Fathers, Direct Your Kids Toward that Which Matters – Part 1

A couple of years ago, I came across an article put out by Desiring God entitled: Dad’s Write in Your Bible. The article was written by Jonathan Parnell, who is a pastor in Minneapolis. In the article, he picks up on the idea that our time in God’s Word and prayer not only benefit us but those around us. That’s because God’s Word transforms us into a river of living water that flows from us to our friends, family, co-workers, and community.

With that in mind, he suggests one-way fathers could be a river of living water to their children is by setting aside a fresh copy of God’s Word, one with no marks and wide margins. As they read through that Bible, they should write notes, prayers, application, and advice to their children in the margins. Once finished, and their children are of age, they should give it to them as a way to encourage them in the faith. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty cool.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty cool. Imagine being able to give that to your kids? Imagine the impact that would have on them, as they read your prayers and application for their life.

Personally, this isn’t a project I’ve embarked on. I actually forgot about it until I sat down to write this post, but it’s something I’m considering, and something you might consider doing as well.

Solomon, a Vessel of Living Water

While it’s not exactly the same, something similar appears in the Bible. Solomon, one of the wisest kings ever to live, at the end of his life wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. He wrote not only to his children but to his kingdom and us as well. The book itself consists of Solomon’s learned wisdom. Wisdom he seeks to pass down so that we won’t waste our life chasing after that which doesn’t matter. In doing so, he continues to be a vessel of living water to all who read it.

Fathers when you think about deliberately writing to your children. Whether it be in the margins of your Bible or in a short book like Solomon has written. When you think about it, what advice, what wisdom, what direction would you give your children?

That’s a big question, a deep question, one that requires a lot of thought. In order to help get the juices flowing, we’re going to look at some of the wisdom Solomon passes down. Wisdom that’s lost in our current cultural moment. The topics we are going to explore are pleasure, career, and money.

That’s our roadmap, so let’s dive in.

(1) Pleasure can’t provide ultimate purpose, meaning, or fulfillment in life (vs. 2:1-11)

We learn that as a result of Solomon’s test in chapter 2. That’s really how the book works. Solomon either draws conclusions from his observations, his own experience, or both. In the beginning of chapter 2, Solomon tells us he going to test pleasure when he says,

“I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” (Ec 2:1a)

When Solomon says he is going to test pleasure, he does it on a scale that we could only imagine. You see, Solomon is the wisest and richest king ever to live. He can have whatever he wants. There are no limitations. So starting in verse 4 when he says that:

“I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.” (Ec 2:4–10)

So when Solomon tells us he sought pleasure in these things — and these things being possessions, art, sex, partying, and building projects —when he tells us that he did these things, we should imagine that he did them on the grandest of scales. That he had no regrets, no wants, nothing more was left for him to do.

Does pleasure bring meaning?

Solomon sought pleasure because he thought this was going to bring him satisfaction, some sort of meaning to life. Isn’t that why we seek pleasure today Don’t we believe more fun, excitement, and things will satisfy us; provide us with meaning? I know I’ve been guilty of this myself.

After attending a small local university for two years, I transferred to the University of Georgia. Prior to transferring, I was highly involved in the life of my church. But that wasn’t the case when I moved up to Athens to attend UGA. Instead of getting plugged into a solid church and Christian community, I got plugged into a group of people who partied all the time.

We hit the party scene hard. So hard that within my first couple of months there, I had spent close to $1,000 dollars going out with my friends. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of money to me, and a lot of money to spend in a college town because things are much cheaper there.

And the crazy thing about it is that when it was all said and done, I didn’t have anything to show for it, except an empty bank account. My activity back then was purely a pursuit of pleasure. But you know what, the fun and excitement of a night out on the town eventually faded, leaving me not only broke but empty. Through that experience I learned that when it comes to pleasure, the feeling, excitement, and fun it produces never lasts. And what you experience one time, usually can’t be reproduced. Which usually leaves people in a cycle of chasing after something that’s not possible to gain again.

Solomon agrees and tells us just that in verse 11 when he says,

“Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” (Ec 2:11)

Vanity, what does it mean?

When Solomon tells us that something is vanity or a striving after the wind, what he means is that the feeling or thing he’s tested or observed is fleeting. It’s not something that can be grasped or held onto. To try and grasp it is like trying to hold onto smoke or the wind. You can feel it, you can see it’s effects, but it can’t be contained. It can’t be held onto. Which means it can’t provide ultimate meaning, purpose, or fulfillment in life.

So when it comes to pleasure, in whatever form we might seek it — possessions, art, sex, partying, building projects, and whatever else — we see that despite our cultures messaging and our all out pursuit of it, pleasure really doesn’t provide that for which we long. It doesn’t and can’t provide ultimate purpose, meaning, or fulfillment in life.

This is what Solomon tells his children, his kingdom, and us. Fathers, this is what we should tell our children as well so that they don’t find themselves walking a hedonistic road with no purpose.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you hoping pleasure will provide you with meaning and purpose?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: Fathers, Direct Your Kids Toward that Which Matters

How Can You Honor Mom Every Day?

Mother’s Day came and went this last Sunday. Hopefully, you were able to spend time with your mom, or at least give her a call or send her a card. Mother’s Day is a day to honor mom, but Mother’s Day shouldn’t be the only day you honor her. With that in mind, let’s explore some ways you can honor mom every day.

How Can You Honor Mom Every day?

(1) By obeying her (Eph 6:1)

Right before we read the command to honor our parents in Ephesians 6, Paul says,

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Eph 6:1)

When children obey their mother’s, they honor her. They honor her because they show respect or due regard for her position when they obey.

Now I have to issue a caveat. The obedience we give our mother, parents, or anyone for that matter isn’t blind obedience. What she asks us to do should be in line with God’s Word. If it’s not, then we shouldn’t do it. Our first allegiance and obedience must be to God.

(2) By listening to and living by her teaching (Prov 6:20-24)

In Proverbs 6, Solomon writing to his son says,

“My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.” (Pr 6:20–24)

As we grow up, inevitable we receive teaching from our mother’s. We honor her when we listen to and live by her teaching.

Again, this is something we should do, as long as it is teaching that coincides with God’s Word. You see, the wisdom Solomon wrote about was God’s wisdom. Since it was God’s wisdom, Solomon counseled his son to not only listen to and live by his teaching but his mother’s teaching as well, which would bring her honor and help keep him from sin.

(3) By seeking her wisdom and help (Job 12:12)

In Job, we learn that,

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” (Job 12:12)

This tells us, then, that our mother, who is older than us, should have some wisdom they can impart. If you are a teenager right now, you are probably doing everything you can to not roll your eyes, but it’s true. Most parents have at least some amount of wisdom they can share.

When we go to our mother and ask for her advice during difficult times, major life decisions, or work related projects, we honor her. We honor her because we recognize she has wisdom. Wisdom we want and need.

(4) By considering her advice and disagreeing respectfully 

When it comes to wisdom or help your mom offers, you may not agree. You may not use her wisdom or advice. Even so, you can honor her by at least considering her advice, by not just writing it off the moment you hear it. When you spend time thinking about and considering your mom’s advice, you honor her.

And you know, after thinking about it for awhile, you might even find her advice to be better than you first thought. But even if you don’t. Even if you decide her advice isn’t quite right, you can still honor her in the way that you disagree.

You see, there are two ways to disagree with someone:

  • (1) One way denigrates them and shows no regard for their feelings or position.
  • (2) The other is exactly the opposite. It lifts them up and it takes into account their feelings and position.

So even if you disagree with and decide to not use your mom’s advice, you can still honor her in the way you disagree.

(5) By supporting her

By support, I don’t mean financial support. We will get to that point next. Instead, I have in mind physical and emotional care, especially in her old age.

I know you have all heard a parent say,

“Whatever you do, don’t lock me away in a nursing home.”

Parents make that comment because they know that’s a real possibility. And no one wants to be forgotten just because they are old and can’t do what they once could. David, one of the greatest kings in the nation of Israel, had this same feeling. He says in Psalm 71 to the Lord,

“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.” (Ps 71:9)

You see, no one wants to be forgotten. And they shouldn’t. Pastor and Author Kent Hughes says,

“Even if parents have no financial needs, “there is still a Christian obligation for hands-on, loving care. Nurses may be employed, but there must be more—the care cannot be done by proxy. Emotional neglect and abandonment is not an option, for such conduct ‘is worse than an unbeliever.’”[1]

So when we both let our mothers know we won’t forget her and show that we haven’t forgotten her when she grows old, we honor her.

(6) By providing for her financially

When we are willing to sacrifice our finances to help our mother, we show her honor. As a Christians, caring for our families financially isn’t an option. It’s a mandate. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul writes,

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Tim 5:8)

Those are strong words, and they are meant to be. Paul wants us to recognize the obligation we have to our family, especially our mother’s. They sacrificed and cared for us when we couldn’t care for ourselves, so we should do the same. When we do, we honor them.

(7) By forgiving her

Let’s face it, no one is perfect, not even our mother’s. They are going to make mistake and do things that aren’t right. They’re going to sin against us. When that time comes, we should be willing to forgive.

As Christians, we can forgive because we have been forgiven. In Colossians 3, Paul tells us that we should,

“[bear] with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Col 3:13)

You see, we can and should be willing to forgive others because we have been forgiven. Not just for something little, but something great. We have been forgiven for all out rejection and rebellion against God. If God can forgive us, certainly we can forgive our mother’s.

Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to a mother’s actions. There certainly are, but we can still extend forgiveness to them, and we can do that because we have been forgiven. When we forgive, we honor our mothers.

(8) By remembering her gratefully

For most of us, our mother’s have done a lot for us. They have taught us; sacrificed for us; exercised immeasurable patience; extended grace, mercy, and love to us; and much, much more. By remembering and thanking your mother for all she has done, you show her honor. Even if she isn’t here. Just by remembering her and all she has done for you, you show her honor.

I hope this last Mother’s Day you spend some time honoring your mom. But don’t just let Mother’s Day be the only day you honor your mom. Make it a point to honor her each and every day.

Question for Reflection

  1. How do you honor your mom?

Resources

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[1] Quote From Tim Challies articles found here: https://www.challies.com/articles/5-practical-ways-to-honor-your-parents

Some parts of this post were adapted from  From Tim Challies articles found here: https://www.challies.com/articles/5-practical-ways-to-honor-your-parents

How Can Husbands Love Their Wives Self-Sacrificially?

The Bible calls husbands to love their wives self-sacrificially. In Colossians 3:19 the apostle Paul writes,

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Col 3:19)

And again in Ephesians 5, comparing a husband’s love to Jesus’ love of the church, Paul says:

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Eph 5:28)

We could explore other passages, but you get the point. The Bible is big on husbands loving their wives.

The Type of Love

The type of love husbands are to have for their wives is a self-sacrificial love. We know this because the Greek word behind love in these verses is agape. Agape, in Greek, denotes a self-sacrificial love. It is same love Jesus demonstrated when He went to the cross for our sins, sacrificing Himself for us. Agape love then is a love that gives rather than takes. It is a love that sacrifices.

How do we love our wives in a self-sacrificial manner?

(1) We love our wives self-sacrificially by not being harsh with her.

In the second half of verse 19 in Colossians 3, Paul specifically commands husbands not to be “harsh” with their wives. When I first read this, I didn’t fully understand what Paul was saying, so I did some research into the word “harsh”.  I found it means that husbands aren’t to make their wives bitter or resentful because of unfair or abusive treatment. Instead, husbands are to treat their wives fairly, not using or abusing them. As well as husbands aren’t to make decisions or perform actions that would make their wives resentful.

What are some things that might make your wife resentful?

  • An unwillingness or not offering to help with the kids.
  • Not abiding by the family budget.
  • Going off with your buddies all the time instead of doing things with the family.
  • Glueing yourself to the TV instead of helping out around the house or talking with your wife.
  • Caring or ministering to others whenever they ask, but not setting aside time to do so for your wife.

(2) We love our wives self-sacrificially by leading in a non-selfish way

Being the head or the leader of your household doesn’t mean you always get your way. That’s not how Jesus leads. Since we are modeling our love and leadership after His, we should act as He acts. When Jesus came it wasn’t all about Him, instead, it was all about us. Remember, He left His heavenly abode, took the body of a man, gave up His rights, and His life for us.

We are to do the same. We are to give up our rights for our wives, sacrificing for them, instead of always demanding our own way. When we do that, we are loving and leading in a non-selfish way.

(3) We love our wives self-sacrificially by seeking to build her up in the Lord.

Husbands are to do all they can to promote their wife’s well-being and sanctification. Marriage, then, is about more than fulfilling our own sexual appetites. It is about us working to build up and sanctify our wives, washing them with the Word of God, in order to ready them to meet their heavenly husband — Christ.

(4) We love our wives self-sacrificially by providing for her physically and emotionally.

As a husband, we are to make sure we are doing all that we can to provide for our wife. Certainly that means we are to make sure her basic needs are met. But our wife’s basic needs are just one area for which we are to provide. Along with providing physically, we are also to provide emotionally. Men, including myself, often miss the mark on this one. I believe that is because it is easier for us to spend our energy working than it is to spend our energy talking, listening, and drawing our wives out. But if we want to love our wives as Christ loves the church – self-sacrificially – we must provide for both her physical and emotional needs.

Question for Reflection

  1. What other ways can a husband self-sacrificially love his wife?

Resources

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Adapted from my sermon A Wife’s Submission and a Husband’s Love