Temptation – Worth the Risk

Temptation is on my mind. Wanna guess which one!?

No, not that one.

I’m thinking about how I teach my kids to deal with temptation. More specifically, I’m thinking about how I react to my kids when I realize they are facing a temptation.

Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about any one particular temptation, but temptation in general, from simple disobedience to the kind of temptation that leads down a destructive path. How do I react to my kids when I realize they are tempted?

I know what I want to do. I want to give them wise instruction. I want to inspire them with an example of my own success, or where I’ve failed, the success of others. I want to encourage a loving self-discipline that equips them to choose the wise path. I want them to succeed…even if that means I have to force success on them.

Did you see where I crossed the line? It’s that last sentence.

Temptation can be a scary thing. Give in to the wrong thing and the consequences you face may be irreversible. I don’t want my kids to play with fire. They might get burned. So, out of fear and concern, discipline comes prematurely. Instead of correcting bad behavior we correct at the first glimmer of temptation. It’s compounded by the fact I’m disappointed they found that tempting in the first place. We overreact and underestimate. Instead of offering wise counsel that leads our children to choose for themselves we remove from them the responsibility for making the choice in the first place. And with that form of discipline we make the temptation for the child even more enticing.

Yes. We protected them from one thing but created in them a curiosity that won’t be satisfied until they experience the victory that comes from choosing for themselves.

It’s a fine line we walk as parents. Every child is different, every situation unique. We must learn to discern when it’s time, to step in the way to protect, or to step out of the way and let our child discover what they’re capable of.

Give your child room.

Don’t be disappointed when they are tempted. Be proud of how they overcome.

Don’t Miss this Date

I’m not too far from the day my kids start dating. It makes me wonder how to pray for them and those they will date.

For my daughter – I don’t want her to date a boy. I want her to date a young man. Someone with the courage to look her father in the eye and say, “I intend to date your daughter.” Someone who understands her heart is in my heart and firmly held in the grace of God. Someone, with the strength of godly character, daring an attempt to win her heart from mine, and bold enough to ask God to allow him to become an instrument of His grace in her life.

For my sons – I don’t want them to date a girl. I want them to date a young woman. I pray my boys would become the kind of men I just described. I hope they are attracted to strong, wise, godly women, beautiful from the inside-out, who challenge and encourage them to become mighty men of valor.

For them all – I pray they would recognize the truth and power of Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.” A date, a spouse, these are not what complete you. They are an earthly reflection of the grace and love of God in our lives. As my children begin dating I hope they understand the remarkable opportunity they have to be an extension of that grace to someone else.

For those who will one day enter my home with a desire to date my kids, know this – I look forward to meeting you. I’m praying for you now, that the presence of God in your life today would be overwhelming and prepare you for that moment when you become the reflection and receiver of the grace of God with my kids.

Parents: Making Kids Believe You

parents1 Thessalonians 2

One of the most challenging parts of being a parent is learning how to navigate those areas of life where you and your child disagree. Because my wife was leading an event at church I was Mr. Mom last night. After we played outside I looked at my boys and said, “Bath time!” When mom says that there’s not usually an argument, just simple obedience. They hop up and get in the bath. But last night we enjoyed a guy’s night together and they weren’t done playing. My oldest son whined, my middle son pouted. My youngest son informed me that the Hulk doesn’t take a bath! Clearly that’s reason enough for him to skip his daily splash down!

When children are young parents can get away with influencing their kids using flimsy reasons like, “because I said so”. We can enforce our will by restricting privileges, removing certain toys and activities or using some form of loving corporal punishment. But as children grow older the effectiveness of each of those tools is diminished. There comes a point where our children begin to make a choice. They either believe we know what we’re talking about and follow our influence or they don’t.

In the past I’ve asked the question, “Is the quality of my parenting measured by the character of my kids?” To learn more read, “The Parent Trap“, a brief look at some of my answers to that question. But there’s another question here that is more practical. “How do I get my kids to believe me?”

There’s a pattern in Scripture. In some places we see the Bible say, “Children obey your parents.” In others we read, “Honor your father and mother.” I believe these instructions represent stages in the life of a child. When a child is young the goal is, “Children obey your parents.” When kids are young there is so much they don’t know. They need instruction and guidance. They need protection from the harsh realities of the world. They need the filter of their parents to help them understand right from wrong, good from bad, safe versus dangerous. When a parent yells, “STOP!” at a young child about to run into a busy street instant and complete obedience is necessary to save their life.

But as children grow older the goal changes. Today, I’m a father, but I’m also a son. I have incredible parents. I am blessed by them in ways too numerous to count. There’s never been a time in my life when they’ve failed to support and encourage me. I know I can trust them to provide wise, godly advice for any decision I have to make. But because I am an adult ultimately the decision is mine. At this point in our relationship together the significance of the Biblical instruction has changed from, “Children obey your parents”, to “Honor your father and mother.”

And that’s the goal. When children are young we want them to obey their parents, not for the ease, comfort and pleasure of the parent, not because ‘father knows best’, not because ‘I said so’, but because children who obey their parents when they are young grow into adults who honor their father and mother when they are old. As children grow older and eventually become adults our relationship with one another matures. What once was a matter of simple obedience now is a matter of mutual respect. What began with the hard and fast rule now is the guiding principle and precept.

Here’s how this applies to 1 Thessalonians 2. Paul talks to the people of the church at Thessalonica as though they were his children. He doesn’t say, “Do what I say because I’m an apostle and I command you.” Instead, he pleads with them as a loving father would his adult son. He lays down clear principles and precepts. He doesn’t pull punches, but he also doesn’t demand blind obedience. On the contrary Paul takes the time to lovingly convince, persuade and instruct them in the ways of God. I believe the affect of this approach is clearly seen in verse 13.

1 Thessalonians 2:13, “Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.”

That’s what I hope happens with my children. To some degree I’ve already seen it. What began with “because I said so” is maturing into conversations about how we make decisions on our own, what guiding principles and precepts help us choose wisely and why some things are simply right and others completely wrong. Ultimately the reason they make the choices they do has to be bigger than pleasing mom and dad. It has to be because they are convinced it is the wise, the right and the best choice to make.

And that’s what God wants from us. Certainly simple obedience is important. God really does know best so we should do what he says. While God honors blind obedience I don’t believe that’s what he wants from us in the long run. I think he wants us to mature past “children, obey your heavenly father,” to “children, honor your heavenly father.” Obedience out of compulsion is fine. Honor out of respect is better. Choosing to follow God out of honor and respect for Him is more admirable than choosing to follow God out of fear of punishment. Both may lead to the same outcome, but one is an expression of character and love, the other an expression of submission and fear.

Paul finishes the chapter the way every parent wants to be able to talk about their children. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, “After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy.”

Will you be the pride and joy of your Heavenly Father today?


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for my parents. Because of them I am blessed beyond words. Thank you that they have given me a remarkable example and pattern to follow as I raise my own children. Thank you that as I grew older they didn’t settle for demanding that I obey them because they said so, but they took the time to help me understand the differences between right and wrong, wisdom and foolishness. Now, as an adult, I can make right choices that lead to my success, that honor them and help me follow God. I pray that today you would bless my parents with your favor and loving-kindness. Let them know they are loved and appreciated – not just by me, but by so many others.

Be with my kids. Protect them from sin, temptation and harm. Help me to train them up in the way they should go. Give me the patience to help us move beyond “Children obey your parents,” to “Honor your father and mother.”

More than all these things help me to follow your word. Help me understand your will for me and my family. Help us become your pride and joy.

I love you, in Jesus name –

Wicked: The Justice to Come

If you’re following along at home we’ve been reading one chapter of the Bible each day. So far this year you’ve read 2 John, 2 Peter, 2 Thessalonians, 2 Timothy, 3 John, Colossians, Habakkuk, Haggai, Joel, Jonah, Jude, Nahum, Obadiah, Philemon, Philippians, Romans, Ruth, Zephaniah, and today we’ll finish Malachi.

Congratulations! In just a couple of months you have read 19 books of the Bible! You’ve read 9 from the Old Testament and 10 from the New. That’s about a quarter of the Old Testament and a third of the New. What do you know now that you didn’t know before? Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow as you keep going.

We’ll finish Malachi today. Next we begin the books of the Bible that have 5 chapters. Let’s go to 1 Thessalonians. 5 chapters. 5 days. You’ll complete your 20th book of the Bible!

Malachi 4

Malachi 4 is prophetic. It tells two stories. The first is about the end of the world as we know it. The day will come when the wicked receive their just rewards. Right now I have three friends who are learning to live with the wicked choices of people they love. Their choices are ripping their family apart. It hurts to watch them go through the pain. It’s frustrating to see justice delayed. I want God to fix it. I want to see his wrath, judgment and vengeance poured out on the ones causing the problem. As a friend, I’m a step removed from the situation, but I still have a hard time controlling the anger I feel toward those who have caused the problem. I can’t imagine how my friends are working through it.

Because of situations like these I don’t know if the first part of Malachi 4 is reassuring or terrifying. The wicked will be punished. While I’m glad for the justice it doesn’t have to be this way. The wicked could repent. The lost could be found. They could come to their senses. That’s what I hope and pray, but we know how things really work. Some will repent. Some will not. Those who don’t will one day face the justice of Malachi 4. They will eventually be nothing more than dust under the feet of God’s people. Reassuring…and terrifying.

There’s another prophecy here. This prophecy tells how people can avoid the punishment described in the first part of the chapter. It reveals how the wicked can be redeemed. Malachi points to a messenger who will preach repentance. He says, “His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers…” (Malachi 4:6)

Imagine how different our world would be if children were inspired by their fathers. What if fathers could look at their children and honestly say, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”?

I can’t think of anything our world needs more.


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your word and how you use that word to challenge, strengthen and encourage me. Thank you for those who are reading along with me. May you bless them with your favor today. Keep the heart of my children turned toward me. Help me to be a father who inspires his kids. Give me the strength and courage to make choices that would allow me to honestly say to my kids, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Let the heart of my family always be turned toward you, our Heavenly Father.

For my friends who are hurting right now because of the wicked choices of others I pray that you would give them strength and endurance. Stand with them. Remind them of your presence. Work in their favor. Frustrate the plans of the ones making wrong choices and bless the plans of the ones making right choices. Let your justice be satisfied. Grant them the gift of repentance. Give them the capacity for forgiveness. Help them come to their sense. God, fix this.

I love you, in Jesus name –

Messing with Your Kids

I’m a little concerned for my children.

I’m one of those dads who likes to mess with his kids. Honestly, it’s not an uncommon attribute in fathers. It seems we dads are genetically predisposed to wrestle, tickle, tease, poke, prod, pry, shock, scare, and embarrass our children as often as possible. Mother’s may not understand. Children may roll their eyes. But we do this out of a moral imperative. It’s one of the driving principles of Dad-Law. Why do we mess with our  kids?

It builds character.

Let’s face it, parenting is messy. As a kid you thought your parents knew everything. As a teenager you were convinced parents don’t know anything. Now, as a parent yourself, you realize the truth. Most parents are reacting to or rebelling against the parenting style that raised them. Many parents are simply making things up as they go. It’s messy. So we have a choice.

As a Father, I can mess with or mess up my kids.

I used to joke that, as a dad, I want to be responsible for the corruption of my children. That sounds rather unwholesome, but the longer I’m a parent the more I understand the truth behind the statement. At some point my children will face the corruption of this world. They will have a choice to make. Will they will give up or give in to the corruption they experience? Will they stand up, overcome the mess of this world and make a difference in the lives of others? Will they become happy, healthy, holy citizens passionate about serving Jesus and adding value to others? Will this world be better because of them and if so, will they be better because I was their Dad?

Why would I risk letting someone someone else expose my children to the corruption of this world? I’m their Dad. That’s my job.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to teach my sons to cuss like a sailor. I’m not training my daughter how to manipulate her friends. But our family is a safe place to talk about the ugly things of our world. Our relationship can be a practice field for what to do when something scary, mean, ugly or embarrassing happens. All that wrestling, teasing, poking, prodding, and prying Father’s do can be more than just benign interaction. It can be the teachable moment that allows your children the experience they need to successfully face something truly corrupt.

So Dad’s, my encouragement for you today, mess with your kids.

Provide for them a safe place where you can define and defend how your kids interact with the corruption of this world. Do more than make the most of teachable moments. Make the moment yourself. It builds character.

Malachi 4:6, “And God will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers…”

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

I have four kids. Our schedule is, at times, what you might call ‘insane’. I’m sure it’s not much different from yours. Work, church, sports, music, school, birthday parties – none of it’s complicated just extremely full. All in all I believe we manage well. We’ve gotten used to our schedule. We tend to travel in a pack. It’s fun and sometimes a bit noisy or chaotic, but we get to be together and we like that.

This year Londa and I decided we would do something a bit different. We intend to be deliberate about spending unhurried time, just the two of us, with one of our children at at time while the others run amuck with their grandparents or a sitter. So, last night we got together and took Jaiden on a date. We went to dinner and a movie. We saw ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Up’. It’s about a family that loses their father in the Twin Towers on September 11.

I won’t offer up any spoilers. Instead I’ll simply say, you should see this movie. You should see it with your family. I expect it to win an Academy Award, possibly several. As you watch, consider this: right now, in the community where you live, maybe even in your own household, there are people who experience the same kind of desperation, grief and loss portrayed by the family in this film. They may not have been through a dramatic, nation-wide tragedy like 9/11 but they’ve been through something that has reshaped their view of the world and they struggle to make sense of it all. They’re searching for answers, crying out for relief and looking for the key to what will bring hope back into their lives.

I believe part of why God gave us a family is for moments just like these.

Malachi 4:6 says, “And [God] will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers…”

Take a close look at your family today. Ask God to give you uncommon insight into the hearts of your children and your spouse. Ask for the courage and boldness to make the sometimes difficult decisions necessary to reshape your schedule, say the right thing, offer or ask forgiveness, point the way and start an adventure.