Friday, September 28, 2007

Parenting Toddlers

The other day on my lunch break, I was eating by myself in a restaurant when I noticed a young mother who brought her two children with her, alone, to the restaurant. The little girl looked like she was about four years old. The little boy was about two or three. It was a pizza buffet and the mother had already managed to get her children their food. However, in the process of putting down her purse and picking up the two year old to put him in his chair, the four year started running around the restaurant. She had a big grin on her face as her mother began to chase her. Situating herself with several tables between her and her mother, she was amused while her mother obviously was not. In frustration the mother ignored her and walked back to her son, who was gleefully taking all this in. After losing her mother’s attention, the little girl began to sheepishly make her way back toward the table. The mother noticed her daughter approaching the table and went to her to have a few “words.” Meanwhile, the little boy saw his chance for escape. With a big smile, he bolted up on the platform where I was sitting. The mother ran after her two year old. Fortunately, he wasn’t as fast as his big sister, so he was arrested and brought back to his seat. As I left the restaurant, the mother, exasperated, was standing guard over her two little darlings, still with no pizza on her own plate.

I don’t write this to pass judgment on the mother. Indeed, I don’t even know who she was. I also can’t say that my children have always been on their best behavior at all times. What I do know, though, is that I could take all six of my children to a restaurant, without my wife, and they would stay in their chairs if I tell them to. The 1 year old is the only one who would need to be physically restrained to make this happen…and we’re working on her. :-) Now, my children are 14, 11, 10, 5, 3, 1, with #7 due in November. My older children are a very big help with the younger children. So, maybe it would be a better point made if I stated that I could take my three youngest children out for a meal and not have them running all over the restaurant.

In any case, there are a few fundamentals that we ingrain in the heads of our toddlers.

- Obedience is mandatory.
- Reply with “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” when given a command.
- Hold my finger as we are walking.

Children are to obey their parents at all times. A parent should always have the best interest of their child in mind when exercising this authority. In any case, if they are abusing this responsibility, they will answer to God for it. If I tell my child to stay put, or to “come,” it very well could be for his own safety. I refuse to put my children on one of those “kid leashes” that you see sometimes in the mall or at the zoo. It is not funny for children to disobey. In the case of the above mentioned mother, somehow her children had gotten the idea that it was funny to run away from mom. If I were this mom, I’d make this “not funny” quicker than my children could get out the first laugh.

Our children aren’t always consistent in the use of “Yes sir” and “Yes ma’am.” But when they are not, we simply repeat the question or command. I’ve actually found that the 3 and 5 year old are much more consistent than our older children. I truly believe that it is because we have always expected it of the younger ones, but the older ones lived on this Earth for several years before this became a “rule.” Habits formed early last a lifetime. Habits formed later are a little bit harder to cement. The use of “Yes sir” and “Yes ma’am” provide a constant reminder to the child that the parent is their authority. It teaches them a regard for other authority as well, especially when they observe their parent speaking in the same respectful way to an adult who is older than the parent or to an authority figure, such as a police officer.

Lastly, there’s nothing as frustrating to me as trying to hold a toddler’s hand while he squirms and tries to pull away from me. So, I have decided that I rarely hold a child’s hand. Unless there is imminent danger, like we are crossing a busy street or something, I have the child hold my finger. In this way, we return to the first point of unquestioned obedience. When my son, Paton, who is three, holds my finger, I know that he is doing it of his own will after being instructed to by me. Secondly, I think it’s easier for his little hand to grasp my finger than to fit around my bigger hand. This also shows a submission to my authority and is an acknowledgement that he needs his daddy to protect him.

By setting a few expectations and enforcing the rules, we can ensure a safe and pleasant environment for our children whether we are in public or in the privacy of our own homes.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interesting Links

I’ve run across a few interesting web links this week that I’d like to share with you.

I’m a book lover. I’ve gotten some emails concerning this site from a yahoo group of which I’m a member. If you like old documents that unashamedly proclaim truths and convictions that were held by many of our founding fathers, check out: I may not agree with all the works you will find here, and the host’s “kum by ya” type of “tolerance” attitude leaves a bit to be desired for those with the backbone to proclaim that Jesus is the “Way the Truth and the Life and no man comes unto the Father but by [Him].” John 14:6 In spite of their notice reading,
“We make such non commercial speech and electronic communication available in our private efforts to exchange and advance understanding and promote well being, good, peace and harmony for all that includes but is not limited to spiritual principals, human liberties, learning, religious, economic, scientific and social ideas.”
I think it’s a great resource, with many/most of the works declaring the exclusiveness of Christianity as the only true faith, though the folks at Dayspring Gatherings may want to think otherwise.

I’m sure you’ve most likely heard me lament the fact that I have ever so much more reading material than I can probably get through, even in my lifetime, and I keep collecting more all the time. I found a great place to index my library. It’s called Once you start entering books that you own, they make recommendations for...of course…more books that you may be interested in. You can reference this site from your blackberry…so you can avoid impulse purchases of books that you already own…but have forgotten about. :-)

Finally, because I have so little time to read, but such a desire to, the site provides free downloadable MP3s of public domain books. They are read by “real humans!” (I made this comment because I recently listed to all 13 books of Augustine’s Confessions read by…a computer!)


Thursday, September 20, 2007

GOSPEL SONNETS - Chapter 1 - Section 5

By Ralph Erskine
Chapter 1

SECTION V. – Men’s vain attempt to seek LIFE by CHRIST’S righteousness joined with their own; and legal hopes natural to all.

BUT still the bride reluctant disallows
The junior suit, and hugs the senior spouse:
Such the old selfish folly of her mind;
So bent to lick the dust, and grasp the wind.
Alledging works and duties of her own
May for her criminal offense atone;
She will her antic dirty robe provide,
Which vain she hopes will all pollutions hide.
The filthy rags that saints away have flung,
She, holding, wraps, and rolls herself in dung;
Thus maugre all the light the gospel gives,
Unto her natural consort fondly cleaves.
Though mercy set the royal match in view,
She’s loath to bid her ancient mate adieu,
When light of scripture, reason, common sense,
Can hardly mortify her vain pretence
To legal righteousness. Yet if at last
Her conscience roused begins to stand aghast;
Pressed with the dread of hell, she’ll rashly patch,
And halve a bargain with the proffered match;
In hopes his help, together with her own,
Will turn to peaceful smiles the wrathful frown.
Through grace the rising Sun delightful sings,
With full salvation in his golden wings,
And righteousness complete; the faithless soul,
Receiving half the light, rejects the whole;
Revolves the sacred page, but reads purblind
The gospel-message with the legal mind.
Men dream their state, ah! too, too slightly viewed,
Needs only be amended, not renewed;
Scorn to be wholly debtors unto grace,
Hopeful their works may meliorate their case.
They fancy present prayers, and future pains
Will for their former failings make amends:
To legal yokes they bow their servile necks
And, lest soul’s slips their false repose perplex,
Think Jesus’ merits make up all defects.
They patch his glorious robe with filthy rags,
And burn but incense to their proper drags,(1)
Disdain to use his righteousness alone,
But as an aiding stirrup to mount their own;
Thus in Christ’s room his rival self enthrone;
And vainly would, dressed up in legal trim,
Divine salvation ‘tween themselves and him.
But know, vain man, that to his share must fall
The glory of the whole, or none at all.
In him all wisdom’s hidden treasures lie,(2)
And all the fulness of the Deity.(3)
This store alone, immense and never spent,
Might poor insolvent debtors well content;
But to hell prison justly Heaven will doom
Proud fools that on their petty stock presume.
The softest couch that gilded nature knows,
an give the wakened conscience no repose.
When God arraigns, what mortal power can stand
Beneath the terror of his lifted hand!
Our safety lies beyond the nat’ral line,
Beneath a purple covert all divine.
Yet how is precious Christ, the way, despised,
And high the way of life by doing prized!
But can its voteries all its levy show?
They prize it most who least its burden know:
Who by the law in part would save his soul,
Becomes a debtor to fulfil the whole.(4)
Its prisoner he remains, and without bail,
‘Till every mite be paid; and if he fail,
(As sure he must, since, by our sinful breach,
Perfection far surmounts all mortal reach,)
Then cursed for ever must his soul remain:
And all the folk of God must say, AMEN.(5)
Why, seeking that the law should help afford,
In honoring the law, he slights its Lord;
Who gave his law-fulfilling righteousness
To be the naked sinner’s perfect dress,
In which he might with spotless beauty shine
Before the face of majesty divine:
Yet, lo! the sinner works with mighty pains
A garment of his own to hide his stains;
Ungrateful, overlooks the gift of God,
The robe wrought by his hand, dy’d in his blood.
In vain the Son of God this web did weave,
Could our vile rags sufficient shelter give.
In vain he every thread of it did draw,
Could sinners be o’ermantled by the law.
Can men’s salvation on their works be built,
Whose fairest actions nothing are but guilt?
Or can the law suppress th’ avenging flame,
When now its only office is to damn!
Did life come by the law in part or whole,
Bless’d Jesus died in vain to save a soul.
Those then who life by legal means expect,
To them is Christ become of no effect;(6)
Because their legal mixtures do in fact
Wisdom’s grand project plainly counteract.
How close proud carnal reasonings combine,
To frustrate sovereign grace’s great design!
Man’s heart by nature weds the law alone,
Nor will another paramour enthrone.
True, many seem, by course of life profane,
No favour for the law to entertain;
But break the bands, and cast the cords away,
That would their raging lusts and passions stay.
Yet even this reigning madness may declare
How strictly wedded to the law they are;
For now (however rich they seemed before)
Hopeless to pay law-debt they give it o’er,
Like desp’rate debtors mad, still run themselves in more.
Despair of success shews their strong desires,
Till legal hopes are parched with lustful fires.
“Let’s give,” say they, “our lawless will free scope,
And live at random, for there is no hope.”(7)
The law, that can’t them help, they stab with hate,
Yet scorn to beg, or court another mate.
Here lusts most opposite their hearts divide,
Their beastly passion and their bankrupt pride.
In passion they their native mate deface,
In pride disdain to be obliged to grace.
Hence plainly as a rule ‘gainst law they live,
Yet closely to it as a cov’nant cleave.
Thus legal pride lies hid beneath the patch,
And strong aversion to the gospel-match.

(1) Hab. 1:16
(2) Col. 2:3
(3) Col. 2:9
(4) Gal. 5:3
(5) Deut. 27:26
(6) Gal. 2:21; v. 2, 4
(7) Jer. 18:12

Friday, September 14, 2007

Achieve Outstanding Results - With Passion!

Do you have a product or service to sell? Is there a ministry or non-profit organization that you support? You are excellent in what you do, but your challenge is in letting others know about it? I may be able to supply just the boost you need!

If you’re like me, you are a Christian father who has a longing to work for himself. Or maybe you are a Christian lady who supports her family's vision by running a business out of your home. Perhaps, you are a Christian leader or minister who is working to make a difference in the physical and spiritual lives of people everyday. Whether you produce a product, or you simply have good information to share, people can’t support your efforts if they don’t know you exist.

Direct mail advertising is one of the most effective means of reaching your target audience. Using direct mail, you can benefit families by making them aware of excellent materials that they can use to educate their children, spread the Gospel, or make a positive difference in their communities.

As part of my plan to secure self employment, I have invested in a course on writing direct mail. So far, I’m loving it! I can now channel my passion for causes and products I believe in to a means of supporting my family. I see this as a win-win situation all around. You benefit by gaining customers or donors. The customers and/or donors benefit by receiving your excellent product or the blessing of helping ministries in need. I benefit by doing something that I love (writing), and using it to directly support my family.

I already have a sample piece I can share with you that I wrote for my favorite restaurant.

Drop me an email today at to discuss how I can help you bring in the response you need for your business or ministry.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

GOSPEL SONNETS - Chapter 1 - Section 4

By Ralph Erskine
Chapter 1

SECTION IV. – Man’s strict attachment to legal TERMS, or to the law as a condition of life.

SAY, on what terms then Heaven appeased will be?
Why, sure perfection is the least degree.
Yea, more, full satisfaction must be given
For trespass done against the laws of Heaven.
These are the terms: what mortal back so broad,
But must for ever sink beneath the load?
A ransom must be found, or die they must,
Sure even as justice infinite is just.
But, says the legal, proud, self-righteous heart,
Which cannot with her ancient consort part,
“What! won’t the goodness of the God of heaven,
Admit of smalls, when greater can’t be given?
He knows our fall diminished all our funds,
Won’t he accept of pennies now for pounds?
Sincere endeavours for perfection take,
Or terms more possible for mankind make?”
Ah! poor divinity, and jargon loose;
Such hay and straw will never build a house.
Mistake not here, proud mortal, don’t mistake;
God changes not, nor other terms will make.
Will divine faithfulness itself deny,
Which swore solemnly, Man shall do, or die?
Will God most true extend to us, forsooth,
His goodness, to the damage of his truth?
Will spotless holiness be baffled thus?
Or awful justice be unjust for us?
Shall faithfulness be faithless for our sake,
And he his threats, as we his precepts break?
Will our great Creator deny himself,
And for full payment take our filthy pelf?
Dispense with justice, to let mercy vent,
And stain his royal crown with ‘minished rent?
Unworthy thought! O let no mortal clod
Hold such base notions of a glorious God.
Heaven’s holy covenant, made for human race,
Consists, or whole of works or whole of grace.
If works will take the field, then works must be
For ever perfect to the last degree:
Will God dispense with less? Nay sure he won’t
With ragged toll his royal law affront.
Can rags, that Sinai flames will soon despatch,
E’er prove the fiery law’s adequate match?
Vain man must be divorced, and choose to take
Another husband, or a burning lake.
We find the divine volume no where teach
New legal terms within our mortal reach.
Some make, though in the sacred page unknown,
Sincerity assume perfection’s throne;
But who will boast this base usurper’s sway,
Save ministers of darkness, that display
Invented night, to stifle scripture day?
The nat’ralist’s sincerity is naught,
That of the gracious is divinely taught;
Which teaching keeps their graces, if sincere,
Within the limits of the gospel sphere,
Where, vaunting, none created graces sing,
Nor boast of streams, but of the Lord the spring.
Sincerity’s the soul of every grace,
The quality of all the ransomed race,
Of promised favour ‘tis a fruit, a clause;
But no procuring term, no moving cause.
How unadvised the legal mind confounds
The marks of divine favour with the grounds,
And qualities of covenanted friends
With the condition of the covenant blends?
Thus holding gospel truths with legal arms,
Mistakes new-covenant fruits for federal terms:
The joyful sound no change of terms allows,
But change of persons, or another spouse.
The nature same that sinned must do or die,
No milder terms in gospel-offers lie.
For grace no other law abatement shews,
But now law-debtors may restore its dues;
Restore, yea, through a Surety in their place,
With double interest, and a better grace.
Here we of no new terms of life are told,
But of a husband to fulfil the old;
With him alone by faith we’re called to wed,
And let no rival *bruik the marriage bed.


Friday, September 07, 2007

Slavery. A Reason for War?

"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."

Who do you suppose made that quote? It sounds to me like something straight out of Hitler’s Third Reich. Or maybe it is a quote from the Grand Dragon of the KKK? I know what you must be thinking. Surely this quote is from one of the leaders of the Southern Confederacy. Maybe Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson?

No, No, No, and No. I’m sure the answer will shock you, for this quote was made by none other than the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln! Lincoln, you ask? The savior of the black race? Who would have thought it? The truth is that he made this statement in 1858 in his debate with Stephen Douglas, three years before the outbreak of the War for Southern Independence.

It is said that history is written by the victors. So it is that all your life you’ve been taught that the War between the States was fought in order to free blacks from the grip of cruel Southern slaveholders. While this is certainly the more “politically correct” reason for the War Between the States, it, unfortunately, is not consistent with the historical record.

The historical record shows a much different reason…
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

True it was that slavery was a problem in the United States. In fact, slavery existed in the North and the South before the war. Truly, it was Northern slave ships that brought African slaves to the shores of Dixie. The reason that slavery was more common in the South had nothing to do with moral superiority in the North. It was strictly a pragmatic arrangement. The South, being a largely agricultural environment, with it’s wide open land and vast space easily accommodated slave dwellings. Many slaves were actually content to live on their master’s property and to serve them in exchange for the food, clothing, and shelter they received. This fact is shown by the many slaves who defended their plantations and protected the women and children from yankee invaders after the Southern boys had gone off to war. Conversely, in the North, industrialism had overrun the small amount of land in New England. Slavery didn’t work very well there because there was no extra space to keep other families on their small properties. It was much easier to get cheap labor by employing immigrant workers at pittance wages to crank out widgets in their factories. Add to this, the fact that Northerners were generally racists and did not want blacks living close to them. As an example of this hypocrisy, I remember when I was in college my history professor reading a newpaper headline declaring “Yonkers, New York decides to try racial integration.” That was 1988!

In spite of the greater slave population in the South, the real reasons for secession have nothing to do with slavery. It was, rather, an economical issue. The North bought its raw materials from the South. They would produce goods, then sell it back to the South with a large profit attached. When the South resorted to buying its goods from Europe, Northern congressmen rallied together to impose tariffs on imported goods, forcing the Southerners to buy from yankee imperialists rather than pay the high taxes on the goods from overseas. Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, goes into great detail on this situation in his 2 volume work entitled, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.

In light of this economic warfare the North was waging on the South, the South decided to legally and peacefully secede from this voluntary union they had entered a short 80 years earlier. Remember what I read earlier? The Declaration of Independence states,
That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.

With the election of Lincoln (getting only 40 percent of the popular vote), the South was now being governed without the consent of the governed. Therefore, they claimed the right guaranteed to them by the very document our founding fathers penned, the right to alter or abolish these political ties and to institute new government.

So, what did the war have to do with slavery? Initially, not a thing. The Confederate Constitution explicitly forbad the importation of new slaves into the country. It was a well accepted fact that slavery was a dying institution, and would soon fade into the shadows of history as industrialism began to creep its way down South. Only 1 out of every 16 Southerners owned slaves. Of those that did own them, only a tiny fraction of them owned more than 1 or 2. So, it is quite ridiculous to claim that men would risk their lives to preserve the institution of slavery when 98% of them never benefited from it. They were clearly fighting for their independence, against a strong federal government not too different than the tyrannical English monarchy they had fought in the previous century. What’s more, England, under the leadership of William Wilberforce had banned slavery there in the 1820s. Why then would they support the independence of a slaveholding Confederacy unless the South’s reasons for independence had nothing to do with slavery at all?

Why is it then that you always hear of the North as the liberator of the slaves? Lincoln’s Gettysburg address expressly delineates slavery as the primary cause of Northern aggression against the South. The answer is simply this. Early on in the war, freedom fighters from the South were winning victory after victory against Lincoln’s invading armies. Apparently, “preserving the union” wasn’t a strong enough reason for these yankee armies to continue their attacks against their brothers across the Mason Dixon line. Morale was dropping quickly. They needed a cause. And a cause was found. The radical abolitionists had had a presence in the Northern states for quite some time, even before the war. Previously most “civilized” gentlemen distanced themselves from these terrorist groups made popular through the “al-queda” like actions of a man named John Brown. Yet, when a cause was needed, the abolitionists were happy to supply it. Harriett Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin spread propaganda all across the North providing just enough reason for yankee soldiers to justify in their minds piercing their brothers in gray through with a bayonet and raping their surviving women and children. Julia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic transformed simple imperial domination into a “righteous cause” against an evil, rebellious south land.

So, the next time you hear some yankee indoctrinated student spouting off the supposed reasons for the “Civil War” remind him of the true reasons, and let him know that although you may stifle independence for a season, you can’t defeat a true patriot indefinitely before he rises to claim his God given liberty.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Anonymous Comments

Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
(Job 38:3)

When I set up my blog I decided to allow comments. I chose, however, to require my approval on all comments. Generally, I will allow negative and positive comments on my articles. I do ask that negative comments be free of profanity. Here’s another tip for you. If you leave a negative comment and wish to remain anonymous, I very well may not approve it. Why is it in this day and age that people are so cowardly that they will spout off derogatory comments, but yet they don’t want to stand behind their words?

I have offered negative comments at other people’s blogs before. Yet in every case, I leave my name, and often my email address. You may disagree with what I write. You may want to tell the world of your disagreement. But if you don’t have the fortitude to sign your own name to your comments, why don’t you just keep them to yourself?

My personal theory on why people do this is that they have their own blogs full of ridiculous assertions that can be easily shown to be in error. If they were to venture out and start signing their comments on others’ blogs, those authors may actually visit their blog and shoot gaping holes in all their articles. So, they hide behind an “anonymous” label and take pop shots at leaders who are bold enough to challenge the status quo.