Category Archives: Children / Family

What Can You Learn From a 3 Year Old?

Q: So after 28 + years on this earth, what can you learn from a three old (or a pair of “three-year olds”)?

A: You are never too young (or too old) to begin to memorize Scripture.

Tonight, as we began our family devotional time, my three year old twin daughters, Isabel and Elliana, wanted to demonstrate to “daddy” what they have learned at “school”.  With my wife’s help my children began reciting Psalm 1:1-3.  As they anticipated my wife’s whispering, I couldn’t help but sit amazed by the goodness of God.  After they finished, my six-year-old son, Abel, was able to recite the entire passage without help.  My slightly more timid (and creative) daughter, Amariah was last.  She insisted that she needed help starting, but ultimately ended up finishing the passage by singing the song they have learned while memorizing the passage of Scripture.  What a humbling example of God’s grace to my family!

No matter your learning style or age, Scripture memory should be a priority.  As I think about my work, I realize that I am constantly committing tasks, projects, and solutions to memory.  My daily tasks and situations are absorbed into the core of who I am as an employee.  I am often left wondering… what if I applied the same raw intensity to the Word of God as I do to my work?  While from a simple time availability standpoint,  that would be nearly impossible.  But that is no excuse… this man’s journey needs some intense, absorption in the Word of God… to be continued…

 

“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!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night.  He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” ~ Psalm 1:1-3

Family Shepherds…(like with the Rod and Staff?)

I would classify myself as an avid reader (as avid as you can be with a demanding job and a family six).  If you were to checkout my bookshelf, you would quickly notice that I am not much for “fiction” reading and spend the bulk of my time reading books that I feel will benefit me professionally, personally, and / or spiritually.

A lot of people write reviews of books and most would provide a more eloquent or technical review than what I will be able to expound.  My primary goal in writing a review is to have a forum for my reflection on the work that God has done in my life through reading this book.  Or simply the work that God was doing in my life while reading this book.

I recently finished a book titled, “Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes”, written by Voddie Baucham Jr.   For me, the book’s title alone was intriguing enough to warrant the time to read.  I also had become familiar with the author through his book, “Family Driven Faith”, which I also previously read and thoroughly enjoyed.   For those of you not familiar with Voddie and his ministry, I offer a link to his website.  For some, his view on the role of the church regarding youth ministry may be controversial, but it is hard to ignore some of the evidence that he presents.

Voddie starts the book making a simple point about “knowing” vs. ” doing”.  To summarize in my terms… if Christian men were asked the question, who is responsible for discipling and training your children to walk in the ways of god, 99.999% of people would get the answer right… the parents.  You could count me among the 99.999%!.  However, I found myself increasingly frustrated with my lack of understanding for accomplishing this task.  I could easily point to the passages in scripture that admonish me to fulfill my role as the spiritual leader and the head of my household, but I found myself weak and powerless in fulfillment.  I believe that part of my frustration was driven by the fact that I didn’t even really know what it looked like to be the spiritual leader and head of my home.  A second part of my frustration may have been due to the desire to find some new effective method (i.e. shortcut).

I’ve certainly found good news throughout this process of sanctification, because God is not hiding wisdom from those who seek him.  In his book Voddie lays out a compelling case that the Bible calls men to shepherd their families.  As a man, who has tried to “get things right” with parenting, it was a profound truth for me to realize that “discipling our children is not about teaching them to behave in such a way that won’t embarrass us”  but rather to raise “our children with a view towards leading them to trust and to follow Christ”.   While, I still seek to avoid public embarrassment, I am learning to understand my role as shepherd of my family.

In the second part of the book, Voddie goes to great length to lay out what it might look like for a man to herald the Gospel in his home.  This section perhaps cut me most deeply, as it became readily apparent that my half-baked attempt at family devotions were more “going through the motions” than birthed out of a true desire to with the biblical viewpoint of leading my children to trust and follow Christ (ouch!).  Don’t take me wrong, I sincerely desired for my children to follow Christ, but given our schedule of nightly devotions, by the time 8:30 rolled around and I just labored through an intense day of work, I was ready to “check out” (selfishly).  If you have young kids… I’m sure you’ve “been there”.  While we are not perfect, my wife and I have had great victory over the past couple of months in the quality of devotion time that we have had with our kids in teaching them the word of God and worshiping as a family (more on that in another post).

Overall, as a man this book was a welcome nourishment to my soul.  I need to be challenged and instructed in the word of God.  I need to cry out for wisdom.  God has been effectively working on me (“sanctifying me”) for over a year regarding this topic (see recent blog post here).  The book, Family Shepherds, has certainly been a part of the journey and a tool that God used to exhort me about the deep truths founds in scripture concerning leading my family.  I pray that the Lord will continue to mold me into an “under shepherd” for my family, and I pray that if you are reading, God will grant that desire to you as well!

Blessings,

Travis

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If you are interested, you can read some “real” reviews and purchase the book off of Amazon here.  If you are interested in borrowing the book let me know.

 

Leading My Family

I really enjoy writing and laying out my thoughts, whether by journal in private or by blogging for the world to see.  I wish I could say that I have done well at either of the two in the recent past.  If you are reading this perhaps you can identify with my struggle.  My heart’s desire is to have a vibrant growing personal time of devotion, prayer, and journaling and to turn that into ministering effectively through the use of this blog.  The reality is I barely have time to keep up with the daily grind of life and my personal devotion life.

Last Sunday’s sermon at my home church, First Family Church, struck home with a point as we are studying the first chapter of the book of Acts.   Pastor Todd challenged us with a pointed statement: “Being “on mission” — making disciples — is not merely an opportunity for us; it is a responsibility for us…”.  On our way home from church, I asked my wife what this meant to her and where she saw her “responsibility” fleshing out.  Her response, was simply that our children were her primary responsibility for discipleship .  It’s hard to argue with that… we have a 6 year old, 4 1/2 year old, and twins that will turn 3 at the end of next month.  Given my wife’s role in our family as a stay at home mom and primary educator, she is right.  Admittedly I struggle with this… it seems like there should be more that I am doing…

In my personal devotion time, I found myself asking God, “what is my responsibility and am I fulfilling that responsibility?”   While I have yet to hear God speak to me in a clear audible voice, I could feel His Spirit that indwells me confirming that leading my family and discipling them is currently my primary responsibility.  But instead of feeling burdened or inadequate of this calling, I found freedom.  Instead of feelings of despair because of my failures, I felt empowered to overcome them.

My thoughts over this past week, have certainly put a bow tie on a lot what I have pondered for the past 10 months.  While God has certainly put many opportunities before me, it is vitally important for me to take my biblical responsibility for making disciple seriously.   While, I know that I will never perfectly disciple my family, I know that God can take my imperfect effort and use it to accomplish his eternal purposes.  Praise be to God!

Psalm 127: 1-6 – “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.  It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.  Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.”‘

Blessings!

Travis

Scheduling the American Dream

Daily Schedule: Wake, shower, and commute to work from the suburbs before the kids are even out of bed.  Work on projects, field calls, and prepare presentations until I realize that the day is over and my wife is calling me about what time to have dinner on the table.  Pull in the driveway a little after 6 pm to be greeted by 4 children and a wife eager to see me and share about the events of their respective days.  Enjoy a home-cooked meal and the remaining 90 minutes of family time before putting the kids to bed around 8:30 pm.  Relax, catch up on the day’s events, while preparing for tomorrow’s, before drifting off to sleep knowing the bills have been paid and my family is being provided for…

Sounds like my personal slice of the American Dream, eh?

The truth is, from the outside looking in, my life appears to have met the requirements of this so-called American Dream: home in the suburbs, a satisfying, well-paying job, a wife and children.  Perhaps four children is too many to qualify for the American Dream, but we have foregone the dog and cat for the time being (which sort of evens it out).  The schedule listed above could be classified as a typical outline of my days for the frist half of 2011, and truthfully, there has not be a lot for me to complain about.  Life “looks good” to the eyes of men.   

There is nothing inherently evil with the aspects of the so-called American Dream which are present in my life (job, home, wife, kids).  In fact, I contend they are all worthwhile and profitable endeavors.  However, as a Christian man, is the American Dream what I should ultimately be striving to accomplish?  The answer should be “no”, but for whatever reason this has become the benchmark for success in our society today.  As with everything else in our society, the goals of the American Dream are short-sighted.  Politicians make decisions based on what will make them more electable for their next term.  Football programs bend and break rules to land the prized recruit who will lead them to glory for his four years of eligibility.  The list of examples could go on forever.  We are stuck in a world obsessed with instant gratification.  At the root of instant gratification screams the desires of the selfish, sinful nature.  There is no eternal outlook.

What if my schedule was evaluated for its impact on heavenly / eternal things?  How would it stack up?  Would it meet the litmus test?  Granted, there are things of eternal impact that did take place throughout the day of the schedule listed above.  However, the evidence would suggest that I was scheduling the American Dream, and not a heavenly minded reality.

Lord God, help me to approach each day with a heavenly minded, eternal outlook, instead of seeking the securities of the American Dream.  Lead me as I lead my family in seeking the fullness of Your being and satisfaction in the fullness of Your presence.

Book Review: Raising a Modern-day Knight

Today, I just finished a very good book recommended to me by some Christian men.  The book is titled, “Raising a Modern-day Knight,” written by Robert Lewis (published by Focus on the Family).  The book’s stated purpose is to expound upon the father’s role in guiding his son toward authentic manhood.

This book hits on a variety of topics regarding parenting, but perhaps more importantly, the book cast a vision for men who are raising sons in a culture that seeks to blur the lines of gender while redefining what it means to a “man”.  Even though my son is only five years old, I am deeply concerned about what is going on in this culture as I seek to raise my son to love God and become a man of honor.

This book takes a stroll down history lane to the concept of knighthood, which was fascinating to me.  While knighthood is far removed from our secular culture in America, the principles hold some timeless truths that became more evident to me while reading this ‘manual’.  There were parts of this book that were perhaps a little premature for my stage in parenting my son.  However, that does not change the effectiveness of the message in my opinion.  Father’s with sons of all ages would gain godly wisdom from reading this book.

As fathers, we need to begin to ask ourselves, “how can I raise my boy into a man?”.   My son is only five years old, but every day that passes by will be a day that I can’t have back with him.  As fast as the first five years have gone, it’s hard to fathom how quickly the next 13 will go.  It forces me to take a hard, uncomfortable look in the mirror, and ask myself, “am I doing everything that I can to accomplish the vision I have for my son?”  Obviously, this question reaches further than just to my first-born son and extends to my three daughters, but there seems to be extra weight upon my shoulders in raising a son.  I see how he watches my every move and desires to be like me.  He cherishes every moment that we get to spend together alone, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time.  These events truly warm my heart and give me deep satisfaction.  However, there are moments when I know I have disappointment him, and I must live with that sting.

I pray that I am able to fully embrace the vision for raising my son towards a vision for authentic manhood.  I pray and hope that I am able to give him not only good things in this life, but the best things and most important things in this life.

 

I Am Who I Am

Every Father’s day is becoming sweeter and sweeter to me.  My growing appreciation for the opportunity to set aside 24 hours in honor of Father’s transcends multiple levels of my life.

My Heavenly Father
I love that Father’s day always fall on a Sunday.  Is there a sweeter way to celebrate, than in worshiping the Father of Lights and King of Kings? Today, as I stood in worship at FFC, my heart was overwhelmed at one point in worship to the song, You are God Alone (written by Billy J Foote and Cindy Foote, made famous by Phillips, Craig & Dean).  There is nothing unique or exciting about the lyrics, it is simply a praise hymn.  However, in the simplicity of the lyrics, something happened.  For today it was transformed into a testimony of God’s beauty in my eyes (thanks Pastor Todd).  For this might and unchangeable God, sent His only Son to die on the cross for MY sings.  While it easy to use the words that name God as “Father” (see the Lord’s prayer), it is another thing entirely to call and cry out to God from our hearts as “Father” in the spirit of adoption (see Galatians 4:4-7).  I am who I am today, because of my Heavenly Father’s, saving grace and work of sanctification in my life.

My Earthly Father
My Father was and is a hard-working man who embraced God’s calling as provider for his family.  He loves God and has always placed his family above all other things that would consume his time.  As busy as me and my siblings were in high school, I can scarcely remember a time where he was not present at one of our events.  His support and sacrifice was never-ending.  My Father taught me what it means to work hard and sacrifice to accomplish the things which you want in life.  As I sit here at the computer, a time during my high school years stands out to me.  I distinctly remember an instance where he “encouraged” me (more like challenged me) to have a stronger work ethic. While I can’t quite remember my immediate reaction (suffice to say it probably wasn’t very God or a great example of submission and respect to my father), as I look back on that time in my life my earthly father was right (in substance) and had every right (in role) to challenge me in this area.  It is little events like these, accumulated over the past 27 years of my life, that allow me to say I am who I am today because of the love and training of my earthly father.

My Role as Father
To me this is the most frightening level of my life to write about it, because I am a long ways from being a perfect dad.   By God’s grace we have four wonderful children, they are well behaved (most of the time), and learning what it means to love God.  Yet, this is an area where God is currently “dealing” with me.  Have you ever had those times where God uses his instrument of wisdom (Word of God, quiet prayer times, godly books, sermons, etc.) to speak truth into your life? Currently this is one of those times. I believe that God is speaking to my heart that as a father, he has given me a high calling of leading my family physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I can’t necessarily define what that looks like or will look like in our family’s life, but I am seeking God and praying for wisdom (James 1:5).  Ultimately, my prayer is that someday, my children will be able to joyfully say, “I am who I am today, because of the role that my earthly father and Heavenly Father had in my life.”

Life in Review: 2010

Considering 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 all involved births or a miscarriage, 2010 could be rated relatively boring in comparison.  However, that was certainly not the case, so I thought it would be beneficial to take a brief look back at various areas of my life as a marker looking back and an opportunity to look ahead.

Work
Where to start?  It was quite a year.  I received a promotion and continued to take on increasing responsibility.  In fact, one of my co-workers retired at the end of the year and we hired an analyst so that I could take on more revenue generating responsbility in the office.  God has continued to bless my work and grant me favor with my co-workers and colleagues.  Praise God!

Chilren
No additions to this category this year (as mentioned above), but our children continue to grow, change and develop.  Abel and Amariah both started pre-school this past fall.  My wife, Angela is homeschooling this year and using the Sonlight curriculum.  So far it has been very profitable academically for our children and worth the up front cost.  It’s really neat to watch our children learn and hunger to know more.  Abel continues to love to build with Legos, he is a detail oriented four year old.  Amariah has the most creative imagination of any child I have ever known.  She loves to sing and play make believe.  Isabel and Elliana are now over 19 months old and walking / running / climbing whereever they please!  It’s so much fun to watch them interact with each other and their older siblings.  Children certainly have a way of keeping things in perspective.

Family
My brother got engage to his college sweetheart and we look forward to their wedding in April.  My sister and brother-in-law are finally catching up with us on the kid count and are due to equal us in March of 2011.  My parents continue to be blessed with good years farming and enjoying their seven grandchildren.  My mom had another good year of tests at Mayo. She has now been officially cancer free since her last surgery in December of 2007.   What an amazing work of healing and restoration.  I continually praise God for his goodness and do not take my time with my extended family for granted!  

Church
At First Family Church, we finished series in 2 Peter and Romans, and did a topical study on the Gospel-Centered Life.  We also spend the entire year in our “new” facility.  It was nice to finally have a place that we call “home” after being a mobile church.  We led a Lighthouse group for the first half of the year and then took a break beginning in the fall to take a year to “recharge” from the demands of having a young family and leading. 

Spiritual Growth
It was a good year of growth for me in some theological areas that I had been studying coinciding with the various sermon series.  However, I found myself struggling with consistency in scripture reading off and on.  When my work schedule became hectic, I found myself leaving God with the leftovers… ouch… that’s a tough thing to admit and something I am not very proud of.  I did not have a formal bible “reading plan” outlined at the beginning of the year, and found that did not serve me well.

Eternal Outlook
While, my posting was down this year (only 21 posts = yikes!), I feel that each year God is changing my outlook on life and focusing my gaze eternally.  I want to have a year that counts for eternity and be able to look back with satisfaction that I am not only encouraging christian living with an eternal outlook, but living as a Christian with an ever increasing eternal outlook.

Blessings!
Travis

God Still Sustains

July 14, 2008 was a difficult day for our family.  We lost a child to miscarriage.  Though God certainly sustained us through the trial and has given great hope of this goodness through the trial.  While, I have not frequently written about the topic, it is certainly one that we are reminded of consistently.  Even though miscarriage is commonly a hush hush subject, the hurt is real because the life was real.  My wife and I know a lot of people who have endured or are enduring much more severe trials that either of us have endured in our lives.  Many people, myself formerly included, simply do not know the best way to respond to situations like this.  The truth is, the response to these situations never change, for God alone can sustain and heal the broken hearted.  There are many beautiful promises written in God’s love letter to mankind, but do we believe them in the midst of trial?  I mean do we REALLY believe them, or are we just giving lip service to them?

Today, two years later, the loss still hurts, but there is no victory for death for it holds no sting.  Praise God for his giving of new life and for life eternal.

Unmistakable Submission: Marriage

In my previous post, I mentioned the tugging on my heart to embrace unmistakable submission to the One who made me.  To some, the concept of submission, especially to authority, always sounds negative as if someone is robbing them of their freedom.  The best example is the “ole’ ball and chain” mentality our society holds towards marriage.  This concept is one that society has loved to make a mockery of, because our society is bent against God.  Our society has cheapened every aspect of Christian marriage, sexually, relationally, and spiritually.  Just think of popular sitcoms on television and the various prime time soap operas.  Can anyone truly name a television show that models what true Christian marriage looks like.  Of course not, our society is bent on making us all feel better about our marital “shortcomings” by holding out the extreme and causing us to laugh about them.  In reality, our lack of submission in an affront to a perfect holy God.  While I agree that it’s good to acknowledge that we will never have a “perfect” marriage, I think it would do us all a world of good to hold out the other extreme… the perfect relationship that Christ Jesus has with the church.  We should learn from the life and ministry of Jesus what true submission looks like.  Although he was given all authority, he limited his authority to be in submission to the will of His Father.

I praise God that my wife and I both embrace the mentality of Christian marriage and reject what our society has to say. With God’s help we will strive to fruitfully develop the qualities of biblical submission in our hearts that you desire.

Father God, I praise God for your wonderful institution of marriage and the beautiful model provided throughout scripture.  Transform my mind and will to be marked with unmistakable submission in my marriage.  Let your will and authority reign.  Make our marriage “different” not just better.  In Jesus’ precious, holy, saving name! ~ Travis

Calling Myself Blessed!

I can’t believe I am the father of a four year old.  Today’s is my oldest son’s birthday.  It’s hard to believe that 4 years ago my wife and I were in the hospital with our newborn son.  We were newlyweds (9 months under our belt) and I was still finishing up college (on spring break of my senior year to be exact).  We knew that children are a blessing from the Lord and have accepted that from day one.  However, I’m sure to some extent we tempered what we expected that would look like!

Parenting has not always been easy and I’m sure my wife and I have made our share of “rookie” mistakes.  But, tonight, my heart is very proud.   My son is an incredible blessing to our family.  He is obedient, fun-loving, one-of-a kind kid.  I am proud to call him my son. 

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.” ~ Psalm 127:3-5