Be the Base
By Doug Joseph
There’s an old, beat up, plastic 5-gallon bucket in the garage. It has burn marks on its bottom. We also have an old, cracked, plastic recycling bin. It also has burn marks on its bottom. Why? Each year we turn them upside down, stack the former on top the latter, and use them as a base from which to shoot fireworks.
You see, our state’s laws about fireworks are set for safety as the highest priority. Pretty much anything that “blows up” or “goes up” is illegal to buy or sell. All that’s left (legitimately) are lower-powered, ground-based sparkler shows. Handheld sparklers do legally allow a human to be the “base.” One could theoretically jump off a house while holding a sparkler if he really was desperate to see an air launch. We really don’t recommend that! (These are the jokes, people.)
Each year in late June and early July, our church operates a fireworks tent as a fundraiser. We’re Christians. As such, we are, or at least try our best to be, law-abiding citizens. Thus we only sell the ground-based, glorified sparklers. Each year loads of people come in asking us if we have “the good stuff” (by which they mean stuff that can blow off a man’s hand if an accident occurs). We always say no. Some don’t believe us until we say it two or three times. Seems like they’re going by the “two or three witnesses” rule in the Bible. (These are the jokes, people. Sorry.)
We buy some of our own product. Early on we were advised that when it comes to getting the maximum “show” out of these legal, “safe and sane” fireworks, it helps to set them up on a base. We learned that was true. If you build and use a base, then the upward shower of beautifully colored sparks climbs higher into the air before being pulled back down by gravity. Also, the downward journey is part of the show, too. So, if the sparks have further to fall before hitting the ground, viewers have more time to enjoy them on their way.
There are many influences on the formation of one’s heart and character. One’s parents are crucial among them all. Other influences include culture (especially via media), friends, enemies, adults (especially teachers), etc. Obviously, not everyone receives influence from the Bible during their upbringing, but it certainly can be a major influence, if received. The same goes for church. God can and does often seek to influence regardless of the absence of church and the Bible, but whether His Spirit’s voice and its effects are accepted or rejected is left up to the individual. That is by His choice. What’s more, in the beginning of each life, the parents have great sway on whether a child hears or ignores God.
Some people wrongly presume that upon one’s conversion, God suddenly and automatically makes up for all the developmental shortfalls in their past. Not so in most cases. This is apparently why the Bible stresses to parents that we are to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
While it is true that God can help a person to overcome great disadvantages, the fewer disadvantages there are present to overcome, the easier it will be for that believer to “go higher” in their journey for the Lord during this life. Downfalls such as being taught wrong values, illiteracy, not being taught good character traits, sickness, and aging, etc, form a type of “gravity” that forces us—the spark—downward, resulting in a lower zenith than was potentially available. One’s physical death corresponds to the spark hitting the ground and dying out (at least insomuch as this life is concerned).
A believer who was raised in truth and taught godly values during their formative years can often reach a higher zenith than can a believer who was not (and who has therefore suffered more developmental deficits). This simple statement is defensible both from Scripture and from actual observations of real life. Paul’s writings to the younger minister, Timothy, show that the positive effects of Tim’s godly upbringing by a righteous mother and grandmother were visible in him.
Dads are especially important in building the base for the child(ren). Dads, if you don’t know what to say during family devotions then get some help; seek some resources. There are lots of resources out there. Use Google. Most importantly, use the Bible. The bottom line is that if you don’t read the Bible—if you don’t know it and believe it—then you won’t be able to teach it to your kids. However, while family devotions very well should include a time of simply reading from the Bible, much more can be added.
In a recent message the Vision Forum said, “Over the years, we have found that one of the best discipleship aids is a good story. Children relate to the experiences of others, and a well-told tale with a Christ-centered message can permanently impress important truths upon a young person’s heart.” We couldn’t agree more.
As a dad himself, this author is currently reading The Chronicles of Narnia (by C.S. Lewis) to our kids during our devotions. They love it! We’re also drawing upon some great apostolic resources, such as “Devotions with Dad”, written by Daniel J. Koren, a Home Missionary licensed with the United Pentecostal Church International. Koren’s lessons are freely available at www.devotionswithdad.com, and each one includes a private message to dads, a “Rusty Story” to be read to the kids, and a suggested Bible passage to be read and discussed. (Discussion questions are provided.)
No rocket or spacecraft ever reached orbit or outer space without a launch pad. Parents, it is not only your privilege, but also your responsibility to be the launch pad for your children. Regardless of whether your parents provided you a good base or not, you have the potential to do more for your kids than what was done for you. Moms and dads, we hate to break this to you, but sacrificing to be the base for your child’s higher zenith in God probably means that you get to be the bucket and bin. You may wind up with burn marks, but it will be worth it for all eternity. Build the base. Be the base. We’re here to help.
Doug and LaDonna Joseph recently celebrated 28 wonderful years of marriage, and they have four awesome kids. Doug is an ordained minister in the United Pentecostal Church Int’l (since 2003), and pastor of Christian Apostolic Church (since 2002). He serves on the board of directors of the WV Home Missions Department, as secretary-treasurer. In 2004, the Josephs led CAC to establish Apostolic Christian Academy (K-12 Christian school). Previously, Doug was creative director for the General Home Missions Division, at the United Pentecostal Church International headquarters in St. Louis, MO, where the Josephs were blessed by the friendship and mentorship of Rev. and Mrs. Jack & Elsy Cunningham. Doug helped launch the UPCI’s national Men’s Ministry, and was editor for the Apostolic Man magazine. He oversaw the creation of Ready To Be Free, a sweeping evangelism thrust. Before that, the Josephs served on pastoral staff of North Charleston Apostolic Church (WV), blessed by the leadership of Pastor Billy & Shirley Cole. LaDonna Joseph is a great wife and mom. She is CAC’s general secretary, school principal, and minister of music. She has served on the board of directors of WV UPCI’s Ladies Ministry. She has also served as the pianist for WV’s All-State Choir. The Josephs helped the Coles to publish their memoirs (available at www.amazon.com and www.BillyColeBook.com). Doug is also author of New IMmortal, a futuristic Christian novel (available at www.amazon.com and www.newimmortal.com). LaDonna is a native of West Virginia. Doug hails from Shreveport, LA, and is an adopted, honorary West Virginian.
Pastor Joseph's blog is at dougjoseph.net.