Tag Archives: Family Bible Time

Crying Out Loud – Part 1

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Here is an e-mail I received from a dad:

We have three children and one due in January. Their ages are six, four, and one. We have always thought it was important to have our children in church with us so we have done that from the birth of our first child. Not long ago we joined a church that was as close as we could find to what we wanted. Just recently we were asked to put our one-year-old in the nursery because of the noise and distraction he was causing. Could you refer me to any Dad’s Corners that may address this issue? A questioning dad

I agree with this father that it is a wonderful blessing for the family when they can worship together, including the babies and toddlers. However, we have noticed in raising eight children and also observing other families that children don’t automatically know how to sit still and be quiet at appropriate times such as during a church service. Therefore this family with four young ones can expect quite the challenge when bringing the children into a worship service. It is a reasonable request that a child who is disturbing others in the worship service be taken out, at least to a cry room. What saddens me greatly, though, is when a church bans all children from the worship service. If the children are quiet then they should be able to be with their parents. “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). The Greek word for suffer is “eao” and means to let be or let alone. Sadly, many try to hinder those who Jesus said we were to, “Let them come.”

In our Maxwell family conferences we have the policy that children are welcome in the sessions. Normally, people are respectful of others and will take a noisy child out to a cry room, or if it is “toddler noise,” they will go stand in the back to avoid being a distraction to those listening to the session. I particularly remember, though, a conference with an extreme disturbance. There was a three-year-old girl angrily screaming while sitting on her daddy’s lap close to the front of the room. She was clearly not happy. The dad was gently trying to “shush” his daughter. His attempts to quiet her didn’t do anything except make her more upset, and so she screamed even louder.

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This dad was provoking his child to wrath, and we were all suffering along with her. The father should have taken his daughter out of the session so as not to distract others and care for the needs of his little girl. After she was calm, then he could have brought her back.

The key we found, and that I encouraged the father who wrote me to use, was practicing at home. A parent shouldn’t be surprised if his child throws a fit in church if he never has been taught to sit quietly. It didn’t sound to me as if the dad who wrote the e-mail had a child who was really carrying on but rather just being a bit noisy. Regardless of how much of a distraction a child might be in a worship service, practice is what is needed to correct the problem. No one puts a child on a bicycle for the first time and expects him to ride it without at least training wheels. So how does someone teach his children to sit quietly in church?

Our nightly family Bible time was an excellent practice opportunity for our young children to learn to sit still and pay attention. For Bible time, we included all our children from newborns on up. (I had to consult with Teri on this section because I found my memory of that time was not accurate.) Until the babies were six or seven months old, they were usually not noisy during family Bible time. As they became more mobile and vocal, the practice was needed. Teri worked with the baby while I led Bible time and concentrated on the other children. We found it reasonable and attainable to have a level of success with little ones by the time they were eighteen months old to sit tolerably quiet in church. However, with a child that young, he was not going to be absolutely perfect so we were sensitive to taking a child out of the worship service if he was noisy.

We found that the consistency of practice during family Bible time every night was the key. Before beginning Bible time, Teri would make sure the baby’s diaper was dry. If he started being noisy during Bible time, she would whisper “Shhh. Shhh.” If the noise continued, she would carry the child to his crib where the room lights were on and leave the room, telling him she would be back for him when he was quiet. She would wait a couple of minutes until he was quiet, walk in the room praising him for being quiet, and bring him back to Bible time to start the process over again. Our babies liked to be with the rest of the family and therefore taking them to the crib was a deterrent to their noise-making during Bible time. It just took a consistent consequence, and they began to learn that they needed to sit quietly. It was a gentle and harmless process, and it worked! It is amazing how smart little ones are.

The key is consistency! We must choose to invest the time and energy necessary for success. I have noticed an interesting facet of men. When something is important to them, they will do it. If they don’t do it, it isn’t important to them. What is more important than a family being together around the Word of God? If we believe that, we will be determined to make it work.

Next month we will continue with this important subject of worshipping the Lord together as a family.

Bringing Up Children Who Will Love the Lord – Part 2

Last month we began looking at what we as mothers could do in our daily lives and schedules to help our children love the Lord Jesus with all of their hearts and to grow to be adults who will be lovers of God more than lovers of pleasure. The following note contains all the details of the question.

“My greatest desire for my child is that he will love the Lord with all of his heart. He is generally well behaved and obedient, but I have recently realized that I need to do a better job of stirring up godly appetites in his heart. I want to teach him to be a lover of God more than a lover of pleasure.

“There are two areas where I see my own need to improve: One is that I don’t think I have scheduled in enough work and responsibility for him. The other is that I am not a diligent person. I am too quick to settle for less effort, both on my part and on his. I haven’t been purposely doing this, but now that I realize it, I am so sorry for it! I want to change, and I am claiming God’s promise that I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.

“I am going to re-read my Managers of Their Homes book, and rewrite our schedule. Once I have done this, I plan to start joining the weekly accountability threads.

“Meanwhile, I would love any advice you have. I know that teaching our children to love God above all is a heart issue. However, I believe that our hearts are affected by the way we spend our time. I believe that our schedule has a VERY strong impact on our hearts. What do you put on your schedules that has actually brought fruit in your children’s lives, taught them to love the Lord, and to have a servant’s heart?

“We have silent Bible reading, as well as a time for reading the Bible together, and for memory work. He uses a Bible study book as part of his homeschool work. We also have a reading time right before bed. For the most part, we use books with a godly focus, such as the Moody Family Series, Rod and Staff stories, etc. What more can I do to give him godly teachings and to help him apply these teachings to his life?”WhiterThanSnow

We started with the basic premise that our actions speak louder than our words. What we desire to be evident in our children’s lives must start in our own hearts through the attitudes and actions of our lives. As we move into how to promote loving Jesus in our children’s lives through what we have them do, WhiterThanSnow has already input the basics into her son’s schedule—personal Bible time, family Bible time, and Scripture memory.

Look again with me at Deuteronomy 6:5-7: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”This process of teaching our children the Word of God is to be purposeful, and it should be accomplished diligently. I think if we want to have this outcome, a plan will be helpful.

In our family, as soon as our children can read, we want to teach them to have personal time in the Word every day. Here is a whole Mom’s Corner article that I wrote on the subject of helping children have daily Bible time: Children’s Personal Bible Time. In addition, family Bible time is vitally important as well. During family Bible time, we as parents have the opportunity of teaching not only the factual information contained in Scripture but, even more importantly, how Scripture applies to our daily lives. As a matter of fact, I believe that our family Bible time has been the single most instrumental factor in helping develop a love for the Lord Jesus Christ and a disdain for the pleasures of this world (see Steve’s “Feed CDs for more information on family Bible time). Finally, Scripture memory allows a child to have the Word available in his mind for use at any moment of the day.

Another step we can take as we fulfill Deuteronomy 6:5-7 is to make sure we share Scripture with our children through out the day. I discovered that this takes time, a commitment, and a personal knowledge of applicable Scripture. In looking back, I regret that I didn’t do this more with my children as they were growing up.

Sharing Scripture might be done in the context of disciplining a child who isn’t saying or doing what he should be saying or doing. A tool that helped me in using Scripture when I disciplined was Doorposts’ “If-Then. This inexpensive chart not only helped me be consistent with the discipline of my children, but it also directed me in using Scripture in these situations. It was very important to us to encourage our children that our love for the Lord Jesus Christ is demonstrated by our obedience to His Word. For us that meant using Scripture when we disciplined and talking with the child about obedience to the Lord Jesus. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).

When a child is ungrateful, we can encourage him with this verse: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When he is bickering with a sibling, we discuss this idea: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Romans 12:10). If he is angry, we go over this admonition: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). I believe you have the idea through these examples.

Please let me give you a word of caution, though, as you use the Word in your children’s lives. Especially when you are using it to correct a child, to point out error in his life, or to give him a biblical direction—be sure your attitude is one of love, gentleness, and patience. If there is anger or frustration in your heart, it will be evident to your child and undermine the good you would like to achieve. “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).

Using the Word in daily life can also be implemented as we personally encounter situations through our home-life activities. When we greet our children in the morning, we can say, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24). If a child gets hurt, we can quote, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Then we want to make sure that we stop and pray out loud for our child so that he is hearing and learning a dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ to care for his needs. As we observe a beautiful flower in the garden, we say, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) and offer praise to the Lord: “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalms 34:1).

In addition, we will use the Word for giving direction in a child’s life. When he comes to us because someone has treated him unfairly, we can show him the sufferings of Christ. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23). We can help him with his response to an offender: “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head” (Romans 12:19-20).

In our quest to bring up children who will be drawn to being a lover of God more than a lover of pleasures, we will start with a foundation of the Word of God in their lives. This is accomplished through time in the Word, Scripture memory, and the application of verses that are pertinent to our children’s lives and the situations that come up throughout the day. “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors” (Psalms 119:24). May we be mothers who love the Word and teach our children to do so as well. “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved” (Psalms 119:47).

Countdown

Sarah and I walked together the last couple of mornings because Teri, my usual walking partner, has been quite sick with a cold. During our walk, Sarah and I have enjoyed our time greatly. She had a thought this morning that I’ve continued to consider, and it is a great subject for this month’s Dad’s Corner.

Sarah wondered how life would be different if everyone wore something on the front of their clothing, maybe similar to a ChorePack, but instead of chores, it displayed the month and year a person would die. Think about how sobering it would be to have a constant reminder each time you looked at a person telling you he only had so much longer before he was going to face God in eternity. Life might look something like the following scenario.

This evening you see your neighbor and exchange a few courteous words with him as you take out the trash. You notice that he is going to die September 15th of next year. You make a mental note that you would like to spend more time discussing the Lord with him. You’ll try to work something out for next week.

You go inside and finish helping your family clean up after dinner. You look at your wife’s eternity date and wonder what her life will be like without you for the thirty additional years she is going to outlive you. You still have another fifteen years together before you die, but you can’t help but consider all the unknowns for her when you are gone. At least you are committed to giving “your all” to these last fifteen years with her and serving the Lord faithfully in everything. You have a twinge of guilt in thinking back to years that were wasted when you were younger and didn’t have the same value of time.

Your mind drifts to your brother. You both were raised in a “Christian” home where Dad and Mom were token Christians. Sadly, your brother has followed after Dad’s example and has little time for the Lord. It’s not that he is evil or anything like that. He goes to church and prays before meals, but he feels God put us on this earth to enjoy it, and he is going to have fun with everything that is not bad. His idea is that if God hasn’t said “Thou shalt not…” then it is okay, because he is “free in Christ.” As such, his life is dominated by play and entertainment, but sadly there is a noticeable absence of spiritual fruit.

You remember back years ago to when the Lord convicted you that you were Jesus’ servant and as such, you were to spend your time in accordance with His direction. That helped you understand that “free in Christ” meant you were free from the bondage of sin, but you were a servant of the living God. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Therefore, your time was no longer yours to do with what you wanted to do.

Then your thoughts drift to next Sunday—Resurrection Sunday. Though it is a special time of deep meaning for your immediate family, it is a time of folly and nonsense for your extended family. Therefore, you have greatly mixed feelings with the approaching day knowing that conflict will arise. Your brother will insist that you and the children come over to his house for their yearly egg hunt. He always dresses up in a giant bunny costume and encourages you to “lighten up” because it is only “harmless fun.” What’s worse is that others in the extended family all side with him and think you are a legalistic “Pharisee” when you want to avoid the ungodly fun the world enjoys on Resurrection Sunday and instead focus on Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection from the dead.

Your brother has declared to the family that when he hits the five year mark before he dies, he really wants to live it up. He’s saving to that end so that he can stop working and just concentrate on having the best time possible before he is “pushing up daisies.”

What a stark contrast to your life, you muse. Since you are bought with the blood of your precious Savior, Jesus Christ, you know your time is not your own. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” (1 Peter 1:18-19). You understand that a servant of the Lord Jesus only does what he is commanded or given permission to do and finds great joy in that. The world’s fun is just an expensive counterfeit to joy in the Lord. Your heart turns once again to praying for your brother and other extended family members, desiring for them to have a sweetness and fervency in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

You are burdened when you look at people and see the constant reminder that they are facing eternity soon. “Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?” (Psalms 89:47). There is so little time to share Christ and so many that need Him. “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). The urgency you feel to be busy about the Lord’s business is great, and the time is short. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalms 90:12).

Well, now that cleanup is finished, it’s time for Bible time. Everyone heads into the living room and grabs their Bibles. Tomorrow is a new day. How will the Lord direct? Even though the reality is that people don’t wear about “eternity dates,” every person does have a day they will die. May we live our lives with that in mind and not waste one opportunity to share Christ!

Protecting Against Deception – Part 2

In December we began a series focusing on protecting Christian families from deception. It is easy to be deceived, and the consequences can be far-reaching. There has been no greater deception than the first one recorded in Scripture, where in the garden, Satan won, and all mankind has suffered since then. When we choose not to follow God’s Word, even if the choice was due to being deceived, we will lose, and there will be consequences for our family. May this series on deception help Dad to be on guard against being deceived.

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. . . .” (Genesis 3:1)

Subtil means that the serpent, controlled by Satan, was crafty and skilled in deception with a wicked agenda. Satan’s plan for everyone is contrary to God’s calling. Satan wants to separate us from fellowship with God and from being obedient to our Lord as we will observe in these verses. We must never underestimate the ability of our opponent, the weakness and depravity of our own flesh, and how that combination makes us vulnerable to deception. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

“. . . And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1)

Now we begin to see Satan’s wicked agenda as he exploits Eve’s weakness. Satan will attack the family through any vulnerability, whether it be the wife’s (1 Peter 3:7), the dad’s, or the children’s weak areas. One of the primary weapons Satan uses is questioning God’s Word, especially as it relates to the boundaries God places on our lives. He wants to convince us that there will be no consequences if we disobey. God places boundaries for our protection, but our pride wants freedom without constraint. The less we know of God’s Word, and the more insistent that we are “free in Christ” to do as we please, the more vulnerable we become to deception. Real freedom in Christ will be consistent with Galatians 5:13: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Often believers in the Lord Jesus Christ overestimate their own “goodness” and their resistance to deception. We still have the flesh with us, and therefore, our wicked hearts make us susceptible to being led astray. In one respect, we are a sin salesman’s dream come true since our hearts desperately desire what sin offers us, and we can choose to believe the deception. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14).

Joshua was deceived by the Gibeonites because he didn’t inquire of the Lord as to whether they were telling him the truth. Eve should have taken the new doctrine she was hearing from the serpent to her authority, Adam. Satan’s initial deception involved Eve, who at this time had no sin nature. Of all people, she should have been the most resistant to sin. If she was deceived, how much more at risk are we? Keep in mind, though, Eve was deceived, but Adam disobeyed.

“And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Genesis 3:2-3)

Eve now reveals a disconnect with God’s actual command as stated in Genesis 3:11: “. . . I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat . . .” It is very possible that Eve had a resistant attitude toward God’s command not to eat from the tree because she added that they couldn’t touch it either.

What practical lessons can be gleaned from just this section on the initial deception? First, we can see that when we have a negative attitude toward God’s clear commands, we open ourselves up to false doctrine. Eve was not willing to accept God’s command not to eat the fruit—she changed what the command was.

In John 8:41-45 Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees. They weren’t able to receive Jesus’ speech as truth since they were disobeying God and obeying Satan. Because of their disobedience, they had embraced false doctrine and could not recognize Truth. As we obey the clear teachings of Scripture, we will find new truths become clear that we didn’t understand before. Sometimes a dad will wonder why his family is different, less godly, than another family. The answer may boil down to one of obedience. God gives more light and understanding of doctrine as we obey the light He gives. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).

Next, we must always be suspicious when we are being challenged or encouraged to less obedience to the Word and more freedom of choice. We need to be in God’s Word daily discussing with our families how it applies to life and welcoming the safeguards God has put in place for us. Our flesh doesn’t like restraints, but it loves freedom. Paul was willing to restrict any freedom he had if it meant not causing a brother to stumble. “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Corinthians 8:13). Are we willing servants of the Lord Jesus who can deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24)? That doesn’t sound like much personal freedom of choice does it? An automatic red flag should appear anytime someone encourages us toward more freedom, questions obedience, and denies consequences.

Eve didn’t know that she was being deceived. Deception won’t tell us that it is not truth. Therefore, we must turn to our source of truth—the Bible. Our focus needs to be the Word and obeying the light God gives us. The Holy Spirit has freedom to direct us, but He will do so consistently with the Word. May we learn the voice of the Shepherd by hearing it daily. John 10 tells us that the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice and will follow it. The more we are in His Word, the more our souls will be tuned to knowing our Lord’s voice from that of the deceiver.

Eve was in the wrong company. Dad, what company are you keeping? To whom are you listening? What sort of significant secular influences do you have—friends, media, music, or entertainment? We can deceive ourselves by saying, “It won’t affect me. I can take what I want and leave the bad.”

Years ago I was listening to a popular, secular talk show because I wanted to be informed about politics. This show is also very entertaining. It often mocks people and is filled with inappropriate innuendoes. I figured I could “tune out” the bad and receive the good. During that time, I found myself struggling with wrong thoughts. I would cast those thoughts down, but they just kept coming back. Finally, the Lord prompted me to discontinue listening to that program, and amazingly, all those wrong thoughts disappeared. Whatever we allow into our minds will have an influence on us. What sort of company does your family keep?

Why was Adam not protecting Eve? God gave Adam the role of keeping the garden, and he was likely aware that Eve was talking to the serpent. This would have been surprising because there is no indication that any of the other creatures were able to speak. Eve did not turn to Adam, nor did Adam intervene in protecting Eve. Are there influences that Mom is exposed to or “counsel” she is hearing that she would do well to discuss with her husband? Is her husband aware of what others are saying to her? Many well meaning “friends” might be “encouraging” her that she needs more time for herself, shouldn’t be homeschooling, or shouldn’t be having more children. God made a husband and wife to be no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, the wife should share the outside advice she is hearing with her husband. Do our wives have confidence that we have their best interests before the Lord always? Can they trust us with their deepest needs and thoughts? A great hindrance to a wife opening her heart to her husband is if he is a selfish man who cares only about his own preferences. That is why it is so important that we have hearts for our families with a vision for where those families are called to go. Then we must be obediently following the Lord.

If we don’t want our families to be deceived, we will lead them daily into the Word, the source of truth, and teach them to obey the Word. (Feed My Sheep: A Practical Guide to Daily Family Devotions is a resource encouraging you to have daily time in God’s Word with your family and then showing you practically how to do it.) A positive attitude toward obedience begins in our lives. We will guard our families from deceptive influences, again starting with us. Next month, Lord willing, we will continue to look at this subject of deception and the Christian family.

How’s Work?

I couldn’t give an accurate count of the number of men, through the years, who have blamed their jobs for their not being able to have a daily time in Bible reading and prayer before work. They would say they had to be to work early, stay late, or both. They had to travel, or the job took all of their mental and emotional focus. There was always some “valid” reason why they didn’t have time for their own personal Bible reading and prayer time.

It seemed like the same story was given when it came to not having time for family Bible reading and prayer in the evenings. Dad’s job seemed to be the primary “good” reason for him not leading his family in Bible reading and prayer. There appears to be a Biblical example for these types of statements.

In Genesis 3:12, when Adam was confronted with a wrong choice, he said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Here, the one God had given Adam to care for and protect is the one on whom Adam is blaming his bad decision. A job, which is not much more than a vehicle to provide for the physical needs of the family, becomes the reason why the spiritual needs of the family aren’t being met.

We would do well to remember Jesus’ dialog with Peter in John 21. “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

Brothers, do we confess to love Jesus? If so, reread the section above. What did Jesus tell us to do if we love Him? Didn’t He indirectly tell us to feed the lambs and the sheep? We are shepherds of the flock that He has given us. Jesus is telling us to feed His sheep that He has entrusted to our care. Could Jesus have been instructing Peter to make sure that the flock was receiving physical food? If so, then it would make the “job excuse” a valid reason, but that isn’t the emphasis as we can see in Acts when Peter began his ministry. Peter’s mission was preaching – not distributing food. When the apostles were accused of neglecting the widows in Acts 6:2-4, they appointed deacons so they would not slight the teaching of God’s Word – spiritual feeding.

Is your family starving to death before your eyes – spiritually starving, that is – because you aren’t feeding them? Who will be to blame for that? No, we can’t blame our boss or someone else. The shepherd is responsible for the condition of his flock. May we be the men whom God has called us to be and feed our flocks.

Can Dads Influence Their Children’s Spiritual Outcome? – Part 8

(If you’d like to read the previous articles in this series, please do so.)
Sitting on my desk in front of me is a “gold brick” with the words “Outstanding Performance” engraved on top. I was awarded this treasure in 1983 for my many hours of “meritorious” work at my corporate job. My gold brick has become very meaningful to me, but not, perhaps, in the way you might think. The brick is actually solid brass, even though it has the look and feel of gold. Funny what a striking analogy it is, being as deceptive in its true value as my hours to earn it were deceptive in their true (eternal) value.

For me, it has become a symbol of how my normal daily work is about as worthless as a fake “gold brick.” It has become a frequent reminder of how easy it is to have misplaced priorities. When it comes to eternity, the hours we men spend at work are basically wood, hay, and stubble. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Just think, the work we believe is so important that we spend eight hours a day on (and then some) is all going to be consumed in eternity. This work, which becomes most men’s identity, will burn. It won’t even give off bright colors and fancy sparks that dazzle the eye like we have just seen on the Fourth. The flames will simply devour all our precious effort, and nothing will be left of eternal value as we stare at the ashes. Of course, it is our responsibility to provide for our families, so the real work of eternal value can be carried forth. Plus the money we earn can be used to further the Kingdom of God. In general, however, the work we spend so many hours a day doing will count for nothing in eternity.

How easy it is to be deceived into thinking our important work occurs during the for-pay job, but the work we do at home isn’t as important. That is backwards! Finally, when we come home to our family, that is when we have the opportunity for gold, silver, and precious stones. The question is—are you creating more wood, hay, and stubble when you come home, or is it gold, silver, and precious stones? We each have a choice with our hours at home with our families.

I have come to realize that the time I spend with my family, leading them in the ways of the Lord Jesus, is when something of value is produced. Discipling my family for the few hours I have available in a day is the primary investment I have for something that will last for eternity. I feel that even if I were in the ministry full time rather than having a secular job, my time with my family would still be my opportunity to spend those minutes on something of the greatest value.

I would have to put high on my list of time spent well, with an eye on eternity, as our family altar. I absolutely love those moments and look forward to them. I know that when I’m discipling my family and washing them in the water of God’s Word, instead of a fake gold brick, I’m building using gold, silver, and precious stones.

I believe a lot of dads want to lead their family in evening worship, but next to misplaced priorities the greatest roadblock is that they don’t know how to do it. I would like to make this Corner practical and share how we have ours. I’m sure there are other, better ways, but for the sake of being brief, I will tell you what I am familiar with doing.

I will usually have our family worship time right after dinner is cleaned up. That way I know nothing else will get in the way. We do first what is most important to us, and so it makes sense that devotions occur in our first available time after dinner. However, the main point is to find a time that works for you and to which you can be consistent.

We only use the Bible for family altar even though we have a wide range of ages. I have come to realize through the years that even the young children will learn a great deal from Bible reading although some of it is beyond their understanding. Whatever book of the Bible we are in, I purpose to do my best to make it interesting. I constantly try to reveal Jesus Christ to my family and show them how Scripture applies to our everyday lives.

When we first began family worship almost twenty years ago, I would read the chapter we were going to read during my personal Bible reading time, before our common worship. I would jot some notes down and think about the verses so I was prepared. I used a study Bible with comments, and they helped me feel more comfortable in understanding what we would be reading as a family. Even now there are times I won’t know an answer. I think that is something we dads have to come to peace with and share with our family. We don’t have all the answers. However, I am willing to do some study and see what I can find. Even then, with some questions, I may have to wait a few years, or perhaps even until heaven, before I finally get an answer.

Frankly, if you are at all unfamiliar with the Bible, don’t let that stop you from leading family devotions. Go out and buy a good study Bible. Ask around for recommendations, and then buy one. It is worth the investment. Just do it.

Where to read is simple. Start at the beginning of the New Testament and read a chapter a night. I prefer to go slowly and have everyone enjoy it, rather than to race through several chapters. We come away with new understanding rather than plowing ahead simply to cover more ground.

Everyone reads two verses as we take turns around the room. For fun, Jesse, our youngest reader, always gets to start, and Anna reads the last verse. It is a little silly, but when it works out perfectly that the last verse falls in sequence where Anna is sitting, visitors have been surprised to hear the word “perfect” being uttered around the room as we realize it has come out perfectly for Anna to get the last verse. There is nothing real spiritual about that; we just have a good time in the Word of God.

As we read, everyone is supposed to be looking for a special verse that they would like to apply to their life. For variety, we cycle through the family, starting with the youngest, so that each night someone different gets to share his verse first. Then, after telling everyone his verse and application, he gets to pick which way we go around the room for the others to share their verses.

After everyone has had his turn, I ask if there are any confessions. It is my desire that when we wrong another during the day, we would confess that sin to the other person right away, but that doesn’t always happen. This provides an opportunity to confess sins, forgive each other for sins committed (Matthew 6:14), and avoid bitterness in the home.

Finally, the person who shared his verse first is the one who gets to pick a hymn for us to sing. We sing that song, and our family altar is over. Many families will pray during family worship, but we have chosen to have our time of prayer when we put the children down for bed. However, that is the beauty of it. Do what fits your family and is pleasing to the Lord.

Do you love the Lord Jesus and His Word? If so, then a daily family time in the Word is just a natural extension of your love. It is not difficult, but it does require consistency, which will come from proper priorities. What are you creating with your time—wood, hay, and stubble, or gold, silver, and precious stones?

Dads, Are You the Head of a Christian Home? – Part 7

(Read the previous parts of the series here.) “And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done . . . And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. . .” (Genesis 8:20-21, 9:1). Following Noah’s exit from the ark, while his family watched, he immediately was led to offer up the first burnt offering recorded in Scripture. God’s response was one of compassion, mercy, and blessing.

Dads, do we want to intimately know and commune with the holy, righteous, living God Almighty? Do we love Jesus? Do we want God’s blessing on our lives and families? Here is a test to see if our answer is from our heart (a committed way of life) or our head (the way we know it should be, but we don’t live it).

What has it taken in the past for us to neglect our personal and family devotions? If the answer was from our heart, it would have taken a crisis, but if it was from the head, it hasn’t taken much. Also worth noting, some will confuse the consequences of not having devotions as the crisis causing them to be missed.

Of course we don’t have a real “altar” in our home as found in the Old Testament. The altar was the place to meet with and get right with the Lord. It was where sin was dealt with. It was a place of repentance and sacrifice. It was also where Abraham proved that God was first in his life. Just how easy is it for you and me to make something else a higher priority than meeting with our Lord?

This time with the Lord is not an outward religious act of seeking to appease an angry God. Rather, it is a time of meeting and of laying hearts bare before the Living Word. It is an opportunity to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1). How can I say I love my Lord and want Him to vibrantly live through me, if I don’t cherish time with Him? Wouldn’t you question my sincerity if I claimed to be a Christian and yet didn’t love to spend time with the One I say is my Lord? Wouldn’t you doubt that I had a Christian home if I were not daily bringing my family before the “altar” of the Lord to examine Scripture together?

We read in Leviticus 6:12-13 that the altar fire was never to go out. Someone had to cut and carry the wood, then place it on the fire before it went out. It took effort and diligence. One could not wait until he felt like checking on the fire or for a convenient time, but he had to devote willful, constant attention. I see that as a perfect picture that the cleansing, purifying work of the altar is to be a continual process in our lives. It will take diligence on our part to make sure it happens. As my heart is exposed to God’s Word each morning, He convicts me of my sin. I’m able to confess it and repent of it. Praise God that He is faithful to forgive us of our sins when we ask.

Some time ago, I had deceived myself in misplacing priorities. I was consistently working so late on Saturday nights that I did not get up on Sunday mornings early enough to have time with my Lord Jesus. At church one Sunday, a dear brother, who seldom has much “fluff” to say, told me what a glorious time he had during his quiet time that morning. He mentioned his magnificent time of confession and worship in preparation for worship at church. He shared how his Sunday morning quiet time was consistently the best of the week. God used that dear brother to convict me of my wrong priorities. I had believed the lie that my personal devotion time was not all that important prior to church, since I was going to worship anyway.

Also note in Exodus 40:29 that the altar was near the entrance to the tabernacle. The acknowledgement, confession, repentance, and restitution for sin had to occur before one could enter the temple and worship God. Even though I meet with another brother and pray prior to church, it isn’t the same as special private time alone with my God while the home is still quiet. My time of corporate worship is much more special when I adequately prepare my heart.

I will also confess that having a Saturday morning quiet time is a constant challenge for me. Since my routine is different every Saturday, it takes extra effort to make sure I have allowed time to meet with my Lord. However, once God convicted me that it was my pride that caused me not to make time with Him the highest priority, I have been able to be consistent in meeting with Him.

Most dads are busy, but if that were used as an excuse to neglect time with our wives, it would lead to an unhealthy relationship. In the same way, if we neglect time with our children, they will quickly seek love and acceptance from others. Truly, how we spend our time reflects our priorities.

If we slight our time with the Lord Jesus, individually or as a family, it reveals the most serious character problem we could have–our pride. It shows whom, deep down in our soul, we are really depending on. If we truly believe God is responsible for every aspect of our lives, we would seek to spend time with Him. We would want to get direction from Him, to lay out the problems we are encountering before Almighty God. Some will wait until they are in the middle of a crisis to call on the Lord, after they have been neglecting Him. He desires to lead us, as His flock, to places of pasture and away from danger.

Frequently, while I’m speaking with a brother, he acknowledges struggles in his Christian walk and does not know God’s direction. I will ask if he is having daily personal and family devotions. I’m never surprised to learn he is not having a quiet time with the Lord in the morning. We cannot have fellowship with God, know His direction for us, and bypass the “altar.”

May we be zealous for loving, serving, and spending time with the Lord Jesus. May we be the heads of Christian homes.