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A Word of Praise for My Children’s Mother

My wife, Kim, was pregnant with our first child when I packed up our belonging in Houston, Texas and moved her across the country to Los Angeles so I could attend bible college at The Master’s College.  Thus started a ten year journey that involved four children, seven moves, and four different jobs.  I was with her with each birth and she approached each of them with bravery and calm that was nothing short of impressive.

This woman is the reason my children know how to read and how to think.  They were taught by her and countless times I would be locked in my study and I would hear her singing with the little ones as they learned their letters and their sounds.  When they fell it was always into her arms that they fled and always found a gentle word and plenty of sympathy.  It was because of her diligence that they learned to memorize bible verses and to read through the bible several times before they were adults and out of the house.  She formed their worldview and she provided them a place of comfort and instruction.  The gospel was constantly on her lips but also modeled in her ways.

She instructed them in the ways of obedience.  “First and Fast” is a phrase they all knew.  When it was time for a rebuke, she did not shirk from that duty.  And when it was time for discipline it was given faithfully and diligently, filled with the faith of the fruit that was to come.  Because of her diligence our children were a joy to be around, each of them a billboard to her skills as a mother.

She prayed and still prays for them.  Her greatest pleasure even today is when the family is raucously gathered together at our house (raucously because that is the only way the Henry’s know how to gather together).  Today she is now a grandmother as well.  I hear her playing upstairs even now with her little grandson and granddaughter and the memories come flooding back to my mind.

She is a woman of excellence and she captures well the words of King Lemuel, “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  She looks well to the way of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her.”

 

 

A Lesson Learned on Money–from A Daughter’s Perspective

I asked my oldest to write up her experience in living in a home where saving and giving were required, alone with work and college happening at the same time.  Below are her thoughts.  Hope you enjoy it and find some encouragement or counsel within.

Everyone remembers their first paycheck. Mine was -$9 because I hadn’t worked enough hours to pay off my uniform. My second paycheck was in the $50 range. I already knew what was going to happen – I was going to deposit 80% in the bank, give 10% to church, and keep 10% for myself. $5 was a big deal to my 14 year old self and I was very content.

My dad took me to pick up my paycheck, then he was taking me to get a haircut, and then we were going to go and open up my own bank account. While I was getting my hair cut, the lady doing the cutting asked what we were up to that afternoon. I told her I had gotten my first pay check and we were going to go deposit it in the bank. She flipped out and demanded that my dad let me go on a shopping spree. She just couldn’t comprehend that he would make me save it, and the rest of the hair cut was spent with her insisting that I spend the money and my dad telling her no. Of course, I was traumatized. I think that was probably the start of my current approach to being trapped in a hair salon – make up stories.

From the time my siblings and I were little, my parents had us saving our money. We were all very much aware that one day we would have to pay for a car and for college and we were very impressed by that ambiguous, looming reality. Because my parents enforced this from the first moment we got money in the mail from a grandparent for a birthday, we hadn’t ever experienced any other thing to do with money besides save it. And if any of us ever suggested that something else was possible, “Car and college!” was always the response.

Once we got our first jobs and started seeing a bank balance that kept rising, saving got easier. It was pretty exciting – even though we knew it wasn’t ours, it was all going to “car and college.” It was exciting the first time I bought a car and paid cash for it and had money left over. And it was exciting when I started college and was paying for it myself. At that point I had been working 39.5 hours a week since the time that I was legally old enough to and saving the vast majority of what I was making. The moment I hit 18 I grabbed every opportunity for overtime that came along and watched as my savings began disappearing into the black hole I liked to call Carthage College.

Getting through college didn’t happen without sacrifices. I didn’t have a ton of free time between classes, studying, working, and church. I had to leave a college I loved a year and a half in because I ran out of money and had to chose between taking out student loans or going to a cheaper school. That wasn’t a decision my parents made for me either, it was one I made entirely on my own. As I prepare to pay for my last class next week and finish, debt free and with money in my savings account, I have no regrets. I worked hard to get where I am today.

A college education has a lot of value. There are the obvious benefits – a college degree is necessary for most jobs and education is always worthwhile. But there are a lot of soft skills that are crucial to success after college that are driven home much earlier when a student is going to school full time while working full time: time management, budgeting, prioritizing, scheduling, determination, and a do-or-die attitude (none of us died!) Every semester there was at least one week where everything seemed to be due at once and I can remember thinking those first couple of semesters “There’s no way. I can’t get everything done and still take my regular hours at work. There’s just no way.” But at the same time, I knew that if I didn’t take the hours, I wouldn’t be able to pay for the classes and it wouldn’t matter anyway. So I went to work, worked my hours, came home and studied until two or three or four in the morning. And I discovered that I lived.

Today, I use every single one of those soft skills that I picked up during high school and college as I work in a ‘real’ job as a ‘real’ adult paying ‘real’ bills. Just this past December I relived working until two or three in the morning for a couple of weeks to finish a project on time, only this time it was a project for work, not for school. Every adult knows what real life is like. Some adults want to keep their kids from experiencing that realness as long as possible. Others try to prepare them through experience. I know without a doubt that if I ever have kids they will get jobs at a young age, save their money, and work their way through school. It will be my turn to say “Save your money for a car and college!”

Nichole Henry

Money and Parenting–Some Cheap Advice

In light of my post yesterday  I thought it might be of some small interest how Kim and I taught our children how to approach money when they were very young.  The motive was not to make lots of money, it was to teach them to save, to be prepared to give and give generously and not go into debt.  These were things I had not learned for years and had no desire to put that burden upon my children as well.

The standard was simple, no matter what you get and where you get it, 10% you get to spend, 10% you give to the Lord and the rest you put into savings.  End of subject, not open for debate or discussion.  Each of my children were faithful to this expectation to varying degrees since as they became older they would have greater control over their money.

This standard took place early in their life.  When I say early I mean, when they were about to get money for birthday or Christmas this program kicked in.  That meant that they would put their money into the offering plate on Sunday and they learned to go to the bank and put the rest into savings.

I am also a firm believer in teaching children the value of work and employment so all of mine were working at a restaurant by fourteen.  I had little interest in their social life and activities, knowing that these would come and go but certain standards ingrained early could benefit them for a life.  I taught them that there are a lot of idiots out there and they must not be numbered among them.  Rather, they should do every and any job with the mind set that when the boss is looking to send someone home they are the last person on his mind.

It did not take much time for their paychecks to add up and since they knew I refused to pay for their college they kept at it with the savings.  The result is that they all went to colleges and they all paid for their colleges with cash.  They discovered that they could study, work and go to classes and not die.  They might not be able to “hang out” like so many of their friends, but they certainly did not want to waste their hard earned money by flunking.

I cannot tell you how many in my church would tell me, or even more helpfully, my children how mean I was as a father.  I sat and heard many a mom (usually while the father quietly sat on the side) tell me how my children only had their youth once and they should enjoy it.  How I could harm my children and make them resent me.  To be honest, I would look at them and what I really heard was, “Blah, blah, blah.”  I figured in the end things would be plain and Kim and I would reap what we sowed one way or another.

Were they perfect?  Nope, not in the slightest.  And at times we had to make corrections and reminders.  But they are all young adults, two with children of their own, who are not afraid of work and not adverse to going without something if it means debt.  Kim and I delight to see our children, we love to fiddle around with the grandchildren.  And we hope to see these things poured even deeper into the hearts of the lives to come.

Tomorrow I asked my oldest to relate what it was like growing up in this sort of home and ultimately paying for college on her own.  Apparently there is a “traumatic” moment at 14 that I don’t remember that involved her first paycheck, a haircut and me glowering at some lady.

Oh, and if you are not sure about what I mean by, “blah, blah, blah” I present this:

That Nasty Business of Letting Go

Perhaps you have heard of helicopter parents.  You know the type, they send their kids off to college and then hover over them trying to keep everything safe and sound so that their child (an adult) doesn’t suffer any problems.  There are many reasons why a parent chooses to do this but two are at the top of the list from my observations.

The first is pride, they have a reputation before others to uphold.  They have made certain comments about their children and the goals and aspirations that those children possess.  They don’t want to tell their friends that their child could not cut it at the school, or that maybe being a successful business person is not in the cards.  And so they work and hover and push the child along so that there is no shame that comes upon any of them.

The second is the issue of fear.  They know the dangers that are lurking.  They know that there are countless ways that a person is harmed and thrown off track in their lives.  They don’t have the confidence that their child has the wisdom to make wise choices, and perhaps they realize that they had never bothered to equip their child with foundational wisdom in the first place.  So they hover, pushing and pressing their child into a path that they are not equipped to walk upon because they lack the basic package of true wisdom to do so.

Yesterday I posted about the need for wise counselors.  Today I want to talk about the time to put wisdom into the life of a child.  I am convinced that parent too often have a child to have a trophy or an experience.  They don’t grasp that they now have a soul for which they are now eternally accountable.  The child is fun at the beginning but as he grows the challenges become greater and greater.  Choices made and words never are spoken that needed to be said.  And then the young adult is off into a world that they have little sense of how to navigate it to the glory of God.

In Proverbs 4:10-13 Solomon tells his son

“Hear, my son, and accept my sayings And the years of your life will be many.  I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.  When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; And if you run, you will not stumble.  Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.”

Here is a key goal of all parents, to be able to let go, knowing that they have given their sons and daughters the wisdom to walk before God and man in a manner that reflects a true fear of the Lord.  Solomon is not interested in hovering.  He is interested in sending his son off to walk on his own before God.  He gives him warnings to not deviate from this path and go to walk with the wicked (14-17).

And then, in verses 18 and 19 we come to the reasons for his “sending off counsel:”

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble.

If you have done the proper job with your children, when that nasty day of letting them go comes you can walk away in faith.  You can have that sense of certainty that the path they are on is like the breaking of the day.  As they continue on it they shall walk in righteousness as surely as the day grows brighter.  And you warn them that if they step into the path of the sinner that as certain as dusk gives way to full darkness, so shall they descend into folly and sin though at first it may not appear to be true.

So, parents, commit today to be a parent who first fears the Lord yourself that you might begin to walk in wisdom.  Then commit yourself to be a parent who humbly points and models for your children they way that they should walk as well.  Pour the wealth of wisdom that comes through a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ into their hearts and when that nasty day to let go comes, you can do it in faith and not fear.

A Special Type of Grief

I want to protect you.  I loved you.  But they are dead!  They were just trying to help me too and I just didn’t accept them!

These are the sad words of a young lady grieving.  It is a touching video that is worth the 2 + minutes.  I would have some tissues ready though.

Faithful Living vs Faithful Moment in Parenting

Actually, what I will write here applies to just about anything, but parenting is the topic on my mind so parenting is what you get.

The challenge of a parent is to have faith.  What you have when you get a baby is just that, a baby.  Not fully formed, not mature, and not wise.  And your task, if you are a Christian parent, is to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  In other words, raise them in the awareness of who they are before their Creator, who they are before the Savior, and who they are in relation to the world.

But you must teach, discipline, and tickle with faith for you do not see yet what your child shall be.  You keep before you the promises of God and you trust His ways are wise and right.  And then you wake up each day and faithfully move forward.  Forward through each little crisis and each big one.  Forward through the highs and the lows that accompany every parent.  And when you do this you are cultivating faithfulness.

Here are two mistakes I often see with younger parents:  The first is they beat themselves up over a moment of unfaithfulness with regard to parenting, though their overall direction is faithfulness in their duties as parents.  The second is worse, it is triumphing and focusing on a moment of faithfulness and ignoring the pattern of unfaithfulness in their duties as parents.

Moments of unfaithfulness will not destroy the deep furrows of faithful parenting.  Instead they just remind you that you are a sinner saved by grace and you need to remember to show that grace to your less experienced sinner (the child).

However, it is easy for parents to fool themselves into thinking that because they were proper and faithful once this last week that somehow that undoes the month of consistent unfaithfulness that has also been present in the home.  This is folly.

About Exasperating Your Children

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.
(Colossians 3:21)
And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Two little passages that are similar in their emphasis.  Two little passages that are good reminders to parents about their role in raising their little ones.  Two little passages that can also be used to be inconsistent and unfaithful in parenting.  Allow me to explain.

Perhaps the easiest way to approach this is by first discussing what it does NOT mean to exasperate or provoke your children to anger.

  1. It does not mean you can’t cross your will with theirs. That is the essence of what a faithful father will do, especially early on in their lives.  This gets to the core of the nature of every person, they are sinners in rebellion to their Creator.  And that rebellions shall be made obvious in a multitude of ways in a very short time in their life.
  2. It doesn’t mean that if your child is exasperated/angry that you are doing something wrong as a parent.  Trust me, if you are being a proper parent your children will be angry with you plenty.
  3. It doesn’t mean you should withhold proper discipline/instruction when the child needs to be corrected.

Listen to me for a second.  Your child is in that mode of thinking that they will win this “fight.”  If they are young (hopefully you meet these battles then and not later) then it might be in picking up the toys or eating everything on the plate.  The line is drawn and the heart is defiant.  You correct the child and order them to do what you asked.  Maybe you are a gentle type and decide to appeal to them first.  It matters little because the child is not going to obey.  What then?  I would say you discipline them, yes, that means spank them.  They still rebel and fight?  How many more iterations of this do you decide to go through?  They are obviously angry, so have you sinned?  Nope.  And let’s just say you have by blowing your top, so what?  Does that free you from training your children?  Nope.  You confess your sin, you ask them to obey and if they refuse you continue.  And you do so until the child understands that to disobey is less pleasurable than obedience.  You don’t let whispers in your mind tell you that you are mean, evil or failing.  You trust the promises of God and you pray even as that little child fights you for the 50th time.

So what does it mean to provoke your child to anger?

  1. When you wrongly exasperate your child (accept that to “provoke” is essentially the same thing) you make decisions in behavior and standards that are selfish in nature.  The rules are for your convenience and not the glory of God and the training of your children in the way of Christ.  Example: Will you just shut up?  I am tired of listening to you.
  2. When you make standards in your home and then enforce them inconsistently you will exasperate the child.  You are tired?  Then the kid can stand on the couch.  Feeling pretty good at this moment?  Then the kid is spanked for not keeping house rules.  When mom has a headache or dad is watching the game can your children get by with what they want?  And then do those rules change when you have time?
  3. When you have standards that you don’t model you will exasperate the child.  Talk to each other disrespectfully and then discipline your child for being disrespectful to you?  There you go!  Hypocrisy always breeds anger.
  4. When you deny them the grace of God that you claim for yourself.  Very common, especially with your teens.  Here is how it commonly comes out: You sin all the time as a husband and father, or wife and mother.  You fail to seek forgiveness all the time.  You speak angrily and unkindly to your children.  But somehow you are under the grace of God and are saved from His wrath.  Your daughter vent though?  Your son act in a selfish manner?  Out comes the phrase, “I just don’t see a changed heart in you.  I really doubt your salvation.”  No idea why this would produce a bit of exasperation in them, do you?
  5. When you are more concerned with the externals rather than the heart of the child.  They can smell this one a mile off by the way.  You have rules for everything and anything.  You are trying to create that perfect child that you never were.  But somewhere along the line you forget you have a soul in your care.  You forget they sin and that they are filled with the same struggles and doubts that haunt you.  You don’t listen to them when they toss out little hints that things might not be all well in their lives.  Instead you squash those tidbits and keep on grooming their externals.
  6. When you don’t hear them.  I made it a point to take one child with me on many of my errands.  It was not convenient usually, but it was valuable.  Often I would ask little questions and listen for hints that there are thoughts going on in their minds.  I would make every effort to not be shocked or rush to answer everything.  Instead I would try to acknowledge that life sucks sometimes and that things are unfair–it is a broken world after all.  Then we would talk, really talk about how all of this fallen stuff fits into life under God.  Sometimes I did this really good, other times I failed miserably.  But the effect in the end is that I still have the ears of my children.  The exasperated child just wants to leave home so the voice of the parent can be shut off.
  7. When you fail to confess your sins to them you will exasperate them.  When was the last time you did that?  Ask your children, you may be shocked.  Do you model for them what it looks like to sin, to repent and confess and make right with those wronged?  Really?  I have met with a fair share of children of various ages who are angry and bitter.  In every one of those meetings the parents were famous for sinning against each other and their children but never going in humility and repenting before them.

Listen, parenting is hard, but training your children doesn’t have to be that hard.  Training early and faithfully makes the hard job of parenting easier because you have a child under control and who will listen to you.  Practice those things above that exasperate your child and parenting will quickly become impossible.

Let me end with a little reminder in all of this.  Remember that they are children.  That means they are not fully formed, they have a lot to learn, they have skills is bad decision-making, and that need a lot of love and patience.  Learn to laugh with them, tickle them and teach them in the happy times too.  Remember your own walk as a child of God, and how much you have to learn.  Let that reality encourage you to show your children grace, even as you correct them.

A Brief Word about Parenting

My church is putting on a parenting class for the many young families that attend.  In that class a broad foundation of instruction and wisdom is to be laid for each of the families, helping them chart a way forward in a world filled with opinions, mostly idiotic. Good stuff, sound material, excellent teachers all should provide much help and encouragement for all who come.

However, and yes, there always seems to be a ‘however’, none of it will do any good if one simple attitude does not take hold in the minds of the parents to the point of action.  It is the attitude of faithfulness.  Taking this class will do nothing for the family if there is not a commitment to faithfully applying what is learned.

Obvious statement I know, but I am no dummy.  I have well over a decade of watching as pastor, and well over two decades watching as a father, family after family start well and end horridly.  They wring their hands with sorrow, wondering what happened, when the answer is simply that they took their eyes off of the prize and wandered far from faithfulness.

One of the first aspects of faithfulness will be consistency.  Let’s pretend you do not believe in spanking, so you decide “time-outs” are the best course of action.  Fine.  But will you be consistent?  Every time?  Always.  With every child?  Even is she is looking really pitiful and sorry?  Or will you instruct your child that if Mommy is tired then the child can get away with 20% more mischief.  And if Mommy and Daddy are arguing then there is a 50% increase in mischief as the child manipulates guilt.

I listen a lot to parents.  And I hear them often say, “That is a great idea!  I have to try that!”  And I raise my eyebrows slightly and I think to myself, “Like the last fifteen things you said you had to try?  None of which you are doing now?”  Then I watch the boring parents.  They don’t have clever devices like “friendship bracelets” which are essentially handcuffs to force the kids to make up and get along.  Instead they are simply consistent.  The how of the discipline is less important that the faithfulness behind it.  Fair, clear boundaries are set and the children learn to flourish within those boundaries.  And if they choose to violate those boundaries (e.g. be disrespectful to a parent, not obey a proper command, act in a hurtful manner toward a sibling, etc.) the consequences are consistently and quickly brought to bear.

As a pastor and Christian, there are many biblical principles that must be taught.  But if the parents learning have no real intention of getting their butts off of the couch when a child needs training then none of it matters.  So my free, cheap advice to parents is stop making excuses as to why you will not train your children or stop having babies.  For the Christian there is the reality that we are to give an account for our children, so let’s act like we do live under the Lordship of Jesus.  And finally, never use the gospel, or grace, as an excuse to sin as an unfaithful parent, Romans 6 won’t let you.
**Updated, fixed a few errors in the text.

Proverbs and The Wise Man Described

So what does a wise man look like according to the book of Proverbs.  You attend a church and want to be discipled by someone but you are unsure who you might approach. Though you are not wise in a Proverbs sort of way, you would not fit the mold of a fool either.  You are a young man (stick ‘woman’ here anywhere you wish by-the-way) who wants to grow in wisdom.  You seek wisdom from God because he tells you to in James 1:5 and you begin to then cast your observing eye around the church over the next few weeks, watching and listening.  As you watch and listen you hear a lot more comments than you did before when you were busy talking. And as various comments are made by men you start asking them ‘why’ questions.  Questions like, “Why did you decide not to go to that event next weekend, it sounded fun.” Or, “Why do you spend so much time reading those kind of books?”  After a bit of time has passed you decide now to sit and carefully read Proverbs in search of how the Spirit of God describes a wise man so that you can compare it to what you have heard and observed in the lives of those with whom you have been.

Here are some things you begin to note:

  • A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless. (Proverbs 14:16) The wise man respects and fears God.  This means he also knows evil and avoids it for God hates evil.  The fool thinks his is fine and can handle it.  The wise man knows the exact opposite.  He is not the mighty man, Jesus is.  He is a man prone to fall so his walk is cautious and the first hint of evil is enough for him to back away.
  • A wise man knows how to listen and learn from God–Proverbs 8:32-34.  The take-away quote is in vs 33, “Heed instruction and be wise, And do not neglect it”  Note that a person is wise when he hears instruction and does not neglect it or let it go (33).  Both vs. 32 and 34 speak of the promise of blessing that comes from obedience. This is something that will come up over and over in the book of Proverbs. In 1:5 where it is written that a wise man will acquire wisdom. In other words, a wise man is one who is never too wise to learn more from God’s word. He has not arrived, he is on a journey that ends when he is in presence of the source of all wisdom, his Lord and Savior.
  • Closely connected to this is the idea that a wise man will learn from others. He is not one of those spiritual men who only learn from God. He understands that God uses others to teach us many things.  Therefore he seeks the advice of others–Proverbs 24:5,6. The wise man is strengthened in his knowledge by seeking the wise counsel of others.
  • And connected to both of the above points we can even extend it further.  He learns wisdom through creation.  In Proverbs 6:6 Solomon says to go to the ant to learn what hard work and diligence looks like.  If a fool will see it he will become wise. For the wise man, his eyes are always looking and his mind is always thinking about how God has ordered the universe, why things work the way they do.
  • He learns from the mistakes of others–Proverbs 24:30-34. Here he goes by the home of the lazy man and sees the slow destruction of the home. Note that he doesn’t cluck his tongue and walk away, he thinks and considers and concludes. I would do this with my children as I raised them. I would show them those who made foolish choices and the results of those decisions and speak to their heart about it.  I would show them wise people and praise those people, showing my children why they were worthy of imitation. The world is full of people from whom those seeking wisdom can learn.
  •  A wise man will learn from a rebuke.  “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you.  Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  (Proverbs 9:8-10) Notice how a wise man acts when he is shown he is wrong: He shows love to the one who rebukes (9:8). He gains more wisdom (9:9a). And the rebuke teaches him what is really important (9:9b-10).  Also, the motto of the book is repeated here–wisdom begins by fearing God.

There are more to see but this should be more than enough to chew on for the rest of the day.  I have a sermon to work on, a wedding to prepare to officiate, a lawn out of control, and a basement that needed de-cluttering.  Life on the edge.

The Power of Consequence

 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Romans 5:12

This passage, along with its context, has captured my thoughts and efforts over the last few weeks at my church.  The passage teaches us the horror of bad decisions and how they carry consequences that are not necessarily seen.  There is no reason to believe that Adam understood the representative nature of his existence.  Nothing was present in the warning of God, that when he ate that forbidden fruit, that all of humanity would be under the reign of sin and its attendant consequence, the condemnation of death.  Yet this is exactly what happened, and because of this, you, me, those little embryos in the test tubes, and that sweet old man in the nursing home are sinners as a result.

As a pastor I would say that the vast majority of my efforts are in the lives of people who insist on making bad decisions.  And what is common to most of them is that they did not foresee the fulness of the consequences related to that decision.  Whether it is the to ignore the opportunity to learn basic grammar in school or refusing to floss their teeth (as if I do this regularly myself) bad decisions are part of the human existence.  I have people ask me to teach them to study the bible, but they do not know what a verb is, much less a preposition.  How do I teach them?  I tell them to learn grammar.  Decision-time for them.  Will they? Or will they decide that grammar is still not of value and that there must be another way to study the bible without actually understanding how words work together to form a coherent thought?

If there was one place I would focus on first it would be with the husbands and fathers.  As the head of the home they are capable of either protecting and destroying many others through their leadership. The decisions many fathers make with regard to their household, of which they are the heads, will carry consequences that can lead to the sins of multiple generations.  What do I say to a father who comes to me in my office with that deeply pained look in his eyes as he describes the cold heart of his daughter?  How do I explain to him that he trained that into his daughter in so many ways, by ignoring the gathering of the saints, by not showing a love of the Lord in his home, by taking the spiritual disciplines so lightly, etc.  When his daughter saw his eyes flow over the body of the young lady who walked by, instruction as to the truthfulness of the gospel was given.  When he treated his wife in a harsh manner, instruction occurred.  Years of this has taken place, and now a father is facing the unseen consequences of his many decisions and has found them to be gravel in his mouth.  It is with much sadness that we see ourselves follow so easily the footsteps of our father, Adam.

Then there are those people I watch who seem to grow and flourish as believers.  I notice that they all have similar patterns in their lives.  One is a refusal to rationalize their sins.  They bear the curse of Adam with the knowledge that they are now in Christ.  They walk in an awareness that they are children of the living God and therefore they are to walk as such.  This mind set affects their decisions.  They make bad ones, but they are repented of as they come to light.  They set certain parameters in their lives that set into motion spiritual growth.  These are the ones who faithful come to church—not merely to sit and observe, but to actively participate, willingly worship, and seek to minister to others.  These are the ones who are not looking for a way around a sin that they love, rather, these are the ones who have entered the fray and are fighting against the sin.  The results are not always seen immediately, but the results are always the same.  In the end, they are more sober-minded, more wise, and more stable in their faith than when they started.  And as I watch their children grow, I see the good consequences of their parents’ decisions in their lives.  For these, I smile and I wonder what God might be doing in the years to comes through their lives.

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