Some Specific Tips On Leading Your Family


I promise, I am not writing this as an expert.  I am no expert.  But a friend suggested the other day that I write a post on fathering and being a husband.  A practical post.  A post filled with some specifics.  

And I didn’t have a sermon to work on this week, so I spent my lunch break on this.  

Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’ve been married about 8 years.  I have 3 children already born, 1 who’s in Heaven, and 1 due, Lord willing, in November.  I’ve also been shaped by being a pastor/elder for about 5 years.  So there we are.  

I hope these can be of help and be adapted to your situation. 

Some tips on leading your family in Christ:

  • Say Sorry When You’ve Sinned Against Them

It kind of surprised me that this was a novel concept to some of my acquaintances and co-workers.  When in passing I’ve mentioned that I’ve apologized to my children for sinful anger towards them and asked their forgiveness, it’s at times seemed to take them aback.  I would’ve thought that adult human beings would understand that if we can do wrong to our neighbors or friends then we can do wrong to our children (and wives).  Sin is sin, and Scripture is clear that it needs to be confessed to God and to the party that we’ve sinned against.  

Plus, if I want my kids to confess and repent of their sins, I need to do it, too. 

  • Worship God As A Family Daily

Have family worship.  Have family worship.  Please, please, please have family worship.  

My kids are 5, 3, and 1, so this is a season of worship being fairly short.  But the fact that it’s daily, rain or shine, busy day or not, has yielded tremendous fruit.  Seriously.  As a family, we’ve gone through Jude, Revelation, Mark, Acts, Genesis, Exodus, and now Leviticus, and my two older ones have a pretty good understanding of the story God is telling in creation, history, and Jesus.  Just because of that.  There’s no magic.  It’s just because they hear the Bible and its stories in context every day.  

The way it works for us is very simple:  

  1. 3-5 minutes of reading or summarizing a section of the book of the Bible we’re in (usually about a chapter).
  2. Singing a song together.
  3. One or more of the kids praying to God for a family request as I lead and nudge them in the right direction.  
  4. We’ll typically end with a little bit of a Christian fictional book (we finished Pilgrim’s Progress last year and are reading through The Chronicles of Narnia now) or a short animation or video of the Bible story we’re in.  The Bible Project videos have been helpful for that second option.  

That’s it.  Bible, song, prayer, story/video.  The whole thing is 10-15 minutes tops.  And we’re flexible.  I often lead it at the dinner table, but not always.  At least once a week we end up doing it on the van, on the way to the store or small group or Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house.  
Again, what I’d commend to you with all my heart, if you hear nothing else I’m saying, is that you do worship God as a family daily.  No matter how you’re feeling, no matter how bad the day is.  5 minutes every day for 2 years adds up.  We know this with exercise, and I believe it’s no less true for taming our family’s hearts.  I’ve witnessed it.  I wholeheartedly encourage you to have short (or long, if you can handle it) family worship every single day.  It’ll yield precious fruit if it’s regular, even if it’s not always breathtaking or particularly moving in the individual moment or instance.  

  • Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

This kind of goes along with family worship being daily, but for kids this is so key that it deserves its own point.  Repeat truth in your home.  Find phrasing that is Biblically faithful and then use it as often as you can.  Here are a few examples of phrases my kids can say in their sleep, now, just because of my repeating them for 2-3 years:

“Sin brings death, Jesus brings life!”

“God saves bad people.”

“God will throw Satan in the deep, deep hole” (from when we read through Revelation). 

“We honor mother and father, because it keeps us safe and makes God happy.”

“Jesus teaches people, Jesus helps people, Jesus heals people, and Jesus loves people.”

“The church has a story to tell, and that story is about Jesus!”

We make it fun.  We say them loud and smiling and sometimes in silly voices, but above all my kids know that those things they’re saying are true and good and important.  And they know that those are the 3 reasons Daddy repeats them to them and to himself.  

  • Don’t Fear Saying “I Don’t Know”

God already knows you’re a human, Dad/Husband.  He knows that you have ignorances.  Yes, you’re the head of your wife and of your family as a whole, but you’re also frail and sinful and growing in grace and truth. 

I have to fight this fear all the time.  I want people to think I’m the perfect husband or father or pastor, that I know the most or am the Godliest.  I’m often terrified of having myself doubted in any of those capacities.  So I have to remind myself (like right now) that God already knows my weaknesses, and has called me to this family anyway.  I can be transparent about the things I don’t know or can’t do, and in the process teach my kids to rely on the One who does know all things.  

  • Keep Your Wife First

I am one flesh with her, not my children. 

I made vows to her that I made to no one else, including my children.  

Men, our kids will leave us someday and, Lord willing, cling to their own spouses.  That’s His design.  And it’s therefore it’s also His design that in marriage, and not in parenthood, we have promised to care for another human being into old age and until we die.  

I pledged before God to cherish this woman in a very special way, a way unique to her and a way that is made, by its very nature, to be exclusive.  

My marriage is glorious and deserves to be prized above all other human relationships He forms for me.  That’s the design.  

  • Have Fun

This is the one I struggle with the most, but it’s so key.  These are blessings, these wives and children we’ve been given. We should enjoy them to His glory! 

So specifics.  Right.  

Take them to Chuck E. Cheese’s.  Even on a school night, once in a while.  Don’t be afraid to break an unspoken rule from some hidden curriculum in your mind.  Go get ice cream at 9 o’clock on a school night once in a blue moon.  These are children given to you to raise in fear and love of God, to cherish and enjoy and give memories to.  They weren’t given to the local school board or to your neighbor or to that judgmental relative you want to impress.  

And if it’s not rules that keep you from having fun but your own silly hobbies or pleasures, then throw them out.  Seriously.  If Call of Duty or BW3’s or golf is standing between you and ever playing Uno with your daughter or ever wrestling with your little boy or ever having playful and flirtatious conversations with your wife, toss the hobby aside.  Pare it back or quit it altogether.  These are souls given as blessings to you, little eternal people He has populated your life with, or in the case of your wife, a friend and lover He has united you to for life.  They are more important than video games or fantasy football leagues, and having fun with them is more valuable than having fun with a work buddy you won’t know in 12 years.  

  • Love Jesus

I’m ending here.  Christian husbands and dads, stay personally connected to your God.  The more you love Christ, the more you’ll love what He loves.  Those who truly love Him walk in obedience to Him, and the more you love the more you obey.  Being a good husband and a good father best flow from a love we’ve already tasted.  

Specifics.  

Read at least a chapter of the Bible daily by yourself.  Pray by yourself every single day. Ask God to help you love His Son.  Pray daily for your children’s salvations, or if they’re already born again, then pray daily for their spiritual growth.  

But however you apply this, walk daily in worship of King Jesus.  The days I am a deficient father and husband are the days I am a legalist or an unrepentant, hardhearted man or a doubter in my Savior.  Worship is the wellspring that good fatherhood and good love for my wife come from, and idolatry and sin are the poison that make the bad days insufferable.  For them and for me.  

All right, that’s it for today.  

I hope this helps your family, or, if you are single, helps to frame some of your thinking about family.  The friend who texted me to write this is himself single, so I suppose all different stripes of Christian (and non-Christian) are curious about this sort of thing.  And that’s healthy, I think.  

We worship a good God.  And He is a Father.  And a Husband.  

And He is the best of both.  

So I want to live in that light.  

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Maundy Thursday

 

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper.  He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, do you wash my feet?’  Jesus answered him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.’  Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’  Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.’  Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’  Jesus said to him, ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.  And you are clean, but not every one of you.’  For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’  When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.  I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen.  But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’  I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.’

John 13:13-20

We who are Christians worship a Servant in a culture that worships self.  Self-expression, self-identification, self-gratification.  And the poisonous root under all that 2017 selfie soil is the same one that was buried underneath Adam’s sin:  Self-salvation.  We sinful humans want to stand in the place of God.  We want to be at the center.  We are, to borrow from C.S. Lewis, adjectives who want to be nouns.

And yet here, in Jerusalem on Passover, is Jesus.

Here stands the One through whom all things, visible and invisible, were created.  Except, wait, He’s not standing. No, He’s starting to kneel.  Wait, what?  What is He doing?  He can’t be…  The towel, the bowl of water…  No.  No way.   Like a slave?  He’s putting the towel around his waste and washing their feet like a slave?

God.  The Lord.  Rinsing off feet as though he were a bondservant.

We worship a God who was made, for a little while, lower than the angels to rescue us from our own filth.  A God who died that the dead might live.  A God who knelt to raise others up.  We who trust in Jesus live differently from the world because the One we love and praise is Himself different from the world.  The heartbeat of this darkened place, and of Hell itself, is self-worship leading to self-destruction.   But our rhythm is better, freer.  We lose ourselves as we kneel at His Cross, His feet, and in service to others, and as we do we find who we were always meant to be.

We have a beaitiful story to share as Christians this Maundy Thursday.  We are free to do the jobs no one else wants to do, pray the prayers no one else has time for, love the outcasts everyone else snickers about.  We can love because we are the beloved.  We can serve because we have been served.  We are free to look foolish because we know the God of all wisdom.

We are free to stoop like slaves because we have been made sons and daughters.

Today is a day for kneeling.

60 Seconds On the Book of Ruth


It’s just a beautiful book.

From the beginning:

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons.  The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion.  They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah.  They went into the country of Moab and remained there.  But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons.  These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth.  They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband…  So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem.  And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them.  And the women said, ‘Is this Naomi?’  She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty.  Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?’  So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab.  And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.

From the end:

So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife.  And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!  He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.’  Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.  And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’  They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

An old widow who lost her sons, a young widow who never had any, and an old man without even memories of marriage or children.

The gods of Moab, the gods of 21st-century America would have nothing for these people; they could never hear their prayers or hold them up.

But the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sure did.

And that God, Maker of Heaven and earth, was about to send His strong Son through their broken little family line, a Lion who would crush the head of the serpent and unwind death forever and ever, amen. Right in this little town, born among animals into a carpenter’s family, under the rule of a pagan king, would come the Promised Prince who would put down sin and all its scars, would slay every lie Satan ever sprang upon the world, at the price of His own life.  1,000 years later came Jesus, the One who reigns forever, through the line of these three.

This is a God who became human because He is for humans, and who bore unimaginable wrath and sorrow to free us from what we all share.

This is a God who redeems.

60 Seconds On Joy

  
So here’s the thing about deep, abiding happiness, or “joy.”  It is ultimately going to be determined by the ability of whatever you’re living for to deliver on its promises.  

If the thing you look most forward to is retirement, your joy has a good chance of being severely constricted.  It’ll only last as long as the good, healthy part of your work-free golden years does.  It’s dependent on them.  

If it hangs on you achieving your career goals, it’ll be as fragile as your ability to be perfect.  

Even if you live for a capstone beauty like family or community service, you’ll be asking other imperfect humans to bear the sum weight of your total gladness.  

They can’t.  

The only One who can fulfill the human thirst for true joy is the One who authored that thirst.  Jesus Christ is the only entity in existence who promises only what He can deliver, and can deliver every good thing.  

No person or career or fantasy vacation can deliver unshakeable happiness.  They weren’t made to.  They aren’t the foundation the human soul was designed to rest on.  

The human heart was made to crave happiness like human tissues were made to crave water.  We’ll always seek it.  So trust in Jesus.  

Better to drink from a well than a mirage.  

A 30 Second Plea

  
John the Baptist was willing to be jailed for telling King Herod that he should not be committing adultery with his brother’s wife.  Shemaiah the prophet had the boldness to tell king Rehoboam about his folly even though there were 180,000 soldiers standing behind the man.  

Christian, do not mortgage your integrity or spiritual authority by whitewashing the evils of an earthly king.  If you alter your standard of wickedness because of a political leaning, because this time the perpetrator is on your political team, then you’ve revealed which king you’re really worshiping at the moment.  And it isn’t the One in Heaven.  

The world needs more John the Baptists.  Because the world needs more repentance.  

Heaven help us if we ever defend Herod’s adultery because we like his tax plan.  

Something Christian Happened in Front of Planned Parenthood Today

  
It is Christian to do this.  

It’s a Christian thing to stand for human rights.  I heard a young girl speak today at the Christian protest in front of Cincinnati’s Planned Parenthood.  She survived three abortion attempts, and was eventually born to a mother who has since come to Christ.  She spoke for the rights of other children who will have abortions inflicted upon their tiny bodies.  

It’s a Christian thing to give a voice to the violated voiceless, to stand for the persecuted weak.  These are people without a Macklemore song or a trendy hashtag.  They don’t have a wide audience, a cultural platform, or a Twitter account from which to Tweet about what is being done to them.  They are little and they are fragile and they are killed and treated (quite literally) like trash.  

It’s a Christian thing to lend your heart and your hands to someone who can’t do a thing for you.  I know that because Jesus Christ died for people who had nothing to give Him.  

Love is measured by what you’ll give up for someone who can’t pay you back.  And so it is a very Christian love that will adopt children and rescue kids from sexual slavery and fight racism and yes, stand in front of Planned Parenthood in bold prayer.

Christian love stood outside a monument to death and hate and violence today here in Cincinnati.  And it shone all the brighter because of that contrast.  

A Christian thing just happened.  And it was unimaginably beautiful.  

  

Intermission

  
For regular, semi-regular, or otherwise interested readers, I wanted to make clear that this blog will continue even though CrossBridge Church will not (if you’re curious about that, see here or here).  

For the moment I’m not a pastor, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share some (hopefully helpful) thoughts on Jesus Christ, His Word, Christian theology, and culture.  

I’ll be changing the name of the blog shortly, so as to reflect that it is now no longer the blog of a church, but all the old posts will still be right where they were, and I’ll be writing in the same manner with the same style.  

If you are a regular reader, I’ll take this short intermission to tell you I truly do hope this little corner of the internet has been helpful to you.  I enjoy writing and I enjoy pastoring, and this is simply a spot where I try to (faithfully, I hope) do both.  

I’m truly grateful to any readers, to Jesus Christ, and to the little collection of some of His people who, for a time, made up CrossBridge Church.  

-Wade

Elder of CrossBridge Church

Writer/Maintainer of this Blog