One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)
Some of us had been raised in Christian homes, while others had not been. Some of us had been brought up in the training and admonition of the Lord, others had not been. No matter what, after we are born again, we need to be very careful not to fall into the same trap that some of our fathers did.
In Judges we are told over and again how Israel turned away from the LORD. After a while they were in deep trouble. So, in their despair, they cried out to the LORD. He saved them. Then, for a period of time, they served the LORD. But later on, again, they turned from the LORD.
I regret just how often and how easily I have given into peer pressure in my 20s. And then I often wondered how different my life could have been, had I been growing up in a Christian home.
George Grant, author of In the Shadow of Plenty says that the bad influence the pagan nations had on Israel after they have come out of Egypt was not the problem. No, it was that the people of Israel did not want to rely on God alone. They made alliances with others, they did not what God had told them to do, they did not let go of things that God had warned them about. They did not trust that God would supply all their needs and that He would be their King.
I would say that my grandma was definitely a Christian. She read her Bible every morning, and she prayed with us children. She reminded my mom to keep on praying with us and to make sure we would learn the things of God. Well, my parents prayed with us until we were about ten years of age and they sent us to Sunday School and they made sure we had confirmation in the Lutheran Church. But that was about it. I often thought: What happened from one generation to the next? Have you ever asked this question? Maybe you have come to the same conclusion than I did: The next generation was rebellious and did not listen to their parents. So they went astray.
Well, that could have been one of the reasons but perhaps not the reason.
Listen to what Judges 2:10 says:
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.
They did not know the LORD? They did not know the work which He had done for Israel? Why not? Surely not (only) because they did not want to listen later on in life. Surely also because their parents had not taught them. Their family might have told them bits and pieces but wanted to leave the decision (of whether to be a Christian or not) to their children. Or, their parents have left it to the Sunday School teacher to tell them about God. Yes, of course, a Christian home does not make you a true Christian. God tells us that we must be born again in order to enter the Kingdom. However, God has given these children to us so we will teach them His ways.
More coming up on Monday: Family Worship Time - Part Two, which will include some practical tips and a booklet suggestion.
In It Takes Time I said that It is important to take time. Now that time I had been talking about the time factor for a good and successful marriage. Today I want to emphasize that we have to set our priorities right (Setting Priorities) in how and where we are spending our time.
I drove somebody to town the other day so that she could catch a bus to go to the airport. It was at an early hour but it was time well spent. On the way back I dwelt on these thoughts...
We have an appointment for a job interview, a job we really want to have. Won't we do everything in our power to be there on time?
We want to meet with that special friend who we haven't seen in months. Won't we go through all the efforts to arrange a meeting with her?
It would all depend on the work we are willing to put into our assignment the teacher said. Oh, and how seriously we had taken his words.
She had to get up at 5 in the morning. But she didn't mind. It was her wedding day and all worth it.
They made sure to leave early to head to the airport and to catch their plane. They made sure it would not leave without them because it would take them to Hawaii.
What about meeting with God every day? Do we take this lightly because, after all, He is there all the time anyway? Or do we think we can be there as we please because He will understand and forgive us if we are not?
Why do we pressure ourselves to the extreme to meet certain deadlines and to rush to appointments but when it comes to our time with God we procrastinate? How about just setting aside 5-10 minutes of quality time with the LORD every day?
I'm very much preaching to myself here, too. I have often caught myself putting God second, third, even last. We are tempted to push God off His rightful place in our life when we forget about Him. We are in danger of forgetting the One who has saved us, whenever we are of "perfect" health and well-off financially. We are tempted to hold on to our money and stuff, thinking more highly of our own "capability", and we are craving for other gods (things and people can become our gods).
God's Word offers us such an abundance of advice how to live: no matter if we are poor or if we are rich, whether we are young and full of energy or whether we are getting old. God, through His Word, talking to us today. He wants to be our one and only Father. He loves to spend time with His children. Are we making the time for Him today?
Emotional or spiritual turmoil fragments a marriage.
Both, men and women, long to have peace in their marriage. So why, at certain times and in certain cases, doesn't it work? Are there any "tricks" to make a marriage work?
1 One evening per week to work on problems.
Meet for a few hours, once a week, to discuss differences in your marriage and to workout solutions. This is absolutely not the time to criticize your man. Pray before and/or at the start of each meeting. Be patient. Remember problems that have a deeper root may take a good amount of time to get solved. Peace might not be restored all at once.
Beware that if problems are not dealt with they might turn into bitterness and pride. Don't let this happen.
Talking about working on problems, we have to watch our words. We know that. But we often forget to check on our thought-life. We need to do that not just once a week but daily. Readjust as necessary. Read and remember Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
2 One date per week, or at least one in every two weeks.
This is an extra special time you spend alone with your husband. Remember the days when you have just started dating? Oh the hours you could talk to each other about so many things. Drive to a nice cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee together. Sit across from each other. Talk, looking at each other, holding each other's hands. Be close. Plan a special meal together, take a long walk, or go on a day-trip. Be together to enjoy each other's company.
Yes, of course, it could also be a time of having breakfast in bed or a planned ahead time to be intimate. You don't always have to feel like it. Surprise him now and then! Put your man first and go the extra mile for him! Imagine him bending over backwards to create an amazing romantic time with you. (Think: candlelit, dinner, fragrance in the bedroom.) How would you feel? Would you be convinced? Your man might not care for all of this but he will go the extra mile to show you his love. Treat him. "Think man"... let him know you are about to hop into the shower, just for him. Tell him that you are ready to meet him. Give him the assurance that he is your man, "the" man for you.
"We have small children," you say. Then take them to their grandparents for a few hours or half a day every other week or so, or hire a babysitter. Or bring your children to your close friends to stay overnight. And at another time you can pay them back by taking their children into your home. How about that?
3 Go For Success! Let him know...
In German we have a saying: "Liebe geht durch den Magen." In English: The way through a man's heart is through his stomach. That may or may not be true. But it isn't the only way to reach out to your husband. Men like to be praised. Don't focus on what he can't do or what he isn't. Instead, capitalize his strengths. Focus on what he is good at. Let him know his unique qualities that you so love. Let him know that you appreciate them, that they are precious and that you find them wonderful.
"He doesn't have any," you say. Really? What about the things you so loved when you first started dating? That's a long time ago... That doesn't matter. Surely you can recall one or the other quality. Go from there. Even if it is just one small thing you can praise him for. Tell him! Show him that he is your man. He will appreciate it when you are proud of him. Give it a try. You will see your marriage improve and your man grow.