Posted: July 21st, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
When we were raising our kids, we’d motivate them with the Good-Better-Best principle. It became a teaching method that they could apply to any situation they encountered, regardless of their age. Basically it both applauded and stretched them.
On our way to a friend’s house for dinner, for example, you might coach your eight-year-old like this: “When you’ve finished eating, if you say, ‘May I be excused?’ that would be good. But if you were to say, ‘Thank you for dinner. I really liked the chicken. May I be excused?’ then that would be better. And if you were to say, ‘Thank you for the dinner. I really liked the chicken. Do you need any help cleaning up?’ then that would be best.”
It is a method designed to continually raise the bar and help your children learn how to improve. On your way home, you can praise them on a job well done.
Part of your child’s success will depend on your preparation. If before you go into a setting, you say, “Tonight let’s work on being a servant,” you can bring it to the forefront of their mind. It might take a little extra time on your part, but if you target the heart first, then right behavior becomes a natural outgrowth. Parenting is an ongoing opportunity for stretching and maturing your children.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God.
Posted: July 17th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | No Comments »
A long-term, extensive study was conducted of numerous students to determine who was likely to stay in a faith community as they move from adolescence into adulthood. It’s no surprise that the more deeply the teens were woven into the fabric of the congregation through activities and involvement, the more likely they were to continue ont hat path in the adult years.
The results were summarized in The Journal of Youth Ministry:
Those who want to help young people develop a rigorous, meaningful faith life should involve them in meaningful service…. Treating teenagers as partners in ministry rather than objects of ministry is an important and empowering distinction for developing new generations of spiritual leaders.
There is no better way to have students serve than with their family. The single biggest “sticky” factor for faith taking root in children is the experience of serving alongside their parents. It may be baking cookies for a neighbor, a spring-break mission trip with “The Fam,” or canvassing your neighborhood and picking up trash. What are some service projects your family has done together? Or if you have never done any, what are some you can add to your calendar? Is your church offering any upcoming service projects or even a mission trip?
What you choose to do isn’t important.
Who you do it with is.
Why? Because serving gets you out of your comfort zone, and it can be quite humbling. Getting your hands dirty removes the layers of pretension and pride which so many spectator Christians have. When you serve, you start to look like Jesus.
Mark 10: 45
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Posted: July 9th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | 1 Comment »
Recently I did an informal survey of around one hundred young parents, and one of the questions I asked was “Looking back at your upbringing, what do you wish your parents had done differently to help you build a strong spiritual foundation?”
The top response surprised me: “I wish I had seen my parents reading the Bible.”
Now, typically my devotional time isn’t done at the house. I go to the office and read God’s Word to start my day. But I realized, hearing the responses to that survey, that I need to be more intentional about letting my family see my love for Scripture. My kids shouldn’t just know that I’m in God’s Word; they need to see me reading it, too.
And start early, for your kids’ sake because their little eyes are always watching. At an early age, they pick up a cell phone or toy and put it straight to their ear, mimicking our many talks on the phone. But are we in prayer or the Word enough that our children learn to imitate our study of Scripture?
Some parents postpone such an emphasis, rationalizing that there will be plenty of time later to emphasize the reading, study, and memorization of God’s Word. Imagine what impact a constant connection to the Bible might have on their lives. Early in adolescence, children establish habits that will stay with them the rest of their lives. Begin early to expose your children and teens to God’s Word. The Lord promises that there will be a return on that investment.
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25
Do you read the Word each day… Have you taught your children the value of memorizing Scripture? Why not start today?
Posted: July 6th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
In case you are humorically challenged, a brief tutorial on the subject might help. Longtime Christian comedian and speaking coach Ken Davis understands the role of humor in speaking. Years ago he shared with me that in order for something to be funny, it must always have one of three elements: exaggeration, truth, or surprise.
My kids were very young when I taught them the Big Three. They learned those faster than their social security number. And for years the premise has been validated- anything we laugh about falls into one of those three categories.
Jesus had a great sense of humor. He captivated crowds for hours. Children flocked to Him. He excelled at building relationships with people of all backgrounds. Why? Because love and laughter can break down the strongest of defenses.
People often ask me if Jesus ever used humor when He taught. Fact is, He actually used all of the Big Three in HIs talks. He primarily used exaggeration, because in first-century Jewish culture, humor was based on hyperbole. Jesus was a master at the technique; the bigger the exaggeration, the funnier the joke. So when Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye and fail to notice the plank in your own?” (Matt. 7:5), people in the crowd weren’t reverently murmuring, “Amen.” They were cracking up because of the gross exaggeration.
In Matthew 23, in His denunciation of the Pharisees, He used the element of surprise. Here are the respected religious leaders of the day, and Jesus compared them with whitewashed tombs that look good on the outside, yet are filled with dead men’s bones. While the crowd might not have laughed in front of the pharisees, they would have gone home, retold the story, and laughed about how the Teacher’s unexpected words caught everyone off guard.
Then Jesus rounded out the trifecta by simply stating the truth. When behaviors are already ridiculous, sometimes the truth can be downright side-splitting. All Jesus had to do was point out the legalism of the Pharisees’ tithing practices- all the way down to giving 10 percent of each stalk from their gardens!
Did Jesus have a sense of humor? You bet He did. Hebrews 1:9 even points out that God the Father anointed Jesus with “the oil of gladness beyond [His] companions”. He must have been joyful- even absolutely hilarious.
Posted: June 21st, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | No Comments »
Most Americans are addicted to self-sufficiency. We’ll wander forty years in the wilderness rather than stop and ask for directions. We’ll push ourselves until we drop rather than admit that we can’t do it all. Underneath the business suit, the tool belt, the judge’s robe, the jeans and sweatshirt, we’re all wearing a cape and tight and pretending to be Super-Somebody, savior of the world.
As parents, we coast along, buy into that self-sufficient attitude, and think to ourselves, “I can figure this out on my own.” But by the time we wake up, swallow our pride, and ask for divine intervention, our kids are teenager, and the die has been cast.
Vance Havner was right when he said, “The situation is desperate, but we are not desperate.”
Why pray? Because prayer communicates our dependence on God, our comprehension that we are, indeed, desperate for God’s presence and help. Prayer can’t simply be a fleeting sentence or two thrown heavenward when we’re struggling as parents. It’s a privilege, and it is to be a priority. It’s also a recognition that we are in over our heads.
Need wisdom for the tough challenges of being a parent? I’ve got good news for you.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
Our dependence on God in prayer gives Him an open door to come in and change things. To change us.
Tap into that power. Fill up your tank. The task of raising godly kids is too big- and we are too small- for us to start anywhere except on our knees.
Posted: June 16th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: guest blog | No Comments »
Surprise Guest Post: Sorry, Dad, I hacked into your account, but I know you’ve always been one for surprises from Savannah Garcia (Dave’s daughter)
I have a full and thankful heart this Father’s Day. Not because my dad made me laugh daily, loved me- stubbornness and all, or because he always had my best interest in mind. Oh, he was most definitely all of those things.
But I am thankful because my dad first and foremost followed a perfect, heavenly Father. He may have passed down his sense of humor or his ability to procrastinate efficiently, but he also instilled in his children the desire to follow the Lord. While he could not pass his faith onto us, he could live out his personal faith daily. Through healthy discipline, a forgiving attitude and quality time, his example lead us to a Savior… a perfect Father.
My dad is not perfect and I’m thankful for the times he humbly admitted his wrongs and shared his heart with our family. What powerful teaching moments those were as a child. He did, however, strive for consistency in parenting and bringing joy in everyday situations. I never wondered about his care or hesitated over his love for me, my siblings or my mom.
Some preacher’s kids grow into a state of bitterness or resentment towards the church. I can truly say that my love for the church and Christ grew because my dad was the same in the pulpit as he was in the home. Being a daughter of a minister is such a joy to me that I am excited my son is also being raised as a preacher’s kid. My husband portrays so many of the characteristics I love in my dad. My son has a two wonderful examples of faith from which to learn- his daddy and his Papa D.
In the final chapter of my dad’s book, Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord, he shares a letter that I wrote to him on a special trip to Savannah, GA. Years later, I stand by those same words…”So thanks, Dad, for all you’ve done and will do. Thanks for always thinking of our family when it comes to your priorities.”
Whether your dad was a Christ-like example or quite the opposite, I encourage you to take time this Father’s Day weekend to learn about a Father whose love is unconditional, discipline is just and example is perfect. Read through scriptures and write out specific verses you find as a reminder of how God cares for his children. The Book of Psalms is a wonderful place to start. God is continually portrayed as a protector and patient Father to David… fulfilling his promise to David: “I will be his father, and he will be my son.” (2 Samuel 7:14) No matter what type of faith your earthly father held, spend time this weekend reflecting on what your heavenly father has done for you. Maybe have each family member write out a word of thanks to God and share over Father’s Day dinner. Or maybe once the grill is fired up and the family is waiting on the patio, you lead everyone in a prayer thanking God for his provision and faithfulness.
Happy Father’s Day! May all of you dads be encouraged and acknowledged for the powerful role you have in the family and the way you provide and care for us as your wives and kids!
“Sing to God, sing praise to his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds-
his name is the LORD-
and rejoice before him.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling…
Proclaim the power of God,
whose majesty is over Israel,
whose power is in the skies.
You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary;
the God is Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!”
(from Psalm 68)
And thank you Lord, as David wrote, for your power and majesty. Thank you for giving dads the power and strength, that only you can give, so they can be the men of God you have called them to be. Thank you for being our Father and loving us for the forgetful, wayward children that we are. May every new day be a reminder of your provision and love for us.
Posted: June 12th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
A father is without question the single most significant influence on the spiritual life of his children. The statistical data from three major studies in recent years is overwhelming. If the father is involved in a church and is growing spiritually, the likelihood of the child doing the same skyrockets. If Mom goes to church alone with the kids, the chances plummet.
Numbers don’t lie: If a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow. If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow. But if the father is first, there is a 93 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.
Is that astounding? Does it put a lump in your throat to realize how important you are in the process?
Men, your kids’ pathway to God runs straight through you. If you roll your eyes when prayer is mentioned, so will your children. If you close your eyes and speak of how dependent you are on God for His power and grace, your kids will be more apt to include prayer in their lives.
Read God’s Word regularly. Share with your kids what God is teaching you. Be involved in a church. Be your wife’s biggest encourager. Talk to God and ask for His wisdom in parenting.
Dads, be encouraged. You can do this. You really can… just not on your own. Invite the Lord and your wife into the equation. From this point forward, things can be different. Things can be better.
Slow down. Step up. When you look back years from now, both you and your family will be glad you did.
Posted: June 7th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
Can a family truly find joy together in a culture that seems intent on undermining it? Even my family?
Some of you are new parents who want to start your family off on a different pathway than some of the disheartening examples you’ve observed or experienced. Some of you want to elevate the expectation of joy within your home and enhance the level of communication and connection. And others may need a complete makeover.
God specializes in new beginnings and second chances.
Here’s the secret nobody’s told you yet: You can have fun and still be a family of individuals with living, active faith.
· Siblings can get along.
· Teens can appreciate time with their parents.
· Dinnertime can be the highlight of the day.
· The three-hour drive to Grandma’s house can be enjoyable even without a DVD player—or anything that begins with the letter i.
· Secrets and sullenness can be replaced with shared struggles.
· Scowls can be transformed to smiles, grunts to belly laughs, and selfishness to service.
I’ve spent countless hours visiting in hospital rooms, and I’ve come to realize that when people are dying, their conversations are usually brutally honest and free of pretense. You name it, I’ve heard it—doubts, regrets, lost dreams, unfulfilled desires.
But I’ve never known anyone who lamented, “I spent too much time with my family.”
At the end, we all know what’s really important. When you’re on the threshold between this life and the next, looking across into eternity, don’t you want to be surrounded by a family that is tied together with genuine love, faith, and the memories of a great life together?
Come to think about it, don’t you want that now?
Is your family on the endangered species list? Many families today are. You don’t need to read a book to raise kids who are aimless, joyless, and Christless. Simply get in line and follow the crowd.
But if you want your family to be different from the world; if you want to break the unhealthy habits you’ve grown up with and start building a healthy, joyful, godly family, you will need a book.
It’s called the Bible.
Join me as we spend the rest of this book applying the principles from that book.
Together let’s build family ties with faith, love, and laughter.
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Building Family Ties
Posted: May 17th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
If you want to see fruit from your family gatherings, you’ll need to put some effort and thought into dinnertime- and I’m not referring to the menu. It doesn’t really matter whether you cook or bring it in. There are more important things that deserve your attention.
As a child I was always intrigued by the personal attention my parents gave each other and us kids. At night when we would be eating dinner together, my dad would pull a three-by-five card out of his pocket. On it would be four or five words he had scribbled down during his day in order to simply jog his memory. Throughout the meal, Dad would share with us events of the day or some news he’d received. He’d say, “The Meyers had a baby, and she’s doing great” or “I read today that a new Disney movie is coming out this weekend.” That small card filled with chicken scratches let us know that, during different moments of the day, we were on his mind. He thought about us and wanted to share something specifically with us. Those brief conversations made huge deposits in the family “security” account.
You may be thinking, “This isn’t practical for me three-year-old” or “My two teenagers would feel like this is childish.”
Well, there’s not a one size fits all when it comes to family dinnertimes. But try something. Put some thought into creating your own “index card” moments.
Here are a few ideas you might tailor for your family:
The Talking Bowl: Place a small bowl in the center of the table and everyone puts in a question. Some could be serious or they can be silly… but there are no right or wrong answers. Everyone has a voice. Along the way, you may learn a thing or two about the people you think you know.
High/Low: Go around the table and have each person tell about the lowest moment in the day, then the highest. It is a great opportunity to let prayer requests emerge and then to speak of how God is beside you in the mountains and valleys of life. It also teaches your kids to take an interest in their siblings and parents. Another option is to share what made you glad, sad, and mad that day.
Celebrate Good Times: Once a month when I was a kid, my mom would choose to honor someone in the family who had achieved something of significance. If you were the fortunate recipient, dinner would consist of your favorite main course and dessert. Mom would have toilet paper streaming down from the dining room light to each corner of the table. She made mealtimes a time of fun and interaction.
The keys to creating an atmosphere of anticipation around mealtime together are positivity, acceptance, and variety.
And good-tasting food helps too!
Posted: May 16th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Building Family Ties | No Comments »
“Okay, who would like to say grace?”
When I was growing up, our family never called our prayer time around the table “grace,” but yours may have. I like it. The word itself sounds like a blessing.
When you pause to pray, you are establishing a healthy habit and expressing thanks both to the One who provided the food and to those who prepared it. The dinner table provides a setting for you to show your dependence on God. The Bible says “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).
If your children don’t agree that food is a good gift, perhaps it’s time for the family to fast from a meal. Nothing teaches appreciation quicker than going without something you take for granted.
And while you’re thanking God for your blessings, remember that not everyone has a good meal on the table– or even a table to put it on. You don’t have to go to a developing nation to find people who are hungry. All you have to do is drive around your own town. It’s important to remind your family of the plight of others who are less fortunate, and to remember that part of our calling as followers of Jesus is to care for those who are hungry and hurting.
Also, take turns praying at dinner. Teach your young children that the meal begins with gratitude. It can be something as simple as going around the table and saying one thing that represents what you’re thankful for that day. It can be holding hands for a moment of quiet meditation, with each silently taking to God, or singing a familiar chorus that expresses your thankfulness.
Don’t fixate on how flowery or big the words. Simply say grace- and as your pray, thank God for His.
In a post by Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, she shares her family’s dinnertime tradition. They never leave the table without “chewing the Real Bread”. Click Here to read her words on how one habit has changed her family the most. She writes, “But when we eat Scripture, we eat the only real food, for Christ is Living Bread and eating He who sustains all things, sustains body and soul. When we eat His Words, we eat of the eternal world.”
Eating together as a family builds ties of love and laughter. Be intentional with your dinnertime so you also grow and learn in your faith. More posts throughout the week will share ideas on how to unite your family around the dinner table through prayer, scripture, questions, and laughter. Feel free to comment below or on our Facebook Page: Faithful Families with your family’s traditions and creative ideas around the table!