What Does a Young Man Need to Know to be Ready to Marry?

Date

September 19, 2022

Categories

Home

Marriage

Parenting

Early this year, one of my adult sons moved out of state. Since then, he and I have talked almost every Sunday afternoon. A few weeks ago, during one of our conversations he asked, “What do I need to know in order to be ready to marry?” I was hit with a wave of emotions. First, who’s the girl?! Second, pride that he was thinking in a wise, mature way. Third, I thought we covered this years ago.

We Want to Hear From You!

I want to share with you what I said but I am not going to do that right now! Instead, I am going to do something unusual. Email me: eric@HomeInHim.org with how you would answer my son’s question.

When we receive enough responses, I will schedule a podcast where I share and discuss your responses (We will share your responses anonymously). I will let you know when we schedule the podcast!

I am excited to see what you have to share! Please take moment to email me your thoughts now.

Wanna Get Away?

Date

September 15, 2022

Categories

Home

Marriage

Parenting

Main Point: We need physical and spiritual rest. Slow down to listen to the Lord. Marinate in God’s word. Pray. Decompress. While my article addresses men directly as leaders in the home, it applies equally to wives and mothers, too. Both men and women need what I describe.

Wanna Get Away? is a popular slogan for a major U.S. airline. It works because life is increasingly uncertain, chaotic, and physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining. We all want and need a time to disconnect, rest, focus on the Lord, and think intentionally about our families.

At the behest of one of my life coaches, I did this very thing in August. My coach strongly suggested I do this at least 2-3 times per year. While I was not new to this practice, it had been way too long since I last did it. I was so glad I did.

With eight children (five are adults and it doesn’t get easier when they get older) and a home-based ministry, my life is complicated and generally over-extended. I am easily overcome by the tyranny of the urgent. I can quickly lose perspective on priorities.

When I am away, I recalibrate mentally, physically, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually. This particular getaway provided noticeable mental and spiritual rest. I could literally feel myself decompressing. I was also able to actually think about relationships in my home in a way that brought clarity and action.

NOTE: This most definitely is not a vacation! Vacations generally involve open ended fun with the family. This however is a time alone, by yourself, focused on seeking the Lord and thinking intentionally about your spiritual walk and your relationships at home.

What follows are 15 ideas to prime your own pump on how to make a getaway like this possible for yourself—or your spouse!

  1. Be honest about your need for rest. It is not a weakness to admit you need to rest and reconnect with God in a way that requires getting away. Sometimes we or our relationships break before we finally listen. Even Jesus—God in human flesh—had times away from the grind to connect with his Father and to rejuvenate. If God himself needed that. How much more do we?
  2. Just do it. Look at the calendar with your wife and set a time to go. Frankly, this is the hardest part. We are all so busy and it is hard to commit to something like this that while important, is usually not urgent. Putting it off is the same as a decision not to do it. I put it off for over a year. I could’ve used that time but for over a year—I did not do it.
  3. Plan to be away for at least 2 nights. It is hard to disconnect only being gone one night. Two nights gives you one full day and possibly two partial days. I have found that the partial days on either end are not very productive because of the distractions of going and coming. Whole days are the ticket. Three nights gives you two full days which is ideal.
  4. Choose a hotel that you like. You may have to spend a little money but it is worth it. If the vibe is off, it will impact the effectiveness of the time away. Personally, I like Hilton’s Embassy Suites. They offer a delicious, free, made to order hot breakfast. Each suite offers a bedroom and a separate living or work area with a desk. The inside atrium style of these hotels offers a resort feel with tables and various comfortable chairs where you can read and reflect as a change of scenery from your suite. The overall vibe works well for me and puts me in a relaxed mood. But maybe camping is more your style? If so, more power to you!
  5. Bring your Bible, a journal, and a spiritual book to read. The Bible and a journal are essential equipment. The additional book—not so much. But it is good to take time to read something you enjoy other than your Bible. On my recent getaway, I read two books: The Daily Relaxer by Matthew McKay, and Family Discipleship by Adam Griffin. Both offered significant insights into issues I was addressing.
  6. Read the Word in the morning after breakfast. Set the tone by spending time with the Lord first each day. I like to choose a whole book of the Bible and read it through over and over in one sitting which I rarely if ever do this as part of my normal devotions. There just isn’t enough time. Doing this though will likely lead you to see new things in the passage. In my recent time away, I read through Colossians several times and was greatly encouraged by deeper meditation on the mystery of the Gospel which Paul addresses.
  7. Pray as you read the word. Pray for God’s Holy Spirit to speak to you through His word. After reading a particularly meaningful verse, pray. Ask God for understanding. Meditate on the verse. Pray some more, etc.
  8. Make notes and journal. As you read and pray, make notes in a journal about fresh insights, or things you want to think more about. These might be personal spiritual matters or they might be relational matters. Either way, writing them down or even journaling helps to learn, clarify, and prioritize specific matters needing further action. Note taking and journaling also provide a record that you can go back to later and evaluate your progress.
  9. Pre-empt distractions. It is challenging to slow down and create separation from the daily grind—even when you are away. To help with “Daily Grind Creep” have a sheet of paper ready where you can write down the things that will pop into your mind. Things like fixing the leaky sink in the kids’ bathroom or remembering to change the oil in the car. If it comes to mind, write it down so you can stay focused in reading and in prayer.
  10. Pray conversationally. You now have time to talk with God in elongated format. Listen to Him.
  11. Spend time thinking about each family member. Ask the following questions about your wife and each child: How is their walk with God? What are areas of strength that I can point out and encourage them in? What are areas of weakness where I need to help strengthen them? How am I loving my wife like Jesus? What are ways I am exasperating my children? One thing I do is try to write down identity statements that match up well with specific areas of struggle and that they can memorize and that I can pray for them to better understand.
  12. Enjoy yourself. This is part of resting. Do something you rarely do: watch a show you like! Or, start watching a show early enough that you don’t fall asleep before the opening credits are finished. Go outside and stare at the stars.
  13. Treat yourself to a nice meal. One night, I went to a hole-in-the-wall Greek restaurant where I ate seared anchovy’s and skate wings. It was a bit crazy but fun and delicious. I couldn’t help but wish my wife was there with me to enjoy it (although I don’t think the anchovies would have gone over too well.)
  14. Make a pact with your cell phone. Turn notifications off and silence it. Don’t get trapped playing games on your phone. I took my phone and put it under the pillow in the bedroom while I worked at the desk in the other room.
  15. Report back home each day. It is good to report back home once a day to share how it is going. These reports help your wife and children pray for you and also help them see that the sacrifices they’re making to make this time possible are being rewarded in your own growth and in better leadership of your home.

Leading well in the home begins with being well ourselves. Then, it requires an investiture in the lives of others that requires intentionality. But intentionality itself must be a priority. The busyness of life works against that. Time away to rest and reflect help rejuvenate us in being intentional about the right things in our own walk with the Lord and in our relationships at home.

On final thought: do not let the best be the enemy of the good. You want to do this “right” (there is no ONE right way) but for some reason it can’t be perfect so, you do nothing. A time away for a day or a time away that is not ideal in some way is better than no time away at all.

So, when are you going to take your time away?

Five Simple Technology Guidelines we TRY to Keep

Following are a few guidelines, some of which we have found helpful. Some reflect what others have suggested to us. Lord willing, they may prime your own pump for what you and your family can do if this is a challenge for you as it is has been for us.

01

No electronic devices until school work is done

We have found technology to be a great motivator for getting school work done. In the summer months the kids could earn time by doing chores around the house. We got some projects completed and it cured some boredom!

No technology until schoolwork is done

02

No electronic devices from 6pm-8pm

This makes room genuine conversation around dinner time.

03

Turn off or put devices away for certain conversations

We should be off of our phones for all conversations. Some conversations need even more attention. It may be worth actually putting the phones out of sight away. New research finds having a mobile device within easy reach divides your attention, even if you’re not actively looking at.

04

Leave them home once in a while

I enjoy actually leaving my phone at home when I go out on brief errands. It is a very freeing feeling. Try it!

05

Work to set some sort of parameters about how you handle texts and calls

Do you answer them immediately? Or do you wait some period of time before reading and then answering them? It is good to let people know your “policy” so that they can adjust their expectations.

Will Our Children Walk With Jesus?

Date

Jul 25, 2022

Categories

Parenting

Will our children walk with Jesus? There are no guarantees. But we are not without hope that they will or the confidence we need to influence them for Jesus. In this post, I want to bolster your confidence in the Lord to use you in the life of your children.

Why we Lack Confidence

There are many reasons we might lack confidence. Here are three you might identify with.

1- Parenting experts stir doubt. Time magazine featured an article titled, “16 Experts for Every Parenting Problem.” Practical insights from “experts” can be helpful. But the overall effect on the average parent is confidence-eroding.

2- We disqualify ourselves because of guilt over past sin. “How can I hold my child to a standard that I couldn’t keep?” Or, guilt over failure to be a good example, yelling at the children or failing to support or engage them can also erode confidence.

3- We struggle to know exactly what to do to disciple our children. Ever heard of paralysis by analysis? We choose to wait to act because we fear making a bad decision or fear doing something wrong and making a mess. So, we do nothing! Or, we might quickly choose a certain course of action, but it does not go well. We don’t work it through. We give up and try something else. This repeating cycle confuses our children and weakens their faith as well as our own concluding that the benefits of being a Christian are out of reach—for us.

Reasons for Confidence

We can accept our inability to do what is needed most. We might be trying to do what God never intended us to do, which is to change our children. We still have an active role but changing the human heart, either to become a Christian or to change how one thinks, speaks, and lives as a Christian, is the Holy Spirit’s domain. He alone actually changes us.

I doubt anyone would argue with that. But let me suggest, our sometimes angry, frustrated, and overbearing ways betray us.

It is easy to get frustrated, especially when a child doesn’t listen to our instruction or correction for the umpteenth time. When we respond in sinful anger, it is a red flag that we might be trying to force change that only God can do. When we do this, we should simply confess it to God and to our children, ask forgiveness where appropriate, and remember the truth: God is at work and he will complete that work in his time and for his glory.

We are ambassadors. Spiritually speaking, we are ambassadors. We are not autocrats, gurus or saviors. We are simply messengers of The King. Our purpose is to share the message of our King and help each other live it. More on the message in a moment. Think about the demeanor of an ambassador. Ambassadors are careful to represent the king in what they say, how they say it, and how they act.

Our message is grace. We do not speak our own message. Honestly, isn’t that often the problem? We commit the cardinal sin for ambassadors: we give our own message that reflects our own dream for how life is supposed to be. We might even have good biblical justification for what we want. Our children need God’s message of grace most of all because it provides the solution to their biggest problem: sin. And this message teaches us how to live the life that we all want: a joyful life where our joy endures through the trials and suffering we face.

God’s message is inherently powerful. Many parents, fathers especially, disqualify themselves because they think that they can’t teach their children as good as their pastor, youth minister, or other gifted teacher. Certainly, we should seek to grow in communication skills, wisdom, and understanding, but God’s will isn’t ultimately captive to what we bemoan as our inadequate communication skills.

Moses felt incompetent to speak to Pharaoh, but this did not disqualify him. Paul, the apostle, who had the theological knowledge and oratorical ability to match wits with the most intelligent of his day, chose instead to speak plainly. He was willing to be thought a fool because he did not want to diminish the power of the gospel message. God uses ordinary sinners to do extraordinary work.

Extreme Confidence From Two Passages

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11).

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Do you see that it is not our words that are powerful but God’s words? His words are the ones that the Holy Spirit uses to transform. We simply must be faithful to encourage with those words and help people apply them. We do not do this perfectly, but we must strive to do this faithfully.

We can be thoughtful, careful, and faithful when we realize that we have received a message of hope that bolsters our confidence because the message is inherently powerful and used by the Holy Spirit to bring transformation.

Hope for Children Who Have Turned Away

My wife and I were at an event where we were talking with two couples who had been through the trial of watching their children stray from Christ. After long periods of time, both of the children had since returned to walk with Jesus. In both cases, they remarked that it was the scripture that their parents had read to them as children that the Holy Spirit brought to their minds to bring them back. God’s word does not return void… even if it takes many years.

If you have lost children, please remember that God’s word that you have sown in your children’s lives is not dead, but alive. You are not without hope. Continue to pray for them and love them.

Related articles

Good News in Troubled Times: An Opportunity to Reset

Date

Apr 7, 2020

Categories

Parenting
Home
Gospel

Reset [verb ree-set] “To set adjust
or fix in a new or different way”

I’ll never forget my high school Physics class. We were four weeks into the first semester and the whole class was struggling. After a few disappointing quizzes, the first test proved dismal. The highest grade was a C. (And for the record, sadly that wasn’t mine.) I was particularly anxious about passing the class and I still have nightmares about it to this day—no joke. After discussing the horrible tests with us, our teacher decreed that she would throw out the test and quiz results and start over. That was a very refreshing reset: a new beginning for our class.

Perhaps in your homes right now, you’re seeing a lot of relational challenges and like my high school Physics class: a reset that will renew hope, confidence, and purpose seems like a pretty good idea.

Hope can be achieved through a reset! This reset can come by way of a change of perspective about how we approach family life. We typically look at life in a way that reduces it merely to right and wrong. What does the Bible say about marriage? What does the Bible say about raising children? For sure, we need to do seek and apply God’s wisdom. But there is often something missing that makes the difference between defeat and endurance that begins to see lasting change take place.

This change of perspective goes back to the foundation of the gospel itself. The gospel is more than the message that our sins are forgiven in Christ. Indeed, it is that. But it is more! Through the gospel, we learn all that God has done to help us live for him. This includes a new identity in Christ that we have been given that profoundly demonstrates God’s love.

Let’s take a very brief look at just a sample of what this identity includes: we are redeemed, adopted by God, hidden in Christ; made righteous, holy, blameless. We are dead to sin and alive to God, set free, and no longer under condemnation. (Download an A-Z List of our Identity in Christ).

Our identity is woven throughout the Bible and is intended to provide us with great joy and serves as a powerful motive for living the Christian life. Living out of joy in God is crucial to living for his glory and it is a far more effective tool than fear and guilt in our relationships.

Once you see these statements in your study of the Bible it will revolutionize your walk with God. It will change your perspective on living for him from one of oppressive obligation to glorious grace.

When we see how much God loves us, we will in turn love him and love others.

Three Essential Truths we Need to Tell our Kids–Now!

Date

May 6, 2020

Categories

Parenting

Anxiety

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

As the virus causes great collateral damage and casts an ominous pal on the future, what should we be teaching our children? Try these three things (at least).

First, God is Sovereign (in Control)

Genesis begins with: “In the beginning, God.” God has always existed. He created the world by speaking it into existence. He sovereignly rules over his creation (Col. 1:16-17). He directs every detail of our lives. God knew 10,000 years ago we would be dealing with Coronavirus today and he is firmly in control of exactly how all of this is going to play out. All of this should bring us great comfort and peace.

Second, God is Using This Crisis to do Good in Our Lives

Because God is sovereign, he uses all things—including the things that we most dislike, suffering for example—for our good (Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Cor. 4:17). This includes everything from mild anxiety about food shortages to significant distress about losing a job or retirement savings. God can use it all for good.

Third, God is Love

Our children need to be reminded that God loves us especially at a time when there is so much fear. Nothing shall separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:35-39). God’s love is demonstrated in all that he has done to redeem us. This includes the new identity we receive in his son, Jesus Christ.

That God loves us so much that he sent his son to die for us and then sent his Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts and never leave us, provides assurance of his love. His love has not waned one iota even with current events.

Hope For The Fearful

These three truths about God are important for us and our children as Christians. But that’s not all. We are called to give an answer for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15). How do we do that if we are as fearful as everyone else? By intentionally focusing on these three truths—now—we strengthen our children’s faith in God and equip them to share him with others who are caught in the tsunami of fear caused by the virus and its ripple effects.

Practical Help Teaching These Truths

Mention of these truths in informal conversation can be reinforced by gathering the family together and teaching them, too. I have prepared a simple 14 day study that you can do with your family on these truths.

 

Listen

Erich and his wife Stacy have 11 children with one in heaven. In this sermon, he shares about the loss of his son and how God used Romans 8:28-29 in the healing process for his family.

Romans 8:28-30, A Sermon on Suffering

by Erich Pratt

Teaching These Truths

Mention of these truths in informal conversation can be reinforced by gathering the family together and teaching them, too. I have prepared a simple 14 day study that you can do with your family on these truths. Sign-up for our newsletter to access the PDF!

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