Smarts and Hard Work

May 12, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Hally Franz –

There is a large Amish community about 45 minutes from my home, and my family and some friends spent a day there recently. It was fascinating to see examples of Amish craftsmanship and ingenuity within their nearly self-sustaining culture. While I am not a scholar of the Amish lifestyle and faith, it is evident that hard work is valued greatly among this group of people. We observed children helping at shops and in gardens, learning everyday skills important to both the family and community. Each family member, other than the very young, holds an important responsibility within the workings of the home. Each is relied upon to ensure success of the whole. I have to wonder if a culture that largely rejects modern ideas and conveniences of the outside world has much appreciation for the current expression “work smarter, not harder.”

On the other hand, we “English” seem always to be seeking new ways to make work and life easier. Whether it is finding the perfect tool for a tricky culinary job or subscribing to the fastest internet provider, we desire methods for increased ease and efficiency. However, our most basic appliances, machinery and comforts are far beyond what is found at an Amish home or farm.

I suppose this is not wrong, but I do question how it impacts our children. We want to raise hard-working young people, but is it possible we are making that job increasingly difficult to do?
While they might not see it as such, there is a considerable degree of hardship and suffering associate with the hard work that the Amish do in their daily lives. And, if those types of challenges build character, are we depriving our children of invaluable work experiences?

Perhaps our parenting challenge then is this: How can we prepare our children for a life that includes service and hard work, a life where things are not and should not always be easy? We can start by requiring kids to participate daily in family chores. They can be given household tasks that are dirty and gross; they still need to be done. We can make changes like having our children rake leaves rather than blow them. We can assign push-mowing instead of the more comfortable riding mower.

Where child-rearing is concerned, it is very likely smarter to make the work harder.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, grant me the wisdom to raise my children well. Help me set high expectations for them, allowing them the opportunity to learn from challenges and hard work, and resisting the urge to always make life easier.

“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6 NIV).

Sunday Inspiration

May 3, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Hally Franz –

A vibrant and beautiful spring season, middle-school kids and pop culture, good song lyrics and travel—these are a few of my inspirational things. Here’s your challenge for the day. Try singing that like Julie Andrews would have as she romped around a bedroom wrapped in drapes or flitted around Austria. I couldn’t get it quite right.

Who doesn’t savor blooms bursting forth with color and smell, like those we enjoyed during this year’s exceptional spring? How refreshing is a change of scenery? Are we not thankful for ballads that bring tears to our eyes? Young teens are full of entertaining comments, and the entertainment industry never fails to shock. These often provide things to write about. However, when these usually reliable arenas of material fail me, I can count on Sunday service for some good food for thought or a message to chew on.

This past Sunday our minister, LaMar, introduced his lesson on Acts 14 with some comments about the wonder of a child. He reminded us how toddlers find cardboard boxes and cords just as interesting as high-dollar toys and giant stuffed animals. And, he shared an experience he had in India as a young adult. He observed a young person hold a Bible with pure unadulterated excitement and joy that may never be seen in our country, where we take our Bibles for granted.

As we grow older, things that once seemed exciting become ordinary, places once grand become small. When we talk about the “eyes of a child,” we feel melancholy, because we know our adult eyes often fail to appreciate what we see or even recognize what is in our presence. Once those childhood days of discovery are behind us, we can’t get them back, but we can pray that God will help us see each day anew with a grateful and inspired heart.

Honestly, there are those dreary days when my own kids annoy me, and the outside world is just discouraging. I can’t travel more than a few times each year, and some days there isn’t anything I enjoy on the airwaves. On Sunday mornings, though, it is hard to leave worship without a feeling of hope. His word, well-written and artfully-delivered truths, and the fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ; these are a few of my most wonderful blessings.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me always appreciate the wonder in Your creation, and remind me daily that the greatest inspirations come in Your Word, readily and freely available to me whenever I may need it.

“Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen” (Psalm 105:4-6 KJV).

Giving Comfort in the God Zone

April 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Hally Franz –

Peer pressure is not just for kids. My own sister has inflicted considerable pressure upon me regarding texting. She is frustrated that I don’t yet have that capability with my cell phone. I am very content to keep it that way.

My husband and I recently purchased laptops for our son and me. My home computer is nearly seven years old, and we needed an upgrade. Ivan immediately came home and began using his laptop, excited to be liberated from the community computer. However, I have yet to open mine. The fear of some complicated log-on, download or set-up process has me stalled.

I am fairly proficient with a few computer programs, but I resist technology. I don’t join lots of sites and rarely make on-line purchases. And, are you ready for this? We still have “free” TV in our home.

Technology is not my area of expertise. It is not in my comfort zone. While it is hard to function in our society without using and sometimes even embracing technology, some people find it easy to avoid having a relationship with God. In a culture where many deem a smartphone a greater necessity than an hour in worship, we need to make it as easy as possible for others to connect and commune with believers and our Heavenly Father.

Do we take time to invite the un-churched into our church homes, encouraging rather than pressuring them to learn more about Jesus and His saving grace? When visitors enter our buildings, are we willing to patiently teach them about Christian concepts that may be totally foreign to them? Or, do we express frustration when they resist moving from their comfort zone into unknown territory?

The truth is that my computer competency will not enhance my prayer life nor study of His word. No high-tech communication devices or e-readers are needed. While it may be wise for me to expand my technology knowledge for success here on earth, it is absolutely essential for me to broaden my theology knowledge to ensure eternity in heaven.

Let’s help our brothers and sisters do the same.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to be easily approachable and welcoming to our church visitors. May they find it joyful, rather than stressful, to begin their own journeys of faith.

“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,” (2 Timothy 2:24-25 NKJV).

History and Heroes

March 25, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Hally Franz –

I’ve had a history-filled spring. Between my family’s spring break vacation and two school trips, I have seen our nation’s capital and state capitals for both Missouri and Illinois. Over the last four months, I’ve visited homes of George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama. What a blessing it has been to learn about our American heroes and leaders, both past and present.

Conditions around the world and in my own home may make it impossible to visit the places where Jesus was born and where Paul walked. My family and I may never see great pyramids, palaces or temples of Bible times. We can, however, experience many human accomplishments and creations here in this country.

As I write this devotional, we have just returned our American flag to its home in our hall closet. The sun has set on Memorial Day, a holiday that originated in 1868 as a day on which the graves of Civil War soldiers could be decorated. Today, we remember the soldiers who have given their lives to maintain our country’s freedoms. Soon, we will celebrate our hard-won independence on July 4th. And, after the seasons have changed once more, we will recognize members of our military, both living and dead, on Veteran’s Day.

George Washington was a brilliant gardener, valiant soldier and loving adoptive father. Abraham Lincoln prevailed through tremendous personal pain and a controversial term in office. Earl C. Tucker, my grandfather, served in Germany, England and Belgium during World War II. He came home with horrific pictures from concentration camps, and, at the same time, a feeling that most Germans were descent people. Matt was a challenging freshman in my ‘95 Introduction to Business class. He was killed a few years ago while in service to his country.

Heroes, all of them.

Each of these men served; each gave to his country. May we remember those famous and everyday heroes of American history – whether our flags are unfurled and flying or stored safely in a closet.

PRAYER: Mighty and Merciful God, we thank You for all the heroes through the ages – the ones who have been martyred while preaching Your word, as well as those who have given their lives in service to our country.
“And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.” (Acts 6:5-6 NKJV).

Digital versus Development

March 21, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Hally Franz –

Each year around this time, there is a request issued to us parents by my children’s school principal. It’s time to collect the year’s photos for the upcoming awards and graduation program, and the yearbook to be compiled over the summer. Soon, I am ordering 499 prints for a processing total of $90.06

I have a digital camera, and I love it. I am not really a photographer, but anyone can come up with some nice photographic memories in this modern age. I take pictures regularly, but I fail to develop them very often. So, when the annual summons for pictures comes, I clear my “chips” or “disks” for the first time since last year’s picture call.

This round of pictures included two family trips, several 4-H activities, a couple class parties, several school field trips, a Christmas program, my niece’s birthday party and more. Why snap sparingly when you aren’t paying for film?

There are several great things about digital photography. First, we can take as many shots as needed to get the photo just right. If the photograph is out of focus, delete the bad shot and try again. There is no cost or consequence in making the correction and eradicating inferior pictures. It’s simple, and there is no evidence left behind of poorly-centered shots or closed eyes. The process is easy, even more so for young people, who have no fear of technology. Experience isn’t required for relative success.

But life isn’t digital. When we or our children make a mistake, we can’t just delete bad tries and go on. If our focus becomes unclear and distorted, lasting impressions will remain in our memories and the minds of those around us. Sometimes those bad “images” cause us very real problems, possibly costing time and work to repair. Learning to make each shot in life takes maturity and experience. It’s a process of development far more than a process of trial-and-error. And, it isn’t always possible to keep trying until we get it right; sometimes, we have only one shot.

We must teach our young people to be cautious in their actions and prudent about their choices, seeking advice of their parents, family and church members, and Heavenly Father. In a digital world, let’s remember to teach our young people that real life isn’t always that way.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help today’s parents impress upon our children the seriousness of the choices they face each day. As we demonstrate patience and understanding toward our young people, help us also to encourage discernment as they approach each day in our digital society.

“Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, But a man of understanding walks uprightly” (Proverbs 15:21 NKJV).

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