Protecting Against Deception – Part 9

To begin, if you haven’t read the full series on Protecting Against Deception, we would encourage you to do that.

In this Dad’s Corner we finish our look at one of the greatest deceptions that professing believers have embraced wholeheartedly. This deception is that “fun” is something reasonable for a believer to pursue and invest his time into.

Someone recently asked me, “I wonder if your family avoids all entertainment?” Maybe answering that question is a good way to begin this Corner.

I love amusement parks, especially those with the fastest, highest, most thrilling rides. I have always loved them, and it is still in my blood. So of course when our children were old enough to take along with me, I delighted in giving them the same appetite for thrilling rides. Teri would get motion-sick, so she didn’t enjoy these types of activities, but she could do other things by herself, right? In addition to amusement parks, I love small two-man airplanes, sailboats, and motorcycles. If it moved, I found it fun and a worthwhile use of my time and finances. A big problem with that type of adventure, though, was coming up with the cash to keep the fun flowing.

Years ago, when we lived in Florida and then in Washington State, we had great fun going to professional baseball games. This was something that we could do together as a family. However, it was expensive, so we couldn’t do it very often. As I look back now, I’m troubled that I took my young, impressionable family into an atmosphere of drinking and immodesty. Sadly, I don’t remember being troubled by it then.

When we lived in Florida, our two oldest boys joined Little League baseball as soon as they were old enough. We loved going to their games and watching them play. We considered it a great family activity. As they grew older, they continued to play baseball and were very good at it. For almost six months of every year, our lives revolved around baseball practices and games (including all-stars). We were the typical American Christian family.

Also during those years we watched TV, but we found that we were becoming increasingly troubled by what was being broadcast. Over time we became more and more selective in what we watched. Through no coincidence, Teri and I were reading the Bible individually every morning. Looking back, we can see the correlation between our time spent in the Word and our growing disdain for the worldliness of television. We finally dropped all normal TV broadcasting and went to very selective Christian video watching for a time.

However, the more our family read the Bible, the more we came to see all entertainment as chaff. Understand that this really wasn’t our idea or plan. Our flesh loved entertainment. We often found ourselves trying to justify spending time being entertained, but the Holy Spirit kept using God’s Word in our lives to reveal how empty entertainment was compared to those things “above.” The Apostle Paul had no time for things which did not edify. “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). We were finding ourselves of Paul’s persuasion concerning entertainment and fun. We began leaving behind the amusement parks, baseball games, and television.

The next reasonable question you might ask me would be, “Does the Maxwell family ever have enjoyable times?”

YES, YES, YES!!! The root question really is, “What does the Maxwell family take pleasure in doing?” I will begin by sharing what brings our family joy. I will first list each in an overview fashion and then go into more detail. We love our time in the Word, individually and as a family every day. We love being together and talking. We love ministering as a family and working together.

As stated many times over the years in these Dad’s Corner articles, our family takes great enjoyment in reading the Bible every day. We each read individually in the morning when we first get up. Teri, Christopher, and Sarah have separate rooms they read in while the other children and I gather in the living room. We all have our “spots” and sort of “snuggle in” for our personal Bible reading time. When I put my Bible down, the other children who are with me do the same, and then we pray individually. Even though we aren’t reading out loud, just being together thrills my heart.

Our evening time reading the Bible is equally special and treasured. I have shared much detail about family Bible time in my audio called Feed My Sheep, so I won’t go into the same detail now. Every night we take turns reading two Bible verses as we go around the room and then discuss what we read of a chapter or two of Scripture. We also share a particular verse that stands out to each of us that we want to apply to our lives. We then have a time of asking forgiveness if we have wronged others in the family but had not set it straight earlier in the day, and finally we close with a hymn. Teri prays with the girls at bedtime, and I pray with the boys. Our days would be so empty (non-edifying) without that time in the Word.

Our family takes great pleasure in fellowshipping as a family. At mealtimes and in the evening, we simply enjoy being together and talking. Jesse, my youngest son, calls these times “chatteries.” We don’t have to have something entertain us to get us to want to be together. We actually like being together. We love sharing what our day has been like and what we learned in speaking with others. Often this is when we will tell the family about opportunities we had to share Christ during the day.

One of our family’s favorite topics is discussing what our nursing-home church members have told us when we were together. Once that gets started, it may be awhile before a new topic begins. Even though there is not a non-family member within forty years of their ages, the children love ministering at our nursing-home church. They delight in talking with the residents before and after our service.

We love to minister to others because it gives us great joy. Even though our road trips involve a lot of work and can be exhausting, everyone loves them. For hours of driving time after a conference, the children take turns telling what they learned from those with whom they spoke.

We especially love to tell others about Jesus and what He has done for us. An excellent place affording that opportunity is the homeless shelter where we go one Saturday afternoon a month. Nathan, my oldest married son, is the one who introduced us to the shelter. Frankly, I would be happy not to go because I’m out of my comfort zone there, but it is always a blessing once we go. We also delight in sharing Jesus with telemarketers, store checkout personnel, and the people we meet while traveling.

I believe having no entertainment in our home is one clear reason why our children take great joy in helping others. If Nathan, who lives across the street, is doing a project for Grandad, who lives next door, and needs some help, our children will delight in taking their personal time to assist. They are quick to want to help other neighbors as well, as time permits. However, if one raises children on a diet of fun and entertainment, that is what they will seek, and they will most likely shun being a servant because it isn’t fun or is boring to them.

When I go to visit my mom, who lives three hours away, I take one of the children with me, and we have a great time together. It is a blessing as I have time with one of my children, and we minister to my mom. It is a joy for me to be with my children and for them to be with me. We don’t have to do “fun” things to enjoy being together.

There are occasional bike rides together with my boys. The purpose of the ride is not to have fun, but rather to spend time with them while getting some exercise. We often take family walks together, and regularly this includes Grandad and Grandma along with my children and granddaughter. We enjoy these walks greatly because we are able to fellowship and exercise.

Working together as a family is also a great blessing. As book titles were being added to our family ministry, we came to a crisis point with no place to store more books. As we discussed options one day, we learned that Christopher was happy to buy our current house so that we could build a house with a bigger basement that could be walk-in accessible. This meant that we no longer would need to carry the many boxes of books down into and then back up out of the basement.

The family wanted to work together to build the new house because that is the only way we could afford it. In between speaking trips and school schedules we spent many enjoyable, but hard, often sweaty hours working side-by-side. We have posted numerous pictures on our blog along the way. I believe it is by God’s grace and by not developing an appetite in our children’s lives for entertainment that we have the privilege of having children who enjoy working. What a blessing!

Fun is the world’s alternative to joy. Joy costs us nothing while the pursuit of fun through entertainment is both costly and addictive. Instead, may we be addicted to ministering. “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)” (1 Corinthians 16:15). The joy of the Lord comes through obedience to Him and yields eternal fruit, while fun lasts only as long as the money holds out.

Do those professing faith in Christ deserve entertainment? The world has deceived believers into thinking that fun is an acceptable use of time, something to be sought after and deserved for hard work. Sadly, every minute that is wasted on fun is time stolen from something profitable and the duty to which we are called. Listen to Jesus’ example of an unprofitable servant: “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10). Today I hear such gross exaggeration of what we are free to do. The reality is that we are servants of Jesus Christ, and we are to be busy about His business.

Jesus said, “. . . I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), and He has overcome the world with His life’s blood. If this is true, then why do so many professing believers spend so much time pursuing the world and its entertainment? James tell us, “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 more someone invests his time in fun, entertaining things, the more his heart is drawn to the things of this world. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately” (Luke 12:34-36).

Let our joy, our delight be in the things the Lord has called us to do. Then our hearts will be drawn to things above. “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 3:2). My heart is saddened when I hear people attempt to justify their fun entertainment. Paul is so clearly saying we are to set our affection on those things above, not on things of the earth.

The deception is that we deserve to have a fun time and that it is an acceptable use of our time. The truth is that we deserve hell, and by God’s grace He gives us eternity with Him. “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4). Will we be found ready when the Master returns?

Scripture Memory and Bible Copying – Part 2

Last month I began sharing our family’s personal experience and application of Scripture memory in the Mom’s Corner. I believe that most of us, as Christians, have a desire to memorize the Word and to help our children memorize it as well. As Psalms 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” When we have Scripture embedded in our hearts through memorizing, we have it available day or night to guide our thoughts and actions.

In response to last month’s Mom’s Corner where I explained how I had worked with our preschoolers as they memorized verses, a mom wrote with additional suggestions for preschool Scripture memory. First she suggested having the children do something active while they were memorizing such as jumping up and down. Her second idea was to put hand motions and actions with the words. I wrote back to her and explained to her what had happened to us when we tried these memorizing methods when our children were small.

We found our children didn’t memorize as well doing something else such as jumping up and down. They laughed, giggled, and were quite occupied with jumping, but they didn’t get much Scripture memory accomplished. I was frustrated trying to get them to memorize when they wanted to play. We were more successful when I had one child sitting on my lap receiving individual attention without other distractions.

We also tried memorizing some of their verses with actions, but they didn’t learn them any faster than when we worked on them without actions. As a matter of fact, two things happened with the actions. First my preschoolers would give more of a focus to the hand motions than to learning the verse that accompanied those actions, and they become very silly over them as well. Another problem was that they would often forget the hand motions, so now we had two sets of things to memorize—the verse and what actions went with it.

While I understand that some would want to try to make memorizing Scripture fun and entertaining for a preschooler, we preferred to use time that I was one-on-one with a child to help him begin to learn self-control in being quiet, sitting still, and concentrating for a few short minutes. As preschoolers, the children had ample hours in their day to play but not nearly as much time to be with Mommy where she was completely centered on them, giving individual direction and help in developing some discipline. Self-discipline has to start somewhere, and how much easier it is to begin at a young age than to try to overcome the bad habits of self-indulgence later in life.

Will our little children be able to understand the verses that they memorize? Some they will, and some they won’t. We liked the preschool Scripture memory books from Scripture Memory Fellowship because they had done the work of choosing verses that were applicable to young children and ones that were simple. Sometimes Scripture memory doesn’t happen simply because we cannot figure out what to have our children memorize.

Another way that our children learn and remember Scripture verses is by Steve and me using verses in daily life. For example, Steve often quotes to his family and to others Matthew 16:24: “. . . If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Because of that, our family has learned Matthew 16:24 without trying to memorize it, and we regularly mention it to each other when we need encouragement to move our thoughts off of ourselves. We can also use it when talking with people outside the family.

Here is another example of learning Scripture by using it. Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” That is a verse I share regularly with my children if their words or attitudes take on a grumbly tone. The more we apply the Word to our daily lives, the more we and our children will become familiar with it, and the more likely we will be to memorize those verses that we are using in those contexts.

I have heard some say that we should not use Scripture to correct our children. They indicate that if we bring Scripture into discipline situations, we will give our children a negative view of God. However, 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Our basis for what is right and what is wrong is based in the Word. If we don’t use the Word to explain to our children what the Lord wants them to do, why they were wrong, and what to do about it, then our reason for any rebuke or correction is simply our personal whim.

What we think is vitally important when using Scripture to correct a child is the spirit in which it is done. If a mom is angry or harsh, then she will undermine anything positive that she would like to accomplish in her disciplining. However, if our spirits are gentle and sweet as we explain to our children that we want to obey the Word because we love Jesus, and we know that His will for our lives is the best way to live, we are building into our children’s lives a reason to obey and a desire to obey.

“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). We want our children to see the Word as the direction for their lives, and we want them even to welcome chastening from the Lord. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). We believe that begins with receiving reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness from the Word. A side benefit from regular use of Scripture as we correct our children is that they will memorize verses that have specific application to problem areas in their lives.

In 2 Timothy 3:15 when Paul is talking about Timothy, he says, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” We want for our children to know the Word, and one way for this to happen is by memorizing the Word. Then our children will have a spiritual tool to be able to use in their lives to draw their hearts closer to the Lord Jesus, to help them choose obedience to the Word, and to direct them toward the blessing of others. Next month I plan to conclude the discussion of Scripture memory and move into Bible copying.