Monday, August 30, 2010

Honoring Our Fathers

Honor your father and mother. Exodus 20:12

There are different ways of showing honor. One of the best and most appreciated is often the most overlooked.

video



Warren Baldwin

Friday, August 27, 2010

Forgiveness - Always Near The Cross


"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
Matthew 5:7

"Lord God Almighty,
Thou hast taught me the necessity of a Mediator, a Messiah, to be embraced in love with all my heart, as King to rule me, as Prophet to guide me, as Priest to take away my sin and death, and this by faith in Thy beloved Son, Who teaches me not to guide myself, not to obey myself, not to try to rule and conquer sin, but to cleave to the One who will do all for me.

Thou hast made known to me that to save me is Christ's work, but to cleave to Him by faith is my work, and with this faith is the necessity of my daily repentance as a mourning for the sin which Christ by grace has removed.

Continue, O God, to teach me that faith apprehends Christ's righteousness not only for the satisfaction of justice, but as unspotted evidence of Thy love to me.

Help me to make use of His work of salvation as the ground of peace, and of Thy favour to, and acceptance of me the sinner, so that I may live always near the cross."
(The Valley of Vision - Puritan Prayers and Devotions)


So that I may live always near the cross. There is a beautiful simplicity rooted in that desire. Living near the cross, abiding in His Word, honoring Him. As our hearts are postured in this humility, we extend the same grace, mercy and forgiveness He lavishes on us.


When I wrote last time about forgiving our spouses quickly, I knew opportunities would generously present themselves for me to forgive quickly and for me to ask for forgiveness quickly! Hubby and I have each had to forgive and be forgiven much in the day-to-day messiness that life can present. Whenever I am writing a message, I must be the first one willing to ask God to search my own heart such that I am living out the message intrinsically. I desire the same wisdom, truth and authenticity God desires for us as His children. "Surely You desire truth in the inner parts; You teach me wisdom in the inmost place." Psalm 51:6


My heart has been willingly more sensitive to His voice over the last few weeks as I yield to the message of forgiveness and mercy. I am challenged to check my own heart to see if there is any unforgiveness or hesitant forgiveness lingering about. How about you? Let's ask God to search our hearts, specifically toward our spouses. Then, let's obey His commands of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. "I will hasten and not delay to obey Your commands." Psalm 119:60


"Few things are more precious to receive than forgiveness. God's nature is forgiveness (Exodus 34:6-7). If we are to be His disciples, we must follow His example. We have no biblical excuse for allowing unforgiveness in our hearts. A keen awareness of your own need for forgiveness will put the offenses of others in their proper light." - Blackaby


"Forgiveness is not a spiritual gift, a skill, or an inherited trait. Forgiveness is a choice. God's forgiveness is not based on standards we determine, but on the standards He established in His Word. God allows for no exceptions when it comes to forgiveness." - Blackaby


God allows for no exceptions when it comes to forgiveness. I am thankful He has no exceptions for forgiveness in my life. May I lavish that same grace and forgiveness on others, especially my spouse. My husband is a fine man of integrity. Yet we are both sinners. Mercy, grace and forgiveness are a daily necessity in marriage. I want to live always near the cross. I want to love and honor my husband that way.


Small offenses or large, hurtful wounds must all be covered in His forgiveness and love. God's standard on forgiveness is poured out in His Word. Here is one Psalm rich in truth: Read Psalm 51 - God's mercy and forgiveness.

Living always near the cross, let's hasten and not delay in obeying His commands...beginning in our marriages and our homes. "I will walk in my house with blameless heart." Psalm 101:2


Sharon

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Look

Chances are, if you are like me, you have mastered "the look." No, I'm not talking fashion here. I mean "the look" you give your kids as a warning.

Before my kids do something they aren't supposed to do, they glance over at me, to see if I'm watching. Then I flash them "the look." For me, the look is eyebrows up, mouth straight and tight, eyes bulge slightly. The look says "I see you, don't do it!" They quickly return to doing good and don't get into trouble.

I wonder if God has "the look." How many times before I get into trouble, does God flash me the look saying, "I see you, don't do it." Before I say something about someone I shouldn't...the look. Before I fly off the handle yelling at my kids for some minor offense...the look. Before I tell my husband what he did wrong in my oh, so superior tone of voice...the look.

How come the look works on my kids, but not on me? One key reason. Before my kids do wrong, they look to me. If, before I was about to mess up, I would simply look to my Father, to God, then I might see the look. I might hear the warning. I might not mess up. The answer is clear. I need to change my focus, and keep my eyes on God.

Psalm 25:15 -- My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Kelly

Monday, August 23, 2010

Patients and Patience



"But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8:25

If you look at your calendar, what do you see?

I see a cacophony of colors, all representing scheduled appointments, dates and responsibilities. Each block is carefully mapped out with well ordered plans and goals. That calendar alerts me of MY plans, but what about the plans the LORD has for me? I have to ask myself, are they the same?

God has blessed my life in reuniting a dear friend with me, at a most difficult time in her life. She is awaiting a liver transplant and has been on the UNOS list for years. She has literally been in my prayer journal since she was nine (she is now 25). When we spent time together this week, we spoke at length about what God has done in her life during this process. What a gift to have her share with me her heart. We talked about the intimate relationship she has with the Lord and how deeply she trusts him. We talked about fears, lonliness, the struggles that come naturally out of a long illness. The hard times are always peppered with good times in between. And finally, we talked about plans.

Newly married and anxious to get well, she has plans. Big plans. Family plans. Scripture tells us that suffering brings patience, so there is that human fear that perhaps we don't want to pray for patience, lest suffering enter our well planned lives. She is not living the plan she mapped out; yet, I was humbled and quieted by her articulation of how God has used her misplaced plan.

As people, even Christian people, we are frustrated by lack of gratification and what we perceive to be unanswered prayer. We want patience and faith, but we want it right now! Patience is a virtue...a virtue that takes into consideration the future and the unknown; neither are happy bedfellows with pretty much any patient anxious to keep moving and implement their scheduled activities of life. Hebrews 6:12 encourages us to "imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what is promised."

We grow in our ability to accept and have patience through two avenues, delay and interruption.

How many of us have been all set to walk out the door to a much anticipated event and one of our children begins with a fever or bellyache?
How many of us have prayed ceaselessly for resolution to a particular circumstance and the response is delayed and we are required to "prepare and wait"?

Patience. God whispers, "Have patience."

And, for my friend, in illness, there is uncertainty in so many areas, for her as a patient, her plans require her patience as she goes through the necessary medical interventions to get her body well again. God will sustain her and give her an extra portion as He heals her physically and refreshes her soul. As comforting as His mercy is, it does not change the dynamic that He is in control and her plans will be delayed. As a wife, a daughter, a sister...hearing God's whisper is bittersweet. Her spirit is eager to follow, while her heart understandably thrashes a bit in the times of waiting.

Her life, her experience, is a distinct and bold reminder that we can encourage one another in building our faith and allowing our responses to be complete and total trust in God's timing and His priority settings, not our own. Marie Curie said, "I was taught that the way of progress is neither swift nor easy."

"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." Ecclesiastes 7:8

I pray our patience and trust are a true reflection of God's love lived out in the delays or interruptions that grow our spirits and mature our hearts. I am most thankful that my friend is an instrument of His gracious and tender care. She is the reality that no matter how carefully we set our vision into action, ultimately, our Heavenly Father has the most perfect plan. My prayer is for all of us to view the delays and interruptions as opportunities and "yields" to something far greater that He has prepared for us.

Be patient and be encouraged...

Heather

Friday, August 20, 2010

Early Birds

Dating your mate is an important practice to get into, however, finding the time to devote to each other is a completely different story!


This date idea will require that you have a babysitter come over the night before and spend the night (or get there very early).

Next, get up early one morning and head for the mountains, a lake, the shore, or maybe the sand dunes. Bring along the ingredients for a delicious breakfast to be cooked over a campfire and pack a picnic lunch. Head home after lunch to resume the tasks of the day.

One morning away will create amazing memories. Don't scrimp on this all important need - date your mate!

Sonya

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spiritually Homeschooling Our Children

What does the statement:

"Home school your children, spiritually." ... say to you?

Beth Moore is the author of that statement from her Believing God Bible Study video session. I remember hearing her talk about it the first time I did Believing God. Now, after 4 years of teaching that Bible study over and over again - this statement never gets old.

She reminds us that we have to be very careful not to allow others
to raise our children for us. While it is good to take our children to
church, SS or send them to Christian Schools [as I did mine] whether
lower level or even Christian colleges, homeschooling them
spiritually is a parent's job [and often a grandparent's as well].

  • Beth makes a statement in that series that I believe is worth repeating
    here:

    "Be care that you don't send your children to Christian school in hopes that they will learn a 'little something' about God... or they may just learn that God is a 'little something'."

    [read THAT one more time]

    2 Timothy 1:5
    I have been reminded of your sincere faith,
    which first lived in your grandmother Lois
    and in your mother Eunice and,
    I am persuaded, now lives in you also.


    Deuteronomy 6 [selected]
    Love the LORD Your God

    1 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all His decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.
    6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. [emphasis added]

    In our present culture with all the pressures that our children face in a fallen world, what are some of the ways you 'home school them spiritually'?

In Prayer? In Bible Study and Memory [not just reading]? In Music? In Worship? In Service? In Giving? In Awe and Wonder?

If we do not selectively and intentionally TEACH these things to our children and grandchildren, spiritually, they will learn from the world instead. The 'world' is always teaching them 'something'. It is our job to teach them and show them that GOD IS REALLY SOMETHING and SOMEONE to KNOW and LOVE!


I leave you with some intentional questions in this post in hopes that you might implement something here to enhance or 'step up' your level of homeschooling your kids spiritually.

  • Do you teach them to PRAY? [by allowing them to hear your sincere adult prayers]?

  • Do you get them excited in studying GOD'S WORD together, encouraging them to memorize Scripture as a tool and weapon of spiritual warfare?

  • Do you keep their ears filled with Christian MUSIC [old hymns or current praise songs] from time they are small?

  • Do you lead them into a place of WORSHIP - giving them a prayer closet before the Lord or some other Sacred Space to be alone with Him?

  • Do you take them to SERVE an elderly neighbor and let them rake leaves or bake cookies or take a meal to someone who is sick - sharing in those tasks with you?

  • Do you teach them about God's command to TITHE what they earn - from the time they receive an allowance - getting them excited about GIVING to God?

  • Do you walk along the way - in the park - noting and sharing in all the WONDER of God's creation - teaching them to give Him thanks and praise for all He has made - like the stars, the sunsets, the moon at night?
Whatever you ARE NOT doing - begin something TODAY.
Whatever you ARE DOING - do MORE!
Give them the GIFT of LIFE in Christ Jesus -
TEACH them SPIRITUALLY at home!

Choosing JOY,
Stephanie

Monday, August 16, 2010

A HEART FOR GOD AND YOUR MATE

A Heart for God and Your Mate

In the beginning man had a heart for God and a heart for his wife. Man communed personally with God. But God knew something was missing for the man, Adam. All the animals of the field had a mate and a companion. While Adam had God to commune with, he had no other human being with whom he could share his heart and body.

So God made Eve and Adam was happy! Any time a man breaks out in a poem you know he has been deeply touched! Looking at Eve’s beautiful form for the first time Adam extolled, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man." (Genesis 2:23). Adam knew that Eve was for him and he was exultant! She would complement his heart, his mind and his body. All of his mental and sexual energy would be satisfied by the beautiful woman standing before him. Eve was Adam’s wife and he was happy.

What happened to this wonderful first marriage? Adam became discontented with God and ate of the fruit that was forbidden to him. Not being contented with God led to not being contented with his wife. We don’t know that Adam ever stepped out on Eve or was abusive to her in anyway, but we do know that after the Fall the innocence of both the husband and the wife was shattered. The focus of Adam and Eve was shifted from the other to self. Instead of being other-conscious and basking in the beauty of his wife Adam became self-conscious and covered up his body. When Adam took his focus off serving God it followed that he took his focus off serving his wife and he focused on serving himself.

Men, if we ever become discontented with our wives, it is probably because we have first experienced a discontentment with God. We aren’t in prayer, we aren’t in Bible study, we aren’t actively thanking God for all his blessings in our lives. One of God’s blessings to a man is his wife. She is God’s blessing to meet our companionship and sexual needs. If a man becomes critical of his wife and starts looking at and bonding with other women (or pictures!), he is not thanking God for the gift of his bride! He is withdrawing from God and from God’s gift to him.

Develop a heart for God and a heart for your wife will follow.

Question: What are some ways you have felt discontented with your wife? How does this discontentment with her demonstrate an even deeper discontentment with God?

Suggestion: Offer a prayer of thanks to God for his greatest gift of companionship to you: your bride. Thank him for the gift of conversation, friendship, sexual fulfillment and spiritual encouragement you enjoy with her. Even if all these blessings are not as fulfilling as you would like, thank God anyway, because you wouldn’t have them to any degree without her!

Meditate: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man." (Genesis 2:23)

Warren Baldwin

Friday, August 13, 2010

Forgive Quickly

"The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving..."
Daniel 9:9

"Forgive Quickly." It's been almost two decades since one of our pastors admonished us with those words in our pre-marital class. During those weeks of preparation for marriage with other engaged couples, we received much wise instruction from our pastor through God's Word. Yet those words "Forgive Quickly" have continually reverberated in my heart and mind. This truth has been a healing balm to my heart and in my marriage. And I am thankful my husband forgives me quickly, too.

Withholding forgiveness can be destructive. Our hurt, self-righteousness and pride can build dangerous walls. God's love, mercy and forgiveness flowing through us will protect and strengthen our marriage union and our "cleaving" together. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24


When I feel an unwillingness to forgive quickly welling up in my heart, I am humbly reminded of the abundant mercy God has shown me in my life. My heart is humbled and I race to show mercy. I do love His mercy. "And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

In his book "Devotions For A Sacred Marriage", Gary Thomas writes:

"Because we married a sinner, we're going to see some ugly, ugly things. That's why our attitude toward another's sin will determine in large party, the degree of intimacy we can achieve in marriage.

Love mercy. Micah isn't telling us merely to demonstrate mercy or only to practice mercy; he tells us to fall in love with it. The wide, biblical concept of mercy includes forgiveness but also has roots of loyalty. This is a loyalty and forgiveness seasoned with graciousness and kindness -- particularly to those who don't deserve it. It is one of the most beautiful words in the English language and certainly one of the most precious truths in the Christian faith.

What does it mean to fall in love with mercy? It means I am to become mercy's biggest fan. Having received mercy from God, I am to walk in assurance and thankfulness, using my own gift of mercy as the lens through which I view anyone else's sin -- including that of my spouse."

Mercy: Roots of loyalty. Forgiveness seasoned with graciousness and kindness. Precious truth.

My heart is stirring. We are to love mercy. Mercy forgives quickly. Jesus forgives quickly. "Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.' Jesus answered him, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.'" Luke 23:42-43

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

Put away unforgivness and pride. Let's take our hands off of our hips, and let's outstretch our hands to our merciful, perfectly loving God. Let's race to show mercy!

Our own forgiveness came at a precious, costly price to our Redeemer. In humility, reverence and awe, may we be quick to forgive. "This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Matthew 26:28

*************
Congratulations to Rob & Becky! They will be receiving "Devotions for a Sacred Marriage"! Rob and Becky - the book is on the way to you today!





Sharon

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Safe Boundaries

My children know the boundaries in our backyard. We live on a lake. Our lawn goes down to wetland vegetation. The vegetation is low so that we can still see the lake and enjoy the view, however you cannot get thought the vegetation to the lake. It's too thick.

To get to the lake, you have to take the path. My children know they are allowed to go to the edge of the grass, but they may not go down the path to the lake without an adult. These "safe boundaries" keep them from the chance of drowning.

What about in our daily lives? Are we living within safe boundaries to protect us? Safe boundaries can not only protect our children, but us as adults too.

When my friend Sonya & I worked together years ago, there was a single fellow who asked her out to lunch. He was new to the company, and because he didn't know anyone, she agreed to go. At the same time, because she was a married woman and didn't want either the appearance of impropriety, nor the lack of a safe boundary, so she invited me along. Having me along provided a safe boundary. It even provided a "hedge" of protection against evil, much like the wild vegetation does around our lake.

What safe boundaries, hedges of protection, are you providing in your marriage? Do you avoid former romantic interests on facebook? Do you avoid speaking poorly about your spouse publicly? (or even privately!) Do you pray for your spouse and your marriage?

Check your words. I have an outgoing personality and enjoy chatting and bantering. Could my demeanor be misconstrued as flirting by the opposite sex? Could yours? We must watch our words and demeanor to provide safe boundaries.

Listen to your gut. If you feel uncomfortable because of someone's words, demeanor or emails, it could be the Holy Spirit warning you. Share these warnings with your spouse, so that they can help be a physical hedge of protection to you.

If my children cross the safe boundaries I've set out for them, it could cause them pain or even death by drowning. Likewise, crossing safe boundaries in marriage could cause your family great pain, or even the death of a marriage.

Ecclesiastes 10:8 KJV states whoever breaks through a hedge shall be bitten by a serpent. Of course we know that a serpent (the devil ) tempted Eve in the garden of Eden and is in fact the a symbol of temptation. Don't break through your safe boundaries. Keep the hedge, the wall, of protection around you and your marriage.

Ecclesiastes 10:8 -- He who digs a pit will fall into it, And whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a serpent. (NKJV)

Kelly

Monday, August 9, 2010

Traffic Patterns




Punctual.

I like to be punctual. However, with two young, unpredictable children, a new puppy and well... life, punctual is not always attainable. Some days I lament this fact, some days I accept it and appreciate each of the circumstances that prevented punctual from happening. As the children mature and as we gain more familiarity with said puppy, punctual seems far more reachable than it would have been say, three months ago.

Recently, we were on our way to see friends. Remarkably, we were on time. Punctual, I might even add. That is, until the traffic pattern on our major thoroughfare roughed us up a bit.



We.hit.every.single.red.light.between.our.home.and.theirs!



At first the girls were giddily singing and teasing in the back seat. Soon, amidst our stops and starts, I could hear Emily, the elder of our daughters sigh. LOUDLY. This was only to be followed by a final cry of desperation or frustration, I am still not sure which, "I SO DO NOT LIKE RED LIGHTS!" Anxious to be in the company of our friends, she saw the crimson signals as the enemy.



I had to laugh in spite of her proclamation. As a younger woman, I probably would have agreed with Emily. However, as God refines my spirit and challenges me to change my ways, I have discovered that just as the red lights are essential to a fully functioning traffic pattern, they are also essential to our walk with the Lord.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10


At the particular light we were stopped when she cried out, there was an elderly woman crossing the road. Cane in hand, she moved slowly, carefully articulating each step with careful measure; a small bag in the other hand, she could not thank us for remaining still even when the light gave way to green. And there we sat, four lanes of cars, two in each direction, in rest. I prayed for her in those moments. If I had not stopped, would I have noticed her? Would I have paused during my day to offer a prayer on her behalf?


"This is what the Lord says, "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16



The passage does not say, "run through the crossroads", it states to stand, denoting stillness, seeking God's will and His way, resulting in rest. In our search for intimacy with God, we are implored to "cease striving and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10) He desires our whole heart and sometimes our stopping to take in what is happening around us. The red lights provide pause. They provide rest and time for contemplation. We need the red lights to create a traffic pattern that forces us to the quiet places to pray and reflect, perhaps just to be.



Older, wiser and perhaps more quiet, I am thankful for the red lights, for the moments that force me to remember Jesus went to be alone and pray. Created in His likeness, he wants our hearts poised and ready for His message...have you hit a red light yet today?




Heather

Friday, August 6, 2010

Remember When...

Over the past two weeks, my family has been a little bored.  My 11 year old daughter, Stephanie, had her tonsils removed and we were told to keep her quiet for two weeks.  No swimming, or running, or rough housing.  Did I mention that she was a tomboy?

Her brother, Daniel, has missed his "buddy." Yesterday, after eating lunch, the two of them went out on the back deck for some fresh air. My youngest daughter had left her bubbles outside, and before long they were having a blast! Bubbles were flying and they were using ninja moves and annihilating those tiny missiles! They were laughing and having so much fun, I decided to sit down in my kitchen chair and just watch them.

Toward the end of their bubble wars, my daughter said, "You know, I had forgotten how much fun bubbles could be!"

As we age, we are expected to mature - which is a good thing. But why does maturing mean giving up fun? It seems as if mature adults don't know how to kick back and enjoy the little things, like bubbles! Laughter is good for the soul, and for relationships.

When is the last time you and your spouse laughed together? The older I become, the harder my life seems to be. A seriousness has taken over where I used to be lighthearted. So, today, I will remember what used to make me laugh.

Date idea:

Plan to talk with your spouse about the things that used to make both of you laugh. Reminisce together about a time when you felt lighthearted and joyful. Then, try to replicate one of the events. It doesn't matter if it seems childish - let yourself go and just have FUN laughing together! Try to pick two events, one from each of your memory banks.

Live, Laugh, Love!

Sonya

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

SIDE-BY-SIDE COOPERATION

Joshua 1:7-9
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Romans 14:9-11 The Message
That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that He could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.
10-11 So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by Text Colorside in the place of judgment, facing God.
______________________

Visiting Bar Harbor, Maine this past week gave food for thought in the way of instructions and working side-by-side within a group, especially within a family. Just across from Bar Island these one-time-Kayakers were given instruction by the young woman [Instructor] seated in the first picture [above]. She reminded me of Moses, instructing the Israelites, or a Mom instructing her kids about something important. I have never Kayaked myself, but as I eavesdropped on this conversation between the instructor and her 'students', I was amazed at the things she told them.... like: "whatever the person in front of you does - mimic that," and "keep a close eye on the other kayaks and the people beside you and in front of you. They will give you a 'heads up' as to what comes next," and "stick closer than a brother so you won't drift away."

These simple instructions reminded me of the family unit - especially with brothers and sisters. As parents we are to instruct our children in the way of the Lord from His Word. Then it is up to those children to respond in cooperation and obedience. Instructions must be taught. There is no way around that. Without these instructions there would be chaos, possible harm, and disunity. Those instructions would prove beneficial for the entire group of kayakers, as well as in the family unit - and to ALL who follow through in cooperation and obedience.

Choosing JOY,
Stephanie

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Son

MY SON

I just spent a week at a Bible camp with a young father, mother and their 18 month old son. Through the course of the week I never heard the dad use his son’s name. When addressing his boy or talking about him he always said, "My son."

The mom and son stayed in a camper while the dad stayed in a cabin with a bunch of teenage boys. So, the first thing every morning he came into the dining hall, walked to the spot where his family sat, and asked, "Where is my son?"

When his wife brought his boy into the room he would say, "There is my son!"

When a newcomer to camp would ask him who the little boy was he would answer, "My son."

What spirit do you think this dad demonstrated toward his son and was felt by everyone around? Pride (the healthy kind), joy, gratitude. His delight in his son was inescapable. His face lit up when he saw the boy and he proudly said, "My son."

I spent a week with this dad and never once heard him say the boy’s name. It was always, "My son."

Fifteen years from now when, as a teenager, this boy is faced with the trials and temptations typical of that age, he will have a resource to help him through those tough years: a dad who loves and takes pride in his children. That awareness will sustain the boy and may even lead him to approach his father and say, "Dad, we need to talk."

The foundation for such a relationship is being formed now in the dad’s unabashed joy in his son.

What else can we do with our small children to form the bonds of meaningful relationship with them?

Warren Baldwin