In today’s culture of busyness and materialism, it seems that many of us have lost sight of the simplicity involved in showing real love to our family. How do you spell . . . love? Is it nonstop A.C.T.I.V.I.T.I.E.S? Is it in all the latest S.T.U.F.F. I think we’ve all had times when long work hours and an endless flurry of activities frazzled our last nerve and caused us to lose our joy and peace. While your kids may beg for the latest and greatest gizmos and want to be involved in an endless array of activities, the truth of the matter is, that it is a rare kid who does not spell love T.I.M.E. Nothing contributes more to a child’s sense of self worth than your undivided and complete attention for an extended period. Whether it’s reading them a bedtime story, playing games as a family, or just having real conversation over dinner, your time is the most valuable commodity you have to give. What greater way to show your child they are loved and valuable than with the gift of your time? Every person has the same 24 hours each day, and once it’s spent it’s gone. Time is the great equalizer, it crosses all social, economic, and ethnic boundaries. The amazing thing is, it is our choice whether we spend or invest it. If you spend all your time to gain things that have no eternal value, you’ll end this game called life the same way you came in, empty. However, if you invest it into the lives of those God has called you to serve, your time will reap a great reward both now and in future generations. The choice is yours.
Our children become who we are, not what we tell them they should be. I remember one afternoon, my mom sat me down to give me “the lecture” on why I shouldn’t smoke. My mom smoked 6 cigarettes while she gave me the “why you shouldn’t smoke lecture.” I smoked until I got saved at age 22. The reality is, we are our kid’s first glimpse of God, so what we do is just as important as what we say.
When our kids see us, they need to see Jesus because, how they perceive us is how they will perceive God. If we’re angry all the time, they see God as angry. If they can never achieve enough, they get a B and you think they should have gotten an A – then they will see God as someone who is impossible to please. Our job is to train and model by our example qualities like faithfulness, forgiveness, respect for authority, honesty, responsibility, and gratefulness.
Training is instruction and demonstration with a specific result in mind. The result we want is to see the character of Christ formed in our kids. We also want the assurance that they have a personal relationship with Him, and that they are learning how to make wise life choices.
2 Corinthians 3:18 “And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.”
As parents and leaders, we are influencing everyone we encounter. Someone is watching our life. The question is not, am I influencing someone? It’s how am I influencing them? Sometimes appearances can be deceptive, but know they are watching and we are always influencing. We are like books read by all those around us.
At Erik’s high school graduation, he had a guy come up to him and say, I just want to thank you, it’s because of your life that I am a Christian today. Erik had never met the kid. It seems he had seen Erik in Junior High when he was going through his rebellious period, and then he went to the same high school when Erik got his life right with God. He had just watched quietly in the distance and saw the change in his life and behavior. When he went to a camp, he was convinced that Jesus was real because of what he’d witnessed in Erik’s life and gave his heart to Christ.
That’s the power of influence and a life well lived. People are watching you. Your kids are watching you. The people at your job are watching you, everyone you come into contact with is watching you. You won’t be perfect, but you should be growing and improving yourself by reading, listening to teachings, serving (doing the Word) Spending time in God’s presence, and keeping yourself stirred up in the Lord.
Have you ever said to yourself, “I can’t believe I just said that!” Believe it! Our words are the telltale signs of what we’ve been thinking. While our words influence others, our own words have a greater impact on ourselves than anyone else. Our words are a mirror into our soul that reveals what we really believe.
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
I’m reading an amazing book, “Prepare Yourself to Be Blessed” by Kevin Boyd. I’m being reminded of truths I learned a long time ago, but this book reframes them and gives them greater clarity than ever before. I’m reminded that my words have the power to create. With my mouth I name things. I can name my day. God created it, I name it. I can name it a good day, or I can name it a bad day. The choice is mine. But what I call it is what it will become. This applies in every area of my life.
This amazing principle started back in the Garden when Adam named the animals. Whatever he called them, that is what they were named. The Creator was teaching the created how to create. God put this very same creative power in us and we activate it with our words.
If God spoke the entire universe into existence and we are created in His image, it only stands to reason that our words have more power than most of us would like to imagine. Because with power comes great responsibility.
As I was reading, I felt greatly convicted at how carelessly I speak at times, and at the same time, I was alarmed at the thought of the creative actions I was putting into motion with those careless words. It gave a whole new meaning to “Think before you speak.”
This thought process lead my mind to the topic of how my thought life was going. I recently read that 90% of the thoughts I think in a day are repeats of yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. If I’m thinking the same thoughts over and over and those thoughts are manifesting as words, and my words are influencing my future, maybe I better start thinking better thoughts if I’m looking for the future I want.
I’m the keeper of my thoughts and I need to take responsibility for them. I’m also the one in charge of policing them. God through the Apostle Paul, already told me what to think, it is my responsibility to make sure my thoughts line up. God does His part and I do mine.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8
So these are the conclusions I’ve come to:
1. I need to notice my thoughts. If a thought does not line up with the Word, I need to
intentionally replace it with one that does.
2. I need to take responsibility for my own thoughts and not blame anyone including myself for
any deficient thinking.
3. I need to have someone in my life who loves me enough to let me know when my words are
exposing wrong thinking patterns.
4. If I want a better future, I need to make this process a high priority and go after it like my life
depended on it, because it does.
Is there anyone else out there besides me who can honestly say, “My words are showing me that my thought life needs an overhaul.” Or, am I the only one?
What techniques or practices have you used to keep your thoughts in check?