Gold Pocket Watch

The antique gold plated pocket watch stands proudly on my dresser.  It has “Wm. McCracken” hand lettered on its face.  It was given to my grandfather at his “retirement” from the mission that was influential in leading him to Christ and sobriety.  He served on staff there for over a decade after his transformation.

I put it there intentionally … so that I am reminded everyday of my spiritual heritage.  My God story starts with an alcoholic grandfather who had a life changing encounter with God because of his addiction.  His watch is an “Ebenezer”… a visual memorial of my family’s God story.  The prophet Samuel erected a memorial to help fathers tell the story of God’s faithfulness to their children (I Samuel 7:12).

Recently I raised another “Ebenezer” in our home.  On our mantle sits a carefully folded American flag … 4 of its stars shining through the triangular case.  It is the flag that drapped my father’s casket.  It is a powerful symbol of not only his service to our country as an island hopping Marine in WWII, but to the victories he experienced after he returned home.  Dad overcame a tremendous amount of adversity … you can read about those in the book.

My question to you is … what are the “Ebenezers” in your home … the artifacts and heirlooms that are displayed in your living spaces that help you tell your family God story?  If you have some … please leave a comment about them and let’s get a little story telling going on …

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God is a Story Teller

God has shared with us the greatest story ever told; and He wants us as parents and grandparents to tell it to our children.  He commanded His Old Testament family (Israelites) to share chapters of this story throughout the year through a number of ordained holy days (holidays).  These feasts and celebrations were specifically designed for fathers to tell God’s redemptive story to their children.

For example, Passover … the story of the angel of death’s “passing over” God’s people has been shared by Jewish families for over 3500 years!  It is the story of how a perfect was taken into the homes of the Israelites almost like a pet … I am sure that the children probably became attached to this little lamb … and then he was killed … and his blood painted onto the doorposts … and when the angel of death saw the blood on the door … he “passed over” that home and the first-born male is spared.

What a story … of not only how God freed His people from Egyptian slavery … but a foreshadowing of how Jesus … the Lamb of God … would shed HIs blood for us … so that the curse and judgement of eternal death would be broken … and our lives spared both now and for eternity.

Stop and think about your family’s “God story.”  How has God brought you and your family to this point in His story (history)?  Who are the earliest Christians in your family tree?  What forms of “slavery” or bondage did God save your family out of?  How did you come to faith?  These stories will be the greatest ones you ever tell to your children and grandchildren!

Finding the “best” time for Family Devotions

In our small survey you shared that you struggle with establishing a regular time and place for family devotions.  Karen and I wrestled too.  When our two sons were little guys we found that bedtime worked the best for us for three reasons:  First, we were all usually home at bedtime, (I did teach some night courses that interfered sometimes).  Second, it was a pre-determined time during the school week; it was regular.  And third, they shared a room … so that made it easy.

As our boys got older and our bed times began to vary, we re-adjusted our time to the breakfast table.  Again … we were all usually home … we all had to eat … and we all ate at the kitchen table.  We just needed to co-ordinate the best time before we left of the bus or work.  It required an earlier rise and shine … but we wanted to make it a priority.  It proved to be a great place to pull out the devotional book and pray together before the day.

The Israelites of Moses’ day, in an attempt to Keep their kids from Canaan, and obey Deuteronomy 6,  would have a prayer time with their kids first thing in the morning and before heading to bed, using verse 4 as the centerpiece of this time:

 “Hear O Israel the LORD, our God, the LORD is one.  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all of your might … and you shall teach them diligently to your children …”

There are no “right” or “wrong” times to make this happen.  The key is to find and set aside a regular time and place for you all to meet together as a family to spend some time interacting with God’s Word … and Him more days of the week than not.

Modesty / Purity wars …

In the opening of Keeping Your Kids from Canaan, I talk about the similarities between the godless culture of the ancient Canaanites and present-day America.

Three powerful forces are competing for the hearts, souls, minds and bodies of our children.  These negative influences war against our attempts to instill Biblical values into our children.  One of these forces is the fact that we live in a “sexually charged” culture.  Here’s a report from the AP this week that emphasizes the increase in this phenomena:

NEW YORK (AP) The Associated Press:  A watchdog group says broadcast television is implying a lot more nudity in prime time than it used to.

The Parents Television Council said Monday that its researchers found 76 instances where a person appeared nude, with private parts obscured, in prime time last season. It happened on 37 different shows.  The group says that’s a sharp rise from the 15 instances the networks aired the season before that.

Examples include a couple skinny-dipping on ABC’s “The Bachelor,” Howie Mandel jokingly appearing nude in his dressing room at NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and a naked man jumping out of a car trunk in the candid camera show “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” on NBC.

In each case, the full nudity is obscured by pixilation or strategically placed objects.

“It’s a lot more suggestive than we’ve seen in the past,” said Melissa Henson, spokeswoman for the group.

The parents group, which also monitors language and sexually suggestive content on broadcast television, said it will complain about the development to the Federal Communications Commission.

TV producers either believe they need to show viewers more to get more viewers … or they have an agenda to eradicate modesty altogether.  Their motives don’t really change the outcome.  Our kids, who are watching, are being conditioned to buy into the same messages.  Show more … suggest more … to get higher ratings!

Our culture is paying attention … offering even more of a challenge … take your sons and daughters to the mall to do some back to school shopping and you immediately face this same issue … skimpiness and inappropriate innuendos abound …

How are you as a parent dealing with the issues of modesty and sexual purity in your homes?