Raising Arrows

Arrows come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They can be different, look different, have various purposes. They can have plastic vanes, actual feathers. They can have an arrow head made of stone, metal. Arrows can vary in length. They can even have completely different designs specific for target shooting, competitions, or hunting…. And even then more specific to WHAT kind of hunting. Fish aren’t going to need the same arrow makeup of that arrow used to hunt say a bear.

However, they are all alike in their basic design. Each one has been crafted and carefully fashioned, molded and balanced. They ALL are intended for flight, that ALL are created to hit a target and they ALL are intended for maximum impact on that target.

This Father’s Day I want to talk to you about arrows every dad has in his life.

The Bible says, 

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children on one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them,” Psalm 127:3-5

 

Each and every father, and each mother pulling double duty in dad’s place has an arrow or two (or 3, or 4, or 5…) they are all different from one another. They all have different looks, different personalities, but they are also very similar in the way that each of them were fashioned and crafted by God and each of them should be molded and balanced and readied for flight from our home.

Children, like arrows, are meant to be handcrafted and eventually released. If they aren’t’ crafted well, they won’t shoot straight. And if they aren’t released they’ll never hit their target. Dads with kids at home, it’s reality– one day these kids of yours will be aimed and released out into the world. I spoke to a friend about this earlier last week and she told me she wasn’t coming to hear my message when I preached this to our church if I was going to insist on reminding her that her little girl would one day leave the house and move on… Well, I searched for the right words to soften the blow.. But when it comes down to it, we just can’t stop the inevitable, so in the meantime, we need to equip them for that moment they head out to find their target! We have to choose now to be intentional in order to equip them for that journey.

There’s a broad spectrum here. You have some parents who lack intention. They have a full quiver but the arrows are just a bunch of sticks. They are un-carved arrows with knots of bad habits, and rough attitudes. They are crooked and unpolished. So when they are shot out, they waver and falter and fall short of their intended target.

Then you have some parents who are so intentional. They correct grammar and politeness, and posture, and habits and attitudes. They have such sharp pointy straight and smooth arrows. Oh, they have it all together… perfect little mommies and daddies!!! But they have no intention of shooting them out of the quiver. 30 year old Bobby still gets all his meals home-cooked from mommy. Sally dear is still grabbing her allowance from daddy as she goes shopping with her 28 year old friends… This just doesn’t work.  These arrows, like children, need to be shot out into society as sharpened arrows, ready to take on the world and hit the mark…
But who am I kidding, this is a FATHER’S DAY message… Father’s ALWAYS want to shoot the kids out! I have to remind my husband that our son isn’t quite ready at 12 years old!

But in all seriousness if your kids are still at home. The day is coming and we must get them ready. But, don’t fret, if you’ve already shot your kids out of the quiver, praise God you get to sit back and watch them hit their target… but don’t tune me out just yet. You still have a job to do… and we’ll get to that.

When this verse that I read to you earlier was written, men didn’t go to the ammo store and purchase their bullets they were going to use for protection or war or hunting, no they had to fashion their bow and arrows themselves. They had to select a good branch, sand it down until the stick was straight and smooth. Then they found rocks to sharpen to fashion the arrow head. There were no shortcuts. If they wanted to hit the target, they HAD to spend the time to fashion the equipment. These arrows were important, they HAD to be straight, they HAD to be smooth, and they HAD to fly the distance. In the same way that archers fashioned their arrows, parents must equip their children with the skills and disciplines to be effective in life.

Looking at an arrow, you have 4 major parts.

 The Shaft, the Fletching, the Arrow Head, and the Nock. Looking at your child, there are 4 major things it needs to make it into this world and to hit it’s mark. Discipline, Encouragement, God’s Word, and YOU! 

Let’s explore further…

The shaft of an arrow is the long part of the arrow. Every arrow shaft has a degree of stiffness and resistance. So you have to craft it in such a way that will allow it to bend when it needs to bend (as it thrusts out of the bow) and when to bear it’s weight (when it hits it’s target). If they arrow shaft is too thin or too light weight, they can bend in an extreme way resulting in missing the mark.

 Your child needs discipline. Time and time again in the Bible, God speaks through the writers to extend the message to us that we MUST discipline our children. Here’s just a few..

Proverbs 29:15- The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Proverbs 29:17-Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.-
Disciplining is just as much for you as it is for them… a disciplined child is a peaceful child… come on. We’ve all seen undisciplined children… they’ll have you reaching for the excedrin immediately!

Proverbs 23:13,-Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. **See, it’s right there in the Bible… spanking your kids won’t kill them! HA!

Proverbs 13:24-Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

Do you love your kids? Then you need to discipline them… look at this last one

Proverbs 19:18- Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.

I keep saying that you’ll shoot your kids out to hit the mark. What is that mark? Eternal life. That mark is a life with Jesus! Discipline is the first step to getting there. Discipline your children for it’s the way to show them salvation, and eternal life.

We often tell our children that they need to be obedient to Pastor and me, that being under our roof, and learning to listen and obey is their practice for listening and obeying God. Parents, that means there’s a big job for us! We’re teaching them a skill that will bring ETERNAL LIFE! We must discipline our children.

If the shaft is too weak and too light, it won’t fly straight. Our discipline towards our children need not be too light. Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience. It does NOT mean ignoring bad behavior… it means CORRECTING IT! It does NOT mean doling out punishments every single time you’re annoyed… it means TRAINING! It’s no easy task, but it’s the one God gave us as parents, and even more specifically gave to fathers.

The fletching on an arrow is the feathers or vanes. This part  creates drag and can help the arrow spin as it soars through the air. It provides the arrow with stability and accuracy in flight. This little part of the arrow can give it a little extra jump out of the bow.

When we discipline our kids we have to do it without provoking them. Ephesians 6:4 says  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 says Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

To exasperate means to irritate, to provoke, to pick pick pick pick pick pick. Guys… I love my kids… I love your kids… but man oh man, kids can be SO annoying sometimes! But, that’s in the DNA makeup of kids. Kids will be Kids. yes, we have to discipline, but we must not provoke them in the process. We need to encourage them in the way to go. Tell them you love them, tell them you think they are amazing! Did you notice that both of these verses are to Fathers. Most mothers tend to coddle, to protect their kids feelings. They are more likely to think every little thing is just so cute… Dads… not so much! They have a bigger tendency to be short, and harsh, and say things like, “Suck it up, rub some dirt on it, quit cher belly achin!”
Daddies, your words of encouragement provide stability and accuracy, giving kids a head start as they jump from the “bow” of life. Fathers need to encourage, and not provoke. They need to be loving and involved. Do not embitter your children. Do not push them out with a long list of things to be bitter about.

James Dobson says that Dads are the ones that encourage their kids to try that high dive at the pool. They are the ones that instill in their kids the courage that it takes to venture out and try new things. They are the ones that increase the arrows longevity and help it to go further, The more encouragement they can get, the more umph they receive leaving the bow, just like those feathers… Fathers, encourage your children.

Okay, so what if your husband isn’t reading this, and won’t. What if they don’t do these things? What if they are short and harsh, and abrupt more than they are encouraging? I’ll get into that a bit more in a minute, but let me encourage you now… pray! Pray for your husband to start doing this, and in the meantime, model this behavior for him. Moms can provoke their children, too… Unfortunately I know this first hand!

Next the arrow has an arrow head. Whether it be a craftsman’s arrow head, or a rock carved to a point, these are placed at the end of an arrow shaft and secured in place to penetrate its target. Without this, the arrow may shoot far, it may spin and soar beautifully, but once it gets to the target, it will bounce right off and fall dead to the ground.

You can raise your children to climb the professional ladder, to obtain the highest education with the top of their class. You can raise them to be caring and charitable helping every person they come in contact with…  but if they are not taught the ways of God, His salvation, His word, they will miss the mark.

Speaking about God’s word, Deut 6:7 says,  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Isaiah 54:13 All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.

Psalm 78:5-7 talks about God telling Jacob to teach his children the word so that the next generation would know it, and then the next. It even talks about reading it to the unborn child! By doing this, the children would put their trust in God and would not forget His ways but would follow the Word.

We must be teaching our children God’s word. We began reading to our kids at a very young age. They’d play on the floor with cars, or dolls. All we asked was that they stay quiet so they could hear the Bible. They may not understand it all the first time, but keep reading and start over when your done and you’ll get through it multiple times as it settles into their hearts. Pause within the reading to explain, ask questions, answer and dig deeper if they want. And remember… ALL scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16). So as you discipline… use the Word of God. As you encourage… use the Word of God, and as you teach God’s way… use the Word of God, it’s all in here!

Lastly, there is a tiny little spot on the back end of the arrow called the nock. It goes unnoticed many times, but it’s a plastic tip on the rear that holds the arrow in position. It’s the part that allows the bow string to rest inside steadying the arrow just before it launches. All the pent-up power in a bow is of no value if it can not be effectively transferred. That’s why every arrow has this small little groove. (Slide 7: Dads, Our kids need YOU) Dads, our kids need the strength, comfort, encouragement, discipline that only a daddy can give. Many moms are forced into that role but in reality, backed by study after study after study they need that anchoring point from their fathers. A review of studies by the Father Involvement Research Alliance shows that babies with more involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident in new situations, and eager to explore their surroundings. As they grow, they are more sociable. Toddlers with involved fathers are better problem-solvers and have higher IQs by age 3. They are more ready to start school and can deal with the stress of being away from home all day better than children with less involved fathers . Moms who are doing it for dad, good job! But every chance you get to encourage Dad to step up, do it. And every time Dad does step up… back off. Let him set the rules and enforce the rules. Ask his input, involve him as much and as often as you can. And Dads who have been there, help those still at target practice. Titus 2 speaks of older men teaching the younger men. Share your experiences, check up on dads in the trenches and encourage them to do these things for their kids. And yes, Titus 2 also speaks to young men and tells them to listen to those who have gone before! Pastor Dave is an amazing Guy… but even he will admit that he’s not perfect, he is still learning, and would gladly take advice from a dad who has done this before. I do not preach this message because I’ve perfected all things parenting! I have great kids, but their parents fail A LOT!!! We are all still pushing through trying to do the best we can.

But the point of my message today, the reason we have these arrows, why we discipline, why we encourage, why we teach them God’s ways can be perfectly summed up in the Message’s version of Proverbs 22:6

Point your kids in the right direction– when they’re old they won’t be lost.

Letting your kids go can be scary, not just for us, but for them. But if you can equip them, train them, and release them to hit the mark, when they are out on their own they won’t be lost. They’ll know whose they are. They belong to the Lord and will continue following Him.

This verse ends speaking of these children being a man’s protection. Imagine walking this life with all your arrows equipped with the armor of God around you. When you are in trouble, they will be your protection. They’ll cover you in prayer, they’ll bombard heaven on your behalf… the more you send out, the better the prayer protection.

I’m praying for you, Dads! I pray you step up to the plate and prepare your arrows. I pray you steady them, aim them, and shoot them out with eternal life in their path.

Happy Father’s Day!

Plug In: Lesson 5 of 5

Wrapping up the 5 lessons I’ve learned in the past 5 years as Pastor’s wife, I’ve saved the best, the most important, for last. In a society where every other article is asking you to unplug, to interact with one another, to build relationships, I want to suggest you draw away and plug in. Not to contradict the sentiments of unplugging, but if we don’t plug in, nothing else will matter.

You see without plugging in, you will never be able to make the changes in your life that God wants you to make (Read more on lesson 1 here).

Without plugging in you will have a much harder time helping the church grow. (See lesson 2 here).

Without withdrawing and plugging in, you may struggle as you face conflict in your relationships. (See lesson 3 here)

And without seeking time to plug in, you may miss your opportunities to point others to Jesus. (See lesson 4 here).

I’m not talking about taking your issues to Facebook, Twitter, or any other form of social media. I’m not advocating calling your best friend for a gab fest (although those can be helpful). I’m talking about prayer. (I’d imagine you already knew that… but play along, will ya?)

Lesson 5: Plug in to God

This is a lesson I’m still learning. I’ve been studying and tweaking my prayer times and the way I pray and I still don’t think I have it down right. Life can get very busy. But, we have to remember that all of us are too busy NOT to pray.

David Jeremiah did a study on the Lord’s Prayer all through the month of May. I highly suggest you go listen. Click the link http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/turning-point/ and search under the archives in the month of May 2017. In this series he tells of a drama his church did to drive the point of prayer home. The drama team had set up a scene of heaven. When a man arrived he saw God standing in a room with a huge filing cabinet with many many  drawers. The man asks God what it is. God replies that each person has a drawer then points out the man’s drawer. It opens, extending very far into the room. The man leans forward in extreme curiosity and asks, “What is all of that!?”

God replies, “Everything I wanted to give you but you never asked to receive”. What a horrible idea to get to heaven and realize all the things that could have been yours had you only sought after the only one that could give.

Prayer is such a powerful thing. It can change us from the inside out, it can turn circumstances that we didn’t think would ever turn around. And it can draw us closer to God in such a powerful way.

If prayer is such an important aspect of life, why is it so hard to make it a daily habit? 

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been in church ministry for 20 years. When I was single I did the church’s kids ministry. Once I was married, I helped Pastor in youth ministry. Then we took an associate’s position where we did youth and children’s… but becoming a lead pastor of a small rural church has required us to be children’s, youth, and lead… and it’s SO MUCH MORE than what we’ve ever done before. To be effective, we have to be plugged in to God. We have to withdraw, away from everyone else and spend time in prayer.

As a homeschooling mom of 4 children and a wife of a pastor, some days start and end busy. If I wrote it all down in hourly timeslots, there would be very little time for prayer. However, those days where I fail to make room… those are the days our school days did not go well. Those were the days I snapped at my husband for small infractions. Those are the days that ministry wears me out more than normal. Prayer was needed. Prayer is the fuel that drives everything else we do in life. Without it, we are only operating on a small portion of our potential.

1) Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.
2) Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.
3) Give us this day our daily bread.
4) Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.
5) Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
6) For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever AMEN

This prayer lays out all we need in order to get through our day in prayer. When Jesus gave it to us as an example, He did not desire for us to memorize it and recite it… 1 min prayer then be done. Instead he modeled for us the parts of prayer that are important to Him.

The actual amount of time in prayer is between you and God. A mother with a newborn will not have hours of uninterrupted time to devote to prayer, and God understands that. We all have our own unique schedules, personalities, and ways of entering in. But WHAT we pray and HOW we pray is important.

  1. We give honor. We must take time out each day and bring God honor. Our days will lack a closeness to God if we are unwilling to take the time to give honor and glory to one who made the day possible. Putting God in His rightful place reminds us who we live for each day.
  2. We seek His will daily. Ministry is hard. And success is not measured in normal man-made ways. But understanding that God’s will for us and for Crossroads church may not be the same will as the inner-city multi-compass church is golden. You don’t need to worry so much about what God has for someone else, you only need to seek His will for you, here on Earth, as it is in heaven. Heaven is perfect, and so is God’s will for your life. The only difference is in heaven the hindrances are gone. So take time to seek for God’s will for your life, then ask that all those hindrances will be taken care of.
  3. Bring your needs, your wants, your ideas, your fears, your anxieties to God in prayer. And since you JUST prayed for His will not yours, those needs will be met, those wants will be under God’s plan. He will tweak your ideas, He’ll calm your fears, He’ll throw your anxieties as far as the east is from the west! He will give you all you need (and he understands that we are needy people!)
  4. Take time daily confess your sins. Be specific. The more we bring out, the more we are able to confront. Unconfessed sin weighs heavy. Get rid of it, lay it at Jesus’ feet. He already knows your sin and he still chose to die on a cross in order to forgive them!  Then, just as He forgives us, we need to forgive those who have wronged us. What a powerful ministry we can have if we hold no grudges. What a freeing life we will live if we truly have no ill feelings for another person! What a wonderful thing to be forgiven and then extend that forgiveness to others.
  5. The world is unrelenting! There are many things… and people… who do not want you to succeed. Temptation is huge. Every day, we need to be praying that God guides us away from those temptations. The “evil one” is out to kill, and steal, and destroy your life. Sounds dramatic, but little by little he desires to pull you away from God and His plan. We need to be asking God to guide us away from those temptations and away from the evil one.
  6. And then just as we began, we turn it back to how wonderful God is. This is HIS kingdom we live in. This is HIS power that lives within is. And it is for HIS glory that we live this life. And what we pray today, will make an impact forever and ever!

Amen!?

How you pray is up to you. Whether you get up early for some time alone, or you pray every two hours while the baby nurses; Whether you head to your office before all the other employees arrive, or you journal during your lunch break, just make it a daily activity and begin to seek God. The changes you see will shock you!

Myth: God never answers my prayers!

I’ve believed this many times. And there are still some prayers that have not been answered… at least not MY way. But when I read God’s word, it just simply is not true. God DOES hear. There are some circumstances that may hinder (a deliberate sin that you’re aware of but refuse to let go of, or unbelief, or wrong motives), for the most part, the more we pray, the more sin we get rid of, the stronger our belief becomes, and the purer our motives become. So keep seeking, keep knocking, and He WILL answer (even if the answer is no… or wait!)

There is one prayer that is more important than any other prayer you could ever pray and that is the prayer to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation. If you have never made a personal decision to follow Jesus, this is the first prayer you need to pray.

You can receive Christ as your Savior right now, this moment! You don’t have to be in a church or special place, or have the help of a minister or priest. You can pray now, wherever you are. God is listening. Tell Him in your own words that you are sorry for your sins and that you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Ask God to help you change your heart and life. It’s your prayer He wants to hear. You can pray the following prayer, but it is not enough just to say the words. You must mean it from your heart:

“God, I know I have sinned. I believe Your Son, Jesus Christ, died to take the punishment for my sin. I believe Jesus came back to life from death and has the power to forgive my sin and change my life. Forgive me. Come into my life and change me. I want to live for You and follow Your plan for my life. I believe You have forgiven me, and I thank You for hearing my prayer, in Jesus’ name.”

God has forgiven you if you prayed this prayer and meant it from your heart.  Now you can begin the life He has planned for you! Step by step God will lead you to what He has chosen for you. He will show you the way to live and will teach you each day as you grow spiritually and become the person He planned for you to be.

If you do not have a church body and you are in the St. James, MN area please join us at Crossroads Church Sunday mornings at 10a. 721 Weston Ave, St. James.

If you are not in the area, email me at pastorswifeslife@gmail.com and I can find you a church in your area.

Please contact me if you said that prayer of salvation at the end of this post. I’d love to rejoice with you!