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.

Right Timing

Have you ever been away from your children for a period of time? Were you really excited about getting back home and seeing them again? As you were nearing your arrival did you picture the perfect homecoming and reunion with your children?

Recently, Steve and I had the opportunity to go away to a cabin in Colorado for a week to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We loved our time together but were both anxious to be back with our family. We were so excited about returning home that, when we were awake at 3:30 a.m. the morning of our trip home and not sleeping well, we decided to start back then rather than waiting for the planned 5:00 a.m. wake-up time. All the way home I imagined what our evening with the children would be like.

Our homecoming was exactly what I had pictured–for the first couple of hours. Then I went downstairs into my three little boys’ bedroom and playroom! Yikes! It looked like they had left everything out for the entire week I was gone, even getting into the locked storage closet of extra toys.

So what would you have done? What do you think I did? I wish I could tell you that I decided the night of my return home was the night to love and enjoy my little ones, knowing that we could tackle putting items back in place another time. Instead, I decided we had had enough homecoming time. I chose to call them downstairs to begin the task right away. The evening ended with me being frustrated with the children and myself. I was disappointed I had not let the pickup wait and unhappy with them for not keeping up with their room while I was away!

I am still learning and growing in this area of right timing. As you can see from this situation, while I may understand the need for right timing in my mind, my emotions in the heat of the moment do not always agree. Sometimes I follow those emotions rather than that still, small voice of the Lord.

Does right timing enter into our lives as homeschooling moms? I believe it is very vital and key in many areas of our homeschooling.

When we have had a night with little sleep and wake up feeling drug out, is it a good day to tackle a problem that has been looming on the horizon for months? The answer to that is an easy, “Of course not!” But what often happens? In our tired state, that problem is so discouraging and looks so big, we jump right on top of it. Usually this means we do not deal with it in a way we would have preferred if we had really thought and prayed about it.

What about right timing in teaching a child a concept in school? Have you ever been frustrated with a child who is not catching on to something–perhaps it is fractions in math? You work and work, explain and explain, search for alternative ways to demonstrate, and still the light does not come on. Finally, that section is finished, but you know very well your child has not grasped what they were to learn. You are discouraged, while at the same time relieved to be done with the struggle. Then you get into fractions again the next year, and suddenly, even at the beginning of the study, your child understands fractions!

What about right timing in working with the heart attitudes of your children? Will they respond to your discussions of the need for changes in their heart when they are angry, rebellious, or distraught?

Yet, how often do we as mothers try to reach our child’s heart at exactly that moment? Then we wonder why their reaction was not what we wanted it to be. What would happen if we waited until the emotion had passed, on our part and on our child’s part, and spent the ensuing time in prayer for our child’s receptivity? Then we could find a non-confrontational, quiet moment to pursue the problem.

This issue of right timing affects our interactions with our husbands. Have you ever had a terrible day? Then the moment your husband walked in the door you began to dump on him all the frustrations that had built up. It wasn’t just from that day, but the problems that had been hanging around for some time. Is this the best time to share these concerns and seek solutions together?

I know that although Steve is willing to listen to me, allow me to emote, and try to work through the difficulties, we are not very productive at this time. Whereas, if I will wait until our weekend date to bring up the situations from that week that are ongoing and need to be addressed, then we can discuss them in a calm, rational manner. This allows me to weed out the small issues that are not ongoing, plus I have time for prayer in the meantime.

I wonder how much better off we would be to learn, in each of these areas of right timing, to take just a moment to ask the Lord, “Lord, is this the time for me to deal with this situation or is there a better time?” If He gives the go-ahead, then the timing is right. But if He whispers to our hearts “No,” then we need to let go of our agenda, lift the situation up in prayer, and listen for when the timing is right.

I have to tell you that I have a long way to go in this particular area. I know that there are victories I can point to, particularly in learning the signals my body and emotions give me when I am very tired. This is not the time to do anything except maintain the status quo and head for bed as soon as possible. Even though there is much for the Lord to teach me in the discernment of right timing, it is my heart’s desire that I would be submissive and teachable.

May I encourage each of you to consider right timing. As you become more sensitive to the Lord in this, what difference will it make in your mothering? What about your effectiveness as a homeschooling mom? Could it affect your relationship with your husband? I believe the answer to each of these is a resounding “YES!”

Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” May each of our words fit into this category. I know, for me, this is much more likely when my heart is attentive to the Lord for His timing.

Posted in: Mom's Corner