A Godly Legacy – Part 2

In the family of Andrew Murray, of South Africa, eleven children grew to adult life. Five of the sons became ministers and four of the daughters became ministers’ wives. The next generation had a still more striking record in that ten grandsons became ministers and thirteen became missionaries. The secret of this unusual contribution to the Christian ministry was the Christian home.” John Mott in his biography of Andrew Murray reminds us of the power of a father’s legacy.

Last month we began the topic of a father’s godly legacy. How critical is it to us that we leave behind children who love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ? You can tell how important something is to a man by the decisions that he makes. A man will find a way to do what is important to him. No matter how difficult it is, he will do what he considers must be done.

God has called the dad to provide for his family. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8). Most men are responsible when it comes to providing for their families. Often there are mornings they are tired and would like to sleep in, yet they get up and go to work. There can be a host of days where there are other things they would rather do; yet they make the right choice and go to work.

Funny, how sometimes others know us better than we know ourselves. They know that we do what is most important to us by observing the decisions we make and the actions we take. We may think something is important to us, but if we aren’t making appropriate decisions and allocating time to accomplish it, we need to face the fact that it really isn’t important to us.

Assuming raising sons and daughters to be mighty in the Lord Jesus is vital for each dad reading this, how might one go about this? Paul tells us the basic “components” of a person. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). We see from this verse that a person consists of a body, soul, and spirit. So how might we establish a proper foundation of each area?

First let’s consider how we could prepare our children physically. A body is important because it houses the soul and spirit. If the physical house we live in is in poor repair, we are less effective in life. When the storms come, a leaky roof diverts our attention away from what we could be doing. If the furnace is faulty, we will have to take emergency measures during cold winter storms, and poor drainage may cause our basement to flood. For us to invest time in priorities, our homes must be maintained in good repair.

In a similar way, our health impacts greatly how well we can serve the Lord. If we have no energy or are sickly, we won’t have the stamina to give the Lord full days. Then when we come home from work each evening, we will be too tired to lead family Bible time. As a matter of fact, many dads come home for work and choose to vegetate through the evening.

Proper nutrition and exercise may well mean the difference between suffering lifestyle-related diseases with onerous medical expenses that could be avoided or leading an active productive life. What we feed our children and how their bodies are strengthened will greatly determine how well their bodies will function during their lifetime, and it will set appetites that will help or hinder them throughout their lives.

During the last twenty years, obesity percentages have continued to climb to the point that it is being called a national epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control with roughly one third of all adults being classified as obese. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 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” (Galatians 6:7-8).

Americans are sowing to the flesh so effectively that obesity statistics keep rising at alarming rates. Being overweight leads to serious and costly health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. Next time you are at the doctor’s office take an informal poll and count how many in the waiting room are overweight versus how many are trim. Every time I’ve done that the results have been consistently shocking.

We have heard some say how manageable diabetes is today, but I don’t believe it. I have personally observed the “fruit” of diabetes in the elderly at our nursing home church. Toes and portions of a foot are cut off in the attempt to stop infection from spreading. Legs are removed up to the knee before the infection is finally stopped. Kidneys fail, and eyesight is lost all due to diabetes.

The best way to deal with diabetes is to prevent it in the first place. A proper diet and exercise are necessary. Parents modeling a healthy lifestyle and then teaching their children the same will ensure that sons and daughters have bodies capable of serving the Lord.

When you observe an overweight parent, notice how common it is see overweight children in the family. I know I have not been a good example of weight control and a balanced diet for my children. However, over the last five years it has been a focus of mine to become a good example and great positive strides have been made in nutrition for our family. If only the bad food didn’t taste so good it would be much easier. But isn’t that true for sin as well? Sin is pleasurable, and therefore must be resisted. Overeating unhealthy food is also pleasurable, and for our health it is good to resist.

Nutrition goes hand-in-hand with exercise, and we can observe from 1 Timothy 4:8 that the physical emphasis is somewhat beneficial when compared with godliness. “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Unfortunately, all too often parents think of competitive sports as the answer to a need for exercise. Yet, we have regularly talked to people who mention injuries they have received due to childhood sports’ team activity. Exercise at home together as a family is a much safer way to receive exercise without the heightened risk of injury due to competitive sports. Also, when exercising at home with the family, the child doesn’t have the negative influences of other teammates nor develop the appetite to waste hours and hours watching the sport on TV.

Simple exercises at home are possible and effective. If Dad will work out with the children, there is the added benefit of time well spent together building relationships. As an experiment this winter, we had a three-month fitness challenge on Titus2.com for families. Many who participated commented to us how they greatly enjoyed and benefited from their time invested working out together. Simple habits learned as children will bring lifelong benefits to health. However, it does take effort to begin and maintain exercise programs. If you would be interested in a few introductory exercises that you can do at home as a family, you can go to: February challenge.

I ended up suspending my normal, daily exercise during the last trip. I really didn’t miss the hard work and the time it takes. However, I did miss the benefits of exercise. When I don’t exercise, I feel lethargic and have greater difficulty maintaining my weight. I’ve found it to be one of those necessary aspects of life that has to be a priority for it to happen. Then once it is over, I’m satisfied that I did it and glad to get on with the rest of the day.

Our influence is powerful in the lives of our children. We are sowing appetites in their lives by our example. Medical costs are going to spiral upward through the years, and the healthier a person is, the less he will spend and the higher the quality of his life. A fit person will have more energy with which to minister to his family and serve the Lord. May we teach our children how to maintain their bodies for the glory of the Lord. “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Next month we will continue this series.

Summer Schedules and Chores

With the beginning of June upon us, a significant number of families will have different schedules and many hours to invest in activities other than school. The summer months afford us an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate children’s chore assignments and teach them new chore skills. It is also helpful to develop a schedule so we can accomplish all that is a priority for the summer.

When we assign our children chores, we don’t want to have to redo the chore plan until the following summer when we once again have the time to tackle it. During the summer my homeschooling hours are freed up for other projects and redoing the chore assignments will be at the top of the list.

We are particularly interested in evaluating whether older children are ready to learn some new chores while passing on a few of their well-practiced ones to younger siblings. It is also the chance to trade older-children jobs around so that each child learns every chore, becoming accomplished in it. Remember from the Holly Homemaker series having a clean home is only a part of why chores are important to us. We also want our children to learn skills that will facilitate their adult years. If a child knows how to clean the bathroom but not how to do the laundry, then we haven’t done our job as parents.

Scheduling Chore Time

Since revising the chore assignments is important to me, I put it into a summer schedule. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We know that many who use schedules decide to eliminate the schedule for the summer, and that’s fine if that is the family’s choice. However, we have regularly heard from families who make that decision, but then are disappointed with their summer. Why are they disappointed?

They are disappointed because the activities that they planned to do and that were a priority for their summer weeks didn’t end up being accomplished. The children fussed and bickered with each other because of the lack of direction in their days. The time seemed to be filled with chaos, disorganization, and frustration. The family looks back over their summer days with dissatisfaction rather then the sense of fulfillment they were looking forward to in the beginning. After a summer with these results, they decide to return to a summer schedule the following year.

There are many things one can put into a summer schedule. It is helpful to begin the scheduling process by a family discussion and planning time. What are the priorities for family time and individual time?

If the family is homeschooling, summer allows us to do two or three hours of homeschooling a day while still leaving much of the day for other activities. With those two or three hours, the children’s day is more easily filled productively. Younger children will maintain the reading and math skills they are just beginning to learn. Older children can work ahead for the upcoming school year, which means there can be more flexibility in the normal school schedule. If a child had difficulty in an area or a subject, emphasis can be placed on that. Perhaps there are studies that simply haven’t fit into the school schedule because of higher school-time priorities. Summer will nicely accommodate those studies while still leaving plenty of hours for non-school related activities.

Organizing During the Summer

Maybe there is household organizing and cleaning to be taken on during the summer. Time can be placed into the schedule for that. Organizing fits well even into a half hour or an hour time slot. For many years when my children were younger, I did all my major cleaning and organizing tasks during a short little half hour each summer day. I gave one of the older children the responsibility of playing with his younger siblings for that half hour. I kept a running list through the rest of the year of projects and cleaning that were too time consuming for my normal daily schedule. Those were what I worked on during that half hour in the summer. I was always delightedly amazed at all I could get done when I applied myself for just one half hour a day. Not only can Mom get her de-junking accomplished, but the older children can as well.

In the schedule, we put in time for me to make us the new chore system and to implement it. After making the chore assignments, it will take my time to teach the older children their new jobs. If I have it as part of the daily schedule, I am most likely to actually get it done. The older children can teach the younger children the chores that they are handing down to them, but again, there needs to be time set aside in the schedule to do this.

It is also helpful to me to check the children’s daily chores until they become proficient at what they are doing. When I used to try to work the checking into an open spot in the day, I usually didn’t. However, when I started putting “check chores” as a short time block on my schedule, I became successful in the consistency that was important.

We want our children learning how to work, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (Proverbs 20:11). “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). Summer days give me the time to invest in their lives by working out the chore system, teaching the children how to do their chores, and then holding them accountable for what they did. Without the hours of homeschooling, my summer days maintain a more relaxed pace so that I have the freedom to spend in this beneficial pursuit.

Perhaps a summer schedule and a redefined chore system sounds like something you would want to see as a part of your summer but you don’t know where to start or how to go about it. We have two resources available to help you. Managers of Their Homes gives information and step-by-step-directions for setting up a daily schedule. If you would like to implement a successful chore system, we would suggest Managers of Their Chores as a tool to help you in that direction. We want to encourage you to ensure that you have something to show for your summer weeks and do not arrive at September with discouragement. Perhaps a summer schedule and a revised chore system will help you toward that goal.