"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Redneck’s Guide to Child Rearing

Sure Fire Rules to Make Your Kids Upstanding Citizens, Just Like You.

At home:

  1. Always invent lists of rules for every possible situation your kids might run into, from their teeth-brushing to the gear ratio they use when pedaling their bikes; can’t have too many rules, don’t ya’ know.
  2. Never put off punishing your kids when they mess up, but fully pour out the Wrath of God upon them so they will understand the gravity of their behavior.
  3. Never allow your kids to see your mistakes in judgment, but failing that rule, cover ‘em up. If they’re too big to cover up, invent excuses; kids are real gullible.
  4. Never apologize to your kids when you can’t weasel out of your mistakes; they won’t respect you as the Authority Figure.
  5. Always try to keep your promises, or at least come up with good-sounding excuses for breaking them--like making it their fault.
  6. Always tell your kids the truth, or at least lie so's not to get caught.
  7. Always criticize your kids by comparing their weaknesses to the strengths of their siblings and peers; that’ll drive home their need for change.
  8. Always point out other’s faults when your kids are present; such lessons serve to instruct your kids in acceptable versus unacceptable behavior.
  9. Never fool around with your spouse (you know what I mean, wink, wink) in front of your kids; you might embarrass them, or at least they’ll think you’re silly.
  10. And Never, Ever, accept a kiss from your kids on the lips; that’s nasty and preverted.

When grown-ups visit:

  1. Never allow your kids to distract your attention from visitors; kids aren't important, like your friends are.
  2. Always feel free to poke fun about the dumb stuff your kids do, like their bed-wetting and thumb-sucking; kids don’t get grown-up humor, don’t ya’ know.
  3. Never allow your kids to pitch their stupid ideas and questions into a grown-up conversation; they got nothing to offer to intelligent discourse.
  4. Never worry about your kids’ hearing you discuss friends’, teachers’ or preachers’ problems with visitors; they won’t get that, either.
  5. Never allow your kids to get away with anything when grown-ups visit, but shame your kids with swift justice to demonstrate to your friends how parenting is correctly done.

Regarding church:

  1. Never treat going to church with less-than the solemn reverence that Religion deserves; the Bible says, “Thou shalt not have fun at church or on the way to it.”
  2. Always testify in church about what a horrible sinner you used to be, leaving out no nitty-gritty details of your former perversion, and add something like: "Now I'm saved, and sanctified, and I'm gonna march straight through those Pearly Gates with my head held high."
  3. Never hold “family altar” devotions or read the Bible with your kids; religion is a personal matter, and you shouldn’t impose your beliefs on them. Didn’t somebody important once say, “Keep church and state separate”?
  4. Always be honest and forthright in your criticism of church people, especially the leadership; we must hold them to the highest standard, and you never know what skeletons are in their closets.
  5. Always glad-hand brethren you hate, then roll your eyes when only the kids can see you; they’ll think you’re, like, totally awesome.

Regarding school:

  1. Always assume your kids hate school as much as you did, and confront their rotten attitude even before it presents itself.
  2. Always side with the teacher in disputes, and punish your kids for their school misbehavior, even when they’ve already been punished at school; you know kids are compulsive liars … remember…?
  3. Never admit you don’t know how to help your kids with their homework; it’s their homework, make them figure it out. Besides, you don’t want to look dumm.
  4. Always belittle your kids when they arrive home bloodied and crying like babies after getting beat-up by a bully; it’ll toughen them up.
  5. Never allow your kids to leave for school with less than the latest, Saturday morning cartoon character fashions; nobody is going to dress their kids sharper than your kids!
  6. Always hold the strap over your kids, telling them they’ll get the lickin’ of their lives if they don’t at least pull “Bs” The last thing you want is for them to shame you with bad grades.

Regarding civic and charitable activities:

  1. Always tell your kids regular folks’ opinions don’t count in the grand scheme of things; voting is a waste of time, ‘cause the fat-cats have it all rigged anyway.
  2. Always model self-sufficiency to your kids, telling them, “Nobody gives a flip about our welfare.” Don’t the Bible say, “Do unto others before they have a chance to do it to you?” Or something like that?

Monday, May 17, 2010

frenzy by Robert Liparulo

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Thomas Nelson (May 18, 2010)
Robert Liparulo
BUT FIRST, A WORD FROM OUR BLOGGER: Wouldn't you know; just when you think the adventure has reached its peak, Liparulo tops himself. This guy knows how to write for the kid in all of us. No spoilers here, though. Just know that even reading it to my wife Nancy, I finished it in five or six sessions. Yes, that may not seem all that remarkable, but with my voice feeling its age as it is, that much oral reading gets to be a strain on the old vocal cords. Putting the book down is hard enough any time, but frenzy!'s last few chapters made it impossible! If you want a great ride, buy the Dreamhouse Kings series and HOLD ON! ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first novel, Comes a Horseman, released to critical acclaim. Each of his subsequent thrillers—Germ, Deadfall, and Deadlock—secured his place as one of today’s most popular and daring thriller writers. He is known for investing deep research and chillingly accurate predictions of near-future scenarios into his stories. In fact, his thorough, journalistic approach to research has resulted in his becoming an expert on the various topics he explores in his fiction, and he has appeared on such media outlets as CNN and ABC Radio. Liparulo’s visual style of writing has caught the eye of Hollywood producers. Currently, three of his novels for adults are in various stages of development for the big screen: the film rights to Comes A Horseman. were purchased by the producer of Tom Clancy’s movies; and Liparulo is penning the screenplays for GERM and Deadfall for two top producers. He is also working with the director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Holes) on a political thriller. Novelist Michael Palmer calls Deadfall “a brilliantly crafted thriller.” March 31st marked the publication of Deadfall’s follow-up, Deadlock, which novelist Gayle Lynds calls, “best of high-octane suspense.” Liparulo’s bestselling young adult series, Dreamhouse Kings, debuted in 2008 with House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods. Book three, Gatekeepers, released in January 2009, and number four, Timescape, in July 2009, and number five, Whirlwind in December 2009. The series has garnered praise from readers, both young and old, as well as attracting famous fans who themselves know the genre inside and out. Of the series, Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine says, “I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?” With the next two Dreamhouse books “in the can,” he is currently working on his next thriller, which for the first time injects supernatural elements into his brand of gun-blazing storytelling. The story is so compelling, two Hollywood studios are already in talks to acquire it—despite its publication date being more than a year away. After that comes a trilogy of novels, based on his acclaimed short story, which appeared in James Patterson’s Thriller anthology. New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” He lives with his family in Colorado. Visit Robert Liparulo's Facebook Fan page: http://www.facebook.com/LiparuloFans ABOUT THE BOOK
Their destiny is to fix history. Their dream is to get home. When you live in a house that's really a gateway between past and present, you have to be ready for anything. It's a painful fact the Kings have faced since moving to Pinedale eight days ago. Desperately trying to rescue their mother from an unknown time and place, brothers Xander and David have lunged headlong into the chaos of history's greatest--and most volatile--events. But their goal has continually escaped their grasp. And worse: Finding Mom is only a small part of what they must do, thanks to the barbaric Taksidian. His ruthless quest to sieze their house and its power from them has put not only the family, but all of mankind, in grave danger. Somehow, the key to it all hinges on Uncle Jesse's words to the boys: "Fixing time is what our family was made to do." But how can they fix a world that has been turned updisde down--much less ever find their way home? At long last, the secrets of the house and the King family are revealed in the stunning conclusion to this epic series. If you would like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of Frenzy, go HERE. Sign up for the Frenzy Newsletter HERE.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Could This Be?

Today I stumbled upon a Scripture passage I've no doubt read dozens of times, but this time it grabbed me in a "Whoda Thought" sort of way.

(2 Corinthians 8:8-24 MKJV) (8) I do not speak according to command, but through the eagerness of others, and testing the trueness of your love. (9)For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, for your sakes He became poor, in order that you might be made rich through His poverty. (10) And in this I give my judgment; for this is profitable for you, who began before, not only to do, but also to be willing a year ago. (11) But now also finish the doing of it, so that, as there was a readiness to will, so also the finishing, giving out of what you have. (12)For if the eagerness is present, it is acceptable according to what one has, and not according to what one does not have. (13) For it is not that others may have ease, but you trouble; (14) but by equality in the present time; your abundance for their need, that their abundance also may be for your need; so that there may be equality; (15) as it is written, "He gathering much, he had nothing left over; and he gathering little did not have less." (16) But thanks be to God, who put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. (17) For indeed he accepted the entreaty. But being more earnest, of his own accord he went to you. (18) And we have sent with him the brothers whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; (19) and not only so, but also he having been chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself, and as a witness of your eager mind; (20)avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us; (21) providing for honest things, not only before the Lord, but also before men. (22) And we have sent with them our brother whom we have often proved earnest in many things, but now much more earnest by the great confidence which I have in you. (23) If anyone inquires of Titus, he is my partner and fellow-worker for you, or of our brothers, they are the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.(24) Therefore show them a proof of your love and of our boasting toward you in the presence of the churches.

If you're thinking, "Wow, that's a chunk of Scripture," I can relieve your mind; just one word struck me as peculiar: equality. Check verse fourteen again, "but by equality in the present time; your abundance for their need, that their abundance also may be for your need; so that there may be equality." Twice, the "E" word shows itself in that one verse. Searching the Modern King James Version produces only one other instance: Colossians 4:1, where the word defined a master's (employer's) treatment of his servants (employees). In both cases, the issue is distribution of funds in an equitable manner.

Odd, isn't it, that such a timely subject would receive such brief treatment in God's word? What subject generates more political and social slogans? What political hot button produces more angry reactions? What issue more starkly polarizes citizens behind party banners? Is the Bible simply not relevant, failing to deal with our current issues? The "Christian" answer to that question is a resounding, "Would you repeat the question please?"

Believers frequently complain that those in charge of their congregations fail to grant them adequate attention, privilege or position. "It isn't fair!" is the refrain for their song and dance. Yet, in the matter of giving, the very same snivelers will likely split hairs about tithing on their gross, versus their net income. They are entirely consumed with their "rights," failing to grasp the true Scriptural meaning of equity and fairness, that is, voluntarily sharing ones resources with those who have less.

If that refrain sounds familiar, it should. For many children, the second word out of their mouth is, "Mine!" (The first being, "NO!") And their first sentence is, "Not fair!" What does that say about the maturity level typical of today's pew-sitters?

Most little children and many church folks are like that … but not me! Charging me with such immaturity would be grossly unfair. Why, if someone were to level such a charge against me, I'd immediately demand a hearing on the issue. Head held high, I would stand before the Judge expecting complete vindication. He would raise His gavel and a resounding crack would echo through the universe. Then he would pronounce the words, "Guilty as charged."

"Huh?" I'd shake my head in unbelief and add, "I don't think I heard you right, Lord. Were you talkin' to me?"

The eternal One would answer, "Were you listening to me?"

My countenance would drop as I grasped the absolute truth of His verdict, and I would stare at the courtroom floor, unable to utter a defensive word. I am most certainly guilty! Guilty of putting myself first! Guilty of pouting when life seems unfair! Guilty of pointing the bony finger of condemnation! Guilty of postponing the good I know I must do! Guilty of posturing before a fallen world to gain their favor!

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty, of sin in the first degree!

Suddenly, I awaken, with my Savior standing beside me, His mighty arm resting gently upon my shoulders. With His other hand He wipes away my guilty tears. And His strong, gentle voice proclaims, "I see no sin in you, Jim. I see only my holy blood covering you as a mantle of perfect innocence. Remember when you gave me your sin-guilt? You are innocent of all charges."

Then I gaze up into His loving face and say, "But it's not fair to You, Lord. You, who had no sin, took my sin-guilt upon yourself. I can never live up to Your perfection … but with Your help, I will try."

"I know you will, Jim … you cannot live with the alternative."

Are your rights your highest priority? Are equality and fairness your standard for the way others treat you?

Think about it.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

A Great Idea

        Here's a great idea: For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. That's such a great idea, it aught to be in the Bible, so folks would abide by it.
        Wait just a cotton-pickin' minute. It is in the Bible, and if anybody's interested, they can find it at Galatians 5:13-15 (NASB).
        So, as that great idea is already in the Bible, God's church, consisting of Christian folks who get their marching orders from the Bible, must have it down pat ... or at least be aware of it.
        But ... there's a ... nasty rumor floating about ... to the effect that some congregations of God's church are having a bit of trouble in the "biting and devouring one another" category. Don't get me wrong, I do my best to avoid heeding rumors, but when they become so consistent and wide spread that even a saint would have to take notice ... well ... let's just say my halo is on back order.
        Okay, I've been accused of completely irrational idealism. So maybe I'm all wet, thinking God's church should naturally observe God's New Testament law. After all, we're only human.
        Jesus, however, seems to have higher expectations of His people. There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:1-3 ESV) That was, by the way, stated by the same Christ Jesus we Christians claim as our Savior and Lord (Lord, as in Master and sovereign King).
        This same Jesus said in John chapter 3, That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6 ESV) While He spoke regarding spiritual rebirth, what He said can be applied as a principle, or spiritual law. "That" can refer to any action, attitude, motive, thought or plan as well. Are bitterness, backbiting, factions, pride, arrogance, greed and jealousy spiritually motivated, or are they of the flesh, sinful, depraved?
        Those who defend or deny such carnal attitudes within themselves are, quite simply, blind. Though Jesus came to heal such blindness, these "blind leaders of the blind" continue clinging to their "form of godliness" in church membership and even leadership, while blaspheming their Savior's Name before an already skeptical world.
        "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."