Author: Joe Bradley

Not Just a Good Idea. The Golden Rule is THE Idea.

You can’t teach calculus to a chimpanzee.  So just share your banana. – Jon Racheal I’ve never quite heard the Golden Rule expressed this way but it does have a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it very memorable.  However I think we better exemplify this one: Whoever has the gold makes the rule. – Johnny Hart As we go through life we go through stages. In infancy we are grateful for everything given to us. It’s literally the first time we saw colors, tasted food, heard sounds. And by virtue of novelty we are thankful for those things. As we get older though we start to feel like we are owed those experiences and things. And whatever or whomever gets in our way of gets our wrath. I think the Brothers Grimm told this very well in the story “The Old Man and His Grandson.” The story goes there once was an old man who lived with his son’s family. As he got older, his eyesight got worse and his own hands started …

Are you Championing the Gentleness of God?

A virtue, which I need in a higher degree, to give a beauty and luster to my behavior, is gentleness.  If I had more of an air of gentleness, I should be much mended. – Jonathon Edwards If one of your most influential contributions to Christianity is a sermon titled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” you probably wouldn’t be labeled as “gentle.” As we’ve been going through the fruit of the Spirit, gentleness is one which is very misunderstood.  When we think of gentleness, or meekness as some translations have it, we usually think of weakness. Our mind conjures up a small framed person who barely raises their voice and couldn’t hurt a fly. Much of Jonathon Edwards ministry flourished because of his passion and fire. So why would this 17th century, fiery preacher want to be gentle? A lot of this is to blame on the English language. The Greek word here is prautes and literally means mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, or meekness. Coincidentally, “meek” comes from an old …

Are You Planning for Destruction or Life?

A few years ago I remember one fateful night. Melissa was gone so it was just me and the two boys home alone. I had walked out of the room for a couple minutes when I heard both boys screaming and laughing. This was not good. This combination is a herald of bad things to come. I walked in the room to find one of my sons in his underwear sitting on the other’s head. “Can you smell it?!?” Kids don’t wake up thinking, “How can I stretch the limit of my parent’s patients and love?” But they still seem to do it, don’t they? (For the record, everyone could smell it.) What sorrow awaits you who lie awake at night, thinking up evil plans. You rise at dawn and hurry to carry them out, simply because you have the power to do so. – Micah 2:1 We “as adults” don’t succumb to the base urges our children do (most of the time). So we think ourselves better in many ways. But here God points …

Are You Disciplining to Punish or Teach?

About three years ago I wrote about how I use a belt to raise my kids. Since then, we’ve added two more kids to our family. I thought it was time to see how this practice has been working. In the post, I talked about how my children see how I am dressed physically and spiritually. Are they watching me put on my best? Am I leading by example? Like any parent will tell you, this is only one part of being a parent. You could model perfectly how to be an outstanding citizen or loving Christian and your kids will still be jerks at times. (Yes, I said my kids can be jerks and I stand by that statement.) I love my kids and, for the most part, they are really good kids, but they are human too and make mistakes. Discipline can be a difficult subject to talk about. Some parents lean to the strict side of discipline while others are more lax. But the Bible is very clear in that we should …

Questioning Your Purpose? Get a New Perspective.

Our purpose in life seems to be a question everyone at some time in their life must ask. While it’s a great question, I think the answer people are looking for is not right. Or perhaps we are looking at the question wrong.  Melissa and I sure were 3 years ago. One Wednesday night when our church still met at the chicken farms, Melissa texted me to come to the preschool area of our facility. This was the first time she told me about Hailey. Oh, how to describe Hailey? She has an infectious smile, and a carefree attitude that surpasses reason. She’s also been through a lot more than I could ever image. Hailey had just entered into the foster system and was staying with Melissa and Steven Beam.  But I remember my Melissa, in her own way, basically telling me we would be adopting Hailey. It took me a little longer to get used to the idea of adoption, but I finally understood what we needed to do. We signed up to start …

Looking For Joy Won’t Make You Happy

I live out in the country, down a dirt road and then a little farther. I grew up here and I have a lot of history here. My grandparents’ parents bought this land and used to run a mill from the creek that runs through our property. I would spend hours playing in the woods and splashing in the creek. I always noticed the trees next to the creek were much bigger and sturdier than any others on our land. And it’s something that’s still true today. As an adult, it is very easy to see why. The trees next to the creek have a steady, never ending supply of water. All throughout history people have settled around rivers and lakes to have easy access to one of the most vital things: water. It’s no wonder, then, that God would use this as a metaphor for growth in our spiritual lives as well. Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners or join in …

You Can Overcome Disabling Fear

Fear as a primary motivator never really works out the way we want things to. In one of my earlier blogs, I talked about how we should not be ashamed of our fears. Let me tell you about a time fear gripped me. When I was in nursing school I was taken out of my element. I drove to Northside hospital to start my mother-baby rotation. As part of this rotation, I was to be a part of the gross birthing process miracle of childbirth. On this particular night, my first night on the job, I had just been traumatized amazed by my first birth. Afterwards, my instructor immediately ushered me into the next room with the next baby waiting. At this point, my mind had gone to another place. When I walked into the next room I was just standing there like a kindergartner in right field; I was picking flowers in my mind. In my distracted state, I never noticed what someone was handing to me. The baby. Someone handed me the dirty, …

Do You Have a Faith That Works?

What does it mean when we say, “Love does?” Or when we say, “Faith without works is dead?” Doesn’t God give us our salvation as a gift? Yes, He does! But we aren’t supposed to keep it to ourselves. One of the most frustrating things to hear in our house is when playing suddenly becomes tears and someone yells, “I’m sorry!” The door flies with open one child trying to muster uo the best tears he can while the other is continuously yelling in his ear, “I said I’m sorry!” The whole while you are preparing to hear all the arguments and decree your judgement. I don’t know if it’s ever happened in your house but inevitably when the consequences are given the offender incredulously looks at you and repeats again, “but I said I’m sorry.” The problem most kids don’t understand is saying the words is only the first step. The next step is showing you are sorry. Let’s put it another way. When Melissa or I are disciplining our kids usually they will …

What Do You Know? Let’s Do Something!

A fine quotation is a diamond in the hand of a man of wit and a pebble in the hand of a fool. -Joseph Roux Growing up, G.I. Joe was one of my favorite shows. Partly it was because my name is Joe and I thought somehow I would be able to become one just based on my name.  And, sadly, I’m still waiting for the call. But I do remember watching the cartoons and watching all the Joes fight against Cobra Commander.  After they inevitably won every episode it would always end with the tag “and knowing is half the battle!” Growing up, knowing was the priority for me. I needed to understand why something was important before it became important to me. Knowing was the first step and once I understood, then I would act. I still like to extensively study something and know every possible piece of information about it before I act. I usually live my life by two poignant statements: “Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.” – George V. Higgins …

It’s a Beautiful Day in This Neighborhood

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood, A neighborly day for a beauty, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you, I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. So let’s make the most of this beautiful day, Since we’re together, we might as well say, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor? Won’t you please, Won’t you please, Please won’t you be my neighbor? Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was an amazing show. How many times growing up did you watch his show and honestly think this amazing man actually wanted to be your friend? Now, granted, at that age we believed many things that could never actually happen. But I’d like to think this man was different. There was something truly special about him. And there was something special about him. Not only could he …