New Year’s Resolution

I normally don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Like the rest of humanity, I make a resolution on January 1st. I follow it to a maximum of January 4th, and then I never do anything else with it. I got tired of it, so one year I made the New Year’s Resolution not to make anymore New Year’s Resolutions. And that one I’ve actually kept.

Until this year.

I went to the hospital today with severe back trouble. I was diagnosed with a pre-kidney stone situation. Before kidney stones form, some crystals develop in the kidneys. These crystals are quite painful, though nothing compared to an actual stone. I have the crystals, and I need to drink more water to prevent the stones from forming. So my first New Year’s Resolution–a virtual no-brainer–is to drink more water.

My second New Year’s Resolution is to read the Bible everyday. I confess that, at least in the regard of daily Scripture reading, I’m a poor apologist. And a hypocrite, since I always recommend to seekers or Christians on the brink of failure to read more Scripture, and to mediate on it and pray every day. I don’t come anywhere close to reading the Bible everyday. I barely read it all.

This New Year, though–God willing–that will all change for the better. I’ve downloaded a plan for reading the Bible in a year from the official website of the ESV (which regular readers of the blog well know that is my personal favorite translation).

I wanted a plan that would include the Psalms and Proverbs in a daily reading, as well as simultaneous reading of the Old and New Testaments. I’ve heard it recommended that one should read the OT and the NT parallel to each other so that you can more easily catch the significance of Christ’s story in relation to the history of Israel. I’ve also heard it recommended that a person rotate reading Psalms and Proverbs monthly, since there is much wisdom in both books to soak up.

So, I settled on this plan. There’s a daily reading from the OT, the NT, a Psalm, and a few Proverbs. This way, I can spot the parallels from OT to NT, and I can bask in the character of God described in the Psalms while learning the simple wisdom of God in Proverbs. Now I just need to stick to it!

I further figured that I’d spot an occasional oddity with Scripture and that would generate a blog post at JCM. And I was right–day one found this interesting tidbit.

A third resolution, related to the second one, is to do more Bible study alongside my wife. It’s one thing to read the Bible and meditate on its message in isolation, but the Bible is pretty clear that isn’t how we should really do things:

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet 1:19-21)

So, Scripture reading is important, but private interpretation isn’t kosher. Hence, we have the church. But before the church is the family.

I love talking to my wife about matters of faith. She’s an Arminian and I’m a Calvinist, but the contrasting readings of verses are profitable for both of us. If we both agreed on every single Scripture reading, the give-and-take dynamic would be lost and neither of would learn anything. We’d just be confirming what we already know. That’s no fun.

So the first book we’re going to go through is The Love Dare. That should be very interesting. I understand that book resurrected dying marriages. Ours is far from dying; it is strong and vibrant. I love her more than words can express. But growing closer to her can’t be a bad thing; and therefore I embrace the challenge of The Love Dare wholeheartedly and I pray that it strengthens our marriage.

Pastor Dad

First off, before I forget, I have a post scheduled to appear on Wednesday on Josiah Concept Ministries analyzing the atheist argument that religion is inherited from parents and culture so it can’t be true. The final word count was 666. Omen? I hope not.

Recently, I had been reflecting on how I’m doing as a father. I think that I spend enough time with the kids; after all, I’m now taking care of them on Mondays and Wednesdays since we can no longer afford full-time child care. I’m looking at the book Geek Dad perhaps later on as we determine the permanence of the Monday/Wednesday situation. That will hopefully help me with some more activities for the kids, as I really don’t want us to sit around and watch TV everyday. That gets old quick.

Ashleigh always wants to play with me. She’s genuinely excited when I come home from work. She’s always waiting for me when I come in the door. She’s as proud of who I am as I am of who she is; she is quick to introduce me to everyone as her daddy.

Gabriel, in his own way, shows me love. He gets a big smile on his face when he sees me, and starts kicking his little feet. He likes when I hold him up high, and when I tickle him. I can make him smile real big even when he is in the middle of crying hard.

I take all of that as signs that the kids love me, and that I’m meeting their emotional and physical needs to whatever expectations they may have.

But I don’t think that I do enough spiritually for the children. I don’t read the Bible to them or pray with them. The only time I mention God at all is when we’re getting ready for church. I’m essentially sending the message to them the God is someone we only think about on Sundays. This isn’t so, and I know that isn’t true. I now need to teach the kids what is true.

Justin Hyde posted a great article on The Resurgence about pastoring the family. He said:

Husbands/dads, don’t clock-out on your way home; be ready to be present and engaged; don’t let your kids or wife expect to hear your formulaic: “I’m tired;” turn your phone off (I recently read something like this: “If you touched your wife as much as you touch your iPhone your marriage would be in a much better spot.”); cancel your cable TV; repent of your addiction to new projects, hobbies, and distractions.

This is good advice. There are many days when I come home and I just want to crash. But I should be ready instead to spend time with my kids. The advice on building a routine doesn’t apply to me, since I don’t have a 9 to 5 job. I will have to make as much time for praying together and Bible study with the kids as I can. This means some prep time on my part.

Through that article, I was able to download a copy of Mark Driscoll’s e-book, Pastor Dad. Good starts, both of them. But, I want to dig a little deeper. So I found some additional books on introducing the Bible to children:

To apply all of this, I will need to set aside some time each night to read and study the Bible with Ashleigh, Gabe, and Jody. Of course, Gabe’s not going to be able to participate just yet, but that will change later on. The reading will have to be short, because I know Ash is not going to sit for a long time and listen to me read. Then, we’ll have question and answer time. The key is to be interactive and engaging.

Then, we should have a family prayer where I ask each their intentions, and then offer praise and thanks for God and his blessings, along with the others’ intentions.

I want to make something like that as close to a nightly thing as possible. With my schedule, that’s not always going to happen, as I work late nights and closes occasionally (read: more often than not). But I will still be able to set aside some time to do all of this.

Getting Jody on board shouldn’t be a problem at all. Part of me thinks that she has been waiting for me to take the initiative in doing this, since it is the responsibility of the husband to teach his family in the ways of the Lord. I know she’ll be supportive, as a Proverbs 31 woman should: “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life” (vv 10-12). I know Jody fears the Lord: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (v 30).

She will help me, and help I will need always. I need to take more responsibility in the spiritual development of my own children, else I could lose them to the rising tide of skepticism. I know this tide all too well, fighting on the front lines as a Christian apologist. Up till now, I’ve been concerned about the spiritual welfare of complete strangers on the Internet. It is time to turn that concern to my own house, and channel at least some of the energy I’ve been using online into helping my children know the truth of Jesus, and help them place their faith in him who saves “to the uttermost all those who draw near to God through him” (Heb 7:25).