Character Comment Index

Date

Title

Comments

1/2/16 Initiative  
1/9/16  Believing God Will Do What He Says  
1/15/16 Making the Most of Ones Self  John Wooden
1/20/16 Seize the Moment  Why Bad Things Happen
1/26/16 This is Not a Day Care
2/2/16 The test of morality of society Bonheoffer
2/9/16 The test of morality of society – part 2 Bonheoffer – mentors influence
2/16/16 The Big Picture Mentoring, Thomas Edison
2/23/16 The Big Picture – Part 2  SCE
3/1/16 A Matter of Grace  Hard Skills/Soft Skills
3/8/18 TEAMwork  Advocate!   
3/15/16 Listening in on my son  Life Isn’t Fair
 3/22/16  The Youthful Yoke  Mark Hamby
 4/5/16  The Youthful Yoke Part 2  
 4/12/16  The Youthful Yoke Part 3  
4/26/16  The Youthful Yoke Comments
4/26/16  How do you measure success?  
5/3/15  Train up a child in the way he should go  
5/10/16  Train up a child in the way  – Part 2  
5/17/16  Visionary Leadership  by  Mark Hamby  
5/24/16 What are you going to be doing this summer?
5/31/16 “Save Yourself!” by Mark Hamby  
 
 9/6/16 Shade Tree Parenting by Mark Hamby 
 9/13/16  Back to Basics  
 9/20/16  Redeeming the Time – Eph. 5:15-16  
 9/27/16  ReValue America   Quit Ye Like Men
 10/4/16  Teaching Opportunities  
 10/11/16  Teaching Opportunities Part 2  
 10/18/16  Teaching Opportunities Part 3  Matts Pettersson
 10/25/16  Teaching Opportunities Part 4  “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers”
 11/1/16  Teaching Opportunities Part 5  “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” 2
 11/8/16  TEAMwork-Teach, Encourage, Advocate, and Model.  Review 
11/15/16 TEAMwork-Teach, Encourage, Advocate, and Model.    Part 2
 11/29/16  2+2=5 What is Christian Character?
 12/6/16  2+2=5 What is Christian Character? Part 2
 12/13/16  2+2=5 What is Christian Character? Part 3
 1/3/17  Compassion  New Year
 1/10/17  2+2=5 What is Christian Character? Part 4  
 1/17/17  2+2=5 What is Christian Character? Part 5  
1 /24/17  2+2=5 What is Christian Character? Part 6
 1/31/17  2+2=5 What is Christian Character? Part 7  
 2/7/17  2+2=5 What is Christian Character? Part 8  
 2/14/17  2+2=5 What is Christian Character? Part 9  
 2/21/17  2+2=5 What is Christian Character? Part 10  
 2/28/17  Teaching Opportunities – Revisited  Why do things seem to go in slow motion 
 3/7/17  Beating of Our Heart By Mark Hamby  
 3/14/17  Taking Dominion over Bushes  World Magazine
 3/21/17  Hey Kid….  Influence above average
 3/28/17  Hey Kid….Part 2  Influence
 4/4/17  Fine Art – Mark Hamby
 4/11/17  Bodily Exercise Profits Little – Mark Hamby 
 4/22/17  Coram Deo Part 1
 5/2/17  Coram Deo Part 2  
 5/9/17  Our Stories   My son’s sin & mine  
 5/16/17  Our Stories   My son’s sin & mine part 2  
 5/23/17  Our Stories   My son’s sin & mine part 3  
 5/30/17  Our Stories   My son’s sin & mine part 4  
 6/5/17  Save Yourself – Mark Hamby (repeat)  
 8/29/17  What Kind Of Person A Student Is  
 9/5/17  What Kind Of Person A Student Is Part 2  
 9/18/17 What Kind Of Person A Student Is Part 3   
 9/25/17  TEAMwork Review  
 10/2/17  TEAMwork Review Part2  
 10/3/17  TEAMwork Review Part3  TEAMwork
 10/10/17  TEAMwork Review Part4  Teach/Encourage
 10/23/17  TEAMwork Review Part5  Advocate
 10/29/17  TEAMwork Review Part6  Model/Mentor
 10/31/17  Discipline Without Direction is Drudgery  Mark Hamby
 11/07/17  11.11.11
 11/14/17  The Greatest Legacy  Mark Hamby
 11/28/17  A Selfish Heart  Mark Hamby
 12/4/17  A Selfish Heart Part 2
 12/12/17  Jackie Robinson  
 1/2/18  Life in Our Experiences  Grace Gem – Intro to Daily Life
 1/9/18  Our Daily Life – Part 1 Timothy Shay Arthur
 1/16/18  Our Daily Life – Part 2  Timothy Shay Arthur
 1/23/18  Our Daily Life – Part 3  Timothy Shay Arthur
 1/30/18  Our Daily Life – Part 4  Timothy Shay Arthur
 2/6/18  Our Daily Life – Part 5  Timothy Shay Arthur
 2/13/18  Our Daily Life – Part 6  Timothy Shay Arthur
 2/20/18  Our Daily Life – Part 7  Timothy Shay Arthur
 2/27/18  An Antidote to Laziness   Mark Hamby
 3/6/18  Therefore by their fruits Part 1
 3/13/18  Therefore by their fruits Part 2
 3/20/18  Therefore by their fruits Part 3
 3/27/18  Therefore by their fruits Part 4  
 4/10/18  Therefore by their fruits Part 5
 4/17/18  Therefore by their fruits Part 6  Patches of God Light Pt 2
 4/24/18  Therefore by their fruits Part 7  BT Washington
 5/1/18  Therefore by their fruits Part 8
 5/8/18  Therefore by their fruits Part 9  Where’s pop?
 5/15/18  Therefore by their fruits Part 10  Charles Schulz
 5/22/18  Therefore by their fruits Part 11  Tunnel Vision Pt1 Mark Hamby
5/29/18 Therefore by their fruits Part 12 Tunnel Vision Pt2 Mark Hamby
6/11/13 He Gave Me a Camera
9/4/18 What Kind Of Person A Student Is
9/11/18 Young People’s Problems/Opportunities JR Miller
9/18/18 Young People’s Problems/Opportunities pt2  Mick’s house
 9/24/13  Young People’s Problems/Opportunities pt3  These Five
10/2/18 Young People’s Problems/Opportunities pt4  
10/9/18 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 1
10/16/18 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 2 What Am I Here For?
10/23/18 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 3 The Home Life
10/30/18 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 4 About Your Mother
11/6/18 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 5  About your Father
11/13/18 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 6 About your Friends
11/27/18 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 7 Beginning a Christian Life
12/4/14 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 8 Getting Acquainted with Christ
12/11/18 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 9 About Consecration
12/18/18 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 10 About Prayer
1/8/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 11 The BIBLE in the Prayer-Closet
1/15/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 12 The Matter of CONVERSATION.
1/22/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 13 On Keeping QUIET
1/29/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 14 Learning to Be THOUGHTFUL.
2/5/15 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 15 On the Control of TEMPER.
2/12/15 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 16 Getting along with People
2/19/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 17 The Matter of Social Duties
2/26/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 18 The Use of Time
3/5/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 19 The Making of a Man
3/12/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 20 That Will Do
3/19/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 21 A High Sense of Honor
3/26/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 22 On Doing Our Best
4/2/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 23 A High Sense of Honor
4/9/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 24 Your Little Brother
4/16/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 25 The Blessing of Work
4/30/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 26 A Girl’s Questions
5/7/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 27 What is the Comfort?
5/14/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 28 Learning Contentment Pt1
5/20/19 Young People’s Problems/Chapter 29 Learning Contentment Pt 2
5/28/19 Matter of the Heart YPP Follow-up – Relationship
6/4/19 The 6th R Pt 1
6/11/19 The 6th R Pt 2
 
6/10/14  
     
9/2/14 The 6th R – Relationship Mark Hamby, Five Minutes More

 


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A Matter of the Heart, Part 3: The 6th R

A Matter of the Heart, Part 3: The 6th R

“Appearances?  Do what you are because whether you do or not, you will only influence [others] by what you are.”  GCM

I closed last week’s comments with this question: Stop and think for a moment, who are those that have had the most influence upon your life, giving shape to who you are today, either in a positive or negative way? We were also reminded last week of this quotation from John Angell James: “The silent influence of parental conduct is far greater, either for good or for evil, than most parents are aware of. You teach by what you say, you influence by what you do; and also by what you do not say, and do not perform.”

With all that in mind, let me close this school year with a summer-break encouragement regarding the 6th R.

You are probably familiar with the three R’s of education: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. There are also two additional R’s, Respect and Responsibility that are aimed at Character Training. But there is also a 6th R that is vital to all the rest: Relationship. In his book The Teen Whisperer, Mike Lenderman, a Montana rancher who deals with troubled youth, repeatedly speaks to the issue of relationships, saying among other things that “all long-lasting problems are relationship problems, …the result of our losing connection with the people we need.” Notice he says “need” not “want.” That is an important distinction when it comes to the developing mind and thinking of youth. He also points out that “the only person whose behavior we can [ultimately] control is our own.” Again to repeat from last week, “[When we] offer morality by external control instead of inner transformation—when the controls go away, so does the morality” (Joel Belz).

Character Advocate and parents, I ask again, who are the people that have most influenced your life, not just with their words, but with their words and lives in a heart filled relationship to them? I learned long ago from my own children and now my grandkids that it is not the things you can give them that they want (or need) most; it is you yourself that they long to possess, your heart. Relationships are indeed what we value most—our relationship with our God, and our soul-expanding connections with others.

One of the things I enjoy most about the writings of Mark Hamby is his repeated refrain of “placing relationship above responsibility.” It is not an either/or, but a both/and that is true with all the other R’s; we need to set the right priority for each. Said another way, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion” (J.C. Watts, on leadership and parenting).

In placing relationship above responsibility, we really understand that all learning, especially in terms of Training Hearts and Teaching Minds for life in Christ, is again the matter of the heart, and “What comes from the heart goes to the heart” (Samuel T. Coleridge).

Parents often ask teachers about summer reading and such to prepare for the next school year. As important as that is, let me repeat my annual exhortation: I was once told by a very wise mentor, “Your children ask for many things, but deep down they don’t want what you can give them, as much as they just want you—time with you, your attention at eye level where they can see your smile and show you theirs.” Use this summer break to prepare your child not just for next year, but for all the days to come.

I have posted on our website an excellent piece on this topic: “Softened Authority” by Mark Hamby. http://www.ccawestminster.com/2014/06/soft-authority-by-mark-hamby/

“Only when a child truly possess your heart, will you begin to possess theirs” – anon

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal

 

 


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A Matter of the Heart, Part 2: The 6th “R”

A Matter of the Heart, Part 2: The 6th “R”

“The silent influence of parental conduct is far greater, either for good or for evil, than most parents are aware of. You teach by what you say, you influence by what you do; and also by what you do not say, and do not perform… O parents, parents! Take care what you are teaching your children by your example… Not a day passes, but you produce impressions, perhaps permanent impressions—either good or bad!”

We saw those words of John Angell James last week, and now we come to the next-to-last Character Comment for this school year. My heart is burdened for the matter of the heart. That is the key for both our own and our children’s character development in Christ.

As we learned this year from J. R. Miller, “This world is not a place merely to live in, nor a place in which to do certain kinds of business; it is a great workshop in which to make godly men [and women]” (Young People’s Problems, Chapter 19).  In that chapter we read this: “A baby is not a man. It may be very beautiful and sweet, and may have folded up in its life many fine possibilities; but it is only a baby. All its lessons have yet to be learned, its powers have yet to be developed, the capacities that lie folded up in its hand and brain and heart—have yet to be brought out and trained, its character has to be fashioned into loveliness and strength. The education begins at once, with the mother for teacher and the home for schoolroom; but the process must be slow, and it will require a long time… As the child gets older, other teachers come in and do their work, and the sphere of the education widens.”

Character Advocates, what is our influence in the making of godly character? What really is, or ought to be, our primary concern? Here’s another character quote to ponder: When we “offer morality by external control instead of inner transformation—when the controls go away, so does the morality” (Joel Belz). That needs to be repeated for our remembering.  Again: When we “offer morality by external control instead of inner transformation—when the controls go away, so does the morality.”  Learn this lesson well; when Samuel was seeking the next King of Israel to replace the one who had failed so miserably, he was instructed not to be fooled again by mere appearances, but to look to the heart. Why? – Because all that we do is based upon who we are, and that is a matter of the heart. Is this not the point our Lord continually makes in referencing the issues of the heart in Matt. 15? Recall that the Law which Moses carried from the mountain top was permanently inscribed on stone by the indelible finger of God. It is likewise now to be inscribed upon the heart, so that it may endure even more surely, even into eternity.

So I ask again, what is our influence in this making of godly character? Let me suggest that it is the 6th “R”—our relationship to our God and one another—that is the key.  Let me close with one question:  Stop and think for a moment, who are those that have had the most influence upon your life, giving shape to who you are today, both in a positive or negative way?

…to be continued one last time.

 

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal


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A Matter of the Heart, Part 1

A Matter of the Heart

“For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not” (Is. 30:15).

Those last words are haunting: “but you would not.” Think about it—the Holy One of Israel, the Lord omnipotent and full of grace, tells how true rest and deliverance can be found; how a quiet confidence that is so allusive in our day can be acquired and strengthened in a weary and hurried soul. All this offered, “but you would not”; you would not return to the one lover and savior of your soul. What a sober commentary on missed opportunities, a warning to those who ought to have ears to hear and hearts to receive instruction!

J.R. Miller closed our 29-week review of Young People’s Problems like this: “Shall we not set this lesson for ourselves in the bright days of youth when we are learning to live? Let us trust God and do our duty, committing all the tangles and frets to Him. He will take care of us. Though we must walk through dark ways, we shall always find light; for He who is the Light of the world will walk with us. It is a great thing to have in one’s heart a fountain which will supply all one’s needs. Then one can be independent of circumstances and of experiences, and be everywhere and always the same sweet, quiet, rejoicing Christian.”

If we are honest, we must confess that the topics we studied this year are “adult people’s problems” too; they are lessons we ourselves need to heed as well! Dear parents and fellow Character Advocates, lovers of our own children’s souls, hear again the axiom: “We cannot lead another any further than we have gone ourselves.” Only the healthy, those who are strong, can help and lift up those who are not. We must find that rest and quiet confidence if we are to instill it in another.

“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11). Hebrews 4 is familiar to those who have spent any time in the Word. It is often viewed as a personal challenge to the “individual” who might fail the “promise [that] remains of entering [God’s] rest.” Yet if we look closely, we will see an element of the collective: “Let us (each individual) … enter that rest, lest anyone (of us or another) fall according to the same example of disobedience.” That word “anyone” can imply “someone” else; and given the context of Heb. 4:11, I submit that the rest God promises here reinforces both our own personal faith and faith/obedience in the hearts of others under our influence.

Thus these pointed words of John Angell James: “The silent influence of parental conduct is far greater, either for good or for evil, than most parents are aware of. You teach by what you say, you influence by what you do; and also by what you do not say, and do not perform… O parents, parents! Take care what you are teaching your children by your example. You are always influencing them for good—or evil. You are leading them to Heaven—or to Hell. Not a day passes, but you produce impressions, perhaps permanent impressions—either good or bad!”

I am not through; these thoughts will be continued.

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal


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Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 28 – Learning Contentment – Part 2

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 28 – Learning Contentment – Part 2

This final topic is of such importance that I opted to cover it in two parts. I’d like to begin today’s consideration with a favorite quote from my personal collection: “Events belong unto God, but duties belong unto us” (Anon). This quote often comes to mind when I face a difficult circumstance, reminding me that the Author of our faith rules in all events; my call is to dutiful obedience in submissive faith.

Now, to continue with Miller’s thoughts on contentment:

“We are to let ourselves rest down upon God’s omnipotence, nestling in the bosom of His everlasting love. We are to stay in the strong, warm refuge, not restlessly tossing ourselves out of it. If we stay in God’s love — God will keep us in perfect peace. ‘You will keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.’”

These are words that we need to heed and to pass on to our covenant children. It takes learning because it is not our natural state of mind and spirit to be content.

“[Contentment is] not to be affected by the things around us. It may be of special comfort to young Christians to note that Paul says he had learned this lesson of contentment [Phil. 4:10ff]. He was quite an old man when he wrote the verse, and we may suppose that he was a good many years learning it. Probably it was not an easy lesson for him, and we may suppose that he got it only through long discipline and careful training.”

Miller continues, saying, “This may seem, therefore, not to be a young person’s problem — to be a lesson which the young can scarcely expect to learn — yet it is not impossible for the young to attain this grace.” In fact, “The lesson is set for the young, therefore, for it is in youth that it must be learned. To grow into mid-life or old age discontented is to remain to the end discontented.”

“If young people realized how lovely the spirit of contentment is, and how unlovely discontent is, they would all strive to learn the lesson, whatever it may cost them. Discontent mars the beauty of the face, makes people old before their time, makes them petulant, disagreeable, and uncomfortable companions… One secret of lovableness is a sweet spirit, restful, at peace, quiet, and undisturbed in any circumstances. We all admire such a person.”

Character Advocates, do you know such a person? Is there one in your circle of influence that can be pointed to with the words “follow him or her, as they follow Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1)? I have a favorite verse that brings to mind my beloved stepfather who lived and modeled contentment so well. Isa. 30:15 defines the peace and confidence which I saw in him, but which few of us have apprehended. My step-father’s example remains before me as a life goal which, like Paul, I have yet to fully apprehend; but a goal it remains nonetheless.

“Shall we not set this lesson for ourselves in the bright days of youth when we are learning to live? Let us trust God and do our duty… He will take care of us.”

Let us both learn and teach in our TEAM2work task that, “though we must walk through dark ways, we shall always find light; for He who is the Light of the world walks with us.”

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm

…Joe LoGiudice, Principal


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Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 28 – Learning Contentment (Part 1)

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 28 – Learning Contentment – Part 1

We come to the last chapter of J.R. Miller’s invaluable instruction regarding Young People’s Problems. In this final chapter, he aims his exhortation at discontentment, that universal plague of the soul.

“Not many people are contented. Not many seem to think that discontentment is a sin. Not many appear to understand that contentment is a grace which should shine in every Christian character. Yet no grace adds more to the beauty and the comfort of a life, than contentment. It is also enjoined in the Scriptures as a duty.”

“The time to get this spirit into our life is in youth. If one has allowed thirty or forty years to pass in discontent and fretfulness, the habit is so firmly rooted, that it is almost impossible to change it. But if one begins in childhood to learn to keep sweet in all conditions and circumstances, by the time one has reached maturity — the habit has become so much a part of one’s very life, that it is easy to maintain it.”

Miller goes on to show how we are to traverse that fine line between godly and ungodly dispositions:

“Contentment does not mean satisfaction with one’s attainments. [It is an] indolent person who is one without noble aspirations and longings. The end of longing, is the end of growing.”

On the contrary, Miller continues, “Contentment, however, is the spirit of restfulness and peace in whatever circumstances one may be placed. Paul tells us what it meant in his life, when he says, ‘I have learned, in whatever state I am, therein to be content.’ The word content means satisfaction — and implies that he had in his own heart the secret of satisfaction, and was not dependent for it on any outside circumstances.”

“On a dark and stormy night a happy family gathers in the living-room of their home. On the table the lamp burns brightly. About the room the members of the household are grouped. There is gladness, conversation, song, cheer. The household is independent of the outside weather. Beat as the storm may upon the windows, it disturbs not their zest and gladness.”

“This illustrates the secret of contentment. A true family possess it in their own home, in themselves. Paul carried in his heart the secret of peace and of joy, and was not dependent upon circumstances. He wrote [his] insightful verse in a prison; but the prison atmosphere, hardship, and restraint did not affect his inner life of contentment.”

“Every Christian should have in himself the same secret. We are God’s children, and the strong Son of God is our Savior and Friend. Our life is hid with Christ in God. Our faith should lift us above the hard experiences of life. We may be in sorrow — but the sorrow should not break the inner divine peace. We may have suffering — but the suffering should not destroy the comfort we have in resting in God.”

“It is not our part to keep ourselves in peace — God’s part is the keeping; our part is the staying ourselves upon God.”

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm

Chapter 28 – Learning Contentment – Part 2

 (to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal

 


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Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 27 – What Is the Comfort?

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 27 – What Is the Comfort?

Heidelberg Catechism Question 1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?

Answer: That I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. … He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

There is more to the answer above; the excerpt quoted is quite applicable to J.R. Miller’s comments for today. Once again I urge you to go to the full text for Pastor Miller’s wise instruction found in a narrative that is both disquieting and challenging to our faith and life perspective.

There are few who live an insular life devoid of problems and severe suffering. Many a time we encounter either in ourselves or near friends and family burdensome tragedies that challenge our faith. In this story Pastor Miller brings us face to face to that heart-probing question “What is Comfort”, or better yet, “what is your only comfort in life and in death? The question ought to give us pause. Miller’s story is of a young man, his life and death and its impact upon others.

“He had just completed his long course of preparation. He had been graduated from the University, and then from the Theological Seminary. He had been called as pastor of an interesting church, and had been ordained and installed. Then almost immediately, he became ill. He was tenderly watched over. The best medical skill was procured in his behalf, and all that could be done, was done. But all availed not. One October day, he sank away into the quietness and stillness of death. Truly it seemed a mysterious providence.”

This is a story not only about the tragedy of a promising life spent so quickly, but of a parent’s crushed hopes and aspirations as well. It also tells of a “young maiden’s ‘sweet dream’ unrealized; of broken hopes folded up and shut away in [her loved one’s] coffin.”

What are we to make of such things? As much as we would want to deny it, we are surrounded by similar sorrows in our own life and times. And as those who belong to Christ we must concur with Miller that such a thing “was no accident, no surprise to God; it came as part of the divine plan for their two young lives.” The key to this faith-affirming thought is knowing that “the years of love had their part in the building up of the character, and the culture of the spirit, of him who was called to higher service.”

As such, we are reminded “that the trial of your faith, [is] much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire” (1 Pet 1:7). From this narrative and the Scriptures we understand that the events of our lives – confrontations and sufferings encountered not only give shape to, but reveal our true “character,” who we are and what we “truly” believe in faith and practice (2 Pet 1: 3). Our true comfort is made evident in how we respond to life’s unavoidable realities. Such things reveal the depth and degree of our faith, our inward ability to explain our “only comfort in life and death” in a Christ-honoring manner.

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm

Chapter 28 – Learning Contentment

 (to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal

 


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Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 26 – A Girl’s Questions

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

By J.R. Miller, 1898

Chapter 26 – A Girl’s Questions

Young ladies are precious. I’ve watched with amazement as they grow into womanhood, often wondering what is going on in their thoughts in the stages of their life.  J.R. Miller’s remarks, “Every girl has questions. Her brain teems with them — her heart too. She ought to have questions. If she had not, she would not be a living girl, at least she would be living to very small purpose. Questions are the keys which open doors within, which we find life’s better things.”

He continues, “Girls are not all alike. It would not be true to say that to answer one girl’s questions, would be to answer every girl’s questions. But certainly to answer one girl’s questions, will throw light upon the questions of many others. From a bright, interesting letter, bristling with interrogations,” Pastor Miller draws “a little handful of earnest inquiries, …in the belief that others may be helped by the answers that are given.”

So what are the questions this young girl asked?

  • What is expected of girls?
  • When a girl wakes up to the knowledge that she is disagreeable — what shall she do?
  • What should she do when feeling melancholy or depression?
  • How about the people [I] don’t like?

These are all good questions, and I hope you will read the full text to see how Pastor Miller answers each one. Remember as you read that each girl is unique, with unique trials and difficulties; so the answers must be tailored to each one’s needs. Moreover, there are many more questions swimming around in those little minds that need wise answers and loving council.

There is a key to all our advising and correcting: the necessity for encouragement. Miller writes, “These are some of the questions of one girl. Her closing sentences are: ‘Don’t forget the encouraging part. If people only knew how we long for it sometimes! A little praise occasionally would not make us vain, would not turn our head, and certainly would do us more good than harm. It would help us sometimes so much!’ This is very true. People need nothing so much as encouragement. An artist said his mother’s kiss made him a painter. Wise cheer is always full of inspiration. The man who writes or speaks discouraging words, is a doer of evil. We have no right ever to be discouragers; we should live always to be encouragers.”

He concludes, “In every girl’s heart, visions of beauty throng — and every one of these visions is a glimpse of something she may become. Her mission [and ours] is to get these holy visions wrought into her life and character.”

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm

Chapter 27 – What Is the Comfort?

(to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal

 


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Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 25 – The Blessing of Work

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 25 – The Blessing of Work

“Some people have the impression that work is part of the curse which sin brought into the world. They imagine that if our first parents had not fallen into sin, that they would never have had anything to do, that they would have walked about forever among the trees of Paradise and by the rivers, having a good time. They suppose that they were doomed to work as part of the penalty of their sin. But this is a mistaken impression, which a careful reading of the story of Eden and the fall will quickly remove.”

I recall a statement made in a Sunday school class once, a comment that has lingered in my thoughts these many years: “TGIM, Thank Goodness It’s Monday.” Never heard it before? Neither had I, knowing it instead as TGIF.  But TGIM looks at work differently, as both a duty and a blessing, rather than as something to escape.

In this installment from J.R. Miller’s wisdom we see again the real problem—sin and the effects of sin on our view of the world. “No doubt the fall changed the character of work,” but “we must never forget that work was part of man’s lot, even in Paradise. Therefore work itself is not a curse—but a blessing.”

Miller has instructive words to teach us with comments like these: “Jesus sanctified labor, by working with his own hands…Paul [worked] at a common trade, …gloried in the fact that his own hands had ministered to his necessities.” He speaks at length about “the reproach of idleness.” Paul said, “If any will not work—neither let him eat!” In Scripture we find the command and exhortation that we should work quietly, and eat our own bread—bread earned with [our] own hands.

He quotes Henry Drummond: “The ideal perfect and divine life was not spent with a book—but with a hammer and a saw; …the shop is not the place for the growing of machines alone. They are the places for the growing of souls.” From my own experience there is much we can learn in the love, joy, satisfaction, patience, meekness and self-control gained in work and working well. This truth leads to a curious observation: “Work is one of the best means of grace.” How is that? Well, Miller explains, “Whatever helps in one’s growth and development of life and character, is a means of grace. Without work, one never can grow.” Think on that. Better yet, go and read his full comments on this point!

“We have no right to our daily bread.” “One cannot be a good Christian and be idle.”  “Prayer without work, is but one wing to the soul.” And he gives an apt example of what he means by each of these three statements, reminding us that “the kind of work we should do depends upon what we are divinely fitted to do;”  that “a large part of the blessing, is in the work itself”; that “it is better to find some task, than to sit with folded hands in unwholesome idleness.”

He closes with this: “Work builds up the character, and knits the sinews of manliness.”

“The young people are fortunate, who by the conditions of their early life, are required to engage in regular, uninterrupted, and even severe labor. Thus they are not only trained to self-dependence—but their abilities are developed, their character is formed into strength—prepared for happy, wholesome, useful living.”

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm

Chapter 26 – A Girl’s Questions

(to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal

 


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Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 24 – Your Little Brother

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 24 – Your Little Brother

If J.R. Miller’s comments are not already very practical to your thinking, than what follows will prove to be!

“Many young people have younger brothers, little brothers sometimes, in their home. In every such case, there is a responsibility which is not always recognized. If older brothers and sisters knew the influence they have over their little brothers, it would make them very thoughtful.”

“It is no doubt true, that older brothers and sisters are divinely appointed guardians for younger children. The story of Miriam and little Moses is one of the most charming stories of the Bible. While the baby lay in the ark among the bulrushes, by the water’s edge, the young girl with quick ear and keen eye stood not far away — near enough to see all that went on, and to be of instant help in case of danger.”

“In many a home, older sisters have played the role of Miriam to perfection.” As such it is “worthwhile to call the attention of older brothers and sisters to the little brother at home, who needs guidance, encouragement, and stimulus. Far more than you know, he watches you, and is influenced by your every movement. He will be impressed much more also, by what you do and what you are — than by any teaching he may receive from you.”

“It is important that you know just how to make the most of your influence over him. You cannot do it by perpetually nagging at him; nagging is one of the most mischievous vices of the home-life. It is all the worse, because it is practiced in the name of piety and virtue. The best you can do for him is first of all to be good yourself.”

I am so tempted to just print all Pastor Miller’s comments here. But space does not allow; you must go to the full text to learn from his wisdom regarding the importance of daily “influence,” establishing a “close and trusting friendship,” the need for “respectfulness” and “patience.”

“Never laugh at him. Do not hurry his development: it is like trying to hasten the opening of a flower; only harm can be done by such a process.”

He speaks to “answering his questions” patiently. We see here a good lesson as to what it means to communicate at eye level: “If your own heart is right, and if you keep yourself in the spirit of childhood, you will be able to lead him in safe ways. The goal is to turn him to noble things in disposition, in conduct, in character, thus quietly inspiring in him the desire to fill his own life with such worthy things.”

“There is a great responsibility in having a little brother. He is always around, and you cannot get out of his sight. He has keen eyes too, and sees all that you do. Your influence over him will be almost unbounded; you must see to it that this influence is pure and wholesome in every way.”

“The older brother [or sister] must answer for [their] little brother; [they] are his keeper. [They] must make [themselves] worthy of his sacred trust.”

Here again I’m reminded of the axiom that we cannot lead another any further then we have gone ourselves. Oh that we may all be truly “worthy to be a friend of Christ’s little ones” in our TEAM2work goal of instilling a godly Christian Character!

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm

Chapter 25 – The Blessing of Work

(to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal


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Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 23 – About Your Shadow

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 23 – About Your Shadow

Have you ever noticed someone walk into a room, and suddenly it seems brighter, more pleasant? Or maybe it has seemed just the opposite—uncomfortable and unsettling? Pastor Miller’s message in this chapter is important for each of us character advocates.

“There is in the New Testament a beautiful story which tells of the power of a good man’s shadow. The people brought out their sick, and laid them along the sides of the road when the apostle Peter was to pass, that his shadow might fall upon them; and we are told that they were healed — every one… Of course it was a supernatural power which wrought so wondrously in Peter’s shadow. God was pleased to use it in this way to impress the people with the divineness of Christianity.”

“We cannot expect that we shall be able to work miracles of healing through our shadow. But we all cast shadows wherever we go, and our shadow has either wholesome or unwholesome influence over other lives. So Miller urges us to ask ourselves, “What kind of shadow do I cast? What influence do I bring to the lives others?”

Here are some of the observations Miller expands upon at length:

“We think of a shadow as something DARK. It is made by an object coming between us and the light. It is therefore an intercepting, a cutting off, of brightness. Night is a shadow…” But “even night has its compensations.” What are they? Read carefully the full text to discover.

Then, “there are other people whose shadow is WHITE. Instead of intercepting the light, the brightness appears to stream through them and to be all the brighter. The rainbow is a kind of glorified shadow. A sunbeam falls upon a drop of water, and its wonderful threads are unraveled, disentangled, as it shines through, and we have seven beautiful colors spread abroad.” Miller shows the rich meaning of this, that “every Christian should cast a rainbow shadow, always [being] inspirers of the good possibilities in those whom we influence.”

I was taught years ago that we cannot take another any further then we have already gone ourselves. In that vein, Miller writes, “We must be overcomers ourselves — before we can help others to overcome… One who himself yields to discouragement cannot be an encourager of others. One who is crushed by sorrow, and does not get God’s comfort for himself — cannot be a comforter of others in their sorrow… If you would have a healing shadow, you must learn the secret of Christ’s victoriousness.” When we are “filled with the mind that was in Christ Jesus … then our life will be full of wholesome and healthful inspirations” … and aspirations!

Thus our TEAM2work prayer ought to be: “May every soul that touches mine, be it the slightest contact, get there from some good, some little grace, one kindly thought, one aspiration yet unfelt, one bit of courage.”

Learn, teach, encourage, advocate, mentor & model “the secret of the healing shadow.”

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm

Chapter 24 – Your Little Brother

(to be continued)

— Joe LoGiudice, Principal


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Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 22 – On Doing Our Best

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 22 – On Doing Our Best

“Your best is all you are ever required to do; indeed, no one can do more. It is not some other one’s best which is expected of you, either — but your own. Sometimes people forget this, and worry because they cannot do as well as some other person does. Our gifts differ — no two people are just alike in their capacity.”

In this chapter, J.R. Miller takes us once again to the very practical side of things: “It is a shame for anyone ever to do less than his best. It may be only the writing of a postal-card — but it should be done as carefully and neatly as you can possibly do it.” Likewise, “the same motto, ‘always do your best’ should be applied to everything we do. A man who had risen from a very humble beginning, to a place of distinction, even to great eminence, when asked the secret of his successful life, said he had always sought to do his best in whatever he undertook, summoning the best thought, the finest skill, the greatest energy, of which he was capable — to every piece of work he was doing. He demanded of himself, too, that today’s best should always be better than yesterday’s.”

Miller describes how there are two sides to all we do, what man sees and that which only God sees. Do not miss this point as you read the full text. He continues, “not only are we working for God’s eye — but it is God’s own work that we are doing. Whether a man is a carpenter, a painter, a stone-cutter, a farmer, a teacher, or a minister — it is God’s work he has in hand; and he must do his best. Old Stradivarius, the violin-maker, was right when he said that if his hand slacked, he would rob God. We rob God whenever we do anything carelessly, or do less than our best! A writer says, ‘The universe is not quite complete, without my work well done.’ We misrepresent God and disappoint him — when we do in a slovenly way anything, however small, that he gives us to do.”

“The lesson is for the housekeeper, for the student, for the teacher, for the preacher, for the boy at play, for the singer — less than the best we can do, dishonors God.” This is true in the little things, but we should also carry the lesson into the highest things. We should live our best every day. We should always ‘approve the things that are excellent.’ We should be just as careful when no human eye is upon us — as when we are working under the gaze of thousands! God is not a hard master — he is not unreasonable in his demands upon us. He does not expect great skill in a beginner…But he expects us to do always what we can — our best.”

I’m reminded of the adage, “We are who we are when no one is watching.”

Pastor Miller closes his thoughts with this: “We should make the most we can of our life, and rise to better attainments every day. The way to do this is in every smallest task and duty, in every thought, word, and act, to do our very best.” 

Find the full text on Grace Gems at: http://gracegems.org/Miller/young_peoples_problems.htm

Chapter 23 – About Your Shadow

(to be continued)

 


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