Monthly Archives: January 2015

Raising Children in a Godless Age

Decision magazine, a publication of the Billy Graham Association, recently published a manuscript of a sermon Billy Graham delivered in August 1955 by the same title as this post. As I read the message, I would not have known it was delivered before my parents were born. Dr. Graham offered some suggestions to Christian parents that I want to share. The suggestions are copied direction, while the comments following are mine, except in the instance where quotations are used.

Take time with your children. Children spell love “T-I-M-E.” Children long to spend time with their parents, and just being in the same room with this does not meet this requirement. In the busy world that we live in, time with our children is often sacrificed. I admit, there are times when it cannot be avoided; however, I regularly see parents that make choices at their own discretion that keep them from being home with their children. I might also add that having your children do something with you that you want to do but they are forced to do does not fulfill this need.

Many men miss out on this issue, leaving the stuff at home to the wife. This leads to children that long to have their father at home and a wife that longs to have her husband at home. This is a double loss. Men: be home and participate with bath time and bedtime, help with homework, clean up after supper, watch their favorite show, and any other thing that makes you be home.

Plan activities for your children. Again, just being at home is not enough, especially with older children. Dr. Graham said, “Make your home so interesting and delightful that your children will want to stay home; then they will never miss the things that so many young people are engaged in for thrills.” Your children ought to want to be home with you.

Give your children ideals for living. Teach your children right from wrong. More importantly, show them how to live a way that honors God. Many parents teach their children “do what I say, not what I do.” That might work for a while, but as children grow up, they will rebel against such hypocrisy and will begin to follow the example they see. We cannot lead our children to do what we have never done. “Children acquire the characteristics and habits of their parents.”

Discipline your children. The Bible teaches that parents ought to lovingly discipline their children. When parents fail to discipline their children, “you are guilty of not only injuring the moral, spiritual, and physical lives of your children, but of sinning against God. The Bible says that if you fail to discipline your children, you actually hate them.” Parents must also be consistent in their discipline, even when they get tired of responding to the same problems. Quit issuing threatens and start issuing discipline.

Teach your children to know God and bring them up in the church. It is not the church’s job to teach your children about the Lord. The church should partner with the parents to teach their children, but the bottom line responsibility is the parents. “Very seldom do parents have trouble with children when the Bible is read regularly in the home, grace is said at the table, and family prayers take place daily. Most trouble with teenagers comes from children reared in homes where prayer is neglected, the Bible is never opened and church attendance is spasmodic.”

Almost 60 years later, these principles still apply.

Lessons from the Old Year

A New Year has started, which often serves as a time when we make plans for a new beginning. The New Year also gives us the chance to reflect upon the past year. The reflection can be a time of regret, as we see all that we did not accomplish, but it can also be a time to pause and consider the ways that God has worked in the past year.

For my family and me, it 2014 was a year of changes. In March, we moved to Yazoo City after spending the entirety of our years in Arkansas. We bought our first house, as we had always lived in parsonages provided by the churches I served. After being out of school for over 10 years, Jennifer had to take a test to be able to get a pharmacist license in Mississippi. It was the first time my children had to make adjustments associated with a move, which meant a new school and new babysitter. Of course, we had to learn new names and establish new friendships. In the midst of change, I finally published my book that I had worked on for over a year. It was a year of change, which made it a year of learning.

As I reflect back on 2014, here are some of the lessons I learned- or really they are lessons that I was reminded:

God’s timing is perfect. For over eight months in 2013, I was engaged in some degree to various churches looking for a pastor. Each of them contacted me through the recommendation of friends, and we considered that each of them could be the next place of service that God had for us, as we knew that a move was coming. It was frustrating to see at least three places not be the one, and we had never considered leaving Arkansas. After coming to interview at Yazoo City, we waited as the Lord worked in our lives and the lives of the search committee. When the call was issued, it was evident that we had found the place God intended it to be, and the time of waiting made it even more sweeter.

God takes care of the details. As we considered a move, we wondered about the job situation for Jennifer and the school situation for the kids. When we interviewed at Yazoo City and I asked about the pharmacy job market and the mentioned the probability of Jennifer having to work on Sundays if she worked for a major corporation, a committee member responded that a family in the church had just opened a new pharmacy and they would check with them on our behalf. To make a long story short, Jennifer was given a job without the owners ever meeting her or seeing a resume! (Shop at Yazoo Drug if you are local!) The education options were excellent. The perfect home for us was available- after it had been removed from the market. I could go on and on, but bottom line is that God had all the details worked out. I needed that reminder, as those were the things that caused me to worry.

You cannot out give God. I have said those words numerous times in sermons, as I preach of the need to be good stewards. As we bought a home, we wiped out savings, then had to replace a major part on an air conditioner unit. It took a couple of months before Jennifer could get to work, so our income was down and we now had a mortgage. When she did start to work, she works less (which is good) than before, so we have made some financial adjustments. While there were times it was tempting not to, we continued to tithe faithfully, as well as give above the tithe. Let’s just say that God has provided!

Relationships are vital to smooth transitions. It is tough to leave a place of ministry where you poured your heart in and loved the people. Those relationships do not go away, but they are different with the distance and the need for them to accept their new pastor. We are further away from family than ever, but the people in Yazoo City have been great to accept us and befriend us. I will always be indebted to the softball coaches from the church that drafted Addison so that we would know someone, for they were the key to a smooth transition for her.

My wife is awesome. I know this all the time, but this year served as a reminder, as Jennifer was the one who had to sacrifice in order for us to be faithful to God’s leadership. After 10+ years of marriage, my love for her continues to grow as we follow the Lord together.

I cannot wait to see what 2015 holds. I will probably need to re-learn these same lessons!