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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

Lifestyle Discipleship

John 21

Jesus appeared to the disciples while they were fishing and was credited with a great fish story.  When they joined Jesus on the shore, he had prepared them a breakfast of fish and bread. Isn’t it amazing the practical ways in which Jesus ministered to his disciples as well as the supernatural ways? I think of the passage in Deuteronomy 6:7.

Deuteronomy 6:7,”You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise,(ESV)”.

In our passage today, we have Jesus discipling his followers through the normal events of day-to-day living. I am amazed at the simplicity of Jesus’ discipleship methods. Don’t get me wrong – the discipleship process was supernatural, but the way in which Jesus enter acted with his disciples was down-to-earth and often took place around meal times.

Remember the goal of fathering is to make disciples of Christ. We have the greatest discipler that ever lived available to teach us how to do this. I’ve mentioned before our first step in discipling our children is to present Jesus to them and bring them to Jesus. We are like the friends of the handicapped man who opened the roof and dropped their friend down to Jesus. I can’t force my children to come to faith in Christ, but I can bring my children to Jesus and present Jesus through my life, teaching and example.  Once our kids come to Jesus, then the discipleship process begins. Since discipleship is more “caught than taught” as a dad, events like meal times, bike rides, driving down the road, etc… all become ripe times for discipling.

We homeschool our children, and the cool thing about homeschooling is that life is a classroom. Whatever a week may bring we can use the issues that pop up as an opportunity to disciple. While I agree Jesus had a definite plan to disciple the 12, it appears that he used whatever circumstances he was in to disciple; for example walking by the fig tree, fishing, cooking, resting, etc. Discipleship is intentional, but not always planned.  I marvel at the creative ways Jesus poured into his disciples.  We have the opportunity everyday to make investments in our children that will lead them closer to the Lord and more equipped to be disciples of Christ.

~Tim

Resurrected Life

John 20

“These things are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it”. (20:30-31)

This is what we want for all of our children – “real and eternal life” according to the way Jesus revealed it. I am not interested in raising children who are religious. I want my kids to grab all the adventure that Jesus offers and live life to its fullest.

Life isn’t boring when Jesus is living in you and through you.

The story of the resurrection is anything but boring. The drama unfolds of the disciples discovering that Jesus is no longer in the grave..what adventure! Obviously, the disciples don’t know what to do so they hide in fear of their lives and Jesus walks right through the door and appears to them. Talk about some wild stuff happening! I can’t imagine being there, but I hope my response would be similar to Peter’s. He believed when he saw the empty tomb.

Dads – the true gospel of Jesus Christ is exciting, adventuresome, and filled with wonder.

Many of us grew up hearing Bible stories. I learned about Samson and David, but had no idea these Old Testament stories were connected to Jesus.

My story: I was presented the story of salvation at a young age and later translated the gospel to “works”.  The Bible should come alive when you read it and tell it to your children.  Many of us have just not heard the complete story, or we have not connected the dots from the Old Testament to the Gospels.  For some of you reading this it may be necessary for you to relearn how to read and interpret scripture.

Don’t let your children grow up in your home and present to them a dry, boring religion.  If you need help interpreting the scripture there are great books you can purchase. Do your homework. Your kids deserve being told the story of the gospel that is alive and adventuresome. In America, we live in a post-Christian nation and most children will not hear the true gospel unless you tell them. Sadly, many of our churches don’t even teach or preach the true gospel.  The home should be the place to dispense the gospel and church should be the place in which we get trained in the gospel.

Unfortunately, you can’t afford to wait on most churches to teach you how to read the bible and share it with your family. You are responsible for this dad, no one else is responsible for teaching your kids the truths of the bible. Study, research, and do whatever it takes to learn how to present the bible to your children. You can turn generations toward Jesus if you will learn to tell the story of the gospel correctly and with the intended mystery that is imbedded in the gospel.

Don’t let your children grow up in your home without being marinated in the true gospel, it will change their lives.

~Tim

Making Disciples

disciple.

Luke 9

Would you agree that the purpose of parenting is to facilitate our children becoming disciples of Jesus Christ?  When Jesus came to the earth he could have employed any number of processes to change the world.  He chose to systematically call twelve men to him and invest in them.  As he walked with these men, he spent time relating to them.  In time, he commissioned them to do what he was doing, see the Kingdom of God come on earth as it is in heaven.  However, he didn’t just send them out and say, “Go get ‘em boys!”  He gave them instructions on what to do, telling them to “cast out demons, heal the sick” and so on.  Once he told them what to do, he gave them authority to carry out the mission.  After the mission was completed, he gathered them back together for some time alone and the reporting of how things went.  The pattern Jesus used is a great example for us to follow as parents.

Likewise, as a Father, it is ultimately my responsibility to provide an atmosphere where my children can be discipled in our home.  I am a fool if I depend on the youth group at church to disciple my children.  While the youth group may or may not be a tool to enhance the discipleship of my children, it is my responsibility to disciple my children.  I disciple them by living a lifestyle that honors Christ as well as following Jesus’ pattern by empowering them to go and do.  Someone has said that discipleship is “more caught than taught.”  The vast majority of discipleship is “on the job training.”  Jesus lived among the disciples and they learned from him not only what he taught them, but how he lived.  Remember, he was the one who washed the disciples’ feet?

Jesus spent time alone with his father (Mark 1:35) and as we spend time alone with God, our kids not only see this, but they learn the importance of this habit in their lives.  I require my kids who can read to have quiet times with the Lord.  I provide them with a devotional book appropriate for their age and ask them to discipline themselves to have a daily time with the Lord.  I will inspect what I expect, in other words, I will check up on them and make sure they are reading their bible and praying.  This is just one practical way I can motivate them.  While they read their bible and pray, I am also pouring into them through a family bible study.  We usually sit together, a few times a week, and read a chapter in the bible together.  We discuss the passage and pray together.  I know this time is inadequate if I am not being the example of a disciple of Christ.  What I do sends a stronger message to my kids than what I say.

When I serve my children like Jesus did, I am encouraging them to step out and live what Debi and I (along with the Lord) have invested in them.  At some point, the values and beliefs we taught our children will be tested.  Once they have experienced life a bit and failed or succeeded, then we regroup and talk about their experiences.

Discipleship is about relationships and as the father of my children I see my role as their primary discipler.

~Tim

The Cross

John 19

The cross is the key to our salvation, forgiveness, redemption and freedom. Thank God that Jesus chose to carry the cross and give his life so that you and I could have life.  Jesus became the perfect, spotless lamb and final sacrifice for sins. Jesus laid down his life to solve the sin dilemma once and for all.  From the beginning of time when Adam sinned, God had already planned the final and complete redemption.  Jesus’ death on the cross was not plan B, there has only ever been one plan which required the death of the Son of God.  This is why I choose not to live my life separate from God.  For God to love me enough to send his Son to die I want to give him my life and raise my children so they can embrace “real life” as well.

It is through the cross that not only forgiveness is granted, but where our hurt is healed and our selfishness crumbles.

When God gives us children we are confronted with the opportunity to lay our lives down for our children. Fatherhood is a way to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ. Each child is unique and special. I must approach each child with a sincere heart to serve them and train them to follow God.

Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.”

As a father, self-serving, self-seeking motivations come to a halt at the cross. The cross represents the opportunity for me to lay my life down and experience the resurrection power of Jesus. This is not a sad experience, it is the only way to really live. The power of the cross causes me to focus on how I can give myself away to my children. When my will crosses God’s will, the cross determines the direction I will go.  Some people ask “How do you do it with 11 kids?”.  The way I figure it, I am not on this earth to accomplish my goals, I am here to be a representative of Jesus so that his kingdom will come and his will may be done. Am I supposed to be happy?  If happy means living my life for Christ. then yes, of course God wants me to be happy.  If happy means I must have time to do only what I want and spend the days choosing my direction then, no – I am not interested in that kind of happiness.

Why do so many men walk away from fathering and bury their lives in work? It could be they have never truly embraced the cross of Christ. The world promotes those who work long hours and make their “job” the main focus.

God is looking for fathers who will make their main focus raising children.

The true heroes in my book are you. Those of you who struggle to obey God and pour your lives into your children. You are a hero if you embrace the cross, lay down your life for Christ, and embrace parenting as a means to make disciples.

~Tim

Unity

John 17

This chapter is called, “The High Priestly Prayer”, because Jesus is praying to the Father about his followers. Jesus is praying a prayer of unity and declaring He has done his father’s will.  I always thought Jesus’ mission was completed at the cross, but Jesus said his work was accomplished when he properly invested in the men God gave him.

Fathers, we have the opportunity to join Jesus in living in unity with our heavenly Father. Our DNA, in Christ, calls us upward and onward to a walk of love and faith.  This should not be a foreign concept to us – the spirit of God dwells in us and according to scripture we have the mind of Christ.  If we are self-governed, denying our flesh and saying yes to God, we can experience unity with the Father.  Not only do we have the opportunity to say yes to God, walking in unity with Jesus allows us to tap into the destiny God has for us.  I can’t really walk in harmony with the calling God has on my life unless I am pressing into God and seeking his purposes for my life.  God took pleasure in knowing his son was glorified.  He takes pleasure in us seeing his Son glorified through our lives.

Remember, when our kids are young, we are a reflection of God to them. They learn about God’s nature through interacting with us. If we are sensitive to their needs, they will think God is sensitive to their needs.  If we are angry and grouchy, then they project these qualities on to God.  We can promote unity by demonstrating to them godly character in our own life.  Of course if you are like me you will blow it, but if so repent and your humble response will further demonstrate true godly character.

Additionally, we demonstrate Christ to our kids when we consistently train them.  If we turn our heads and allow them to get away with some things while requiring them to walk the line in other areas they will become confused.  Probably one of the greatest challenges in parenting is being consistent, especially when raising little ones.  Day and day out we are training our children to obey.  Training may not seem very spiritual, but it is not only spiritual but essential in making disciples.  In fact, Jesus spent much of his time on earth training his disciples.  He expressed on several occasions the frustration that he felt, yet he expresses in our reading today that he had completed the job of investing and training his disciples.  I want to be able to say the same thing when I launch my kids into the world, that I’ve completed my mission of training and investing in them.

~Tim

Trials

John 16

“In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties.  But take heart! I’ve conquered the world,” (16:33).

It is the belief of some that difficulties and trails are not of God. The Bible does not teach this, in fact normal Christianity includes difficulties and trials.  Jesus expressed this reality when he told his disciples “in this world”. Don’t give into the false teaching that when you have difficulties, you are out of God’s will.  No, you are probably in God’s will if you meet resistance and trials.

The key is not to allow the debate of whether we are to suffer or not consume you, they key is to realize in the midst of the difficulties we take heart that Jesus has overcome the world – thank you Lord.  When I feel the squeeze financially I must remember that Jesus is an over-comer.  If my child is sick and the prayer of faith does not heal him, immediately I must conclude Jesus is the healer. When my child suffers loss, in the midst of the pain, I confess Jesus is Lord.

The key is not to focus on the suffering and difficulties of this world, but rather focus on Jesus – He is!

As the leader of your home, lead your children through the difficulties life throws at you while holding Jesus up as the solution. If they see you constantly under the pressure of problems, pain, and difficulty but don’t see Jesus exalted they will not know how to process suffering in their life.

I can be a pretty serious guy.  Just yesterday I came home under the weight of some financial pressure. How I respond to the pressure of finances or any other challenges is magnified in my kids. Often if I do something in moderation my kids will go all out. Fathers we cast a very wide shadow. Our kids will imitate us and how we respond to situations more than what we teach or say to them. They watch us … all the time. If we say we are not burdened by trials, but worry and our posture demonstrates we are certainly under pressure they will believe what they see before they believe what they hear. I am preaching to myself today!

Jesus’ burden is light. Your kids need to see you face challenges and problems from God’s perspective. When our children see us turn to the one who calms the storms, in the midst of a storm they will believe God is able. If we focus on our problems and trials and don’t allow God to work through these problems our kids may end up following our pattern. Embrace the trials of this world, but know that Jesus is the answer to every trial and sickness and all suffering.  We may not understand why, but we can show our kids that the character of God is consistently good, all the time.

~Tim

Abiding in Christ

John 15

In love with God, but hated by the world. We live and love God by remaining in Him. Jesus described the relationship we are to have with God like a vine with a branch.  Jesus is the vine and we are “in him” as branches.  We can’t exist apart from the vine and the Father prunes every branch that is a part of the vine. How do we remain in the vine?  We must live with a constant awareness that our life is hidden in Christ.  Without the Lord I am nothing, but as I abide in the vine I have “all things that pertain to life and godliness”-  2 Peter 1:3 (ESV). Secondly, pruning although it is painful, is a sign that the Father loves us.  If you love your children you will “prune” them.

No father enjoys the process of pruning. It is far easier to look the other way and think you can deal with the disobedience later. A faithful father acts proactively to train and discipline his children demonstrating he loves them. Looking the other way when our children disobey is not loving, it’s laziness. As you lovingly train your children and bring consequences to bear when they disobey you are demonstrating the heart of Father God to them. Father, step up and fulfill the call of fathering by training your children. Be consistent day in and day out and if you do this you will enjoy the “fruit” of your labor. When they are older your children will rise up and bless you and be your friends.

Today I plan to call my oldest daughter (who is married) and we will visit as old friends.  Our relationship is rich and we love each other deeply.  One reason our relationship is so rich is because I did a lot of “pruning” when she was young (she required a little more pruning than some of my other children).

Jesus tells his followers not to be surprised if the world hates them because they are Christ followers.

This is an area I try to remind my kids over and over – that if they follow Christ they will be hated, ridiculed and made fun of by the world. How is it that we think we can raise radical followers of Christ and they will be treated differently than Jesus?  I am not talking about being ridiculed because of an arrogant attitude or self-righteousness. I remember as a kid wanting to be liked by everyone. I also remember facing rejection from certain school mates because I would not participate in certain activities.  I didn’t want to project a “holier than thou” attitude, but my conscience wouldn’t allow me to follow the crowd in certain areas. I expect my kids will face similar battles in their life.

We should be raising kids that are offended with the norm and are willing to stand up and raise the standard. By being standard bearers our children will face certain ridicule.Our goal is not to raise children who are radical for the sake of being radical, but to raise children that will unapologetically remain in the vine. When we remain in the vine our choices are affected by the vine and often rejected by the world.

~Tim