity. Here are a few resources to guide you through a deeper look at gender roles:

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Souls of the Brave: The Untold Stories of Sacrifice across the Globe

Global HungerToday’s guest post is by Tim Keesee, a veteran missions mobilizer and author of the new book Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places. This captivating travelogue offers the incredible accounts of Christians testifying and spreading the gospel across the globe. With stories spanning from China to Pakistan to Iraq, this book highlights the bold faith and sacrificial bravery of God’s disciples.

In the heart of high-rise Boston is a quiet, shaded acre called the Old Granary Burying Ground, the resting place of founders, patriots, and some of the first who fell in America’s fight for freedom. As I walk through the flag-festooned cemetery, I think about what it must have seemed like in 1776 when the first battle casualties arrived here and the hopes of a new nation were vested in an army distinguished for its retreats and knack for digging graves. The years and fortunes of our nation would turn, but in 1776 it seemed very much like a lost cause. Even today, though the tombs of governors and signers and the Paul Reveres are revered, for many of the common soldiers who lie here time has effaced their headstones and no traces of their names remain. Sometimes the greatest sacrifice goes unnoticed.

The struggles and soldiering of kingdom work, too, are mostly done in obscurity. In many parts of the world, believers suffer in silence—years in prison or refugee camps pass unnoticed by the outside world. Nothing online, no biographies, no blogs, nobody. The view of most everyone around them is that they’re fools who have wasted their lives on a lost cause. This is nothing new—from the first century and the first martyrs, who were burned to ash or became the food of wild beasts, to the twenty-first century in places where Christians suffer in silence every kind of hateful act, and where missionaries often labor in loneliness and the constant grip of opposition. This seemingly uneven struggle is what some have called “the long defeat.” The lines of an old epic come to mind: “Whither depart the souls of the brave that die in the battle, die in the lost, lost fight, for the cause that perishes with them?”

The ultimate sacrifice

Once in southern Egypt, I came across an old Christian cemetery where a number of missionaries were buried long ago. The desert heat shimmered over a scattering of crumbling mud-brick markers and broken epitaphs. It was so desolate. I thought of how these men and women, when they set out for the field, must have parted from their families with kisses and tears but also with the joy that rushes the heart when Jesus is near. They crossed the Atlantic to tell people about their friend and savior. They crossed an ocean but never recrossed it. For them, missionary service was a one-way ticket. Of course, cross-bearing is a one-way ticket, too.

In fact, just days before Gethsemane and Calvary, as Jesus dined with his followers, a woman came and broke open a costly flask of fragrant spikenard and poured it without reservation upon the head of the Lord. He knew that in just a few days his head would be torn with thorns, and the hair that now glistened with fragrant oil would be matted with blood and spit. Somehow, perhaps because she had been listening, Mary knew too. To their shame, it was the disciples who shook their heads and said, “Why this waste?” Sometimes the strongest and most hurtful voices of opposition to this kind of lavish, loving, risk-taking abandonment come from other Christians. But Jesus said, “Why do you trouble the woman, for she has done a beautiful thing to me?”  Suddenly these words speak peace and purpose over that old Egyptian graveyard and over those I love, brothers and sisters who walk lonely paths in his service.

Much of the world remains unreached. If we look at statistics, listen to the voices of unbelief in our own ranks, or focus on our fears, then the cause seems lost and the effort too risky. But Christ, who is our king and has no rival, has simply told us, “Follow me.” And for those with a heart for him, he will lead them through impossibilities as he builds his kingdom in every land. Pray for such men and women to follow him there. Pray that you would follow him there, too.

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Discover the untold stories of today’s bravest disciples, and embrace your role in sharing the gospel: get Tim Keesee’s Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places on Vyrso today.

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A.W. Tozer on Why We Need Modern-Day Prophets

Voice of a Prophet

Today’s guest post is by Dr. James L. Snyder, author and curator of My Daily Pursuit—Vyrso’s best-selling book of 2013—and the new book Voice of a Prophet. Dr. Snyder is an award-winning author who has written or edited 28 books, and whose work has appeared in more than 80 periodicals. Dr. Snyder’s first book about the life of A.W. Tozer won the 1992 Reader’s Choice Award from Christianity Today. His latest book offers previously unpublished content by Tozer, in which Tozer examines the lives of prophets—like Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist—to underscore the importance of prophets’ ministry in today’s church. Get Voice of a Prophet: Who Speaks for God? today!

Throughout Voice of a Prophet, Dr. Tozer emphasizes that the modern church desperately needs a new group of prophets. In fact, just a casual look at the conditions of today’s church would bring anyone to such a conclusion.

Now, when Tozer talks about a prophet, he’s not talking about someone who foresees the future—he’s talking about someone who tells the truth from God’s perspective, regardless of how it might contradict modern thought. The prophets were in complete harmony with the entire Bible. In one chapter of Voice of a Prophet, Dr. Tozer says it takes all of the Bible to make it the Bible. The prophet’s job was to bring all of the Bible to bear upon the life of the believer.

The prophet was the man who listened to God, and therefore God would listen to him. The prophet was to speak for God and communicate what was on God’s heart. That surely was the passion of Dr. Tozer throughout his ministry, for he often prayed that God would raise up a new generation of prophets. We have, he would argue, enough theologians, enough philosophers, enough promoters, enough everything else—what we desperately need today are prophets.

Throughout this book, Dr. Tozer emphasizes the ministry of the New Testament prophet. Just as in every organization, there are gatekeepers to keep out destructive influences so the church can continue in the right direction. That was, of course, the ministry of the New Testament prophet. They were to be the gatekeepers; they were to take out the heresies from the church as well as the heretics.

However, Dr. Tozer went a step further and said that the New Testament prophet was to speak God’s truth concerning a particular situation. They were not to be ambiguous or make generalizations, but offer specific truths for specific situations. Now, Dr. Tozer muses, that will make many people uncomfortable and even angry, but the purpose of the prophet isn’t to soothe the people, but to stir them up and shake loose the dead weight of heresy and get them moving in the straight line of truth.

When we come to the New Testament prophet, we see a man not always accepted into the church, but—according to Dr. Tozer’s perception—desperately needed by the church. If the prophet is worried about his reputation, he can no longer do the work of a prophet. Today we need a fresh group of men called of God to be New Testament prophets, so his church can move in the right direction.

It is my prayer that this new Tozer book, Voice of a Prophet, will do just that.

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Learn more about the need for modern-day prophets from one of the most respected theologians of the twentieth century: get Voice of a Prophet: Who Speaks for God?, by A.W. Tozer and Dr. James L. Snyder today.

 

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Saying “Yes” to God—and Ending Up on the Other Side of the World

Love, Skip, Jump

Today’s interview is with Shelene Bryan, author of the new book, Love, Skip, Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Yes. Bryan is an energetic speaker and passionate advocate for helping needy children across the globe. After a spontaneous trip to East Africa , Bryan founded Skip1.org, a charity dedicated to providing food and clean water to children in America and around the world. Her first book, Love, Skip, Jump, tells her incredible story of abandoning her comfort zone and saying yes to the inspirational journey God planned for her. Her book will show you how to love your creator, skip comfort and safety, and jump into the grand adventure of life. Download Love, Skip, Jump today! 

1. Tell us about the inspiration behind Love, Skip, Jump.

At a party at my house one night, a woman I’d never met before pointed to my refrigerator. On the door hung pictures of the two kids we sponsor in Africa: a little Ugandan girl named Omega for our daughter, Brooke, and an adorable Ugandan boy named Alonis for our son, Blake—all to teach our kids how blessed they are living in America.

Boldly, the woman said, “You fell for that?”

“Excuse me?”

“How do you know that those kids on your refrigerator are real?” she continued. “They might be 40 years old, and they are just taking your money.”

Shocked, I said, “I don’t. I guess I’m just having faith that the money’s getting there.”

She proceeded to boast, “Yeah, well, I never fall for those things.”

That night, after all the party guests were gone, I was left with a nagging, unsettled feeling. I couldn’t get that woman’s words out of my head. What if what she said was true? What if we were being scammed?

When I got into bed, I shook my husband, Brice, awake. He groggily glared at me with a “This better be important” look. I told him about our nameless guest and her comments about 40-year-olds in Africa stealing our kids’ money and said, “So honey, I want to go to Africa and see where our 25 bucks a month is going.”

He said, “Cool. Let’s spend three thousand dollars so you can see where our 25 bucks a month is going.”

In the next few days we decided to take a trip to meet our two sponsored children, but the night before we were supposed to leave Brice got very sick. He’s rarely sick, but about 3:00 a.m., he looked at me with reddened, fever-glazed eyes and said, “Honey, I can’t go. I have no strength to get out of bed.”

“Brice, you’ve just got to suck it up. We have to make it to Heathrow.”

“Honey, there’s no way I can go.”

“It’s a sign,” I declared. “We were going to die on the plane and leave our two kids orphaned while we try and find these kids in Uganda who are probably forty.”

Brice said, “Shelene, you are so dramatic, and you’re not sick.”

“What are you saying?” I asked.

“I’m saying you’re not sick. You need to go.”

“Brice,” I whined, “you are going to send your only wife alone to the other side of the world? Who’s gonna carry my luggage?”

He got very quiet. Then he said, “Honey, you don’t like to go anywhere but the day spa. The fact you want to go to east Africa is astonishing. You need to go.”

As I sat on the edge of our bed, touching my husband’s feverish forehead repeatedly with the quickly diminishing hope that the raging fever would break, I knew I had a decision to make. What was I going to do? All my dreams and plans about this trip had always included my husband—my rock and my protector. But now it was painfully obvious he would not be going.

It was at that moment, sitting on the edge of our bed, that I (with the help of my husband’s quiet, calm confidence) said yes to God and made the decision to jump! I would get out of my comfort zone and jump.

What I found on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda changed my life.

I found my little girl, Omega, dressed in her little school uniform, in her mud hut with a sheet for a front door. I bent down and gave her a huge hug. And as I was hugging her, my eye caught the Christmas-card photo of our family embedded in her mud wall. She had been getting my mail! $25 per month was keeping her fed, in school, and providing her basic needs.

That was the inception of Love, Skip, Jump.

2. How did your organization, Skip1.org, get started?

At Skip1.org, we challenge people to give out of their own excess. We want everyone to skip one thing—a lunch, a manicure, a latte, a new outfit—and take what they would have spent on that item and donate it to care for the poor and needy. It’s really that simple: skip it for the sake of someone else.

People always ask me “Do I really have to ‘skip it’ to donate? What if I want to just donate?” My answer to that is no you don’t have to skip something, but I encourage you to try. There’s a connection in the brain when you deliberately forego something for the sake of someone who can never repay you. If you skip your dinner one night and feel a pang of hunger for a few hours, you get a tiny taste of how some kids feel every night. It might just change your perspective.

3. Why is “jumping” so important?

Some people aren’t living life to their fullest potential because they’re afraid to JUMP. The idea of jumping begins with the story of Peter and Jesus (Matthew 14:23-33). In the midst of a terrible storm, the 12 disciples were all on a small boat and saw Jesus walking on the water:

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

What I love about this passage is that Peter actually jumped out of the boat. And by jumping, he had the amazing opportunity to walk on water. Eleven didn’t jump, but Peter took that leap right out of the comfort and safety of the boat to go be with his Lord. It’s not that the other disciples weren’t followers of Jesus. Indeed, they were passionate followers, and most would soon lose their lives as a consequence of their true devotion to Peter. But Peter was willing to do something that no one else was—jump.

For those of us who’ve lived our lives way too long in a self-centered “me world,” this passage is very instructive. Just like the 11 disciples who did not jump, we each have our own personal “boats” of comfort and safety that keep us from jumping into the exciting waters God has prepared for us. The question is, what’s holding you back from being like Peter and making the jump?

4. You refer to “wannabe jumpers” as “sideline sitters, constant consumers, and casual clappers”—what do you mean by this?

If you look at your life and can’t identify how you’re helping others, you should ask yourself if you need to make changes.

A sideline-sitter is someone who’s willing to watch but not get involved. A constant consumer is someone who goes to church and sucks up all kinds of great information but never does anything. A casual clapper is someone who’s willing to cheerlead but refuses to get involved.

My question to those who are on the fence is: what’s holding you back from really jumping in with your creator? Your job?, A relationship? An addiction? Laziness? Comfort?

For me it was success in business and the admiration from others that came with it. I craved the accolades that accompanied being a successful businesswoman. For many years, I fought God on the direction he wanted to take my life because I liked the praise that tickled my ears, and I loved the comfort of luxury.

5. What are the biggest challenges facing Skip1?

When we started Skip1, I made a commitment to use 100 percent of our public donations for food, clean water, and the building of our projects. It’s important to people to have a trust like that. It was important to me. I also made a commitment to never ask anyone for a donation. We leave it to God to put it on people’s hearts to give.

Due to these commitments, sometimes I wonder if our hard costs, like office supplies and website costs, are going to be covered. These expenses have to be covered by people who make special private donations specifically for those expenses. Sometimes I wonder where these funds will come from, but God has always come through, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

6. What are some ways people can tangibly help people abroad?

Skip it. By skipping something and donating that money you can make a real difference. If you want to go deeper, take a trip. It doesn’t even need to be to another country. Go bring some socks, a lunch, some water or chapstick to a homeless person on a street corner. Engage somebody and say “I see you and I care.”

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Discover how saying “yes” to God will transform your life: download Love, Skip, Jump today!

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