Living in a barn doesn’t make you a horse any more than living under one roof makes you a family. Being a like-hearted family is no accident, but it takes conscious, courageous effort. Saying “No” to things inconsistent with the heart direction God is leading your family takes strength and commitment. That is important, but far more important is saying “Yes, yes, yes” to what will draw your family together. Be prepared because that takes vision and determination. Be in the Word. Listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Follow Him obediently. “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
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Affirming, loving, encouraging, praising, prodding, pleading in our efforts to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord Jesus Christ. “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:10-11).
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Have you shared shortbread with anyone lately? Teri loves the shortbread our daughter-in-law Anna Marie makes. As I climbed into the van one day to leave for Kansas City errands, I noticed a small bag of shortbread pieces that Anna Marie had placed there for Teri to enjoy while we were out shopping.
Teri felt loved by that token of kindness, but I, too, was blessed in seeing Anna Marie’s thoughtfulness. It took Anna Marie time and effort to prepare and deliver the shortbread, but she will reap blessings many times that investment in Teri’s feeling loved. Each of us has the opportunity to bless and encourage others by small acts of love and kindness. Those acts bless more than just the recipient.
We men can very easily be “blind” to performing acts of kindness, but if we make just a little effort to plant “kindness” seeds, we will reap a bountiful harvest. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10). May we especially bless and cherish those whom God has given us.
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When the disciples returned after Jesus had sent them out two by two they were rejoicing. Why? They saw the power of God at work. It would have been very exciting indeed. “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name” (Luke 10:17).
When your children look at your family do they have reason to rejoice? If not, why not? Is it because they don’t see the power of the Lord Jesus at work? Might Jesus say to us what He said to the Sadducees – “. . . Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29)?
To see God at work in lives is very exciting and motivating. As family members see God at work in lives, it encourages them in their faith. Notice how in His rebuke, Jesus first referred to the Sadducees’ knowledge of Scripture. What place does the Bible have in our homes and lives? Are we feeding on it ourselves and feeding our family the Word of God daily? I am shocked and grieved over how few families are in the Word daily, individually, and then again as a family.
Everyone loves to be part of a successful endeavor where exciting things are happening. We aren’t perfect now nor ever will be, but I love the direction my family is heading. It gets me excited and energized because I see the power of God at work and motivating my family.
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The best place to train children is the best place to train parents – the home. The same skills a dad needs to lead his family are what make him valuable in the workplace, either as an employer or employee. As we strive to grow and are vulnerable before our family, we set the example and atmosphere for our children.
Since none of us has “arrived,” the question is: How much effort are we putting into improving in the following areas?
- being a servant leader
- being diligent in every area
- caring deeply for those who follow us
- focusing on the important more than the urgent
- aiming for integrity
- deepening our skills
- committing to the Lord Jesus no matter what
- striving to excel in our communication skills
- seeking to be winsome, kind, gentle, and loving
There is so much room to grow and so little time. We must surrender to Jesus Christ in all areas. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
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Have you ever bought anything in response to unsolicited e-mail? I sure haven’t, but someone must have, or they wouldn’t continue sending it. Isn’t it amazing how relentlessly persistent they are? They don’t give up.
When it comes to raising children who will love and serve the Lord Jesus, do we keep at it – no matter what – or do we give up? Unlike many online sales campaigns, raising our children in the Lord is a worthwhile endeavor, but how engaged are we? Are we as persistent as those who send out unsolicited e-mails? Do we give it our all? “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
Please come be encouraged at an Energize conference this fall trip!!
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What is the number one desire of your heart? Oh that for each of us it would be, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).
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It is not where are you headed, but where are you going. An airplane headed due north can actually be traveling to the northwest because of an east wind. The longer the time in route – blown by that easterly wind – the farther that plane heading due north will be from the desired destination. Pilots must be aware of the prevailing wind in route (an external force pushing against them) and purposefully act to compensate for it lest they miss their desired destination.
Dads, too, can experience a great deal of external forces exerting pressure on them. This pressure can come from certain members of the family, from friends and neighbors, from cultural forces. It often comes dressed as “well-meaning” pressure that challenges Dad to make decisions that ultimately would not be in the best interest of his children or the family.
Dad may desire to head “true north” – to have a certain outcome, such as a united, loving, Christ-following family – but make decisions that will bring different results. It takes careful planning and courage to make the decisions that keep the family on course. Are we in the Word daily, following it, and abiding in Christ?
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
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What do the following items have in common: a park, a street, a bridge, a bench, a pew, a portion of a highway, and a business?
They often are named after people as a memorial. Beyond a mere name, though, they give no clue as to what the named person was like.
Your name, however, is written on your children’s lives, and your children bear the impression of your life upon them. “… the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). Jesus was speaking very strongly with people who had professed to believe in Him (John 8:31).
What we love and pursue our children will love and pursue as well. May we pursue Jesus Christ with all our hearts. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). Are we walking after the Spirit?
In1869 Swiss physician Friedrich Miescher discovered DNA. DNA is God’s unique “blueprint” for each of us. It determines what we will look like – what color eyes and hair we have, our height, our skin tone. Did you know that we have a “character and spiritual DNA,” too? You can get a pretty good picture of a person’s character and spiritual “DNA” simply by studying his choices. Those who are near us and can observe our decisions get a good idea of our true character and spiritual makeup.
A few examples:
- Choosing to spend time with the Lord every day in His Word because we delight in Jesus
- Choosing to lead family Bible time every day because we want to give the family a love for God’s Word
- Choosing to invest time in things that have eternal value because our time on earth is short
- Choosing to team up with our wives to put the children to bed because she works hard all day
- Choosing to get her something she needs to show her our love
- Choosing to make the bed sometimes because she is usually the one to do it
- Choosing to actively disciple our children because we have the spiritual responsibility for them
- Choosing to cater to our own wants and needs because we love ourselves more than we love our wives, our children, or others.
“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:17-18).