Our boys aren't little kids anymore.
The way they think, talk, act...it's changing. Sometimes, I feel like I'm speaking with adults.
I can't just talk with them about the 7 days of creation (although that is foundational), or the fact that God created them and loves them (also critical), or simply have a short devotional and prayer time together. As they age, I need to provide them with adequate, meaningful teaching so they can grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (see 2 Peter 3:18).
Here's how I'm changing my approach and going from doing devotionals to discipleship...
Jesus consistently met with God the Father (see Luke 5:16). This led to intimacy, which led to power, which led to effective ministry.
Some might say, "Yeah, but He was Jesus. How does that help me?"
In a world of constant distractions and ever-increasing demands on our time, it is easy to neglect the most essential aspect of our lives: our relationship with God. As a husband and father, I understand the importance of consistency when it comes to spending daily time with God. I can't get by without it. Correction: I may be able to 'get by' but I can't thrive and live an abundant life (John 10:10) without the presence of God in my life.
Let's briefly explore why consistency matters and how it can transform our spiritual journey...
How are you and God doing?
How are you, AND your family, and God doing?
Simply put, having a pulse on spiritual matters means knowing where you and your family stand with God.
Have you heard from Him lately? Are you building a daily altar? Do your children know Him and walk with Him? (Or, if they are young, do they at least know the fundamentals of our faith?)
Questions to consider:
Our children pick up on the things that we value most. I see it firsthand with our two sons. They're both into music, they like tapping rhythms with their hands, and they got a set of lungs. Generally speaking, they'll probably adapt the passions and disciplines that they see Daniela and I pursuing.
Before it's too late, be sure to identify the things in life that matter most to you. I'm not talking about things, per se. I'm referring to the values, lessons, principles, convictions, doctrines, and disciplines that you want to pass onto your children. The things that you would hope they picked up on by the time they are out of your day-to-day life.
To help, I came up with 4 categories that can help you sift out the good from the bad:
If the things you are spending time on fall in one or more of these categories, it's probably worthwhile to purse. Otherwise, you should quickly determine why you are doing them. If not, we can end up wasting the one life God gave us.
Currently, I'm 4 months past 40 years old and realize that age is just a number. Old age doesn't guarantee wisdom. Youth doesn't always equate to energy and ambition. No matter what stage in life, we should seek the things that matter and have an eternal impact.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. - Matt. 6:33
Parents, we need to know how to make a case for the truths and teachings of Christianity and how to apply them to every day life. Call it apologetics, call it theology, call it what you will - we need to do it.
This doesn't always entail a sit-down session but it should. Often, it will be in passing, when we wake, when we travel, before we go to bed, etc. It will/should also take place when tragic world events happen, when a loved one passes away, when a friend betrays us, when you lose a job, and so on. Before they're adults, use those circumstances to draw near to God and the counsel of His Word, together with your child(ren).
Here's a short list of three important topics to discuss...
A Truth a Day is a new resource that will be available on Altarpreneur Kids.
It is a simple tool to help bring structure to your devotionals; It includes a weekly topic and 3 short teaching/discussion ideas. It was created especially for fathers, to take the guesswork out of what they will teach their children from the Bible during the week. It came about from my own dilemma of wanting to share at least one truth a day from God's Word (hence the name). With God's help, I finally put the 'pen' down and created a weekly guide that I can continue to use and adapt as our boys get older and more (spiritually) mature. Now, you can too!
A image like the (green) one above will be provided with each weekly topic along with 3 ideas for discussion/teaching. Here is a sample of the 3 ideas:
A) Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. We know the song and it's important to know God's Word. Here is a sermon by John Piper, which covers this passage. Listen, reflect, discuss!
B) Talk about the danger of disobedience. Here is a short clip from Ligonier Ministries that might help.
C) Talk about what sacrifice looks like today. Here is a video called The Priority of the Altar. In the first part, I describe elements of the altar, then and now.
Stay posted for updates on this resource.
Keep the Fire Burning,
1. We can gain courage by doing what is right
1 Chronicles 22:13 - Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the LORD charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed
When we do what is right, we do not have a guilty or condemning conscience that tells us we deserve punishment. We cannot be courageous when we are doing what is wrong. The important question is, what is right? Whatever the Lord commands! Follow His Word. We will prosper if we are careful to do what the Lord says.
2. Courage comes from waiting on God
Psalm 27:14 - Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!
To wait on the Lord does not mean to sit and do nothing, but instead to put your faith in God who is able to bring about victory. To wait on God is to rest in God. To wait on God is to pray. To seek His face. To think upon His goodness and to recognize that He is Sovereign.
3. Courage comes from hoping in the Lord
Psalm 31:24 - Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.
This is very similar to waiting on the Lord. Where are you looking for the answer to your problem? Hoping in the Lord means looking to the Lord. You will not gain courage by dwelling on the problem. It is certainly important to confront problems and we shouldn't pretend as if they don't exist. But we will only gain courage by looking to the One that can help us!
4. Courage comes from having people around us that encourage us
Isaiah 41:6 - Everyone helped his neighbor, And said to his brother, “ Be of good courage!”
The word encourage means to fill someone with courage. What type of people do you have around you? Are they speaking life into you or death? Negative and people will drain you of your courage, but those who are seeking the Lord and faith-filled will encourage you, because they are able to make good deposits into your life. Check your circle. I'm not saying to completely avoid 'negative' people, after all, we need to help them, but it's important that we too surround ourselves with helpful people, as the text says.
Acts 28:15 - And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.”
Dear parent, to live with more purpose, carefully answer this question:
How do you want your children to remember you?
What comes to mind? Do you want to be remembered as a loving father or mother? Fun? Strict? As someone who loved the Lord? The list goes on and it's unique for each person.
Once you've answered it and gave it some serious thought, write it down.
Next, put together a short list of daily, weekly and monthly activities that will help you live out this description. For example, if you want your children to remember you as someone who spent time with them and taught them the Word of God, one of your activities might include a weekly project/game and a daily Bible devotional.
These are some of the basic steps I took to create The Covenant Planner. This is a simple, one-page document that helps you plan for a Godly year by giving you a visual reminder of things that matter. Even as your children get older, this can serve as a simple tool to keep you focused.
Genesis 18:18 - For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.
There is one thing in common with all the professional plays and theater performances I've seen - I never saw what was happening backstage, behind the scenes. In parenting, this is not the case.
Training your children in the path they should go (see Proverbs 22:6) is not seasonal or short-lived.
Parents, to put it simply, we are always on stage.
Our actions, our reactions, our words, our silence, our habits, it's all being observed.
Today, give some thought to how you are living your life and the example you are setting for your children. Ask:
This is certainly a shortlist to keep in mind. There will be days when you feel like hiding backstage. Turn them into teachable moments.
Keep the fire burning,
Biblical, on-the-go, tips for meeting with God. Written from our experiences as parents. This is our digital space for jotting down learning moments from our devotional time throughout the week.