Want a Good Harvest?

How it grieves my heart to observe children in church talking with their friends, playing games, or goofing off when God’s Word is being preached. When children aren’t being taught to pay attention to messages at church, they are being trained to ignore God’s Word.

You can imagine how delighted I was to hear how Nathan and Melanie are teaching their children to listen attentively to messages. Each child who has taken good sermon notes earns one dollar per message. At a Sunday meal notes are submitted, read aloud to be discussed, and reviewed to see if they pass the criteria. 

Here are their $1 note-taking criteria:

  • Name of presenter and date must be at the top of the page. 
  • Handwriting that is readable and accurate. IE. “Children are the future” and not “children are the furniture.” You can see that spelling is important. 
  • Notes on the whole sermon, not just the beginning and ending.

Benefits the children in this family told us they have observed for taking notes on sermons: 

  • Keeps them focused and engaged in the message. 
  • They work hard to understand for their notes because they know the notes will be read to the family. They prefer not to have their siblings laugh at their notes. 
  • They get to listen to other’s notes being read, which reinforces the points of the message and fills in points they might have missed. 
  • Helps them learn Scripture and good note taking skills. 
  • They like the dollar. 

“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).

Posted in: General

Straddling The Fence

Being double-minded is a curse. Besides being uncomfortable, it sets a horrible example for the children and makes it impossible for a wife to follow. “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:21). (A modern-day example would be to substitute “the world” for “Baal.”)

Often a man thinks he can cherry-pick what he likes from both the world and the Lord, when in fact it doesn’t work that way. Neither a man’s wife nor his children and most importantly, His Lord are pleased. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).

It begins with a choice. Choose to follow one, and put away the other. “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD” (Joshua 24:14).

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Put away double-mindedness. Be strong in the Lord, my Brothers. 

Not Listening to the WOrds can Have Serious Consequences

Christopher invited Teri and me to go to a Handel’s Messiah singalong. We ended up sitting on the front row next to the musicians and director. I began speaking with the musician that was immediately in front of me (right at my knees actually) as he was waiting to begin. After a couple of other questions, I asked him about his spiritual background. Imagine my shock to learn he was not a Christian and “leaned toward Buddhism.” He was about to have a major part in playing one of the most beautiful, worshipful pieces I know of, and it was merely black notes on white paper to him. If only he would listen to the words and take them to heart, he might spare himself an eternity of regrets. 

Then I thought of the dads that receive this email and wondered how many might be lost and not have a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus. They lack the joy and confidence that comes with knowing Him. Maybe they go to church, “know the notes,” sing the songs, but don’t know the Savior. Religious, don’t hack it. Good person is not good enough. Even lots of good works, doesn’t work. 

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23). 

If you aren’t sure, settle it now. Don’t wait. Speak to your pastor or someone you trust who will not give you a false assurance. If you don’t have someone local, email me, and we will talk. 

What Wattage are You?

Part of the prep work for painting the house involved taking all the exterior decorative lights down. They were the kind that senses motion, becoming active at dusk and inactive at dawn. After only twelve years, none of them functioned the way they were supposed to. I spent quite a few hours troubleshooting them. The electronics in them were “inferior” so I ended up rewiring them to be basic light fixtures. Now I manually turn them on at night and off in the morning. Simple. If only it was that simple with “believers.” 

Jesus said that we (believers) are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). With so many professing Christians in our country, why is our country so dark? Could it be that many either don’t have the light of Christ in them (lost and hell-bound), or they are consumed with the fun (read dark) things of this world and have no good works? Oh my Brothers, what consumes your heart, mind, and time? May there be no doubt about who owns us. Burn brightly for Christ. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). 

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). 

Joy in Christ-Centered Christmas Traditions

With Christmas on the horizon, our thoughts usually shift toward what that season means to us personally and then how to draw our children toward Christ. Perhaps a glimpse into our personal Christ-centered, family Christmas traditions might spur you to pray about what the Lord wants your family to do during these weeks. 


Many years ago, we realized when one entered our home at Christmas time, the Christmas tree was the center of attention. However, we had a desire for the decorating in our house to reflect our worship of the Lord Jesus Christ and draw our hearts and our children’s hearts more closely to Him. So we replaced the Christmas tree with a beautiful, fireplace mantel arrangement with lights, a nativity, garland, and the names of God displayed. We also culled out Christmas decorations that were not Christ centered and only purchased new ones that were.

After our salvation, we eliminated Santa Claus. We didn’t want our children believing in Santa Claus only to find out later he was a lie. “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9).  Plus we desired to have Christmas be all Christ!

Christmas Caroling

Our family used Christmas caroling as a special way to share Christ. We carol in our neighborhood as a family, growing from Steve, me, and our eight children the first year (plus my dad and mom) to our current thirty (on a good weather caroling night) now that we have married children and grandchildren with us. 

We bake a delicious poppy seed loaf (recipe at the end of the blog post) to take to each home and include a card with note and a salvation Scripture. It is our heart’s desire that all of our neighbors would come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Gifts and Lights

Our children love to give gifts. Growing up, they grouped into teams of two or three and invested time, thought, and prayer into each gift. As adults, married with families, they figured out a name drawing system for a gift exchange between siblings, cousins, and aunt/uncles to nieces/nephews. We observed our children’s greatest joy through the years was what they gave rather than what they received.

We made a tradition of an evening near Christmas to take the family out to eat and then to listen to a powerful, dramatic presentation from Back to the Bible called the Twelve Voices of Christmas. As we listened, we drove around looking at Christmas lights. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). 

The Word

During Christmas week, Steve would divert from wherever we were reading in Scripture at that time, to passages from the Old Testament that are prophetic of Jesus’ birth and to the chapters in the New Testament that tell the story of God becoming a man. 

On Christmas Eve, we follow a Christmas program my dad and mom put together for their grandchildren and now their great grandchildren enjoy it. If you are interested in this original, homemade Christmas program, here is a link.

The Celebration

We had our immediate family Christmas on Christmas Eve day. This began when our children were little, and we spent Christmas Day with my parents, who were our next-door-neighbors. Now Christmas Eve day is when everyone one – my mom, adult children, and grandchildren – gather at our house from breakfast until bedtime for a day of fellowship, eating, gift exchange, and time in the Word. 

May I suggest that you and your husband evaluate what is important for your family during the Christmas season and make sure that your time is invested in those priorities? Be sure Christmas is purposefully utilized to draw your children’s hearts to Jesus Christ and serving Him.


Christmas is the last time of year when you want to be a stressed woman. This Christmas season would you choose to set aside Christmas stress and pick up the joy, peace, and rest of the Savior?

Here are four resources that I recommend to help you with holiday de-stressing or any-time-of-the-year de-stressing:

Managers of Their Homes
Managers of Their Chores
Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit
Sweet Journey

The Best Memories

What memories and appetites are you giving your children during the Christmas season? A  Seriously Dad wrote after last week’s email:

“I just wanted to share what my family has done for the past 15 years. We bake some homemade Christmas treats (usually cookies and/or pumpkin bread). We prepare plates for about 10 of our neighbors with treats and a hand-written Christmas card. (Most of our neighbors are “good” people who don’t proclaim Jesus as their Lord and Savior.). We drive around the countryside to our neighbors (We live in a rural area.). We walk up to the door caroling (We choose a Christian song vs a Santa song.).They usually invite us in for a “visit” (often around 30 minutes each). It is definitely something that we enjoy each Christmas!”

One Brother said he thought that these days many are afraid of homemade baked goods. I suppose that is possible, but if you are concerned about it, you can buy small bags of individually wrapped chocolate pieces by Lindt or Andes. Either way, I encourage you not to miss out on an opportunity to be light in your neighborhood. AND it is not only a good example for your children, but also helps develop a love in them for sharing the love of Jesus with others.  

“Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”
(2 Corinthians 5:9,10)