Friday, January 6, 2012

Twelve Daily Habits for 2012--Habit #3: Start Your Family's Day With God's Word

Habit #3: Start Your Family’s Day With God’s Word

When we start the day out with our children and God's Word, we are telling them that the Bible is the most important book to study and its truths are the most important knowledge to obtain. We decided nearly two dozen years ago that we would not teach academic subjects without teaching the Bible--and that it would be first. If we had time for the other subjects, great. If not, at least we had done the most important subject.

We have taught the Bible and character dozens of ways. There is no one "right way." Ray's favorite way is to open the Bible, read it together, and discuss it. He also enjoys “discipleship teaching”—just teaching while he and the boys are talking. (When the boys were little, they called this “Daddy talks.”) They work together in our print center a lot, so they like to discuss life then—and when he discusses life, it always eventually goes back to living a life for God. He also loves to teach them while we’re driving down the road (what Bible verse does that cloud make you think of?) or while they are doing “driver’s education”---great time to talk about selflessness, attentiveness, etc.!

I personally like using "programs"--reading from creation science books, character based books (like IBLP's Character Sketches), Bible story books for younger children (like our favorite, Family Bible Library), character booklets and other devotional type booklets, etc. Ray has read through “The Picture Bible” with each child when each little one was between the ages of four and six. I read through the entire Family Bible Library with each child around that same time.

We also enjoy reading devotional materials together: discipleship books, names of God books, Bible handbooks, and other "daily devotionals." (One of my many fond memories of teaching “Bible” and “character” to the children is twenty years ago when the three oldest kids would eat breakfast at their “little table” every morning, and I would sit at the end of the table and read to them from our devotional as they ate. Oh, sweet, sweet days!)

If this habit has eluded you in the past, just pick up a devotional or other "daily" type book (even if it is just a few paragraphs in length for each entry), and read it at breakfast every morning. That will get the ball rolling. From that will likely spring discussions and applications galore as you build those truths and principles into your children's lives.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Twelve Daily Habits for 2012--Habit #2: Do Not Go to Sleep Without Making a Place for God

Habit #2: Do Not Go to Sleep Without Making a Place for God

"I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, Until I found out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob" (Psalm 132: 4 & 5).

Many years ago I found myself reciting a certain verse over and over to myself: "I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, Until I found out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob" (Psalm 132: 4 & 5). I taught it to the children and then made it into a song that my girls and I enjoyed singing for some time (and I still do today!):

“I will not (I will not) close my eyes (close my eyes);

I will not (I will not) slumber (slumber).

Til I've made a place ('til I've made a place)...

For the God of Jacob (for the God of Jacob)

'Til I've made a place ('til I've made a place)

For my Lord (for my Lord).

Til I've made a place ('til I've made a place)...

For the God of Jacob (for the God of Jacob)

'Til I've made a place ('til I've made a place)

For my Lord.”

Jacob was just a toddler at that time, and he, of course, thought we were singing about him--and often asked for the "Jakie song." However, for me, it became a nightly prayer/song. No matter what my day held; no matter how busy and hectic it was; no matter how I felt about this or that--I was telling the Lord that I would not go to sleep until I had cleared my mind and heart for Him.

I have had different Bible and devotional reading habits through the years, including reading to and with the kids most days, but regardless of my reading routines, this song/verse calms me and reminds me to stop what I am doing and make room for the most important thing—the Lord living within me.

How can you make room for the Lord everyday/every night? Some may feel that they are creating a place for God if they study the Bible before bed. Others might feel that they are clearing a path for him through family prayer or praying with your spouse. Regardless of what you do, do not close your eyes; do not slumber...until you've made a place for the Lord.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Twelve Daily Habits for 2012--Habit #1: Rise With the Lord

                                                   “Twelve Daily Habits for 2012”

                                                            (reprint from 2008)

With the upcoming new year, I want to share a series of posts about daily disciplines. I found out that in order for my children to develop good daily habits, I must first develop them. (Shock, shock!)

In 2008, I wrote an article entitled, “Eight Daily Habits for 2008. Now I want to revisit that with “Twelve Daily Habits for 2012”—twelve things that I try to do most days to have good days in my home, personally, in my work, and with my family. And yes, as I develop discipline and self control to carry out the “dailies” that I know I need to do, my children follow my lead and instruction to carry out theirs much better as well—because my kids’ good character begins with my good character.

P.S. If these habits appeal to you but are far from your grasp, consider adopting one habit per month---by the end of the year you will have developed twelve daily habits that will truly affect how smoothly your day, your family, and your home operate.

Habit #1: Rise With the Lord

When people used to tell me this, I, of course (being the big thinker that I am), envisioned an hour in the early morning hours, in a prayer closet uninterrupted, worshipping, praying, and reading the Word. Because that could never happen in my life (and I can give you eight good reasons why it never did!), I never truly felt like I was ever "rising with the Lord."

Then, I happened upon some verses that I could really sink my teeth into--meeting God in the night watches (perfect for us insomniacs!); God giving me a song in the night; etc. I might not be up at the crack of dawn, but I was often up throughout the night--those night watches and songs in the night were perfect for me!

Now that I am, well, maturing, I can't stay up quite as late as I used to, but I still pray at night that God will give me a song in the night and that I will wake up with that song. And when I consistently do this, I do wake up with a song in my heart, a song that God gave me in the night. Many days, before I even open my eyes, my mind will start reciting words to a song: "Lord, you are more precious than silver"; "Be thou my vision"; "Cast me not away from your presence, Oh, Lord"; and much more. I am rising with the Lord! He is giving me a song in the night, and I am waking up with His song on my lips.

What does rising with the Lord mean to you? It could mean waking up and reading the Bible or a devotional before you do anything else. It might mean a prayer time before you start your day. However God leads you to rise with Him, make it a daily habit! Do not make it so elaborate (an hour in the Word and an hour in prayer!) that you cannot continue it your entire life, but do make it meaningful enough to have an effect on your day (which should be the result of any encounter with God).

Watch for Daily Habit #2 coming soon!