Saturday, July 27, 2013

Barney Fife- Realtor

" …be content with what you have" - Heb. 13:5 Nothing fills our souls like the love of Jesus. Unfortunately, that doesn't keep most of us from trying to replace God with substitutes. But they all fall short. Nothing fills our souls like the love of Jesus. I have an experiment for you to try today: go to the kitchen sink in your house and fill up one side of the sink half way with water. Now, begin to grab the water with your hands and move it to the other side of the sink. Time yourself, and after 5 minutes, see how much water you've moved. You probably won't move very much. The truth is, grabbing water doesn't work very well. Looking to anything other than God for our significance doesn't work very well either. It will always produce frustration because it always slips through our fingers. Deep inside, it keeps us empty. It satisfies temporarily. The Bible challenges us to "be content with what we have" - if God is not at the center of it all, we'll always be looking for more. The house could always be bigger, our health could always be better, the car could always be newer, the kids could always live closer, and the savings account could always be fuller. The list goes on and on. If we're not filled up with Jesus, we will never be satisfied. Enter Barney Fife, the deputy on the Andy Griffith Show. We laugh at him because we see so much of ourselves in him. In season five, episode sixteen, Barney has grown discontent with his deputy job (once again). After speaking to the local real estate agent, Barney Fife decides that selling houses would be the perfect sideline for him. Being the deputy isn't enough. He starts by targeting some of the families in Mayberry who may want to change houses and soon has a chain of four buyers and sellers lined up. Even Andy has gotten involved. But Barney grows frustrated when the buyers and sellers aren't moving their homes quickly enough for Barney to share the profit. Having recently admonished Opie for trying to sell his bicycle without revealing the problem with the brakes, Andy finds himself being less than honest with the the prospective buyer of his house about the leaky roof or the noisy pipes. Opie practices what his father preaches and mentions these things to an interested buyer, much to Andy's annoyance. When Andy visits the house he's interested in buying, he finds that it may not be perfect either. So Andy tells the truth and, much to Barney's displeasure, decides that his current home is just fine, after all. At the end of the episode, every one is right back where they started. Andy realizes that the house they live in is home, leaky roof and all. And apparently, Barney realizes that his job is fine, even though they don't have machine guns and crime waves in Mayberry. They grew "content with what they had." Are you content with what you have today? It's okay to buy new cars and go on vacations, but if you're looking to those things for true peace, it's not there. In the 1600's, the famous French mathematician Blaise Pascal said, "there is a God-shaped hollow in the human heart that nothing else can fill." And the thing is, God is more than willing and capable of filling it to the very top, if we'll let Him. If I confess my reluctance and ask Him to be my peace, He is faithful to fill the void. You can let the water drain out of the sink now- let it be a reminder that anything we substitute for God always slips through our fingers. God is our all in all, whether we're selling houses or fighting crime in Mayberry. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Rodeo

"By faith Abraham…went out, not knowing where he was going" - Heb. 11:8 Life consists of all kinds of trials, challenges and learning experiences. Some of the trials are sent to us and some of them we choose. Either way, God uses them for our good. One experience I chose when I was a just entering high school landed me on my rear end. But I took a risk and learned from the experience. I grew up in "Cowtown." It was so named in the 1800's for its focus on cattle, ranching, and rodeo. Fort Worth went from a sleepy outpost to a bustling town when it became a stop along the legendary Chisholm Trail, the dusty path on which millions of head of cattle were driven north to market. Fort Worth became the center of the cattle drives, and later, the ranching industry. Its location on the Old Chisholm Trail helped establish Fort Worth as a trading and cattle center and earned it the nickname "Cowtown." Though I never lived on a ranch, I went to high school with several guys that lived west of Fort Worth on cattle ranches. But most of us at school adapted to the western image and wore our cowboy boots most days. One good friend that was especially western was Bill Barber. He was a friend of mine since fourth grade who took the cowboy heritage to a different level. His dad had been a champion roper and passed on the legacy to Bill. Bill had multiple pairs of boots, a great mustache and a "barrel" in his backyard. Set up like a swing set, a "barrel" is a device used by cowboys to practice rodeo. It's literally a big steel barrel on springs that you sit on and try to "ride" as it's bouncing around. It simulates riding a bronc or a bull. I never could stay on that thing. One afternoon, some friends and I were in Bill's backyard when he came up with a crazy idea. "Let's go ride in an actual rodeo." I'm sure I paused and laughed. Bill continued, "There's a rodeo every Saturday west of Fort Worth in Boyd. You pay $25 bucks and they let you ride." He was serious. He was actually serious. And, though I wanted to throw up, I wasn't about to back out of the experience. So, a few Saturday's later, some of us piled in Bill's pickup and we headed to Boyd. We arrived late on a Saturday morning, paid our money and got in line. I was scared to death and had no idea what I was doing. Bill tried to prep me but it was hopeless. I was in a trance the whole time. I remember climbing into the "chute," where the horse is kept. I remember getting on the horse. I remember grabbing the top of the gate to settle myself, and I remember them asking if I was "ready" (ready?) and I remember the gate opening. But there was one problem: I never let go of the top of the gate. So when the gate opened and the horse left the chute, I was pulled off the horse by…me! The horse (and my $25) ran on through the arena while I fell to the ground. It was pitiful. But I did it! Forever I could say that I actually and technically rode in a rodeo… sort of. I rode about one second. For a guy like myself who wasn't used to taking huge risks, it was a big deal. Of course, today, liability spoils many a risky adventure. I'm sure that Saturday morning rodeo is long gone, smothered by needed insurance coverage and costs. But the adventures are still out there. And the opportunity for kids to explore and risk is so important. Let your kids try some crazy things. Let it be their idea. Let them explore. Let them make the choice to test themselves. Leave them alone long enough for them to do it themselves. Sure, they will probably fall off the horse, but the adventure will be worth every penny. Even for a one second ride. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Child Raising

"…train up a child in the way he should go…" -Proverbs 22:6 There are countless books, manuals and DVD's on "how to properly raise a child". While most of the the authors and speakers are sharing truth and wisdom, the instructions can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and simplistic. While we need to be open to wise Godly counsel and advice, parents don't need to panic. God is in control and if we seek Him first, He brings the peace and wisdom we need. I've been to Africa a couple of times, and both times I observed several differences in families there and here in America. One glaring difference that stood out is the focus on kids. In most of the world, kids are not number one. Here in the U.S., they have become the focus. Certainly we don't need to neglect our kids, but we don't need to treat them as kings and queens either. The kid obsession has produced a focus on "kid advice" in America. Scripture points out the necessity of wisdom gained in "abundance of counselors" (Prov. 15:22), but how many is enough? Exactly how many professionals does it take to raise a child? I was reading an article in a magazine that listed the mirage of new professions focused on kids. It's hard to believe that 100 years ago, Professional Counselors and Consultants hardly existed. And while Doctors and Counselors have provided much needed care, when does the care go too far? A Baby Whisperer is a "Certified Child Sleep Consultant". They cost between $50-$350 per hour. They examine a baby's napping and nighttime schedule. A Sensory Communicator is a "Certified Infant Massage Instructor". They cost between $25-$100 per hour. They teach parents how to massage their babies, intended to promote attachment and well-being. A Supportive Foodie is a "Certified Nutrition Consultant". They cost between $40-$100 per hour. They share the children's diet and devise healthy recipes and personalized eating plans. A Greenproofer is a "Certified Maternity Eco-Consultant". They cost between $40-$80 per hour. They help minimize potentially toxic substances in the home. They recommend diapers, bath products, cleaning supplies, and nursery d├ęcor and can test indoor air quality. Asa was one of the many kings of Judah and reigned 41 years (a record for most kings in the Old Testament). Scripture says he followed God and rooted out idol worship during his reign. But at the end of his life, he got a foot disease and an interesting thing happened: he sought advice and it killed him - sort of. Second Chronicles 16:12-13 explains, " in the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa slept with his fathers, having died in the forty-first year of his reign." A foot disease? Hardly seems like enough to kill someone. After all, a Hebrew "foot consultant" probably suggested to Asa to "sprinkle a little talcum powder on it and all will be well". For whatever reason, Asa didn't go to God with his problem first. Instead, he went to the experts on foot disease. Is there anything wrong with going to doctors and counselors? Of course not. They're trained to help. But we have to remember to go to the Great Physician and Counselor first, not to every "expert" in the field of raising children. He might choose to heal outright or he might work through those professionals to bring the healing. Either way, God is at work growing our kids. And giving us the wisdom to parent His way. By Eric Joseph Staples ©