Driving into our town on a four-lane road, we passed a police car with a prisoner in the back seat cage – like a wild animal in captivity. He was being transported to the state prison, which would be his home for some period of time. How sad.
Many on the “outside” are prisoners, too. They have lost their freedom and are bound to something. I was a 20-year-old in the Air Force stationed in Thailand and made $144 a month. That isn’t much at all even though my room and board were provided. I was a prisoner held hostage by cigarettes. I didn’t even have enough money to support my own habit each month.
Eventually, I came to realize that I was a prisoner. I was not free to be happy and enjoy myself if I didn’t have cigarettes with me. One of the smarter decisions I have made was that I would not be bound by that habit. I determined to break free and was able to do so. Even after I quit smoking, it took five years to be fully free of the desire to smoke. But I am so grateful to be free!
Are you a prisoner bound to something—something in the flesh or in the mind? If so, please seek freedom. Many are slaves to Internet passions that destroy their minds and their families. Others who are not willing to be honest with themselves are bound by some habit, some impure interest, some substance, some ungodly relationship….
The good news is that, if you are saved, the power of the Holy Spirit will enable you to be free. But you must begin the process by choosing it. Will you fly and be free?
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
We dads have many responsibilities that require our time. Too often, however, we let important needs such as discipling our children, spending time with our wife, and leading family Bible time get crowded out by less important, though seemingly more urgent, tasks. We soothe our conscience by telling ourselves, “If only I had more time….”
My own dad was full of “if only’s.” He is gone now, and I am left with memories that would have been much happier and much better if only he had made other choices.
What sort of memories are we leaving our children? Yesterday is past, but tomorrow is a new day. Put off the old “if only’s” and put on the new “I will’s.” Then may we be men of action.
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14).
Respect is something we men crave.
Being respectable means striving to:
- Meet my wife’s and children’s emotional and physical needs
- Following through on my commitments
- Guiding my family spiritually
- Making right choices
- Not being gross
- Being diligent
- Being kind
Impossible? Not when we are in Christ and willing to surrender.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
“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).
We are scheduling fall Energize conferences now. Hopefully, you can either host or attend one. Looking forward to meeting many of you.
Recently as we were dining at a Mexican restaurant, the owner was excited to tell us about a special dessert he had created. He said, “You’ll die for it.”
Now I admit that it was definitely a great dessert, but worth dying for? I think not. Over the years I have often heard the expression “you’ll die for it” or that this or that is “to die for.” It’s just an expression but it does pose a great question: What is so important to you that you would be willing to die in order to have or protect it?
Pause for a moment and reflect on whether there is anything you would pay the ultimate sacrifice for.
Next, ask yourself: What is so important that I would give my life for each day?
It is one thing to die and be gone but an entirely different matter to give each day of our life to something sacrificially. “I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you” (2 Corinthians 7:3).
Our answers to those questions reveal “who” we really are before God and others.
Near us there is a small apple orchard that received no care for years—no pruning, no tilling, and no fertilizing. Ripe apples simply fell to the ground and rotted. Finally a new owner came in and has spent weeks pruning and restoring the orchard. This year or next should produce a beautiful harvest.
Think of your family as your orchard and your children as fruit. If you have neglected your “orchard,” it isn’t going to improve until you spend great amounts of time on it. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2).
If you have been lax in your responsibilities to disciple your children, the important point is to begin the restoration. Begin today to prune and till. It will be a more difficult job than if you had been faithful all along, but resolve today to be responsible with what God has given you.
Daily family Bible time, talking, praying, and worshipping together are necessary for discipling our children. Though we will not see the fruit of the new orchard owner’s labor for at least one or two seasons, the owner has done the right thing. Will you do the right thing with your orchard? May we be found faithful and may our orchards bear fruit well-pleasing to our Lord.
Recently I met some young adults who work on their family farms after school and on Saturdays. They were delightful: good attitudes; highly motivated; great workers. Happy! They were a joy to work alongside of. They loved the Lord Jesus. They respected their parents. Overall, they were great “kids.” One of them exclaimed periodically throughout the day, “I love being outside and working like this.”
Even the farm owner’s sons were working hard. I complimented one of them on his cheerful attitude because he could have chosen to do other things. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Someone has to do it.” That is so true about much of the work in life. Someone has to earn money for the family’s needs. Someone has to perform maintenance on the house and car. Someone has to clean the house. Someone has to mow the yard. Someone has to school, disciple, and feed the children. Someone has to wash and fold the clothes. The list of opportunities to work for the family goes on and on.
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). “Dress” in the Hebrew means “to serve or work.” Man was put on this earth to serve and work. What is our attitude regarding work? So many people have disabilities and cannot work. Would we want to trade places with them?
What a blessing it is when we choose to embrace what needs to be done with a cheerful, grateful spirit and teach our children to do the same. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).
Just imagine how you would feel walking into your son’s debt-free home for the first time? Most parents don’t know what it feels like to have their own home without a mortgage—much less how it feels for their children to truly own a home, debt-free, even before they are married. What a blessing it would be for your son to start out life without the burden of a 20- or 30-year mortgage.
Learn how you can help him.
It is attainable.
Buying a House Debt-Free: Equipping Your Son.
What’s your hobby? Years ago, mine was flying small private airplanes. I loved it. Most hobbies are expensive—in time and money. They tend to take us away from our family and consume money that we could likely spend better elsewhere. Here’s a tip: Whatever your hobby might be, I can save you money. I have found the best hobby of all—and the good news is that it doesn’t cost you anything but your time. I guarantee that it will give you far greater satisfaction than your current hobby. Would you consider taking up this one hobby and putting all others aside?
Here it is… Make your family your hobby, your passion, your joy, and your delight! Next to the Lord, may your family be what you think about and are excited to spend your time “on.” Picture your children grown, living for the Lord Jesus, and successful in life. What sort of hobby could rival those rewards? A perfect golf swing? An exhilaratingly view from 10,000 feet? A terrific collection of [fill in the blank]?
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).
Dad, how many children have you birthed? How much did the last one weigh? Scripture refers to childbirth as the greatest pain one can bear. So if we men are so tough, why aren’t we the ones having the babies? (OK, I know the answer.) But think about it: What pain have we dads endured for our children? Our wives carried each baby for nine months and then birthed it. “We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail” (Jeremiah 6:24).
We are commanded to disciple our children. “And, ye fathers, … bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Have we agonized over our children? Do we spend time with them, talk with them, and pray earnestly for them?
Jesus suffered on the cross for us and our children. Our wives have suffered in childbirth for each of our children. What price have we paid, what suffering have we endured, as we disciple our children? Think about how Jesus demonstrated His love for us and then ask yourself: How have I demonstrated a love for my family that cost me something?
Have you ever been challenged to make a commitment that you know will be beneficial but very difficult to keep? Maybe you doubted you had the self-discipline to follow through and thus decided not to make the commitment. For some reason we often feel it is more honorable not to commit than to risk failing. Doesn’t that sound quite noble?
Could it be that it really isn’t lack of self-discipline or noble motives, but wrong priorities? Have you noticed that a man will always do what is most important to him? We usually eat three meals a day regardless of how busy we are, and we go to work every day even when we don’t feel like it. Yet, we will not do what we are double minded about. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).
Over the years I’ve challenged thousands of dads to commit to daily personal and family Bible time on the condition that if they miss one they won’t eat a bite of food for 24 hours. A man’s growling stomach is a great reminder that he is starving himself and his family spiritually.
A host of men and families are blessed because the dads committed. Do they ever miss a Bible time? Maybe, maybe not, but I know this: They made the right commitment. Sadly, there is another host of men who thought themselves noble but continue to starve themselves and their family.
Will you commit to feeding your spirit and your family’s every day?