LEGACY IS NOT FOUND IN WEALTH, FAME OR POWER

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Dads, Encouragement, leaving a legacy, Moms

A Generational Impact that Transcends Your Life

(This post is originally found at Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk website here.)

Since antiquity, men have tried desperately to beat the game and achieve some measure of earthly immortality.  The Egyptians built pyramids and filled them with material wealth they hoped to take along to the next world.  Sorry Pharaoh.  Grave robbers reaped the benefit of that miscalculation a few centuries later.  A thousand years hence, Spaniards hunted for the “fountain of youth” to reverse the ravages of time.  It was a nice thought.

The search continues today. Some of the ways modern man seeks to “live” beyond the grave are as follows:

1.  Through art.  Rembrandt, Picasso, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Frank Lloyd Wright achieved some remembrance beyond their passing.

2.  Through philanthropy.  Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Huntingdon secured their place in the culture by building libraries, concert halls, and hospitals in their memory.

3.  Through business.  Ford, Krup, Getty, and the Warner Brothers immortalized their names…at least to this point.

4. Through children.  Henry VIII was desperate for an heir, so that his bloodline and legacy might survive his death.

5.  Through literature.  Plato, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, and Steinbeck will be remembered for centuries.

6.  Through politics and history.  Washington, Lincoln, Churchill, and Roosevelt have secured their place in history.

7.  Through conquest.  Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung are notable examples.

8.  Through science.  Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Edison, and Hubble made the grade here.

9.  Through cryonics.  A more recent effort has led people to arrange to have their bodies freeze-dried in hopes some future medical technology will bring them back alive.  Lots of luck!

There are other approaches to the pall that hangs over the entire human race…the nagging specter of death.  All of them have a basic flaw, however.  They permit only a person’s memory to escape the grim reaper.  Sooner or later, even those who achieve cultural immortality will die like the rest of us.  Like John Brown in the Civil War ballad: “His body lies a’molderin’ in the grave.”

True eternal life is available from only one source.  It is a free gift to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and accept His forgiveness for sin.  Only through this Gate can we escape the sting of death and the “victory” of the grave.

“True enough,” a critic might reply, “but I’m not trying to accumulate wealth for my own use.  My goal is to pass it along to my children and future generations. I want them to have it easier than I did . . . to enjoy a head start that only money can give.”

Shirley and I have spent many hours thinking and talking about that objective with reference to our own children.  Even it if were possible for us to leave them a large estate, would that be a wise thing to do?  I think not.  It takes a steady hand to hold a full cup, and many young people have been destroyed by money that burned its way through their lives.

In a sociological study published under the title “Rich Kids,” we read the case histories of individuals who inherited large trust funds.  The findings were consistent: wealth passed to the second and third generations has typically wreaked havoc in the lives of the recipients.  They fought each other to control it.  They lost their incentives to work.  They lived profligate lives.  They shamefully wasted their resources. Some even committed suicide.  When the Apostle Paul said “the love of money is the root of all evil,” he spoke the truth.

Should it be our desire, then, to inflict this “evil” on our precious children?  Not to excess, certainly.  It makes sense to help the next generation get started or perhaps to assist with the purchase of their first homes. but if our objective is to generate wealth for those who will not earn it, we are putting our beloved children at high risk for satanic mischief.  Likewise, we must not get so busy attempting to give our kids what we didn’t have as children that we fail to give them what we did have as kids.

Perhaps it is clear now why I emerged from the mid-life years with some concepts firmly in place.  My children (and other people) are the only things I can take to heaven with me.  That’s why I left the medical school back in 1977 and declined almost all speaking invitations that came my way.  It became clear to me that Danae and Ryan were temporary residents in our home…that they would soon be grown and on their own.  Parenthood is a short-term affair, and the opportunity to lead and influence them was a “now or never” proposition.  Thus, I retooled my professional responsibilities and focused heavily on my own family I’ve made some bad decisions in my life and a few rather good ones, but this was my most brilliant moment.  The empty nest did indeed come quickly, and I thank God I have not squandered my most precious privilege of participating in the lives of my children.

From Dr. Dobson’s Straight Talk To Men, Chapter 1: A Man Looks Back

Using Texts To Connect With Your Kids

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Dads, Heart Connections With Your Kids, Ideas, Tech Stuff, Texting

How many of us have shouted orders to our kids via a text? Something like…

  • “Don’t FORGET your homework!!!”
  • “When you get home: let out the dog, have a snack, clean your room, because I can’t see the floor! Love you.
  • “NO friends over!”
  • “Be home by 9!”
  • “BE QUIET and go to sleep! (Sent from your bed; they are across the house in theirs.)”

Me too.  Guilty.

I have made it a priority to connect with my daughter with at least one encouraging text a day.

Can you imagine if every time our kids receive a text from us, their first thought was, “I wonder what encouraging thing my dad is going to say now?”  What if they looked forward to receiving our texts?

Let’s send at least one encouraging, uplifting, inspiring, funny text every day.  There just isn’t a reason not to use this tool to connect with our kids.

As a reminder, put it in your calendar to repeat every day. (Yes. I do this. Don’t tell my daughter.)

Text them stuff like:

  • “You did great at…!”
  • “Hope you do fantastic on your exam. Praying for you!”
  • “Hang in there. The day is almost over.”
  • An inspirational scripture verse. “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Proverbs 13.24 (Just kidding.)
  • “I thought I would encourage you with a reminder that you have the best dad in the whole world! Love ya.”  (With crazy selfie.)
  • “Can’t wait to hear about your day. Love you.”
  • “Excited to spend time with you this weekend.”
  • “Is this a good weekend to wash my car?”

I ran across a picture of my daughter on my pc yesterday and I had this idea.  I brought the picture up on the screen.  Then I wrote adjectives that describe her on post-it notes and put them around the picture and texted it to her.  It only took a few minutes and it meant a lot to her.

2015-03-24 15.16.54

Our kids need our affirmation.  They don’t get a lot of praise for who they are outside our home, so let’s make sure they get it from those who love them the most.

Leave a comment below. I’d love your feedback.

Jonathan

Keys to Making Your Kids Apathetic About Faith

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Dads, Encouragement, Moms

I wrote this on the Homes Devoted Facebook page (which you should “like” 🙂 if you haven’t yet.)
Many Christian parents put more effort, time, money into their children’s activities than into following God and then wonder why their children grow up and love everything but God.

Scott Linscott shared this article he wrote on the subject, called: Your kid’s an All Star? Wow! Someday he’ll be average like the rest of us.  Scott, was my youth pastor.  The man who met me for breakfast once a week to answer my questions about faith and life.  Most importantly, he was a man of integrity and loved his family well, very well, which was something all of us youth group kids needed to see.

I am posting it here with his permission.  It might encourage you, challenge you or “tick you off” like it did many others.  Here it is:

NOTE: A lot of comments have focused on “church.” As one who believes the church is people and not a location or institution, I wish i could have communicated more clearly that this is about we parents living our faith. “Faith activities” and “community” was my intention. Those things come in numerous flavors. Following Jesus is not about sitting in a “church service” once a week. That said, my tongue-in-cheek approach is not intended to offend.

The church in America is puzzled. Young adults are leaving in droves. Magazines, books and blogs are wagging the finger of blame to point out who is responsible. Some say it is a failure of youth ministry, some point to church budgets and some nail the blame on outdated, unhip worship services. We parents are shocked that our kids just really aren’t all that into Jesus.

When I look for someone to blame I head into the restroom and look into a mirror. Yupp, there he is. I blame him. That parent looking back at me is where I have to start.

If you’re a parent, I might tick you off in this post. But, hear me out. I think that we, as parents are guilty of some things that make it easy for our kids to put faith low on their priority list.

Keys to Making Your Kids Apathetic About Faith  

1) Put academic pursuits above faith-building activities. Encourage your child to put everything else aside for academic gain. Afterall, when they are 24 and not interested in faith and following Christ, you’ll still be thrilled that they got an A in pre-calculus, right? Instead of teaching them balance, teach them that all else comes second to academics. Quick … who graduated in the top 5 of your high school class? Unless you were one of them, I bet you have no idea. I don’t.

2) Chase the gold ball first and foremost. Afterall, your child is a star. Drive 400 miles so your child can play hockey but refuse to take them to a home group bible study because it’s 20 minutes away.

2b) Buy into the “select,” “elite,” “premier” titles for leagues that play outside of the school season and take pride in your kid wearing the label. Hey now, he’s an All-Star! No one would pay $1000 for their kid to join, “Bunch-of-kids-paying-to-play Team.” But, “Elite?!?” Boy, howdy! That’s the big time!

2c) Believe the school coach who tells you that your kid won’t play if he doesn’t play in the offseason. The truth is, if your kid really is a star, he could go to Disney for the first week of the season and come back and start for his school team. The determined coach might make him sit a whole game to teach him a lesson. But, trust me, if Julie can shoot the rock for 20 points a game, she’s in the lineup. I remember a stellar soccer athlete who played with my son in high school. Chris missed the entire preseason because of winning a national baseball championship. With no workouts, no double sessions, his first day back with the soccer team, he started and scored two goals. Several hard-working “premier” players sat on the bench and watched him do it. (Chris never played soccer outside the school season but was a perpetual district all-star selection.) The hard reality is, if your kid is not a star, an average of 3 new stars a year will play varsity as freshmen. That means there’s always 12 kids who are the top prospects. Swallow hard and encourage your kid to improve but be careful what you sacrifice to make him a star at little Podunk High here in Maine.

2d) By the way, just because your kid got a letter inviting him to attend a baseball camp in West Virginia does not mean he is being recruited. You’ll know when recruiting happens. Coaches start calling as regularly as telemarketers, they send your kid handwritten notes and they often bypass you to talk to your kid. A letter with a printed label from an athletic department is not recruitment. When a coach shows up to watch your kid play and then talks to you and your kid, that’s recruiting.

3) Teach your kid that the dollar is almighty. I see it all the time. Faith activities fly out the window when students say, “I’d like to, but I have to work.” Parents think jobs teach responsibility when, in reality, most students are merely accumulating wealth to buy the things they want. Our kids learn that faith activities should be put aside for the “responsibility” of holding a job. They will never again get to spend 100% of their paychecks on the stuff they want.

3b) Make them pay outright for faith activities like youth retreats and faith community activities while you support their sports, music, drama and endeavors with checks for camps and “select” groups and expensive equipment. This sends a loud and clear message of what you really want to see them involved in and what you value most. Complain loudly about how expensive a three-day youth event is but then don’t bat an eye when you pay four times that for a three-day sports camp.

4) Refuse to acknowledge that the primary motivating force in kids’ lives is relationship. Connections with others is what drives kids to be involved. It’s the reason that peer pressure is such a big deal in adolescence. Sending kids to bible classes and lectures is almost entirely ineffective apart from relationship and friendships that help them process what they learn. As kids share faith experiences like retreats, mission trips and student ministry fun, they build common bonds with one another that work as a glue to Christian community. In fact, a strong argument can be made that faith is designed to be lived in community with other believers. By doing all you can to keep your kids from experiencing the bonds of love in a Christian community, you help insure that they can easily walk away without feeling like they are missing anything. Kids build friendships with the kids they spend time with.

5) Model apathy in your own life. If following Jesus is only about sitting in a church service once a week and going to meetings, young adults opt out. Teenagers and young adults are looking for things that are worth their time. Authentic, genuine, relevant relationships where people are growing in relationship with Jesus is appealing. Meaningless duty and ritual holds no attraction.

There are no guarantees that your children will follow Christ even if you have a vibrant, purposeful relationship with Him. But, on the other hand, if we, as parents do not do all we can to help our children develop meaningful relationships in Jesus, we miss a major opportunity to lead them and show them the path worth walking.

I want my kids to see that their dad follows Jesus with everything. I want them to know that my greatest hope for them is that they follow Him too.

Mt. 6:33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (The Message)

On a personal note: I know the struggle. My wife and I have lived the struggle firsthand. My son was recruited by a few D1 NCAA schools for baseball and opted instead to attend a small D3 school. My daughter was recruited to play field hockey by a couple D2 programs and ended up playing D3 when the scholarship offer was not enough to make her top school affordable. Both played in “premier” leagues. Both got A’s in high school though we often told them not to stress out too much over it. Both are in honor societies in college and my son now has offers from UNC, Univ. of Wisconsin, Johns Hopkins and Weil Cornell for a Phd in Pharmacology. Neither ever missed a youth group retreat, conference or mission trip because of their sports or academic commitments. Both missed a game or two to attend faith-based activities. Both missed school for family vacations. Both held down part-time jobs in high school and learned to give employers advance notice for upcoming retreats. My son often changed into his baseball uniform at church to arrive in the third inning of Sunday games. Robin and I did all we could to make sure they connected in student ministry even when it meant driving straight from a tournament to a music festival at midnight so that they would not miss out. It was that important to us. My youngest, a culinary student, lost a restaurant job because he went on a mission trip. That’s fine. Thankfully, all 3 have strong faith walks today. That is due only to God’s grace. But, I do believe that our efforts and example helped them long for a community-based faith.

Want to add your own to the list? Comment below.  Let’s continue to sharpen one another.

To see Scott’s original post, click here.

Confession Of A Super Bowl Enthusiast

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Challenging, Dads

Since the Super Bowl is an annual event, there is reason to be excited, especially when “your” team is playing. At certain times throughout the game, I was shouting, “GO!”, “Come on!”, “YES!”, “What was that!!!!????” There were different times during the game that required different forms of expression: standing, mouth wide open, arms raised, high-fiving, hugging the couch pillow.

Normally, I’m not the most enthusiastic guy. It’s my personality. So, my kids were a little taken back by the animation I exhibited.

God Doesn’t Always Answer The Way We Think HE Should

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Dads, Encouragement, Faith Conversations, Prayers

The last two weeks have been difficult. A beautiful, talented, dynamic 17 year old girl from the church where we had served for 12 years did not recover from an injury incurred from a skateboarding accident. As friends of the family and her former youth pastor, I was asked to speak at the service. She was an amazing young woman. I shed more tears in the last two weeks than the last five years. Almost 700 grieving teens, parents, and family members arrived seeking to find comfort and answers.

In the hospital, Haley’s parents and I, holding on to Haley, prayed for almost an hour on our knees weeping, crying out to the Lord of Heaven and of Earth for His healing touch. I recounted all the healings I had personally experienced and those recorded in the Bible. I believed He would answer.

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