A Healthy Home 

Proverbs 4:3-4
“When I was my father’s son, tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, he also taught me, and said to me: ‘Let your heart retain my words; keep my commands, and live.’”

Solomon is giving us a brief glimpse into his home life. In these verses we learn he was raised in an environment of love. He proudly refers to himself as his father’s son and the only one in the sight of his mother. Whatever cultural experiences he might have had being the son of a king, his parent’s love for him was clearly evident. We also see, Solomon was raised on the Word of God. Although David carried the responsibility of caring for the entire nation, he did not neglect the responsibility of caring for his own son. He took the time to instruct Solomon in the ways of wisdom and the Word of God.

These are two key ingredients that must be found in every Christian home. Children need parents that love them, and express that love in such a way, they believe they matter more than anything else to their parents. Certainly, there were times when the responsibilities of the Kingdom took David away from the home, requiring his undivided attention. He seemed to have made a point not to let his children think the Kingdom mattered more to him than they did.

King David had the resources of the kingdom at his disposal. He would be able to provide the best tutors for his children, and send them to the best schools. While it is necessary to have help, we must realize, as parents, we are the primary players in the spiritual development of our children. Sunday school teachers and youth pastors are a huge blessing, and can have a tremendous influence on our children, for the Lord. However, we, as parents, need to make the primary investments of the things of God, into the lives of our kids.

I think the reason it is somewhat difficult to do this, is because of the fact, we cannot give what we do not have. I am incapable of helping my son with his calculus homework, because I do not understand the subject. Some parents are the same way with the Bible. If you do not spend time reading the Bible, you will not have anything to share with your children or others.

The key to investing the things of the Lord in the lives of your children, is taking time to, first, make those investments in your own life.

Pastor Jim

 

Godly Home 

2 Timothy 1:5
When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”

Timothy is one of the stars of the New Testament. His story has all the makings of a blockbuster hit. When we are first introduced to him, he is a teenager described as “being well spoken of in all the churches.” We know that his commitment to Christ struck a chord with the apostle Paul, who invited him to join the ministry team and take the Gospel to the unreached people of the ancient world. While traveling with some of the greatest saints of all time, Timothy rose to the top and became Paul’s most trusted ally and closest friend. By the time his story comes to a close, he is pastoring one of the most influential churches the world has ever known, in the bustling city of Ephesus. We know his success in following and serving Christ had much to do with a teenage decision to surrender to Jesus and the influence of Paul, but we also find that he was greatly impacted at home.

From the few scattered pieces recorded about Timothy’s home life, we can surmise that he grew up in a family with an unbelieving father and a committed mother. Since we know that his mom was Jewish, and as such, was forbidden to marry a gentile, we know that her past included a time of having wandered from the Lord. Rather than letting her past define her present, Eunice determined to raise her son around the things of the Lord. Along with the assistance of her mother, Lois, they raised Timothy on a healthy diet of the Word of God. It is not a stretch to conclude, he was actually taught to read and write using the Word of God as his textbook. With such a godly foundation having been laid, it is no wonder this young man became one of the great saints of all time.

Perhaps you are in a less than ideal family situation. Perhaps you are even the cause of much of the struggle. Instead of letting the past write your future, take the time to surrender all to Christ, and make your home a place where others will be instructed in the ways of God. It is not too late to allow God to use your life to influence others for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pastor Jim

 

Leading The Way

Isaiah 3:12
“…O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths.”

Isaiah is warning of coming judgment. The people had left the ways of God; perhaps thinking the Word of God was antiquated. Instead of being a nation that shone as a light to the world around them, Judah had become like all the other nations. Morally, spiritually and ethically, the people who were called by God to be a light, looked all too similar to the world around them. Isaiah points out one of the main contributors to their downfall,

“Those who lead you cause you to err. . .”

Those who should have been leading the people to follow the paths of God, were in fact, leading the people away from God. Jesus warned about blind leaders who led blind followers right into a ditch (Matthew 15:14). A nation is in trouble when the leaders lose sight of the proper destination. But who are these leaders? Who are the people who have the greatest influence on the next generation?

It is not difficult to see the influence entertainers have upon a culture. Whether it is a sports hero, musician, or actor, they have a powerful platform, and a strong voice. Both, companies and causes, understand the way to increase their influence is to get a famous person behind their product. That being said, the most influential leader with the loudest voice to the next generation, is the voice that happens within the home. Parents continue to have the most powerful effect in the lives of their children.

If we want to see the next generation walking with the Lord and seeking to honor Him, we cannot leave that kind of leadership to others. Christian parents cannot expect the church to be the primary tutor of their children’s spiritual development. That is the role of the parent. Every mom and dad who wants to see their kids walk with the Lord, should determine to walk with Him themselves. If you want your children to read their Bible, start reading yours. If you want your kids to make good choices, exemplify that in your life. If you want your kids to think living for Christ means we follow a higher standard than the world around us, then be sure you are living by that standard yourself.

In our nation, we have developed a dangerous trend. Parents have bought into the lie that children are resilient and can withstand divorce. Time and time again, I hear people say, they split up for the sake of the kids. “All we ever did was fight and that was not a healthy environment for raising children, so we decided to split up.” If you have decided to divorce your spouse, you are not doing it for the children. If the children were your concern, you would do whatever it takes to work through the problems in your marriage, and create an environment where the love and grace of God are being seen daily.

Instead of blaming the world around us for all the problems, it is high time the people of God stood up and began to lead.

Pastor Jim

 

Parenting

Proverbs 29:15
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”

Proverbs 29:17
“Correct your son, and he will give you rest;
Yes, he will give delight to your soul.”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1265.jpgBefore becoming the Pastor of Calvary Chapel Vero Beach, I spent eight years teaching in the classroom. The first five years I taught in middle school and the final three in high school. Those years proved to be both a wonderful experience and an excellent training ground for raising my own children. My first year was interesting to say the least. I was 23 years old and newly married. I had little experience dealing with preteens, except for the fact that I had been one. My approach in the classroom could have been called the “whose your buddy” method. I attempted to be the cool teacher, who never gave out detentions, office referrals, or parent contacts. The result was chaos. After a few months, I spoke with an aunt who had been in education for years. When I asked for her secret to order in the classroom, she explained that she did not have disciplinary problems, because she had a standard the students understood and she stuck to. Soon after, I observed another teacher who clearly stated the classroom standards and kept to them. When a student misbehaved, she did not become emotional, losing her cool and raising her voice, she simply pointed out that he was breaking the rules, and disciplined accordingly. Those experiences transformed my ability to instruct the children. Instead of spending all my time, energy, and prayer life, dealing with discipline, I was able to teach.

Solomon points out, this same principle should be applied to the home. We have all seen children misbehaving and parents doing nothing more than warning them to stop. As the child continues, the parent raises the level of his voice, until the parent has completely lost his cool. Soon, he begins to scream at the child, perhaps even grabbing the child forcefully by the arm, to snatch him up and leave without further embarrassment. If we are honest, we have not only seen that parent, but we have been that parent. The secret to successful discipline is having a clear biblical standard for our children. The result will be spending less time agitated and upset, and more time instructing and loving our kids.

Allow me to give a few guidelines. First, our standard is based upon how our Heavenly Father treats us. He is ever merciful and forgiving, and understands we are prone to failure. Never does God condone sin, but He is always ready to lovingly restore us, when we fail. One common failure among parents is, putting standards on children that they themselves could not keep. Second, when we must exercise discipline, this should become a teaching time. Instead of allowing our emotions to take over and reacting in anger or frustration, we want to clearly point out how our child has misbehaved. We must explain what the Bible says about proper behavior, consequences, and forgiveness. This is a critical time to hug and pray with our children. Finally, we must be sure the punishment fits the crime. Are we upset at our child because his behavior was wrong or because it embarrassed us in front of our peers? I have seen parents horrified at their child because they bit another child in Sunday school. While it is wrong to bite other kids, in some cases, the parents were more embarrassed by how that made them look, than at the infraction of their toddler. I have even known parents to stop coming to church because of the embarrassment. Keep in mind, your child’s behavior is not always a representation of your parenting. After all, God’s kids ate the forbidden fruit. Don’t discipline out of embarrassment, but discipline with kindness and affection, for the infraction that has been committed.

Pastor Jim