Tag Archives: Leadership

Time

God created time. Time used wisely coupled with God’s gracious provision, enables our children to be content in Christ. It is the universal bank account that puts everyone on the same level. We each have twenty-four hours a day to draw from and invest. At the end of the day, week, month, year, lifetime: what will we have to show for it?

It’s a trade, the most basic of all transactions. Read about successful people and men devoted to the Lord. I dare you to find one that squandered his time. When I was young, I traded my go-cart for a ball glove to a teenage neighbor. I mistakenly thought, “The go cart won’t run, so what good is it?” I didn’t value my go-cart as I should have, and I made a bad trade. Today, it seems, so many squander their time away on poor trades.

Some say that self-discipline/will power is the greatest predictor of individual success, even beyond intelligence. I certainly agree. However, in addition, I have to wonder if the driving force behind self-discipline might be how much a person values his time on earth. Possibly for Christians, the next step up is our level of desire to please our Lord in all things. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).

Will we teach our children to value their time? Productively using one’s time is vitally important in having the funds needed for life. That is foundational in being content in Christ and that is a powerful motivator for self-discipline. Learning to spend their time productively will provide dividends that those who spend their time on entertainment will not receive.

Follow-on thought for Dads.
We often receive e-mails from frustrated, struggling moms who are drowning in desperation. They know that their children are suffering from lack of a productive home and will have lifelong consequences as a result. They want to believe managing their lives is possible. Of those who purchase Managers of Their Homes, we know that some number will still needlessly struggle to be successful. The book is capable of helping them as it has tens of thousands of moms, but what is missing is their husband’s support. Many husbands don’t value time, a peaceful, productive home, and their family pays the price.

An example is bedtime/wakeup time (BTWT). We often hear how a husband likes to stay up watching the news or movies and won’t go to sleep nor get up at a consistent time. We have found over the years that BTWT is the single, biggest predictor of a mom’s success in managing her day. Yet, Dad won’t inconvenience himself to have the discipline to go to bed and get up when he should in order to be an example, leader, and help to his family.

Valuing time is critical to your children’s success. If you aren’t consistent with BTWT, I would encourage you that it is time to begin. Support your wife by being consistent. Your children’s futures are worth it. Don’t you agree?

Steve

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:16

Trade Ya

Everything in life involves a trade, and what you trade for is based on what you value. You will trade your money for something once you perceive it to have sufficient value. Many trades don’t involve money but time.

My greatest worldly passion was flying small, private airplanes. Back in 1979, however, I traded flying for my family and I haven’t regretted it. Flying was expensive and pulled my heart away from my family. I felt the Lord asking me to give it up and to seek Him first and my family next.

There are many “good” things that can pull our hearts away from the best things. We have one life, and every day is priceless. One dad’s moto was to make every day count because you are trading a day of your life for it. May we be found faithful.

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” (Matthew 24:45-46)

Steve

Don’t Be a Squirrel

Go. Dont go. Go. Dont go. Go–lights out. If squirrels were as indecisive and had such poor success in trees when jumping from limb to limb as they do when crossing streets, we wouldn’t have any squirrels.

Dads are faced with a myriad of decisions. For the good of their families, it is essential that they make wise, God-fearing, Spirit-led decisions. We guide our families by learning to listen to the Spirit and obey Him. Small decisions are good training for the bigger ones we will face. There really shouldn’t ever be a need for a “leap” of faith. If He says “Go,” we go. If not, we wait.

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:27)

Steve

Grounded in Christ, Your Children – Part 1

I recently received an interesting e-mail, and with permission we will use it as the beginning for this month’s Dad’s Corner. Following is the first part of the e-mail:

My husband and I attended a recent conference of yours. We were so blessed by it. We wanted to say thank you. My husband decided after listening to Manager of His Home that our children were no longer going to go to youth group on Wednesday nights. He did this because we started noticing changes in our children.

Our children hadn’t gone to youth group for six weeks when the pastor came by and asked us why our children weren’t attending. My husband told him that a big part of it was the secular rock and roll they were playing. Our children were coming home humming it. 🙁 We were told that they believe if your children are firmly grounded in Christ it will not affect them. I couldn’t help but think about our twenty-one-year-old daughter who wound up getting into secular music due to a youth group and her dad and me not having her heart. We didn’t want that for our other children.

Praise the Lord for this dad taking action to protect his children. Ephesians 6:4 tells us, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Dad is the one God holds responsible for discipling the children, and we must evaluate the influences in our children’s lives to make sure they are moving them in the right direction. Anything that may hinder a child’s spiritual growth needs to be evaluated. This dad made a good decision.

However, as a result of the decision to pull the children out of youth group, it caused some pressure in the dad’s life. We dads need to be prepared that it will take strength and courage to follow the Lord as we raise our children. Let’s decide where in our priorities raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ranks. Once we make the right choice, we can expect pressure to come and test our resolve. A priority means nothing if when tested we cave in. We need to welcome pressure because it proves and refines our determination to follow the Lord obediently.

Since much of this Dad’s Corner series revolves around youth groups, let me give some background comments concerning them. I have met many youth group leaders and pastors over the years, and I have heard them share their deep love and concern for the youth to which they minister. Amen. Generally, they have a sincere desire to reach the kids who aren’t living in a home where they are being discipled. Please don’t feel this Dad’s Corner is a personal criticism of youth group leaders. It isn’t. Instead this Corner addresses flaws in the youth group in regard to our readers who are dads who are discipling their children as the Lord leads.

Now, notice that Ephesians 6:4 is addressed to fathers. It doesn’t say youth pastors. Dad is the one God gives the responsibility to disciple the children, and Dad is the one who will answer to God. What if we want to delegate some of our responsibility to the one in charge of youth group? Certainly, that could be our choice, but there are several things we ought to consider. Since Dad is the one God is holding responsible for how the children are being discipled, how will we be sure they are being influenced consistently with the direction and leading God has called our family to? Unless we are willing to accompany the children to every meeting, we can’t know. Considering there will be multiple children in the group, how likely is it that the discipling in the group is consistent with all the fathers’ direction since seldom will each family be truly like-minded. The above e-mail example showed that the family did not agree with the music played at youth group, and a youth group similar to this one cost them the heart of their oldest daughter. Wisely, the dad did not want that to happen with the younger children and was willing to take a stand.

Let’s consider the statement: “If your children are firmly grounded in Christ, then it will not affect them.” When is a person firmly grounded in Christ, and even if they are, does that mean they won’t be tempted toward evil? Sadly, we have talked to many parents who trusted that their children were spiritually mature enough to stay the course only for the parents to be heartbroken later. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:17).

One reason youth groups can be so subtly harmful is that many will think since the church is offering it, it must be good. It is possible that youth have spiritually matured to where they can refuse obvious evil, but when it is the church’s activity, the child’s defenses will be let down. They will embrace it because the church is offering it, and Dad and Mom have endorsed it by sending them to the youth group. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23). In reality the secular music played during the youth group would not be edifying, and as with this family’s other daughter, it might even pull the heart away from the Lord.

There is also tremendous internal pressure by most children to be accepted by the peers in the group. I’ve heard some say that one of the greatest pressures a person can feel is the need to be accepted. Therefore, peer groups likely exert some of the greatest pressure to conform that any of us will ever experience. Let me share an example with you. Years ago we were in a fairly conservative church. Despite the conservative nature of the church, many of the girls were pushing the limits in their “dress” and definitely lacking modesty standards. Our daughter, who was then eighteen, confided to us that she was feeling turmoil inside because she wanted to fit in with the other girls but didn’t want to do what they were doing. That peer pressure was experienced just by causal associations with the girls at church. Consider the peer pressure that comes from even more involvement in the peer group. Do we really think our children will be stronger than that?

This gets us started on the discussion of the father’s role of spiritual discipleship of his children versus others taking that role. In addition there is much more to be said about the power of peer pressure in a young person’s life. Next month we will continue looking into this, but for now, I encourage you to evaluate whether you have let others disciple your children or whether you are fully undertaking that responsibility. Can you make the hard decisions like this dad has made?

A Godly Legacy – Part 7

This month we conclude the Dad’s Corner series about a godly legacy. If you aren’t up-to-date with these articles, here are the links to the previous ones (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6). Last month, I opened with an analogy comparing fathers to slow, left-lane drivers. The left-lane driver who isn’t passing another vehicle is hindering those behind him who would like to move on. Fathers are called to be the spiritual leaders in their families not a slow, left-lane driver who holds them back.

If a dad is a spiritual left-lane driver, it might be because he is concerned about others talking about him if he appeared to be too spiritual. I can understand that because who enjoys someone else speaking negatively about him? He can see Christians around him who will criticize behind the backs of those who are on fire for Jesus, and this dad doesn’t want people talking about him that way. “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27:29-31). We can be sure that Jesus did not like the treatment He received as a result of His obedience to the Father. Yet He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Jesus led the way, and we can be confident that if we are following Him, there will be times of mocking and the discomfort that goes with it. But just like Jesus, we push on in following God while leading our families.

When we are saved, Jesus has purpose for our lives. It isn’t so that we have fire insurance in our pocket, and then we can live like the world, having a great time with no fear of hell. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15). When He saves us, He will use us to be salt and light to those who are dying around us. He will use us to glorify the Father. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). It starts in our families. We need to be both salt and light if we want to have a godly legacy who will continue bearing testimony of the only true God and Savior.

I remember one time I accidentally got some salt into a small cut on my hand. Oh, did that hurt! It was painful enough not ever to want to do that again. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matthew 5:13). As we obediently follow the Lord, we will be like salt to others’ lives. For some if their contact with us is more superficial, they may react like one does when salt enters a wound. For others, who may be in a closer relationship with us such as our children, our lives should represent the effect of eating something salty. It makes one thirsty for water. The Lord desires that our children would then be thirsty for the water of the Word. “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26). Another aspect of salt is that it preserves. If we want to preserve a godly legacy, we must be spiritually salty.

I wonder if often, after all things are considered, Dad isn’t the one himself who is the biggest hindrance to a godly legacy. He has one eye on the world and one eye on heaven. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). That dad may advance in one direction today and another direction tomorrow. He is like a bottle on the waves and will discourage his family. We need to be singly-focued on the Lord Jesus and His direction for our lives. “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22).

May we have our hearts set on the Lord Jesus. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). We will draw closer to what we are focused on.

I believe it is non-optional that Dad would have his personal time in the Word and lead family Bible time every day if he wants to draw closer to the Lord and leave a godly legacy. If we are going to have the spiritual energy we need, we have to have the breakfast (and dinner) of champions every day. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8). “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). If we desire to be obedient to the Lord and leave a godly legacy, we must be committed to the task at hand.

Are we spiritual left-lane drivers? Are we hindering our families from growing in the Lord Jesus? Are we setting a good example by our time in the Word and our obedience to the Lord? Time is passing quickly, and every day we have one day less to impact whether we are leaving a godly legacy or not. May I encourage you to be committed to the task.

A Godly Legacy – Part 6

Driving south from Leavenworth on Highway 7, which is a divided four-lane road with a speed limit of sixty-five miles per hour, I normally expect to see something that I would rather not. Due to the small town nature of Leavenworth, you often don’t have the big-city, fast flowing traffic. You will have some that drive the limit and others who don’t. What is disappointing and quite common is to find a fifty-five-miles-per-hour driver happy and content in the left lane leading a long line of cars who would really prefer to be driving sixty-five-miles-per-hour.

I’ve often wondered what goes through a slow, left-lane driver’s mind? Doesn’t he see the line of cars behind him? Doesn’t he care that it is illegal? Does he have any consideration for others? Is he taking pleasure in keeping others back?

In this Dad’s Corner series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5) we have been discussing leaving a godly legacy.

Do we deeply desire to leave a godly legacy? Do we yearn for children who are dynamic followers of Jesus Christ? If so, what price are we willing to pay? If the answer is “everything!” that is the right answer. Satan will bring along compromises to derail us from raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). A major tactic of his is to cause Dad to be the hindrance to the family’s growth—in essence being a slow, spiritual left-lane driver.

I’ve seen it often where Dad is the one who isn’t growing spiritually and has no (obvious or expressed) interest to even though as the head of the family, he is the one to be the leader. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Sadly, the one in front is no longer a “leader” if he becomes a spiritual hindrance, just like the left-lane drivers who keep others from advancing.

Assuming the slow left-lane driver doesn’t realize he is a hindrance, how do we know if we are the ones holding back our families’ spiritual growth? First, I would encourage you not to trust your feelings in this. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Since the heart is deceitful above all things, saying we don’t feel like we are hindering our family is like asking a liar his opinion as to whether he is a liar.

Therefore the best way to determine whether we are a spiritual left-lane driver is to ask those we might be slowing down. I suggest the first one to speak with is your wife. She will have a great vantage point and usually have some thoughts on the matter. Has she had unfulfilled spiritual desires for the family? Is she being spiritually encouraged by you? Is she being challenged by your spiritual walk? Next you can go to your children and begin asking them questions like the ones you have asked your wife. Have any of the children expressed disappointment about your level of spirituality? There were times when I have asked these kinds of questions of my family, and even though I didn’t always enjoy their responses, God used their feedback to convict me.

With conviction needs to come action. When the Lord points out where we are hindrances to spiritual growth in our families rather than being the leaders God desires us to be, we begin by repenting. Then we cry out to the Lord to help us make the necessary changes. We go to the Word and study areas that will be instrumental in the new direction. We ask our families to hold us accountable for the steps we are taking.

I wonder if another hindrance to many dads today being a spiritual leader of the family is not wanting to be too extreme in their Christian walk because they consider some Christians to be fanatical about Jesus. On the other hand, dads also don’t want to be spiritually cold or to be seen as lost. The natural tendency is then to want to cluster in the middle where they would not be seen as weird, hot, on-fire believers nor as cold, faithless unbelievers. Therefore many appear to be content to be lukewarm. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). Regardless, of whether it is uncomfortable or not, we need to be the ones in our family who are exuberant as we follow Jesus so that we can lead our children into a dynamic godly legacy.

Jesus will never direct a person down the wide easy path. It will always be the strait and narrow one. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). The road that Jesus takes us along will not be popular. If we want a lot of company and fellowship in this life, we would most likely have to walk the wide path.

As we continue to focus on how we can have a godly legacy, we must choose not to be the slow left-lane driver who holds others back, especially when it is our children who are being spiritually hindered. Instead, in our families, we will be the left-lane driver, who moves into that lane when it is time to pass, keeps his speed up, and then returns to the right lane. He is leading his family by setting the example with a heart fully engaged on the Lord Jesus Christ. He won’t be content to stay in the comfortable middle but rather is pressing on to his destination, which includes that godly legacy. “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).

Next month we will conclude this series on a godly legacy.

Dictator or Servant-Leader? – Part 1

I recently received an e-mail with this suggestion for a Dad’s Corner:

“You mention in a previous Corner that you think ‘many dads are dictators and are only thinking about themselves. You also rightly point out in other Corners that fathers are heads of their families and should make family policies for the good of the family.

“What are the differences between a dad who is a ‘dictator’ and one who is fulfilling his duties as spiritual leader and protector? This is an area in which I sometimes struggle as I try to lead and protect my wife and young daughter. I do not want to be legalistic or frustrate my wife, but I do want to keep ungodly influences out of our lives and our home as much as possible. My wife and I do not always agree about what or who may be a bad influence, although we are both fairly conservative Christians.

“How does a dad find the proper balance between honoring his wife, seeking her input on decisions, and being the leader without becoming a dictator?” A Dad’s Corner Reader

This is an excellent question, and one I believe all fathers would be good to ask themselves. First, let’s define “Dad—the Dictator.” He assumes sole and absolute power that in practice is unconstrained by the Word, the Lord’s leadership, or the pleas from his family. In essence he selfishly and hypocritically misuses his God-given authority to lead his family even though he may appear to others to be very religious. He might feign to follow God’s Word, but has no regard for anyone else’s knowledge of Scripture. He becomes the sole source for all spiritual discernment because there is no one else that he would look to with respect or from whom he would seek counsel.

“The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined” (Psalms 10:2). Since he has the power of authority, he will make decisions for his own entertainment, comfort, or pleasure. I know of one dad who would spend every Saturday away from home on his hobby leaving his wife alone and behind to watch the young children. His wife would have loved his companionship and help around the house, but Dad was seeking his own fun. Praise God that later he came to repent of his selfish focus.

In Dictator Dad’s pride, it is his way or no way for his time usage. His family may be starving to death spiritually, yet Dad is too busy to feed their souls the Word of God: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock” (Ezekiel 34:2-3). He is focused on the flesh and things of this world, but he is not willing to expend a little effort to raise his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

The Dictator may set family policy that is actually good, but he will cause resentment because he doesn’t abide by those policies himself. He might set a policy of no TV and yet watch movies on his computer. He could banish sugar consumption from his children’s diets and yet have his special treats when he is away from home or the children are in bed.

You will likely see Dictator Dad setting down his rules and policies with an I-don’t-care-what-you-think attitude toward his family. He doesn’t make the effort to lovingly and compassionately explain his decisions to them. Communication takes time and energy, but he isn’t willing to do this because he is focused on himself.

The Dictator may be very religious, but looks down on others who are not at his perceived level. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican” (Luke 18:11). He often will have a critical spirit toward his wife, and she won’t be able to please him because he views her as less of a person than himself. Therefore, there is no need to ask her opinion on things because her opinion is of no value to him.

Dictator Dad’s main concern with others is how they can serve him. If he doesn’t get his way, he will be angry, because it is his way or no way. “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom” (Proverbs 13:10). Because of his pride, he is quick to mock, belittle, and throw a fit.

Dad the Dictator sounds pretty awful, doesn’t he? Can you imagine a woman vowing before God and man at the marriage altar to obey and follow him? I’m sure the wife in this position has had the same thoughts on occasion. We have met so many dictators through the years. It is easy to fall into a selfish, proud spirit, and it is amazing that it doesn’t happen more often for all dads. When you consider what the Word says about our hearts, it is a wonder we are ever the servant-leaders the Lord has called us to be. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Dad the Dictator is not a nice guy. Proud, angry, mocking, and hypocritical character qualities are not the type that will draw the hearts of his family to him. “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5). Clearly, he is an abomination to the Lord.

This Dictator Dad description should be enough to give each of us something to consider. Are there areas of our lives and leadership where we resemble Dad the Dictator? If we are saved, then we go to the cross first in repentance and then to those we have offended asking for forgiveness and working toward restoration. The Lord is quick to forgive, and if we are sincere, our families will be as well. Next month, we will look at the servant-leader dad, his qualities, and how he leads his home.

An Exercise of the Will – Part 2

Last month we began looking at how a father communicates to his children when the Lord directs a change for the family, especially when that change impacts something with which the children are involved. The dad’s gentleness, presentation, and humility are all vital as he shares with his family if he is to win the support of his children and avoid having to make decisions where he is dragging his family along behind him. There is so much power in a family working as a team, serving the Lord, with one heart and mind. I encourage every father to invest what it takes to make sure that is the spirit in his family.

In last month’s Dad’s Corner, we left off in the middle of the information I was sharing about presenting the change to your children. Very critical in your discussion is applicable Scripture. It is important that the children understand the biblical basis of the decision so that they don’t view it as Dad and Mom pushing their personal preferences on all of them. For this particular example, I will list just a few of the many verses that Dad could use with the children to help them see why the Lord has led you to the decision.

“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).

“He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight” (Psalms 101:7).

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14).

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24).

Is that something that each of them wants to do? Seek an answer from each one that they desire to do that as well.

Now you will want to move into the compassionate stage of the discussion. Share with the children how you know the decision might take some adjustment time, but that you are going to help them through the process. You can remind them that Jesus said, “. . . If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Explain how that even though eliminating the beast from your home might seem hard, it would hardly be considered denying oneself. Let them know that you and Mom will be impacted too, but you want with all your hearts to follow the Lord’s direction for your family so you are happy to make any sacrifices that are necessary. Help them to understand that it will be a change for all of you, but you are committed to doing the right thing.

It is helpful to give Mom an opportunity to share her heart with the children in this discussion. Even if all she does is repeat some of what you have said, the children will observe that the two of you are united in the decision and direction. Working as a team is vital when a change is being implemented.

I also would suggest that you take time to allow the children to give you input. Listen to their concerns, fears, excitement, and practical suggestions—whatever is on their hearts. What you think they will object to might actually be something that they have been considering, and they are already planning ways to augment the implementation. You might find a resistant heart, but an arm around the shoulder with loving words of encouragement will go a long ways to soften that resistance.

Finally as we end these discussions, I like to ask each child whether he will follow me. My children have always answered that they would follow. Regularly they say that it is hard for them, but as time progresses, I can’t recall a decision that was difficult for the children that they haven’t greatly affirmed as the months went by.

Perhaps there is a child who continues to resist even after all that you have shared from your heart. Then what? Consider what would happen if your child had a serious illness he needed surgery to correct. You explain to him his condition and the surgery, but he says he doesn’t want the surgery. What would you do? If you loved your child, you would do what was best for him anyway. Isn’t it even more important that we have this same attitude for a child’s spiritual health? Just like the parent helps a child toward physical surgery, you will want to help your child toward spiritual surgery by spending time with him, continuing the communication on the topic, and being very gentle through the changes.

We do what is best for our children whether it is their preference or not. If a child at this point doesn’t want to follow you in following Jesus’ direction, then it is important to know that right upfront. This child will not make a good decision, has been influenced by the world, and is going to need an even greater amount of love and encouragement in the process.

Don’t forget to thank the children for following your lead. You can affirm their desire to please the Lord Jesus Christ and to trust you with this decision. Let them know how much that makes you happy and blesses your heart.

One dad told me that while the family was out, he had a friend come in and take the beast away. When the family came home, the children noticed it was gone and asked Dad about it. He said it was gone and not coming back. He said they were a little disappointed, but soon forgot about it, and life was better from then on. While I’m not suggesting you try this method of implementing a change in the family, I share it with you to illustrate how we can be fearful that what we are planning will be devastating for our family only to have it work out like it did here. The children were a little disappointed, soon forgot about it, and life was better—end of story!

In reality, I have found that times like these when we are setting out on new spiritual frontiers, is exciting for my children. They like the spiritual adventure. Children often become bored with a faith that doesn’t challenge them.

To help reinforce the decision, be on guard for situations that are a positive result of that decision. In our throwing-out-the-beast example, when Dad observes the children doing something constructive with their time, he reminds them that they wouldn’t have been doing that when the TV was in their home. When Dad is having nightly Bible time, he can tell his children how much he loves Bible time and being with his family. Dad will notice a host of positive changes in his family when the beast is removed so he needs to make sure that he shares those with the children.

There is something I feel the need to warn you about, though. When making positive changes that challenge the family, if Dad has compromises in his life, the children will view him as a hypocrite, be discouraged, and react to the changes. In this example of eliminating the TV, if Dad chooses to go over to his parent’s house to watch the “big game,” or is using his computer for late-night TV viewing, the family will feel he has a double standard. Dad will be seen as asking them to give up their entertainment, while not giving up his. We must be leaders that our families are willing to follow.

Paul knew his testimony was a good, consistent example such that he encouraged others to follow him as he followed Christ. “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). That needs to be true of us with our families as well.

Inevitably as we follow the Lord Jesus Christ, there will be areas in our family’s lives that He desires to add or remove in order to draw us closer to Him and use us for His kingdom. These changes will impact our families. We want to consider how we can best present changes to our children in a spirit of love and humility so that they will understand and desire those changes. As we pray and seek the Lord’s guidance, may we be men who invest our lives into the lives of our children.

Protecting Against Deception – Part 6

To read the first parts of the series, you may do so here.

When a man has been deceived, he doesn’t realize it. In fact, he may even get angry with someone who implies that he has been deceived. That is the way it is with so many Christians today, in that they have taken the bait—hook, line, and sinker—in the greatest deception of the age. How could so many be deceived? Remember, we are deceived far more easily when the deception appeals to the flesh.

Almost everyone with an e-mail account has received a scam e-mail telling him that help is desperately needed. The e-mail will explain in great detail that someone very important and wealthy died, leaving a huge sum of money that is just waiting to be claimed. The e-mail will continue by pointing out that if you will help them, this vast some of money will be yours.

Most people receiving that e-mail know it is fake, yet many people are being fooled by it. There are so many being taken by the scam that when we went to our bank to arrange a money transfer for a missionary in Africa, we had to sign a paper attesting that we had been warned about fraudulent offers. Here we are in little Leavenworth, Kansas, and there had been people from our city who had withdrawn tens of thousands of dollars and wired it overseas with the hope of getting rich.

The bank officer told us that it was usually the elderly who were falling for this hoax. If several from our town have been deceived by this, then think how many around the world are being tricked out of their life savings. What makes the deception so tempting is the fact that it appeals to greed. People want to get rich quick. That is why the lotteries have been so successful in fleecing those who have the least to spend. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The bait appeals to our sinful nature, and we want to believe the lie. That is why so many are deceived.

Even though those reading this would not fall for a hoax such as sending your savings away on a get-rich-quick deception, there is one that is far more serious, and vast numbers of Christians have been hooked by it. Not only have they fallen for it, they will relentlessly defend the deceived position and pressure those who have not been deceived. This is the same progression we see in Psalms 1 concerning the scorner: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psalms 1:1).

First, the susceptible Christian will listen to the counsel of the ungodly. That bad counsel, which is after the tradition of men (Colossians 2:8), will lead to his taking this ungodly position for himself and standing firm in his belief of it. Finally, the last step is that he will sit in the seat of the scornful and loudly proclaim the deception to be true in his attempt to convert others to this way of thinking.

One way to confirm a deception is to see if Satan promotes it and what the Lord’s position is on it. I want to walk you through one of these deceptions that is devastating to families. This particular deception is the deception that children are burdens and not a blessing and that parents are to decide how many to have.

The phrase “pass through the fire” occurs eleven times in the Old Testament. It referred to a horrific practice of offering one’s children to demonic idols. In Leviticus 18:21, God specifically commanded that the Israelites were not to do it, and He referred to it as an abomination in 2 Kings 16:3. “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 18:21). “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch” (Deuteronomy 18:10). It is clear that Satan’s agenda is to destroy and limit godly seed, but to God this is an abomination.

Egypt, which is an Old Testament type of the world, took a position against godly seed when Pharaoh commanded the midwives to kill all the newborn Hebrew sons. “And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live” (Exodus 1:16). The world, under the “prince of the world,” desperately wants to limit godly seed.

Just this week a man driving a delivery truck was speaking with my sons, Joseph and John. He asked how many children there were in our family, and they told him eight. He replied, “Whew. God said to multiply, and that is what my wife and I did. We multiplied twice, and that is it.” Here he was a professing believer, but he had clearly misapplied Scripture, either intentionally or ignorantly.

The first time God commands “man” to multiply is in Genesis 1:28. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). It is the first command that God gave man. Also important to note is that it is His first blessing on man. The Hebrew word for “multiply”—raba—according to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament means “become great, many, much, and numerous.” When used in relation to days, raba means a long life; when used with wealth, it means to become rich. As we study the Word of God we can quickly see that “multiply” means to make numerous or many. God told Noah to be fruitful and multiply, and He never rescinded that command for us.

What is God’s heart toward children? In Psalms 115 we are told that the Lord will bless with children. God sees children as a blessing. “The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children” (Psalms 115:14). Probably everyone is familiar with Psalms 127, and in particular verse 3: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalms 127:3). Here we are told that children are a heritage of the Lord. The word “heritage” means inheritance. Amazingly, they are both an inheritance from the Lord and to the Lord, if they are raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is His reward. Next to salvation, children are the greatest reward we have from the Lord. If God calls children an inheritance and reward, why would anyone ever choose to limit children? Could it be because they have listened to Satan’s deception and are not listening to what the Lord is saying?

What if someone phoned you and said, “I have a truckload of gold I would like to give you. Do you want it?” Of course everyone would readily accept it. What if he called again with the same offer? What if a third time? A fourth? People would not say they have too much gold. Could a willingness to receive gold but not children reveal a carnal focus rather than a heart for God? To some that may sound strong, but think about it. Study and meditate on God’s Word and what He has to say about children.

Have you noticed that to justify abortion, people will bring up the extreme circumstances and use them as a reason why abortion should be an option? In the same way, I will receive e-mails from families wanting to let God give them children but detailing all sorts of seemingly impossible situations as to why it seems that the family shouldn’t have more children. However, if God is the giver of children and knows fully every family’s situation, shouldn’t we look to Him to decide whether He gives a child? That is why this area of children is the greatest challenge concerning whether a family is willing to trust God with all of their lives.

“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). A very reasonable application of this verse is that parents should allow children to be born into the family. We see Jesus’ love and desire for the children, when even the disciples would send them away.

Just like the e-mail scam, we are vulnerable to the deception concerning children because that deception appeals to our flesh. Children take our time and our finances. We have to deny ourselves if we are going to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They are often inconvenient, causing us not to be able to do what we want to do. When viewed from a fleshly position, life is easier without children.

Through Scripture we can observe God’s position on children as opposed to Satan’s disdain for them. We can then see how great the deception is that has been wrought against Christians. As with any deception, when our eyes are opened to it, we will repent and turn away from it, embracing the Truth instead. In the case of children, may we repent and embrace the good gifts that God wants to give us.

Protecting Against Deception – Part 5

(See the previous parts to the series.)

Can you describe for me what a deceiver looks like? What style of clothes is he most likely to wear? How does he comb his hair? Is he clean shaven, or does he have a beard? If you can’t describe him, can you at least tell me where he lives and what sort of car he drives? Hmmm. You can’t tell me? Then it would seem pretty difficult to know who is deceiving us.

We have been discussing how to protect our families from being deceived. Here we will take a look at one possible deceiver. It would be nice if we could describe a deceiver by his outward appearance or where he lives, but unfortunately, we can’t. Frankly, we must always be on guard as anyone can be a deceiver. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). In these verses, Jesus tells us that everyone is capable of deceit.

Paul warns to, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8). “Any man” means that all “men” are capable of being deceitful.

Scripture tells us that there are some deceivers that we might never suspect. Paul, in describing his ministry, says that they have “ . . . renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2). When Paul says he has renounced handling the Word of God deceitfully, it means that there are some who do handle the Word of God deceitfully. Paul was warning that believers are to be on guard against deception from the pulpit.

Can you imagine that Paul, the apostle, would instruct us that we should be suspicious of what we are being taught at church? I can picture some pastors being upset if people in their churches were encouraged not to take for granted what their pastors are preaching. However, I would be suspicious of a man who would be upset because people wanted to check out, or evaluate for themselves, what he was preaching. Everyone is fallible, and each of us should verify what we hear from the pulpit (or taught elsewhere, including this ministry) to see if the Bible agrees with it.

Would you like to receive praise from the author of Acts? Then verify what your pastor is teaching you. “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:10-11). We see that the Bereans were praised as being more noble than the Thessalonians. Why? Because the Bereans eagerly received the Word that was being taught and then searched the Scriptures daily to make sure what they were being told was true.

The Apostle Paul was there preaching, and the Bereans were verifying in Scripture what they heard Paul say to make sure he was speaking truth and not deceiving them. I find the fact that they didn’t automatically believe Paul to be shocking. I can’t help wondering today how many preachers would be offended if those listening were checking them out and asking questions about what they were hearing.

I remember a time over fifteen years ago when we were looking for a church and visited one. The pastor quoted mostly a Reader’s Digest article during his sermon. I was appalled at what I heard, and we never went back. However, that church has continued to thrive these years following. How can that be? Also, I sometimes hear snippets of popular TV preachers’ messages on Sunday mornings coming out of the residents’ rooms when I am in the hallway of our nursing-home church. What I overhear causes me to shudder. Remember what Paul said: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Families are “buying” this stuff from polished, wonderful-looking guys and not checking them out. They can’t be confirming these messages in the Bible, as evidenced by the fact that they keep coming back.

The Lord Jesus is holding us dads responsible if we allow our families to be deceived. “And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them” (Luke 21:8). That doesn’t just mean we aren’t to be deceived in discerning who the Christ is, because Paul, in Colossians 2:8, is also telling Christians not to be deceived.

I would encourage dads to be extra suspicious of preachers who use TV and movie clips in their messages. I remember an e-mail where a mom shared that their children were exposed to horrible, worldly knowledge of sin, sitting in their Sunday morning worship service, through movie clips used during the message. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). I can’t understand why a preacher could ever justify watching worldly movies in the first place, but it is beyond comprehension to expose one’s congregation to them. We wouldn’t be going back to a service like that if it were our family.

We were visiting a service one time by invitation and had been assured it was a very conservative church. During the message, the pastor said he couldn’t wait for the Superbowl game later that day. He said that it had been a long time since he’d seen a real game where the blood was flowing, and he was excited for this one. The message grew worse from there. My family was shocked, and even the children remember that as an example of one pastor they never would listen to again.

The writer of Acts commended those who listened to Paul and checked out what they were hearing against the truth of God’s Word. May we understand that every man has a depraved heart and is capable of being a deceiver. It is a good thing when we hold what we read and hear up to the light of God’s Word. May we be Bereans, eagerly hearing what is taught and searching the Scriptures diligently to confirm truth and reject what is error.