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RAISING KINGDOM KIDS EXCERPTParents--Seize Today
Bringing up children up in the instruction of the Lord requires a substantial time commitment. You can’t teach your children if you are not there, or if you are too preoccupied when you are there that you never spend any time with them. Our nation is facing an epidemic of the devolution of the family, and it is largely due to the negligence of parents who are simply not available to instruct their children.
The last few verses of the book of Malachi record a similar scenario. “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6). The land would be saved when the fathers’ hearts were once again turned toward home, indicating that when they are not turned toward home, the land suffers. You know a nation is cursed when you can’t even find the fathers. You know a home is cursed when the same holds true.
Don’t Wait Until Tomorrow
I understand that schedules are busy, workloads are fully, church programs are important, children are involved in sports--the list goes on and on. But we cannot ignore the supreme importance of instructing our children in the LORD until it’s too late and they are on their own. Don’t fall into the enemy’s trap, thinking there will be time enough tomorrow, when you are not so tired, or you have finished that important project, or the holidays are over. The Bible tells us to ask God to “teach us to number our days, that we may present” to Him a “heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
As parents, we seize the day, make it count, live it to the fullest, not allowing any opportunity to pass to invest in the lives of our children. Trust me, I know--they grow up a lot faster than you could ever imagine. One minute you’re wrestling with them on the floor, the next minute you’re giving them away at a wedding.
Instruct As You Go
And when time is really tight, the good news is that you can always teach your children while you go about your everyday life. My father was a master at this. He could turn any situation into an opportunity to share a spiritual principle. Because he made himself available to us, whether it was going with him on an errand or being accessible at home, we were learning all the time.
I have to admit, though, that wasn’t my strength as a father. Looking back, I wish now that I would have taken advantage of more teachable moments. I placed a lot of emphasis on family devotions around the table, but not as much on discipling my children in the everyday activities of life. Yet in hindsight, those moments are as important, if not more so, than the more structured times of teaching. Maybe I inherited the mindset of formalizing the instruction because my kids were young while I was in college, seminary, and then getting my doctorate--I don’t know. Or maybe the pressure of my schedule caused me to feel more comfortable with a formal structure than a relational one. For whatever reason, I didn’t take advantage of unstructured, casual times as much as I could have. But since I can’t change the past, I try to look for teachable moments with my kids even now that they are adults, and I do the same with my grandkids.
Keep First Things First
We all have the same twenty-four hours in the day. Seizing the day, then, doesn’t merely have to do with the amount of time as much as with prioritizing that time. It means keeping first things first. The fact is that we always make time for the things that are most important to us, whether we realize it or not. The activity that takes you away from your children may be a good thing in and of itself, but that is not the question. Your children are your primary responsibility, and they deserve your time.
Samuel was a prophet in the Old Testament busy performing the work of God. But he lost his children because he spent so much time on the road (see 1 Samuel 7:16; 8:1-5). Eli, the high priest, ended up forfeiting his ministry and his very life because he ignored his responsibility to discipline and instruct his sons (see 1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22-25; 3:10-18).
What about your priorities and your schedule? Do you find yourself saying “tomorrow” a lot? Too often, when those tomorrows come, the kids don’t feel like hanging around with you anymore. Parents, forget about tomorrow. Seize today.
Excerpted from Raising Kingdom Kids by Dr. Tony Evans, with permission by Tyndale House Publishers, in partnership with Focus on the Family. © 2014
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