Making the Most
of It All
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men,
but as wise, making the most of your time.
Someday when the kids are gone, there will be plenty of ice
cream just for Barbara and me. I won't find the can of
Hershey's chocolate on the lower shelf-empty and with a
sticky bottom. We will return to a small refrigerator and eat
on the antique table we used when we were first married.
Cars will be clean again. The floorboard won't be covered
with Sunday School papers or petrified McDonald's
french fries. And gum, Legos, Matchbox cars, doll combs
and even fishhooks won't be mushed into the carpet.
Doors will be shut, and I won't have to go through the
house turning off every light. We won't stumble over herds
of teddy bears, dolls and stuffed animals grazing or napping
on the carpet.
Fewer tools will be lost. No frantic search parties at bedtime
for lost blankets. Socks will miraculously find their
mates, and the car keys will be right where I left them.
But of course other things will change, too.
When the kids are gone, we won't hear the pitter-patter
of little feet running down the hallway and then feel a warm,
wiggly body crawling into bed and snuggling with us early
on Saturday morning.
No more frilly little-girl Easter dresses or first days of
school. No winter picnics or log-cabin playhouses. No more
fishing and hunting trips or wiener roasts or just goofing
around with a childish hand in mine.
Someday there will be no more handmade Father's Day
cards or wooden plaques titled "World's Best Mom." No
more crayon drawings, verses and stick people drawn on
construction paper and displayed on the refrigerator.
So until someday arrives, we're going to cherish our
moments together. We're going to try to take seriously-but
happily-the apostle Paul's counsel: "Mak[e] the most of
your time." Sticky or not.
* * *
Discuss: What season of life are you in right now? Are you making the most of this time, fulfilling
your responsibilities with contentment, joy and
Pray: Ask for contentment and for the ability to
focus on what God has called you to do presently.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast,
immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58
What if you approached your mate after your wedding and
said, "Now that we're married, please don't make me spend
time with you"? Naturally your mate would say, "You're
crazy! How can we build a marriage unless we spend time
The same is true with your children. Barbara and I discovered
that as our kids grew older and began to spend more
and more time with friends, we had to work harder to spend
time with them.
Be creative as you think of things you can do that your
children would enjoy. Smaller children, for example, love
things as simple as a trip to a convenience store to buy a
candy bar or an ice-cream cone.
We have lived out in the country, so when we were in
town with two cars, we needed to decide who would ride with
Mom and who would ride with Dad. Usually our two
youngest girls said, "We want to go with Daddy." You know
why? Because if I stopped for gas at the convenience store,
they figured I was a soft touch; they would try to ease me on
over to the ice-cream or candy section.
And you know what? I was-and am-a soft touch. I
loved spending time with them. It was an opportunity to
enjoy something together that they liked to do. Was it
always fat free and super healthy? No, but it was healthy for
A great thing to do with teenagers is to go shopping
with them. My girls enjoyed shopping for clothes while the
boys looked for sporting equipment. It wasn't the purchase
that was important; it was the time we spent together.
Another great thing to do, which we're losing in today's
culture, is reading to our kids. It is a real sacrifice of love and
an easy way for both moms and dads to get involved with
their kids. I once read The Chronicles of Narnia to one of my
sons and he loved it!
I remember one night when my teenage son, Samuel,
and I went to town to get some groceries and waste some
time together without any agenda. His response? "Dad, I'm
glad we just spent some time together without any big goals.
It was great to be with you!"
When's the last time you wasted an evening with one of
your children for no other reason than just being with
* * *
Discuss: Evaluate how you spend time with each of
your children. Do you need to commit more time
to your kids just doing things on their level?
Pray: Ask God to help you set more time aside just
for your kids.
that as our kids
grew older, we had
to work harder
to spend time
At an Early Age
But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not
hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of
heaven belongs to such as these."
How old does a child have to be before he or she can place
saving faith in Jesus Christ? The great English preacher
C. H. Spurgeon said, "A child who knowingly sins can savingly
Many of the great leaders of the Church became
Christians when they were very young. It was said of
Polycarp, a first-century church leader, that he walked with
God for 86 years before he died at the age of 95. Isaac Watts,
the great hymn writer, came to saving faith in Christ at nine
years of age.
I was six when I began to feel my need for forgiveness. I
grew up in a church with a pastor who preached about heaven
and hell, a couple of places we don't hear much about
I recall becoming so aware of my sin that I would lie in
bed and shudder; I was afraid to go to bed at night for fear
that I'd die in my sleep and spend an eternity in hell.
So one Sunday I told my mom that I felt it was time for
me to give my life to Christ. She talked straight to me about
my decision, and she didn't hinder me from making my
I recall walking down that church aisle with a lump in
my throat; it was a public confession of wanting Jesus Christ
to be my Savior and Lord. That decision marked my life. A
few weeks later, my teacher asked me to draw a picture of
what I wanted to do when I grew up. I will never forget that
picture, because God had already etched His mark on my
life. I drew a picture, of a stick-figure man preaching about
That was over 40 years ago. And thanks to my parents'
faithful instruction, I can look back on that commitment as
the most important decision in my life.
* * *
Discuss: Have your children made a decision to
receive Christ? What can you do to help them understand
Pray: Ask God to give you wisdom and clarity in
teaching your children about God's forgiveness
through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
A child who
A Burden or A
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of
the womb is a reward. How blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
Psalm 127:3, 5
Many parents today feel like kids are a burden. That's not
what the Bible calls them. It doesn't say, "Behold, children
are a burden of the Lord," or "Burdened is the man whose
quiver is full of them."
Our views have become distorted. What we see as a burden,
God sees as a blessing. Some of us need to knock out the
windows of our corrupted views and let the Spirit of God
come into our homes and refresh our hearts and minds, so
we can see clearly again that children are a blessing.
Don't get me wrong. Barbara and I will be the first to
tell you we are still in process with our children. We have
failed many times. And on occasion I have been so frustrated,
after exhausting all rational reasoning, all reward systems
and all biblical approaches, that the only thing left for
me to do was yell, throw a box of tissues at the floor, slam
the door and walk out-just like my kids did. This just convinces
me that one of God's greatest purposes for parents is
to bring us face-to-face with our own depravity.
We want life to be easy or at least bearable. And when
children make our lives difficult, we begin to feel they are
burdens. But we fail to realize what God makes clear-our
children are gifts from God. God has given us our children
for His glory and our good.
When I speak at our FamilyLife Marriage Conferences,
I'm always struck by how surprised couples are when I
explain that our mates are gifts from God. Why are they so
astounded? Don't they know our God? He wants to bless us.
He's out for our best interests!
In the same way, you need to receive your children as
gifts from God. If you do, your whole attitude will change.
No longer will you try to change your kids; no longer will
you consider them burdens. Instead, you'll view them as true
blessings from God entrusted to you.
* * *
Discuss: How do you view your children-as burdens
Pray: With your mate, acknowledge your children
as gifts from God.
God has given us
for his glory
and our good.
Managing a Monster
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith,
act like men, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13
Since much of what comes into our homes via television
does not contribute to a sound Christian home, what can be
done to manage this "monster"?
Why not start a Just Say No campaign against TV? I am
not advocating total abstinence, although for some families
that may be a good solution. But I do suggest taking TV in
moderation-say, six to eight hours a week.
Here are some tips we have tried to follow in our family:
• Instruct the kids to ask you for permission to
watch TV. Don't let them treat it as a given but a
privilege. Don't let them watch it randomly, but
determine what you want them to watch.
• Make TV off-limits in at least these two rooms:
your bedroom and where you eat your meals.
• Agree on the number of hours and the programs
that can be watched during the week and on weekends.
Let the kids choose from a list you approve.
• Don't let your children watch a video movie
unless you know what's in it. Read the reviews of
movies when they first appear at the theater to get
clues about the level of bad language, sex and violence
or get this kind of information from websites
like www.christiananswers.net/spotlight and
• Don't just watch TV: watch specific programs for
a specific purpose. Once when I had plopped down
to watch nothing in particular, Barbara said,
"There's nothing on worth watching. There are
other things more valuable to do, like spending
time with me!" And she was right.
Yes, all this will take a great deal of self-control and
discipline. But think of how the tube undermines the family,
and you will realize it will be worth it. Statistics from
TV-Free America show that half of four- to six-year-olds in
the U.S. would give up their relationships with their dads in favor
That's scary evidence of television's power. I believe God
wants us to rule over this modern-day monster.
* * *
Discuss: Do you have rules about watching TV in
your home? If not, talk about implementing some
of the tips discussed above.
Pray: Ask that God's Spirit will enable each family
member to identify and resist unhealthy influences.
Why not start
A Just Say No campaign