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Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men,
but as wise, making the most of your time.
Someday when the kids are gone, there will be plenty of ice cream just for Barbara and me. I won't find the can of Hershey's chocolate on the lower shelf-empty and with a sticky bottom. We will return to a small refrigerator and eat on the antique table we used when we were first married.
Cars will be clean again. The floorboard won't be covered with Sunday School papers or petrified McDonald's french fries. And gum, Legos, Matchbox cars, doll combs and even fishhooks won't be mushed into the carpet.
Doors will be shut, and I won't have to go through the house turning off every light. We won't stumble over herds of teddy bears, dolls and stuffed animals grazing or napping on the carpet.
Fewer tools will be lost. No frantic search parties at bedtime for lost blankets. Socks will miraculously find their mates, and the car keys will be right where I left them.
But of course other things will change, too.
When the kids are gone, we won't hear the pitter-patter of little feet running down the hallway and then feel a warm, wiggly body crawling into bed and snuggling with us early on Saturday morning.
No more frilly little-girl Easter dresses or first days of school. No winter picnics or log-cabin playhouses. No more fishing and hunting trips or wiener roasts or just goofing around with a childish hand in mine.
Someday there will be no more handmade Father's Day cards or wooden plaques titled "World's Best Mom." No more crayon drawings, verses and stick people drawn on construction paper and displayed on the refrigerator.
So until someday arrives, we're going to cherish our moments together. We're going to try to take seriously-but happily-the apostle Paul's counsel: "Mak[e] the most of your time." Sticky or not.
Discuss: What season of life are you in right now? Are you making the most of this time, fulfilling your responsibilities with contentment, joy and appreciation?
Pray: Ask for contentment and for the ability to focus on what God has called you to do presently.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast,
immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
What if you approached your mate after your wedding and said, "Now that we're married, please don't make me spend time with you"? Naturally your mate would say, "You're crazy! How can we build a marriage unless we spend time together?"
The same is true with your children. Barbara and I discovered that as our kids grew older and began to spend more and more time with friends, we had to work harder to spend time with them.
Be creative as you think of things you can do that your children would enjoy. Smaller children, for example, love things as simple as a trip to a convenience store to buy a candy bar or an ice-cream cone.
We have lived out in the country, so when we were in town with two cars, we needed to decide who would ride with Mom and who would ride with Dad. Usually our two youngest girls said, "We want to go with Daddy." You know why? Because if I stopped for gas at the convenience store, they figured I was a soft touch; they would try to ease me on over to the ice-cream or candy section.
And you know what? I was-and am-a soft touch. I loved spending time with them. It was an opportunity to enjoy something together that they liked to do. Was it always fat free and super healthy? No, but it was healthy for the relationship.
A great thing to do with teenagers is to go shopping with them. My girls enjoyed shopping for clothes while the boys looked for sporting equipment. It wasn't the purchase that was important; it was the time we spent together.
Another great thing to do, which we're losing in today's culture, is reading to our kids. It is a real sacrifice of love and an easy way for both moms and dads to get involved with their kids. I once read The Chronicles of Narnia to one of my sons and he loved it!
I remember one night when my teenage son, Samuel, and I went to town to get some groceries and waste some time together without any agenda. His response? "Dad, I'm glad we just spent some time together without any big goals. It was great to be with you!"
When's the last time you wasted an evening with one of your children for no other reason than just being with them?
Discuss: Evaluate how you spend time with each of your children. Do you need to commit more time to your kids just doing things on their level?
Pray: Ask God to help you set more time aside just for your kids.
But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not
hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of
How old does a child have to be before he or she can place saving faith in Jesus Christ? The great English preacher C. H. Spurgeon said, "A child who knowingly sins can savingly believe."
Many of the great leaders of the Church became Christians when they were very young. It was said of Polycarp, a first-century church leader, that he walked with God for 86 years before he died at the age of 95. Isaac Watts, the great hymn writer, came to saving faith in Christ at nine years of age.
I was six when I began to feel my need for forgiveness. I grew up in a church with a pastor who preached about heaven and hell, a couple of places we don't hear much about these days.
I recall becoming so aware of my sin that I would lie in bed and shudder; I was afraid to go to bed at night for fear that I'd die in my sleep and spend an eternity in hell.
So one Sunday I told my mom that I felt it was time for me to give my life to Christ. She talked straight to me about my decision, and she didn't hinder me from making my commitment public.
I recall walking down that church aisle with a lump in my throat; it was a public confession of wanting Jesus Christ to be my Savior and Lord. That decision marked my life. A few weeks later, my teacher asked me to draw a picture of what I wanted to do when I grew up. I will never forget that picture, because God had already etched His mark on my life. I drew a picture, of a stick-figure man preaching about Christ.
That was over 40 years ago. And thanks to my parents' faithful instruction, I can look back on that commitment as the most important decision in my life.
Discuss: Have your children made a decision to receive Christ? What can you do to help them understand the gospel?
Pray: Ask God to give you wisdom and clarity in teaching your children about God's forgiveness through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of
the womb is a reward. How blessed is the man
Many parents today feel like kids are a burden. That's not what the Bible calls them. It doesn't say, "Behold, children are a burden of the Lord," or "Burdened is the man whose quiver is full of them."
Our views have become distorted. What we see as a burden, God sees as a blessing. Some of us need to knock out the windows of our corrupted views and let the Spirit of God come into our homes and refresh our hearts and minds, so we can see clearly again that children are a blessing.
Don't get me wrong. Barbara and I will be the first to tell you we are still in process with our children. We have failed many times. And on occasion I have been so frustrated, after exhausting all rational reasoning, all reward systems and all biblical approaches, that the only thing left for me to do was yell, throw a box of tissues at the floor, slam the door and walk out-just like my kids did. This just convinces me that one of God's greatest purposes for parents is to bring us face-to-face with our own depravity.
We want life to be easy or at least bearable. And when children make our lives difficult, we begin to feel they are burdens. But we fail to realize what God makes clear-our children are gifts from God. God has given us our children for His glory and our good.
When I speak at our FamilyLife Marriage Conferences, I'm always struck by how surprised couples are when I explain that our mates are gifts from God. Why are they so astounded? Don't they know our God? He wants to bless us. He's out for our best interests!
In the same way, you need to receive your children as gifts from God. If you do, your whole attitude will change. No longer will you try to change your kids; no longer will you consider them burdens. Instead, you'll view them as true blessings from God entrusted to you.
Discuss: How do you view your children-as burdens or blessings?
Pray: With your mate, acknowledge your children as gifts from God.
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith,
Since much of what comes into our homes via television does not contribute to a sound Christian home, what can be done to manage this "monster"?
Why not start a Just Say No campaign against TV? I am not advocating total abstinence, although for some families that may be a good solution. But I do suggest taking TV in moderation-say, six to eight hours a week.
Here are some tips we have tried to follow in our family:
• Instruct the kids to ask you for permission to
watch TV. Don't let them treat it as a given but a
privilege. Don't let them watch it randomly, but
determine what you want them to watch.
• Make TV off-limits in at least these two rooms:
your bedroom and where you eat your meals.
• Agree on the number of hours and the programs
that can be watched during the week and on weekends.
Let the kids choose from a list you approve.
• Don't let your children watch a video movie
unless you know what's in it. Read the reviews of
movies when they first appear at the theater to get
clues about the level of bad language, sex and violence
or get this kind of information from websites
like www.christiananswers.net/spotlight and
• Don't just watch TV: watch specific programs for
a specific purpose. Once when I had plopped down
to watch nothing in particular, Barbara said,
"There's nothing on worth watching. There are
other things more valuable to do, like spending
time with me!" And she was right.
Yes, all this will take a great deal of self-control and discipline. But think of how the tube undermines the family, and you will realize it will be worth it. Statistics from TV-Free America show that half of four- to six-year-olds in the U.S. would give up their relationships with their dads in favor of TV.
That's scary evidence of television's power. I believe God wants us to rule over this modern-day monster.
Discuss: Do you have rules about watching TV in your home? If not, talk about implementing some of the tips discussed above.
Pray: Ask that God's Spirit will enable each family member to identify and resist unhealthy influences.
Excerpted from Moments Together for PARENTS by Dennis and Barbara Rainey Copyright © 2003 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.