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Aug 31, 2012

The Role Of The Family

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I tell this to my son often…watch what I do! The challenge for me as a parent, a father, and a man is that if my son is going to watch what I do, then is it not critical how I act? Defining the role of the family has become an increasingly difficult task in today’s culture.
Let’s state the obvious by just getting it out in the open that everyone of us is someone’s child. Everyone of us also has memories of our childhood. Everyone of us has been influenced by our past. Everyone of us has had a hero or someone they watched and idolized at an early age. Most often, that person was their parent. So parents, remember your youth and recognize that you are your child’s role model. Research states that whether you know it or not, most youth look to their parents and other family members for their examples. Is that not your own experience? So if it is, what do we do with that? What happens to that hero? Have you remained your child’s hero? What is the role of the family?
As a father of a rapidly growing 7 year old, I often think of the example I am setting for my son. And that literally, is what the word means. We see in scripture that Jesus is referred to as the Son of God and ‘son’ means the ‘example of.’ Therefore, Jesus is the ‘Perfect Example of God.’ It is the Perfect Example of God who was incarnate.
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The Role of the Family

So, if son means the example of, then we must recognize as parents that children are examples of their parents. Throughout scripture, you see it this way: David was the son of Jesse who was the son of Obed who was the son of Boaz. Literally, you could say that David was the example of Jesse who was the example of Obed who was the example of his father Boaz. In the person of David, we know a little bit about his father, and his father before him.
We as children, are examples of our parents. And this is a key component of the role of the family. Families provide:

  1. an example
  2. an identity
  3. moral, social, and economic support
  4. influence in a family member’s life that lasts a lifetime
  5. boundaries providing security and structure in which one can grow and flourish.

Yet according to a study conducted by the University of Missouri:

  1. Dads spend 8 minutes a day talking to their children
  2. Working mothers spend 11 minutes
  3. Stay-at home moms spend less than 30 minutes

So, in raising children, do we look at it from the perspective of a lifetime or from a day in day out experience? The key piece of the family is a deep commitment by the parents to parenting and raising their children. Commitment is not demonstrated by a week’s trip to Disneyland or the beach or the mountains. A deep commitment is shown over time, day after day. Remember these four things:

  1. Respect is earned
  2. Make time for fun – deliberately plan to be around each other
  3. Encourage – learn each other’s assets and strengths
  4. Communicate love consistently – not just in words but in actions

Flooding provides a great analogy. Generally a river or stream has clear borders. Water needs to be contained. When the water is contained, the countryside, trees, and foliage which are near the banks of the river are beautiful. But when that river no longer remains in the banks to control its flow, there is devastation and chaos as a flood will destroy the surrounding environment.
So, what is the role of the family? The family provides banks and boundaries for its members. Parents establish those “banks for their children. Without them, children have no “home, no security, no place to feel safe, no refuge to run to in trouble, no safe harbor in which to grow and develop.
One of our most natural weaknesses is being consistent; in our love, our discipline, our time commitment, our self-control, our application of God’s Word. This is the precise reason we need daily reminders, daily strength, daily encouragement. God says in Lamentations 3:20 that “His grace is new every morning. Every day is a new day because of God’s grace. The actions of yesterday do not need to control the actions of the future if you take it to the Lord, confess the sin, and ask for His grace to begin anew. You cannot do that that too many times! His grace is infinite!
So in understanding the role of the family, particularly the role of parents who set the tone for the family, here is some simple advice:

  1. Speak openly and honestly think before you speak!
  2. Praise the positives!
  3. Spend time regularly doing things your children enjoy. This doesn’t mean that you have to cater to their every interest but it does mean you should spend the time learning what they are really interested in and developing those skills. Each child has their own unique talents, learn your child’s talents rather than forcing your interests on them.
  4. Eat meals together and engage in family activities on a regular basis
  5. For those who drink alcohol, make some of those dinners or social events alcohol free to show your children that you don’t need alcohol to have a good time or to relax.

You are never alone in carrying out the work and calling of a parent. Like minded parents with whom you can become friends can become a help and encouragement as you traverse these years together. God never leaves us or forsakes us when we call on Him and ask for His grace. A healthy and vibrant church community can become a great resource for parents and their children. Use what God has provided for families and parents. Remember, God works through and with families.

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Aug 30, 2012


Strength For The Day

So you did not know that you suffer at times from hebetude. We all do! This is a word that I had to look up when reading recently in the Sabbath Exercises readings of Thomas Chalmers (1780-1947) the Scottish minister and divine who was the subject of my Masters’ thesis when I studied in Edinburgh, Scotland many years ago. And if you are an avid reader of the author Joseph Conrad you may have come across the word, as it was a favorite of his. Hebetude means dullness or lethargy, or obtuseness or sluggishness of mind. Chalmers used it to describe his mental and spiritual dullness even when sometimes partaking of the Lord’s Supper or seeking spiritual refreshment from the Lord. Jesus said to Peter and his disciples when Peter asked him the meaning when he spoke in parables, “Are you still so dull? (Matthew 15:16).
Well, yes, we are at times “so dull, in a state of hebetude. It is a state of mind that is not unfamiliar to us in this pilgrimage of the Christian life. Chalmers  wrote, “Rouse me from nature’s apathy and nature’s lethargic indifference to the things of faith. Bring the high interests of the unseen and eternal world to bear upon me; and with a realizing sense of these may I go forth on the work of diligent preparation for the life that is to come. Thou knowest my infirmities. Thou knowest the carnality, and the constant, the cleaving ungodliness of my heart. Turn this ungodliness away from it. Give me access to the fountain of life; and usher me into a mental panorama of brighter and clearer manifestation than I have yet enjoyed.
Is this not a prayer concerning something very near to your own experience? The writer of Hebrews wrote these words to Christians who were involved in the work of serving the saints and of following the Lord as his disciple, and he knew that sluggishness and apathy of mind in spiritual matters would dot their road. So he encouraged them to the same faith and patience that characterized the saints who have gone before us on a similar road, yet have now inherited the promises for which we still look.
You may at times wonder if hebetude, spiritual lethargy in your mind, is unique to you. It is not! But it is a state of mind with which we should never be content and from which we constantly seek a way through. Chalmers said that in such a state he endeavored to keep his mind fixed on an objective; and the very best objective in the realm of Christian faith, he wrote, is the righteousness of Christ, which is the only plea and warrant for your acceptance with God; not your righteousness, you must remember, Christ’s!
Today, you need to be reminded that this struggle with hebetude in your life and mind is not only your disease, it infects us all. Fellow believers can be a help when their counsel and encouragement, especially when drenched with self-experience, is truly biblical; yet the most rewarding path through this malaise is the truth of going to the source of your salvation, your own Lord Jesus Christ, with perseverance, to get the comfort and sharpness of spiritual mind you must have, or you will never be satisfied. “I must have it; I will never be put off! Chalmers prayed, “Raise me above the degrading anxieties of the present evil world, and give me the confident gait, the elevated tone and purposes of an immortal creature. So may it be with you.

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Aug 27, 2012

At Home: Having a Family Devotion


Having a family devotion is vitally important to the health of a family unit. Stephen shares some thoughts on:

  1. What is a family devotion?
  2. Why is it important for my family?
  3. How can I implement a family devotion today?

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Aug 24, 2012

I Just Called To Say I Love You


So what do we say to our children; we who certainly lack perfection; we who become weary; we who are quickly frustrated; we who battle with selfishness; we who never experience days of complete contentment with everything and everyone around us? What do we say to them when we say goodbye for a short time? What do we say when we put them to bed? What do we say when they lie to us? What do we say when they do something wrong, or irresponsible, or irritating, or whatever? What do we say to them when we are bored with them, or tired of them, or do not know what to do with them?
Peggy Noonan, former President Reagan’s speech writer and a contributing editor of the Wall Street Journal, reminded us of a particularly poignant lesson that she learned post 9/11.
Ms. Noonan was awed by the messages emanating from phone calls or left on answering machines for those not at home. These calls and messages came from people about to die, and were sent to their loved ones. Many others had no opportunity to make that “last call, or say those final words. Noonan was struck, however, by the substance of the calls and messages that got through. What she wrote was, “Life was reduced to its essentials. Time was short. People said what counted, what mattered…there is no record of anyone calling to say, ‘I never liked you,’ or, ‘You hurt my feelings.’ Amazingly—or not—there is no record of anyone damning the terrorists or saying ‘I hate them.’ Essentially, the messages were what Noonan entitled her editorial, “I Just Called to Say I Love You.
Her excellent point was that, “Crisis is a great editor. No one said anything unneeded, extraneous or small.
James tells us with fearful precision, “The tongue is a fire; a world of evil among the parts of the body…No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:6,8) The tongue can do inestimable damage. Coupled with the amazing recall of the mind, words spoken years before can be remembered over and over, and in some cases, never forgotten. Have we considered who it is that are the recipients of our words? As parents we have responsibility for immortal beings, our children. When considered in its full context this is an amazing thought, too difficult to fully comprehend. Nevertheless, it is true.
What we say to our children must convince them of our love and care for them! It must set an example for them of what they say to one another, to others, and back to us. It is a great responsibility, is it not? Are we really up to the task? I am convinced that it begins with our having an awe of God. Something must seriously get our attention, and nothing does it better than being awed with the God who is, and who is our God! Second, is the view we have of ourselves, a sinner saved by grace. We are not perfect, even when redeemed. We will sin. And we will sin in our parenting. Third, is the view we have of our children, immortal beings for whom we are stewards; stewards who will have to give account for our parenting of them. Finally, we must consider the promises which God gives to parents concerning the upbringing of their children.
Your words to your children must be timely and consistent. Timeliness and consistency requires discipline. Weariness, without the energy from the Holy Spirit to fortify you, is a sure killer of discipline. Children should learn not to interrupt, but they must be heard and listened to with some timeliness. Patience must be taught, but we all know that patience comes only with maturity, so we must not push their patience beyond their years.
What we say to our children must be consistent with the principle that our “yes means “yes, and our “no means “no! When that is not the case, children will quickly understand that your “no does not always mean “no. Then they will figure out how to change your “no to “yes. Crying, whining, temper tantrums, ignoring you, are all methods that children rapidly learn to get their way. If that works for them consistently, they will soon be uncontrollable. When parents do that, they are not expressing love to their child. Rather, giving your child whatever he or she selfishly wants, but does not need, expresses hate.
The Bible promises in Proverbs, “Raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. ( Proverbs 22:6) Charles Swindoll once wrote that this speaks to a parent who through careful and prayerful observation figures out the particular “bent of their child; that is, his or her calling, God-given gifts and abilities, to pursue a specific vocation in life. Then the parent encourages that calling and “bent, consistent with the principles of godliness, to the end that when that child is old, he or she will not depart from it. What you say to your child should be an encouragement to live a godly life consistent with how God has made him or her. Do not seek to live out your life and calling through your child, if that is not his or her “bent.
Finally, what you say to your child should not bring you any regret if either you or your child will possibly stand before God in heaven that day. None of us knows “that day. Consequently, we must always keep before our eyes that possibility. What you say is important, vitally important. Words have meaning, and they leave their mark. Speak words that count for eternity in their lives in a good and godly way. Stand in awe of God and remember His compassion. When you fail, go to Him again. He never fails to restore those who consistently seek Him.

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Aug 23, 2012

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Aug 21, 2012

How do I help my child pay attention

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Can the ability to pay attention predict the future success of your child?  A recent article (here is a link to the article) in Education Week suggests just that.  The study from Oregon State concludes that youth who can pay attention and are able to stick with a task have a better chance of completing college.  According to their research, this ability is a stronger predictor than their mathematical and reading ability.  The study (here is a link) published in the Early Childhood Research Quarterly showed this:

  • The biggest predictor of college completion was not math or reading
  • The ability to pay attention and finish tasks is critical
  • Tactics aimed at increasing a child’s self-control improves their ability to:
    • listen
    • pay attention
    • follow through on a task
    • remember instructions

The conclusion of the study says that while academic ability is important, the other skills are critical as well.  So as a parent, what tactics can you use.  Try some of these:

  • Have your child focus on playing with a singular object for a period of time.  For adolescents, using just one toy allows them to explore, focus, and use their imagination.
  • Don’t let your child give up when they encounter difficulties and challenges
  • Teach persistence
  • Encourage effort
  • Reading allows for a time of singular focus.  Set goals with your children, document their progress, and let them measurably see their improvement.

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Aug 20, 2012

Advice To Parents: Culture Dillon

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Aug 20, 2012

Advice To Parents: Culture

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The culture that we as parents grew up in is not anything like the culture in which our children are growing up today.   Families, school, even religious settings have changed dramatically over the years. So, how can you, as a parent, help your child navigate this ever changing life?  Dillon shares some advice from his point of view…

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Aug 16, 2012

The Walking Dead

Strength For The Day

Have you ever seen dead men walking? You can go back in time to a Church in Sardis (present day Turkey) or you can look around you and see abundant evidence in churches today.
The letters to the seven churches in Revelation are thought by some to speak to seven eras of the Christian Church spread over history. Not likely, however. It is more apparent that these seven letters speak to seven kinds of churches which appear in all eras of history. The church in Sardis, the 5th of the seven, was most likely the wealthiest church of these. Sardis was a city of great prosperity; at a junction of many important trade routes and situated in an almost impregnable position for its defense. The church here is described as one which had a great reputation of being alive, most likely because of its size, its impressive church structure or structures, and the prosperity of its members. It easily widened the eyes of all who came through Sardis for a visit. However, this letter exposes the truth which these easily impressed eyes did not at first see. This was largely a CINO church: Christian in name only. The members professed to be Christian, but true Christian fruit was lacking. In essence they were dead in their sins; consequently, walking as though alive, but in reality dead.
What was their fatal flaw; that if they did not wake up, their Lord would come like a thief in the night, and the time for waking would be over and gone? What sin had led to their being a CINO church and CINO individuals? This letter tells us they had forgotten or ignored “the faith once for all entrusted to the saints! (Jude 3) The Church at Sardis had stopped preaching, knowing, keeping, obeying the apostolic faith which is the good news, the gospel, the message of faith entrusted to the apostles by their Lord, and in turn entrusted to the churches for spreading and safe keeping. They had made up their own idea of the gospel so they could lead a comfortable, decadent life and never feel the need for true repentance. They were very much alive living in sin, but very dead spiritually. You could say they had found their “peace; the kind the world preaches as they flash their two fingers or wear the peace symbol as the fashion statement for their hypocrisy. Theirs was the peace of a lethargic cemetery; not the peace of rapture, clear sight, power, victory, overcoming the world, the flesh, and the devil! In essence they were resting in their graves while still alive and irresponsive to a coming judgment that would find them sorely lacking.
In verse 2 of this text in Revelation, the words “wake up are also interpreted as “be watchful. Sardis knew from its history about being watchful; for it led to their downfall when they were not.  Persian King Cyrus was besieging Sardis, but their fortress was built on an almost impregnable promontory of rock. One of Cyrus’ soldiers watched the fortress for days and finally observed a Sardis warrior drop his helmet by accident over the cliff of the fortress. This warrior then proceeded to climb down by a particular route to retrieve his helmet. Cyrus’ soldier watched carefully and then by night with a small band of “special operations soldiers climbed up the same route to enter the “impregnable fortress in the surprise of darkness; and the fortress was taken. The truth is that we must be watchful at our weakest point, our known fatal flaw.  In Shakespeare’s famous tragedies the main male figures were great men, but they had a fatal flaw: with Macbeth it was ambition; with Othello it was jealousy; with Hamlet it was indecision. You have a weak point. If you are self-observant you know what it is. Watch it; strengthen it; guard it by faith. You also must watch your strongest point, which the soldiers at Sardis did not because they were “secure in the “impregnability of their position. Do not trust the point where you feel you are strongest because that is often where Satan will attack you. Be humble in Christ, and watch for the attack.
In this letter to Sardis Jesus is looking for two things from you. Loyalty! Loyalty to Him and to His Word. Keep and preserve the doctrine of faith He has given. Repentance and obedience is always proof of loyalty. And second, Jesus wants your help! Jesus doesn’t need your help; He wants it. He wants you to be His eyes, His hands, His energy, His love in serving His children in whatever capacity He has placed you and to which He calls you. Do it as though you were Him; as one of the few people in Sardis who will walk with Him, dressed in white, as one who as He says, overcomes!

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Aug 15, 2012

Teaching vs Training

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There is a world of difference in teaching vs training.  Teaching is the verbal imparting of truth, whereas “training” applies those teachings moment by moment, day after day.  The dictionary defines “Train:  to mold the character, instruct by exercise, drill, to make obedient to orders, to put or point in an exact direction, to prepare for a contest.”  As parents, we must walk out that which we say we believe.
Have you trained your child at home or have you left that responsibility to the church?  If you have not trained him/her at home, the first step is to ask the child’s forgiveness.  Consistently have daily devotionals.  After the child responds to these, begin to attend church as a family.
Ultimately, the real reason for rebellion is one of control.  It is important that you remember that you are the parent and set the standard for your family.  “Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.  (Joshua 24:15)
You need to ask yourself, “Who has control?  It is vitally important for parents to provide clear boundaries and expectations of a child who lives under your roof.  No matter how much teens say they do not want rules…they desperately want to know where the limits are and what the consequences will be for disobedience.  Teens act out because they have not been consistently corrected when they have been disobedient.

Key verse:  Proverbs 22:6  “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

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