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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

Correction

II Corinthians 2

“My counsel now is to pour on the love,” (2 Cor. 2:8).

Paul is dealing with a situation in Corinth where someone needed correction for sin. Once the correction is given, Paul admonishes the Corinthians to “pour on the love” and not heap on the guilt.

When disobedience takes place, correction comes in and then restoration follows.  No matter how old your children are this pattern should be familiar to you.  Just last night I disciplined one of my children when I got home from the office. Part of the restoration process was to give him a hug and tell him I love him, then have him go to the offended party and seek forgiveness. With my older children sometimes this process becomes more complex. As a parent, if I don’t follow the entire process through until restoration, the guilty party may hang in guilt or condemnation. This is not the way of the cross.

The cross bids us come for forgiveness and repentance but also for restoration and reconciliation.

I’ve been guilty in the past of prescribing a formula for “how” to apply loving discipline. Does God deal this way with us when we mess up? Is there an exact formula that works for every situation when we are correcting our children? What I know about God’s discipline of me is that when it is all said and done I know that he loves me. I may not realize this at first, but eventually I will see his love for me. As parents, it’s easy for us to slip into a pattern of correction that is more, “this is how we do it”, rather than being guided by the Holy Spirit. When your children sin  ask the Lord what is going on. Often when we stop for a moment to listen to the Lord we find that we didn’t clearly communicate our expectations.  Maybe, we were very clear and our child just chose to be rebel – what then?

Don’t look for a formula here – press in to God and discern what the real issues are. Lectures usually don’t work and shame is the worse tool that the enemy tries to convince us works.  Yes, there are principles and methods to follow when disciplining your son/daughter, but it takes dad being spirit led before we take action. Giving our children the freedom to choose correctly is paramount.  Forcing them to choose what’s right because they fear us will not bring loving and lasting fruit.

We can talk more about this later. Meanwhile, here’s a book to help equip you in this area –  Loving Our Kid’s on Purpose,  by Danny Silk.  Get a copy of the book and read it. This man knows what he’s talking about.

Pour on the love dad!

~Tim

Our Homes – The Church

II Corinthians 1

“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (2 Cor. 1:4)

Our homes are a microcosm of the church and should represent to the local church and to others what true Christian community looks like. One aspect of true community is that we come alongside others when they fall on hard times. Have you ever had one of your children laugh when their siblings get hurt or say something silly? As fathers, we want my children to have compassion on each other rather than making fun. Mercy is a character quality that is a must for living together in unity. I desire to create an atmosphere where love and mercy triumph.  When one of my children makes a mistake I want his/her siblings to encourage them and not make fun.

How do we create this atmosphere?

Remember I Cor. 13?  The most important Christian virtue is love.  My kids will learn to love unconditionally by observing me loving their mother or loving extended family or those that may not always be the easiest to love.  Saying, ‘I love their you’ is not enough. Our children should witness loving acts of kindness between husband and wife; holding hands, hugging, gifts and cards all are demonstrations of love. Consistently creating a loving environment in your home is the first step toward cultivating encouraging relationships between your children.

Secondly, set a high standard of respect and loyalty. If one of your little children laugh or make fun of a sibling, train them immediately. Often younger children simply watch the older kids and repeat their behavior. When you see this type of behavior, warn your child that you will not tolerate unkind talk and then discipline when needed. Your little guys do not need extended explanations in order to be respectful. As your child matures, take time to explain the hurt their comments can inflict on others. Remember, train and teach – but train first. Small children don’t need to have multiple reasons why they stay out of the road – they just need to be trained to stay out of the road. Older children deserve a moral reason why.  Telling your children why is teaching them.

Work hard to enjoy an environment of love in your home.

I can be too rigid and harsh at times. I don’t want my kids to grow up and reflect on their home life as unloving. Living in Christian community means we are honest with each other, but not harsh. The tone of our homes sets the example for what our kids can expect as they leave our home and start their own families.

~Tim

Remembering the Poor

I Corinthians 16

Paul appealed to the church in Corinth to remember the poor. In fact, Paul instructed the church to put aside offerings each week designated to the poor upon his arrival. Is remembering the poor really that important?  You bet it is. When Jesus was on the earth he entered the temple and read from the book of Isaiah. He declared his mission to preach the gospel to the poor. Jesus knew that if the poor received the good news they could find freedom from the spirit of poverty.  Paul knew, that in the heart of the Lord, the poor were important and he made it part of his mission as well to make sure the churches took care of the poor.

As a kid, I had friends that lived in a certain part of town and they were poor. Nowadays, with the options of subdivisions and gated communities our children may never be exposed to the poor. If Jesus made it his primary mission to minister to the poor, shouldn’t we as well?  If so, how will we expose our children to the poor when most of us live in nice subdivisions and probably don’t know many poor people?

In the fall of 2011 I was asked to join the leadership team at Reconciliation Outreach Ministries (www.rodallas.org).  R.O.  began when Dorothy Moore made weekly trips from the “burbs” to the worst part of Dallas , TX to minister to children. Dorothy’s obedience  grew into a ministry that serves the poor and needy and those in addictive lifestyles. I have been amazed to see God’s hand at work since I joined this ministry. Almost daily I hear stories of men and women whose lives have been ruined due to drug addiction. I’ve talk to many fathers that have little to nothing to offer their children since they have lost everything due to addiction. R.O. has been used to create a Christian community in the midst of the inner city. My eyes are being opened to true Christian hospitality and ministry to the outcast of society.

The message of the gospel has profound effect in breaking the cycle of poverty and addiction. 

It is important that we be intentional about our children serving the poor. Find a way to introduce your children to the poor and get them involved. Maybe through your church you can establish a mission to take the gospel to the poor. Taking an offering and providing relief to those hurting would be an excellent way to minister. Jesus stated that we would have the poor with us always. Possibly your family could adopt a poor family and begin to serve and minister to them. I believe my family has been tremendously blessed because of my involvement in ministering to the poor. I am so grateful God has allowed me to work and serve at R.O.  My kids have witnessed God’s miracles as we’ve been a part of this ministry.

Ask the Lord what you can do as a family to remember the poor?

~Tim

The Resurrection

I Corinthians 15

Paul gives his thesis on resurrection and our hope in salvation. Paul spends the entire chapter going over the powerful truth of resurrection.  It’s the hope that we have as Christians and the hope we pass on to our children. Life can get so ‘daily'; quickly we can allow the tyranny of the urgent to cause us to minimize the truth of the resurrection. Paul’s words remind us not to forget the powerful resurrection available to us as Christians. Jesus was the first among many to be resurrected. After his crucifixion Jesus, a seed dead and alone, was left to the earth then was transformed and life came forth from the tomb. Jesus appeared to many in his resurrection body, and eventually to Paul.

The resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact of great proportion. Our God and savior, Jesus Christ, didn’t remain in the tomb to be mourned, He arose from the tomb demonstrating his power over death.

The same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead abides in every person who has come to faith in Christ. 

The resurrection power of Christ allows us to overcome every weakness and scheme of the enemy. Imagine, the greatest power on earth, the power to overcome death, resides in us!

I need God’s resurrection power in daily circumstances. One of the areas I need to yield to God’s power is when I am home with the kids playing “Mr. Mom”. Ever so often my wife will take a short trip and I will be home with the kids. If you are like me, the nurturing gene didn’t make its way too deep in my veins so I run out of that nurturing spirit pretty quick. Honestly, I don’t see how my wife does it. She is amazing!

When I stay home with the kids for a few days all of my parenting skills are challenged. Pretty quickly I start to see everything that my kids do wrong and can easily become critical. It is in times like these that I really need to take hold of the resurrection power of Jesus. Every dad who has played the  role of ‘Mr. Mom‘, knows what I am talking about. I can’t fulfill the role of mom and dad without God’s power working in and through my life.

In fact, even being a good dad is impossible without the transforming power of God.

God delights in our weaknesses. As a dad I am constantly in need of God to help give me perspective. I deal with a lot of tactical issues as a father; like how to spend our time off, whether we will rake leaves, or play basketball – all sorts of decisions that are not of a strategic nature. But, dealing with tactical issues when I don’t see the big picture can become challenging. You and I as fathers are shaping the lives of a child or children.

Fathering is one of the greatest privileges God has given. If you are like me, you want to be the most effective father you can be.  As we yield to the power of the resurrected Lord in our lives,we will witness God helping us parent in a righteous manner.

Cry out to the Lord for his strength and power to be the father your children need!

~Tim

Embracing the Holy Spirit

I Corinthians 14

Growing up, there was a classic cartoon called, Casper the Friendly Ghost. Casper was a nice ghost that went around doing good and getting into trouble for it. I remember thinking the Holy Spirit was like Casper. The Holy Spirit was called the “Holy Ghost,” which is terminology from the King James version. I believed the Holy Spirit was part of the God-head, yet there was mystery about his role and purpose. Finally, in my late twenties, I began to gain a revelation of the Holy Spirit.

I was like some of the converts in Acts that had received Jesus and had been sealed by the Holy Spirit upon salvation, but I had not embraced the Holy Spirit. I had friends who referred to the Holy Spirit ‘speaking’ to them and giving them ‘gifts.’ I could see the fruit in these people’s lives and I desired the power of the Holy Spirit working in my life as well. So, I repented of treating the Holy Spirit like Casper the Friendly Ghost and received the Spirit and all that he had to offer.

One of the gifts I received was the gift of speaking in tongues. I had been afraid of speaking in tongues; suddenly I didn’t care anymore about what people thought or the awkwardness I felt.

I just wanted everything the Holy Spirit had to offer.

The most controversial gift the Holy Spirit gives us is speaking in tongues. The apostle Paul is helping the church at Corinth sort out issues about speaking in tongues. Apparently, some had abused their gifts in the public meeting and caused confusion. Paul explains, in I Corinthians 14, that tongues (unless it is for public edification with an interpreter) is a private prayer language.

The main evidence of being filled with the spirit is not speaking in tongues, it’s love. 

Tongues are not necessarily evidence of deep spiritual maturity. Love is always the measuring stick of spirituality. God gives us gifts of power to be witnesses for him and to glorify him.

I encourage you, whatever your position is on speaking in tongues, to study the issue, pray about it and also to teach your children. This gift does not make sense to our minds.  As a young man, I had my list of arguments against speaking in tongues; they were all intellectual in nature. Once I received the Holy Spirit in his fullness, I embraced the gifts as well. My mind was declaring this is really strange, but my spirit was communing with God in a fresh way.  And I began to have a better understanding of this “controversial gift” of tongues.

James says, “but you can’t tame a tongue – it’s never been done.” (James 3:8). It seems ironic that God gave us a gift that deals with the untamable tongue. Through tongues, he controls the very tool that James says is untamable. This is encouraging to me.  The other wonderful issue about speaking in tongues is that it is a language that glorifies God. When I speak in tongues I am communicating with God and my spirit man is encouraged and edified.

Every Christian father wants his children to embrace the fullness of all that God gives us. The Holy Spirit and the gifts he gives us are part of the inheritance God has available to us as fathers and children.

~Tim

A Father’s Love

I Corinthians 13

The theme of our home life should be exemplified by the words of what has been called the “love chapter” of the Bible.  Paul pens the words that every father needs to hear as he approaches his responsibility as a father.  Just last night, I was having a tough talk with one of my teens because of the kind of day he had and some disobedience in his life. I was firm but as I looked into his eyes, the love of God, that only he can give, caused me to restrain my frustration and to show him love. Love is not the absence of conflict or anger, but love does win out so that we don’t become bitter or allow our anger to lead us to sin.

Paul is demonstrating to the Corinthians that no matter how much of the power of God or elegance of speech they may have, if they don’t have love, it’s a lost cause.

Love rules in the heart of a Christian home. Love compels us to go the extra mile. 

My son was not preferring his younger brothers.I explained to him that love serves those weaker than us. Love does not use height, weight, age and strength to push someone around. In the end, it is the love of God that motivates us to care for others. I am not talking about an external love – as a Christian you know how to love because the love of God flows through you. Love is not something you have to work up, as a man of God you are love.

To your children that have accepted Christ, love is part of who they are in Christ. 

When we don’t feel loving, it is simply because we are being led by our flesh and not our Spirit. I believe with all of my heart that my son (that I was discipling last night) loves his siblings. What happened was that he allowed his flesh to rule the situations and said no to love. Jesus Christ is always willing to work through the Holy Spirit in our lives if we just step aside.  Too many times if you are like me, dad, you rule with your authority or your strength and not with the love of Christ.

Let’s agree to say yes to love today.

After all the work we do and the hours we put in serving our family, aren’t we doing all of this because we love them?! You may have to explain this to your children. When you change your baby’s diaper, tell them you love them. When you send your child off to school, remind him you love them. All too soon they are up and out of your home before you know it and you don’t get to say these words enough.

Beyond telling your children that you love them, your body language and actions reveal your heart. When people see a dichotomy between your words and your actions they will believe your actions over your words.  Body language is revealing.

Purpose to demonstrate today –  with your time, money and actions that you love your children.

~Tim

Spiritual Gifts

I Corinthians 12

“Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits.  All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful…”(1 Cor.12:7-8).

Paul continues this passage by listing the attributes God freely gives his people as gifts.  I don’t necessarily believe Paul is giving an exhaustive list here – you can find other places in scripture where other gifts are listed.

It is helpful to understand your child’s gifting(s). 

As Paul tells us in his letter “each person is given something to do that shows who God is”.  Wow – my child , as well as your child, and also every other child has gifts that God has given him/her. Your child’s spiritual giftings may be clear to you. But, sometimes God’s gifting for our children is like a present wrapped inside of a box that we have the opportunity to open.

As fathers and mothers it is our responsibility to assist our children in discovering, unwrapping, opening and utilizing their gifts. 

How do we do this?  While there are spiritual gift profiles you can take to assist in discovering one’s spiritual gift, observing your child is probably more effective. As you watch your children serve, play, work and so forth try to think about the types of gifts and see what manifests in your child. For instance, if my boys are playing together and something breaks then the one with the servant gifting will start cleaning up the mess. The prophetically gifted child may tell the person what they could’ve done different to prevent the mess.  The teacher oriented child may try to explain how the mess happened.  You get the picture – by observing your child over time you can probably get a pretty good idea what “gifts” they possess.  Also, when you give your children responsibility, watch and see how they carry out the responsibility given.  Discipleship involves taking responsibility for something or someone.  Taking responsibility for the family pet is a way of discipling your children. As you observe your child taking responsibility you can learn how they are gifted.

Debi and I talk about our different children and how they are uniquely gifted by God in certain areas. A gifting is supernatural. Keep in mind that spiritual gifts are different from talents. Just because your son or daughter may be really smart doesn’t mean he/she has the spiritual gift of administration.

I meet adults all the time that don’t have a clue what their spiritual gifts are. Talk about the spiritual gifts to your children and help them to understand them. If you need a tool like a spiritual gifts profile, do some research and utilize the vast amount of resources. Do the hard work of unwrapping the spiritual gifts of your children. When your children leave your home, make sure they understand spiritual gifts and what their gifts are.  Remember, having spiritual gifts is not about us – it is about “showing who God is”. 

Your children will serve the Lord with joy as they know, understand, and walk in their spiritual gifts.

~Tim