Tag Archives: Dad’s Appetites

To or Not To?

Our “modern” and “enlightened” world promotes gluttony and self-indulgence of every sort. Yet, I have never met a person who was enslaved in self-indulgence and devoid of self-control who was happy. One cannot be enslaved and walk in the Spirit.

Isn’t it amazing that most people still respect self-discipline? May we not follow the world on its self-destructive path.

“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)


Don’t Be a Squirrel

Go. Dont go. Go. Dont go. Go–lights out. If squirrels were as indecisive and had such poor success in trees when jumping from limb to limb as they do when crossing streets, we wouldn’t have any squirrels.

Dads are faced with a myriad of decisions. For the good of their families, it is essential that they make wise, God-fearing, Spirit-led decisions. We guide our families by learning to listen to the Spirit and obey Him. Small decisions are good training for the bigger ones we will face. There really shouldn’t ever be a need for a “leap” of faith. If He says “Go,” we go. If not, we wait.

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:27)


It’s a War!

I love it when Teri is giving a workshop and tells moms that the alarm clock is their friend not their enemy. That statement is usually followed by either chuckles or outright laughter from many in the audience. I suppose a mom hearing that the alarm clock is her friend is similar to a dad who is told that work is a blessing from God. He is likely to laugh at that thought. Through the years I have heard so many men complain about their jobs and how they dread going into work.

The “flesh” is something isn’t it? Not wanting to get out of bed in the morning and complaining about work are examples of fleshly responses to God’s calling for our life. Even Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:18-19). In one way, it is surprising to me that even Paul had a struggle with the flesh. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be a surprise because Jesus said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

Jesus was saying that in regard to doing the right thing, our flesh is weak. The inverse is true as well because the flesh pulls strongly toward what is wrong. When I look at the struggles in my life, I see that I’m at war with my flesh. Like Paul, I know what I should do, but sometimes I don’t do it.

I suppose my greatest fleshly struggle is with eating too much. I know mentally what my body appropriately needs to sustain itself, yet, I often choose excess. A person can know what’s right to do but still struggle because the flesh is weak. I suspect that most reading this have a struggle with excess in some areas.

Jesus said we are to watch and pray if we are to avoid giving in to a temptation. Watch means as we would expect—to be vigilant and observant for those things that are contrary to the Spirit. It means we are to make a conscious decision, a choice that we will be on guard against a temptation to do something to which the Spirit has said, “No.” For me the majority of the problem is that I really don’t want to be on guard against the temptation of eating too much, because I enjoy it. We prefer to embrace the temptation. A poor defense indeed would be for the soldier to be on the front line watching and guarding, but when the enemy comes near, he gives him a big hug.

The added difficulty with overcoming the flesh concerning food is that in a sense it isn’t wrong. Everyone has to eat. Yet, if our eating isn’t done in moderation, it is wrong, and there will be consequences for it. Normally, the consequences come in the form of gaining weight and putting one’s health at risk. Overindulgence in food is so prevalent among believers today. However, overeating is just one area of many where we can end up being a slave to it.

The person without self-control is similar to a city with no walls for protection. “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). Without protection a man is open to being spoiled by others. The most likely spoiler in overeating would be disease of the heart and arteries. I’ve been amazed when I’ve been in the doctor’s office. When I look around the waiting room, I see that the vast majority of those there are significantly overweight. There appears to be a definite connection between being overweight and ill health.

In 2 Timothy 3:3-4 we read of the bad “company” a person who is incontinent—without self control—keeps. “Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:3-4). Sinful behavior goes hand-in-hand with lack of self control.

In addition to the possible consequences to my health, I’m troubled by my lack of self-control and the knowledge of setting a bad example for my children. My desire is that I’m an encouragement to my children in raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, not that I would be a detriment. What makes matters worse is that when we lack self-control and are covetous of things, whether it is sleep, food, sweets, soda, pleasure, entertainment, or whatever else it might be, we will likely foster similar appetites in our children. Then, instead of bringing up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), we are causing them to stumble.

To take it a step further, we could look at what leads to overeating. Isn’t it being covetous of good tasting things and the pleasure they afford us? I don’t know about you, but I have yet to covet food like lettuce, brussel sprouts, and carrots. We covet the things that thrill the taste buds. “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5). We might be tempted to excuse being covetous, but when a covetous man is called an idolater, there is no mistaking it for the sin that it is.

Jesus said there are two things to help with lack of self-control—vigilance and prayer. To be vigilant means we have to be watchful for something that poses a threat. For me that is the greatest struggle. My flesh doesn’t consider food harmful. As a first step, it is needful to take appropriate verses such as I’ve used in this Corner, memorize and then meditate on them to acquire God’s viewpoint. Then, once we have the Lord’s mindset, we can be watchful for temptation. However, it takes a moving of the will, a conscious decision to agree with the Lord. Once we have made that choice, prayer is then the vehicle for adding grace to the decision for moderation in a particular area.

I have previously followed this path for other areas of struggle, and now it is time to deal with the food issue. I need to cry out to the Lord for grace in being a man of self-control, and I need to be vigilant in having before me the seriousness of my example in the lives of my children. May we be the men of God that God desires and enables us to be.

Bad or Best?

We were almost home after thirty days of being on the road and were filling up at a truck stop. On John’s way through the store, returning to the van from the restroom, he saw a woman empty the spill-catcher, below the coffee-pot spout, into her coffee cup. A trucker, who was getting himself some coffee, was horrified to see her do this. He asked her if she had enough money for a cup of coffee, because if she didn’t he would buy it for her. She said, “Yes, I have the money. It just saves me from spending it. I like it this way.”

When John told us this story in the van, we were all aghast at the thought of the woman drinking what was in the spill catcher. I have observed people dump out their old coffee and OTHER things into those grills under the coffee pots. The idea of drinking what comes from the spill catcher is so repulsive to me that I would not have thought it to be true except that my own son had observed it. Here was someone who could afford “best” and yet chose “bad.”

I’m fifty-five years old and was saved thirty-two years ago, which will likely be as long as some of you have been alive. I have lived both for the world and for Jesus. There was a time I tried to do both simultaneously. Jesus said we can’t serve two masters. I personally discovered that truth.

I watched TV and movies as a lost person and then for a time as a believer. We even watched general TV programming. Then, we were convicted of the bad shows and tried restricting our viewing so that we were only watching what we considered “good” shows. These were shows that didn’t have murder, immodesty, and other lewd behavior. Unfortunately, those shows reflected the world’s view of marriage, evolution, and other ungodly concepts. As long as the “beast” was alive in our home, we were drawn to feeding the flesh by wasting time and wanting to be entertained by watching it. In sowing to the flesh, I reaped the corruption of no real spiritual appetite for leading my family in reading the Bible at night. Once TV watching was gone, we fed on the cool, clean, pure water of the Word. Be on guard because the flesh is going to be pulled toward being entertained, which will leave little time for what is “best.”

Based on discussions at conferences and via e-mails, I’m convinced that there are many, many dads reading this article who are quenching their families’ thirst via spill catchers with what is “bad.” I’m confident most don’t even give it a thought as being “bad” for their families. Their families could be drinking the “best”—pure, clean, refreshing water of the Word every night (“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” [Ephesians 5:26])—instead of what is unhealthy in a spill catcher.

I believe Galatians 6:8 spiritually exemplifies feeding on what is “bad” versus what is “best,” and the fruit we can expect as a result of those choices. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” I wonder how many have seriously considered TV and movie viewing from the Lord’s perspective. Most of us have grown up with television viewing as being normal in our homes. How could anyone suggest that TV, among other things, is “bad” when even respected Christians and pastors watch TV? It is much like a decision that is made by a committee. No one person can be pointed to and blamed. “Everyone” watches TV and movies; it’s the norm in the church as well. Yet, I can’t imagine anyone thinking that the Lord Jesus, Paul, or any of the apostles would watch TV, even a so-called morally neutral show.

“Normal” TV programs include murder, adultery, immorality, immodesty, lewdness, and unrighteous activity. Should a child of God ever be entertained by such ungodly behavior? 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” Paul is telling us we should only participate in those things which are edifying. Are most news stories edifying? Paul also says in Ephesians 5:12, “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” Paul is saying the wicked and evil, violent crimes, which are done in secret and reported on newscasts, are a shame for us to listen to.

What about sports? In many sports, men sustain lifetime injuries all for the ultimate benefit of entertaining those who watch. Man, who was created in God’s image, will have his face and head pummeled, knees destroyed, and risk various serious injuries all for others’ viewing pleasure. Even if a competition is nonviolent, isn’t it often promoted by alcohol ads that sow corruption to the flesh? There is a reason that companies spend millions of dollars on ads to promote their products. Ads work! Even if you don’t buy them, are you sure your children won’t?

Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, directed us to live according to these words in Colossians 3:17: “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.” Can we really watch such things and say we are doing it in the name of Jesus Christ? I believe if someone who watches TV were to spiritually evaluate whether what they are watching is “best” or “bad,” the answer would be clear.

Because of almost twenty years of being “spill-catcher” free, our family is so blessed. Our children enjoy our time in the Word every night. They have a good understanding of the Bible and how to apply it to their lives. Their hearts are drawn toward the family and family worship time. I can assure you that nightly Bible reading sows to the spirit in feeding a desire to live for Jesus wholeheartedly. My heart breaks for families that miss out on the “best” because it appears that they can’t be objective enough to realize one reason why there is “bad” fruit springing up in their children’s lives.

Please understand, I don’t share these things to judge, make fun of, or criticize anyone. I pray you would consider these Corners as coming from someone who is a real friend and brother in Christ. In the spirit of Galatians 6:2—“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ”—it is my desire to encourage brothers in Christ to walk worthy of the Lord Jesus and to raise up sons and daughters who are mighty in the Lord. Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” We can’t feed our children from the spill catcher, the sludge of the world, sowing to their flesh and expect them to be dynamic followers of Jesus Christ.

I realize some may not care for these words, but for the love of Jesus I write them. I am grateful that God put certain messages on some men’s hearts who shared a word with me that challenged me to walk worthy of the Lord. At times, I didn’t appreciate what I heard, but eventually I heeded them, being eternally glad that I did. Please receive this from someone who truly desires God’s best for your family.

He Loved Her

She was married at the age of sixteen with her mother’s consent. Her father was a cruel and harsh man, and to protect the daughter, a marriage license was quickly obtained. Soon she was married to a young man seven years older, whom she had been seeing twice a week for the last year with her father’s consent.

The situation had erupted when the daughter had asked the father if she might now see the young man three times a week. This had made the father very angry, and he had whipped her mercilessly. After the dad left the house, the girl went over to her boyfriend’s. When the boy’s mother saw the girl, she was broken-hearted and sought a solution. Together they went to the girl’s mother, who soon consented to signing the marriage license for the daughter.

Through a dear older woman, she came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior at the age of nineteen, and she is a beautiful testimony of God’s faithful work in the human heart. I detected no bitterness or anger as she spoke of her father, but a sweet and tender heart. Truly, it is amazing how the love of Christ Jesus can change a person.

One would think that to have been married fifty-three years it must have been a beautiful, storybook kind of marriage. Yes, one might think that, but instead it was a dramatic testimony of God’s grace. The good man of twenty-three who rescued her from a terrible home situation brought her into a new set of undesirable circumstances. Her knight in shining armor was to become an alcoholic and a gambler. He then shared with her the multitude of difficulties that go with those addictions.

She gives credit to the Lord Jesus for sustaining her through those fifty-three years of marriage. Does she harbor bitterness toward her husband? No. She says, “He loved me.” Many times she repeated, “He loved me.” Even with such a hard life, by God’s grace, she chose to look back on her husband’s love instead of the injustice that she received through the years.

As a lost man, her husband could not love her as Christ has called husbands to love their wives. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Brothers, do we love our wives? Not “do we provide for them,” but do we love them? When they think of us, do they think of our love for them? Do our wives find comfort in knowing we love them? Do we love them not just in word but in deed? To love our wives as Christ loved the church is not just a nice saying, it is a command of God through the Holy Spirit.

Here is a secondary thought for us to consider. What appetites are we creating in our children? This woman’s husband of fifty-three years became an alcoholic and a gambler largely due to his well-meaning mother. She felt it was special for her family to have some home-brew always available. That she did, and her son developed a real taste for alcohol as he grew up. I said “largely due” because we are all individually accountable to God for the sin in our life. Others may place a stumbling block in our path, but we are still responsible and will be judged accordingly.

The well-meaning mom also wanted her family to spend time together in the evenings, so they began playing cards together. They never played for money, not even pennies, but they used matches and toothpicks. After years of playing cards in the home, he was hooked as a youth and became a serious gambler as an adult.

A brother in Christ once shared with me how his mother taught him to play penny-pat when he was young, and that gave him a hunger for gambling. Even though his mother was well-intentioned and wanted to spend some time with her son, in reality what she did was to give him the appetite for gambling. Therefore, he was addicted to it even at middle-school age.

Brothers, what sort of appetites are we creating in our children? Whether it is a part of our lives that they observe, something we allow in their lives, the gifts that we give, or something we encourage them to do, they will readily develop appetites. “I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father” (John 8:38). “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:1-2).

May we evaluate our lives and what we encourage in the lives of our children for the fruit it will produce in them. I’m amazed how occasionally I will see a child doing something they shouldn’t, and when I correct them, they will say, “But you saw me doing this before and didn’t say anything.” Since they weren’t corrected previously, they took that as approval to do it again, when in fact we might not have really noticed what was going on.

Men, may our hearts be turned toward our family. May we love our wives sincerely with great honor and respect. May we guard the hearts of our children and be ever so careful of what appetites we introduce in their lives. As we love Jesus Christ and obey Him in all that He calls us to, our family will be drawn to Christ as well, and He will be glorified.

“Lawn Care,” How Is Your Lawn?

I am able to go for a walk six mornings a week, four days with Teri and two days with her father. We walk roughly the same route every day. Strolling week after week along the same path gives me the opportunity to observe the yards we pass by.

It is amazing the variance in people’s lawns. Some are beautiful, lush, green yards; then there are those that look quite nice. Others could use improvement. Finally, there are yards that are complete disasters. They look absolutely terrible!

I’m thinking of one appalling lawn in particular. It is on the corner so you can see both the front and back yards. In the spring I noticed clover lightly scattered around the yard. Over time the clover spread like wild fire and finally took over the whole yard. From a distance the lawn looked pretty good, but as you drew closer it became obvious that it was all clover rather than grass. When the summer heat came, the clover died. That would be good, except the clover had already totally killed the grass. Then the homeowners didn’t have to mow (not that they did much before) because nothing was growing in the bare dirt except a few low weeds.

“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 24:30-34).

The above verses tell me that I have the opportunity to learn a great deal from observing others. We try to take advantage of this in the Maxwell home. I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer to learn from someone else’s mistakes. “Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge” (Proverbs 19:25). I don’t mind identifying with the simple if it means I can avoid a trip to the woodshed.

Over the months as I observed that lawn, I was struck with how similar it was to some aspects of raising children. First, I never looked at clover as a threat to my lawn. As a matter of fact, in some ways I have always liked clover. I have fond childhood memories of summer play times in fields of clover. Clover hasn’t seemed like a weed to me, and it isn’t ugly like many weeds. Maybe that was the initial attitude of the homeowner whose lawn was destroyed by clover.

It doesn’t matter whether it is a new or old yard, clover still presents a danger when you are trying to grow healthy, beautiful grass. In the same way, whether our children are young or old, there are situations for which we must keep our eyes open. I think most of us will notice recognizable weeds that sprout up in the lives of our children. What about those things that appear innocent, just like that clover? Will we spot areas that have negative impact on our children, perhaps ones that the world (and even the church these days) calls good and beneficial? There are certain harmful behaviors and activities, innocent in appearance that our children may take up. By the time we become concerned, they are much more difficult to address.

Let’s see what Scripture says. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Paul was warning Timothy to flee youthful lusts and replace them with righteousness, faith, love, and peace. Many would quickly recognize youthful lusts as being immoral lusting for the opposite sex, pride, and the desire to be in control. There may be others, but there is one in particular that most would not put in the category of youthful lusts.

In 2 Timothy 3:2-5 Paul describes evil men in the end times. “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” As you read that list it should be pretty obvious how harmful most of those listed “weeds” are. However, if you reread the list, you should spot some “clover.” What about those who are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”?

Look at the company “lovers of pleasures” is keeping in the list: lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection (sodomites), trucebreakers, false accusers (liars), incontinent (no self-control), fierce, despisers of those that are good (they love evil), traitors, heady, highminded, LOVERS OF PLEASURES more than lovers of God. How many Christian parents do you know who are as concerned and careful that their children don’t become “lovers of pleasure” as there are parents concerned that their children don’t become sodomites? Raising a child who is a “lover of pleasure” (or being one ourselves) is very serious and should not be taken lightly. Then why is it not even questioned or rebuked in Christian circles?

“Lovers of pleasure” so characterizes our society. Billions and billions of dollars are spent each year on seeking greater thrills, chills, excitement, and fun. Why? It is pleasurable! Movies, automobile races, football, baseball, soccer, hockey, a myriad of other sporting activities, alcohol, and drugs—to name only a few—all produce pleasure of sorts. In our area, when there is a Kansas City Chiefs game, even the professing Christians dawn their red apparel. It isn’t because they are trying to relate to the other fans with the hope of winning them to Christ; it is because the excitement of the game is pleasurable.

So what does one do about clover? Some (the world) let the clover take over. I read how a Canadian group actually promotes clover lawns. Many take that approach with pleasure. “Why fight it? Embrace it!”

For our family, we take “clover” very seriously. I’m careful what types of fun our family enjoys. The children ride bikes and have wholesome toys and healthy play (less as they grow older).

There are certain things we just don’t do. For example, we would not even consider going to a movie theater, a professional sporting event of any kind, or amusement parks. For us, there is nothing redeeming about any of those activities, and much that is negative (that is for another Dad’s Corner). In addition, there is the potential if we participate in those areas of creating the intense appetite for more. Please don’t get me wrong; we have fun as a family, and much laughter is heard in the Maxwell home. However, it is the desire of my heart to raise children who are “lovers of God” far more than “lovers of pleasure.”

We would all do well to treat pleasure as the dangerous drug that it is. Yes, God did give us the ability to enjoy pleasing things, but Satan is the one who wants us to take pleasure in nonprofitable things. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). How’s your lawn?

The Shepherd Was Asleep

I have been reminded again how critical it is for the father to be the shepherd at the gate of the sheep pen. In the same way that the pastor is responsible for protecting the flock, the father must always be on the lookout to protect those God has given him.

A number of months ago my two adult sons told me about a new fiction novel they had read about the end-times, and they thought it was great. It sounded interesting and even a little tempting, but for quite a few years now, I’ve been able to avoid recreational reading. The issue is not whether the books are bad (some are and some aren’t), but whether there is a better use of my time.

My heart’s desire is that I would spend my time as the Lord Jesus would have me spend it. I know there is a world of fun things out there that might not be classified as sin, but the question is, are they profitable? I truly want to use my time obediently, doing God’s best and not settling for anything less. I don’t share that arrogantly, but as the sincere desire of my heart.

Paul said, “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). The word expedient means profitable. Even if something was not sin to Paul, it might not have been profitable for him and his walk with the Lord Jesus. That is what I want for my life, to discern what is chaff and avoid it. Even if something is not technically sin, if it is not profitable for my walk, then I might as well consider it sin. So, if it isn’t profitable, I really don’t want to spend my time and attention on it.

As I share about this experience, please understand that my intention is not to be critical of someone else’s writing. However, as I write of my failure in this area and what Scripture has to say about it, I don’t know how else to explain without some reference to the books.

When Teri and I were leaving on our twenty-fifth anniversary trip last fall, one of the children sent along a CD version of the book. That was all it took. We were “hooked,” and over time, Teri and I read the series. (This is the man who doesn’t take time for recreational reading!) Did we have cautions? Yes. Did I rationalize ignoring them? Obviously.

The first book begins with a man’s adulterous thoughts. That was a red flag to Teri and me. We felt that if a compromise like that were used to get the audience’s attention, there would be other areas we would have difficulty with as well. Did we stop reading? No. When I read the detail about the anti-Christ and focus on him, that was another red flag. Comparing what the Bible has to say about the anti-Christ, we do not see the detail and glorifying of the man that is to be everything “anti” to what we believe. In Scripture, Jesus Christ is always preeminent.

I am greatly humbled by admitting this to you, brothers, but I feel God compelling me to share this. Unfortunately, it goes on. In each book we read, there were the red flags and promptings of the Spirit that it was not edifying, although greatly entertaining. Next, there was increasing gory and violent detail that, again, I knew was not profitable.

I once discussed the subject of graphic detail with the head of a Christian missionary organization. His newsletters would describe in detail the terrible things that were perpetrated on Christians around the world. He defended his writing style by referring me to Hebrews 11 that describes how many Christians have been martyred. “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented” (Hebrews 11:35-37). However, notice the total lack of detail in those verses. Even when reading the Old Testament about violent things taking place, the degree of detail is slight compared to what I was reading in his newsletter. Paul exhorts us in Romans 16:19 to be wise unto that which is good, and simple in regard to our knowledge of evil. Finally, in Ephesians 5:12 we are told not even to speak of the evil deeds done in secret.

Reading accounts such as Ehud in Judges 3 still do not hold a candle to the graphic descriptions the presses are turning out these days. Have you noticed how little detail God gives when it comes to the suffering of His saints in the New Testament? Is this possibly an omission by God, or maybe He didn’t have the details to include? Certainly not! No one but God could explain the minute details of what someone suffered as they were being sawn in two, stoned, or crucified. Yet, He did not choose to tell us. Why? There may be many reasons, but I believe one reason is that “man” struggles with fear, and He did not want to hand Satan any instruments to use in tormenting us. It is so easy for men, women, and children to be fearful, and the more detail used in describing the atrocities that happen to mankind, the easier it is to be concerned that they will happen to our wives, our children, and us. In God’s mercy, He is sparing us, even though our sinful, depraved nature cries out for the detail.

Think about how much detail God gave us about the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. Most of us have heard descriptions of what Christ suffered, but we didn’t “hear” that from the Bible. Rather, it came from sermons or articles. God does not want us to fill our mind with the details of a person’s suffering. Some justify the details as being necessary to move people to prayer and involvement. Unfortunately, wrong methods never justify the means, as there will always be consequences.

Finally, I could not ignore God’s promptings any longer when we began reading another book in the series. The whole focus was on Satan’s man. The last straw was when it related the words of praise that little children were singing of the anti-Christ. Teri and I were in a motel room in a city where we were giving workshops and had a little time before bed. We would take turns reading. Teri happened to be reading and came to those words. My heart ached when she started to read them and quickly said she would skip that part. But it was too late. She had already read enough of it to know it was not healthy. Here God has called me to protect my wife, and I let her fill her mind with words of praise to the anti-Christ. There is certainly no profit to our walk with Christ in that.

Can you see the absolute absurdity of the whole situation? Here were two believers, bought with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, being entertained reading about the anti-Christ. I knew it was not profitable from the first book, yet I was weak and continued reading. Teri and I take great joy in praying together, and that would have been a joyful, profitable use of our time.

Remember it isn’t that I don’t enjoy recreational reading; in fact, I do enjoy it very much. The problem is that at the very least, it isn’t profitable, and in this case, I believe harmful to my walk with the Lord.

A short time ago, Teri and I had a couple days away at a bed and breakfast, and that time was spent wisely. We discussed goals for the children, evaluated their progress, prayed, and watched five wonderful preaching videos. We came away filled with love for the Lord Jesus, each other, and a renewed vision for our family. What a stark contrast to how we spent that other time.

I have repented of my attitude of compromise and slothfulness, and as a family we have committed not to read any more of these books (which were written for the lost anyway). Even after all of this, it will no doubt be tempting. It was hard to share this with you, but it is my prayer that God may use my failure for good in your life.

Dads, Are You the Head of a Christian Home? – Part 6

(Read the previous parts of the series here.) A bright, blue Saturday a couple months ago as Nathan, Christopher, Joseph, John, and I were leaving City Union Mission, we saw a B-2 bomber making a thundering fly-by. We realized it was the weekend for the Kansas City air show. We had been told the air show had some incredible aircraft on display, and every male in my family would have loved the chance to look over the airplanes.

Unfortunately, the air shows around here always play loud rock music. We will not go to them since I have purposed that I will not trade a few minutes of aircraft excitement for the filling of our souls with the wicked audio influence of our world. On the way home, we decided we would ask a neighbor to record the portion about the air show from the 6 o’clock news. We did this, and there was no little excitement when the videotape arrived later that evening.

I put the tape in the VCR, and hit “play” to an excited crowd of young ones. Before I could get to where I could see, Sarah, who had just entered, exclaimed that the little ones needed to look away quickly. To my incredible disappointment, indignation, and mounting feeling of violation, there was a preview of some TV show with ladies in underwear, right before the 6 o’clock news began.

“. . . for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). A Christian home is a home where the things that are acceptable to the world are not present. It is a place of purity. It is wholesome. It is not defrauding. It does not entice lust. Is it any wonder that “Christian” youth, who have watched TV all of their lives, are as involved in immorality as the youth of the world?

In Acts, chapter 21, when the Jews thought that Paul had defiled the temple by bringing Greeks into it, they closed the temple doors. “And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut” (Acts 21:30). God’s home on earth, the temple, was to be pure, and the things that defile it were to be shut out. They pulled Paul out of the temple, and the doors were slammed shut!

Dads, are we owning this responsibility? Do we zealously guard the purity of our children and ourselves? Homeschooling our children is a worthy accomplishment, but if their souls are drawn away, what really have we gained?

Often I have heard the statement, “We are careful what we allow our family to watch.” Simply in light of the six o’clock news, how many believe that is even possible? Please, don’t receive this as judgmental; receive it as one brother pleading with another. There have been times when a brother loved my soul and encouraged me in some positive way that challenged me. If you watch any TV at all, would you receive this encouragement from me? Our every activity should be at the direction of the Lord Jesus. Have you asked Him?

Truly, the heart is full of every evil imagination and is the source of evil, but Satan uses vehicles like TV to stir it up. Why would any father ever hand Satan the tools to destroy the purity and innocence of his children, not to mention temptations for the father himself? David said, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me” (Psalms 101:3). Why would a father allow glamorous people into his home selling and promoting (selling through commercials and promoting through unwholesome programs) lewd dress, alcohol, immorality, squandering of time, and a godless worldview?

It was David’s lack of control over his eyes that led to the downfall of his family. Men, I see that happen in many “Christian” homes as well; don’t let it happen to yours. Like our Shepherd, the Lord Jesus, Who guards His flock, the church, we are to protect our family from evil. “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7). The shepherd was prepared to give his life for the sheep to protect them–are we?

Certainly, many, many other areas require our diligence as well. However, may I encourage you that cutting off the TV is a great place to start. May we all agree with Paul when he said, “. . . I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” (Romans 16:19). It is not God’s way to teach both the good and evil. God’s way is for us all to be innocent concerning evil.

As I pointed out earlier, the temple doors were to shut out evil, and we are the “door” that shuts out evil to our home. However, it isn’t enough to shut out the darkness. If that is all we have done, it still is dark inside. It is only when we bring in the blessed light of Jesus Christ that we have light. Just as He was the focus in God’s home on earth, may the focus in our homes be Jesus Christ, not the TV. My heart breaks at the image of families huddled around the TV in the evenings. Even if there were no evil, what a waste of precious time it is. Again, dads, are we the head of a Christian home?

Dads, Are You the Head of a Christian Home? – Part 4

(To read the previous articles in the series, please see this link.) I am amazed at all of the fantastic, fun things there are on this earth for our pleasure. I loved the challenge and sensations of flying small planes. I loved the wind and salt spray in my face as I would tack a small sailboat into the wind. I loved the rush of acceleration and breeze as the motorcycle gained speed on the highway. I loved canoeing down a spring rain-swollen stream with the sound of rushing water in my ears. It has been many years since I enjoyed those activities, because I know how easily my heart is drawn into them. Are any of those things sin? Most would say, “No, of course not! God gave us this world to enjoy.”

Am I saying that these things are bad? No, they are not inherently bad. I know many missionaries rely on small planes for supplies and might use canoes or motorcycles in their travels. However, they are not good if they are getting in the way of something better the Lord has to offer. You see, I know my own heart, how easily it is distracted from my Lord Jesus and what He has called me to do. Fun activities of self-indulgence get in the way of raising godly children and serving our Lord by stealing away the time God would want me to use for His work. So, what is the point of all of this?

As we continue our discussion on God’s blueprint for a Christian home, we see another aspect of God’s earthly home, the temple; it was a place of sacrifice. It was where a vivid picture of our Lord Jesus’ final sacrifice was presented repeatedly before the eyes of those present. I say final because His life was a sacrifice day by day and ended with the greatest sacrifice on the cross. The priests were involved in the bloody, messy work of daily sacrificing in the temple. Have you ever wondered why God chose to make blood red? He could have made it so that it didn’t stain the clothes of those involved in the sacrifice. However, because it was red, everyone knew who was involved in the sacrifice.

I see a wonderful picture for us dads in all of this. The Lord Jesus calls dads of Christian homes to a life of sacrifice. There are so many wonderfully fun things in this world to spend our time, attention, and money on. However, if we do, we can be sure we will create the same passions in the lives of our children. So, instead of raising children with a zeal for the Lord Jesus and serving Him with their whole heart, body, soul, and strength, we will have produced children with a love for the fun and entertaining things of this world. On the other hand, when our desire is to sacrifice our lives for our Lord, we demonstrate the spirit of God’s design for the father of a Christian home, and thereby reproduce children of like mind and heart.

God gives us good gifts so we can give them back to Him. Our family, our time, and our money are all to be laid on the altar for His glory. I desire to lay it all down before my Lord. I truly want God’s best for my life. I know that if I give it back to Him, He will make the best of it. If I give Him my right to recreation and having “time for myself,” I know that He will pour out such blessings as I cannot imagine. I look at the lives of true men of God such as Hudson Taylor and George Mueller. They wanted God’s best and abandoned their own interests. I see them as men filled with joy and a passion for their Lord.

Sadly, I believe that is what makes the distinction between a Christian home and one of the world’s. A worldly home is where the father has his attention on the fun things the world has to offer because he knows he has to “get all the gusto” he can now. The attitude that we can do whatever we want as long as we don’t “cross the line of sin” is wrong. The father of a Christian home is working here now, with the anticipation of eternity with his Lord.

Jesus did and said only what His Father told Him to. “. . . The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). As we read about Jesus’ life, we see no mention of His having His own time for fun. His was a life of sacrifice!

I’m humbled when I look at my Lord’s life and feel that I’m still holding on to so much of my own pleasures. I pray God would continue to work in my life as He reveals the joy of sacrifice. May we dads never settle for anything less than God’s best.

Guarding Hearts–A Real-Life Situation

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).

Last week we went to our favorite zoo, which is located in Omaha. It is a special day for everyone, and even our young adults will take a day off work to go with us. This trip was especially a close time as we were in the process of losing our ninth child to miscarriage.

At the end of a wonderful day, we were dropping off the wheelchair that I borrowed to push Teri around. I noticed two documentary videos on Mount Everest in the gift shop. I have a special interest in mountain climbing and thought this would be an excellent addition to our educational video library. It also turned out that one of them was the same footage as was being shown in the Imax Theater. After a little hesitation, I decided to go ahead and purchase them.

When the little ones were in bed, I chose to preview the videos, so we carried the TV and VCR out of the downstairs closet. To my amazement, the opening scene began in a temple where one of the climbers was lighting candles. Ugh! My heart then began to twinge a bit under conviction, and that should have been enough to stop it right there. However, the mental excuses and gymnastics began as I thought of the thirty dollars I had paid for this one. Besides, there probably wouldn’t be any more problems with the video (Sure!).

The story unfolded with occasional remarks about his god, temple footage, and other Eastern religion information. To my shame, I didn’t turn it off, but continued watching it with the three oldest children. I failed those children! I should have stopped it right then and said, “No more, we must turn it off. This isn’t worth compromising our hearts.” However, I wanted to watch it! Therefore, we finished the first video, and we started the second tape. This one was about high-altitude effects on the body. By this time I was feeling quite convicted. Then, out of the blue, the guy being interviewed cursed. That was enough to push me over the edge and turn it off. Why hadn’t I chosen to stop watching it earlier?

In the last few Dad’s Corners, I emphasized the fact that God places all the responsibility for everything that goes on in the home on “dear ole Dad.” The sad thing is that I am often the cause of the problems. When I’m struggling with self-control, I can expect to see lack of self-control in my children. We are the shepherds guarding the access to the sheep pen. It is true that every evil imagination, which is similar to improper appetites, does come from the heart. However, we then can guard whether these appetites are fed or not.

The sad fact was, if I had chosen to stop watching the video earlier, my older children would have seen that their father was very careful to guard his heart and their hearts. They would have seen that, even in a situation where Dad wants to continue, he is man enough to deny himself. That was one of those rare opportunities that don’t come around often. We are teaching our children in everything we do. I showed them that if it is something that interests you, it is okay to continue. I failed!

Life is so full of opportunities to train our children in the way of righteousness. We must see that as our responsibility. We should protect our heart first, and then our children’s. Otherwise we teach them that once you are old enough to be in control, you can use that control for selfish purposes and choose to “enjoy” evil at the expense of righteousness. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).