Pitons & Being Anchored to Jesus

A number of years ago I found myself hanging on by my fingernails to the back side of Enchanted Rock in the middle of the night.  I was camping in the primitive area of this state natural area with a friend.  We decided we needed some things from the car.  But the car was on the opposite side of the rock and it was a 2 mile hike to go around it.  So we decided it would be much quicker to just hike over it… In the dark.

We did not realize how steep this part of the rock was going to get until we were about half way up.  We were afraid if we tried to go back down we would just start sliding and not stop until we hit the bottom.  Our only hope was to keep inching our way up until we reach a bolder that we could get behind for stability. 

When we finally made it to the bolder, I then backed my way up the rest of the slope in a sitting position.  When I finally slid to the point that the rock leveled out, I looked back down with my flashlight and could not believe what I had just come up.  I called down to my friend and said, “Just slide up like I did.  It’s not that steep!” 

When we both finally reached safety we prayed and thanked God for delivering us from this “near death” experience. 

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Enchanted Rock is a huge dome shaped granite rock. It is solid.  But climbing up the smooth steep face with nothing to hold on to was very dangerous.  We needed something to anchor us to the rock.

We Have an Anchor

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.

Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV

If you are going to do some rock climbing it is important to have the right gear.  You need a harness, carabiners, and rope.  However, none of these things will do you any good if you don’t have one more important item.  You need a piton. 

What is a Piton?

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A piton is a small spike with a loop on one end. It is driven into the rock so that you can run your rope through for safety when climbing a rock face.  The piton is an anchor point to keep you securely held to the rock.

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18:2 ESV

If you want to reach the top of any peak you must stay securely held to the rock.  Jesus Christ is our Rock.  Our hope in Christ is rooted in the fact that we are anchored to Him and he will never let us go.  The closer you are to that anchor point the safer you will be.  In rock climbing as you climb up away from your last piton there is always the risk of falling some distance.  That distance is twice the distance of the length of the rope between you and the piton below you.  However, you will not fall further than that because the anchor will hold you to the rock.  In our walk with Christ we will sometimes stumble, but we will not totally fall away. 

The 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith says the following:

Those whom God has accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, from which source he still begets and nourishes in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon.

1689 2nd London Baptist Confession Chapter 17. Of the Perseverance of the Saints

Praise God that our eternity is secure in Christ.  Jesus said, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” (John 6:39 ESV).  However, sin has consequences.  There are times in our lives as Christians where we may stumble.  We may fall into gross sin.  If we stray from Christ we may fall into terrible sin and error that results in grievous consequences.  Just like the climber who has climbed 20’ from the piton below him. With nothing to secure him he could experience a 40’ fall against the rock resulting in many bruises and even broken bones.  However, he will not totally fall away from Christ because He is anchored to him.  It is not so much that he is holding on to Christ, but Jesus is holding on to him.  The rock is securely gripped to the piton. 

We must daily stay as close to Christ as possible.  The closer the climber is to that piton, the less severe the fall will be.  Stay close to Christ Jesus by daily reading His Word.  Meditate upon His Word.  Fellowship with men who know God’s Word and will exhort you in the Lord.  He is a Rock and He will protect you. 

Listen To the Ping

One other thing about the piton worthy of considering.  When a rock climber is climbing up a new rock face that has not been climbed before he has to set new pitons.  He will climb up with however many he thinks he needs strapped to his side along with a piton hammer.  Each one has to be carefully driven into the rock.  If it is not done correctly, the piton may not hold.  The way the climber knows the piton is set is by listening.  With each blow of the hammer the ping he hears is a little higher pitch because there will be a shorter length of piton sticking out of the rock.  When he finally hears two pings in a row that sound the same, he knows the piton is in all the way.  If he keeps hitting the piton, he could cause the piton to get looser instead of tighter. 

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In the same way we must listen to the truth of God’s Word and not be swept away by false teachers.  There is only one way to be securely anchored to Christ and that is through faith in Him.  Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Likewise, Titus 3:3-6 says, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”  There is only one way to be anchored to Christ and that is through faith in Him.  We must believe that He died in our place, paying for our sin on the cross.  No amount of works, prayers, good deeds, or money can secure our place in Heaven.  Only a true and sincere faith in Jesus Christ. Won’t you believe in Him today? 

Spurgeon In the Storm at the Boys Orphanage

On a memorable afternoon, in the autumn of 1890, Mr. Spurgeon paid a visit to the Orphanage under circumstances which are not likely to be forgotten by any who were then present. Almost immediately afterwards, he wrote the following account of the “happy scene in a storm,” which may fitly conclude the references to the Orphanage in his Standard Life, for it shows how, right to the last, he sought the spiritual welfare of the children, which had been the principal aim both of Mrs. Hillyard and himself in founding the Institution.

“I went to the Stockwell Orphanage, on Tuesday, September 23, to walk round with an artist, and select bits for his pencil, to be inserted in a Christmas book for the Institution. We had not gone many yards before it began to rain. Umbrellas were forthcoming, and we tried to continue our perambulation of the whole square of the boys’ and girls’ houses but the rain persisted in descending, and speedily increased into a downpour. Nothing short of being amphibious would have enabled us to face the torrent. There was no other course but to turn into the play-hall, where the boys gave tremendous cheers at our advent, — cheers almost as deafening as the thunder which responded to them. Go out we could not, for the shower was swollen into a deluge, so I resolved to turn the season to account. A chair was forthcoming, and there I sat, the center of a dense throng of juvenile humanity, which could scarcely be kept off from a nearness which showed the warmth of their reception of their friend. Our artist, who, standing in the throng, made a hurried sketch, could not be afforded space enough to put in the hundreds of boys. “It was certainly a melting moment as to heat, and fresh air was not abundant; but anything was better than the storm outside. Flash after flash made everybody feel sober, and prompted me to talk with the boys about that freedom from fear which comes through faith in the Lord Jesus. The story was told of a very young believer, who was in his uncle’s house, one night, during a tremendous tempest. The older folk were all afraid; but he had really trusted himself with the Lord Jesus, and he did not dare to fear. The baby was upstairs, and nobody was brave enough to fetch it down because of a big window on the stairs. This lad went up to the bedroom, brought the baby to its mother, and then read a Psalm, and prayed with his relatives, who were trembling with fear. There was real danger, for a stack was set on fire a short distance away; but the youth was as calm as on a summer’s day of sunshine, not because he was naturally brave, but because he truly trusted in the Lord. While I was thus speaking, the darkness increased, and the storm overhead seemed brooding over us with black wings. It was growing dark before its hour. Most appropriately, one of the boys suggested a verse, which all sang sweetly and reverently,

“Abide with me!

fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide!

When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, O abide with me!”

This ended, there followed a word about the ground of the believer’s trust he was forgiven, and therefore dreaded no condemnation; he was in his Heavenly Father’s hand, and therefore feared no evil. If we were at enmity against God, and had all our sins resting upon our guilty heads, we might be afraid to die; yes, and even afraid to live; but, when reconciled to Him by the death of His Son, we said farewell to fear. With God against us, we are in a state of war; but with God for us, we dwell in perfect peace, Here came flashes of lightning and peals of thunder which might well make us start; but no one was afraid. It is true we all felt awed, but we were restful, and somehow there was a quiet but general cry for “perfect peace.” On enquiring what this meant, I was answered by all the boys singing right joy fully,

“Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,

Over all victorious in its bright increase,

Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day;

Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest,

Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,

Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;

Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,

Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest,

Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.“

This sung, we covered our faces reverently, and the boys were very silent, while I lifted up my voice in prayer. Then we opened our eyes again, and it was very dark, as if night had come before its time. While the flames of fire leaped in through the windows and skylights, the noise of the rain upon the roof and the tremendous thunder scarcely permitted me to say much upon Jesus as being our peace, through His bearing our sins in His own body on the tree.

Yet, as well as I could, I set forth the cross of Christ as the place of peace-making, peace-speaking, and peace-finding, both for boys and men; and then we all sang, to the accompaniment of the storm-music,

“How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds

In a believer’s ear!

It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,

And drives away his fear.“

Never did the power of that Name to drive away fear appear more sweetly. To me, the words came with a soothing, cheering force, which filled me with intense delight; so we very joyfully and peacefully sang the third verse,

“Dear Name! the rock on which I build,

My shield and hiding-place;

My never-failing treasury, fill’d

With boundless stores of grace.”

Just as we came to “my shield and hiding-place,” there was a peculiarly blue flash, with a sort of rifle-crack, as if something very close to us had been struck. The boys looked at one another, but went on, in subdued tones, singing of the “boundless stores of grace.” Teachers and others were mixed with the little army of boys, but we were all welded together in common emotion. I then reminded them that, to such a Protector, we must give our heart’s love. It was a duty to love one so good as the Lord Jesus, but even more a delight to do so, since He gave Himself For us, and, by bearing our punishment, delivered us from all harm. As if by instinct, someone led off,

“My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine,

For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;

My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou,

If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.”

Here was a good opening to press home the question, “Is this true of each one of you? The great desire of all who conduct the Orphanage is to lead you to take Jesus for your gracious Redeemer, that so you may love Him. Oh, that you loved Him now. It may be that, if you leave us unsaved, the Lord will yet bring you in; but it would be far better that you should go out from us ready for the battle of life, and covered with a holy armor, so that you might not be wounded by the arrows of sin.” Then I picked out Mr. May, who is employed at the Orphanage, and bade him tell the boys about himself. May was a boy with us at the Orphanage, — a restless spirit, so he went to sea; and, after many hardships and adventures, he was converted to God at Malta, and then came back to us, and we found him a post at his own school. As the lads knew the most of his story, May did not say very much; and what he did say was rather overborne by the rain on the roof, which sounded like ten thousand drums. The thunder added its trumpet voice, and only allowed us pauses of silence. I went on with the talk till there came a burst of thunder loud and long. I stopped, and bade the children listen to the voice of the Lord. We all hearkened to it with awe and wonder. Then I reminded them of Psalm xxix “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever.” I told them how often I had sung to myself Dr. Watts’s verses,

“The God that rules on high,

And thunders when He please,

That rides upon the stormy sky,

And manages the seas: 

This awful God is ours,

Our Father and our love;

He shall send down His heavenly powers

To carry us above.

There shall we see His face,

And never, never sin;

There from the rivers of His grace,

Drink endless pleasures in.”

As they did not know the old-fashioned tune ‘Falcon Street,’ to which I had been want to sing the words, we kept quiet till, suddenly, there came another roll of drums in the march of the God of armies; and then, as an act of worship, we adoringly sang together, with full force, the words of the Doxology,

”Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below,

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

This was a grand climax. The heavens themselves seemed to think so, for there were no more thunder-claps of such tremendous force. I need not write more. The storm abated. I hurried off to see enquirers at the Tabernacle, but not till one and another had said to me, “The boys will never forget this. It will abide with them throughout eternity.” So be it, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

Today’s Homeschool Lesson – Property Tax Protest

In the past 20 years of home-ownership I have had to protest my property taxes twice. Today I went before the appraisal board because they had increased the appraised value of my home 85%. The first time was around 8 years ago when they had denied my agriculture exemption request. These were different circumstances and in two different counties. However, in both cases the appraisal board gave me what I asked for.

What was the trick? While I did prepare to argue my case, I don’t think it was the information I brought with me that made the biggest difference. The county appraiser was there and presented convincing evidence as well. I think it was who I brought with me. The first time I brought my son who was around 9-years old at the time. Today, I brought along my 7-year old.

The appraisal board is typically made up of retired men & women. They spend the day dealing with angry home owners who are upset about what they see as an unfair tax liability. They are not expecting someone to walk in with a little boy. When I did, both times I could see the faces of the board members light up. They started asking my sons questions and teasing with them. It lightened the mood of the room when my little boys walked in. While I will never know if the outcome would have been different if I went alone, I can see how having my sons with me caused the reviewers to look upon my situation with a bit more compassion than had I just been another upset homeowner wanting them to lower my taxes.

There is another benefit of talking children along to these kind of meetings. Of course, I coached my son about proper behavior and explained to him how to answer questions if he was asked. I talked to him about the importance of sitting still and listening. In short, this was a great teaching opportunity for my son. He also got some experience in how to deal with government officials. I believe it also helped me to watch my own example more carefully. I was intentional about being polite and respectful. My son was able to watch his father present his case and learn about how to behave in a situation he wasn’t used to. He will remember this for years. If he ever has to protest his taxes or deal with any other similar situation he will be able to look back and approach the situation with less insecurity because he has been there before. This build’s confidence. I was also able to praise him for the good behavior he displayed and tell him I was proud of him for helping me. In the end, my son had one question. “Did we win?” “Yes!” We won in more ways then you even know young man.

The Philosophy of the State & Our Children

The Greek philosopher, Plato, was one of the first to suggest that children should be raised by the state. He went so far as to say that wives and children are to be held in common by all, and no parent is to know his own child nor any child his parents.

In the 1700’s the Swiss-born French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau taught a similar idea to Plato, that children should be taken from parents and given as little restrictions as possible. He thought if they could grow up with no outside influence they would turn out perfect. Rouseau fathered 5 children, but did not raise any of them.  He dropped them off at the foundling hospital shortly after birth. This was the equivalent of giving them the death penalty for being born. He had no experience raising children.

When we get to the 1800’s there was a German philosopher names Karl Marx who further promoted the abolition of the family.  Marx’s famous work, The Communist Manifesto, triggered the rise of several communist regimes throughout the world that slaughtered 120,000,000-150,000,000 people in the 20th Century.  He believed no one should own anything; land, property, business, children.  It all belongs to the state.

Today, there is a group in America that is led by self-proclaimed “trained Marxist.” They state as their goal to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure” and to “dismantle the patriarchal practice.” This despite the fact that children who grow up without fathers are much more likely to perpetrate crime, go to jail, commit suicide, be addicted to drugs, etc. The organization is known as Black Lives Matter ™

In contrast to these secular philosophies, the Bible teaches that children are the responsibility of parents. That parents, and specifically fathers, are to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6) Proverbs 29:15 says that a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.  Marxism, by definition, is anti-Christian. 

This is why Christians have been slaughtered and imprisoned by the millions in every communist country that has existed. Under Marxism there is no diversity of thought.  All must conform to the government’s view on everything and if history contradicts their ideas, history must be revised.  There is no tolerance. Children must be taught to conform to the government’s single-minded thinking.

Today, in America, we are in the midst of a revolution.  It is not unlike the revolutions that took place in Russia, China, Cuba, and the like.  As in all Marxist revolutions it is disguised to make one believe it supports justice and equality.  However, that is not the true goal.  The true goal is the complete overthrow of the freedoms our founding fathers fought to protect, and destroy any remnant of a Christian worldview.  The result is always the emergence of the “ruling” class and the “peasant” class. There will be no middle class.  Torture and death wait anyone who might disagree with the government.  You may be passionate about supporting the declared causes of justice and equality, but you can be sure, once they have achieved power you will no longer be needed.  They will come for you too.   

The following video from Living Waters further explores the contrast between the Christian and communist worldviews.

Camping For Christmas (And For Mama)

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

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

Jumping Pillow at Jellystone – Kerrville, TX

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

Enchanted Rock – Fredericksberg, TX

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

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

Ephesians 5:28 ESV

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

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

Hebrews 10:24 ESV

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

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

Stonehenge II – Kerrville, TX

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

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

Swim Lessons

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 22:15 ESV

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

Proverbs 29:15 ESV

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

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

Ephesians 6:4 ESV

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV

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

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

1 Kings 1:6 KJV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Timothy 4:1 ESV

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

2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV

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

Contentment, Not Complacency

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

Philippians 4:11-13 ESV

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

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

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

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

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

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

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

Titus 3:5 ESV

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

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

1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 11:24-28 ESV

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

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

Daniel 1:8 NKJV

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

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

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

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

Philippians 4:8-9 ESV

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

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

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV

The Wisdom of Charles & Susannah Spurgeon

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

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

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

The Legacy Homeschool Reflections Podcast

How To Do Family Worship

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

The Legacy Homeschool Reflections Podcast

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

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

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

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

What’s with Saturday Morning Breakfast?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

C.H. Spurgeon

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