“Earn It”

by Roy Baldwin, Focus on the Family

What’s Causing the Breakdown of the Family?

Each and every day, as men and as fathers, we are given the opportunity to lead and love our families and our fellow men.  This has tremendous implications for us today because each one of us is building something.  Let’s say our “building” or “life” consists of our families, our careers, our hobbies… whatever is truly important to us.  If the Lord is not building our “lives” then our labor is in vain.  If the Lord is responsible, what is my role in “building” my own life and helping reverse the breakdown of the family?

225 years ago on September 17, 1787, our “founding fathers” ratified the US Constitution.  The following words by Benjamin Franklin were captured in a letter penned by James Madison to Thomas S. Grimke (January 6, 1834) capturing the significance of this very important moment in time. He said, “…God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments be Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.”  Benjamin Franklin’s words that we “ourselves shall become a reproach,” meaning we have not lived up to our potential.  A fulfilling life or “our potential” isn’t something that is just given to us…it is something that we constantly earn each and every day in the decisions and choices we make.

We see the impact of the choices of our “founding fathers” as well as the choices we make as men, in the movie, “Saving Private Ryan.” We are told the story of a group of US Soldiers who after storming the beaches of Normandy, go behind enemy lines to save a paratrooper, Ryan, who had lost his older brothers in action.  This group risks everything, including their lives, to save one life.  Most of the soldiers lose their lives by the end of the film and the captain of the soldiers, as he is mortally wounded tells the paratrooper, “…Earn this.  Earn it!”  At the end of the film we see Ryan, as an elderly World War II veteran, and his family standing at the captain’s grave who told him to “earn this.” He asks his wife to confirm that he has led a good life and remembers each day what the captain told him suggesting that his life was worthy of the sacrifice of the group of US soldiers.

Earn it!  What is the “it” in your life?  I don’t think for us as men that “it” is an answer we arrive at once and then pursue it.  I think it is something we need to constantly evaluate in our lives.  Also, the “it” is something each of us have to figure out.  Os Guiness wrote in “The Call;” “Calling is not only a matter of being and doing what we are but also of becoming what we are not yet but are called by God to be.”  So, is being a good father or husband “it” for you?  It should be.  Our society is reaping the ills of the breakdown of the family as we know it.  Have we become no better than the builders of Babel when it comes to our marriages and children?

In 1 Corinthians 9 (NLT) we see the apostle Paul give explanation to his “it” after some obvious criticism he has received.  He starts off the chapter with this: “Am I not as free as anyone else? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord with my own eyes? Isn’t it because of my work that you belong to the Lord?  Even if others think I am not an apostle, I certainly am to you. You yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle. This is my answer to those who question my authority…” He then sums up his response with in my opinion one of the most powerful reasons for his “it.”  He writes, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” Are you running the right race?  If you are, are you running to win it?

Earn it! Our Heavenly Father paid the ultimate sacrifice for us so that the race we run can even be won.  Are my wife and kids standing alongside my race track being passive observers to my choices and decisions or are they on this track with me because I realize that I am not just running a marathon but a relay race?

Knowing and experiencing Jesus Christ is available to all of us.  It is a free gift that cost Him everything.  Even though we are saved by grace, do we run the race as if we are saved by that grace?  It cost Him everything; He earned us the right to have eternal life and the forgiveness of our sins.  Let’s go after the “its” in our lives like our “founding fathers” did; like the soldiers did in “Saving Private Ryan;” like the Apostle Paul did; so that our wives and children, and everyone who comes into contact with us, will know that the redemptive power of the Gospel is alive and well in the hearts of men and fathers everywhere.

Family Activities That Build Your Home | Stephen Kendrick – Part 2

This is the 2nd of 2 posts by guest blogger, Stephen Kendrick.  Stephen and his brother Alex have created 4 theatrically released movies including Fireproof and Courageous and have co-authored a New York Times Best Seller, The Love Dare (as seen in Fireproof).

Yesterday, Stephen shared the “Why” of the importance of fathers making time for our children.  Today, he shares the “How”.

A New Day and a New Opportunity

I want to challenge you today to throw on the brakes and start spending more “heart to heart” time with your kids. My wife and I are personally going on a journey to win, keep and mentor the hearts of our children Grant, Cohen, Karis, and John. We want to obey our Lord and desperately long for our children to hear and embrace God’s truth. But they won’t, unless we plant it in the soil of hearts that are bound to ours in a loving relationship. Will you join the adventure? You might be saying, “That sounds great. Maybe I’ll start that tomorrow.” Well as Grant, who is ten now can say, “It already is tomorrow”.  Here are some ideas for family activities that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine, indoor and outdoor activities with your children.

How to Capture Time with your Kids:

ROUTINE FAMILY ACTIVITIES:

Establish Daily Interactive Habits.

Read Deuteronomy 6:7 and observe the four family activities that are in everyone’s routine. Capture those four conversation opportunities each day with your kids.

  • Morning hugs & Breakfast laughs.
  • Car catch me ups.
  • TV-less dinners.
  • Bedtime Tales. Tuck me in prayers.

They all really add up to years full of unregrettable moments.

Invite Tonto to Tag Along.

 Try to include your kids in what you are already doing.

  • My 8 year old Cohen helps me take out the trash every week.
  • Grant joins me for home improvement projects. My Home Depot runs include helpers that get M&M’s at the register.
  • Don’t leave them behind. Develop in them an appetite that longs to tag along with you.

Make Tickling Mandatory.

If laughter is the best medicine, then tickling is the wise doctor’s prescription. Take time to enjoy laughing with your children. My wife and I take turns holding down our kids while the other gets them with tummy tickles. This is an added free perk of parenting that comes with the membership card.

Declare War on the TV.

Would you like lots of extra free time every day? Duck tape down the Off button on your remote. It’s revolutionary. The average American watches 5 hours of television or internet media a day. That’s the equivalent to non-stop viewing 24 hours a day for two months straight – every year. That time is usually non-interactive for families too. So that’s where that wasted time was hiding! I dare you to turn it off and enjoy your family.  FamilyLife has challenged families to observe TV fasts for a number of years, often mentioning it on their FamilyLife Today radio program.  Maybe, you can declare the next 30 days as a TV/Media fast?

SPECIAL FAMILY ACTIVITIES:

Kidnap your Kids.

Each kid needs private one on ones with each parent. Spontaneously showing up where your son or daughter is and stealing them away for lunch is a great bonding activity. Kids never forget such surprises! Talk to their teacher about schedule breaks and kidnap them from school twice a year. A day fishing with dad or shopping with mom while everyone is still in school is unbelievably cool to kids. Don’t you wish your parents had done that for you?

Go Camping.

Research shows that families that camp together closely bond together. It is one of those unpredictable family activities that breeds good healthy catastrophe and misadventures into life. Camping ironically forces families to work together and ultimately develop their own hilarious stories that they share later on. Buy a tent and find a state park. Learning how to camp is half the fun.

Give Grace Gifts.

It’s healthy to teach your kids to be good and work hard in order to earn some type of reward. But they should also learn that grace gives things that are unearned and undeserved. Buying your kids surprises occasionally for NO REASON can be a fun way to teach them about grace. “Just because I love you!” is a powerful declaration that hits them right in the heart.

So, Dad, which one of these can you do TODAY?  As James says, our life is but a mist and we don’t know if we’ll have tomorrow.  If these last two posts have made you lament the time you haven’t spent with your kids today is the day to put the stake in the ground.  Make the next right step and do something, anything that will move you closer to your children.  And, for you that have already watched your kids come and go, modify this to make a covenant today to get back in touch, stay in contact more regularly or continuing to invest your time as a dad into their lives.  You’ll never outgrow being a dad.

Savoring Your Kids While You Can – Stephen Kendrick

Following is a guest post by Stephen Kendrick.  Stephen and his brother Alex are the creators of the movies out of Sherwood Pictures (a ministry of Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia), most recently Fireproof and last years great film about the impact of fatherhood on families and our culture, Courageous.  Stephen is also co-author of the New York Times Best Selling book, The Love Dare.  This is part 1 of 2.

Today, Stephen shares some personal stories about engaging with his children and shares a biblical foundation for dads making time for their children.  Tomorrow, we’ll share some of Stephen’s recommendations about HOW to better engage with your children and will stir your thoughts

Guest Author: Stephen Kendrick

When my son Grant was born, an older friend came by and visited us in the delivery room.  While holding our newborn, he looked at me and said, “Enjoy him while you can. If I could somehow explain to you how fast he will grow up, you would just cry.” I’m discovering he was right. A few days later, Grant turned three.

Early one morning he scampered into my room and began his daily ritual of trying to convince me to play with him instead of going to work. As usual, I was rushing while he was negotiating. “Daddy, I’ve turned over my cowendar and you can stay home from wuck today,” he declared trying to sound like an adult.

“Grant, I have to go to work today, but I can stay home tomorrow.”

“But Daddy…” he countered, “it is tomorrow!” I had to smile at his desperate attempts.

“No, Grant, today is Friday. I can’t stay home until Saturday.”

Didn’t he know I had more important things to do than play blocks on the floor with a toddler? As he dropped his head and slowly waddled out, he muttered, “Well… maybe then you can come visit us.”

Ouch. I could hear the cry of a son’s heart needing his daddy, and I was the daddy he was needing. A few days later, Grant turned five.

I regret to say that too many moments at home have found me busy working on the latest, greatest project or running errands while my four kids have waited hopefully in the shadows. Too often the good things somehow work their way into our schedules and steal us away from the best things – like those priceless non-recoverable moments with our kids when they are still at home. Can you relate? Isn’t it time to redeem the time?

I’m learning more every day that spending time with my children is one of the most important responsibilities I have. A few things have really helped me lately to better grasp this.

A Father’ Dying Plea

This year, I performed the funeral for a man in our church who lost a battle to cancer. A few days before his passing, I had visited his home to pray with him. With a trembling voice between gasping breaths, he looked up at me and said, “Please tell my son not to turn on the TV when he is eating dinner with his kids. I now regret doing that. I wish we had spent that time together.” His words now echo in my ears as I look at my children. Oh, how I don’t want to share the same regret one day.

A Parent’s Biblical Mandate

Some of the most pivotal points in scripture challenge parents to prioritize making time for our children.

Look at the greatest commandment. Premiered in Deuteronomy 6, “loving God with everything you are” is the pinnacle imperative of God’s law. But the next verses explain how parents must daily hang out with their children so they can diligently teach them how to do that. Did you know you are commanded by God to continually teach your child how to love God wholeheartedly? The passage further explains that this happens through your daily interaction with them in the morning, while sitting in your house, when you’re traveling, and at bedtime each night.  Making time for our children is critical for teaching them.

A Child’s Desperate Need  

Our kids deeply depend upon time with us. Children find their security, develop their worldview, and discover who they are from their parents. Even as the animals after creation were named by Adam in the garden, children form their understanding of their identities directly from their mom and dad in the home.

Even if it’s never verbalized, little children look to their parents to find the answers to their hearts’ greatest questions. The words, “Daddy, who am I?”, “Am I accepted?”, “Do you love me unconditionally?” and “Do I have what it takes?” should be printed on a T-shirt and worn by our kids while they are around us. That’s what they’re asking all the time. And parents too often give wrong answers to those questions without realizing it. When we aren’t making time for our children, we are sending them a message,  “Nobody has time for you, little one. We’re busy with things that are important. You are not. Go bother somebody else.”

How many times do our lives unintentionally shout these messages to them?

This response not only negatively impacts their understanding of their value, but tragically their view of God. “If Daddy doesn’t think I’m important,” they conclude, “my Heavenly Father must not either.” Whether we like it or not, we are daily representing an image of God to our kids. They need us to carve out extra time for them so we can represent Him well.

A Nation’s Loss of a Legacy

Research is showing that Christians are theologically losing the next generation. Over 90% of born again kids today are rejecting the absolute truth that their parents embrace. Apologist Josh McDowell explains why. In a chapel service at the Focus on the Family headquarters, he stated, “You can be the greatest explainer of truth. But, if the very heart of your son or daughter does not believe -‘my daddy loves me,’ they will walk away from your truth.”

Using Psalm 85, McDowell shares how King David followed God’s truth because he knew of God’s unfailing love for him. Likewise, children will embrace the truth taught by their parents only if it is given to them from within a loving heart-to-heart relationship.

The opposite is also true. The parents who lose the hearts of their children have children who forsake their parent’s theology. To summarize: Whoever has your child’s heart, has their ears. It’s no wonder that Solomon cried out, “My son, give me your heart!” as he sought to instruct him. (Proverbs 23:26) This principle sheds light on why God ended the Old Testament with the need for the hearts of fathers to be turned back to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. The future of Christianity depends upon it.

Do you have your children’s hearts? Do they have yours?

What are ways that you’ve made some extra time for your kids when it didn’t look like you had any extra time to give?

Come back tomorrow to see what Stephen suggests to help you make time for your kids.

Privilege of Fatherhood

by Brian Doyle, Iron Sharpens IronThe privilege of Fatherhood-Leaving a family Legacy - Jonathan Edwards

One of the great privileges of fatherhood is our ability to live and leave a legacy.

New England is the home of one of our nation’s great spiritual leaders,  Jonathan Edwards. This great man is best known for his public ministry and the historic Great Awakening of the 1700’s. Almighty God used him in marvelous ways to stir people to respond to the Gospel message. Edwards left quite a legacy.

Edwards also had a family life. He married well. Sarah Edwards was a wonderful woman of God who served her God and her husband by sharing her practical wisdom. Sarah and Jonathan literally poured their lives into their eleven children. It was their number one priority. They did not delegate the responsibility of discipling their children to anyone else. Each day that he was home, Jonathan would help each family member and the servants rise before sunlight to pray and hear a chapter of the Bible read aloud. This Deuteronomy 6 in action. Jonathan Edwards was commited to sharing the Word of God to his children in his home as they rise up each day.

Although Edwards is best remembered for “The Great Awakening”; consider the legacy he and his wife have left through their eleven children and their children and the children that followed:

The Edwards Family Legacy

    • 300 Pastors or missionaries
    • 120 Professors
    • 110 Lawyers
    • 80 Public servants
    • 66 Physicians
    • 60 Prominent authors
    • 30 Judges
    • 14 University and college presidents
    • 3 United States senators
    • 3 Governors
    • 1 Vice President of the US

You and I may not have a lead role in the next great awakening, but we can partner with our wives in leaving a family legacy. Why not start this fall and follow Edward’s model of a morning devotional time. By the way, you can start after sunrise!

Psalm 78 urges us to be this type of man.

Ps 78:4-6   We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His Power and the wonders He has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.