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!
I met with a realtor yesterday. We will soon be putting our house on the market. Since accepting the position as preaching minister at
Our House in a snow a winter or two ago. It is For Sale!
Central Church of Christ in Tuscaloosa, I have been driving about 94 miles round trip to my study. Thinking about selling our house brought to mind an old article I read years ago. The article asked, “Is Home for Sale?”
Well, is your home for sale? Not the physical structure in which you dwell, but your home – your family unit. Homes (families) sell out every day because of moral and spiritual indebtedness – make that bankruptcy. We sell out because of societal pressures, tolerance of sin, materialism, unfaithfulness, bitterness, immorality, and the list goes on. Even if we never move away form our house, we might have already sold our home.
How can we tell? What are conditions that lead to selling our homes – our families?
- Preoccupied Parents: Parents that are so busy with their lives and what they think they need to do that they do not spend time with their children. Even youth sports can keep us from spending time with our children. The time I am talking about, the time that we are neglecting is: reading to / with them; helping them with school work or projects; praying with them; sitting down to a meal with them; baking cookies with them; laughing hysterically with them at nonsensical childish things; just spending large quantities of time with them.
- Distant Extended Family: The mobility of our society puts miles between grandparents and grandchildren, cousins, as well as aunts and uncles. There was a time with families lived nearby and we learned from each other, grew up together, got into trouble together, and learned the importance of faith and family.
- The Invasion of Media Sources: Today many families have multiple TVs, computers, tablets, smart phones, video gaming systems, streaming movies, and all forms of amusement at their finger tips. We seem to spend more and more time with devices and visual stimulation than we do with each other in conversation and play. There is a place for all of these media devices in our lives, but they can quickly control our time and separate us from family.
- A Lack of Knowledge of God’s Will: Hosea records that God’s people then were destroyed because of a lack of knowledge (Hos 4:6) and we learn at the end of Joshua and the book of Judges that God’s people are always just a generation away from turning away from God. Faith based traditions and Godly actions keep families (homes) together.
Maybe you are looking at the four items above and wondering what you can do to keep from selling your home, from selling your family to the world. I have a couple of suggestions:
- Know God’s Plan for the Home: God created family. He knows what is best for us. Look to His Word as a guide for our individual lives as Mom, Dad, Son, or Daughter. Follow His guide for life as a family (cf. Eph 6:1-4).
- Get Together as a Family: Turn off the electronics, gather together in a common room, pull out a board game, a book, better yet the Bible, then do things together. Leave the house, go out to eat or on a family picnic. Go to the lake or the forest. Tour a museum. Talk about what life was like back when. Spend TIME together. Go visit the grand parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Be a family!
For those that do not already know, my dad had a heart defibrillator installed yesterday morning. Due to the skill of the
surgical team and most importantly God’s care all went well and He should go home today to convalesce under the careful and skillful hands of my mother, his wife of 54 years.
I share that to explain my absence from The Morning Drive yesterday. I drove down to attend evening assembly with my parents and younger brother at Leonard Street Church of Christ on Sunday evening. I spent the night at my brother’s place and the day with gathered physical and spiritual family at the hospital. I reflected on that experience as I drove home last night and to my study this morning.
I do not consider my family unique and we are far from perfect. Yet there are some things we get right. As we waited for the medical team to do their job here is a glimpse of what helped us as a family.
- We were surrounded my church family. The associate minister from where my brother serves as an elder was there. One gentleman and three ladies from where my parent’s worship and Dad serves as an elder were there as well.
- We solicited prayers from spiritual people who were not there in person – some of you were praying – thanks!
- We laughed together. One of the ladies from Leonard Street said her husband was not going to believe she had such a good time in the surgery waiting area.
- We talked about family stories and events of years gone by.
- We prayed together before Dad’s surgery as a family, privately as he was in surgery, and we said a prayer of
thanksgiving when he was out of recovery and in a regular room.
- We talked about our children who are grown, in college, in their last year of high school, in elementary school and the things they are doing.
- We prayed with a lady who was by herself when the news she received about her husband was not good. Please keep William and his wife in your prayers.
- We shared a meal in the waiting room.
- We were together.
A family that prays together, worships together, laughs together, cries together, talks together, well that family is together.
Take time today to call a family member, just to talk.
This week we are fortunate to be sitting at the feet of a great speaker and student of God. Sammy Jones of Freed-Hardeman University is presenting a series of lessons at Parrish Church of Christ that deal with the overall theme of Christianity 24/7. WOW! The lessons are practical and hit me right where I need them too.
Sunday he spoke on Being a Christian in the Home. He began with some disturbing facts:
- 37% of all are headed by single parents (this morning on the local news they reported that number as 45%).
- 50% of all babies born are born outside of marriage.
- 1.1 million marriages end in divorce each year.
- 2 million young people (younger than 18) run away from home each year.
After opening our eyes to the plight of the home, Dr. Jones shared these Five (5)
Aspects of a Christian Home:
- Family member must commit to sacrifice for each other and the family.
- We must take time to appreciate each other in the family.
- Build relationships of trust within the family.
- Develop a sense of God in yourself and teach that to your children.
- Learn to forgive!
There is a great bit to consider in what he shares! Take time now to pray for your family and reflect on how you can be a better influence within the family.
Last Tuesday I posted some thoughts on what to say to your children. A lot of
L-R Me (Scott), Andrew (who must be standing on higher ground), and Amy
people read that particular blog indicating to me that readers want more about parenting. So . . . here we go again.
Paul writes in Eph 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This passage contains two charges from God: 1) A Negative Charge – Do not provoke them to anger and 2) A Positive Charge – Bring them up in discipline and instruction of the Lord. Sadly the world seems to have a different approach that swings to two extremes: Child Abuse – when discipline is without love and Permissiveness – when love is without discipline. Neither produces emotionally or spiritually healthy children because neither of these extremes fit God’s plan of training them because you love them and love them enough to train them.
Here is a three point training guide to raising emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy children.
- Love Unconditionally. Do not withhold love or use your love as a bargaining chip. You may not like what they do (or did) but still love them. That is why you correct their missteps.
- Discipline. Train them for their benefit. Someone who plays an instrument receives discipline from an instructor or has enough self-discipline to learn on their own. They receive both instruction and correction if they are to improve their performance. The same principle applies to raising children. Discipline is more than punishment it is the entire aspect of training.
- Involve Them in Activities. Have them work alongside of you. Teach them your trade or hobbies. Help them learn to clean, cook, and construct. You may be capable of doing the task yourself and even completing it faster without their “help.” But you cannot replace the time spent with them as you work side by side.