The school year is almost over. I can hear the students and teachers sigh relief and I think I heard some shouts of joyful celebration. As you look for things to do this summer, as you take vacations, don’t forget about God. As a child of God remember that Christ is your life (Colossians 3:1-4) keep centered on Him. As you travel take time to visit with the Church where you are. You will encourage the congregation you visit and you will be encouraged by being there.
Take time this summer for activities specifically focused on God and Christ. Attend a VBS (Vacation Bible School, Family Bible School, or Weekend Bible School – there are so many differs names for VBS now). If you are in or near Tuscaloosa County, Alabama come check out the VBS Central and Northport churches of Christ are hosting together.
Into the Wild with Moses
June 22-24, 2015
You can also take time to spend a week at Christian Camp: ICYC (Indian Creek Youth Camp) is close to us physically and close to our heart.
Have a great summer!
Summer is rapidly approaching and you are making your family plans. Here is a list of ten things you can do as a family this summer.
- Travel together. You do not have to go far. You can travel a couple of hours and take in new sights. Within that distance form us there is American Village that recreates colonial America, or a couple of lakes for boating or swimming, some historic towns, historic iron works, waterfalls, and national forests.
- Eat together. Take a picnic to a park. Go to different restaurant. Gather around the family table and tell stories about when you were growing up.
- Visit a Summer Carnival or Amusement Park together. Ride roller-coasters, swings, haunted houses, take in a show, laugh and enjoy these things together.
- Laugh together. Find an old slapstick comedy or clean parody to watch together. See ho many knock-knock jokes ou can remember or make up. JUST LAUGH!
- Go to community events together. Summertime brings art festivals, music festivals, pet days, town days (Around here there is Kansas Day, Berry Heritage Day, Mule Day, etc. When I lived in Florida there was the Mullet Festival the fish not the hair style.) Take in the family events of these special days and weekends.
- Walk together. Walk in the early morning before it gets to hot. Or walk in the late evening while the sun is just setting. Walk the neighborhood, walk in the community park. Not only are you getting some exercise, you are in each other’s company.
- Have devotionals together. Take time to sing, pray, and study together in the family room. If you are on vacation have devotionals in your hotel, condo, resort room, camper or tent. There will be some great discussions about Christian living that will take place in those rooms.
- Worship together. Spend Sunday and Wednesdays gathering with Christians as you worship. When you are on vacation, make time to worship with Christians in the area you are visiting. You will encourage them and they will encourage you.
- Talk together. Those walks, meals, and hours of standing in line at amusement parks gives ample opportunity to talk. So do the car rides as you travel. Talk together.
- Spend TIME TOGETHER. Really that is what the whole idea of this post is – time together. Make the most of the time. Build relationships and create memories by simply being together.
Have a great FAMILY SUMMER!
Take a look at today’s headlines and you will read about children and drug abuse. You will read about teen alcohol abuse, and you will read about violence in the youth culture. Municipalities create stricter laws, increase law enforcement presence, and establish curfews, but the abuse and violence continues. What is the answer? How can we curb this societal trend? I believe the answer lies close to home, specifically the home. Home is the way to solve many of society’s ills. Looking back through Biblical history and we see that Israel fell because of a lack of influence at home or a lack of respect at home: Judges 2:10, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.”
I hear parents and grandparents say, “Children don’t come with instructions.” I beg to differ! There is an instruction manual, composed by our Creator. Parenting done right is parenting God’s way.
- Prepare to Parent. Be who you should be before you parent. God chose Mary and Joseph because they prepared. Joseph a just and righteous man (Matt 1:19). Mary found favor in God’s eyes (Luk 1:28-30). Preparation includes preparing your children for life. This life preparation starts with training – disciplining your children. Discipline includes correction, Pro 29:15-17, “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. When the wicked increase, transgression increases, but the righteous will look upon their downfall. Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” Dicipline includes education, including physical, classical, mental, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual education. Pro 4:1-4, “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.”
- Pattern as Parents. Teaching is imperative, but an example gives teaching substance. Timothy’s mother and grandmother lived faith in his presence, (2Ti 1:5). “Do as I say not as I do” will not work. It is inconsistent to teach children not to lie, but lie to them about punishment or tell them to lie to caller asking to speak to you. It is inconsistent to teach them not to do drugs, but have your “adult beverages” or a tobacco dependency. Our children do not need “excuses” to sin. We must be diligent to “practice what we preach.”
- Persistent Parenting. Stay with God’s plan! Pro 22:6 famously states, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” That statement is a generally observable rule. There are exceptions, but we are more likely to raise responsible adults when we are persistent in out parenting. We do not stop being a parent! I read this recently, “When I was 14 my dad was ignorant and an embarrassment. When I was 21 it was amazing how much he learned in 7 years.” There is a lot of truth to that sentiment. Our children need us to parent not to simply be a friend.
- Pray as a Parent. “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phi 4:5-7. Pray for your children before they are born. Pray for them while they are young. Pray for their future (spouse, job, children, etc.). Pray while they are still at home. Pray for them as they leave. Pray they will remain faithful. Pray they will return if they stray. Without ceasing PRAY.
Start Now! It is not too late!
image via: jupterimages/getty images/creatas rf
No, not children with sharp arrows, that is a trip to the ER waiting to happen . . .
“Behold children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!”
Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV)
“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior.” What a great statement! A well-skilled archer has effective aim. A number of years ago I learned there are four basic rules of archery:
- The Direction I point the arrow is important,
- The Strength of the pull has effect,
- Properly Timing the Release is valuable, and
- Accuracy in Aiming is vital.
Apply these to raising children and you understand more about what the Psalmist has in mind.
- What Direction am I pointing my children in?
- What Influence (Pull) am I giving them with my lifestyle?
- Do I let go (Release) them into situations (or expose them to certain things of the world) before they are ready? Or am I hanging on too long?
- What are my goals (where am I Aiming) for me and my children?
Paul tells fathers (and mothers by default), ” . . . do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph 6:4)
Here are a list of Parental Rules to Model and to Teach so we can be skilled archers.
- Put purity above pleasure.
- Place others before yourself.
- Be more industrious and less lazy.
- As an adult be more mature and less childish.
- Demonstrate service over power.
- Be Christ-like.
Every family has certain needs. That is a “no-brainer.” Some of these needs are basic physical needs such as: food, clothing, and shelter. In the aftermath of earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, and flooding rivers these basic needs are in an immediate state – people need these needs met as soon as possible.
Yet there are other needs that disasters cannot take away. One lady in our area had this to say the second day after a storm, “I have everything I need.” What you need to know is that this lady lost her entire home and much of what her and her husband collected over the last 50 years. What did she mean, when she said, “I have everything I need”?
I think she may have had the following needs in mind:
- Love: A family cannot survive without love. In speaking to the spiritual family of God in Rome, the apostle Paul states: “Outdo one another in showing honor” Rom 12:10. That is love in action!
- Commitment: A family will not cope with tragedy of any kind if there is no commitment to each other. There is a reason most marriages include the phrase “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.” That reason includes our human need for someone to remain committed to us even when life turns against us. Again the apostle Paul has something to say about this, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). Commit to each other.
- Togetherness: Families need time together. This time can be as simple as sitting around a dinner table, cozied up to a fire in cold weather, playing games together, or as complicated as a family vacation to a theme park or national park. Togetherness promotes trust, demonstrates care and support, and speaks of our love.
Filed under family, tragedy
The day turned out to be a good day. The Florida Sun came out that morning and the day warmed nicely. Amy was running a
That cool kid is me with my Great Aunt in Ohio
few errands or was at the church building getting ready for some event, I really do not recall why I was home alone with our small son. We were relatively new to parenting, Andrew was a toddler, just a little over a year old – 16 months at the oldest. After lunch, I thought he would enjoy spending time outside in the swing. I pushed him in the swing until he was ready to get out and explore the wonders of nature. We sat down to watch a cricket or maybe a lizard. As we were watching this amazing creature I thought I heard some one come to the house. I poked my head around the house and saw no one. When I turned back to where Andrew was, he was gone!
I had turned my back for a few seconds; thirty at the most. Where could he be? I called out. No answer! I scanned the woods behind us yelling his name. No answer. Panic begins to flood my emotions. “Amy leaves me a one with him for a little while, and I have lost him.” I dart through the back yard looking for him and calling his name. I make the turn around the far side of the house near our neighbor and hear giggling and barking. Andrew was between our neighbor’s outbuilding and his dog fence watching this dog. My tears of panic turn to tears of relief and joy.
That five minutes of searching seemed like an eternity. I began to better understand what the father in Luke 15 felt when his younger son went missing and then when his older son was missing from the party. I began to better understand the Heavenly Father who longs for His children’s salvation.
Recently I read some statistics that indicate that 70-85% of our children will leave Christ between the ages of 17 and 20. The good news is that 66% of them will return to Christ at some point in their lives. The sad news is 34% will remain away from Christ and the Church. What can we do? This is personal because that toddler I lost for a few moments is now 17 and about to graduate high school. He is part of that group that has a frightening church drop-out rate.
Looking through scripture I have some suggestions, advice if you will. These are the things I tried and am trying to do so that he has a firm foundation to help him stay faithful to Christ. We started these things when he was too small to walk.
- Do not let children become too involved with the world. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
- Go above and beyond good parenting. Do not stop at teaching good morals. Do not stop with classical education. Do more than just go to church. Be involved. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4).
- Discipline your children. To discipline is to train. This includes instruction, setting limits, and enforcement of those limits. “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15). “The rod” includes but is not limited to corporal punishment. Rod can mean standard or rule of discipline. If you do use a physical rod, know the difference between punishment and abuse. Refuse to strike a child when you are angry.
- Set a good example. Do not expect your children to learn not to be like you. On the contrary, expect them to imitate you throughout their life. Paul notes the origin of Timothy’s faith was the example set by his mother and grandmother. “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” (2 Timothy 1:5).
- Teach them the dangers of the world and their enemy the devil. Satan and the world promise great things, but those things disappoint at the least and destroy at their worst. “Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).
- Discuss faith as a family. This can take the form of family devotionals. This can take place at the family diner table. This can take place in the car, on vacation, or any time and place you are together. Use everyday teachable moments to discuss the things of God and to teach about His will. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
Three things, I can remember three things. When Amy asks me to run to the store to pick up a few items, I can usually
My Parents Brian and Anna McCown
remember three things. Once she adds the fourth item . . . I have to make a list. Most of the time, I can remember three things.
Three things. As I look back on my years at home, there are three things that Brian and Anna McCown taught their three boys. I do not know if it was a conscious decision to teach these three things or if these three things were what their life was and still is about. These three things made quite an impression on us.
Three things. These three things are still a major part of who I am and what I do. My life still revolves around these three things.
- Church. Church was not somewhere we went on Sunday’s and Wednesdays. Church was who we were. We were there every time the doors were open and many times they were not. Never did my parents get up on Sunday to decide whether we would be at worship or not, we were going to be there every time. Never can I recall Dad coming home on Wednesdays and suggesting we stay home because he was tired. Church. Dad taught adult classes, interpreted for the deaf, and served as a deacon. Mom taught children’s classes and volunteered at every event and worked every fellowship. They are still as involved in their late 70’s (sorry Mom, I said something about your age) as they were 30 years ago. Outside of assemblies, our family entertained church members at our modest house. Adults, youth, visiting preachers, summer interns, deacons, and elders. As a family we prayed together, had religious discussions together, and as children we played “church” and my brothers and I would have mock “debates” about what children consider important doctrines. Church is the first thing.
- School. Once all three boys were school age, Mom took a job as a secretary / receptionist at Escambia Christian School where the three of us spent most of our elementary and middle school years. We were their every day, unless we were truly sick. Mom and Dad made sure we completed our homework. WE completed our homework and projects, they NEVER did them for us. They would help if we asked, but the work was always ours. Dad would even create new math problems similar to the ones we were struggling with and not work out the ones on the homework. They would quiz us on our spelling words and we would challenge Dad with our S.A.T. vocabulary lists. Mom and Dad volunteered at school helping with fund raisers, festivals, fish fries, awards banquets, and spaghetti suppers. They worked concession stands while we played basketball or coed volleyball. School was a major part of our life.
- Family. The five of us. We ate supper together. We took vacations together. We camped together. We worked school events together. We worshipped together. Family. We attended ballgames to support our siblings. But not just the five of us were family. Our vacations were to visit Dad’s family in Ohio or to meet at a campground where Mom’s parents were camping. We spent holidays with family. Mom’s family lived in town and we spent time with her cousins, aunts, sister, parents, as well as folks we were probably related too, but I don’t know how. We were there for them and they were there for us. I spent more than one summer working for my grandfather when he was painting or digging ditches. Family was a priority.
Three things. Church, school, and family, these are the three things. Today as I look at my life these three things are still priorities. As a preaching minister church is an obvious thing. Since I am married to a teacher and volunteer at her school and the one our son attends, school is still a thing. Family is still of major importance. But as a look back it was not really these three things after all. It was one thing – LOVE.
Jesus said it this way, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31).
Three Things ONE Thing!