We were on a trip one time when Teri noticed this big mustard-colored stain on my shirt. I had been out of the van getting gas, and the stain would have been very obvious to everyone I encountered. However, I was totally unaware of it. When Teri later saw the stain, we were quite perplexed as to how I might have acquired it because I had eaten nothing that resembled mustard. Upon closer examination, we found that it was actually a bug. We remembered there had been something that had deflected off of my side mirror through the open window, but we hadn’t known where it went. Now we knew that my shirt was the final resting place for a yellow-filled bug. Are there aspects of our lives that might resemble that—something of which we aren’t aware but others can easily see?
Recently a dad told me that for over five years he has been having his own personal time every morning reading the Bible and praying. He said that during that time Jesus has changed him into a new man. Additionally, the Lord has used his devotional time to springboard changes in the entire family. He said the transformation has been wonderful. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Teri tells people that she saw the most incredible difference in my life when I began reading the Bible and praying every morning. There is real, life-changing power as the Holy Spirit strengthens and convicts a man when he reads the Word and prays. I wonder if that isn’t the single most significant factor that makes the difference between a man who grows in his faith and a lukewarm Christian. That is the main reason why, when someone writes us with a question, I generally respond by asking whether they are reading their Bible and praying daily.
I expect pastors are keenly aware of, by outward evidence, those dads who are daily in the Word and those who aren’t. Maybe they can see the mustard-colored stain in lives void of the Word. Could it be that pastors would have far fewer problems to deal with if men were in the Word? Could it be Christian marriages would have fewer difficulties if Dad (and Mom) were feeding daily on the sweet and precious Word of God? I believe the answer is a resounding “YES”! If this is true, then why is it that fewer than one out of ten dads (based on unofficial polling) will get up at least half an hour earlier in the morning to fellowship with Jesus? I can’t really answer that for other dads, but I know what hindered me in earlier years.
In truth, personal Bible reading and prayer just wasn’t important enough, and I didn’t see it as the lifeline that it is. That is another way of saying it was my pride. It was as if I was saying, “Jesus, I really don’t love You and Your Word enough to spend time with You. I have more important things to do, one of which is sleep. If I need You, I will definitely cry out to You.”
I’m convinced that if every man in a church would begin his day with Bible reading and prayer, pastors would be delighted. Their counseling times would be almost nonexistent. We would see churches on fire for Jesus Christ because Jesus would be daily fanning the flames of purifying and strengthening hearts. I believe we would also see marriages transformed and being true examples of Christ and His bride. Husbands would have hearts turned toward their wives and children. The lost would be saved in record numbers because they would finally be seeing Jesus Christ at work in lives.
Some might say, “Wait a minute, just because a man reads the Bible every day doesn’t mean he will live it out.” That may be true of any old book, and this Book is an old one, but it isn’t true of the Bible. Just this week a brother shared how he was drawn out of a false church into fellowship with Jesus. It all began when he started reading the Word every day. It changes the soul of a person.
I have struggled to keep my weight where it should be for a long time. There is one thing that makes a difference as to how successful I am in controlling my eating. That is whether I weigh myself consistently. If I have been eating too much and gaining weight, I don’t want to weigh myself. I don’t want to see the reality of my decisions reflected in the scale.
That is the way it is with the Bible and the Holy Spirit. As we read God’s Word every day, it speaks to our hearts. It builds us up and also convicts us of areas that don’t line up with Scripture. It gives us direction. It provides an “Amen” to what the Holy Spirit is telling our hearts. Then the Holy Spirit works in us to bring about the changes He desires.
When Paul, by the Holy Spirit, commands us to “. . . put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Colossians 3:8), I don’t want to be angry ever again. Then when I am, I confess, repent, and cry out to Jesus to work in my heart.
When I read, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), I am struck in my heart that as a Christian, I am called to obey—period. Then I am encouraged to read, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). I see that obedience isn’t simply to avoid God disciplining me, but that in obedience Jesus manifests more of Himself to me. That means that somehow He reveals more of Himself to me as my walk deepens and gets sweeter. I can testify that has been my experience and the experience of others with whom I have discussed this.
Then why is it that as brothers in Christ, we don’t hold each other accountable? Here is something very simple to do, and it could dramatically change a man’s life, his marriage, his family, and ultimately the church. If we love our brothers, why don’t we take those with whom we have a relationship aside and discuss this issue with them? Why is it that we don’t then ask them, or plead with them, that they let us hold them accountable for having a time with Jesus every morning?
I know one reason is that if a dad isn’t in the Word and praying himself, it will prevent him from discussing this with someone else. It may be like the mustard-colored stain on my shirt—something of which the person wearing the shirt isn’t even aware but others can observe. We may think no one would know whether we spend time with Jesus each day or not, but perhaps it really is evident. If dads would realize how critical personal time reading the Bible and praying is, they would do it. If we love Jesus, we must do it. If our love for Jesus isn’t enough to motivate us to spend time with Him, may we do it because we love our families and how it will affect our ability to love and lead them. If we don’t love them enough, could we do it because we love ourselves and want the best for ourselves? Whatever it takes, may we spend time with Jesus and encourage everyone we know to do the same out of our love for Jesus and our love and concern for our families.