New Year 2020

New Year 2020

2020

Every year around this time, we do a lot of reflecting. Christmas is over, there are new gifts to enjoy and some to exchange and return:) We are sad to see it go and very glad to put decorations away and get back to some order!

As you reflect on the year past and make plans for the new year, here are a few articles to consider:

Will you Say "No" this Year?

If you have not yet carved out some time to quiet yourself and think about some basic goals…

Simple Way for your Family to Pray for a lot of People

Our family has been using this approach for years now!

How to Prioritize your Relationships

One of the problems with being too busy is that we easily lose sight of our priorities…

Ministering to Neighbors

Practical ideas and encouragements for making ministry in your neighborhood a reality this year!

It is important to start off the new year remembering that we are New Creations! If you have not already purchased a copy of one of our Who Are You? resources, consider signing up for our newsletter you will get a free PDF copy of twelve key identity statements to meditate on. Fill out the form below!

It is easy to get overwhelmed with plans for great change and personal growth. These goals in themselves are not harmful. They should never be made outside of the Gospel and our identity in Christ. We are new creations in Christ, this means for us that everyday is New Year’s Day. If you don’t already have a copy, consider reading through Who Are You? as you start your new year. Remember your identity!

Freedom for Frustrated Fathers

Freedom for Frustrated Fathers

Maybe it’s a Saturday. You are busy doing any number of things all at once: entering receipts into Quicken, squeezing in a three and a half minute conversation with your wife, or trying to fix the leaky faucet in the kitchen… and then it happens. Like a bolt of lightning screeching from a cumulonimbus cloud, one of your kids rushes in, “Dad! Will you please do something about (insert sibling’s name)?! I am SO SICK AND TIRED of how he doesn’t listen to me!”

It is in those encounters that as fathers we might close our eyes and ask, “WHY is this happening to me—again?!” At worst, we might think, “Why did I ever think it was a good idea to have children?!”

Those are revealing moments. Thankfully, our righteousness is not in our performance as fathers, but irrevocably in Jesus Christ. We can confess such thoughts and our angry, frustrated, or disinterested responses as sin and be forgiven. But wouldn’t it be better to simply have a good response in the first place? Wouldn’t it be better to quit viewing such events as pesky distractions and instead embrace them with a completely different perspective?

Consider the following quote: These guys who fear becoming fathers don’t understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. The end product of childrearing is not the child but the parent.

I do not endorse that statement as a philosophy for parenting. But there is a powerful string of truth in it that is insightful and even biblical. Romans 8:28-29 talks about how God uses “all things” in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. For fathers, this includes those situations where we struggle with our kids’ behavior. We should ask God to show us how he is using these situations to reveal how—we—need to change!

I confess that I am often wrapped up in my own issues to the extent that I sometimes don’t see that there are other people—even my own kids who are standing right in front of me—who need/want my help. In fact, I often see those moments as the burdensome requirements of parenting rather than providentially orchestrated opportunities for greater redemption in my own life.

If God is trying to show us something about ourselves, and we refuse to listen, we are kicking against the goads. Often, he uses our spouses and children as his sanctifying tool. We can conquer these tests by asking God, “Ok. What are you teaching ME here?” When we know we’re struggling with our own attitude, asking this question helps position us not only to minister to our children, but to do so in a way that allows us to see God’s redemptive intention for us as well.

When the lightning strikes and we remember that God intends to refine us, too, it humbles and comforts us and then compels us to minister in a truly redemptive way. This provides an entirely different perspective on the otherwise frustrating situations we often encounter with our kids.

 

Practical Thoughts on Ministering to Neighbors, Part 3

Person Doing Shopping For Elderly NeighbourPart three: Be Willing to be Taken Advantage of

Read part two here.

My sweaty neighbor was standing in my garage asking to borrow a drill. (It had something to do with his daughter’s swing set). Turns out, the battery to my Ryobi cordless drill was dead as a doornail –as usual. But then, I remembered that I had another drill, a much better drill. A Craftsman electric drill to be exact. I was about to offer it to him when the thought hit me, “Will I ever get it back?”

While I don’t believe for one moment that it was in my neighbor’s heart to take advantage of me, was I willing to suffer loss in order to demonstrate the gospel through this act of kindness? Let’s suppose this neighbor’s motives were of a devious nature. Let’s also suppose that I even knew he had the type of project that could cause harm to a drill, and although he had a drill, he chose to ask to use mine in order to save the wear and tear on his own drill. If you were in my situation, would you still loan it out?

Perhaps the issue is not loaning. Perhaps there’s resistance to simply give something away. Or, perhaps the situation calls for you to buy something for them that you feel pretty sure they could buy for themselves?

I remember a moment when a neighbor needed cat litter. (I don’t have cats, but have you ever checked into the price of cat litter? It isn’t cheap!) Can I afford to spend $ 50 on cat litter? Was I willing to do it whether or not he paid me back? If we’re honest, in our worst moments, we do these mental calculations.

No one wants to be taken advantage of. But are we willing because we will be taken advantage of—eventually. Jesus was willing to be taken advantage of. He fed thousands of hungry people who came for the bread, but not the Bread of Life.

Jesus was willing to go far beyond being taken advantage of; he died for us, the Bible says, “while we were still sinners”. When Jesus died, he was shown absolutely NO sense of appreciation by the people he did it for. He knew this and did it anyway…and did it with joy.

If we’re going to reach our neighbors for Christ, we need to be willing to be taken advantage of. It is as we first find our own joy in what Jesus has fully accomplished for us, despite how we’ve taken advantage of him, that we will be willing to serve others, at great cost to us.

Four Things That Will Greatly Bless your Wife

Four Things That Will Greatly Bless your Wife

My wife is not indestructible. Is yours?

Most men want to minister to their wives but struggle to know how best to do that. We think it is one of these complicated “Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus” things. I have good news. It really is easy to bless our wives. Thankfully, our wives are much better at seeing effort and appreciating heart than we probably are. So, a little effort goes a long way.

Pray for her, daily.

Leslee is the first person on my list to pray for each day. If you struggle to remember to pray for your wife, or struggle to know how to pray for her, simply write her name on a 3×5 card along with a few specific prayer requests and put it in your Bible as a bookmark for your daily devotions. Or put the card on the dash of your car and pray for her on your way in to work. Remind her regularly that you are praying for her and how you are praying for her.

Date her regularly.

Dating is not a nice-to- do. It is a must-do. The more kids you have or the more complicated and stressed out your lives are, the more necessary it is to do this. When we initiate dates, regularly, it demonstrates that we love our wives and that our marriage is a priority. Further, our wives are deep thinkers. For us to truly minister to them, we have to mine those depths. This requires time and intentionality that in these hyper-busy times is usually only possible when you break the routine and set aside time to just be together by yourselves.

Take notes—literally.

Perhaps this sounds weird, but consider starting a journal for your marriage. Purchase a simple notebook that you can write down the issues you discuss with your wife. Issues that are important to her (and you, too) and that you need to take time to think about, research the scriptures, and/or pray about. Doing this helps demonstrate that things that are important to her are also important to you.

Write her love notes.

You do not have to be Shakespeare to write a meaningful note to your wife. Writing a simple note that communicates your love and appreciation and leaving it for her to find will be a huge encouragement.

The marriage relationship is vital to the health of a Christ-honoring home and the church. How we love our wives sets an example that will likely be followed by our children—one way or another. Being intentional about developing and protecting the marriage relationship is an investment that will pay eternal dividends.

Dad, Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

Dad, Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

Does the Bible contradict“Dad, it seems like the Bible contradicts itself.”

This question, asked by one of my daughters was not the first time it had been asked. Some of my other children have asked similar questions as they’ve studied the Bible on their own.

She asked her question at morning devotions when we were together as a family. It came up almost in passing.

I reminded her that God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17) and therefore His Word, the Bible, does not contradict itself; that the Bible is in fact true and completely reliable (Psalm 12:6, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, and the Westminster Confession of Faith (i. 2, 8).

We looked at the passages in question. We discussed the meaning of the key words in each passage as well as the context and were able to quickly determine to her satisfaction that although the passages seemed contradictory, they actually were not.

After this rather startling episode, a rather horrifying thought entered my mind…what if I was not there at that moment to answer this question for her and she began to doubt God’s Word?

Now, God doesn’t “need” me. He could’ve worked differently. But He has put me in position to be a tool He normally uses in the life of my children. I am humbled and also grateful for such a calling. But I am just a man. I have divided interests and it is easy for me to weasel out of my responsibilities.

In today’s distracted world, we must fight to maintain an intentional focus on the gospel in our lives and relationships.

This is all the more reason then that we should seek to set and maintain a regular time when we are together as a family where we can read the Bible, pray, and have conversations.

It is during these conversations that we learn about what’s really going on in each another’s lives.

Care should be taken not to presume upon God to work around our own agendas. Rather, we should fully embrace our responsibilities to one another by making time to converse, read, pray, and answer questions!