Do Your Children Have Beautiful Feet? – Part 1

To disciple our children we must help them learn to obey their Lord and live according to His code of conduct—His Word. One command is especially important, and that was His last command to us as He left Earth. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Jesus used two key words: “go” and “preach.” “Go” is very clear, and the Greek word for “preach” means to herald or proclaim.

Jesus often used practical, real-life examples to illustrate spiritual truths. In Matthew 4:19, He spoke to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew: “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” A fisherman’s job is a proactive vocation. If he waited for the fish to jump into his boat because it looked more desirable than the water, the fisherman would starve. Fish love the water and die if they are out of it. Obviously, they do everything they can to stay in the water, and that is why it takes effort on the part of the fisherman to catch fish. We must be proactive as fishers of men if we are to be obedient to the Lord Jesus.

It appears that most believers have abandoned actively fishing in favor of hoping the fish will think the boat looks more inviting than the water. No doubt most churches still want to see people come to Christ and join their church, but I wonder how many believers are actively sharing Christ on their own. Even if they participate in going out witnessing as part of a church outreach, do they see evangelism as a command of Jesus for their daily lives? Are they sharing Christ with those whom they come in contact with each day?

In Florida while attending a large church, Teri and I went out faithfully every week and visited those who had visited the church. We had been trained how to share Christ, which we did on visitation when we encountered someone who was lost. However, witnessing was not something that I owned personally, as evidenced by the fact that I didn’t share the Gospel with those I met during my normal day-to-day life. When we moved from Florida and were part of other churches, we didn’t even become involved in their visitation programs. I was quite content with what is often called “lifestyle evangelism”—living my life for Christ so that those around me would observe Jesus in me and be drawn to Christianity by my example. Usually if we parents aren’t doing something, we aren’t going to teach our children to do it. Teri and I can see that we didn’t teach our older children how to share Christ, nor did they develop an appetite to witness during those early years. It has been in the more recent years that situation has been turned around in our family, and I want to give you some of the highlights of this blessed and exciting journey in our spiritual lives.

Over time, I became more convicted of our need to share Christ, and more concerned for the souls of others. At first, I timidly began to pursue conversations with those I met while I was out and about in the hope of discussing Christ. I was uncomfortable in being direct, though, and as a result usually didn’t get very far. Several years back, Sarah discovered a book on witnessing by R.A. Torrey, titled “Personal Work,” and we read it together as a family. We were convicted, challenged, instructed, and excited by the information. We were growing in our burden for souls, and the Lord was providing resources to help us learn to be more direct. One of the greatest helps we learned from Mr. Torrey was the importance of having the person you are sharing with read the passages out loud from the Bible so that he can see for himself what the Bible says.

Soon after that, Christopher, in his desire to learn more effectively how to share Christ, found the LivingWaters website. From them we discovered how important it is to use the Ten Commandments when witnessing. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalms 19:7). “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). Just one word of caution concerning LivingWaters’ material. They are not very conservative, as evidenced by contemporary music and modesty issues on their DVD training set. With some degree of care, however, you will find some very helpful information about witnessing from LivingWaters.

Since then, most in our family have learned how to share Christ clearly and without being offensive, starting with Christopher and me. I have worked at telling my family at the supper table about any witnessing experiences I have had that day. When I have had occasion to interact with others during the day, my family has come to eagerly ask me whether I shared the gospel with that person. I will specifically relate my discussions with them so that they may learn how to ask questions, what to ask, and where to take the conversation. Simply by what the Lord has been doing in my life, I am observing my children gaining a desire to witness that I personally didn’t have until these past few years, nor could I instill it in them when it was missing in my life.

Christopher, our twenty-eight-year-old son, will often share the gospel with those he speaks to on the phone. When we are traveling, he brings his work with him, which means he has regular work-related cell phone conversations in the van. He may be calling to turn on the cell phone coverage for the laptop at the beginning of a trip, when the children will hear him ask, “Do you have time for a question that doesn’t have to do with our business?” Often the answer is positive, and they hear him continue, “Would you consider yourself a good person?” As soon as he hangs up, everyone wants to know what the other person was saying in response to Christopher’s side of the conversation.

When the children are with me when I am out, they can hear the whole conversation I have with someone concerning Christ and can see that other person’s response. They learn through my example, and they gain not only knowledge in how to witness but a comfort level that will help them as they share Jesus on their own. They also see how one person can lovingly and gently help another person to understand that without Christ he stands condemned before God. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7). May I encourage you, as the spiritual heads of your homes, to move out of the comfort zone of lifestyle evangelism into the uncomfortable, but highly exciting, zone of “go” and “preach.” In future articles I will describe some reasons people give for not overtly evangelizing, and I will give you more specifics on ways to lead your family to become overt in sharing Christ and encourage you in that path. In addition, I will share an unseen benefit your children will experience that, by itself, even if it wasn’t a command of Christ, would make it all worthwhile. Do your children have beautiful feet?

Can a Scheduled Mom be Spirit-Led? – Part 2

The question we are in the midst of discussing is whether a mom who uses a schedule can be Spirit led. Here is the specific message that was communicated to me by a mom who wants the order a schedule brings to her day, but she is concerned that she will not be following the Lord if she does so.

“I was speaking with some moms last night about scheduling. I desperately desire to be more scheduled, but they feel their days should be ordered by the Lord and each day should be new unto itself, open to what their children need, etc. Is there a way to be both? Is a schedule so structured that God cannot order your day? I would appreciate Teri and anyone else commenting on the balance here. I’m having trouble keeping to my schedule and I think I may be justifying it as stated above. I am not keeping to our schedule well at all and I’m not sure why. I just know I feel stifled in some way, but I long for the order and peace a schedule can give me. Can I do both?” Used by permission

Last month I shared how my schedule allows me to follow the Spirit in both the overall plan for my day and in the changes that might be put into place as the day progresses. Here is a link to that article.

What I have to say next, I say with all gentleness, as a sister in Christ, to encourage us to have honest evaluations of our words, their meanings, and our hearts. I wonder if those moms who don’t think one can be Spirit led while using a schedule could be confusing “Spirit led” with “feeling led” in their own lives. The reason I have this question is because my frequent observation is that the mom who says she can’t use a schedule because she wants to be Spirit led is often not doing what the Lord has called her to do with her time but rather what she feels like doing. For example, she may not be keeping up with the housework and meals but instead spending time on the computer reading and posting to blogs and message boards. In these cases, then, it would appear that the mom isn’t Spirit led but “feeling led”—doing what she feels like doing rather than fulfilling the responsibilities the Lord Jesus has placed into her life.

Let’s consider a mom whom God has called to homeschool her children. What if she wakes up in the morning and doesn’t feel like doing school? Will she go ahead and have school, or will she decide the Spirit is leading her to spend the day differently? If she decides not to have school, is it the Spirit leading her, or is it her own feelings of personal desire to spend her time in other ways? If she is honest, it is entirely possible that she will find she is being led by her feelings of what she prefers to do. Because of those feelings, she might say the Spirit is leading her not to have school when in reality she just doesn’t want to do school.

Let’s review again the verses that give us that definition of what “Spirit led” means. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:12-14). If what we say is Spirit led is actually allowing us to do what we feel like doing, that which is more enjoyable to our flesh, but not what the Lord has called us to do, is it really being Spirit led?

Here’s another scenario. Perhaps my saved, teenage child, who loves the Lord Jesus, comes to me in the morning and says he doesn’t think the Spirit is leading him to do his schoolwork today. I query him to determine what he plans to do with his day and discover that he is going to spend his normal school time on his hobby. Would I agree that the Spirit was speaking to him and allow him to skip his school? Would I tell him that he needed to do his schoolwork and then pursue his hobby? On the other hand, what if he told me the Lord had put it on his heart to spend a day helping his grandparents and that he would make up his schoolwork in the evenings and on Saturday? Would that look more like Spirit leading? One direction for his day has a selfish focus, while the other has a serving focus. The Spirit will generally lead us contrary to the flesh, and that is often an indication of whether it is the Spirit’s leading or not. Is it “living after the flesh” or “mortifying the deeds of the body”?

This is very difficult to communicate. I am not judging anyone, and please don’t take it as that. I leave it up to each of my readers to evaluate if this would apply to her life. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that the Spirit wouldn’t ever lead a Christian mom to do something other than the responsibilities He has given her. However, I would have to question a mom who frequently neglects those responsibilities for other activities or free time and says it is Spirit led. My doubts come because if the Lord has directed us to fulfill certain responsibilities, then how could we accomplish them if we are doing other things?

I will also challenge the mom who wrote me about Spirit-led scheduling to evaluate why she would feel stifled by her schedule. Is it because her schedule is put together wrong? If so, then she wants to determine where the problem lies. Did she pray about her schedule as developed it? Did she discuss it with her husband? Is the difficulty with having wrong activities on the schedule? Perhaps she hasn’t allowed enough time for those activities.

Could it be that she doesn’t want to do what the Lord has called her to do? I can certainly relate to that in several areas of my life, but especially with regard to homeschooling. I homeschool because the Lord has directed me to homeschool not because I wake up every morning feeling like and wanting to have school with the children. If I focus on my feelings, then I will feel “stifled” during my school day. However, if I put my thoughts on the blessings to both me and my children of homeschooling and the joy of obedience, then my feelings will be of peace and contentment.

In many ways, it comes back to this verse I refer to frequently: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). What will I do with my thoughts? Will I allow the thoughts to follow their own path, leading me to think that what I have to do on a schedule is stifling? Or will I bring the thoughts into the obedience of Christ, thinking instead, “Lord, this schedule is helping me accomplish what You have called me to do. I can set aside what I prefer and follow what You are leading me to do?”

I also want to be clear that I am not saying every mom who is Spirit led must use a schedule. That determination will be made by the mom, with the Spirit’s direction and her husband’s leadership. However, I am trying to make a case for the way a schedule can facilitate a mother being Spirit led and how it works under the Spirit’s leading. I also want to encourage moms who are not following, on a day-to-day basis, the overall direction the Spirit has previously given to them to consider whether they are truly Spirit led each day or if they are feeling led. I believe one way that determination would be made is by evaluating whether the mom’s time is being put forth into the areas to which the Lord has called her and what fruit she sees in her life and home. Is there peace, joy, and contentment, or is there chaos, stress, and confusion? May we be women whose hearts are focused on our Lord Jesus Christ, and who are following the Spirit in every aspect of our lives.