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Dear Son,

One night last week my son said something to me that shook me. Not just caught me off guard, but shook me to my core. I was laying him in his bed, we talked about the day, we prayed, and I was about to leave the room… Then, it happened. He said “Daddy, can I ask you something?” Since my son is a very smart 3 year old, I assumed he was about to come up with some reason why it was NOT his bedtime yet. I asked him what it was that he wanted to ask, I will quote his question for you here, “Daddy, will you tell me what I need to know so I can go to heaven?” I wasn’t expecting that question. Realizing that my 3 year old son is not mentally capable of grasping God’s plan of salvation, I knew this was not time for Bible study, I simply assured him that I would.

I stayed up a little later that night laying in bed and praying to God. Asking that He help me be a better dad. I kept repeating his question over and over. assuring myself that I could fulfill his request. However, there was something bothering me. I know of many people (some very close to me) that know what the Bible says about how to get to heaven, and yet, they choose their own path. I know people who know that the Lord’s church plays a crucial role in God’s plan, and that Christ died to establish it, yet, they convince themselves that they don’t really NEED the church. It is simply, a good idea for some. I know people who can quote more Bible verses than I can who are not living them. It hit me harder than ever that night that my job is bigger with my children than to simply teach them the plan of salvation. It is deeper. The following is part of an “Open Letter” I have written to my son for when he is older. I am sharing part of it with you for your encouragement as well.

               “Dear Son,

As of this writing you are too young to read. It is my prayer that when you are old enough and the time is right, you will understand how much your mother and I love you. I can’t wait to share my passions with you buddy. I can’t wait to talk sports with you, show you how to hunt, fish, and do some handiwork. I can’t wait to take you camping, and mountain climbing. Above all of these things, I can’t wait to to watch you grow up in the Lord. You asked me once if I would teach you what you needed to know in order to go to heaven. Thank you for asking me. I would love to tell you. However, I cannot teach you all you need to know in a letter. I’m not sure I even know everything that I need to teach you yet. I do want to talk to you about one thing in this letter son. I need to talk to you about your heart.

Buddy, God has blessed you with a kind and tender heart. As you grow, the world will try to teach you that in order for you to “be a man” you have to be hardened. Please son, don’t listen. It is the tenderness of heart that will let you see the good in people. It is your kindness that allows you to show compassion. Jesus is recorded as someone that showed compassion to others, even when He was suffering from a deep personal loss (Matthew 14). Your kindness of heart will help you to realize your own sin, as well as urge you to reach out to those who are outside of Christ.

Satan will attack your heart. He will try his best to hurt you. You will be hurt by people that you thought were your friends. You will see someone within the church behaving in a way that you know they shouldn’t and it will make you question things. There will come a time or two, or even three, where you are hurt financially. It will sting you deeply. It will make you question things again. Satan will try to lure your heart away from God by showing you things in the world that look great, but ultimately lead to death (Romans 6:16).

Satan will use words of flattery to try to soften your stance on doctrinal issues. He will try to convince you that what you believe can’t be right because _____________ doesn’t believe that, and they are living a good life, therefore you really must be mistaken. He will try to get you to become firmer than you need to be and adopt a holier than thou attitude toward others. My son, if you never listen to another word I say, please listen to me now. Do not let Satan steal your heart.

The psalmist writes in psalm 119:10-11 that seeking God with all of your heart and storing His word in your heart is essential to avoiding Satan’s pit falls. Buddy, there are going to be times in life that it is simply easier to ignore this command. Maybe we are “too busy” to study, or maybe we know what the word says, but for our own comfort we “forget about that passage” for a moment. There are going to be times that you don’t feel like serving. There will be times that you don’t want to “go to church” and worship God. There will be times that you will want to do things your own way, and assume that God will just understand your heart. My son, this is Satan working on your heart. Don’t let Satan steal your heart, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23).

My son, follow Jesus. When Jesus was on this earth He had one consistent message, “follow me.” It is the same message you and I need to follow. Please buddy, don’t follow me. I make too many mistakes I say things I shouldn’t, I don’t always handle things well. If you follow me you will follow my mistakes. Please, follow Jesus. My son, I love you. I promise to try to be a good gatekeeper for our house. I promise I will try to teach you what you need to know. I promise I will try to guard you from the lion (1 Peter 5:8). However, there will come a time, (If it is not already here) that I can’t guard you anymore. It is a decision that you have to make. Please son, don’t let Satan steal your heart.

Love, Dad.”

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Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Are Your Kids Stressed?

 

ImageI am officially old and boring. I have a very exciting routine. Every morning after dragging myself out of bed (while wondering if it is really morning already) I make a cup of coffee and begin reading the morning paper. A few days ago one article in particular caught my eye. the article was entitled “Study: Teens just as stressed as adults.” That caught my attention. I made several assumptions before reading it. I thought to myself “What in the world do teens have to stress about?” Then of course I began thinking of all of the stresses of being a teenager such as boyfriend/girlfriend drama, homework, sports schedules, and of course parents. This article however, was a little more serious in nature than I assumed it would be.

The American Psychological Association spent a great deal of time studying the amount of stress that many teens are facing today. as a matter of fact, they not only point out that our teens are stressed, they claim that our teens are more stressed than adults. The average teen reports that their stress level is at a 5.8 where as most adults range at 5.1. This peaked my interest slightly more. Then the article began to identify what the research says is to blame for the stress level of the teens. What is to blame? Parents. Parents are to blame.

The research shows that teens today have the normal teen stresses like I mentioned above along with many other “normal stresses” for teenagers. However the recent increase in teen stress can largely be attributed to the parents. More and more teens begin to feel as though they are taking on the stress of mom and dad. When mom and dad fight, the teens feel the stress. When mom and dad complain that money is running too low, teens feel the stress. When mom and dad worry about politics, teens feel the stress. When mom and dad take out their stress on the kids, obviously the teens feel that as well.

Some of you are reading this and thinking, “Duh! I could have told you all of this.” Maybe you could have. I am not shocked by the fact that these things contribute to stress. It did shock me that our teens who typically do not have to work to provide, and live in their parents homes, and attend school are significantly more stressed than their parents. The high teen stress levels obviously are not helping in a positive way with the high teen suicide rate in recent years. While I am not a researcher, nor psychologist, nor a licensed counselor, allow me to ask one question for our christian homes. Do these statistics and research reflect negatively upon our faith?

Jesus told those who would listen to Him in that great sermon on the mount in Matthew 6:25-30 (ESV) 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? [7] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Notice the command. “Do not be anxious about your life” This is not just a wise statement, or suggestion. It is a command. When you and I as Christians spend the better part of our life stressed out and worried about so many things, it really is an indication of our lack of faith. Jesus promised that all who seek Him first will have all the things that they need (Matthew 6:33.) 

I am not saying that we live in a world in which it is easy to be care free. quite the opposite! I am married, have children, have a job, and currently have 3 family members and friends in the hospital for various reasons. We live in a high stress world. Let me ask you to consider with me for just a moment how much of an impact it would have on all of our friends and family if they saw us in stressful situations, yet we did not seem stressed? Would it be weird? Would it stand out? Would it be… a light in the world?

There are so many reasons for us to stress. There are many more reasons to be joyful. Phil 4:8 tells us to think on the good things. Parents, how would it impact your children if instead of them hearing you talk about the concerns over money they heard you talk about how God will provide? How will it impact your children if instead of hearing you worry about the future, they hear you talk about heaven? How will it impact your children if instead of expressing fear, concern, and anxiety, you showed them that we can have confidence because of Jesus? How will it impact your children if they see their parents concerning themselves more with eternity than they do the temporary things of this life?

I realize that those words are much easier to write or read, than they are to practice. However, they are not impossible. We have a great God. We have a Savior that has paid the penalty for our sins. We have a God who has promised to provide for His children. We have a God who has established a support system for His children (the church.) We have a God that is preparing us an eternal home. We have a God that has blessed us with many earthly things to go along with the spiritual abundance. Let us challenge ourselves this week, to focus more on God and His word, making an effort to eliminate some unnecessary stress from our lives. Do it for you, do it for your sanity, do it for your spouse, do it for your children. 

Phil 4:7- And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians  (ESV)

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Spiritual Monsters

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My sweet daughter is at that wonderful age where she gets scared… A lot. She used to not seem to be bothered by anything, now she is. She is shy around strangers, she is scared of the dark, and yes, she is scared of monsters.

A couple of nights ago after saying a prayer with her at bedtime I switched on her nightlight and began to leave her room. She began crying hysterically. She then told me about all of the monsters that were under her bed, in her closet, outside the window, on her ceiling, and the monsters that were hiding in her shoes (yes, I thought that was weird as well.) I did what every parent does and showed her that there were no monsters and that they could not hurt her. Then she said “They can’t hurt me because you are my daddy, and if they try to hurt me, you will give them a spankin!”

It warmed my heart that she finally took comfort in the fact that monsters were not going to get her because her daddy would protect her.

I wonder if all of us as parents spent as much time and effort protecting our children from spiritual monsters as we do from the ones that hide in the closets, if our homes would look any different?

What would happen if parents spent time keeping spiritual monsters away from their children by making sure that there weren’t any monsters in the Tv before leaving our children with it unattended. What if parents made sure that the monsters could attack their children through their computers or smartphones? What if parents made sure that the monsters would not be allowed in their home because they love their children.

Obviously the spiritual monsters don’t look like green goblins with sharp teeth and snot running out of their noses. They look attractive, they sound pleasing, they are enticing, they are dangerous. Monsters are everywhere. Parents, let’s make sure we protect our children from these monsters.

1 Peter 5:8- Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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“Open Letter to Daddy’s Girl

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I will never forget the morning of July 15, 2010. Your mother woke up in labor with you , and even though there was some fear in both of our hearts we couldn’t contain our excitement. Off we went to the hospital, I didn’t know what awaited me, all I knew was that my life was about to change forever.

Jacy, this may sound cliché but it is true, the moment I first held you in my arms was the happiest moment of my entire life. I don’t tell many people this, but you were the first baby I ever held. I made a decision early on that I never wanted to hold a baby, until I was holding my baby. I believe that was a great decision. I began to weep tears of joy as your mom laid you in my arms and asked me the question, “isn’t she beautiful?”

Of course you were! You were (and still are) the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen. The three of us sat in the delivery room hugging each other, and crying tears of joy. God gave us a perfect little girl to bless our lives. Your mother and I prayed together in that moment. We prayed that God would help us as parents to know how to raise you, and that above all we would lead you to heaven. This is still our constant prayer.

We know we are not perfect parents, we make mistakes. We pray that God will give us the wisdom to guide you in the right ways and to teach you His Word. Jacy you are my heart. Just a few days after you were born I had to leave for the night for a speaking engagement that was 3 hours away. I cried the entire drive there. Not because I was worried about you (you have the best mom in the world!) I was crying because the minute I left, I felt like I left my heart. Your mom told you that your daddy wanted a picture of you and this is what you didimage

your smile has always melted my heart.

We have done some amazing things in your 3 years of life. You have been to the zoo numerous times to see some amazing animals. You have 2 dogs, a fish, and a hamster because you love them so much. You have been on top of mountains, you have been in museums, you have even been in the ocean. You have cultivated relationships with your grandparents on both sides, you have developed a deep love for your 3 aunts and your uncle, and even your little cousin Joey. The way your eyes light up when you are around your extended family, make it worth the drive to see them.

While you have been to many amazing places, and done many fun things, your mother and I have been very intentional to make sure that you have the right foundation for your life. Jacy it does not matter what you have done on this earth, if you do not grow to know, love, and obey the words of your savior Jesus Christ.

That is why you have been to roughly 300 Bible classes, and worship services. That is why your mom and I spend time at home talking with you about the Bible and singing with you and praying with you. You have been to visit daddy at camp every year, you have attended weddings, you have attended funerals, you have held my hand as we knocked on doors to invite our neighbors to worship God with us. When you are old enough to read this letter I pray that you will have such a deep love for The Lord! There are times that it would be “easier” for your mom or I to just do things without you. Baby girl, I hope one day you will understand that the reason we don’t is because we love you more than anything. As you grow we want activities such as worshipping God with the church, serving others, evangelizing, comforting, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and studying the Word of God to be who you are, not just some things you do some of the time.

Words cannot express how much I love you. I learn so much from you! You remind me what it means to love unconditionally. You show me what is means to make friends with anyone with no bias. You show me the face of purity. You remind me how to take time out of my schedule and play with toys. You have taught me that even I can wear a princess crown and have a tea party. I thank you for that.

I hear so many parents who have raised children before me tell me things such as “don’t blink, or you will miss their childhood.” So I have been doing all I can to enjoy, observe and document your life. Baby girl, you grow too fast. As I sit here typing these words I fight back the tears. I know that you are healthy, growing, and normal. For this, I thank God. However, I wish you could forever be in my arms. I wish you would never get a boo boo that a kiss doesn’t fix. I wish you never had to feel the pain of a broken heart. I wish you never had to experience the sting of sin. There are so many things that I want to protect you from. Please know that even when I fail you, your Heavenly Father will not (John 10:27-30)

No matter how much you grow, how much you change, or how far you go, I want you to know you will always be my heart, my life, my baby girl.

Happy birthday princess!

Love,

Daddy

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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“The Vapor”

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If you walk into my office and look around, you will find something that is very near to my heart. If you rifle through my wallet (don’t ever do that) you would find it there as well. If you walked in nearly every room of my house, it would be there. If you went through my phone, computer, and iPad, it would be there as well. What is it you ask? What exactly would you find?
A reminder: You would find a reminder of what it felt like then:
I will never forget what it felt like in the early hours of July 15 2010. My wife awoke to the beginnings of labor pains. In flash we were at the hospital which was 45 mins away. They confirmed that she was indeed in labor. When our beautiful baby girl was born the earth stood still to admire her beauty. People started to file through the hospital with only one mission, they had to see my daughter. I’m sure this may be a little over exaggerating, but this is exactly how I felt.
All the nurses left the room it was just me, my bride, and tis beautiful angel. Meagan handed Jacy to me. This was the first time I have EVER held a newborn. I wanted the first newborn that I held to be my own. Tears started flowing down my face and we prayed that God would help us be who we needed to be to give this precious gift everything that she needs spiritually, mentally, and physically.
I truly felt at that moment in time that my life was complete:
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I found myself in another dark room looking at a screen that was showing me another baby that was growing. I then heard the words… “It’s a boy!” I almost collapsed to the floor. Initially my first thought was, “But, I love my girl so much, I can’t imagine loving anyone as much as I do her.”
Then those thoughts quickly changed and I began to think about the times my dad took me camping, hunting, fishing, taught me how to work, taught me how to throw a football. I can do those things with my son! Maybe he will become a pro football player! Maybe he will bebe bigger and stronger than his daddy! Maybe… He will choose to preach the gospel.
I made a promise to myself to do everything that I could to not forget what I felt then. The reminders that I spoke of earlier are pictures from the first few days of my children’s life. It serves as a reminder of how I felt at that time. However, it serves as another reminder that I did not intend.
It reminds me that time is running out:
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You see, my children although young, look a lot different than they did. Those hands that used to barely fit around my finger are now used to play with toys, clean up their rooms, hold their bibles, feed themselves, and give high fives.
Those little legs that didn’t really do anything now carry them (sometimes at a high rate of speed!:)
Those cute little sounds have turned into thoughtful sentences.
In short, my babies, are no longer babies.
How could this happen? I’ve held them every day. Their mother and I read to them, craft with them, wrestle with them, you name it, we do it. Why are they slipping away?
God said that they would. James 4:14- “… What is your life? You are but a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away”
How are you spending your vapor? Before we know it, it will be gone.
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Posted by on March 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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“Am I leading my children toward the goals I have for them?”

   It was a usual scene, Jacy was asleep in her bed, I carried Jagger to his crib to lay him down. These are the moments parents dream about (when they are all asleep!) Everything would have been ok, except for one thing.

Jagger smiled in his sleep. You see, I flashed back immediately to my daughter. I remember just like yesterday when she did that all the time. It is very eerie how much my two children look alike. All of a sudden upon seeing this precious smile, I felt like a was punched in the stomach. I remembered Jacy doing that at Jagger’s age which really was just yesterday right? No, it was 15 months ago.

It is incredible how fast they are growing. I sat down on the floor. In between my sleeping children, and began to pray. I prayed for both of them. I prayed that Jacy would grow up understanding how beautiful she is regardless of whether or not she ever puts on makeup or wears the “right” clothing. I prayed that Jagger would be strong enough to keep his mind and body pure. I prayed that Jacy and Jagger would marry Christians who are on fire for Jesus. I prayed that Jagger might even consider preaching. I prayed that both Jacy, and Jagger will not just be “pew sitters” in a church building (God already has plenty of those) but that they would be true soul-winners.

As I finished praying and was just about to get up and go to the living room, I realized something. Maybe, just maybe I had higher hopes, higher dreams, higher goals, and a greater amount of pressure that I was putting on their future, than I was my own.

Ouch.

I was reminded of that old saying “You can’t lead where you don’t go.” It caused me to do a little bit of soul searching one might say. In no particular order, below are the tidbits of scripture and thoughts I am clinging to as a result. I pray they will encourage you as well.

My children will not follow where I don’t go:

Far too often we see parents (maybe even ourselves) who want their children to have a love for the Lord that is much stronger than their own. Parents, fathers, we must SHOW our children how to be a Christian.

We must show them we love the lost by praying for the lost (with them.) We must teach them the importance of making disciples as they watch us reach out to set up Bible studies, invite others to worship, and sit across our kitchen tables in our homes with open Bibles.

We must show them what it means to be pure by modeling it in our lives. Making sure our lives are free from filth, we cannot allow things on our computer screens and tv screens that we wouldn’t want them to be enticed by.

We must lead them to finding a Godly spouse by teaching them what characteristics to look for. One major way we can do this is by praising those characteristics in our own spouse.

“I really appreciate how you stepped up to teach that Bible class today.”

“I love the fact that you take time to read the scripture to our children”

“It amazes me to see the love that you have for studying the Word every day.”

“One thing I love about you, is that when anything good or bad arises you always want to spend time as a family in prayer.”

Statements such as these could go a long way in influencing the minds of our young people. The list could go on forever in regards to was we need to be leading our children. I hope this serves as a simple reminder, as I was reminded that having high goals for our children is extremely important, however we must not expect them to do things that they do not see us doing.

Allow me to ask you 2 questions:

  1. What spiritual goals do you have for your children?
  2. What are you doing to lead them to those goals?

Proverbs 20:7- The righteous who walks in his integrity– blessed are his children after him!

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Is Faith Shared or Inherited?

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                   In common culture today when a loved one passes away, the friends and family are left to cope with the loss, but also the daunting task of sorting through their loved ones belongings. They must decide who is to receive what items, and what is to be done with all of the things that belonged to their loved one.

            Something that is of assistance to the friends and family during this time of loss is if the person has left behind a “Will.” This is where the deceased has written out what they wish to have done with their belongings when they are no longer with the ones that they love. They leave things that they believe will mean a great deal to those they leave behind.

            The deceased might leave behind something such as a hunting rifle to a grandson, so that the grandson will always remember his grandfather when hunting with this gun. Or it might be, all of grandmas “secret recipes” that are handed down to the younger generation so that not only her cooking, but her love, hard work, and her constant dedication to serving her family will always be remembered.

            As we think about these things, I want us to consider this. How are we passing along our faith? Our faith in God is the greatest thing that we can pass along to those we leave behind (especially our own children.) How are they to receive this faith? It is my belief that we are beginning to fall into a spiritually deadly trap today when it comes to passing along our faith to children.

            Parents, sometimes fall into the way of thinking that because they know what they believe, they know why they believe what they believe, and they have a deep love for God, that that automatically means that their child will “inherit” this way of life as well. The overwhelming mentality today sadly is something like this, “I don’t know why my son is no longer faithful, we brought him to church when he was younger.” Or maybe you have heard this statement before “We have a good Christian family, we go to church every week.” 

            It is very sobering to look at the empty pews where all of our children in the Lord’s Church “used to be.” We look at the sad faces of Mom and Dad as they say to themselves “I don’t understand, we were good parents. We taught them what was right and wrong. We made sure that we were aware of what they were doing most of the time, we made sure that we took them to church almost every time the doors were open. I just don’t know why they have chosen to leave God.”

            Brothers and sisters, if I may be so bold to say, I believe one of the major issues that is currently chipping away at the foundation of our congregations today is the mentality that we see from too many adults within each of our congregations, and if we are all honest with ourselves we can see Satan trying to slip it into our minds as well with the idea that we are “Taking our kids to church” rather than “Raising them IN the Church.”

            It is my goal to both encourage, and to challenge you to take an honest look at yourself and ask the question, “How am I ensuring that my children will develop a personal faith that will last?”

      Deuteronomy chapter 6:6-9 carries a bold message from our Creator about how children are to be taught about the scriptures.

       “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  I challenge you as you read these words to be asking yourself, am I doing this for my children?

A great fear of mine is this; parents (generally speaking) are becoming far too dependent upon the youth ministers and the Bible class teachers that they forget it is still their own personal responsibility, to train their children in the ways of the Lord.

            We all have heard the excuses, “I’m far too busy to get into Biblical studies/ discussions with my children on a regular basis.” Or maybe “You don’t understand my situation, my job is just so demanding of my time, that when I am home I am so exhausted from the day it is hard to stay focused on anything, let alone studying the Bible.” We have all heard these “reasons” being stated as to why parents can’t spend the time with their children in God’s Word. To those statements I would simply reply with scripture. Such as the promise that we have in Phil 4:13- “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”, there is absolutely nothing that we cannot do (in accordance with scripture) if we have placed our faith in the right source! It simply comes down to priorities. One of the things that we miss far too often  is that we need to realize that we cannot teach what we do not know. We cannot lead where we do not go. If we want our children to become spiritual champions, not just in the war, but winning the war, we need to model in our own lives each and everyday how to serve the Lord. We must model how to study the Word of God, and just as important, if not more important, how to apply it to our lives!

            As we take a deeper look at the text in Deuteronomy, let me ask you as a parent, if your youth minister or your children’s Bible class teacher takes the time to write the commands of God on their doorposts and on their gates, tell me how is that going to influence the spiritual outcome of your children who are living in your house? We must keep in mind that this is a message from God to parents. In these verses we do not see a message from God stating, “Parents, hire a youth minister to train your children.” What we see is a message from God to parents that says “teach them diligently to YOUR children!

            Think for just a minute with me about sports. Some sports are simple, while others remain complicated. If you have ever been in sports yourself or have children who are, you know the amount of time that is required for that child to be able to play on game day. They must take the time to learn how the game is played. Then they must take the time to work on their own skill set. Then they move on to learning how to play together with their teammates. These things take a lot of time to master. So they have practices that they must attend in order to learn these things and be able to play at a high level. We understand this very simple concept when it comes to sports. Now let us dwell on the question “have sports become more important in my family than God?” As we continue to dig into this particular passage of scripture in Deuteronomy we can further see why God is giving this command to parents, and not to youth ministers. “And shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” It requires a tremendous amount of time (and sacrifice) to instill a faith that is going to last in the life of your child. As we examine this portion of scripture we can see there are only four times parents are required to teach their children about God. Is there any time that you are not supposed to be teaching your children about God? Not according to the Creator himself. Christianity, unlike sports has no off season.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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