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Courageous Witnesses

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On Sunday, Pastor Ed Allen preached a sermon from II Timothy 1:3-14, a passage we'd recently read as a church in our Deeper Wider devotionals.

He mainly looked at the question:

What enables us to be courageous witnesses about the story of Jesus?

Three things that propel us, enable us, and empower us to be courageous witnesses about Jesus' story:

1)  God has given us a spirit of power and love and self-control.

From verses 6-7.  The word "gift" is the Greek word charis.  And the charismatics have got it mostly right.  There is more!  God does want to touch you and fill you with His power, love and self-control.

Ed does what he does because of an experience like this.  Here he told us about a call from God that came when he was 17 years old.

Encounters with God are not always wildly dramatic, but sometimes they are.

Whatever experience you've had with God, whatever calling, whatever gift -- fan it into flame!

If you haven't yet had an experience with God, we're going to ask God to touch you.

2)  We are sustained in our suffering by the power of God.

Why aren't we courageous witnesses all the time?  Because the story of Jesus sounds ridiculous.  (It's either Truth, or it's ridiculous.)

Our faith doesn't solve all our problems.  We still suffer.

Paul told Timothy not to be ashamed of him -- he was in prison.  In fact, he called himself the Lord's prisoner.

We can be courageous witnesses because we are sustained through our suffering by the power of God (vs. 9-10).

We're called to a holy calling.  We're sustained through all things.  We don't need to shrink back.

3)  We know we can trust Him.

Verse 12:  "I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed..."

I don't know all the whys and hows, but I know the Who.

"guard the good deposit" -- what we're giving away is what we've been given.

Fear makes our witness very awkward.  Move out courageously.

This Is Us - Parenting

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his series "This Is Us" on relationships, by talking about Parenting.

We all know that parenting has extraordinary challenges and extraordinary rewards.

I Corinthians 7:14 says that children of believing parents are holy to the Lord.

Four Surprising Observations (with conclusions):

1)  The Bible doesn't say as much about parenting as we might expect.

We can apply other teachings from the Word of God to our parenting.  In suburban America, we tend to over-love our children and make idols of them.  

Do not make idols of your children!

You don't have to clean things up when things go wrong for them.  Let them learn from their mistakes and disappointments.

2)  Spiritual education is the primary job of parents.

Spiritual education happens primarily in the home, intentional or not.

Deuteronomy 31:10-13.  It's also our corporate responsibility.  But it's the parents' primary job.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 -- As you're doing life, impress this on your children.  This is still true for those of us with adult children.

Train your children spiritually.  This is your primary job.

This applies as a spiritual father or mother.  Your primary job isn't bringing food, building a warm connection - but spiritual training.

3)  The Bible is not very interested in self-esteem, good citizenship, success, or appropriate social behavior.

What are the more essential things?  Psalm 145:4-7.  One generation tells of God's greatness to another.

Train our children to know God's works.

Train our children to worship God joyfully.

Good behavior is a natural byproduct.

Train our children in God's expectations and commands.

The results:  They'll hold God in deep reverence.  They'll be all in.

We're training people who love God so much, they'll one day abandon us for the cause of Christ.  When your quiver is full, let the arrows fly.  We're not training our children to purchase picket fencedom.

Focus your attention on the greatness of God - on his works and his ways.

Learn about him and get to know him.

4)  Obedience and love are complementary terms.

John 14:21-24 - Love and obedience are intertwined.  II John 1:6

This is why we teach our children to obey: We want them to be loving.

Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20.

We must teach our children to obey.

If they learn to obey their parents, they'll learn to obey themselves, all proper authorities, and God.

Concluding Observations:

1)  None of us gets to be people who don't make mistakes with our children.

2)  Be consistent.

This also means between parents.  For example, they always exercised discipline for direct disobedience and disrespectful attitudes.

3)  Training in obedience teaches us about how God deals with us:

-- God allows natural consequences to have their effect.

-- Consistently, God withheld privileges after disobedience.

-- Restoration was always the point of God's discipline.  Consistently throughout Scripture, God's goal was never to punish, but to train.

The Great Commission asks us to TEACH and train disciples, not just to establish warm connections with them.

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