Bad or Best?

We were almost home after thirty days of being on the road and were filling up at a truck stop. On John’s way through the store, returning to the van from the restroom, he saw a woman empty the spill-catcher, below the coffee-pot spout, into her coffee cup. A trucker, who was getting himself some coffee, was horrified to see her do this. He asked her if she had enough money for a cup of coffee, because if she didn’t he would buy it for her. She said, “Yes, I have the money. It just saves me from spending it. I like it this way.”

When John told us this story in the van, we were all aghast at the thought of the woman drinking what was in the spill catcher. I have observed people dump out their old coffee and OTHER things into those grills under the coffee pots. The idea of drinking what comes from the spill catcher is so repulsive to me that I would not have thought it to be true except that my own son had observed it. Here was someone who could afford “best” and yet chose “bad.”

I’m fifty-five years old and was saved thirty-two years ago, which will likely be as long as some of you have been alive. I have lived both for the world and for Jesus. There was a time I tried to do both simultaneously. Jesus said we can’t serve two masters. I personally discovered that truth.

I watched TV and movies as a lost person and then for a time as a believer. We even watched general TV programming. Then, we were convicted of the bad shows and tried restricting our viewing so that we were only watching what we considered “good” shows. These were shows that didn’t have murder, immodesty, and other lewd behavior. Unfortunately, those shows reflected the world’s view of marriage, evolution, and other ungodly concepts. As long as the “beast” was alive in our home, we were drawn to feeding the flesh by wasting time and wanting to be entertained by watching it. In sowing to the flesh, I reaped the corruption of no real spiritual appetite for leading my family in reading the Bible at night. Once TV watching was gone, we fed on the cool, clean, pure water of the Word. Be on guard because the flesh is going to be pulled toward being entertained, which will leave little time for what is “best.”

Based on discussions at conferences and via e-mails, I’m convinced that there are many, many dads reading this article who are quenching their families’ thirst via spill catchers with what is “bad.” I’m confident most don’t even give it a thought as being “bad” for their families. Their families could be drinking the “best”—pure, clean, refreshing water of the Word every night (“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” [Ephesians 5:26])—instead of what is unhealthy in a spill catcher.

I believe Galatians 6:8 spiritually exemplifies feeding on what is “bad” versus what is “best,” and the fruit we can expect as a result of those choices. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” I wonder how many have seriously considered TV and movie viewing from the Lord’s perspective. Most of us have grown up with television viewing as being normal in our homes. How could anyone suggest that TV, among other things, is “bad” when even respected Christians and pastors watch TV? It is much like a decision that is made by a committee. No one person can be pointed to and blamed. “Everyone” watches TV and movies; it’s the norm in the church as well. Yet, I can’t imagine anyone thinking that the Lord Jesus, Paul, or any of the apostles would watch TV, even a so-called morally neutral show.

“Normal” TV programs include murder, adultery, immorality, immodesty, lewdness, and unrighteous activity. Should a child of God ever be entertained by such ungodly behavior? 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” Paul is telling us we should only participate in those things which are edifying. Are most news stories edifying? Paul also says in Ephesians 5:12, “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” Paul is saying the wicked and evil, violent crimes, which are done in secret and reported on newscasts, are a shame for us to listen to.

What about sports? In many sports, men sustain lifetime injuries all for the ultimate benefit of entertaining those who watch. Man, who was created in God’s image, will have his face and head pummeled, knees destroyed, and risk various serious injuries all for others’ viewing pleasure. Even if a competition is nonviolent, isn’t it often promoted by alcohol ads that sow corruption to the flesh? There is a reason that companies spend millions of dollars on ads to promote their products. Ads work! Even if you don’t buy them, are you sure your children won’t?

Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, directed us to live according to these words in Colossians 3:17: “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.” Can we really watch such things and say we are doing it in the name of Jesus Christ? I believe if someone who watches TV were to spiritually evaluate whether what they are watching is “best” or “bad,” the answer would be clear.

Because of almost twenty years of being “spill-catcher” free, our family is so blessed. Our children enjoy our time in the Word every night. They have a good understanding of the Bible and how to apply it to their lives. Their hearts are drawn toward the family and family worship time. I can assure you that nightly Bible reading sows to the spirit in feeding a desire to live for Jesus wholeheartedly. My heart breaks for families that miss out on the “best” because it appears that they can’t be objective enough to realize one reason why there is “bad” fruit springing up in their children’s lives.

Please understand, I don’t share these things to judge, make fun of, or criticize anyone. I pray you would consider these Corners as coming from someone who is a real friend and brother in Christ. In the spirit of Galatians 6:2—“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ”—it is my desire to encourage brothers in Christ to walk worthy of the Lord Jesus and to raise up sons and daughters who are mighty in the Lord. Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” We can’t feed our children from the spill catcher, the sludge of the world, sowing to their flesh and expect them to be dynamic followers of Jesus Christ.

I realize some may not care for these words, but for the love of Jesus I write them. I am grateful that God put certain messages on some men’s hearts who shared a word with me that challenged me to walk worthy of the Lord. At times, I didn’t appreciate what I heard, but eventually I heeded them, being eternally glad that I did. Please receive this from someone who truly desires God’s best for your family.

The “Good” Part

3,832.5 hours—does that sound like a large amount of time? It does to me, especially since they are hours out of my own life. 3,832.5 represents the cumulative total number of hours I have spent in my personal, early-morning time alone with the Lord Jesus over the course of our twenty-one years of homeschooling. That daily half hour has been spent in Bible reading and prayer. Looking back and evaluating those hours, I can see that I could have used that time in many other ways. However, I am convinced there is nothing I could have done that would have been any more helpful to my personal life, my relationships with my family, my homeschooling, or my ministry than to have had an emphasis on time with Jesus.

How does any relationship grow? By investing time in it. That is certainly the case in my spiritual life. If I don’t spend time with the Lord Jesus, how will my relationship with Jesus be nourished, and how will I spiritually mature? My salvation, about thirty years ago, was only the beginning of a walk with Christ. That foundation is to be built upon. Frequently, via e-mail or in person after a conference session, a mom will ask questions about depression, anger, or worry because I share my struggles with those problems. When I question her as to whether or not she is spending time in the Word, she will indicate that she isn’t but knows it would be good if she were doing so.

What I needed to learn concerning dealing with depression, anger, and fear was going to come first and foremost through my personal Bible reading time. “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors” (Psalms 119:24). That is God’s means of communication with me. His Word is to be my counselor—my teacher. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalms 119:71). As I struggle with sin and other difficulties, I am attentive in the Word to specific verses from Jesus Christ for me. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Using the individual and personal verses that I discover during my daily Bible reading, I also developed a topical notebook of verses. These verses are ones that are helpful to me in specific areas such as contentment, joy, impatience, and right thinking. Then when I am having trouble, I can pull my notebook out, turn to the needed section, and read through the verses. I have sometimes found it necessary to read the verses out loud to help bring my thinking back to God’s truth, especially when I am dealing with depression.

I approach my Bible reading in two ways. Most of the time, I read one chapter every day. Then I review the chapter again looking for a specific verse that stands out to me as pertinent to my life and needs that day. I keep a notebook with my Bible so that I can copy the verse into the notebook. Then I write a few sentences about how I see the verse’s application to me very specifically—how I am failing, what needs to change, what it would mean to me. When I am reading my Bible in this way, I usually start in Matthew and work my way up to or through Revelation and then begin again. Sometimes the Spirit will move me from my normal path of Bible reading to a different section of Scripture for a particular season.

Every few years, I feel the desire to have the complete Biblical perspective again by reading straight through the Bible from start to end. Then I will spend fifteen minutes of my time alone with the Lord reading straight through the Bible. I can usually read about three chapters a day, which is the pace that is necessary to read the Bible in a year. When there are longer chapters, I don’t mange to read three chapters, but then there will be other days when the chapters are shorter, and I can read more.

The second fifteen minutes of my personal time with Jesus is spent in prayer. I will pray throughout the day, but it isn’t the same as concentrated, uninterrupted prayer time. It is a little like the difference between my discussions with Steve when the children are around asking questions and inserting their thoughts into our conversations versus our talks when we are alone walking. We can still talk despite the children’s involvement, but it isn’t as focused as it is when it is just Steve and me. My prayer time in the morning allows me to address the major areas I want to pray about, not just the ones that are pressing at the particular moment. There are seasons when I use a prayer notebook. Here is a Mom’s Corner where I have shared specifics about using a prayer notebook.

In James we are told that God gives grace to the humble. “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). I know that I am extremely needy of God’s grace. If I won’t place time with Jesus Christ as a priority in my schedule, then in my pride, I am indicating that I can make it on my own without Him. I am turning my back on the grace that I desperately require in my life. The choice is set before me. What will my response be?

Being a Martha personality, I have seen that if I wait for an open time in my day—a convenient half hour or more to spend with the Lord—it simply doesn’t happen. I can stay busy all day with a hope in my heart to stop long enough to read my Bible and pray. However, the reality is that, like Martha, I keep busy doing what I think needs to be done, and I don’t choose that one good thing that Mary chose. “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). I have to plan my time with Jesus into my daily schedule and then be committed to it. My schedule is my helper to do those activities that are the most important to me.

“I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word” (Psalms 119:15-16). The truth of this should be obvious by my daily life. Am I spending private time in the Word and in prayer? May I encourage you to make this time with Jesus Christ a reality in your life? Rather than knowing that you should do it and that you would be benefited by it, why not simply begin to spend time with Him? I can promise you, your life will be changed!

Posted in: Mom's Corner