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!
“It’s not good for the man to be alone…” (Gen. 2:18). In the season of life I am currently in, my two older children are married. They have discovered what the scripture says about it not being good for man to be alone. God created us for relationships. The bible is a book primarily about Jesus Christ, the anointed one, having relationships with the creation. Most likely your kids will grow up and marry. While the apostle Paul says there are exceptions to getting married, from the beginning of time God created man and woman to join together in holy matrimony. I have good friends who while they desire to be married, the right partner has not come along yet. Most of us will raise kids who desire to be married. How do we prepare our little children for the very important decision of marriage?
For our girls, we trained and taught them that one of the most honorable callings in a woman’s life is to be a wife and mother. Nowadays it seems every woman is encouraged to establish a career. Career plans seem to override the importance of motherhood. I am not saying you shouldn’t teach your girls that they need to go to college and establish some sort of profession. On the other hand, when you are talking about the future for your girls, teach them that even more important than any career is the calling of motherhood and being a wife. What if your daughter simply leaves your home someday and goes right into a relationship, gets married, and has children? Is this acceptable to you? We tend to think that a career for a woman is very important and must be taken care before marriage and having a family is considered. We’ve so exalted personal career goals in our society that a woman’s role of mothering seems to have taken on the role of a second class citizen. There is great honor for a woman who invests her life in her man and the children that God gives her. I have a daughter-in-law whose number one goal is to be a wonderful wife and one day a mother. She is a bright young lady and has lots of talents; she just regards the role of wife and mother as a great calling.
In raising boys to be men who will marry, one of the key preparatory things we can do is teach them to be providers. I want my daughters to marry men that aren’t afraid of hard work. Men who will count it a privilege and honor to provide for their family. Learning to provide starts really simply at home as we give them chores and jobs to do. Children learn from dad the importance of diligent labor and taking care of the family’s needs. As our boys get older, we talk to them about life purpose. We want to help them discover who they are in Christ and what God has called them to do in life. I enjoy getting my boys to help me with projects around the house. They are learning first hand what it’s like to take care of a house and to provide shelter for a family. My boys need to sweat and learn to complete projects so that one day they will be able to provide for their family.
If you have only little kids, start laying the groundwork now to prepare them for marriage. If you have older kids, you have very little time to cultivate godly attitudes toward marriage and family. God created us for relationships!
“In the beginning…” (Genesis 1 ESV). It all starts with God brooding over the mass of earth that was formless and void of shape or order. God began to bring order into chaos. God spoke and created and placed his creation in proper order in the earth. From the beginning of time God has been concerned about order. Wherever you find the life of God, you will find government and order. This is one of the major themes throughout the bible; God comes into a situation that is disorderly and chaotic and brings his order. It may be the way God comes into a drug addict’s life and delivers him/her from addiction and restores the drug addict. Often God comes and heals someone who is sick, or brings chaos into order. God can bring order into a marriage riddled with mistrust and bitterness; it’s his way of taking the chaos and bringing order. He took the sin of Rahab and called her into the covenant people. Israel’s bondage in Egypt was out-of-order and God rescued them. The bible tells story after story of deliverance from chaos. God is a God of order and when you have God move upon a situation, there will be a transfer from chaos to order.
Dad our responsibility is to cooperate with God and bring order into our homes. Often the disorder comes from our lack of leadership in clearly communicating values. When we don’t spend time with the Lord regularly, life gets chaotic. If we grow weary and give up on training, then disorder will rule our home.
Let me encourage you to look around your home and identify areas where there is not peace and disorder or chaos rules. It may be an area that is very subtle. Ask the Lord to give you insight and understanding about any area where God’s government doesn’t seem to touch. Is there an area in your family where peace doesn’t rule? Once you’ve identified the area or areas where God’s order needs to come, ask the Lord to give you wisdom and insight on how to bring God’s order, peace, and government into that situation. With my large family, it’s all the more important that I put more structure in place. If you have a smaller family, the amount of structure you have may be less. The amount of structure depends on the life God gives you; more life, more structure. Don’t overwhelm your family with heavy burdens; be led by the spirit to establish the order God is calling your family to.
For instance, if you don’t have any regular time to teach the bible to your family, this may be an area God wants to bring into order. Start small and take one or two mornings a week and simply read the scripture together with your kids. Don’t try to read too much or take too long. After a while, maybe you can identify a tool that will help you stay on track – some sort of devotional tool to lead this time. Slowly but surely over time, after investing week in and week out doing devotions with your family, this area will come into order. Start small and build order and structure into a family devotion and your kids will start asking you for this time. Most dads get overwhelmed when there is disorder and go way too far trying to bring order too quickly. Let the Holy Spirit give you guidance and patience as you look at one area at a time to see chaos come into order. If there is an area where your child is not obeying, wade into this area and start consistently working on his/her behavior. Don’t get discouraged- the effort you put forth will be rewarding if you do not give up.
In our passage today, John was complementing Gaius on his excellent hospitality. One of the ways we can lead our families is to make our home hospitable. I know, most of the effort to have an environment of hospitality comes from our wives, but as dads we need to think through what it means to be hospitable and ask the Lord to help us in this area. Christian hospitality should be part of normal Christian living. I know a family in New York, and it’s pretty much understood when the weather is acceptable, that Sunday afternoons are spent on the porch. Guests and family members may drop by and everyone sits on the porch and visits. There are other people I know, especially in the south, who make sipping on a glass of tea and relaxing on the patio a major priority. It may be hard for some of us men to sit still long enough to be hospitable. Nevertheless, if we see hospitality as an extension of God’s love to our family and others, we should learn to be hospitable.
One way we’ve shown hospitality is to encourage our kids to bring the neighborhood kids over to our house. Sometimes this means kids are coming and going in our house, but we want our home to be the most welcoming home in the neighborhood. In one neighborhood that we lived in, our house was located on the cul-de-sac. We put a portable basketball goal in front and kids from all around would come and play ball. Our kids would take water to the neighbors and I would go out regularly and visit with the kids. One of the boys from a single parent home spent a lot of time at our house. It wasn’t unusual for this boy to have breakfast and lunch with us on Saturdays. I loved on this boy and treated him like one of my own kids. We enjoyed a great relationship with this boy as well as many other kids in the neighborhood.
Another way to extend hospitality is to open your home up for a neighborhood party or get together. For several years, we had an open house at Christmas. We didn’t know if anyone would come, but we invited our neighbors and many showed up. It was nothing fancy; we just had juice, coffee, and cookies, but we had a great time visiting. It seemed like after we opened our home, our neighbors began visiting more with us and saying “hi” when they came to check their mail. Neighbors would ask us to watch their house when they were going out-of-town. One neighbor brought his elderly mom to live with him for a short period of time. The woman became ill and my wife and I were able to go over and pray for the lady. Our neighbor was so grateful and when we moved he was really sad.
There are many creative ways to extend hospitality. Open your heart up to the Lord in this area and ask God to begin showing you how you can extend hospitality. Your kids will watch and learn as you extend God’s kingdom through hospitality.
This issue of love just keeps jumping off the pages of the scripture, “…this is not a new commandment but simply a repetition of our original and basic charter: that we love each other. Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love. This is the first thing you’ve heard, and nothing has changed” (2 John 1:4-6).
The most profound truth of John’s epistle is love. How do we know if love is ruling in our home? The first relationship that casts the biggest shadow of love is the relationship between you and your wife (assuming you are married). Do you demonstrate to your children a loving relationship with your wife by dating her, speaking to her with kind words, and cherishing her? Beyond your relationship with your wife, do you send a message of love to your kids by the tone of voice you use to communicate to them? Would your children characterize you as harsh and insensitive? Ultimately your love is not measured by your inconsistencies (when you don’t show love from time to time) but by your overall character. When I blow it with my kids love compels me to repent and ask forgiveness. There is no perfect dad, but I’m sure you are aware of this. Love is the acid test of Christianity. Would your children describe you as a loving father?
My grandma on my mother’s side was a very godly woman. She was so loving and kind and her home was always full of love. You could walk into her home and feel loved. You’ve probably known someone like this who just love. I was accepted at grandma’s house as well as everyone else that walked through the door. It wasn’t so much the words my grandma said to me, but her attitude and willingness to serve. My grandmother didn’t have much of the earthly goods that many of us have, but she had a bundle of love that she served up to everyone who came to her home. I was accepted and loved at grandma’s house. This is how I want my life to be, loving and gracious. I want my home to be like grandma’s; a place where people can come and sense the love of God. By the way, grandma wasn’t a push-over, she held a high standard for her family. She was loving but firm.
“Every person who believes that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, is God-begotten” (1 John 5:1). This is a fairly simple truth yet we tend to make it way too complicated.
I was just talking to my children the other day about the lure of the world and the desire all of us have at times to look like the world. What will keep our children from finding fulfillment in whatever the current culture believes is “cool”? Jesus. Believing in Jesus Christ as the son of God and the one who dominates life choices. The enemy hasn’t changed his temptation from the garden. Remember, Eve thought God was holding out on her and gave in to temptation. She simply didn’t believe God was all she needed. What kept Israel from receiving the full benefits of God’s provision in their life? Unbelief. It’s the same thing Eve struggled with. The rich young ruler in the New Testament didn’t believe God could provide for him if he gave his riches away. It was unbelief that kept Ananias and Sapphira from telling the whole truth. All of our sin comes down to unbelief.
If our kids aren’t firmly planted and rooted in Jesus, they will start to believe the world has better things to offer. We should be careful to direct our children into a passionate relationship with Jesus. Nothing else will serve as an anchor for their soul when temptation comes. We want our kids to be so in love with Jesus that the pull of the world can’t hold a candle to the adventure they can have in Jesus. Do our kids really believe Jesus is who he claims to be, the Son of God? If so, their lives will be conformed to his image and not the worlds. One of the greatest joys I have as a father is watching my kids make a decision that reflects Christ. I am delighted when they believe God at his word, resist the way of the world, and choose life. When I see this happen, I really need to encourage them. Their purpose and destiny will only be realized as they defer to the Spirit of the Lord living in them. When they are prompted by the Lord to take a stand or say “no,” encourage them to radically obey. There is a line in an old hymn that says “leaning on the everlasting in arms.” Our children will definitely magnify the Lord with their choices if they lean on the powerful arms of Jesus. Teach your kids to say “yes” to Jesus, and don’t let them sway in unbelief. When their world is falling apart, demonstrate to them that Jesus is the rock.
One of the clear indicators of loving God is to love others. If we can’t love the person we can see, how can we love the God we can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt; loving God includes loving people. You have to do both. If you have more than one child in your home, most likely you see love tested as your children relate to their siblings. How do we as parents train and teach our children to love their brothers and sisters?
Illustrating the need to express love from scripture is one way we can train our children to love their siblings. As we teach the word to them over and over, the truth becomes engrafted in their hearts. I encourage you to pray that God’s word will become revelation to them. Once this happens, they will begin expressing sincere love to their siblings- not because they have to, but because God has done a work in their hearts and they desire to express love. Our children need to have a regular appetite of 1 John 4:20, “loving God includes loving people.”
Secondly, there is a lot of training that goes into raising our little guys to love. When you see one of your little ones demonstrate love to their siblings, praise them for their kindness. Often we get hung up on just correcting our children, but they need encouragement from us. Watch for demonstrations of true love and make a big deal of random acts of love between your children. Also, we need to be quick to discipline our kids when they are unloving. Don’t hesitate to give consequences when your kids are unloving to one another. I often ask my children, “was that the loving thing to do?” Remember, training your little guys is a lot like coaching, you go over the basics time and time again until the players get it down. With our little guys we don’t worry too much about teaching them “why” they love until they get older and can understand. Our little guys need to be shown what loving their siblings looks like and as a matter of habit, regularly demonstrate this. As our kids grow and mature, we can begin teaching them the “why” of love. If they don’t eventually understand the reason to love, then their love for God and their siblings will grow cold. Training and teaching consistently over time mixed with revelation from God will produce disciples. Don’t grow weary in well-doing!
Thirdly, point your kids towards other families that are a little further down the road than you who demonstrate loving sibling relationships. There was one particular family as our older kids were growing up that we tried to be around as much as possible. Our kids witnessed the interaction between the siblings of this family and learned what loving relationships looked like on a day-in day-out basis. To this day our older kids still talk about great times with this family. Find a family who has children with siblings who truly demonstrate love for each other and point your kids towards this family. If you see a brother taking up for his sister, tell your boys about it. If you see two older sisters spending time together, tell you girls about the relationship and encourage them to have a similar standard. Encourage loving each other, therefore demonstrating your love for God.
“And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us” (1 John 3:24).
I grew up thinking the Holy Spirit was like Casper the friendly ghost. The Holy Spirit was a mystery to me, especially since we referred to him in those days as the “Holy Ghost.” What I didn’t know then, is when we ask Christ into our hearts, the Holy Spirit enters our spirit. The scripture says we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13). The scripture also speaks of being “filled” with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18, Acts 13:52). When we repent of our sins and come to faith in Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit, but being “filled” with the Holy Spirit is often an additional part of our journey. If we fail to teach our kids to embrace the Holy Spirit then we’ve misrepresented the godhead. The Holy Spirit is part of the godhead and should be active in our lives. The Holy Spirit is not a dove or any other thing, but a person. Are you filled with the Holy Spirit and teaching your kids to be filled with the Holy Spirit? If we are filled with the Spirit there should be evidence that the Holy Spirit lives in us. What is that evidence? Love. John is saying if we love, it’s obvious we have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit living within us. Our children can learn the house rules, lift their hands in worship to the Lord, and be careful how they live their life, yet never learn to depend on the Holy Spirit. Let me suggest several ways we can encourage our kids to be dependent on the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit convicts Christians of sin. When the Holy Spirit convicts your children. help them to recognize their sin and repent. When they are younger, this can be done when you discipline them. Tell them clearly what they did wrong and what the bible says about their sin. Then pray with them to ask God to forgive them. As they grow up in the Lord, they will learn to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as they’ve been trained by you.
- As your children grow in the Lord, train them to listen to the voice of the Lord. Some people say God doesn’t speak today since we have the bible. My question to them is, how did they know how to come to Christ? God speaks through impressions, experiences, family, and the Bible and we need to teach our kids to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as he speaks to us.
- Teach your kids to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Usually this requires risks and possibly embarrassment, but obedience is required by every child of God.
- Discuss with your kids what the bible says about speaking in tongues and how this is a gift from the Holy Spirit.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; it’s just some ideas to help you encourage your kids to depend on the Holy Spirit. Remember, how do you know if your kids are filled with the Holy Spirit? LOVE.