As a husband and father to 4 boys, I have seen much in the way of messiness. I have seen boo boo’s that widen the eyes and cause panic; however, I have also seen boo boo’s that call for wasting precious band-aids simply so the youngster will take his scarcely scraped knee like a “man.” I have dealt with the logic behind every excuse and reasoning from toddler to teen. One thing that has continually stood out is that of the messy room. It’s a feeling of dread as you climb the stairs and open the foreboding door. It leads to an alternate dimension where you are sure one of your children live, but can no longer discern how or where.
You know what I am talking about. One wrong move could spell disaster. Lego blocks strewn across the floor, storage tubs laying on their side and remnants of terrible battles waged between Lego dragons and army men still lying about. The thought then arises, how does one find anything in this place of disorder? Growing up I remember that while I was not what one would consider a modern “minimalist” I was one to stay periodically organized. It seemed good that something could be found or played with when needed; therefore, things usually had a place.
As I got older and realized that “stuff” started to build up, I would simply purge. We still occasionally do this with things, toys, papers and stuff. This idea of purging seems rather foreign to youngsters and it can be difficult to comprehend let alone partake in. But it is important if we are to focus on the things that matter. Back in Egypt, I recall Pharaoh’s response to Israel’s desire to go and worship their God, “You are idle (or lazy) you are idle that is why you say let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.” In Exodus 5:2 Pharaoh says, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?” Pharaoh’s desire was to keep the nation of Israel busy working for him so that they would “forget” about serving “this God.”
We are not slaves to Pharaoh; however, we can become slaves to other things. Like Pharaoh’s desire to keep the nation of Israel busy and not worshiping the LORD, we too become too busy to worship the LORD as He deserves. The average home has 2-3 televisions, 1-2 gaming consoles, computers, and other mobile digital devices. Soon our lives and homes become so cluttered that we are unable to discern a path through the mess. Our physical “room” becomes messy and before long our spiritual room is so cluttered that God is left completely out of the picture. Some will say, “I may have a messy room but I still engage scripture and pray.”
While this may be true, the amount of time we spend on digital devices away from God train our mind and rewire our desires and it shows. For example, let us say we spend 30 minutes in the morning with God in prayer and Bible reading. During that 30 minutes, count how many times you pick up your phone, think about doing something else and consider where the desire of your heart and mind truly is. We are so bombarded by the things of this world that we can no longer discern where God is in our mess. I understand, we as a people are inundated with calls for our attention, marketed on every front, and assaulted with new shiny gadgets every few months, that we “just have to have!” so, what can we do?
Like the aforementioned fallen Lego dragons and army men , we must wage war on this mentality that has so consumed us. I mean really put these desires to death. I heard it said one time, if you really want to know how important something is find a bench in front of a graveyard and ask yourself “what eternal value does it have?”
Matthew 6:19-21 says:
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Can you just feel how heavy that truth bomb is? We were made to worship, and we will always worship something, the problem is not worship but our sinful desires that entice us to worship everything but God. Therefore, we accumulate to ourselves “things” that have no eternal value and do nothing to spread the Glory of God nor His precious Gospel. We sit continuously in front of our screens assuming we are living life when the people in front of us are ignored. We flood ourselves with information and post constantly in an attempt to see and be seen; to know and be known, but all of this is inherently full of sinful selfishness and pride.
Ravi Zacharias said, “Our right to know assumes our right to know and see everything, and that we have the wisdom to respond appropriately. Both of those assumptions are false.”
Hear me on this as I cannot stress it enough. You must organize your time and do it with intentionality. I know some people just do not thrive at organization but it can be learned. It may not seem important, but when you have reached the end of your day barely wading through the chaos and ask yourself “what just happened to my day?” its importance starts to feel heavy. It is in these moments that we realize how much time we waste on frivolous things with no eternal impact.
We must forecast our time with the Lord, so that we are able to put away the things of this world and submit to him mentally and within our heart. If everything we are flows from our heart (Proverbs 4:23), then it seems good to organize time with the Lord with intentionality. The definition for intentional is “done on purpose.” Using the word intentional is a nice way of saying, DO IT!
Force it if you have too but understand that doing something with intentionality means to do it on purpose. We all do many things with intentionality: cooking, cleaning, scrolling, watching, playing, talking, and a mess of others. However, when it comes to time with our Creator we seem to forget what intentionality means. Start out small and intentionally spend time with God one day a week; then move it to two, and continue to increase until it is an intentional part of your day every day. Do not sell out to the world’s hedonism. It is exactly the opposite of what we are called to do as Christians.
We must cry out to God in prayer pleading for help in this area. I know its tough, I know we all have like a bazillion things to do and I know that we get tired, overworked, frustrated, and dare I say it, lazy. But we must persevere in the faith which was given us in Christ Jesus by way of the Holy Spirit. Spending time with our Creator uninterrupted must be an intentional battle against the prince of the power of the air. We will not depart from our idleness (television, internet, mobile phone, games, etc..) unless we cry out to God for His strength to overcome. This has to be done continually. We must seek His help through the empowering of the Holy Spirit each moment of each day. Cry out to the Lord in prayer and seek His help.
Jesus said to ask in His name and it will be given. Rightly understanding Jesus’ words means asking for that which is in line with the Lord’s will. Think about the word “in line.” In line skates typically have 4 wheels. God at the front, Jesus next, the Holy Spirit and then you, or me. If we put ourselves first, subsequently leaving God, behind we can be sure to wreck. The easiest times to worship God are when we feel like it, the hardest is when we don’t. Therefore, get in line with God and cry out to Him for help in both and He will honor your cry. Our spiritual room is messy, we need to clean it!
y day begins when the nerve wrenching sounds of my alarm tell me its time get up, usually around 4:30-4:45 AM. I do not get up this early because I have a farm to tend to, (I would probably be up earlier if I did), nor do I get up this early because I enjoy catching the proverbial worm. I get up this early because like most I have certain things I have to tend to before leaving for work.
In a previous post I wrote about cleaning our spiritual room, (read about that 3 Ways to Clean Our Spiritual Room) which involved intentionally clearing the clutter of our lives and spending time with God. I usually do this in the early morning and then move on to other tasks. I find that this part of the day is the most peaceful and if I am to get anything accomplished it must be during this time because with 4 kids, “peaceful” is almost a miracle. Here I mean quiet and calm, not the peace that surpasses all understanding. Post daily devotion time, and completion of those things that have been taking up what could be considered permanent residence on my “to-do” list, I will eat and shuffle off to work. Most days I am out the door before my wife or any of the little ones wake up.
Occasionally my wife and I will take turns putting our toddler to bed. He is 3 (in 2017), stubborn, high energy, persistent and all those other qualities we so sheepishly see in ourselves. Therefore, bed time can sometimes be a daunting event. Let’s face it, parents with 3-4 kids know what it is like dealing with number 3 or 4, especially if that child is very uh.. er… hardhead…um.. determined. It is sometimes a spectacle of great entertainment. He is running around laughing in his birthday suit because he has decided that strapping on a diaper, hitting the sheets and meeting our demands is undesirable. Meanwhile the day and its troubles have you exhausted to the point of thinking well, “I could tackle him and get this diaper on,” or “maybe he will tire out soon.” Both endeavors are futile but eventually he complies.
My wife says, “can daddy put you to bed?” He starkly replies, “no!” I go in for a hug and an “I love you,” which is met with “I don’t love daddy.” Aghast, my wife and I make eye contact and she sternly rebukes him, “that is not nice, you love daddy.” “No!” He says again, to which my wife inquiries, “why not?” Then I hear it and it breaks my heart, “he is a bad daddy!” We take a few moments to collect ourselves and calmly look at each other. “Why is he a bad daddy?” my wife exclaims. “Because he goes to work all the time!” my 3 year old forces out with a disgruntled look. It is a rare feat when we catch a glimpse of the reality our kids live in. When we do, we should be grateful because it gives us a rare opportunity to reach into their world and make things make sense on their level. So, if you want to know how to be a bad dad..
1. Go To Work All The Time
Of course what he means is that I am at work all day and it seems to him like an unnecessarily long time. 1 Timothy 5:8 Reads: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Let me preface this by saying, I do not think this is talking strictly about working outside of the home, it is referring to an individual’s responsibility to take care of his/her family. This is generally done through employment but can be done through other means as well. In the context of 1 Timothy the idea is taking care of, or providing for one’s family whether this is a child or children caring for their elderly parents or a father / husband providing and caring for his family.
We are called by God to care for our family. This also means spiritual care and leadership. However, in order to effectively lead we must ensure we are aligned under the headship of Christ. He is who we are to emulate not other Christians, not other men, but Christ. That is not to say there is no benefit from fellowshipping with other Christian men as scripture says in Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. From a toddlers perspective, go to work if you want to be a bad dad.
2. Don’t Give Them What They Want All The Time
This can be difficult for new parents or parents of the “baby;” however, it is important to realize that giving a child everything they want, when they want it leads to a self-centered sense of entitlement. Doing this can raise children who are incapable of providing for themselves, knowing what is expected of them, appreciating blessings the LORD provides and accepting responsibility for their actions. Every time we take a trip to the store he always wants a new toy. Never mind that he already has too many toys in his room at home, he wants a new one.
His most precious and pitiful act of hopeful expectation is “please dad, I just don’t get to have a toy.” To which I reply “Son you have toys at home, you do not need any more.” He respectfully replies, “But dad, I just don’t like those toys.” I happily oblige with, “great, we need to get rid of some stuff anyway.” This leads to an unmatched disgusted look of disbelief. He used to have meltdowns but after repeatedly learning how to embrace delayed gratification he has learned to appreciate what he has. Teaching our children to be thankful for everything and to expect nothing creates an attitude of gratitude unmatched.
3. Lead Family Worship
In our house I try to maintain a family devotion at least 3 times a week. You can read more about what kinds of things you can do in your family by reading a previous post here: Discipling Your Children in the Home. Almost every time when we first started family devotions we were met with a meltdown. “Not again, daddy.” or “ahh… but dad, we just always do Bible study.” After some time, he became excited for family devotion and would run and fetch his Bible. This is one of the most important things we can do as dads. Leading up to chapter 6 we see that Moses is teaching the Israelites God’s law, statutes and commandments and imploring them to follow the LORD. Deuteronomy 6:7 reads, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up.”
Lest we think we need only teach our sons, the Hebrew word used here means, one born of your bone or family; therefore, all ones children are included in this meaning. If you want to be a bad dad, lead your family in repeated family devotions. This is by no means an exhaustive list of “how to be a bad dad” but from a toddlers perspective it covers the three most prevalent that matter to him most. Remember Christ, truly man and truly God, the perfect Son of the Father gave His life on the cross as a ransom for many. Take refuge in Him, that is put your complete trust and confidence in Him, who He says He is, and what He has done and will do. Remember John 10:10…
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Christ came to give us life, and through the power of the Holy Spirit you too can be a “Bad Dad!”
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Have you stopped to consider what we as humans allow into our bodies? Think about it, processed food, high in fat and sodium, candy, chips, all manner of junk food. If you ever wondered how much waste is in a particular food, simply head on over to Calorie King to find out. Not only will you find out what is in the food, you can also see how long it will take with a particular exercise to eliminate those calories. In order to burn off one sugared or glazed chocolate cake-type donut, one would need to choose from the following:
After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, “Hear and understand. 11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” 12 Then the disciples *came and *said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” 13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
Jesus answers a previous accusation from the Pharisees, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” Unclean hands before eating was a act thought to defile a practicing Jew.
Jesus responds first by calling out the Pharisees on various other offenses. Then He turns to their question and explicitly states that it is not what you put into your mouth, that defiles a person but what comes out of the mouth. Jesus then goes on to provide a more detailed answer explaining why it is what comes out of us that defiles.
15 Peter said to Him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also? 17 Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”
In His explanation Jesus presupposes the natural corruption of the heart because of sin. We find much support for this in scripture.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
Our heart is desperately wicked and although “follow your heart” is the spirit of the age; Jesus reminds us that following our heart will only lead to evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication or sexual immorality, theft, lying, slandering and much more. Jesus Christ is the only one who can change our hearts.
God says in Ezekiel 11:19-20
19 “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.”
When God changes our heart, we will still struggle with sin. One of my professors once said, “in the heart of a lost person, sin reigns, but in the heart of a saved person sin remains!” How true is that. What does this have to do with media intake? Well, quite frankly, everything! The external is an overflow of the heart. It is already desperately wicked and so it follows that whatever we continue to fill it with will overflow into our lives. We are driven by our heart and there is no way around that. When we consume media that displays and encourages sin, we exercise our heart in the wrong direction. For example, if your heart struggles with lust, it should follow that consuming media which glorifies sexual promiscuity is a willful plunge into temptation that is almost certain to manifest into sin.
This is not to say that one cannot engage in any type of media outside the rated G title; however, it is important to know how visual content affects us. While “each man should be convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5) may I submit to you that we should not be “conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:2). Renewing our mind should include daily devotions, prayer, and study; while not excluding media it is important to keep clear of things that turn our heart and mind to temptation.
We see God specifically tell the nation of Israel to do the same. In various places in the Old Testament God continually warns Israel that they must not engage in the activities of the people around them; for they practice detestable things. These ranged from taking advantage of others to child sacrifice. Once Israel entertained the idea (temptation) it always manifested into sin.
I would say that families that include kids should be even more careful about what type of media they consume. Children constantly learn what to do, how to act, what to say and watch directly from their parents example. As parents, we should heed God’s command in Deuteronomy 11:18-20
18 “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 19 You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,
If we continually allow for dark things to come into our home, we should not be surprised when it affects our families. We must also consider the amount of time that children spend in the world; taught and guided by principles and morals that, in most cases go against the word of God. The home should be a place of peace, a sanctuary where they can feel safe.
Our home should be a place of light and not darkness. Hollywood spends millions of dollars peddling trash into the homes across the nation and world for one reason; they have understood all too well the old adage: “the eyes are the window to the soul.” While scripture itself does not directly make this claim it does say that the “eyes are the lamp to the body;” which could suggest the same. If our eyes are the lamp unto our body, this suggests that they feed our body light; however, if all they consume is darkness, well than the body is can no longer see. Let’s consider Psalm 1.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
This Psalm compares the righteous with the wicked; however, the first two verses are what we should consider. Here a man is considered blessed (or happy) who does not walk, nor stand, nor sit in the counsel of wicked people. Consider the downward depression. First the man is walking with the wicked, then he is idly standing with sinners, and finally sitting with scoffers. Bottom line if a person continues to do things that bear darkness rather than light they to shall eventually take a seat with scoffers, sinners, and wicked people. This is not to say we should avoid the lost, rather the contrary as we are called to evangelize the lost; however, what it does mean is one who continues in the darkness will eventually become an idle patron in the seat at the table of darkness.
If Jesus says our heart is full of evil and Jeremiah says it is desperately wicked, we begin with a heart of darkness. We should seek out the light and fill our heart and mind with such. When it comes to media consumption we use two different sites to check the movies/show/games we allow in our home. One is secular based and one is Christian based. If we find a movie that is questionable we will preview it first before allowing our children to watch it.
Site one is Common Sense Media, and is the secular site. It has reviews of movies, books, games, and television shows. It is very comprehensive and explanatory in the reviews which are provided by both adults and children.
Site two is Plugged In is Christian based and provides reviews of movies, books, games, music and more.
It is vitally important to guard our eyes as they are the lamp unto our body. The darker it is, the more we stumble. God continually warned Israel about this and warns us all the same. Christ is the light of the world and men hate the light for they do evil deeds in the dark and the light exposes their wickedness. I must reiterate that what one consumes ultimately comes down to Romans 14 where “everyone must be convinced in his own mind” but may I submit to you, the eyes when filled with darkness see no light.