No one wants to be overweight (>60%), indebted (>80%), or addicted. Then why does that describe the majority of adults in the US today? One small, bad choice, then another, and another is how it begins. Those seemingly insignificant choices when chained together become enslaving habits.
How much better to make small, good choices and reinforce them daily, to develop beneficial habits that free rather than enslave? Why not begin today by making good decisions in Bible reading, exercise, healthy eating, frugality, and wise time investment?
“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).
Everyone has a past, and often their past is their future. New choices made in the future will continue to resemble bad choices made in the past unless one confronts those choices and learns to make new decisions.
Your past will either dominate you and be a wall or be steps to facilitate you to new heights. Either we will speak to ourselves victim stories or the truth of God’s Word.
Victim stories cater to our pride. “It wasn’t my fault.” “What what else could I have done?” If embracing God’s truth, we are prepared to receive His grace. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50:20). God encourages (okay commands) us to follow Scripture at every junction.
Even more important is that our example is being impressed upon our children. Will they be victims/losers or conquerors in Christ? (BTW, John the Baptist was a conqueror in Christ.)
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).
(Is there someone you should share this with?)
Have you noticed the explanations that come after a problem or disobedience often concentrate on the person’s wonderful intentions? Young or old, the perpetrator will reveal the most altruistic motives for having done it. Good intentions don’t count. The question is: What did we actually do?
Scripture is very clear on a myriad of commands. God calls us to obey Him, and when we don’t, there are consequences. May we dads set the example of obeying our Lord in all He commands us. A great summary is: May we live to please our Lord and fear grieving Him.
Uzzah loved the Lord as evidenced by his desire to not see the ark damaged by falling off the cart. Yet, despite his good intentions, disobedience cost him his life.
“And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.” (2 Samuel 6:6–7).
Life can turn upside down in an instant. An accident, a cancer diagnosis, or _______. We face obstacles in life. Some are easy, some difficult, and some “impossible.” Our response to these will greatly affect our children’s view of God, because it represents how real our faith in God actually is. Paul said follow me even as I also follow Christ.
I’m thinking of one Brother whose life is ebbing, drip-by-drip, as a bucket with a leak. He requires constant care and suffers greatly.
Another Sister has been through unimaginable health trauma. Her testimony declares the glory of a righteous and merciful God.
May we embrace difficulties that come our way. May we see them as opportunities for God to grow our faith in Him. May we consider that the mighty work God most desires is not the joy from flattening the obstacle, but unshakable faith in Him.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Remember your last graduation? For some it was high school and others college. How did you feel? Was there satisfaction of accomplishment or relief to be finished with school?
I admit. I was tired of the schoolwork. I looked forward to applying what I learned and being free of study. I was in for a surprise, though. In my field, the good ones never quit learning. That is true in life, as well. The good ones, at whatever they do, never quit learning.
There is a huge secondary benefit to being a lifelong learner. Your children are much more likely to have the same attitude toward learning.
What should we learn? First, we learn of our Lord Jesus and His Word. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
Then we seek to learn what we can in order to excel in everything we put our hands to. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23).
Are you learning? Are you reading God’s Word everyday? Are you improving in your ministry? Are you improving in your vocation?
It is easy to say “I love you” to our children, but, demonstrative actions are required to confirm it.
- Do you lead them in daily family Bible time?
- Do you live out the Lord Jesus?
- Do you have daily personal Bible time?
- Do you worship with the family each week?
- Do you wear a seatbelt?
- Do you refrain from exciting and dangerous activities because you want to be around to provide for and disciple your children?
Some might wonder what the last two items have to do with loving your children. Love puts the needs of others above their own selfish interests. I am especially grieved when I hear about a dad who lost his life or was seriously injured by something that could have been avoided.
It is easy to buckle a seatbelt. Yet without doing that, it is also easy to be thrown from the car in an accident and be crushed by it. What about the thrill of blazing a trail down the ski slopes and impacting a tree at a high rate of speed? What about the exhilaration of a fast motorcycle ride on a beautiful day in the country only to end in disaster? Sadly, these are real examples.
If we truly love those entrusted to our care, it must change the decisions that we make.
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Picture a sixteen-year-old boy daily spending 30 minutes in front of the bathroom mirror fixing his hair and meticulously grooming facial hair. Then he goes to his closet and picks either tight-fitting or minimal clothing. He wants the girls to stare at his muscles and find him attractive. Would you think that a good thing in light of Scripture? Would you encourage a son like that?
Then why is it good for girls? Is it because in the world females are ascribed value when they are attractive and sensuous? Should she see her value based upon something false? The Proverbs 31 woman is praised as an example for women. She is praised because of her virtue, not beauty.
A physical focus leads to pride. “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness:..” (Ezekiel 28:17).
“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
How are we praising our daughters? What about our wives?
It takes courage to be a good leader and be obedient to the Lord. The Lord’s instructions to Saul were very clear, “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (1 Samuel 15:3). It would have been extremely difficult to carry out this command, but the Lord was clear.
Yet Saul disobeyed and blamed his disobedience on those he was called to lead. “And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.” (1 Samuel 15:24). Notice a halfhearted confession with no real repentance.
Saul gave a great excuse to say he feared the people – God didn’t buy it. “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:22-23a).
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). God’s command to fathers is equally clear. Ya think?
“Neither shall he (the king) multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: . . .” (Deuteronomy 17:17). Even with our little wisdom it is obvious, Solomon disobeyed the Lord. “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites” (1 Kings 11:4-5).
Yet, might we be like Solomon and have difficulty in seeing our own error? Will we heed the warning of Scripture? “Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing” (Deuteronomy 7:26). Sadly, many Christian dads have brought what God would call an abomination into their homes.
Notice how these verses describe TV and most movies. “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19).
“And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).
Part 2 coming soon, “What about the computer?”
How often do you read something or here a message and think how it applies to a number of guys you know? Maybe someone at church or a friend? We can so quickly dodge the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Oh what good may result if we are willing to be open to the Holy Spirit enough to say “Is it I?”
“And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I” (Matthew 26:21-22)?