Father, Help Us Raise Our Children

Here is a beautiful song that is in our new hymnals at our congregation. I wanted to share the lyrics with you today for your meditation and prayer.

Father, Help Us Raise Our Children

Little children, from above, Sent to us with joy and love,

Bring a hope so clear and bright; Father help us raise them right.

O how tender is the sight; Little ones in bed at night,

Parents praying at their feet, “Father keep them pure and sweet.”

Little children soon are grown; Can they face the world alone?

As they strive and struggle through, Father, let them turn to You.

When our time to go draws near, We may leave our children here;

To the new land, far away, Father bring them home some day.

Hymn and Tune by C.A. Roberts, Copyright 1995 David and Nelline Watts

Saying Goodbye to Gramma

This is a letter a good friend, Abe, wrote to his mother about the passing of his Gramma Bettye. She passed from this life over the weekend, and Abe’s thoughts are very helpful for us all. With permission I am sharing this letter with you.

I typed this this morning before I went to work. Wasn’t sure if I would ever share it. But maybe knowing Gramma (really GOD through Gramma) did one more great thing in my life will be comforting.

Saying goodbye to Gramma was hard as I left the nursing home Sunday afternoon. For some reason I thought it would be much easier since her eternity was settled, and she had already lost so much in this life in the last couple of years or so (None of those losses matter now:-)

But I am so glad that I got to whisper in her ear: “I love you. I am glad GOD gave me you. You have done your job. You gave us your faith. You have run the race. Now go rest. It’s okay to go. Go get the prize! Bye Gramma. See you soon.”

Goodbye is hard.

It feels like such a long goodbye. But it really won’t be too long!

There was such value in sitting by her bedside (Ecc 7:2). That value was not in comforting HER (which I believe was my original intent). Instead, in one final 7 day period she gave back once again and refocused my life on things not of this world. What a remarkable woman. What an Amazing GOD.

For 7 days, in her toughness while she lay in a room lacking all possessions, to me she demonstrated how fleeting even a 91 year life is (James 4:14). We entered this world with nothing and we will exit with nothing (I Timothy 6:7). And that truth was there for my eyes to see.

In our last moments all that matters is our rock solid faith (Matt 7:24-25) in a Loving, merciful GOD who causes all things to work together for good…for HIS purposes (Romans 8:28)…..Who desires us to be with HIM, worshipping in HIS presence for eternity (Rev 5:9-14). WHAT A GREAT TIME THAT WILL BE!

Indeed, there is great value in experiencing death while on this earth. I thank GOD for Gramma and this week of watching her enter into HIS rest. She finally gets to rest. She made it!

I love you Mom. Your….what was it….25 years of service to her were amazing. What an awesome example you and dad have been (Philippians 2:3-7, 2:17, Romans 12:1)

Abe

 

The Generation of the Upright

This was shared with me by one of our elders at our congregation. His great-granddaughter was recently baptized into Jesus Christ. Our elder’s son wrote this email (I took out the personal names).

At 10 o’clock last night as I was about to go to bed, we get a call from our daughter saying that their oldest child wants to obey the gospel.  She is young in our estimation almost 10, but when I consider her experiences in life she is quite mature. 

When I think about what actually brought about this decision to be baptized into Christ, it is amazing. 

My father, about a 100 years ago (exaggeration!) was searching for the truth and after many failed attempts found it.

He then obeyed his Lord as well, those many years ago.  That was the beginning of my granddaughter’s ultimate decision. 

My dad, brought up his children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” as instructed by God.  He did this not only by bringing us to services when the doors were opened, but also and more importantly by living each day as God would have us too.  His children (myself) noticed that every day.  That constant reminder to do those things that pleased God, rubbed off on me.  It brought me to adulthood and has carried on to this day. 

This behavior was also learned by our children as they grew up in our household.  They saw the importance of putting God first in their lives as we put him first in our lives as I learned from my father.  Our daughter’s behavior influenced her boyfriend to obey the gospel as well.

Our daughter then married and had children.  Those children have witnessed their parents’ behavior putting God’s word first in their life.   All of this started with God, to my father, to me, to my daughter, to her husband, and then to their daughter.

Never underestimate the impact of your actions, good or bad.

 Thank you dad for starting this all.  I love you!

Here is a passage for your meditation today, men, about God blessing the family of the righteous person.

Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
(Psalms 112:1-2)

Holy Ground – Your Kids

In Monday’s article, we looked at the event in Joshua’s life when he was asked to remove his sandals from his feet because he stood on holy ground. Here are three observations we made Monday:

  1. God is holy.
  2. Wherever God’s presence dwells is to be regarded as holy.
  3. Changes must be made to recognize and honor the holiness of God.

Today we are going to take those concepts and apply it to how we view our kids and parenting. Please read and meditate today upon Psalm 127 and 128.

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
(Psalms 127:1-5)

A Song of Ascents. Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!
(Psalms 128:1-6)

There are three ways our children are described here:

  1. A heritage (inheritance) and a reward. The Psalmist leads our minds to see that children are not an inconvenience or a curse; they are not in the way of what we want to accomplish. They are a blessing and a divine gift and we should always cherish them in our minds that way.
  2. Arrows in the quiver of a warrior. God seeks “godly offspring” (Malachi 2:15). Righteous children are going to be used in God’s service to confront the Devil and the darkness that is in this world.
  3. Olive shoots around your table. The fruit or result of walking with the Lord and fearing Him along with your wife is that the children grow and are nourished on that vine.

Understanding these three things helps us to see clearly our mission as parents. We take these cherished gifts, protect their innocence and purity with all the vigilance we can muster, and show them every day the way of Jesus. Our focus is not upon having them hit a home-run or make CEO, but to get to heaven. The blessing and reward that comes to parents when all those “olive shoots” are around the table, is just beyond comprehension. Seeing those faces of God’s children growing into becoming God’s servants has to be one of the greatest blessings in life.

The GOD of the Towel–Day 3

The verses under consideration this week, John 13:1-17, concern a physical demonstration of the humble service of Jesus and a practical lesson for all of us as men. Today we are thinking about our kids…and they might be our own children/grandchildren, or nieces/nephews, or children at church, or many other circumstances we are in a position of influence in their lives.

The bottom line for today is does our “demonstrated behavior over time” match what we are called to be as humble servants in Christ? Our words matter for sure, however, if young eyes are watching and our actions are not consistent with our words or change over time, doesn’t that have a profound effect? The kids in our lives know who we are in terms of the position we hold in their lives. For the most part, kids who are taught properly know their position in relation to those older than them and the respect and attention they ought to provide. They have expectations of us. They want to see what right looks like. They are going to assume what you are doing is what right looks like. So we ought to be careful to ensure we are not only talking about being humble servants in Christ Jesus but acting that way too. Again, they are watching!

Jesus taught extensively using the spoken word. What Jesus also did was amplify and solidify His lessons in His actions. We see that in this passage. In verses 4-5, Jesus gets up to serve and in doing so to teach. This action was not inconsistent with His teaching and was not inconsistent with the other actions He took in His ministry. It is a beautiful scene and is a continuance of what He had already done in Heaven…it is what Peter wasn’t yet going to understand…but when Peter had matured and grown up spiritually, the lesson would be profound. Just as Jesus rose up, laid aside His physical clothes, took a towel, girded Himself and went forth to cleanse their feet…He had rose from His kingly throne in Heaven, laid aside His royal garment, took on the towel of humanity, and ultimately poured out His precious blood making it possible for us to be cleansed! Jesus consistently demonstrated humble service and though not everyone understood this, they were not going to be able to find fault in it and/or any version of His words/actions that didn’t match or wasn’t consistent.

Also notice Peter’s words. “Lord, are You…”. Peter knew who Jesus was. “…washing my feet?”. Peter knew who he was…and as we know from the passage didn’t think it appropriate that Jesus be doing what He was about to do. Peter’s pride dictates the terms…but Jesus’ humble attitude and mission of service remained the same and He wasn’t going to alter that because of misplaced ego or pride. Jesus works for us…He serves us because He loves us and chooses us. Christ is saying to Peter and to each of us “Me for you”.

So why these two points?

1.  We have to be humble, we have to serve, and we have to be consistent for our kids. We have to love our wives in a way God has called us to so our boys will love/honor their mom and might one day love their wives that way…or so that our girls will know what a Godly husband looks like and seek out her own man who loves God before he loves her. These are two of many scenarios that apply. And we can be honest with ourselves and easily see if something is amiss in our behavior. If I see one of my boys quickly losing their temper or yelling at their siblings…I might want to consider if they learned that from me? Am I setting a bad example with how I control my temper or am I modeling patience and meekness? You get the picture. Think about it. How are you doing?

2.  Our children are little people and they develop their own personalities and their ego, hard-headedness, know-it-all, selfishness, etc. can keep them from seeing the service or leadership you are providing in humility and love…just like Peter didn’t quite understand what Jesus was doing. Does that mean we get mad and stop? No. We can be angry and disappointed…for sure…but we should strive to be righteous in that and remember that we are giving a little bit of ourselves…for them…because we love them and we want them to be safe…to be ok…to learn…to develop into what God calls them to be. And I have been told…when they get older and more mature…they will come to understand what we are doing just as Peter came to understand what Jesus was doing and how that shaped his life and ultimately the lives of others…for the sake of the Gospel.

So think about this. Think about your “demonstrated behavior over time”. Think about what might derail you from providing the kids in your life the modeled humble service they so very much need. Pray about it. Talk to brothers be vulnerable. We are in this together and we don’t always get it right…but we are called all the same to humble ourselves and serve…we could make the case our children need it the most…and we have an awesome example of all of this in Jesus.

Fathers Teach not Provoke

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

This verse comes on the heels of Paul’s teaching to children to obey their parents in everything. The standard is clearly set for children in our homes just as the standard is clearly set for each of in the family of God…obey! Guess what…just like us…our children don’t always get it right and disobey and sin. The result…grief. With this in mind, what is Paul teaching us fathers?

Notice first that “fathers” are directed in this command. Paul knows how to say parents because he did so in verse 1. Why are fathers singled out? Ephesians 5:23 tells us that husbands are declared by God to be the head of the family and therefore responsible and accountable for what happens in the family. Fathers are to have an active role in the family, particularly in raising the children. Additionally, fathers are going to be challenged to not act in anger toward the children. There is a reason God says this to the men. The intention seems clear that this is an issue that we must be aware of. Fathers are going to have the temptation to provoke the children to anger.

Children test our patience, our will, and our authority as fathers. They grieve us, however, the command rules out excessively severe discipline/consequences, unreasonably harsh demands, abuse of authority, being unfair, nagging, being humiliating, etc. Children are persons in their own right and are not be manipulated, exploited, or crushed. Our Father is loving, graceful, merciful and long suffering…we must be the same with our children. With that said, this does not mean we allow our children to run the household. Children are not the head of the family.

The answer to the challenge of parenting…to fathering…is not to let the children do what they want. Verse 4 tells us fathers to raise our children and to not provoke them…both are required. So how might we do this? We might start with saying “no” with a reason. It is easy to just say “no”. But think about the frustration, confusion, and disappointment our child might experience if we do not explain the reason or make the “no” inconsistent with how we live. This is especially important with our children who are old enough to reason with and to make every effort with each “teachable” moment. Our Father teaches us with “no” and His consistent and Holy will gives us confidence “no” is right and best.

Please don’t misunderstand me…there are times as Godly fathers when our rule or word must simply be enforced. What I emphasizing here is we cannot let our attitude always be “my way or the highway”. The word “discipline” speaks to the activity of the education. Some translations rightly read, “training.” This is active and it is a partnership with our children. “Our way or the highway” all the time is not “parenting” or “teaching” or “leading”…that is simply “bossing”…and our God does not love us or raise us that way.

I know we all want our children to safe and in the loving care of our Heavenly Father because that is what they choose to be. I know we want our children to have the life skills to be independent of us when they leave our home. Fathers, we have a job to raise our children so that when they turn 18 they can live life independent of us but are especially dependent on our Heavenly Father! We must show them that we desire God and find our joy in God. What we are doing is not an activity as if God is something to do. We desire these things because this is the whole life and joy.

(NOTE: These thoughts were amplified by a sermon by Brent Kercheville from West Palm Beach CoC; 2014.)

Video by Simon Sinek about Success in the Workplace

This is a video by Simon Sinek that a friend, Andy, sent me awhile back. He addresses the millennial generation, and covers some topics that are worth considering. These things he discusses do not apply only to the millennial generation, they apply to all of us, especially when he talks about addiction to cell phones, technology and social media.

This is something that parents should consider and keep in mind when raising their sons and daughters who are surrounding with social media and technology.

Remember that just like anything, including these articles I send out, check them with the Word of God.

Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?

Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? “For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. “I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
(Genesis 18:16-21)

The Lord was about to rain down fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorroah. As the two angels are departing toward those exceedingly wicked cities, we are welcomed into a short conversation that the Lord has with those two angels.

God asks a question, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” He had already decided what was going to happen. “Should I tell Abraham?” It seems as if the answer was already “yes,” but the Lord is explaining why He will let Abraham in what’s about to happen in Sodom and Gomorrah.

“He will become a great and mighty nation.” What impacts the peoples around Abraham will impact Abraham and his descendants.

“In Abraham all nations of the earth will be blessed.” Through Abraham, God will bring forth his mercy and blessings upon the earth.

Speaking of mercy, it is very clear in the latter part of chapter 18 that Abraham and God both had great compassion for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God and Abraham were not in a hurry to see these people destroyed. Abraham’s heart was like God’s heart.

“I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord.” What will happen to Sodom and Gomorrah is a vivid illustration for Abraham and his family of what happens when people walk away from God. Abraham would command his children and grandchildren to walk in God’s pathway. As a father and grandfather, he could point to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and speak of God’s wrath upon the wicked, but he could also speak to God’s mercy upon people like his righteous nephew Lot (2 Peter 2:6-9; Genesis 19:16).

“So that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” Abraham’s family, the nation of Israel, would have a choice just like Sodom and Gomorrah. Blessings or curses, life or death. God wanted Israel to choose life (Deuteronomy 30). Sadly, when you read the prophets, the later generations in Israel and Judah actually became WORSE than Sodom (Lamentations 4:6).

This verse about Abraham instructing his children is not isolated from the rest of the context. God’s overwhelming wrath upon Sodom and Gomorrah would pierce the heart of a righteous father and stir him to “command” his family in righteous living. Abraham would stand in the gap and warn his family to avoid the path of the wicked for it leads to great pain and sorrow (Proverbs 4:14,15).

We can and must provide that contrast today as fathers. Do not shy away from using the path of the wicked that is all too visible around us. Use what is around you to demonstrate to your sons and daughters that path of wickedness must be avoided. On that pathway, kids, you will fall under the wrath of God. But also look to the ways of those who are living righteously both in Scripture and around you today, and use them as examples for your kids (Psalm 37:37; Proverbs 4:18; Philippians 3:17; Hebrews 13:7).

If you are a father and grandfather, you are chosen by God and appointed for the same purpose as Abraham. Command your children and grandchildren to follow the ways of God.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:4)

Singing with your kids

Music is powerful. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, especially in the context of our worship as an assembly. But I am also thinking of it in terms of its power to teach outside of the worship assembly.

Music is a wonderful teaching tool for our kids. The world knows this, think of a simple example like the ABC song. It locks the alphabet into the brain. You don’t forget it. I also don’t forget Lindsay when she was first learning the alphabet sang loudly, “A, B, C, D, wanna wanna be…”

Song was created by God. Did you know that even God sings? Did you know that God sings loudly? Do you know that even God “rejoiced” and was “happy” when he sings? I can only imagine what that sounds like!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17, ESV)

“The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
(Zephaniah 3:17)

Today, my encouragement is to the fathers to sing with your kids. Teach them about God, encourage them in His ways by singing. Even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, sing with them anyways.  Play songs in the car when you are going places, especially while on your way to worship.

Here are some links to places to purchase some of this music

One Stone Bookstore. We like groups like Narrow Way, Hallal, One Voice, and Praise & Harmony.

Praise & Harmony singers have several albums. This is a link to purchase their albums, either digitally or on CD.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:18-21)

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:14-17)

The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway, Came at the evening, cold and gray, To chasm, vast and deep and wide, Through which was flowing a sullen tide. The old man crossed in the twilight dim; The sullen stream had no fears for him; But he turned when safe on the other side, And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near, “You are wasting strength with building here; Your journey will end with the ending day; You never again must pass this way; You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide — Why build you the bridge at the eventide?” The builder lifted his old gray head: “Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said, “There followeth after me today, A youth whose feet must pass this way. This chasm that has been naught to me To that fair-haired youth may a pit-fall be, He, too, must cross in the twilight dim; Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.” Will Allen Dromgoole

I came across this poem during one of my Air Force leadership classes and have kept it and shared with others when the opportunity presented itself. It resonated with me for all kinds of different reasons but today I wanted to share as we think about Choices and Consequences.

In thinking about my children as I write this, there are two things that come to mind in terms of raising them and the choices/consequences in their lives. First, I have always desired that my kids would not have to face the same heartaches and tough patches that I did due to bad decisions or improper focus. Secondly, I am sometimes frustrated, disappointed, and discouraged with the decisions my kids make and the reasoning they offer me when I ask them “why would you do that” or “what were you thinking?

Disappointed or not, what I know to be true in this is that my kids have to live their own life and make their own path. This is a hard thing to accept at times, especially when my kids stand on the brink of disaster or destruction…and I am not being melodramatic here…they don’t know how close they are sometimes to tragedy or how hurtful they are being.

In times like this, I look to my Heavenly Father and I have to believe He feels the same way about me most every day. Knowing that and what He has done and is doing for me puts my mind right for my kids. Though He is the Great I Am and is in need of nothing…He took the time to build a bridge of reconciliation with Him in Jesus. Further, He continues to work in my life to build bridges over perilous chasms in my life and most importantly…no matter how off track I get, the most important Bridge…the one that leads me home…Jesus…is always there. He is my Rock and I have Him because my Heavenly Father gave Him for me and closed the gap of sin because He knew I was going to have to pass that way and I would not get across on my own.

So…for my kids…for you kids, we can’t control their choices and might have to let them live through some pretty tough circumstances when they choose poorly. That doesn’t mean we stop parenting, stop demonstrating Jesus, stop teaching them the truth, stop loving them, or stop believing God is at work. Those are all bridges we need to continue to build…even if we don’t think we have the time or there might not seem a good reason to do so. If we do that, if we choose to build those bridges, then when most needed our kids will have a safe passage they might not otherwise have and if we do our jobs right…they will always have a way back home to us…and most importantly they will recognize their way back home to their Heavenly Father.