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Posts Tagged ‘Home’

Dad, stay home

At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house.  Acts 7:20 (ESV)

 

An article in The New York Times[i] highlighted the changing role of some fathers in America.  As the writer, Alex Williams stated, until recently, stay-at-home fathers were just a very small number among American families and were not always seen in the most positive of lights.

In the first decade of this century, the number of men who have left full-time employment outside the home has more than doubled, to 176,000, according to recent United States census data.  If we add all the men who maintain freelance or part-time jobs but who serve as the primary caretaker of children under de age of 15 while their wife works, the estimated number is around 626,000, according to Williams.

The identity of the at-home dad is also changing, both on the playground and in the culture in general. The decision to stay home with the children is not seen as a failure of their responsibilities as men, but rather as a lifestyle choice, a choice, in fact, that makes sense at a time when women may make as much or more money than their husbands do.

The new arrangement has created a new set of questions and situations men have never had to face before.  One of them has to do with the division of labor, which can be a challenge even when couples enter the arrangement willingly.  The modern at-home father is also experiencing what many women have had to live with for many years: the isolation and tedium familiar to housewives throughout the ages.  And one situation has to be dealt with carefully when taking his children to the park:  How does a lone man approach a lone woman at the teeter-totter without giving her the wrong impression?

A changing society presents new challenges and situations.  But the important role of fathers does not change and will never go out of fashion.

 

Father God, help us, as fathers, to contribute to the health and well-being of our homes and of our children daily.

[i] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/fashion/dads-are-taking-over-as-full-time-parents.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 (accessed 1-10-15)

 

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Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock. Matthew 7:24 (CEV)

 

More and more young children are experiencing family instability, especially during their early in life.  This is a period in which, according to attachment theory, it could do lasting damage to kids’ internal sense of security about relationships.

More than 40% of children born in the U.S. are now born to unmarried women.  Many of these children are born to parents who never planned to raise a child together in the first place.

When a baby’s parents do not have enough commitment in their own relationship to remain in a parenting relationship, they will break up.  It is very likely that the single parent with whom a child lives will become attracted to, and involved with, one or more other partners over the course of time.[i]

Sara McLanahan,[ii] a sociologist at Princeton University, found that children born to unmarried parents are much more likely than other children to experience changes in the romantic partners of their parents in the first five years of life. These changes impact a child in two ways: First, when their mother first fell in love again, a tremendous amount of her emotional and physical energy went into the new relationship. Second, the children also attached strongly to the new man in their home because he was kind and attentive to you (hopefully that’s the case). But he originally fell for their mother, not her children. Once he and their mother split up, he pretty much disappeared from the children’s life.  Sadly enough, this pattern will probably be repeated several times in their life.  It is no wonder that, later in life, these children have a difficult time with their own relationships.

 

Father God, help me to understand that the relationships I form in my life will affect my children throughout their life.

[i] Ibid.

[ii] McLanahan, S. (2011). Income instability and complexity after nonmarital birth: Outcomes for children in fragile families. In M. J. Carlson & P. England (Eds.), Social Class and Changing Families in an Unequal America (pp. 108–133). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

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Scripture: But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)

 

Obsevation:  “The “one thing” that Martha needed was a calm, devotional spirit, a deeper anxiety for knowledge concerning the future, immortal life, and the graces necessary for spiritual advancement. She needed less anxiety for the things which pass away, and more for those things which endure forever. Jesus would teach His children to seize every opportunity of gaining that knowledge which will make them wise unto salvation. The cause of Christ needs careful, energetic workers. There is a wide field for the Marthas, with their zeal in active religious work. But let them first sit with Mary at the feet of Jesus. Let diligence, promptness, and energy be sanctified by the grace of Christ; then the life will be an unconquerable power for good” (The Desire of Ages, page 525, 1898).

 

Application: It seems as if the laundry basket is always full of dirty laundry, dust settles on the furniture, toilets need to be cleaned, and floors need to be scrubbed. And, that doesn’t even take into account the car shuttles to soccer practice, piano lessons, doctor appointments, and grocery store runs, just to mention a few. The calendar is full and it seems overwhelming to attempt to fit one more thing in. Where does time with Jesus belong in the long “to-do” list?

 

In the scripture verse for today, Jesus reminds us that we spend so much time and energy focusing on things that are of little significance. Instead, perhaps we need to take a look at how we are spending our time with a set of fresh eyes- eyes that see things from an eternal perspective. Journal for a week how you are spending your day. You may be surprised. Jesus’ words, “there is only one thing to be concerned about”, cause us to pause and reflect. What is it that we are concerned about?  What occupies our thoughts and our time? What can we change? Is it time to set our homes in order so that there is time for family devotions?

 

Our children will grow to become the father or mother that they see modeled in the home. Time management and the setting of priorities is a skill that must be modeled and taught to our children. A good start is to schedule time daily for family worship. Keep this time as a sacred commitment. Do not allow anything else to push this time aside as unimportant.  Put your house in order.

 

Daily sit as a family as the feet of Jesus. And, in the process of setting our priorities straight, we may end up discovering that our productivity as well as our energy level will actually increase.

 

A Prayer You May Say: Dear Lord, please help me set my priorities according to Your will. I pray that the busyness of life will not detract me from spending quality time with You.

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A Place of Rest

Scripture: But not so on Mount Zion—there’s respite there! a safe and holy place! The family of Jacob will take back their possessions from those who took them from them. Obadiah 1:17 (MSG)

Observation: deliverance. Pictures a contrast between the fate of the mountains of Esau, where there will be destruction and slaughter, and the destiny of Mount Zion, Jerusalem, where there will be deliverance and holiness. [Andrews Study Bible Notes. 2010 (J. L. Dybdahl, Ed.). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.]

Application: The feelings for home have inspired expressions and songs that are commonly used and are very special to a lot of us. “Home, Sweet Home.” “For there’s no place like home for the holidays.”
We all need a place to call home, a place to come back to. The Prodigal Son felt that emptiness and regret and headed for home. Joseph, in the Old Testament, longed for home. The Israelites who were taken captive to Babylon and other lands wished to be home. “Alongside Babylon’s rivers we sat on the banks; we cried and cried, remembering the good old days in Zion.” Psalm 137:1 (MSG)
Those of us born in a faraway country miss the place where we grew up. Some of us live far from family and friends, far from the food we ate, the places we visited, where we vacationed and had so many memories with those we loved.

But now we have our own family and we have the opportunity to build new memories with them. We can travel together to faraway places or to the local attractions. What’s important is not how much money is spent in the process but how much time you get to spend together. It may not be a very expensive meal at some upscale restaurant but simply corn on the cob eaten in the back porch of your house. But more importantly that any place you may visit is the loving, peaceful time spent with your family at home. That’s why it is so important to provide for all in the family with a good, wholesome environment they can look forward to returning to.

For husbands, this is particularly important. After battling with the world, we men look forward to coming home to a place where we can feel loved, where we can relax, where we can disconnect from what we have been dealing with all day. It doesn’t mean that he can come home and do nothing while the wife takes care of everything – cooking, cleaning, the care of the children – while the husband simply watches TV. What it means is that he doesn’t want to get home to a wife waiting with a list of complaints or chores for him to deal with. Some men work longer hours just so they don’t have to come home to be faced with a nagging wife. “It’s better to stay outside on the roof of your house than to live inside with a nagging wife.” Proverbs 21:9 (CEV)

Create at home a place of respite, a place where the members will feel loved and comfortable, and a place where they will want to come back to.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, help us to create in our home a place to come back to, a little foretaste of heaven.

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The First Mission Field

Scripture: “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:39 (NKJV)

Observation: The man in today’s story had been demon-possessed until Jesus cast the demons out. He had been away from his family, from civilization, living in a cemetery. Everyone was afraid of him because of his violent behavior, probably his foul language, and his horrible appearance.
After Jesus had released Him from the demons who held him captive from inside of him, this man’s immediate reaction of gratitude was to follow Jesus. But Jesus wanted not only his freedom from the captivity of the devil, Jesus also wanted the man’s family, and many others, to come to the freedom from sin Jesus offers. So the man became a missionary to his own family.
One can only imagine the look of surprised on the faces of the people in town and specially his wife and children, when they saw their beloved husband and father, but not as they had seen him the last time, wild and scary, but fully recovered, normal, healthy, peaceful, and joyful. He didn’t have to take them through a whole set of bible studies or preach a series of evangelistic messages. All he had to do was tell them what Jesus had done for him. His physical, emotional, and spiritual restoration was evident to all, and that was the most powerful sermon he could preach and they could hear.

Application: Ellen White writes: “No sooner is one converted than there is born within him a desire to make known to others what a precious friend he has found in Jesus. The saving and sanctifying truth cannot be shut up in his heart” (The Desire of Ages, p. 141). We all have our own stories of what God has done in our lives, and when we have the chance we want to tell others of His miracle-working power. If we were asked to the farthest parts of the earth to tell of God’s love and of His power we would be honored to be chosen to proclaim it all. And yet, we need to remember that our mission does not have to begin in another part of the world but it should begin at home, with our loved ones. Again, Ellen White writes, “Our work for Christ is to begin with the family, in the home. . . . There is no missionary field more important than this. . . . “ (The Adventist Home, p. 35).
When others see what God has done in our lives, when our behavior and our words can testify of Him, not just in flowery language but in kind, gentle words, it is then that others can see the evidence of what God has done in our lives. This does not mean that we are perfect and do not make any mistakes. It is in fact when we make mistakes, recognize them, repent from them, and apologize seeking forgiveness that they can also be drawn to God knowing that if He can accept us with our imperfections He can also accept and love them. So let’s be mindful of how we live that others, particularly our family, may see the God who lives in us.

Prayer: Father, reflect your love through us that others may see, not us, but You shining through us and come to know You, Love You, and serve You too.

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Scripture: (Psa 137:1-3 NKJV)  By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion. {2} We hung our harps Upon the willows in the midst of it. {3} For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, And those who plundered us requested mirth, Saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

Observation: The Israeli exiles now long for home while living in Babylon, and their pain is made more difficult to bear because those who have taken them prisoners taunt them with their condition as foreigners and make fun of them.

Application:
I spent three fantastic weeks in my homeland of Colombia.  I have lived in the US 33 years, have been adopted by this country and the people here, I’m an American citizen, and love the Us as if I had been born here.  But my heart is also in Colombia where I spent the first 18 years of my life, where I still have many relatives and friends, where I received the first part of my education, and where I have some of my strongest memories – the death of my father when I was 15, my sister’s wedding, my group of friends, and many more.

I have been back home only four times in the last 33 years, one of them for my mother’s death.  The other three visits were vacations, to see the family, and to get reacquainted with my home and my people.  I don’t know if all foreigners experience this, but I know that every time I come back from Colombia I go through a couple of weeks of deep sadness and a longing for home.  I desperately want to be back with those I love, eat their food, enjoy their music, travel their roads, watch their sunsets, share their landscapes, feel their warmth, and even their cold.

I wonder at times if Jesus ever had similar thoughts and feelings.  He left heaven and was away from home for 33 years.  He left a place where He was surrounded by beings that loved Him, indeed worshiped Him, where there was no violence, anger, or hatred, where he had daily, constant, face-to-face communion with His Father, with the Holy Spirit, and with all the angels.  And while here on earth, even though He had a loving mother and step-father, and several friends, He also encountered the hostility of His step-brothers, the anger of the people, the hatred of the authorities.  I wonder how much He longed to be home!

I couldn’t put mi fingers on it today, but remember reading of a vision Ellen White had where she was transported to heaven and then, having come out of the vision, witnessing the darkness and gloom of earth in comparison to what she had experienced in heaven she felt so sad.  I’m glad we won’t experienced that after we leave heaven to come back to earth because it will be a new earth and because God Himself, and Jesus will be with us.  In the mean time, as much as I long for my Colombian home, I also long for heaven, my eternal home.

Prayer: Father, may Jesus return soon so we can go home to be with You and with our loved ones who’ve passed away so we can enjoy eternity together and never be apart from each other again.

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Scripture: (Judg 4:4-5 NKJV)  Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. {5} And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.

Observation: Deborah, a prophetess, was also the leader of Israel at the time.  He called Barak to pursue Sisera, one of Israel’s enemies.  At the end, Deborah and Jael, who killed Sisera in her tent, turned out to be the courageous heroines of this story

Application: This is one of those amazing stories of courage displayed not just by one but by two women of the Bible.  There are homes where men are weak and easily led by others or by sins or habits that threaten to destroy their marriage, their family, their finances, and even the very men practicing them.  It is at those times when a courageous woman has to take the reins of their home lest everyone and everything they have be consumed.
Every home has a clearly defined leader, even if the relationship between spouses is egalitarian.  The bible’s ideal is that the man should have that headship since that is a reflection of the order in God’s universe and he serves as a reflection of God and the relationship of Christ as the husband and the church as His bride.  Today’s reality is that some men are not that type of reflection and don’t demonstrate the correct pattern established by Christ.  In addition, some women are raising a family with the absence of a husband or father of her children.  In these cases, women can and must serve the role of headship in their homes in order to maintain it intact and thrive even under less than ideal circumstances.

Prayer: Father, bless the women who under difficult circumstances labor to keep their families intact and healthy.  May they reflect faithfully the image of Christ in their lives.

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