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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

Hope

Rainbows have nothing to hide

The story of Noah is a story of hope. God was ready to do away with his creation, but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  Don’t you love the divine “but” in the Bible?  God always writes last chapters.  This should really encourage you as a dad!  You may be raising your kids in the best Christian environment you can and they can still choose to rebel.  However, God is in charge of how things turn out.  Some of you reading this may have children away from the Lord, if so, keep remembering “but God.”

Noah is a type of Christ in that he became like a savior to the earth.  The entire world was saved through Noah’s act of obedience, just as all mankind was saved from eternal damnation by Jesus’ obedient death on the cross.

God made a covenant with Noah. The theme of covenant becomes very important to the unfolding narrative of the Old Testament, demonstrating how God relates to mankind.  Anytime God makes a covenant with mankind, this is also pointing to Christ.  A covenant is an agreement or a promise.  Remember when the rains stopped flooding the earth and God set a rainbow in the sky as a covenant sign that he would not flood the earth again?  We can still see the rainbow and remember God’s promise or covenant.  All through the Old Testament God makes covenants with his people.  The covenants are dependent on God keeping his word and honoring his promise.

Even when those whom he has made covenants with failed to keep their part of the promise, God was still faithful.  Look how many times Israel left worshiping God and went after false gods. While Israel suffered consequences for its disobedience, God always kept his promise to love them and protect them, if they would only turn back to him and follow his law.  When we come to the New Testament, God fulfilled his part of the covenant by sending Jesus to die for our sins and deal with the sin issue once and for all.  The promises that God made and spoke through his prophets over and over again in the Old Testament were fulfilled in Jesus.  Just as those living in the Old Covenant era were unable on their own to fulfill their part of the promise, so we to are unable to do anything to earn the grace and love God so richly poured out upon us.  Just like the Old Testament saints, we simply must “believe” and “receive.”  So the gospel unfolds throughout the Old Testament as we understand covenant.

The gospel is what we want all of our kids to understand and receive.  I encourage you, dad, as soon as your kids are old enough, creatively and consistently share the gospel with them.  Learn how to share the gospel from the Old Testament.  Demonstrate through the word how the Old Covenant points to Jesus.  Many people mistakenly use the Old Testament only to tell stories of the great heroes of faith.  The heroes of the Old Testament, for the most part, have some very dark sides to their life.  The real hero of the Old Testament is Jesus as he works in and through the prophets, the patriarchs, and the common people of Israel.  Why is all of this so important in parenting?  Because your children need to understand and know the Bible in order to know God.  If your kids view the Old Testament as unnecessary and it’s purpose as only to reference great stories and they don’t see Jesus in the stories, they will miss knowing the true character of God.  Be diligent in your studies of the Bible so you can faithfully train your kids to know and love the God of the Bible.

~Tim

Enjoying God

let's get on with the day

We are told in our reading today that when God created mankind, he gave us a “nature akin to God.”  We were created in the image of God!  What does this mean?  It means that we are not robots- we were created with God-like features; we can think, feel, be sad and so forth.  God has given us a will to choose on our own and each person has chosen his/her own way.  The wonderful plan of redemption is that although our choices to go our own way led us away from God, it glorified Jesus through his death and resurrection to draw us to salvation.  We have no hope apart from Jesus to have our sins forgiven and our lives redeemed from sin.  God created us for his own glory, yet we in our rebellion chose to glory in our sin.

Thanks be to God that from the beginning of time God’s redemption plan would unfold and ultimately Jesus would glorify his Father paying the ultimate price for our sin.  Jesus’ death reunited us to the original purposes of why we were created, to glorify God by enjoying him forever.  Think about it; God chose to give you life, not because he was lonely or because he needed you, just because he wanted to bring himself glory.  Your destiny is to enjoy God.  Does that sound strange?  See, if you enjoy God, there is no doubt God will unfold to you riches and destiny beyond anything you ever thought.

As you raise up your children, make sure the emphasis of their life is not on themselves but on God who created them.  It’s not about your children, it’s about God who created them in his image.  We have too much focus on the happiness of the child today.  We all want little Johnny or Susie to be happy, but true happiness comes as we enjoy God.  Teach your kids the nature of God.  Help them to understand the characteristics of God.  Let their knowledge of God lead them to a relationship with God and put them on a journey to enjoy God.  Most of us are pretty “works oriented” in our relationship with God.  Thinking that if we work for God, he will love us.  We can only come to God through faith in Jesus, repenting of our sins, and accepting Christ’s forgiveness.  When we begin to meditate on the goodness of God and learn to enjoy his pleasure, we give our life to live for him because of the wonderful enjoyment we find in being “in him.”  Lofty thoughts for us, but it’s critical that we raise our children in this type of understanding.

~Tim

Sweet Victory

feet of jesus

What a tragic story the first murder recorded in the Bible is.  Scholars have speculated as to why God approved Abel’s offering but not Cain’s.  The only commentary we have on the reason God chose Abel’s offering is in Hebrews 11:4 “by faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain” (NKJ).  In other words, the New Testament reveals that Abel’s offering was an offering of faith which is the currency of relationship with God.  Speculating on any other reason why God received one offering over the other is a waste of time.  The motivation of Abel’s heart was right because he was bringing his offering to his creator in faith.

One of the most interesting verses in our reading today is verse 7 (NKJ) “…sin lies at the door.  And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”   This has been the dilemma since the beginning of time, ruling over the sin that crouches at the door of our homes and lives of our children.  For many of us “ruling over sin” is a battle we go back and forth on. We win then we lose, we get back up and fight, then we lose again.  You may have a son or daughter who is struggling with an addiction or having a hard time forgiving you for sinning against them.  You observe them trying to resist the sin of bitterness or lust, but after a while they give in and carry the load of guilt associated with a hypocritical lifestyle or saying one thing while doing another.

By the way, do you as a father ever suffer this way as well?  You try your best to stay away from the things you know will hurt you and your family, but you have a bad day and give in to your flesh.  Then, you feel really bad, ask God to forgive you and you are free for a short time until the crouching sin is at your door again.

I have good news for you today.  When Satan tempted Adam and Eve, God predicted that Eve’s seed would bruise the head of the Serpent or Satan.  The entire Old Testament provides the narrative that predicts and points to the day when Mary would have a child, divinely conceived, and that child (Jesus) would go to the cross and conquer sin once and for all and be resurrected, showing his divine purpose to be Lord over sin and death.  In this process, Jesus secured for you and I the miracle of mastery over sin.

The battle no longer rages in the Christian’s heart of whether he or she is able to defeat Satan because it has been done.  The battle we face now is in the mind, “did really God say?” are familiar words we all consider when we are faced with temptation.  When you and your children are faced with sin crouching at your door, the issue is not if/will Satan win, the issue is will you remember what Jesus did at the cross and act like the child of the King that you are.  As a Christian, God has given you everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).  The battle is not between God and Satan; that battle has already been settled.  The battle we now face is between our ears.  Will we believe that God has done and what he has said?  If God truly defeated Satan at the cross then we can enforce his victory by “remembering” and saying no to the devil and recognizing him as a defeated foe.  The only tools the enemy has now are lies and deceptions and if he can get you to believing the lies then you will never deal with the sin crouching at your door.

Sweet victory is ours in Christ. He has defeated the enemy and has conquered sin on our behalf and as a result, our children can walk in victory from sin!

~Tim

Trusting God for Provision

He will provide

From the beginning of time, mankind has concluded that we have a better way than God.  While we admit God created us, we think surely he doesn’t always know what is best for us, but we do!  Since we think this, we try to make our own way and our own provision and what we really get is illegitimate counterfeits.  Dads, let’s teach our kids to depend on God and trust him at his word.  If we train and teach our kids to stay under our authority and we represent God’s order and provision well, our kids will learn to enjoy the benefits of God’s provision.  We all try to make our own way at times, but God has a better way.

Our growing family always seems to have financial needs.  You can imagine if you don’t have a large family, what it would be like to feed, clothe, and generally provide for 13 people.  Daily needs seem to pop up that are simply beyond my ability to provide for, so then what do we do?  Hopefully, we don’t complain or whine but instead we go to the Lord and submit our need to him.  Often he shows us we really don’t have a need.  At other times he causes circumstances to change and makes a miraculous provision.  It would be easy to look to others or whine to parents to bail us out when we have a need.  On the other hand, there have been times we’ve tried to force something to work, you know, help God out when he isn’t giving us what we think we “need.”  Honestly, there are times I’ve felt like Adam and Eve, thinking that surely God is holding out on us and just not giving us what we need.  However, we should always come back to “seek first the kingdom” and pursue enjoyment in God, not worrying about our needs.

When one of my daughters was 18, she was frustrated because she didn’t have a car.  She drove the family van or whatever car someone would let her use while trying to maintain a good attitude.  One day she was sharing her frustration with me, and she had decided to write a list of all the benefits she experienced from not having a car.  I thought considering the benefits of not having a car was very mature, and all the while she continued to pray for God to provide, thus not giving up on a miracle.  She had even saved almost $1,000 from a part-time job she had.  She knew God was able to provide and believed God would provide in his time.  It wasn’t long after this that God impressed someone we knew to meet with me and give me an envelope with some cash toward my daughter’s car.  I could hardly believe my eyes when I opened the envelope and there was $5,500 in cash!  I deposited the money in her savings account and took her the deposit slip.  The family wanted God to get all the glory and to this day she has no idea who gave the money.  She learned so much that day.  Just like in the garden, God wasn’t holding out. He knew exactly what my daughter’s needs were and in due time, God certainly provided.  Help you kids learn to trust God. We all are like Adam and Eve and at times we desire to do things our way.  Nevertheless, God loves us and knows what is best for us if we will just hold out, trust him, and look to him for our provision- not to some cheap illegitimate replacement.

~Tim

Created for Relationships

Groot Wedding - 2

“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!

~Tim

Turning Chaos into Order

JJ's Beautiful Mess free creative commons

“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.

~Tim

Christian Hospitality

067Wedding

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.

~Tim