A Godly Legacy – Part 4

This month we continue the series on leaving a godly legacy to read the previous three months, see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. The clock is counting down on each of our lives. We don’t know how many days we have left, but it is sure, today we have one day less than we had yesterday. As we raise our children, we have one chance to do something with our lives that will impact theirs, and each of us are at various stages in this race with high stakes.

Likely most have seen the bumper sticker that reads, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” This would seem to represent the hearts of so many today. Think of the number of “toys” men accumulate: big screen TVs, boats, jet skis, motorcycles, airplanes, and race cars, to name just a few. Often these men will purchase their toys with money they don’t have, while planning to use them with time that the Lord would direct differently. I’ve heard some men encouraging others to borrow all they can, enjoy themselves, and let somebody else pay it back once they’re gone. “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again. . .” (Psalms 37:21). That frame of mind would be consistent with the carnal rich man in Luke 12:19. “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” These mentalities make sense for the lost, who will spend eternity in hell because having fun in this life is all they have to look forward to.

Leaving a godly legacy after we are gone involves making ongoing difficult choices right now. If it were easy, then everyone would do it. That is why this month’s topic is so very important—shaping the will, and that begins with ours. Our example will have far greater impact on our children than what we teach. What sort of choices are we making as we lead the family? Are we having an individual Bible time every morning and then praying? Are we leading the family in Bible time every night? Are we worshipping with other believers each week? Is the “beast” (TV) alive in our homes and indoctrinating the souls of the family? Do we have an entertainment and recreation mindset or is our affection set on things above (Colossians 3:2)? What other influences are welcomed into our homes that are pulling the hearts of the family toward the world and ungodly choices? Do we see the connection between our decisions and how the wills of our children are shaped by them?

The decisions that we make and our example will have a powerful effect on training our children to make the right choices. “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3). This was referring to church leaders, but a secondary application would be to fathers. We demonstrate to our children an abiding life in Jesus by being joyful and content, following and serving Him versus choosing fun and entertainment. I’m amazed at the strong pull that fun, wild, thrilling things still can exert on my heart that would pull me away from what I need to do with my time. My flesh would love a motorcycle, airplane, jet ski, and sail boat. However, those things take time and money. I have come to appreciate every day, every hour, and every minute that the Lord gives me, and I want to spend them as He directs. I praise God that I see my sons wanting to make right decisions in their lives.

For example, our three remaining sons at home (the two oldest are married) have taken the matter of saving so they can purchase their own homes debt free very seriously. I see them working hard to earn an income and saving all they can by not spending money on foolish things and being careful when they buy clothes and other items. Sure they can be tempted like other young men to throw their money away on fun and exciting things, yet they’re making wise decisions for their future family’s good. If my life was filled with fun and exciting “toys,” you can be sure my sons would be making the same poor choices.

Next to consider is how are we communicating godly decisions to the family. Discussing decisions with our families will not only help everyone get onboard with new direction, but it will also teach them the basis for making similar good choices for their lives in the future.

From the beginning, Satan has deceived man and tempted him to choose against God’s will for his life. Even if he can’t get man to choose wickedness, but rather choose something contrary to God’s leading (read disobedience) he has won. A few of the most critical, milestone decisions children will face that will have great impact on them being a godly legacy are: salvation, future spouse, “higher education,” and vocation. As we disciple our children, the goal is to help them learn to surrender their wills to the Lord Jesus Christ for all decisions. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Notice that first we have to confront the will and tell it “no,” and then we surrender to follow Jesus. There are no bad choices when we obediently follow the Lord.

The problem is how difficult it can be to make godly decisions. It seems like there is a tug-of-war between the spirit wanting to do what is right and the flesh wanting to satisfy itself. If the Apostle Paul struggled with this, we can be sure that we will struggle with it and our children will as well. “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:14-19). We can anticipate this war to be both long and tempestuous, but we can make some choices that will help it be victorious.

We must feed the spirit and not the flesh. We must avail ourselves and our families of every opportunity to strengthen the spirit such as: having individual and family Bible times, making right choices even in small decisions, creating positive appetites, and being a part of a local fellowship of believers for weekly worship.

In addition to taking positive steps, we must also have good defenses. We must be on guard against what harmful influences are being allowed into the home because they can create negative appetites. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). The problem is that we often don’t take seriously the threat of the flesh. The world is strewn with the shipwrecked lives of Christians who underestimated the flesh’s power. Remember if Paul struggled, we will be greatly challenged as well.

An appetite is a desire for something that will result in a biasing force when we are trying to make a good decision. It will prejudice our whole decision making process and can possibly even shipwreck it if it is a negative one. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15).

People usually don’t plan on creating powerful appetites in their lives. What about the person who smoked his first cigarette or had his first beer or tried drugs for the first time? Do you think he planned to die of lung cancer, be an alcoholic, or a drug addict? What about first experiences with things that are thrilling and exciting? Appetites that are introduced into our lives will be powerful forces with which to reckon. Will we be careful to build good appetites and avoid creating negative ones? “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).

We must consider appetites as participants that will join in the tug-of-war in making a right decision. They will start pulling on either the flesh’s or the Spirit’s side. We can’t afford to give the flesh any advantage.

There is a whole chapter in the Keeping Our Children’s Hearts book on this; therefore, with limited space we will not delve any further into these areas.

Time is short, and the task is great. Shaping our children’s wills is of vital importance. Will we do this by modeling for our children the fruit of right choices? Will we be preparing our children for those milestone decisions they will face? Appetites will exert biasing pressure on our choices. We must be careful to avoid negative appetites and cultivate good ones in our children’s lives. May we diligently train the wills of our children so they can make right choices thereby preserving a godly legacy.

“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come” (Psalms 71:18).

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 2

It would seem that most, if not all, of us have to battle that natural tendency to gravitate toward laziness. For some the tendency will be greater than for others, but it is a problem to some degree or another. Last month, I began the Mom’s Corner with a question from a mom recognizing that she was giving in to her laziness and asking for suggestions on how to build self-discipline into her life.

The beginning point for us as we move from laziness to self-discipline is to have a biblical perspective on both laziness and on self-discipline. Last month we started laying a biblical groundwork for why we would care about being self-disciplined. In one of the e-mail responses to the last Mom’s Corner, a lady shared a verse she likes that lends itself well to a biblical reason for diligence. Her verse is part of the description of the Proverbs 31 woman. “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27). She isn’t lazy but rather self-disciplined. We could go a little further with that Proverbs 31 woman if we read the whole chapter. She is a great example to us of what a woman who doesn’t eat the bread of idleness is doing with her time. Since the Proverbs 31 woman had servant girls, she would have had the luxury of letting others do the work in her household. She could have been lazy if she had wanted to do so. Obviously, her servants were working as well, but the Proverbs 31 woman still chose to get up early and work hard.

Here is another passage I think will encourage us to know that when we follow the Lord Jesus obediently, we set aside laziness: “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:10-12). Look at these words and phrases from this passage: “labor of love,” “ministered to the saints,” “do minister,” “show the same diligence,” “be not slothful.” What we do in serving in our homes is a labor of love, and it is ministering. We are encouraged to be diligent and not to be slothful. It is our faith in our Lord that enables us to do what He has called us to do, and we are to be patient as we fulfill that ministry; we are not to always feel anxious for it to be done so we can then do what we want to do, but we are to find joy in the work itself.

After last month’s Mom’s Corner, a very dear friend who writes every single month and comments on each Corner, shared this with me:

“I have a verse I have kept in my room for years … ‘Arise … and be doing…’ This helps me in those moments of weariness or indecision … don’t just sit there and vegetate…” Martha

I e-mailed her to ask permission to use part of her e-mail in the Mom’s Corner. When she wrote back, she gave me much more information about the verse and why it was motivating to her. I felt the verse and her thoughts on it fit well into our study, so I am including them here for you. This is the whole verse and where it is found: “Of the gold, the silver, and the brass, and the iron, there is no number. Arise therefore, and be doing, and the LORD be with thee” (1 Chronicles 22:16). Here is what Martha wrote:

“David spent the later part of his life laying aside the necessary building materials and resources that his son would need in continuing the work of the Lord in building the temple. David’s challenge to arise and be doing was the cry of a life that had been lived with purpose to please and honor God. It was for this reason that he could challenge his son to arise and be doing that work of the Lord. From 1 Chronicles 22:16, we get the feeling that there was no holding back in what David contributed toward his son building the temple.

“As we see in 2 Samuel 24:24, he would not give unto the Lord that which cost him nothing. ‘And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver’ (2 Samuel 24:24). David himself worked tirelessly at this task that he would not finish but would pass on for his son to complete in his son’s lifetime. Would to God that we would all see the work that God has given us to accomplish for His Name’s sake (the raising of our children and supporting of our husbands) with the same sense of devotion and dedication that David did. There would be a difference in the continuing work of God in the lives of our children as they take our place for Christ in this world.” Martha

I liked and was challenged by the insights Martha pulled out of these Scriptures. If you would like to read the complete account of these situations, you can find them in 1 Chronicles 22:1-19 and 2 Samuel 24:1-25. A huge motivation for us as mothers is to evaluate the outcomes of our decisions in our children’s lives. David had been busy setting the example before his son Solomon of doing what the Lord wanted him to do. He invested of his time, resources, and energy. He was the epitome of ”arise and be doing for the Lord.” When David told Solomon to arise and be doing, Solomon had not only the direction but also the model from his father to help him accomplish the task. What about our lives? Do we ”arise and be doing”? Are we modeling for them a lazy lifestyle or a self-disciplined one? We are continually examples our children will follow. Are we positive role models, or are we negative ones?

Martha looks at that verse on her wall at times when we would say she has every right to vegetate—times of indecision or weariness. Her thoughts turn to the Lord and what He wants for her time and her life. When she gets up and begins doing, the indecision is erased. If she is weary, the Lord will renew her energy, or He will lighten her load. He wants her focus on Him, not on herself.

I know from personal experience that I end up being blessed when I get up and get busy rather than wasting my time. That time God has given me is a gift, and He has given me stewardship of it. I can be a good and faithful servant with my time, or I can fritter it away with nothing to show for it.

We are still laying the groundwork for moving from being lazy to self-disciplined. My prayer is that as you think about these verses and evaluate your life, you will be motivated to set laziness and time wasters aside, and that you will want to spend yourself in His service. Since we will be moving into the practical ways we can grow from laziness to self-discipline, I would love to hear your stories and be able to share them in this series.