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It seems like no matter where you go in the world, families are in crisis.  When I ponder this, as a father, I realize it is my responsibility to allow the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform me so that I, in turn, will be the father that God has called me to be. The Bible is not a handbook for parenting.  Scripture is truth that leads me to Jesus and Jesus, in turn, transforms me by his  Holy Spirit. Therefore, as a “son of God” and “heir of the King” I am able, through the power of Christ, to be transformed.

Starting January 1 – Legacy Devotional will send a daily post to encourage and help equip you as a father.  I wrote each entry with you in mind.  Fathers need a lot of encouragement!  Through this blog, you can open the Bible daily and receive strength and direction as you build a legacy of faithfulness in your own homes.

I have linked to The Message Bible as a daily devotional. Once you’ve read the designated chapter along with the Legacy blog-post for the day, make some notes of your own and spend time asking the Lord to transform you through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hope you subscribe and journey with me in building a lasting heritage of faith!

~Tim

Discernment

Discernment is a powerful tool God uses to draw us to himself.  David discerned that the famine in the land was God’s way of judging Israel.  David inquired of the Lord and he was given insight on what to do so that the famine would be lifted.

God didn’t create life to be pain-free.  Suffering is a part of our existence.  Nevertheless, if we are suffering, we should go to God for insight and direction.  Remember the Apostle Paul?  He had a “thorn in the flesh” and he sought God on several occasions asking God to remove it.  When God didn’t remove the thorn, he discerned that God was working through this challenge to bring himself glory.  Job is a great example of someone who suffered greatly; yet, he cried out to God for understanding and God gave him discernment to see how he was working in the midst of the trials.

Teach your kids the proper response to suffering.  God is always developing a bigger picture that is often hard for us to see.  When my dad divorced my mom and moved out of our house, I was devastated.  I was a young boy and my dad was like superman to me.  I didn’t understand and was confused about why he would leave us.  Since the divorce, my dad and I have reconciled and have a good relationship and he is repentant for ever divorcing my mom.  Some years later as an adult, God gave me discernment to understand how not having a dad around all the time drove me to Father God much more than many of my other friends.  It’s as if God said,“Since you don’t have an earthly dad in your home, I am going to show you how to relate to me as a Father.”  Wow, that was an awesome revelation!

In addition to this revelation, God gave me surrogate fathers that taught me about fathering, how to study the bible, how to work on my car and so forth.  While I missed a close relationship with my dad, I had the joy and the benefit of other dads reaching out to me.  I would never wish my situation on any young boy, but through God’s grace I was able to reap good benefits from the situation.  Suffering and trials should cause us to pursue the Lord.  If your child is sick with a simple fever or a life long handicap, turn to the Lord and cry out to him for discernment.  God may reveal the reason for the situation or he may not.

The point is, that in pursuing God you discover who God is, his character and his greatness.  That is why we read the Bible- not to just learn a bunch of history about God dealing with his people, but to know God, the author of the Bible.  Suffering should lead us to the Creator for answers, but also for comfort and grace.  Sometimes our suffering is due to our own ignorance.  I have prayed for many people desiring God to heal their body.  There have been a few times I stopped praying for them and asked them about their eating habits.  Could it be that someone who is suffering in their physical body might be suffering because of poor habits (smoking, eating junk food, lack of exercise etc..)?  Of course this is not always the truth, but discernment is needed to understand the root issues.  Don’t let your kids grow up thinking suffering is always a bad or wrong thing.  Suffering can be beneficial to your soul if you discern the Lord’s will in the midst of the suffering.

~Tim

Resisting the Enemy

Be More Human / Mehr Mensch Sein

I wasn’t one of those kids who grew up fighting.  I only fought with my brother and that was usually when I made him mad. As a kid, I don’t remember getting involved in fights at school.  Maybe I was a chicken or maybe I just wanted peace more than war.  There is a lot of violence in the Old Testament.  Remember, God desired Israel to be an influence in the world.  When Israel or her kings resisted God’s plan then wars, killings, and death resulted.  We are told in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:12) that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, etc.  In other words, David and his men faced natural battles in the Old Testament era, but we face spiritual battles in the church age today.  The devil is seeking to destroy Christians and we must have the same fortitude that David did in resisting his enemies.  For us living on this side of the cross, the key is to remember that the devil is a defeated foe.  Of course Satan is still around, but there is no longer a question of whether or not he will overcome Jesus.  That issue was settled at the cross.  As Christians, we must enforce the victory that Jesus won at the cross.  In fact, every time we resist the devil we reinforce the victory of Jesus.  Jesus conquered death and the grave and anytime Satan wants to mess with us, he has to go through Jesus.  God allows Satan to deceive and cause trouble for us (look at Job in the Old Testament), but we have the ability to resist and see things from God’s perspective.

I grew up scared of Satan.  In my mind Satan was still struggling for his piece of the kingdom and the more victories he stacked up, the greater his chance.  However, the bible is clear about Satan’s defeat; in fact we are told that God’s enemies will be made his footstool.  So, how does all this translate to parenting?  Teach your kids to have the right perspective about our enemy, Satan.  Don’t let your children grow up misunderstanding who the devil is and what his role is.  Dig into the scriptures and study for yourself what the bible says about the defeated foe.  Train your children to resist the devil.  The greatest tool Satan has is deception.  If he can get your child to believe a lie, they may struggle with this lie for many years.  The way you resist the devil in this area is to teach your children the truth.  If they know the truth, they will recognize lies and deception when the enemy comes to whisper these things in their ears.  For instance, teach your children that God knitted them in their mother’s womb and that they are fearfully and wonderfully made so that when Satan tries to whisper lies to them about their physical features, they can resist the lies because they know the truth.  In the Old Testament, God’s people had to have battle plans to defeat the enemy; likewise, we must train our children to resist the devil and if they resist the devil he will flee.

~Tim

Focus on the Family

Happy Early Risers

I’m not a fan of the false macho-ism that is displayed in modern-day hero movies or police thrillers.  I think our society buys into a sense of “men have to be rough and tough in order to be real men and all real men need to hunt and build houses.”  Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy hunting and building and even taking in a movie where the man is bigger than life and leaps tall buildings in one jump. However, real men aren’t just rough and tough; real men are also humble and are servants.  That being said, in our passage today, David was rebuked by his counsel to stop crying over the death of his son and get to work leading the nation.

There is a time for all of us as fathers to be gentle and sensitive.  I know one of my weaknesses as a father is lack of sensitivity.  I want to be strong and manly, but sensitive enough that my children aren’t fearful of sharing their heart with me.  Most men could use a little sensitivity training by the Holy Spirit.  Often as men we don’t stand up for our wives like we should and we often let her take the hit from the enemy.  Where was Adam when Eve was tempted in the Garden?  What was Adam’s response when God confronted him about eating of the tree?  Adam didn’t show up!  Dads, we have to strap on the courage God has put in us and be strong when everyone else is wavering.  I know it’s easier just to let our wives handle things and exit the room, but you and I have a responsibility to take the lead in solving conflict and taking a stand when trouble is brewing in our homes.

Why did the prophet have to awaken David to his soldiers needs?  David was consumed with the death of his son, his arch-enemy, and forgot about the many soldiers who had literally laid their life down for him and the kingdom.  Jesus took the opposite approach; he disregarded the pain and suffering that he would face and laid his life down for the masses. He didn’t mourn his own life, but thought of us and obeyed his Father by allowing himself to be nailed to a cross.  Therefore, as dads we have the opportunity to follow his lead and deny our flesh while doing what is right for the family.  For instance, one of my sons requested to participate in an event which would have caused the rest of the family to sacrifice greatly.  While we were all willing to make this sacrifice (actually I didn’t take a vote) the focus on one child over the other children was not right and we decided to say “no” to the opportunity.  My first response to his desire to participate in this event was to say “yes.”  Like any father, I want to please my children and give them what they want.  Nevertheless, I have to be a man and stand up and consider what is best for the family- not just one child.  David mourned Absalom’s death at the risk of discouraging his entire army.  I remind you like the prophet reminded David, to get some perspective, dad.  Don’t show favoritism toward one child; instead, make decisions for your children that benefit the entire family.  If you focus only on the need of one child, your home has the potential of being child-centered instead of Christ-centered.

If you are the father of an only child, of course, you have to apply this devotion somewhat differently.  Nevertheless, the application is the same; don’t let your only child rule the family with his/her agenda.  As the father, focus the family on the mission of the household, not just your son/daughter.

~Tim

Family Loyalty

Family C kids in a row

David shows an incredible loyalty to his family- even if his family rejects him and desires his death, he remains loyal to them.  It seems in our modern world the family has broken down and loyalty towards family members is something of the past.  I find it hard to keep traditions alive and regular as my older kids start spreading their wings.  Families used to grow up in the same cities, often working for the same company or farming the same ground for generations.  As of this writing, I have blessed my oldest daughter to marry a young man in New York and she will make her new home many miles away.  How do I as a father balance my kids pursuing their dreams and yet still establish tradition and loyalty to family?  I’m not sure I have all the answers at this point.  I do know beyond encouraging loyalty towards family, I want my kids to be loyal to Christ first.  Family is a tool God uses to be light and salt to the world, but healthy families will not save the world.  It is our job as fathers to direct our family to look to the cross of Christ for health and salvation.  If we want to elicit loyalty in our kids towards family then we need to lead our kids to see Christ as most prominent in their lives.  When I show my kids Christ and they begin to have their own relationship with the Lord then I have received the greatest blessing that fatherhood offers.

I don’t want to elicit loyalty to myself; ultimately I want my kids to be loyal to the Lord.  If I can demonstrate with my life the reality of Christ’s love and my kids develop their own relationship with the Lord, then the goodness of God has come to my home.  The greatest gift I can give to my kids is not a sense of family loyalty but a love for God that goes deeper than family.  I know that when my kids fall in love with Jesus, they will be grateful that I have shown them Christ, and loyalty to me will be a natural by-product.  What is the most important job as a dad?  To demonstrate Christ to my children with my life and to teach the ways of God to them.  Of course this involves character training and lots of love and discipline, but ultimately their life is directed by the destiny God has for them.  Also, as our kids reach the age of 15 or so, we as fathers must help them try to understand the plans and destiny God has for them.  If I can help my children determine their life’s purpose and assist them with tools for their journey, they will be grateful and again loyalty will be a by-product.

~Tim

Fighting Spiritual Battles

David was on the run again, but God was still protecting him and keeping him from harm.  The scripture in verse 14 says, “God had determined to discredit the counsel of Ahithophel.”  When we are in unity with God and walking according to his plans, God deals with our enemies just as he dealt with David’s enemies.  While David dealt with enemies of flesh and blood, we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of darkness.  Although we may have a tendency to keep the discussion of the spiritual battles we face between us and our spouse, our kids need to hear us talk about/discuss spiritual warfare.  Of course it’s important to consider the ages of your children when discussing spiritual warfare, but we need to make our kids aware of the battles that we face in the spirit.

One of our children had a seizure once at a young age.  We sought medical help and did everything we could do to determine the cause of the seizure.  The doctors couldn’t be sure of any reason for the seizure and there was no real “cause.”  After praying, we made some dietary changes and started teaching our son how to battle in spiritual warfare.  Although he didn’t have additional seizures, the fear of having seizures and the memory of what happened bothered him.  He would worry he might have another seizure and it would cause him to be fearful.  While we didn’t really want to go into the details of spiritual warfare and battling thoughts in the mind, it was necessary to explain all of this at his level and teach him how to war against the enemy.  I spent time with him studying the bible and pulling out verses that specifically talked about battling thoughts. I taught him how the enemy wants to put fear on us.  He memorized several portions of scripture so that when he was tempted to worry and be fearful, he would quote the verses or read them out loud from his bible.  It was a little tough, because my tendency is to “let boys be boys” and not teach them about spiritual warfare until they are older.  Nevertheless, the situation we found ourselves in led us to take drastic measures.  The battle he was facing wasn’t necessarily medical; it was in his mind.  The enemy would try to cause him to be fearful and worry that he would have additional seizures.  We would pray with him when he got those “feelings” and stop the hand of the enemy.

All of our children at one time or another will need to know how to deal with the lies of the enemy and the spiritual battles that we face.  I realize we would rather ignore the battles, but that is foolish and our children will be ill prepared to be the warriors God desires them to be.  We must train them to be prepared for the spiritual battles they will face.  As Christians we have a spirit, soul, and live in a body, but primarily we are spiritual beings.  Our body will stop one day, but our spirit will live on in Christ.  Therefore, we do our kids a disservice if we don’t train them to fight and deal with the warfare that exists all around us.  Talk to your kids at the appropriate age about spiritual warfare and make sure they are equipped to do battle.

~Tim

Kindness

Per te

Ziba extended great kindness to King David and was rewarded by David because of his kindness.  When I look back over my childhood and young adult years and think of the people who had an influence on me, the people who were kind to me had the greatest influence.  When I was a child, I grew up going to church and one of my Sunday School teachers was one of the nicest people I knew.  I don’t remember much that she taught me about the Bible, but I do remember her kindness.  I remember her smile and those hugs she gave me.  I knew she loved me and was excited to see me.  Not too many years ago, I was honored to take part in the memorial service for Mrs. Bess.  She is one of those people I just hope I can see in heaven because I think she will be in the front of the line next to Jesus.

Kindness is something we need to train/teach our kids.  Our world moves so fast and people seem to be way too preoccupied.  A kind deed or a kind word can open up all sorts of doors for our light to shine.  So, how do you train your kids in this area?   I think we train them when they are young to greet people; guys with a handshake and girls with a smile.  We attempt to train our little guys to look people in the eye when they meet them.  I want our boys to learn how to give a firm handshake to those they meet and look them in the eye.  This seems like a small issue, but learning to be friendly starts with simple encounters with strangers and friends alike.  Secondly, if they are in a situation where they can serve, it’s important they step up and be the first ones to volunteer.  If we attend a function where set up or clean up is required, I want my kids serving.  Too many times we allow our kids to be takers instead of givers.  We demonstrate kindness when we train our kids to get busy helping with the necessary clean up after a meeting or fellowship.  Sure I understand that kids need time to play, but it’s equally important for them to learn they are not just consumers.  When you attend church, train your children to be servants.  If there is a job to be done, volunteer with your kids and show them how to help by setting an example.  I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people comment about our family in this area.  I think people are surprised that children can actually pull their weight and work.

We can also train our kids to be kind by teaching them to pray for someone in need.  The other night my daughter wanted me to go with her to a friend’s house who was sick and pray for her friend.  She had compassion for her friend and wanted to personally pray for her friend to get well.  Kindness comes in various forms, but always begins at home as we personally set about extending kindness to those around us.  Our kids will watch us and learn from us.  If you see someone in need, don’t just automatically think someone else is going to stop and take care of the need.  Be sensitive to the Lord and maybe God will use you to help meet the need of that person.

~Tim

Teaching Your Children Loyalty

Father & Son

Absalom committed the ultimate act of disloyalty by stealing the hearts of the people.  Slowly and methodically, Absalom caused the people to look to him as the leader instead of David.  Ultimately, David had to flee for his life and began running and hiding like he did when Saul was around.

You might wonder (as I do), if Absalom had any sense of loyalty?  How do we teach/train our kids to have loyalty towards us and respect the authority God has placed in their life?  We know loyalty has to be an issue of the heart.  It’s possible for someone to act outwardly as if they are dedicated and loyal, but be deceptive, like Absalom, on the inside.  When our children are small, we can reinforce loyalty and train them to have loyal character.  Require your children to communicate to you respectfully.  One of the hardest scenarios for me to witness is when a child talks back to his parents or smarts off.  When I hear this it indicates that this wasn’t required of the child at home.  I encourage you to draw a fairly strong line here, men.  If your child reacts or responds to you in a disrespectful way, then there needs to be consequences.  When your children get older, you can explain to them why they need to respect you as their authority, but when they are small, it’s a simple matter of consistently training them to speak and act respectfully.  Simple acts of respect are like training our kids to say “thank you” and training them to look others in the eye when they talk.  Never allow a child interrupt a conversation.  Take time to train your little one how not to interrupt.  We taught our children about about the “interrupt rule.”  It simply means that if we are talking and one of our kids needs to tell us something, our little one should come and put their hand on our waist and wait until we recognize them.  This takes lots of training and repetition, but our children can be trained how to be respectful.

You may need some input in this area to be objective.  Ask your wife or close friends if they see disrespectful ways in your children.  My wife has helped me on a number of occasions to point out areas where my children were being disrespectful that I was blind to.  Absalom didn’t just wake up one day and decide to steal his father’s kingdom.  Sadly, there were signs along the way that led to his drastic disobedience and disloyalty.  David seemed to have the hands-off approach to parenting and it cost him greatly.  Dads, don’t back off of your role to train your kids to be loyal.  You are the key player here and if you look the other way, disloyalty may creep up in the hearts of your children.

~Tim