Camping For Christmas (And For Mama)

We love Christmas.  For our family it is truly a wonderful time of year.  As soon as Thanksgiving is over all the decorations come out.  The lights go up.  The tree gets decorated.  That Nativity is set up.  It is a fun filled time.  It is also a very busy time.  My wonderful wife who has been so busy with homeschooling the children now has even more on her plate.  She is a busy woman, and Christmas can add an overwhelming load to an already stressful schedule.  Is there something that we homeschool dads can do to help her out this time of year?

A number of years ago, I came up with an idea to get the kids out of the house and let my wife have some time alone to get ready for Christmas.  It is the first gift I give her every December.  My children also look forward to this tradition.  The first week of December means Yogi Bear Park and our annual Christmas campout.  Technically, it is called Jellystone Park, but because the theme is Yogi Bear, that has become what we call it.  Every year in early December, I pack up the van with all the children and we find a Jellystone park and spend several days in a tiny little cabin.  This is typically somewhere in the Texas Hill Country. 

Jumping Pillow at Jellystone – Kerrville, TX

Jellystone Parks are fun places for families.  They typically have a number of fun things to do at them.  There are playgrounds, jumping pillows, an arcade, laser tag and other activities.  You can buy bags of sand and take them to a place where the children can “pan for gold.”  We often find things to do outside the park as well.  Many times, we have visited Natural Bridge Caverns and their drive through safari park where we get to feed exotic animals.  Several times we have also visited Enchanted Rock State Park and hiked up the massive granite rock.  We have a grand old time just the children and me.  We also spend the evening with a campfire, grilling, making smores and playing games. 

Enchanted Rock – Fredericksberg, TX

While we are making memories, my wife is taking care of all those things she can’t get to when the children are home.  I am always thankful she has this time because I can tell when we get home, she is somewhat refreshed.  This is a way I can show love to my wife. 

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Ephesians 5:28 ESV

It is also a time where I can work on some things with my children.  This year, I tried a new training method of teaching my children to look for ways to encourage one another and avoid being critical or ugly to each other. 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.

Hebrews 10:24 ESV

I call it the Tic-Tac method.  I attached those little stick-on hooks to the console at the front of the van and hung small zip-lock bags on them.  Each child had their own bag.  I started the day with 3 Tic-Tacs in each bag.  Every time I heard one of them say something kind, or do something nice for their brother or sister, I would add another Tic-Tac to the bag.  If I heard them say or do something that was not very nice, I would take a Tic-Tac out and eat it myself.  When we got to the cabin, I hung the bags in the wall and continued the training.  At the end of each day I would let them eat whatever was in their bag. 

We also continued to do family worship.  We primarily focused on Christmas, singing Christmas hymns and reading the scriptures that pertain to Christmas time.  We had great discussion and prayed for things relating to Christmas. 

Stonehenge II – Kerrville, TX

If you have a lot of children this might sound like a difficult thing to do, but I promise it is worth it.  It can be very challenging managing 7 children it a tiny little cabin.  It is winter, so we don’t always have great weather this time of year.  There have been times where children have gotten sick on the trip and I was up with a sick baby in the night.  This year, our van decided not to start for a while which added a little extra stress to the situation.  However, it is still all worth it.  My children love this time with their Daddy.  It is also a tremendous blessing to my wife to have the time to herself.  We even get so see God work in ways that we might not get to see.  One of my children reminded us to pray about the van and it did eventually start back up. (Weird electrical issue.)  Our children are a gift and one day they will be gone.  This was our first year without our oldest who is in college.  The memories, however, build strong relationships and strengthen our family.  None of them will ever forget their Christmas camp outs with Daddy.  I am so grateful for the times we’ve had.

I hope you as a homeschool dad can find ways to support your wife and build your relationship with your children this time of year.  May you all find much joy in the celebration of our Savior this Christmas. 

Swim Lessons

One of the destructive parenting ideologies that emerged in the 20th century is the child-led home.  Common sense should tell us that child-led parenting doesn’t work, but psychologist have come up with many ideas over the years that have caused great harm.  I believe this is one of them. 

Have you ever come across a child led family in the grocery store or elsewhere?  A common characteristic you will see is that the parent cannot say “no” to the child’s requests.  The parent may know that the child’s request is not reasonable and will try to persuade the child that they do not need the item they are wanting.  However, this results in the child throwing a fit and the parent giving in and letting them have whatever they want.  This inability by the parent to control the emotional outburst of their child is part of what has led to the most self-absorbed, narcissistic generation our country has ever known.

There is, however, an area where even child-led homes stray from their philosophy and implement strict discipline for the good of the child.  Swim lessons!  We recently moved to a home that has a swimming pool.  A swimming pool is a glorious thing to have in these hot Texas summers.  Unfortunately, because of where we lived and not having a pool at our old house, our youngest children had not learned to swim.  While swimming is a great summer activity, it can also be very dangerous.  Every summer we hear stories about children drowning in swimming pool accidents.  My wife and I felt very strongly about making sure our children learn to swim well.  We enrolled our children in a highly recommended swim school and have been amazed by the results.  They have made drastic improvements in a very short time. 

My wife and I were discussing the quick results and she brought up an observation about the instruction they were receiving.  While the instructors were fun and engaging, they were also no-nonsense and did not tolerate disobedience in the pool.  The children were required to obey, or they were done.  What some may find astonishing is that it works.  The children do obey.  There is a clear line of distinction between the teacher and the student.  Child-led swim lessons could never work.  It only takes seconds for a child’s lungs to fill with water and that could be the end of him or her.  We love our children and know we must protect them.  Does this not sound like an important life lesson?

God has been gracious to us and blessed us with children.  We have a few years to train them to be responsible adults and, Lord willing, Godly men and women.  We are told in Scripture to discipline them.

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

Proverbs 22:15 ESV

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Proverbs 29:15 ESV

We are told to instruct them and to teach them God’s ways diligently.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4 ESV

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.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV

The blessing is that discipline and instruction normally work.  There is an example in scripture of the child-led model and the end was not good.  I am referring to David and his son Adonijah.

And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?

1 Kings 1:6 KJV

The implication was that David had never put his foot down and told his son, “no, you can’t do that.”  This son became selfish and tried to steel the kingdom away. 

As parents we must be intentional if we want our children to learn to swim the waters of life.  Our culture has many strong currents pulling them away from Christ towards sin and immorality.  If we do not teach them how to properly respond they will sink.  They must learn to understand things like respect for authority and self-control when they don’t get their way.  Just like in swim lessons, if they are left to do their own thing they will drown.  It is imperative that we teach discipline and good character. 

This does not mean that we have to be angry or a bully parent.  It comes down to teaching them in the small things.  When you say, “no, you cannot have that piece of candy” they need to respond kindly without throwing a fit.  When they run away instead of coming when called, they need to know there will be a consequence.  We can practice these things at home when they are small.  Then work on them outside the home, preparing them before hand of what our expectations are.  These little training sessions will go a long way as the child grows older.  It will help them as they mature to understand that there are always consequences to their actions and enable them to make better decisions.

We are in a time of very turbulent cultural waters and many evangelicals are sinking into that murky dark water.  It is imperative that we be the parents and teach our children to swim.  Of course, they cannot even begin to swim if they are already dead.  This is why we must, above all else, clearly explain the Gospel to our children.  They must understand they are sinners and have violated the law of God.  Every act of disobedience is an opportunity to demonstrate God’s love to them.  The glorious good news is that through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ they can be rescued from death.  The Gospel should be the center of our homeschool.

Along with the Gospel we must be teaching our children the Word of God.  The heart that has been converted should desire to please the Savior.  The way to please Him is to obey His commands.  “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15  The way we know His commands is to know His Word.

It is easy to get discouraged when we look at the culture around us, but the more time we spend in God’s word the more we begin to realize He is still in control.  I am reminded of first and second Timothy where Paul tells us to expect this cultural decline.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.

1 Timothy 4:1 ESV

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV

Thankfully, Paul does not leave it there.  He reminds us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that His word is profitable and useful to equip us to deal with these things. Finally, he gives us the beautiful reminder in 2 Timothy 4:8 that we have a crown of righteousness waiting for us.  I love how these chapters help us to have realistic expectations and encourage us to continue in His word until we hear those beautiful words, “Well done.”

Contentment, Not Complacency

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

The last several months have been very difficult.  Not that we have been hit with major trials, but that life just keeps happening faster than we can keep up.  We recently moved from our 14-acre farm to a smaller 5-acre place.  We sold our horses and cows and moved across town.  Having grown up in the country I had always wanted to move back out and do a little farming.  Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to work a full-time job, keep up a farm, and be the husband and father I need to be.  There are only so many hours in the day and it seems sleep is what was most often cut out.  After much prayer and consideration, my wife and I decided to move closer to my office. 

Downsizing from a farm that you spent 6 years collecting tools and things to keep up with all the work is no easy task.  We spent the last 2 months moving and trying to get rid of things that we no longer need.  That included our herd of Miniature Zebu cattle and a couple of horses.  It has been exhausting and much of the work has been in the Southeast Texas heat and humidity.  Praise God, the move is now done, though we still have a long road of getting things moved from boxes to their appropriate places around the house. 

I suppose for an article on contentment it seems all I have done so far is complain.  That was not my intent.  I am extremely grateful for what the Lord has done.  I can already see the results of cutting my drive by half.  This leads me to my first point about contentment.  To be content we must have a grateful heart. 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

No matter how difficult life is, we all have something to be thankful for. It is God’s will that we express gratitude to Him. Paul did not have the easiest of roads when he became a Christian, yet he knew how to be content even when he was brought low, hungry, and in need as described in Philippians 4. The reality is, that every breath we take is a gift from God. As he reminds us in Romans 3, no one is righteous, not even one. However, in Romans 5 he also reminds us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.

Titus 3:5 ESV

When we know Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can be content knowing that this is the worst it will ever get. For God has an eternity waiting for us that is far better than anything we can image.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV

We are able to have contentment of spirit when we focus on these great truths from God’s Word.

On the other hand, as men, we can sometimes take contentment to an extreme and become complacent. I have at times prided myself in being an easy-going person. When I was in college I worked at a Christian camp one summer as a camp councilor for young boys. At the end of the summer all the first-time counselors were given an Indian name. The name given to me was Steady Bow. The reasoning was because I did not tend to have big ups and downs. I just took things as they came and stayed calm. However, that has not always gone well with me. It is easy for me to let things slide with my children when I need to take action.

Too often, us men can come home from a hard day’s work and not feel like dealing with problems our children have caused. This can be extremely frustrating for our wives if they have been home all day dealing with those problems. It is at this time that we need to prioritize against complacency. Our children need us. Our wives need us. A practical suggestion may be to spend the drive home praying and preparing our minds for action. We can be thinking of intentional strategies to deal with possible behavior issues and ways we can take the load off our wives when we walk in the door.

One thing is for sure, Paul was not complacent. Content, yes. Complacent, no. Imagine Paul dealing with the struggles that he lists in 2 Corinthians 11.

Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

2 Corinthians 11:24-28 ESV

These are the circumstances Paul is referring to in Philippians 4 that he learned to be content in. I expect that very few us can claim to have experienced any of these hardships. All of them required contentment, but not complacency to survive. Imagine Paul becoming complacent while adrift in the sea. He would have drowned. We can have determination while being content. Daniel was determined to obey God even when it could have meant his life, but he was also content to eat the vegetables and water.

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Daniel 1:8 NKJV

In the same way, we must purpose in our heart to obey God in how we live with our wives and discipline our children(1 Peter 3:7, Ephesians 6:4). When we are resolved to obey Scripture it becomes much easier to deal with the behavior problems without anger, even when we are tired from work. It becomes easier to be content even when the finances are not what we had hoped or the car is having issues again. It is not an accident that Philippians 4:11-13 comes after Philippians 4:6.

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.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Our anxieties can become contentment when we are seeking Christ through prayer with a grateful heart. Compare this verse with 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 above. Do you see how they go hand in hand? Paul also gave us some practical help here too.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9 ESV

This is called setting our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2). When we think about these kind of things, not only does it breed contentment, but it stirs up determination to do what is right. It motivates us to be steadfast, yet purposeful with our words and actions. Men, this is what God has called us to do in Christ Jesus. Let us not lose heart.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

The Wisdom of Charles & Susannah Spurgeon

As a Christmas gift, I gave my wife the book Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, wife of Charles H. Spurgeon. She has thoroughly enjoyed reading about Susie. I recently purchased C.H. Spurgeon’s autobiography and have read about half of it. It is fantastic. Ruth and I have enjoyed discussing their lives and have been blessed by their wisdom.

We enjoyed talking about this historic couple so much we decided to record a session for The Legacy Homeschool Reflections Podcast where Ruth and I share some of our favorite quotes. It was hard to narrow down which quotes we wanted to share, so we limited the discussion to quotes that pertain to family and raising children.

We hope you find this discussion and the wisdom of Charles & Susannah Spurgeon encouraging. Thanks for listening.

The Legacy Homeschool Reflections Podcast

How To Do Family Worship

My wife and I recently had the opportunity to sit down and record for her podcast, Legacy Homeschool Reflections. In this episode we discuss the importance of family worship and offer some practical ideas on how to incorporate family worship into your daily routine.

The Legacy Homeschool Reflections Podcast

In the book, Susie – The Life And Legacy Of Susannah Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes Jr. there is a quote that sums up how Charles and Susannah Spurgeon felt about this daily practice.

“Family Bible reading and prayer were a priority for Susie and Charles from the beginning of their marriage, and this was a the heart of their parenting. Susie remembered that whether they “lodged in some rough inn on the mountains or in the luxurious rooms of a palatial hotel in a city,” they did not neglect reading the Bible and praying together. The elements of family worship modeled by Charles included Bible reading/explanation, prayer, and hymn singing. As the Puritan Matthew Henry declared, “They who pray in the family, do well. They, who read and pray, do better. But they who sing, and read, and pray, do best of all.”[1]

It has been my goal to model our family worship after C.H. Spurgeon and the Puritans. I hope you enjoy the podcast. May the Lord bless you and your family as you seek Him daily.

Our Family 2015
  1. Rhodes, R., Jr., Susie: The Life And Legacy Of Susannah Spurgeon (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers), 2018, 94

What’s with Saturday Morning Breakfast?

You may be wondering why there is a tab on this website entitled Saturday Morning Breakfast (SMB).  If you have read SMB, you may still be wondering why this was created.  SMB is a bit of an odd duck, so I decided to offer an explanation. 

You will find several things on Saturday Morning Breakfast.  First, it is a bit of an eccentric dialog with myself, while in a groggy state, as I get up on Saturday morning and make pancakes or waffles for my family.  It is partially a recipe for pancakes and bacon and partially a reflection of what most of my Saturday mornings have entailed for about 15 years.  Most days of the week I leave early for work, but on Saturdays, I sleep in a bit.  When I get up I typically make breakfast and then we have family worship.

Yes, there is a recipe for pancakes, but the real recipe is the outline for family worship.  If you are not currently having family worship, let me encourage you to make it part of your daily routine.  It does not have to be complicated or ritualistic.  It really is a very simple thing.  Sing.  Read the Word.  Pray.  These are the important elements that should be covered every day, if possible. 

Family worship does not have to take a long time, and it does not have to be complicated.  If your children are not used to sitting still, start out by singing one simple hymn or praise song.  Read a short passage of Scripture.  There are lots of short Psalms.  Then say a short prayer.  If your children do not want to cooperate, you may need to lovingly discipline them.  However, return to finish family worship. 

One thing to remember is that you want your children to enjoy worship of our great and mighty God.  If you force them in anger it is going to exasperate them.  Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”  Exercise self-control and lead your family with a joyful heart.

As this becomes routine you may want to add a catechism and/or other readings.  The Catechism for Boys and Girls is an easy one to go through. There are many great books that can be helpful for family worship.  We have enjoyed Israel Wayne’s books, Questions God Asks and Questions Jesus Asks.  Dr. Joel Beeke also has a set of short stories that are great for family worship entitled, Building on the Rock. Adding these elements can be very helpful for engaging discussion and are good teaching tools.

I have recently been reading C.H. Spurgeon’s autobiography and discovered some great stories about his involvement in family worship as a boy and a man.  Even Spurgeon was a bit of a challenge as a boy.  Enjoy this story and add family worship to your home today.

When I was a very small boy, I was allowed to read the Scriptures at family prayer. Once upon a time, when reading the passage in Revelation which mentions the bottomless pit, I paused, and said, “Grandpa, what can this mean?” The answer was kind, but unsatisfactory, “Pooh, pooh, child, go on.” The child, however, intended to have an explanation, and therefore selected the same chapter morning after morning, and always halted at the same verse to repeat the enquiry, hoping that by repetition he would importune the good old gentleman into a reply.

The process was successful, for it is by no means the most edifying thing in the world to hear the history of the Mother of Harlots, and the beast with seven heads, every morning in the week, Sunday included, with no sort of alternation either of Psalm or Gospel.  The venerable patriarch of the household therefore capitulated at discretion, with, “Well, dear, what is it that puzzles you?” Now “the child” had often seen baskets with but very frail bottoms, which in course of wear became bottomless, and allowed the fruit placed therein to drop upon the ground; here, then, was the puzzle,—if the pit aforesaid had no bottom, where would all those people fall to who dropped out at its lower end ?—a puzzle which rather startled the propriety of family worship, and had to be laid aside for explanation at some more convenient season.

Queries of the like simple but rather unusual stamp would frequently break up into paragraphs of a miscellaneous length the Bible-reading of the assembled family, and had there not been a world of love and license allowed to the inquisitive reader, he would very soon have been deposed from his office. As it was, the Scriptures were not very badly rendered, and were probably quite as interesting as if they had not been interspersed with original and curious enquiries. I can remember the horror of my mind when my dear grandfather told me what his idea of “the bottomless pit” was. There is a deep pit, and the soul is falling down,—oh, how fast it is falling! There; the last ray of light at the top has disappeared, and it falls on—on—on, and so it goes on falling—on—on—on for a thousand years! “Is it not getting near the bottom yet? Won’t it stop?” No, no, the cry is, “On—on—on.” “I have been falling a million years; am I not near the bottom yet?” No, you are no nearer the bottom yet; it is “the bottomless pit.” It is on—on—on, and so the soul goes on falling perpetually into a deeper depth still, falling for ever into “the bottomless pit”—on—on—on—into the pit that has no bottom! Woe, without termination, without hope of its coming to a conclusion!

C.H. Spurgeon

I am sure the young Spurgeon had some serious thinking to do after this grave warning from his grandfather.  As you incorporate family worship into your daily routine remember it is not always easy, but it is a great tool for discipling your children and drawing their hearts close to yours.

Stand Firm

When I was in college at the University of Houston, I usually kept to myself.  I was an engineering major and not very well equipped with social skills.  However, I had began to learn a little about Christian apologetics and my faith had been growing. 

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV

One day I was having lunch in a campus cafeteria and I somehow got into a conversation about Christian denominations.  I began to explain that there were some denominations that had become liberal and were not holding to the truth of Scripture.  Before I knew it, a crowd was beginning to gather and not everyone agreed with my conservative convictions.  I still remember the look on a young man’s face as he snickered and said to a friend, “Watch this.” He then presented me with a problem he seemed very confident would stump me.  He said, “Did you know the word ‘hell’ did not exist when the Bible was written?” 

I wish I knew then what I know now about the history of Scripture, but I did have sense enough to know that the Bible was not originally written in English.  Instead of trying to debate him in an area that I was not too confident in, I simply replied that I would have to do a little research and get back with him.  Then I moved on to other conversation.  I watched the guy’s smirk fall away and he walked away apparently disappointed.  I supposed he had hoped that I would act shaken or perhaps he just wanted to debate.  My point is that I did not allow his criticism to shake my faith.  I stood firm.

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Psalm 16:8-11 ESV
Standing firm on a post when we last had family pictures taken

Had I thought about it a little I could have easily refuted his attempt to remove the doctrine of hell from Scripture. The reality is that none of the words we find in our English Bibles existed when the Bible was written.  The English language did not exist as we know it during the time of Christ.  Furthermore, the Greek word we translate as “hell” is transliterated into English as “Gehenna.”  This literally means a place of fire and eternal punishment.  His criticism was irrelevant. 

I told this story to my children the other night as we were wrapping up family worship.  I encouraged them that if someone ever presents information critical of Christianity, and they are unable to answer, to not let it shake them.  They just need to smile and say, “I’ll have to look that one up.”  God’s Word is very defensible, and pretty much every criticism that has been made of it has been refuted in the past.  I highly recommend owning a harmony of the Gospels such as Thomas and Gudnry’s.  Having a copy of Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties is worth having on your shelf as well.  If you would like something more modern, Jason Lisle’s book, Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason: Refuting Alleged Bible Contradictions can be very handy.

What books we have on our shelves is not my ultimate point.  What I want to drive home is that God has called us to stand firm in our faith.  We may not ever get answers to all our questions, but we can trust that the Creator of the universe and the Savior of mankind is as real as the screen you are staring at.  Our children need to know that they can trust Him no matter what they are confronted with. 

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Philippians 4:1 ESV

I believe it is imperative that we teach our children that they can trust the Scriptures and that they can stand firm in their faith.  There have been a few stories in the news about well know pastors of large churches essentially saying we did not need to believe in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture.  They think these “old fashioned” beliefs will drive people away.  The reality is there are many churches who have made this mistake in the past and now they have dwindled to almost nothing.  Compromising on the authority of the Word of God is not the answer to building the kingdom.  Jesus did not do this.  Instead, we must trust the Lord and equip ourselves to defend His Word.  I have discovered that my children find it exciting when they learn that there are good answers to tough questions.  They then want to go out and defend their faith and share the gospel.  At the same time, I often remind them that they may not always be able to answer the critic.  That is when they must stand firm and trust Jesus Christ.  Then they can come home and ask their daddy.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:13 ESV

Enjoy Your Children

For the last several months my fifteen-year-old son and I have been planning to take an over night canoe trip down the Colorado River in Texas.  Every time we have had a weekend that would work the river has been too high.  We have had a lot of rain.  This past weekend we were planning to go when something else came up.  We were supposed to drive to Oklahoma and pick up a friend.  We decided we could camp a night in the Ouachita Mountains instead.  Unfortunately, that fell through at the last minute.  We thought we could turn back to the canoe trip again, but the weather showed rain on Friday and high winds on Saturday.  That is not the kind of weather that makes a fun canoe trip. 

The view from our hike.

My son and I have been going on camping trips for years.  We both love spending time together around a campfire under the stars.  He was disappointed when everything fell through.  Saying a quick prayer, I asked the Lord for wisdom.  I took a quick look at Texas weather and saw that the rain was going to stay east of Garner State Park.  The only question was, would there be any open sites?  Even in the winter Garner is one of the most popular state parks in Texas, and the weather was looking pretty good.  I jumped on the Texas State Parks website and to my pleasant surprise there were plenty of sites available.  The next morning, we hit the road for the 4-and-a-half-hour drive to our destination west of San Antonio.

Garner State Park lies on the crystal-clear waters of the Frio River.  My son and I spent the afternoon hiking the hills, exploring caves, and skipping rocks across the cold clear waters.  The hymn, This is My Father’s World kept coming to mind as we looked at the beautiful scenery. After a sausage and chili dinner we sat around the camp fire and read a couple chapters in the Bible.  I am so thankful my son has developed a love for the Word of God and is happy to sit and discuss scripture. 

My son and I jumping rocks in the Frio River

To my surprise, the young man suddenly said, “Daddy, I am not a father, and this may not be my place, but there is something I want you to always tell other dads to do.”  This peaked my interest and I asked him to proceed.  My son said, “Remind fathers to enjoy their children.”  He went on to tell me how much spending time doing fun things, like camping, has meant so much to him.  He also pointed out an anecdotal example of another family we know that has 10 children with the youngest being 13.  Most of the children are adults now and all of them are professing Christians with good character.  They are also a joy to be around.  The father is a Godly man that has spent a lot of time with his children, going on fun adventures.  He contrasted this family with another who has had issues, and, in his opinion, he did not see the father spending much time doing things with his children that they enjoy.

I do believe my son’s observation is something important to consider.  While I am not advocating that a father turn his house into a circus of nothing but fun and games, it is very important to cultivate an atmosphere of joy in the home.  There must be a balance of discipline, character training, Biblical discipleship, and fun.  These focus areas are not mutually exclusive.  My son and I were able to have some serious discussion about defending his faith and standing up under trial.  Yet these serious matters go hand in hand with doing things we love to do. 

My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.

Proverbs 23:26 ESV

Children will always remember the fun times that had with their dad.  I believe enjoying time with a child is one of the most important tools in gaining their heart.  When they are enjoying time with their father, they are often more open to listen.  These are great moments when you have a unique opportunity to share the hope that is within you (1 Peter 3:15) with your own children. 

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

1 Peter 3:15 ESV

Dad – enjoy your children.  It won’t be long, and the opportunity will be gone.

I understand camping is not for everyone but consider how you might enjoy spending time with your children.  Here are some ideas.

  1. Family game night
  2. Taking a walk in a park
  3. Building something
  4. Have a tea party (Little girls love tea parties with Daddy) 
  5. Throwing a ball in the yard

Dads, lets enjoy our children and pray for the fruit of tender hearts toward you and toward our God.

ORDINARY THOUGHTS

Thank you for visiting and allowing me to share a few thoughts about homeschooling.  These are not Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy.  No, this is a place where I will share what the Lord has been teaching me as I attempt to train my children and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).  This is, after all, the imperative of scripture to fathers. 

While you probably will not find anything here as profound as Jack Handy, Lord willing, you will find Biblical exhortation and practical ideas that will help you as a homeschool dad.  I plan to cover topics such as:

  • Family worship – How do we do it well?
  • Supporting your wife’s homeschooling work
  • Prayer – How do you find time?
  • Engaging the culture as a Christian family
  • Ministry for ordinary dads and families
  • Equipping your children to defend their faith
  • What is a dad’s role in homeschooling?
  • What resources are there for me as a homeschool dad?

Like my book, I will keep these posts short and sweet.  In the multitude of words sin is not lacking (Proverbs 10:19 NKJV).  We all need encouragement from time to time and this homeschool dad thing can be frustrating and hard.  However, the Lord has called us to do this and He is faithful.  I would love to hear from you that we may sharpen one another (Proverbs 27:17).  Please leave a comment below or connect with me on social media. 

The Lord has often done extraordinary things through ordinary people.  He even works through us ordinary homeschool dads as we depend on His Word to guide us. The great thing is, God’s Word is truly profound. Jack Handy – he wasn’t.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV
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