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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

Forgive

Comfort

Jacob had to be very nervous about his reunion with Esau.  When he left home Esau was angry enough to kill him. Would this still be the case or would Esau’s anger have subsided?  Jacob prepared gifts for Esau and had all the protocol in place for the reunion.   Jacob was thrilled to find out that Esau had a change of heart and was no longer angry at him.

Holding a grudge never benefits anyone.  If you are bitter towards someone it only hurts you.  Forgiveness is the better way.  Dad, you will lead your children into the abundant life if you train them to forgive.  When your little guys are hurt by an older sibling or friend and they come to you for comfort, teach them to verbalize their forgiveness.  If possible, help them to look the person that offended them in the eyes and say “I forgive you.”  If you have your children practice verbalizing their forgiveness over and over again, they will gain an understanding of how important not holding a grudge is.  You may ask, “What if they don’t feel like forgiving?”  Forgiveness is a choice.  It’s true, you can say you forgive someone and be bitter and hold a grudge.  Nevertheless, if your children grow up in an atmosphere where they are trained to forgive, hopefully forgiveness will become a lifestyle for them.

I talk to adults regularly who were hurt or wounded as a child and have held bitterness in their heart ever since the event.  It’s important as fathers that we watch our children for any signs that they may be carrying bitterness.  We can’t always protect our children from hurt.  If your child has been traumatized or mistreated, watch especially close that they don’t become bitter.  The most effective cure for bitterness is forgiveness.  Ask your children regularly about their relationships, especially your older children.  If a friend or sibling has inflicted pain on them, help them walk through the steps of forgiveness.  Forgiving someone is an act of your will.  Just because one may not feel like forgiving doesn’t make it right to withhold forgiveness, right?

Another area our children may tend to get bitter in is when we make them a promise and don’t fulfill that promise.  One way to remedy this is by asking your children regularly, “Are there any promises I’ve made to you that I have not kept?”  If they say yes, be quick to ask them to forgive you.  Remember, your example of asking forgiveness and forgiving others will make a big impression on your children.  Also, pay attention to your child’s attitude when they are disappointed.  Disappointment often causes people to become bitter.  Unmet expectations can also lead to resentment and bitterness.  If your child is carrying bitterness, usually this will reflect in their attitude and often you can look in their eyes and see that they are upset.  Be diligent to work with your child to make sure their countenance is clear and they are not holding unforgiveness.

Our reading today could have easily ended up in a war between two brothers.  Although the text doesn’t say, Esau chose to forgive and release Jacob, otherwise he could not have received him with such gratitude and happiness.  Teach your kids that forgiveness is a way of life!

~Tim

Brokenness

Broken Heart

In our passage today, Jacob is still manipulating, but this time he does it with gifts. He thinks if he gives his brother enough gifts then Esau will forgive him and not be angry any longer.  He sent the gifts on ahead with servants to soften Esau’s heart.  Nevertheless, Jacob remained fearful for his very life.  What would Esau say, what would he do?  When Jacob left many years before, his brother was so angry he could kill him. Would this still be the case?

Since Jacob left his brother, God had been working on his heart and Jacob had become a broken man.  Now, right before Jacob is to meet up with Esau, an angel wrestles with him.  Jacob was used to getting his way and while the angel told Jacob to let him go, Jacob refused unless the angel would bless him.  The angel did bless him, but not before knocking his hip out of joint thus causing Jacob (now known as Israel) to walk with a limp.

Brokenness is a wonderful and painful state, but the perfect place for fathers.  God pursued Jacob on several occasions, just as God has pursued you.  Like you, Jacob didn’t always have God’s interest in mind.  Nevertheless, God knew Jacob needed a revelation of his own depravity and ultimate dependency on Father God.  While Jacob may have been known as the deceiver, in our reading today, he has an encounter with God and is given a new name and a limp.  No father can truly be an effective dad unless he has had a name change and is broken.  Before I came to Christ I was a sinner with the potential of being a very bitter person.  Once I came to know the Lord I was renamed and God calls me a saint.  Sure I sin just like you, but now my identity as a child of God is a saint.  In addition to a new identity I walk with a limp because, like Jacob I have walked through times of brokenness.  We will never reach our potential as a father unless we are broken.  What are we broken from?  Pride, great reputation, being liked by everyone, looking nice, owning a nice home, driving a nice car etc., are all areas where God desires to break us.  So am I saying we shouldn’t desire a nice car or want to be liked by everyone?  No, but when these issues come before our devotion and love of God, we need to be broken.

I work with pastors and one of the most challenging areas of pastoring is measuring success.  Most pastors measure success by the size of the church they lead.  In our modern-day world of  “mega churches” many pastors think they are failures because they lead a small church.  Ideally, pastors should measure their success by the effectiveness of the church to make disciples.  When pastors realize it’s not size but discipleship that matters, it’s usually due to being broken.  When a pastor is broken, he regains a deep abiding love for God and stops comparing himself with the pastor down the road.

Dad, realize your number one priority is to know God.  To know God is to enjoy him and desire to lay everything else down that stands in the way of loving God.  Jacob walked with a limp and we should as well.  The limp indicates that we are broken.  Pride causes us to resist God and his love for us.  Don’t compare yourself with other dads, seek the Lord and be broken to his purposes.  When you walk in brokenness you will be the father your children need.

~Tim

Your Married Children

Untitled

Jacob, the manipulator, was weary of being manipulated.  God in his mercy was still speaking to Jacob and gave him direction to leave Laban and head back home to the land of his father.  Over and over the theme throughout the scripture becomes clear, God loves us despite our own weaknesses and sin.  God could’ve spoken to Jacob and said, “Are you tired of being manipulated?  Well just deal with it because that is how you dealt with your brother.”  Mercy triumphed justice and aren’t you glad?  Because of Jesus’ death that same mercy is extended to you and I!  Today’s reading mostly reminds me that God loves me and forgives me just as he did Jacob.

Something else I learned in this passage today is relating to in-laws.  As of this writing, I have one married son and a daughter just a few days from being wed.  These days I am asking a lot of questions about how I can relate to my married children and my daughter-in-law and son-in-law.  I am grateful I don’t have a tumultuous relationship with them like Jacob had with Laban.  When my son and daughter lived in my home we were best friends, but as soon as they married they gained a new best friend, and rightly so.  While I had a strong influence over the life choices of my children when they were single and lived in my home, they forge their convictions these days with their new best friend.  On special occasions like holidays and birthdays, my married children make choices together where and how they will spend their time.  It’s important for the newlyweds to establish their own family traditions.  In other words, there are a lot of changes and at times it is challenging to know how to relate to your married child.

In biblical days, the bride and groom often lived with their families, much like Jacob and his wives lived with Laban.  As of this writing, my son and his beautiful wife live close by, but my daughter is moving to New York.  It’s a long way from Texas where we make our home.  At this point, I have more questions than answers when it comes to relating to my married children.  What I do know is that I am to be a servant to the young couples and help them to reach their destiny in Christ just as I did when they were in my home.  Praying for them, serving them, and helping them to walk with Christ and see his purposes fulfilled in them is a privilege I will always treasure.  I never grow weary of seeing them step deeper into their destiny.

Having married children is wonderful, but it is a season of life I don’t know that I was prepared to step into.  When my son left home it was time, he knew it and we knew it and there was tremendous grace.  As my daughter prepares to leave home, I must confess the same grace seems to be harder to realize.  When I think about her leaving I have this vision of my little blonde haired girl playing with her dolls and sitting on my lap giggling.  My feelings of gratitude that God brought her a godly young man change to feelings of caution as she leaves our home to journey to her new home.

If you have married children or soon to be married children, may the Lord bless you and give you wisdom to relate to your married children in a God honoring way!

~Tim

Family Size

Stefanie Z Family -5

I don’t admit to understanding why God allowed multiple wives.  Having multiple wives seemed to bring a lot of confusion and sin.  It appears while God didn’t originally intend for men to have multiple wives, he did allow it.  When God created man and woman he brought together Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve or June and Betty.  Nevertheless, the sin of jealousy, lust, and so forth brought about situations where one man (Jacob), not only had two wives, but slept with multiple servants in order to produce babies.  Many men chose multiple wives in order to have at least one baby or to increase their tribe.   There is an interesting point in the first few verses of our reading where Rachel told Jacob, “give me sons or I’ll die!”  Jacob was angry with Rachel and responded, “Am I God?  Am I the one who refused you babies?” (verse 1-2).  It is God who ultimately opens and closes the womb.  In the Old Testament, children were viewed as blessings and the prevailing attitude seemed to be to try to have as many “blessings” as possible, using whatever means it took.

I know we have a hard time trusting God in the area of children, especially in how many to have.  It seems that Christians have accepted the normal “worldview” that having 2.5 children is not only expected by parents, but wise.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think everyone who trusts God with the size of their family will have a bunch of kids.  I have friends who are trusting God with their family and have no kids.  I have other friends who chose to have a couple of kids and then had surgery to prevent anymore children.  Some of these friends had reversal surgery and opened their heart for more kids, but were unable to get pregnant.  Just because a family has lots of kids doesn’t mean it is a godly family.  Size is not the issue.  What I am asking you today is to reconsider how you view the modern-day process of choosing your family size.  I want to challenge you to reconsider what God’s word says about children.  You’ll read verses like “children are a heritage from the Lord…” and “…blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them.” (Psalms 127).

We usually make a decision about how many kids we will have based on convenience.  Did you ever consider God may want you to release your family size to him so he can creatively decide how many kids you should have?  Does this thought terrify some of you young fathers?  I know trusting God is a risky business, but to be men of faith we have to take risks.  Imagine if God wanted to give you three children and the third child had an especially unusual call, but you decided for convenience sake to stop at two children.  I am asking you to consider that if children are a blessing from the Lord, maybe God knows best how many blessings you should have.  When we made this decision we had three children and never knew we would end up having eleven children.  The question I ponder at times is what life would be like if even one of the eleven didn’t make it into this world because we chose to stop the hand of God.  “Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

~Tim

The Principle of Sowing and Reaping

Reaper's Path

Galatians 6:7 says, “…whatever one sows, that he will also reap.”  Today in our reading, Jacob is definitely getting a taste of his own medicine.  Jacob the deceiver, is deceived by his father-in-law.  It’s hard to imagine how the switch took place; either Jacob was very drunk on his wedding night or the room was very dark and Leah didn’t speak, or a combination of all of these.  Whatever happened, Jacob slept with Leah as Laban’s deceiving plan unfolded.  Fortunately, Jacob did get to marry Rachel, but only after marrying Leah first.

The principle of sowing and reaping is a major kingdom principle we should teach our children.  How has this principle played out in your life?  One of the ways our children learn is to hear stories from us.  It’s important that we recount to our children our failures as well as blessings in the area of sowing and reaping.  Think of some stories that you can recount when you sowed blessings and reaped blessings.

I remember a time when God really blessed our family.  We try to teach our kids good manners.  Once, on a vacation we stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch.  We had been talking to our kids about their manners and enjoying our meals together without strife and being a good witness through our actions.  On this occasion, Debi and I were a bit frustrated and thought the kids were a little loud and disorderly during the meal.  When it came time to pay for our meal, our waitress said the manager had paid our meal.  While we were surprised and very grateful, we asked why.  She told us the manager paid our bill because he had never witnessed such a large family be so orderly during a meal.  Of course Debi and I were so thankful and it reminded us of the principle of “you reap what you sow.”

I wish the principle of sowing and reaping only applied in the positive area, but we know it applies negatively as well.  There are times I hear my children make fun of others.  They don’t mean to be mean-spirited, but they just laugh about the way someone talks or looks.  When I realized they were doing this it really grieved me.  Most of the time we make fun of others only because we have insecurity issues with ourselves.  It helps us to look good if we put others down.  I was considering how to deal with this issue when I realized they were only acting out what they witnessed me doing from time to time.  I was reaping what I had sown, making fun of others, only the reaping was taking place in my children’s lives- how sad.

You’ve probably read already or will read in this devotional, that what may be present in our life (like making fun of others) in a minimal way is often maximized in our children.  In other words, “if there is a mist in the pulpit there is a fog in the pew.”  Our children often carry out in excess what we do in brevity.  This is sowing and reaping in a deeper aspect.  I may have been making fun of others only when it was funny or laughing with someone instead of at someone, but my children could not tell the difference and my sin was exacerbated in them.  Sowing and reaping is a powerful benefit in parenting when our children reap positive benefits from the things we’ve sown.  But, sowing and reaping can be detrimental to the growth and spiritual maturity of our children when they reap the negative aspects of our “sin sowing.”

~Tim

A Different Discipline

sad at the street fair

Most of us would expect our reading today to reveal that Jacob was severely punished by God for his actions in chapter twenty-seven.  However, this is not the case.  God met Jacob and revealed his plans and provisions for him.  God’s ways are truly not our ways.  Why would God allow Jacob to deceive his father and then reward him?   We must remember Jacob was following his mother’s direction when he deceived his father.  Yes, I assume he could’ve just walked away and refused to obey his mom.  Nevertheless, he was a part of the deception and deserved God’s wrath.  We obviously don’t know what happened between the chapters of scripture, but history would tell us that God often acts in the direct opposite manner than we do.  The situations that we would punish, God gives a dream, and when we are ready for our hand to be slapped, God sends angels to minister to us.  Instead of a nightmare we have a visitation.  My prayer to God is that he will help us as fathers to know him and know his ways so that we can demonstrate his love and character to our kids.

Let’s apply this valuable lesson of “God’s ways are not our ways” to fathering.  I heard a story one day of a dad whose son had sinned and needed to be disciplined.  As the boy and the dad headed to the “woodshed” the son was nervous and the father was deep in thought.  Once they sat down and started talking, the boy feared the rod of correction but sensed something different was going on.  The father began to tell the story of the cross to his son and how Jesus took our sins and iniquities upon him so that we would not have to be punished.  At that point the father took the rod he usually used to spank the son and slapped it across his bare leg.  He hit his leg hard over and over again.  When he stopped the boy was looking with horror at his dad.  He thought his dad had gone crazy but was too scared to say it out loud.  The dad took a deep breath and was visibly hurt from the pain.  He then told his son he used the rod on himself to demonstrate what Jesus had done for him.  “Son in a very small way I am showing you how Jesus took my sin and your sin and the sin of the world upon himself at the cross.  Since Jesus was punished for our sin, we are forgiven and able to walk in love towards others.  Son, do you realize what I’ve done?” he said.  The boy kept staring at his dad in disbelief, but he got the picture and realized Jesus paid the price for his sin.  The daddy chose not to spank the boy this time and allowed the boy to stay and meditate on what he had said.  This is an example of a dad who was sensitive to the Holy Spirit and chose on an occasion to demonstrate God’s love to his son.  I wouldn’t recommend disciplining your son like this every time, but as you are sensitive to the Spirit of the Lord, he may indeed show you creative ways to demonstrate love.  Jacob seemed surprised and amazed that God would meet him, and the meeting set the course for his destiny.

~Tim

Spoken Blessings

Tender moment

Rebekah is one manipulative woman isn’t she?  Not only did she figure out a way to get her favorite son the blessing from his father, but she got mad and sent Jacob away when she learned of Esau’s anger.  Do you find it interesting how powerful the spoken blessing was in those days?  Esau begged his dad to give him a blessing and Isaac’s response basically was, “I can’t, I’ve already given the blessing away.”  To us it just seems like words that could easily be reversed, taken back, an apology given, and then redirected towards the right person.  There is something much more significant about the verbal blessing in those days than what we understand.  The words that Isaac used were spent and a refund could not be given.  Maybe in our modern-day world where words often don’t carry significance in the eyes of some, we should reconsider the power of the blessing.  You’ve probably heard the statistics that say very few Jewish men end up in prison.  One contributing factor is that they are formally blessed by their father.  The blessing is a powerful tool in the development of our children.

How do you bless your children?  We bless our children in many ways, by providing for them, putting food on the table, providing a roof over their heads and clothing for them to wear.  We bless them by teaching them about God and training them to have godly character.  Our children are blessed when we correct them and train them to be obedient.  Actually, there are countless identifiable ways we bless our children, but nothing probably bears more fruit than them hearing a verbal blessing from our mouth.  I try to bless my children each night when I put my little ones to bed or tell the older kids goodnight.  Honestly, I don’t do this as well as I would like.  If we knew the power the verbal blessing had on our children, I think we would all be more diligent to bless them.

Words of affirmation in a world of negativity do so much to create hope and joy in our children.  Our blessing can verbalize to our children the success they can have in Christ.  The blessings we speak is a way of demonstrating to our children how much we love them.  Of course we need to tell our kids we love them (another way of blessing them) but specifically speaking words of blessings goes way deeper and has a much greater effect than we can imagine.  There are books written on the importance of the verbal blessing.  Maybe you can start the process of blessing your children with a written letter.  Set aside some time where you can consider the benefits of a written blessing.  Ask the Lord to give you creative ways to write a blessing to your son or daughter.  Maybe you can read the letter of blessing to them and then give it to them as a memento.  How many children have a written blessing from their dad?  Not many!

~Tim