Four Ways for Parents to Seize More Moments

Four Ways for Parents to Seize More Moments

Manners and sanctification


Republish from July 2017



A high school graduation. A marriage. Or perhaps more likely the death of a friend or family member. All are occasions to reflect on how wisely we have invested our time in the people most precious to us. As I graduated my first child, Abigail, from high school this year I was slapped across the face once again with the reality that her days left under my roof are likely very few.

Over the last few months, I have waxed misty-eyed nostalgic about my “little girl” as cherished moments fly through my mind to the sappy chorus of Memories sung by Barbara Streisand. Wow. Did I do enough? Did I accomplish everything I should have accomplished? Perhaps I missed too many moments?

Most moments are just that, moments. Often unscripted. Pure. Vapor. In a day of endless distraction with Lilliputian matters that add little positive value to our lives we would do well to more carpe diem, or to “seize more of the day”. Following are four ways to do that:

  1. Ask God to give you a heart for your children. The prophet Malachi wrote that the coming of the Lord would be heralded by the hearts of fathers being turned to their children. Fathers tend to be more easily disposed to work, not relationships. Asking God to give us hearts for our children is a prayer he loves to answer.
  2. Have a weekly planning time where you review what is happening in your family. As part of this time, start a journal where you write a sentence or two about what you notice going on in the life of each child. This forces you to think about each person at least once per week in a way that will alert you if you are in fact needing to make more relational opportunities.
  3. Be intentional about making time with your children. Since we actually do 90% of what we write down in our calendars, schedule a time in your week to spend time with a child.
  4. Ask your spouse to alert you when they observe you “zone out”, miss a que, or make wrong choices. Speaking personally, I can be sitting right next to one of my children and never hear a word they say. Why? I’m thinking about something else. A problem at work. Or begrudging why the Washington Redskins are such a poorly run football franchise. Since we are often blind to some of our interpersonal failures, asking to be informed while sometimes difficult to hear, is really necessary if we are serious about doing better.

When we are on our death bed we will not wish that we had spent more time at the office. There is a lot of wisdom in this statement but it is still moralism. In fact, my four suggestions by themselves are moralism. They still don’t provide a motivation to want to set aside the facebook timeline or a game of golf and seize the moments with our kids. We are often motivated to do right things for the wrong reasons. This is convicting as a parent. It is much easier to do what we want to do.

I am reminded that the backdrop for Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is Deuteronomy 5:6, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Before we were parents, we were slaves. But God has redeemed us from that slavery by the blood of his own dear Son. Jesus has bought for us redemption which includes a new identity that is not dependent upon our performance as parents. It also means that our parenting has an eternal and God-glorifying mission to it. Remembering these things and more motivates us differently. It is the only power great enough to compel us to be more intentional when it is hard—and it is often harder than it is easier. Imagine actually wanting to seize moments?!

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Do Parents Have Power?

Do Parents Have Power?

Manners and sanctification


February 27, 2023



I’m curious. What do you think of the copious news stories about our schools? Should a boy who identifies as a girl be able to use the girl’s bathroom? Is our country systemically racist? Should those ideas be taught to our children in school?

While these stories have political angles, I’m not going there. This is not about Democrats and Republicans. This is clearly part of a much larger spiritual battle over generations of children.

These stories may get your heart rate up and they do seem (intended or not) to have the effect of marginalizing parents.

But it dawned on me that they also actually provide parents with an absolutely encouraging message: parents have more power than they realize.

Do Parents Really Matter?

The fact that there are forces so bent on reshaping curricula and morality and silencing any dissent is a clear indicator of at least two things. First, that children were designed to be taught. Second, that those who teach the children are in a very powerful position. The Scriptures alone are sufficiently clear on this matter. I think of Deuteronomy 6:4-10 and Ephesians 6:1-4. I think of the whole book of Proverbs.

Obviously, parents matter or else their opinions on these issues would be of no concern. I doubt we would see many of these stories because there would be no point. But apparently, it does matter—a lot. And this is why we see such an onslaught against our children and their parents.

What we teach our children through what we say and do does matter—and neither need to be perfect to be effective.

First, Some Encouragement

As a rule, 18 years of struggling but earnest training is more effective than any other influence in the life of your child.

What is Training?

Training is actual teaching God’s truth and/or modeling God’s truth in how we live. The two go together but in terms of training it does not nor should it look like a Sunday school class. It can be a spiritual question, comment. It can be simple confession of a sin. It can be a simple prayer. It can be the choice to have a calm response to the “person” who cuts your off in traffic.

Seize the Many Opportunities

There are many, many opportunities to train our children when we slow down long enough to see them. Frankly, each moment we are with our children is a time where training can take place.

Talk About Spiritual Things On The Way

When taking your daughter to ballet or your son to soccer, or just a quick run to buy $5 sushi at Kroger on Wednesday, these are opportunities. Why does this seem so difficult to do? I get in the car with a child and its quiet, I then try to start a conversation and the answers I get are such that you’d think words were scarce as hen’s teeth. Sometimes, you remain quiet. Sometimes you ask spiritual questions like, “Did you think of Jesus today?” “What are you reading in your devotions this week?” “How can I pray for you?” Perhaps the answers are less than ideal. But this is why we have 18 years. The imperfections and failures are minimized against the backdrop of basic faithfulness. Here is an example of a recent conversation I had with my daughter.

Pray With Your Children When You Drop Them off at an Activity or Work

Over the years, four of my children have worked at the same retail store near our house. When I have dropped each one off, my practice has been to pray for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual safety as well as for God to use them as lights for the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ to their customers and co-workers.

But doing so has involved a bit of an internal struggle from time to time. Often, as I drove up to the main entrance of the store, I think, “I don’t want to be cringe, so should I pray for them?” Why do this?” “It feels weird.” “Does he/she really care?” “What difference does it make?” “They might think I’m being too spiritual.” I typically ask if I can pray and the response always seems genuine: “Yes!”. And so, I pray.

I did not think this mattered a whole lot until one day when I asked one of my children about something I don’t even remember specifically. But the response was, “Well, Dad, you pray about everything.” I was secretly doing spiritual summersaults when I heard that because I had not been completely consistent in praying and my prayers at times were rather brief and general. But clearly, they mattered.

Other Ideas

  • Ask what they covered in Sunday school, youth or children’s ministry.
  • Discuss one point from the sermon in the car ride home from church.
  • Pray with your children before bedtime.
  • Take them to a botanical garden (or a simple walk around the neighborhood will do) and point out things that remind us of God’s wonder and care for us.
  • Send them texts with scripture verses.
  • Read and discuss books, such as Corrie ten Boom’s, The Hiding Place, together that teach biblical values.
  • Pray and read the Word together at meals.
  • Memorize Scripture together.
  • Send notes to them congratulating them on spiritual growth you’ve noticed.
  • Ask what they are reading in their devotions.
  • Ask them how you can pray for them.

Each of these requires each one of us to put down our phones which seems harder to do these days. Each one of these seems too insignificant too matter but each one does matter when part of a larger effort to be faithful. Patterns produce moments. Moments, rarely produce patters.

Be encouraged not to give up. Little opportunities taken over time can lead to very satisfying results.

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Identity Through the Eyes of a Nine Year Old

Identity Through the Eyes of a Nine Year Old

Identity conversation with a nine year old


January 13, 2023



One of the highlights of my week is driving my daughter to her ballet lesson. I enjoy the time with her, our conversations, and honestly, treating her to a slurpees afterwards. What follows is a sneak peak into one of our recent conversations. All of our conversations are not like this. But it is in having lots of average conversations that we get the ones that are particularly gratifying. I offer this as an encouragement to parents with younger children that their kids can begin to do commerce with their identity in Christ.

Eric: How did you day go?

Ella: I helped mom with Isabella. (Isabella is a 4 year old that Leslee sometimes babysits).

Eric: How did that go?

Ella: She arrived loud, angry, and crying. It was really hard.

Eric: What did you learn about yourself through that?

Ella: I don’t like to help.

Eric: How does Jesus help you help mom with Isabella?

Ella: He died for my sin.

Eric: Ok. How does Jesus dying for your sin help you help mom?!

Ella: Because he died for my sin, I should be able to put up with Isabella.

I doubt that my daughter fully grasps the full meaning of what she said, but, that does not concern me. She is LEARNING to THINK like a new creation in Christ!

For more encouragement:
The Ology by Marty Machowski
Three Essential Truths We Need To Tell Our Kids

These Two Words Will Change Your Life

These Two Words Will Change Your Life

Does the bible contradict itself


November 22, 2022



When was the last time someone thanked you for something you did for them? Were you surprised? —”Wow, I had no idea what I did meant so much to them.”

When was the last time you thanked someone for something they did for you? If you’re convicted by the last question, do not fell put upon! That is me. That is all of us.

What I want to share with you is not a typical Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving message (I’m not kicking dust on ole Norman). But it is something that I hope will be a great encouragement to you and lead to greater joy in Christ—which is what I want to be about.

My main point is simply this: when we say, “thank you!” we bless others, and receive a blessing back in the form of a changed life. Here’s how this happens in three steps.

STEP ONE – Practice saying, “Thank you!”

Given human nature, it is safe to say that our natural tendency is toward entitlement rather than thankfulness. Sometimes, “thank you” is not reflexive but something we have to remember to say—or to say well. For example, as parents, we know how hard it can be to get our children to say thank you for a gift from a friend or grandparent. I suppose in this way our children are more like us than they are unlike us, but I digress.

Over time, saying those two words and penning handwritten notes create an awareness that we each have been given much more than we realize. We have taken a lot for granted. It is not only decent but healthy to practice saying “thank you” for everything from a Christmas gift, a good deed, a word of encouragement, personal concern voiced, or even for an enduring friendship.

STEP TWO – Grow in gratitude

Over time, as we practice saying “thank you”, we become more grateful people because we realize how dependent on each other we really are. Little things: the words of encouragement, the times given for impromptu conversations at desperate moments, the simple meals with a friend, the many “I’ll pray for yous” about your scary doctor’s appointment, financial or marital struggles matter. These and so many more blessings we enjoy take on much greater meaning. And this is where it really gets good!

As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we enjoy a huge benefit. We begin to see how God is really the One who is behind all of our blessings. God is behind every act of kindness we receive because he is love. Giving was his idea because that is who he is. He is the giver and redeemer of life. He is at work in all our lives, making us more like him as we are woven together as one in Christ through his Holy Spirit. This is a joyful thing to see happen.

STEP THREE – Let joy change you

Our joyful response to seeing God’s love poured out to us through others, quite frankly changes us. Here’s how. God’s love is reflexive. It has the effect of causing us to love others (see 2 Corinthians 5:11-21). Growing in being others-centered represents Christ-like change. Gratitude causes us to see ourselves as the truly unworthy recipients we really are. This gives us joy! God loves me so much that he has put people in my life who genuinely care about me and who will help. We become what the world is desperately seeking but that apart from Jesus, will struggle to ever find: people who really care about others—no matter who they are.

Say thank you to someone this Thanksgiving. Say thank you to someone the day after Thanksgiving, and on January 11, March 3, July 21, and September 15 (i.e. every day!) Doing so cultivates a grateful attitude that will not only spawn new and deeper relationships. It will increase your joy and also change your life.

As I close this Thanksgiving article, I want to say, “thank you!” to you, our faithful audience. Some of you are new to the ministry, some have been with us for years. All are a blessing to our family. As you listen to our humble attempts at podcasts and support the ministry through donations and prayers, you have meant so much. We look forward to walking into the new year with you and growing in the joy of the gospel, together. Happy Thanksgiving!

All Good Things Must Come to an End… Really?

All Good Things Must Come to an End… Really?

the end


March 26, 2020



Have you considered that every good thing in this life must come to an end? Whether it is:

  • a great movie,
  • a vacation,
  • an outstanding glass of wine,
  • a perfectly grilled steak,
  • a double digit gains on a 401(k),
  • a youthful physique,
  • good health,
  • a holiday celebration,
  • a kiss,
  • or a sunny day…

Nothing, absolutely nothing, lasts forever. Well, except for one thing. There is one good thing that does last forever. One good thing that:

  • never loses its flavor,
  • never leaves us in debt or loses its beauty,
  • never lets us down,
  • never comes up empty,
  • never loses its ability to make us happy and joyful even in the worst of times.

It is 100% dependable. It. Never. Ends.

The “It” that I speak of is actually He: none other than God himself! Have we considered that our constant search for happiness and joy in this life comes up short because we are too focused on what we can touch, taste, see, and smell, rather than what is unseen: God himself? By Holy Spirit-empowered faith, God can be experienced and known in a way that gives us joy that changes us and changes how we respond to our challenges.

Colossians 3:1-3 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden in Christ in God.”

As I meditated on this passage, it was like a list of earthly joys rolled through my mind and it struck me again just how fleeting each one is. But then the Holy Spirit drew my attention to the fact that God IS. He never changes. Even though the times are ominous, he never changes.

The joy we have in God was C.S. Lewis’ focus during the dark days of World War II. He cut through the temporal joys and struck right to the heart: “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Lewis’ “Infinite joy” is an echo of what God has already told us in Psalm 16:11. In referring to Himself, He says through the Psalmist, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

In times of persecution, the writer of Hebrews does not lament the loss of happiness nor does he try to gin-up suffering people with promises or plans for how to restore earthly joys. Instead, he brings his readers’ attention back to foundational joy: Jesus and all that he has done for them.

Let us not exchange what is true joy for what is temporary happiness.

What has God done for you? Is it more than forgiveness? Although forgiveness is essential—yes!  There is much more to be joyful about. Take a quick look by downloading Your Identity from A to Z. Or, consider Real Hope for Your Home! This short, practical book will help you see how all that God has done for you in Christ gives us enduring joy that changes us and restores relationships.

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