A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

The Church and Family Togetherness (an excerpt)

Built by the Lord

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If you haven’t read the last two Springboards for Your Family Life as part of this series, I encourage you to read “The Great American Struggle” and “Meaningful Together Time” first. That will get you caught up for this final installment in the series.

The Church and Family Togetherness

At this point we enter some muddy waters. The modern trend is for churches to provide activities for all the young people. Even if the activities are scriptural in nature, I begin to question the ultimate benefit of the church being overly involved in this.

Churches, instead of being another institution that separates the family into age categories, ought to do everything possible to get families together. We must remember the church is not supposed to take the place of the family.

Satan is working in our culture to rip our families to shreds. Churches must stand as shining beacons to overcome Satan in this by drawing families together in Christ. Perhaps we really should encourage kids to sit with their families in worship. Maybe we should try family-based Bible classes sometimes and not just age-segregated classes. Maybe we should teach fathers and mothers to train their children instead of just scheduling another training class at which parents drop off their kids. I am not sure all the ways this can be done, but I am sure we need to examine this.

Whatever the approach of the congregation, we must keep in mind our family has got to stay together. What are we doing to draw our families closer? In our culture this kind of togetherness does not happen accidentally. If we are not doing something to accomplish this on purpose, we are probably not going to accomplish it.

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October 21, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Family Life, Family Time, parenting, Raising Kids | , , , , | 6 Comments

Meaningful Together Time (an excerpt)

Built by the Lord

Check out the book today!

If you didn’t read last week’s A Springboard for Your Family Life, check it out for the first part of this chapter on “Keeping the Family Together.” Click the link below.

The Great American Struggle

Meaningful Together Time

let me make one thing perfectly clear. To my knowledge, there is nothing wrong with any of the activities mentioned in the previous section in and of themselves. The answer to the problem is not necessarily to end all extra-curricular activities (though some may take that approach). The point is, with so many opportunities waiting to take each family member away from the family unit, we have to be on our guard to preserve family togetherness.

There is only one way to do this. We must carve out and schedule meaningful family together time. Further, we must not buy into the modern mumbo-jumbo saying, “It’s about quality time not quantity time.” There is not a single person out there who can teach us how to prefab quality time into fifteen minute chunks no matter how many books you by with questions to stimulate “meaningful” conversation. Quality time is the result of quantity time. There is no way around that.

Deuteronomy 6:7 provides some interesting insight to quality time. I recognize this passage talks about the Israelites passing the Law on to their children. We typically use this passage, rightly so, to discuss passing the gospel on to ours. However, let’s look at it from a broader base. the verse says, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up.”

These Israelites were able to have quality time, passing the Law to their children because they spent time sitting together in the house and walking together in the way. They had time together when they got up and before they went to bed. do we take that kind of time together with our families?

We need to make time for the whole family to sit together in the house. Meal time is a great time for this. However, there ought to be other times as well. By time together, I do not mean time in the same house, but each in separate rooms. There needs to be time when all the televisions and computers are turned off, when all the phones are in the cradles and Mom, Dad and the kids are together.

Many of us wonder, “What on earth is there to do if we have turned off the tv and computers?” Read a book together and discuss what happens. Visit with one another the same way you would if you had company. Discuss what has happened in your individual lives that day. Ask each other for advice. Confide in each other. Play games together. A lot of life’s lessons can be passed along over a game of Yahtzee or dominoes.

let me encourage you to resist the urge to make all of your family time movie time. Watching television is always an individual activity no matter who you are sitting next to. Each person is individually interacting with what is on the screen. No one is interacting with each other. When you do have movie time as a family time, make sure to discuss the movie together afterwards. What did you learn from it? What were your favorite parts? What were you least favorite? What did you think when so and so said such and such? And so on.

Of course, as Deuteronomy 6:7 directly states, you need to study God’s word together and teach God’s word. Look at the book of Proverbs. The whole book is a parent’s recognition he has to teach his children. Do not think sermons and Bible classes are enough to teach your kids to be faithful Christians. They are not and God never intended them to be.

Along these same lines, the next time you go to a group Bible study, prayer time or singing, have your kids stay and be involved. Don’t send them off to the play room, tacitly teaching them that spiritual things are too big for them. Even if they do not get to say anything or ask any questions, what a great opportunity your kids will have to hear adults discuss the Bible and how it impacts their lives.

One more opportunity for together time is working together. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons we do not have time with family that our Bible counterparts had. Why did Mom and Dad have the ability to walk in the way with their children? They were going to the same places. When Mom was walking to the river with the clothes, little Susie was walking with her. When Dad was walking to the fields to plow, little Billy was walking with him.

We live in a different work culture. It is well nigh impossible to go back to that kind of work culture and I doubt any of us really want to. However, we need to figure out ways to work together as a family. Get the kids involved in yard work. Have them help you clean the house. Go together to someone who has a need and work together meeting the need. Visit the sick and shut-in together. Talk with each other as you walk in these ways. I guarantee you, the more of this time you spend together, the more quality moments you will rack up.

There is one more way the Old Testament demonstrated for producing family togetherness. In the Old Testament, we see memorials that set the Israelites apart as a group and prompted time to pass their faith along to their children. Consider passages like Exodus 12:25-27. God established an annual memorial to pas on Israel’s identity as His special people. When the family observed the Passover together every year, the children would eventually ask about it. There was quality time that came out of quantity time.

Certainly, it is good for you to have memorials of spiritual significance. However, we can broaden this concept, realizing family traditions provide family togetherness prompting quality time and meaningful interaction. Those traditions, whether they surround holidays, birthdays or any other aspect of family life, will provide a marker, causing your family to identify with one another.

Family traditions do not have to be anything out of this world. I know one family whose tradition is what they call “worm cakes.” It is essentially a bundt cake cut in half and pieced together to look like a worm. then it is decorated with colored icing. Oreos are crushed up to provide dirt. It is given jelly bean or M & M eyes. They might lay gummy worms around it to be its friends. Sometimes they use licorice sticks to make hair. Each one is decorated differently. These cakes were used on birthdays, holidays, special events. Amazingly enough these little cakes became so important, when this family’s two sons got married, guess what kind of cake they wanted for their groom’s cake. That’s right–a worm cake. Not much, just a family tradition providing great memories and togetherness.

Check out next Tuesday’s A Springboard for Your Family Life to finish up this little series from Built by the Lord as we examine how churches should act to help promote family together time.

October 14, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Family Life, Family Time, parenting, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Great American Struggle (An Excerpt)

Built by the Lord

Check out the book today!

 

From Chapter 4, “Keeping the Family Together”

The Great American Struggle

Family life in 21st century America is not easy. Though, I imagine our New Testament counterparts would scoff at such a statement.

When we want to take a hot bath, we walk 10 feet into our bathroom and turn a couple of knobs. We do not have to take 15 trips to the river with two buckets and then light a fire to heat the water. If we want to cook a meal, we walk into the kitchen, put some food in a pan, turn some knobs on the oven and wait. Or, we pull something out of a freezer, shove it into a microwave, punch a few buttons and have a meal in five minutes. Or better yet, we hop in our air conditioned cars and drive ten minutes to a place where somebody else does the cooking for us. Few of us have to plow a field, plant and cultivate seed. Few of us have to raise cattle or hunt wild game. We do not have to chop down wood daily with which to cook our food. I we want to wear clothe, we drive to the store (again in our air conditioned cars) and buy some. We do not have to make thread, weave material and sew our own clothes. Then when those clothes are dirty, we sort them into piles of matching colors and dump them in machines that wash and cry them for us. We do not have to carry them down to the river, beat them on a rock, try to scrape the dirt and muck out of them and then hang them out to dry.

Let’s face it. Our lives really are easy. What took our New Testament brethren hours to do takes us minutes, if we have to do it at all. This actually means we have more leisure time available than anyone in history. Don’t close the book. I know what you are thinking. “Where does this nut get off saying I have all kinds of leisure time?” I am saying that because you and I do not have to spend most of every day just providing the bare necessities of life. We actually have enough time to work overtime and get paid time and a half. We actually enough time to put our kids in little league, football, soccer, scouts and other activities. Our new Testament brethren did not have enough time for all the things that make our lives hectic because they spent their time surviving.

All this leisure time, however, has given us our own set of hardships. Few of us struggle for the necessities of life. However, because we have so much leisure time and so many opportunities to pursue pastimes, many of us struggle regarding the necessities of maintaining proper family relationships and togetherness.

Consider the following family.

Mom and Dad want to provide the best in housing, clothing and education for little Billy and susie. Therefore they both work in the corporate world. They get up early to drop Billy and Susie at school. Billy and Susie are three years apart, so Dad carries Billy to middle school on his way to work and secretly thinks, “I sure am glad I am saving up enough money to buy Billy a car in a few years. When he turns sixteen he can take himself and Susie to school and i will have little more time to myself.” Mom drops Susie off at elementary school.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Billy has practice for the school play right after school. Then he has either little league or soccer after that. Mom or Dad rushes to pick up Susie from school, then goes to get Billy to take him from play practice to sports practice, then runs through the drive through to get something for the kids to eat. They let Susie eat in the car on the way to her Monday piano lessons and drop her off in time to pick Billy up from sports practice. he eats while they drive back to get Suzy. They hurry home to make the kids do their homework before shuffling them off to bed. Wednesday are tough because they have to fit all this in before Bible class.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Billy has baseball games or soccer matches, while Susie has softball practice. All of Susie’s softball games and tournaments are on the weekends. When the softball season is over, Susie’s Saturdays are filled with tennis lessons and competitions. On thursday, they also try to fit in scouts for both of the kids. Fortunately, the parents in each troop take turns picking up several of the kids from school and taking them to their various den and troop meetings.

Mom and Dad want to be active in Billy and Susie’s schooling. They work with both PTAs (elementary and middle school). They try to make it to all the parent-teacher conferences. Billy is in the band and Susie is in the choir and they attend all of their concerts and competitions.

On top of all this, Mom and Dad have lives of their own. They have to fit work into all this. Every once in a while they have to go on business trips. Further, they try to find time to pursue their personal hobbies. That is tough because of all the time they spend helping Billy and Susie with school projects.

Mom and Dad are Christians the hope Billy and Susie will be someday too. It is very important to them to make it to all the worship services and Bible classes. They do make it to most of them. However, to be honest, it does rumple their feathers a little when the preacher comments on how few people are getting their lessons completed. “Doesn’t he realize what an amazing eat it is for us to be here?” they wonder. They get to the building and shuffle the kids off to their classes and then go to theirs. They come into the worship assembly. The new preacher is big into getting all the kids to sit together, so the kids sit down on the front few rows away from their parents. The one making announcements talks about the training class for the boys taking place every Sunday afternoon, the Sunday night devotional for middle school and high school, the Bible drill for the elementary kids and the various special things members have set up for the various age groups.

When the family does get a few minutes to be together on a Friday or Saturday evening, they are so exhausted they decide to simply pop in a video or go to the movies. They sit next to each other but are mentally miles apart as they gaze upon the silver screen.

In the extremely few moments of solitude and meditation, Mom and Dad wonder how they can fit anything else into their schedule and are about ready to murder the author of a book who claims they have more leisure time than anyone in history.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Is it any wonder even Christian families are falling apart? With these kinds of schedules, when were these families ever sticking together? Add into this equation that time at home is often spent just as separate as time at school, work and church. The family are all within the same dwelling, but each member is doing his or her own thing. Each child has their own room, equipped with television, telephone or computer (with internet access). They can spend all evening in the same house with two to four other people and never actually se each other. 

This is the great American struggle–keeping the family together.

Check back in next Tuesday’s Springboard for Your Family Life to learn how to combat this great American struggle and have meaningful family time together.

October 7, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Family Life, Family Time, Raising Kids | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments