All posts by Steve Maxwell

Steve, husband to Teri for over 40 years, dad to eight and grandpa to eight, desires to encourage homeschool dads to spend time in the Word, disciple their children in the ways of the Lord, use their time wisely, and be men of God. His five home-school graduate sons are now wage-earning adults, and three have purchased their homes debt-free before marriage. He has been writing e-mails for Christian dads since 1990. Steve is co-author of of a number of books, including Managers of Their Homes, and Keeping Our Children’s Hearts. Steve also wrote Buying a House Debt-Free: Equipping Your Son, Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family and Redeeming the Time. Find out more information on Steve Maxwell and his books.

Close the Door dad

How many times per child, per winter, does every dad call out, “Please close the door. We can’t afford to let our heat out and the cold in.” Children don’t naturally appreciate the money that it takes to keep a home warm during the winter and what it will cost to heat a home when frigid air is being allowed into it. Dads generally are very sensitive to things that impact finances, but how aware are you of what you might be letting in that can cool (kill?) the spiritual interest of your children’s souls?

My heart groans when I hear of the barrage of worldly influences that storm the hearts of children in this age, especially things they are told they can’t live without. Social media of all types, addictive music, dopamine-pumping entertainments, and computer games make TV and movies look like toddler toys in comparison. If that wasn’t enough, friends from church promote them so that every “normal” (worldly?) Christian young person MUST have them. 

Having a plan to deal with the soul poison is important, but are you practicing good soul nutrition for you and your family? My heart breaks when I hear of families who aren’t in the Word every day. Are you daily leading your family in the Word, not because you “have to” but because you WANT TO and because you love God’s Word! 

We are so blessed to have God’s Word in our hands. We have no excuse, (except maybe a lost heart) for not loving it and sharing it with our families. 

Psalms 119:
97 “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.”
113 “I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.”
163 “I hate and abhor lying:but thy law do I love.”
165 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

Is The Season

Even though our children are now adults, memories are still fresh of sick children during the winter months. Life with little ones can be difficult enough normally, but when you add illness, it gets more challenging. Homeschooling moms carry a full plate of responsibilities. Illness simply adds to it. Here are some thoughts about this. 

Thank God. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As you give thanks, God will use your example to help your children learn gratitude even in difficult situations. You could pray with your sick children not only asking the Lord to heal them but also thanking Him for the opportunity the illness gives for your child to learn to accept the hardship of not feeling well, to be thankful for good health, and to be patient.

Help your wife. Take alternate nights in getting up to care for the children. Make the dinner meal while she rests. Pick up household chores your wife might normally do but can’t while caring for sick children. Take time off of work to care for her and the children if she is really sick. 

Another consideration is when you have illness in your family, don’t take the sick ones to church. If you don’t like your children sick, why “wish” it on another family that you are called to love. “… Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27). 

Junk or Jesus

We drove through several neighborhoods listening to Twelve Voices of Christmas. It was very disappointing—not what we were listening to—but what we saw. The lights were technologically well done, in fact even a work of art, but instead of anything Christ-honoring (or even neutral), disco-dancing Santa Clauses were everywhere. If Santa was the focus of your Christmas, you would have loved it. However, I’m hoping that wasn’t true for any of you. 

We see the slide of our society further and further away from Christianity even evidenced in Christmas decorations. That should spur us on in our call as fathers. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). There is no guarantee our children will be saved, but we must do everything we can to facilitate that. 

Brothers, we must surround our children with the truth of God’s Word and they have to see it lived out in our lives. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

Dark Over Light

On our walks, Teri and I notice how the shades are closed on most houses. It used to be that as soon as it was light outside, the blinds would go up letting in the sunshine. Sadly, that seems typical of the state of the nation. Darkness is preferred over light. 

Even professing Christians seem to be embracing darkness. Might a measure be how much time is spent with the news compared to God’s Word (individual and family Bible time)? “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,…” (Psalm 1:1a).

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Ephesians 5:8-12). (Those things done in secret typically are the nightly news.)

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). 

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)

What a Blessing

As I listened to Evidence Not Seen (by Darlene Deibler Rose) my eyes often filled with tears. Hearing what newly-wed missionaries Russell and Darlene endured to share Christ in New Guinea shredded my heart. They were driven by a fervent love for the Lord Jesus, wanting to be used as light to those in darkness. A few years after arrival on the island, Russell and Darlene were placed in separate POW camps when WW2 began. He died in his, and she somehow lived through it. 

What efforts are we willing to expend to share Christ’s love with those around us? It is by God’s sovereign will that each of us lives where we do. We don’t have to travel thousands of miles to our mission field; we already live there. 

 Would you be willing to discuss with your wife what you might do in the coming days and make a plan to carry it out? Here are some ideas to consider:

  • If your family can sing, carol to your neighbors. We have done that for many years now. We only sing the first verse of an easy carol and then “We wish you a merry Christmas.” We encourage you to keep it short. (Trust me.)
    • If you want to carol and lack voices, invite others to join you. Either a family or two from church or Christian neighbors. We seek to include the “cute factor” — little kids who stand at the front of the caroling group. 
  • If caroling is out of your ability, what about just a casual, short, outside visit to wish them a Merry Christmas?
  • Bring a gift of food whether you carol or not. Food isn’t expensive, and people love tasty treats. Some possibilities are: sweet bread, cookies, or homemade candy. We make poppyseed loaves (Poppyseed Loaf). They are delicious, and our neighbors tell us they look forward to them each year.
  • With the food gift, what about giving them a card with it?
    • In the card, include a personal note if you know them, and it not, a more general one where you express your desire in getting to know them. If they have had health challenges, and you have been praying for them, tell them. Offer to pray for other needs they might have. Include your name and phone number so they know you are serious.

Something done for the first time can be intimidating. However, our lives are full of activities that felt awkward the first time but in time became special. That is the way Christmas caroling to our neighbors began thirty years ago. It is now a rewarding annual family tradition that grew from the ten of us before our children began to marry, to about 30 (on a good year) of us with daughters-in-law and grandchildren. It is a delightful opportunity to show our neighbors we love them and share some encouragement in Christ. 

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).