What Good Parents Do

child-and-adultThose of us who have children are always learning, or at least we should be.  We have two daughters who are adults and are still learning what it means to be a dad and mom to two adult children.

James K. A. Smith, in an article in Comment journal (fall 2015) speaks of “the currents and dynamics of society that are essential but often ignored because they are banal and taken for granted.”  He observes that “While headlines focus on spectacles and draw our attention to controversy, the things that make a society tick hum away in the background, in the quiet of life-giving homes and the energy of formative classroom . . . .”  (“Health Beyond the Hospital” p. 2-3).

As parents, we need to be aware of the significance of the “quiet of life-giving homes.”  This may be where some of the most significant work of our lives will be done.  Yet in our busyness and fatigue, we may also ignore some of the most important realities of being a good parent.

What do good parents do who wish to raise children in life-giving homes?

Good parents continue to learn.  Pity the child who is being raised by a dad or mom who won’t learn, grow, read, or ask questions of others.  Their default is often their own experience.  “This is the way I was raised.  This is good enough for my children.”  Granted, all of us can learn something from our families of origin.  However, we bless our children when we continue to grow and mature as parents.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 4)

usa marriage

The following is part 4 of a series that I have entitled, “41 Things Married People Ought to Know.” Most of these 41 statements I have learned from being married and observing others.  (Part 1 is here.  Part 2 is here.  Part 3 is here.)

31.  If a couple is at war with one another, almost any issue can be a point of contention. If a couple is pursuing peace and togetherness, they can work through almost any issue

32.  A couple can bless one another by creating an atmosphere in the home that is pleasant, inviting and warm. As a result, they will likely look forward to coming home after a long day at work.

33.  A husband or wife with a demanding spirit often pushes their spouse farther away. Regardless of the legitimacy of the issue, a demanding person feels threatening

34.  Married people, who are wise learn to look for the good in another. Too many of us become overly focused on the negative and the shortcomings we see in each another.

35.  One can add something positive to the home environment by being pleasant and enjoyable to be around. However, when a person is negative, pessimistic, and constantly griping, that person has a way of draining the energy out of the room.

36.  Being hard on one another may produce the desired external behavior— for a time. But, badgering and nagging someone can create deep resentment and anger. Such attitudes do not foster internal change.

37.  Most of us would do well to think before we speak. There is no real merit in allowing every fleeting thought to come out of our mouths unfiltered. (Please don’t say, “I was just being honest.” Honest words still need discernment.) We need to pray for wisdom regarding our speech.

38.  Every married person is married to a sinner. This person can never meet the deepest needs of his or her spouse. Only God is capable of bringing completeness to any person.

39.  Individual daily repentance will ultimately bless marriage. There is something good about getting honest before the Lord every day. A husband or wife would do well to examine how he behaved with his wife the previous day. Ask God’s forgiveness for an attitude, behavior, or words which were not Christ-like.

40.  Remember that you are married to God’s daughter or God’s son. You know how you feel when someone mistreats one of your children. You also know how you feel when someone has been a blessing to son or daughter. Think about how God might feel as he sees how you treat his daughter or son. God knows the intent of our hearts. What does he see? (Thanks to Gary Thomas for some of these thoughts.)

41.  Every good moment you experience in your married life needs to be received as a gift from God. Don’t act like you deserve these moments! Don’t think you are entitled. Christ-followers understand that we are totally dependent on God’s grace. It is out of that grace that we have air, food, and, yes, the good moments of marriage.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 3)


The following is part 3 of a series that I have entitled, “41 Things Married People Ought to Know.” (You can find part one here and part two here)

21.  Marriage can be very satisfying and joyful.  Many couples experience great pleasure in their marriages. There is great pleasure to be found in marriage through friendship, emotional connection, emotional intimacy and sexual expression.

22.  Marriage is hard work.  A good marriage takes effort and often requires us to be intentional. As married people, we depend upon the Lord for strength to navigate our marriages well.  A very frustrated married person once asked me, “If marriage is right, why is it so hard?” Yet, simply because something was created by God does not mean it will be easy.

23.  Marriage requires that we be steady and consistent.  After all, the journey is long and requires constancy and faithfulness.  But shouldn’t there be sizzle?  Yes, of course.  However, one would think from watching the way relationships are portrayed on television and in the media that real life is to be found in encounters where there is no commitment to the future, but only an awareness of the moment.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 2)


Are you married? Would you like to be married one day? The following is Part 2 of this series. (You can find Part 1 here.)

11.  Many women have a low perception of their body image. Television, movies, magazines all portray a certain type of female body to be desired. These women are tan, well endowed, and young. Meanwhile, many women often see such portrayals and perceive themselves as not measuring up. They see these images and conclude that their own body is inadequate.

12.  Wonderful, satisfying sex in marriage is not based on performance.Rather, such a sexual relationship is an outgrowth of an intimate relationship with one another. Far too many married couples put tremendous pressure on one another because of the performance view of sex. Pornography feeds such a view. Beware! When a person is using pornography, he will often see sex as something he “takes” in marriage instead of self-sacrificial intimacy.

13.  Many married couples have no idea how to handle their discretionary spending. Consequently, if the kids want something at the store and the parents know the money is in the bank, the kids get it. Meanwhile, the amount of credit card debt being accumulated by some couples is astounding. Many couples really have no idea how much they are actually spending each month.

41 Things Married People Ought to Know (Part 1)


Several years ago, I posted a list of things I have learned about marriage from my own experience and observation. The following is an updated and edited list. Perhaps one or more of these will be helpful.

The following is Part 1 of a list of 41 things married people ought to know:

1.  Married people are called to move away from self-centeredness and toward selflessness. Self–centeredness creates a person in the marriage who “takes”. Such a person focuses on what he or she is getting out of the marriage instead of loving one another sacrificially.

2.  A couple can’t follow Jesus and at the same time settle for a status quo marriage. Jesus challenges both husband and wife to pursue something larger than oneself. They are called to something greater than their individual happiness. Sometimes, a wife or husband will desire to pursue a larger kingdom vision for marriage while the other person chooses to dig in his heels and remain stagnant.

3.  Married people can become very lazy in their relationship with one another. As a result, the husband and wife may no longer cherish one another. Tenderness slips away. Sarcasm and cynicism may overtake their relationship.

Seven Characteristics of a Great Dad

(Just Before Father's Day)

baseballWhat is a great dad?  Maybe he is a dad like the picture to the right.  After all, this is a good scene, isn’t it?  A father and son spend time together playing baseball. Many sons have good memories of their dads teaching them to play catch or how to hit a ball.

Yet, being a great dad is more than this.  Being a great dad is about passing on character and goodness which will bless generations to come.

Some what are some of the qualities of a great dad?

1.  A great dad treats the mother of his children with adoration and respect.  Little children see it all! Nothing gets by them.  They see the contemptuous looks and they hear the words that drip with sarcasm. The way you treat their mother, impacts the way they will treat others later on.

Focus on the Heart – (Part 1 of 2)

Choosing Spouses, Ministers, etc.

He sat in my office and looked troubled.  He said, “We are engaged, yet I’m not sure I want to go through with this wedding.  There is physical attraction, but I am troubled about some other matters.”

Far too many people, as they consider a potential spousethink-md, put their priority on physical attraction.  How attractive is she?  How attractive is he? While physical attraction may be a factor, Christ-followers have other concerns which stand first in the priority line.

Remember King Saul of Israel?  Tall.  A military leader. A warrior.  He looked the part.  Today, people today might say regarding a particular person, “He looks presidential.”  King Saul looked like a king.

Yet, even though he looked the part, he didn’t have the heart that God desired. Outwardly he may have appeared to be just right.  Yet, because of his heart, his life did not reflect what God wanted.  As Israel chose the next King of Israel, God desired to see a change.  God said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

10 Ways Parents Can Make a Difference

PinkLogoOne of the most difficult things I’ve ever done was attempt to be a good parent.  One of the most joyful experiences I’ve ever had was being a daddy.

Many men father children.  Many women bear children.

Some men seem to be only interested in playing with their children.  Yet, some of these same men want no part of the really hard work involved in rearing children.

Some women seem to get their ego needs met from their children.  Yet, being a parent is not about getting ones own needs met.

Parents need to be intentional about making a difference!

1.  Parents who make a difference practice what they claim to believe.  Our kids see right through us.  They see who we really are, not what we are attempting to project.

2.  Parents who make a difference know that their children may often hear more than we intend for them to hear. These kids also hear whatever I might utter under my breath, whether it be a pray or a comment regarding them.

10 Qualities of a Good Dad

Ten(1)The other day, I was on Facebook and saw a picture of “Will” with his daughter.  I felt so proud!  Will is a good husband and dad.  I have great respect for him.

Being a dad may be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Yes, it has been joyful. However, it has been difficult at times.  I had (and have) a lot to learn.

Even as I write these words, I can envision a number of guys in the Central Texas area who are doing such a good job as “daddy.”  The guys I have in mind are in their 30s and 40s.  They continue to grow and learn.  Some had good models growing up and some didn’t.  Regardless, these guys have worked hard toward becoming good dads.

The following are some qualities of a good daddy:

1.  A good daddy is consistent.  Children get confused when a certain behavior causes dad to laugh one moment only to cause him to become angry thirty minutes later.

2.  A good daddy models good character.  Teaching a child is important.  Good character that is modeled is powerful. However, bad character on display can make a lasting impression as well. When we lived in Kansas City many years ago, I heard our neighbor scream at his daughter one day.  (She was about about six years old.)  What he called his daughter was awful!  I have wondered what this child, now 26 or 27 years of age, must remember about her home life.

3.  A good daddy teaches his children by his example.  Some fathers do far too much telling and too little showing.  A mountain of good words does not compensate for a regular bad example. However, when a father models integrity, respect, and kindness before his children, they are blessed.

4.  A good daddy allows his children the opportunity to see his faith.  For example, when you are faced with a decision, it can be a real teachable moment for that son or daughter to hear you explain why you made the decision you did and how that decision flowed out of your faith.

5.  A good daddy understands that “fussing” at a child, naming calling, or threatening is not discipline.  Such behaviors may be more about a father’s own frustration and anger than serious, intentional discipline.

How You Can Take Pressure Off Your Marriage

imsotiredYou are not responsible another’s behavior.

Yet, far too many Christian men and women believe they are responsible for the behavior of their spouse.

  • A young wife and mother regularly makes hurtful, cutting remarks to her in-laws.  Her husband defends her vigorously by talking on and on about what an amazing person she really is.
  • A man continues to have have problems with his employer.  He has had a variety of jobs in the last fifteen years.  Each one of these have ended in a clash with management. Meanwhile, his spouse tells their friends that he is so talented and smart but just can’t find an employer who will appreciate him.
  • A father repeatedly breaks promises to his children while he pursues his own pleasures and interests.  Meanwhile, his wife defends him to these children, telling them what an awesome father he really is.  Yes, these kids are confused.

Marriage can be difficult.  Yet, what heightens the difficulty for some is the belief that you must constantly defend, excuse, or justify your spouse’s behavior.

Here is the good news.  You are responsible for your own behavior.  Your are not, however, responsible for the behavior of your spouse.  Nor, are you responsible for explaining or justifying his or her behavior to others.