The battlefield.....

Monday, January 8, 2018

Dear Friends:

Sometimes when I am trying to understand why a seven year old, nine year old, fourteen year old and eighteen year old do what they do, I try to think back to when I was their same age. And as I do, I find myself tempering my frustrations and aggravations towards them. It’s good to reflect back on what was going on in my little brain a few decades ago.

Today, for example, school was cancelled  because of the cold. Cancelled!  That meant that all four boys were at the house or my office all day long.  For most of the day all I could think of was how “cancelled school” would affect my day; but later I tried to think about how I would feel if I was seven or nine years old and  school was cancelled!  How can I possibly ask the boys to “calm down” when there’s no school? How could expect them to not be excited and ready for fun!  If I was one of them I would be bouncing off the walls with excitement!   And yet, for an inexplicable reason I asked them to act like nothing had happened and behave as if it’s just a normal day.  

So the boys came with me to work today excited, looking for adventure and ready to experience the fun of being a Camp Director.  I kept reminding them that I “had to get my work done, answer my emails, return my phone calls, keep on schedule” etc, etc.  The two youngest boys really did try to maintain their composure, but the fascination of all the books in my office, all those desk drawers, the papers, the dooh-dads in boxes all over the office was too much for them, and I had to give in and let them explore.  It’s funny how a small child can find such  pleasure in a colored piece of broken glass, or an old photo album, or some dated credit cards!  But these boys had more fun plundering through my junk than they could have had watching movies all day long—-and they learned a bit about their new father by looking at my worthless stuff.

I don’t claim to be a perfect man—-far from it. But I would admit that truly there is nothing in my office or my home that I would be ashamed for them to find. A friend once remarked to me that if a movie was inappropriate for a child, why should it be appropriate for an adult?  I have never forgot that and have excluded DVDs from my home—-along with anything else— that a child should not see.  The point is that I can rest, knowing that there is nothing “questionable” to find in my home or office—-unless it’s found on the internet.

Again, I don’t mean to be bragging or assume to be a hero, but why should I allow anything in my life that might cause others to pause as they considered a life devoted to God?  But it’s one thing to easily remove or destroy those physical things that could cause a child to stumble or think twice about my faith in God and my devotion to His Son, but quite another as I considered the real battlefield—-the place where no one sees, i.e. what goes on in my mind. And that is the real place of the fight for any man (or woman) of God. It’s what I meditate upon and imagine that I have surrender to Him each day—not so much what I purchase or put on my walls. It’s the wandering thoughts and fantasies that I am not  prepared for my four young men to see and  copy!  And only by His grace and power am I able to maintain that fight!  My struggle is not against “flesh and blood” but truly against the spiritual darkness that wants to consume my thoughts.

The answer? To keep my mind and thoughts on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”  Otherwise I am consumed by things that have no place in a boy’s mind—-and certainly not mine either.





Dean Barley

The Vineyard

336 351 2070

919 368 8493 (Mobile)

The Vineyard


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