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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

Godly Seeds

Planting seeds [122/366]

I know it’s tough reading a list of names for any type of devotion and most of the time we would skip right over this chapter.  Nevertheless, there are several thoughts that come to mind when we read a list of genealogy.  First of all, today’s reading is in the context of the greater story and narrative of the Bible.  Each name (even the ones you can’t pronounce) represents a person who has a story to tell.  The Bible doesn’t go into detail about each life, but behind the name is a journey, a tale of someone’s encounter with God.  Did they accept God’s love or reject the God who created them?  Your child or children all have stories to tell with their life.  Part of our jobs as dads is to draw the life of God out of our children so they will have an impactful story to tell others.

Another thought that comes to mind is that each chapter in the bible that has a list of family trees also connects to another chapter in Matthew chapter 1.  We could write another chapter connecting Jesus’ family tree in chapter one of Matthew to your family tree.  Then if we were real creative, we could write a chapter that would connect Jesus’ family tree to your children’s children and even to your great-grandchildren.  Thinking big picture causes dads to gain an eternal perspective and live not just for the moment.  If we really lived with the thought that, “My parenting and my life impact many generations to come,” we would train our children differently, right?  I know life gets very daily around your house, as it does mine, which necessitates the need for us to have a broader perspective.  Lift up your eyes to the tremendous potential we can have on future generations.  Maybe you come from a broken home or your father was an alcoholic, but by the power of Jesus Christ, your family tree doesn’t have to continue this way.  God is well able to change you and future generations.  The choices you make now have consequences.  As the patriarch of the family, often the way you lead sets the tone of future generations.  Think about 100 years from today, what will your family tree look like?  Yes, your children will make their own choices whether to follow Jesus or not.  Nevertheless, your servant leadership gives your children the framework to build on.  You don’t have the luxury to live your life just getting by, future generations depend on your faithfulness.

When you read the chapters in the bible listing names, remember you are connecting the dots.  We look back at where we’ve come from, but we also look to the future and the potential of godly seeds.  Most generations are terminal in their thinking – they are only considering their happiness and don’t consider that their choices have profound impact on the upcoming generations.  If you could talk to some of the people in the list of genealogy, I bet they would tell you to rethink your life in perspective of the future.  How you live your life will impact future generations.  Is Christ exalted through your life?  Will your children be able to testify that their father was faithful and they can gratefully build on the foundation you have set in place?

~Tim

Be Fruitful and Multiply

Cradled

God repeated the original command to Noah that he gave to the first family, Adam and Eve.  God told Noah to “be fruitful and multiply.”  While God fully knew the evil that would exist on the earth, he told Noah to go ahead and fill the earth.  Also, God knew the earth would be populated by his command, but he didn’t seem to be too concerned about global overpopulation.  God was demonstrating his ability to manage the earth and expecting his created beings to follow his command and multiply.  Part of God’s plan to replenish the earth was by moms and dads having children.  Proponents of overpopulation tell us to “be responsible” and “don’t have too many children, the earth is currently well populated.”  Most people respond to God’s command and choose to limit their family to 1-2 children. The rationale here is that times have changed and the earth is not like it was in the beginning of time.  We reason that God doesn’t still command us to be fruitful and have a bunch of children.

I ask you, dad, to reconsider God’s original command to be fruitful.  We are told in scripture that children are a blessing from God.  Why do we work so hard at limiting the number of blessings God wants us to have?  Why do we even consider “how many” children we will have?  Why not just trust God?  Radical, I know, but only radical because society has drilled into our minds that we should be “responsible” and only have a few kids.  Could God’s original mandate is applicable for us today?  If so, it doesn’t matter what our culture says is right.  Vasectomies, condoms, and all sorts of preventative measures are embraced by Christians, just like the rest of the world.  Why is this?  Some may reason that we need to only have a few children because we should be busy making disciples.  I submit to you there is no greater way to make disciples than to raise children who love the Lord and courageously obey Him.

Others would say there is no way they could afford more than a couple of kids.  Since when is our necessity to obey the Lord based on affordability?  I realize some folks are unable to have any children and choose to adopt or give themselves in other ways to build the kingdom.  What I am simply asking is that you reconsider your thoughts and beliefs on “how many” children you plan to have.  Maybe you’re older and done with having babies- would you reconsider pursuing God about having kids rather than just making your own decision?  I know I am asking you to do something very courageous and even outlandish.  If you consider opening your heart to receiving children, God is well able to supply for your children’s needs.  I know too many fathers who early on had a vasectomy and regretted it because later they desired to have more children.  We don’t know what the future holds in terms of our family.  Children are more than a decision; they are lives we have the opportunity to invest in and pour our lives into.

I encourage you to reconsider your conclusion that you are done with having kids and ask God to change your heart to receive children.  I know some of you think, “If I take my hands off the birth control issue, we could have 15 children,” and sure that’s always a possibility, but it’s very rare.  If God is in control of the womb (the bible gives many examples of God opening and closing the womb) why not let Him decide how many children you will have?

~Tim

Faith, Not Fear

Earth and North America from Space - digitally restored

God kept his promise.  Do your children understand that God can be trusted?  God is not a man that he should lie.  God protected those in the ark and fulfilled his promise to Noah.  One question your child will ask and wonder is, can God be trusted?  If they don’t ask this question, they will surely think about it and be tested in this area.

The mainstream media as well as evolutionist proponents predict the world’s resources are on a downhill slide towards extinction.  How can our children trust a God who put us on the earth yet didn’t have the forethought to deal with issues like global warming?  Your children will hear that the earth’s resources are dwindling and that due to pollution and such, we are literally killing ourselves.  If this is true, your kids will never trust God.  But, I have good news!  God told Noah, “for as long as Earth lasts, planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never stop” (Gen. 8:22).  This is a great promise and flies in the face of those who would have us believe God created a world that will implode.  I am not saying we don’t have a responsibility to take care of our environment.  As Christians we should train our children to be the best environmentalists on the earth, but our desire to steward the earth should be driven by faith, not fear.  Until Jesus returns, the day and night cycle we’ve come to take for granted every 24 hours is sustainable because of God’s promise in our passage today.  You will have to go overboard to train your child (ren) not to react out of fear in assuming his/her role as a steward of the earth.

My youngest daughter got on a recycling kick recently.  (I found her one day digging through our trash taking things out that should have gone in the recycle bin and rebuking us all along.)  As I inquired about her desire to recycle everything, I was pleased to know she was not reacting to the environmental fear that pervades the media.  She really wanted to recycle and help others recycle as a duty of caring for the earth God so richly blessed us with.  We had several conversations about the subject and I was convinced she had a legitimate conviction and we all honored this (not without some ribbing from her brothers first, of course).  Thanks to her efforts, we are probably the only family on the street that has almost as much recycling out by the curb as regular trash.

Start teaching your kids when they are young to take proper care of the earth and our environment, but make sure they are doing this out of the right motivation.  Fear is never a good long-term motivator.  Faith is the currency of the Christian and our children should be faithful to tend the “garden” God has put us in.  Our children should be some of the ones who come up with inventions and ideas that enhance the environment.  I urge you to be careful when digesting the main stream media hype about the environment though.  Challenge the common thinking that the earth is experiencing global warming.  We were told we shouldn’t have a large family by some environmental extremist because the earth is already overpopulated.  What a joke!  In many societies, families are not even keeping up with the birthrate in order to replenish the population. Stay informed and listen to experts that have a biblical worldview when it comes to population issues.  Provoke your children to think biblically and train them up with a passion to care for the world they live in.

~Tim

Staying the Course

Nissan R92CP

“Noah did everything God commanded him,” (Genesis 7:5).  As we’ve already noted and will continue to mention, teaching your kids simple obedience is very important.  Here Noah was asked to complete a very unbelievable task and to wait for rain, although he had no idea what rain was at that point.  I want to believe Noah had parents who had taught him the value of obedience, and then when he encountered God, he simply obeyed.  We prepare our kids for radical obedience to God when we start training them at a very young age to obey.  Remember, we aren’t too concerned with teaching a toddler “why” they should obey, just the fact that obedience is critical to their well-being.  In other words, I don’t sit down and tell my toddler how important it is to stay out of the street.  My little guy just knows he is supposed to stay out of the street and if he doesn’t, he will receive consequences.  My consistent parenting in this area will train my child to obey even if he doesn’t understand.  As he grows and matures, we will “teach” him the reason “why” he must obey.  Nevertheless, if I tell him to do something, I don’t want him to question me as a toddler or whine about having to obey, I just want him to do what he is told.  But, here is the good news – I’m not training him to obey just for his benefit or mine, I am ultimately training him to obey so he can obey the voice of God.  Noah was chosen by God for a very difficult assignment, but his response is perfect; he just did everything God commanded him.  What if your son or daughter was asked by God to carry out a very challenging command?  Do they have the character and have they been taught the importance of simply obeying?

When we teach our kids first time obedience, we are cooperating with God.  In essence, we are preparing our children to cooperate with God.  Think about that- your child cooperating with the creator of the universe!  God desires to partner with his created beings (you and I and our children) to accomplish his purposes on the earth.  It brings God glory when we work with him to see his desires fulfilled.  Being made of flesh and bone, we have an opportunity to link arms with God to see his kingdom come and his will done.  When we teach our kids to obey, they are ready to tackle the most difficult assignment God calls them to because they have learned the nature of obedience at home.  I know you get weary of training and teaching your kids to obey.  I’ve said the same thing you’ve probably said,“how many times do I have to tell you?…”  Don’t grow weary in well-doing, though.  Stay the course; be consistent and work hard with your child so they learn to obey immediately.  Remember partial obedience is disobedience!

As parents, we have the hardest job in the world of teaching our kids to obey, but our reward for being diligent brings great return.  The return we get comes in the form of our children saying “yes” to God and cooperating with his purposes and commands in their lives.  I am so overjoyed when my children obey God and grieved when they decide to do their own thing.  I want to do my part. I want them to be ready when God calls on them.  I don’t want God to think that he can’t call on my son or daughter because they have never learned to obey from their parents.  Stay the course dad; don’t grow weary- train, train, train!

~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