|Build Your Wall||
It is good to get advice from people who have traveled the road that you are going to travel. They can warn you of dangers. As the saying goes ‘hindsight is 20/20'. Here is an article from Phil Sanders who has adult children. He looks back at some of the things he wishes he had done better when they were young. You can find more helpful articles at focuspress. - jp
Wow! I just saw that 55% of Americans think that watching TV is a great way to spend quality time with their loved ones. Now I enjoy watching TV occasionally, and we may even have a family movie night with pizza. In fact, we are going to do that tonight, and watch one of the movies we got for Christmas (Either Ten Commandments or One Night with the King), but I am under no impression that this is really quality time. You shouldn’t be either. Quality time is time communicating, learning, praying, worshiping, etc. If sitting in the same room with someone starring at a screen makes quality time then think of all the quality time Americans spend with each other in movie theaters each year with people they have never met.
Adult children don’t look back at their lives and think the thing that really turned my life around was when mom and dad started watching TV with me. That doesn’t mean that there are not some common pleasant memories or inside jokes for the family. I don’t believe as some do that there is no place for recreation or entertainment in family life, but of all the different ways family spends time together TV is probably the least quality of all. I dare say that even playing video games together is better that TV because at least there is some interaction with a game while there is none with TV. The only interaction I have ever seen with TV is telling each other to be quiet, arguing over what is going to be watched, or telling someone to get out of the way so you can see. Not exactly the definition of quality time is it.
So, let your brain sleep through a movie every once in a while, but be honest about what is really happening. And, don't forget to check the content first. Could you be comfortable watching with Jesus?
What do you care about most? God? Jesus? Family? The church? The Bible? We talked about not pretending in the last post, and this is one area where people pretend. I didn’t ask, ‘What are you supposed to care about most?’, I asked what you DO care about most. The question is what do you actually care about and value more than other things? It is not a matter of saying, but doing. The things we truly value can be seen in our actions. What do we spend time, energy, and money on regularly and willingly.
Look at your spending habits, do a budget. Are you spending more on your car than you are giving to the Lord? Which is more important? Would you go out and spend $50 - $100 on a meal for your family, but gripe about having to bring $5 worth of food for the church fellowship meal? Do you think nothing of dropping $100 a month on cable, but complain that a $50 Bible that will last several years is too expensive? Do you find yourself buying things for yourself, but being stingy toward your spouse or children? (Gun, rod, HDTV, etc. ‘no problem’ - Dress, shoes, purse, etc. / doll, ball, toy, book, school trip, etc. ‘we can’t waste that much money’) Math doesn’t lie. What are your real priorities? What you are willing to sacrifice tells the truth about your allegiances.
Look at your time-spending habits. How was time spent in the past week or month? It might surprise you how little was actually spent on the things you claim to value most. Because of the nature of the human body we must spend a large amount of time sleeping each day. There is also a necessity for us to work to provide for our physical bodies and our families. If we look at a week there are 168 hours. When we start to categorize that time we have a problem. We often claim that we don’t have time for . . ., but we seem to have time for other things. Consider that IF we slept 8 hours a day, that leaves 112 hours. If we work even a 50 hour week and have a 2 hour commute 6 days a week, that leaves us 50 hours. That is more than 2 whole days or more than 7 hours a day for the whole week. What are we doing with that much time? I know that there is meal preparation and eating, shopping, personal hygiene concerns, other errands, etc., etc., etc. Consider, however, that many do not sleep 8 hours or spend 62 hours working leaving even less of an excuse.
Under Moses’ Law the Jews were required to tithe their increase, meaning whatever profit they made they gave a tenth to God. We are not under that covenant, we have a better one. I wonder why we think it should be cheaper. Usually when something is better we expect it to be more expensive. Jesus said that our righteousness should exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, who diligently gave even the herbs from their gardens. But suppose we applied the tithe concept to our money and time. Where do we fall? Do you give God $10 out of every $100 you make? $5? $1? $15? Do you give of all that you prospered, or only what you take home after taxes, insurance, retirement, etc. have already been taken out? You have probably considered this with regard to money before, but what about with time. We sometimes think that 4 hours a week at church and praying at meals makes someone really righteous, but consider that if we were to give 10% of our time that would be nearly 17 hours a week. How do you rate on that scale? I don’t mean that we should sit at church for 17 hours, instead that we should be spending time outside of corporate worship. Interestingly enough, one study by Neilsen the average person in the U.S. watches over 4 hours of TV each day, almost 36 hours a week. That is somewhat bloated by the fact that those over 65 average nearly 49 hours a week. I should think it would not be too hard to carve a third of those hours out for something of eternal value to replace that of no real value.
Be honest with yourself! What is really most important to you? If it is not what it should be change.
How do you spend your time? You have probably seen an article that compares our time each day to a bank account that has a certain amount put into it each day, but like some bad cell phone plans there are no roll-over minutes if you don’t use it you lose it. So we use them up each day in various ways. We spend some on sleeping, eating, working, playing, talking, learning, etc. But the real question is are we spending them right. Just as we could make the mistake with money of spending more on entertainment than we save for the future, or spend more on eating out and not have health insurance, or maybe something more minor like spending too much for gas because we did not even look to see that the station across the street was $0.30 cheaper; we make mistakes with spending time on the wrong things. We work extra overtime to buy a big screen HD TV and miss out on spending time with our families We spend all day at work Tweeting and checking Facebook and then have work to take home. We spend the time we are home, and could be engaging in a Bible time with our kids and teaching them good values and building their character, watching some form of entertainment that corrupts those values.
Some of the things we mess up are obvious, but others are more subtle. Stephen Covey in his book First Things First says it this way: “The enemy of the best is the good”. How often do we miss out on doing what is best because of something that is good. One of the problems is that we have never really spent any of our time deciding what is best. Another problem is that we get so caught up in being like everyone else that we ignore what is best. A third problem is that what is best is not what is easy. A fourth problem is that what is best is not the thing that is most demanding or urgent. I am sure that there are more, but this is sufficient to get us thinking.
Take a look at the chart below which is also taken from the book mentioned earlier. As you look at the chart notice that every activity that takes our time will fall into one of the four categories: Important-Urgent, Important-Not Urgent, Unimportant-Urgent, Unimportant-Not Urgent. These are the only four possibilities. Allow me to give some illustrations. The phone rings. This seems urgent. There is something about that sound that drives us to answer it. For some it is not possible to let it go, but let’s consider the possibilities. If it is a telemarketer wanting to sell us something we don’t want it is neither important nor urgent, If it is a weather alert telling us about a flash flood watch it may be important, but not necessarily urgent. (I have received 3 such calls this year and not been flooded yet. But it is good to know about the possibility). If it is a family member calling to tell you about some special deal online to get a $10 gift card for $5 that ends in 5 minutes it is urgent, but not important. If it is someone calling to tell us that a loved one is being rushed to the hospital because they stopped breathing that is urgent and important.
But even within these categories we prioritize things. Consider the Important-Urgent category. There are many things that may fall into that category, but they are not all equally important or urgent. They differ based on our relationships with the people involved. If, or when, my wife calls to tell me that she is in labor with our twins there would be almost nothing in this world that would be more important and urgent than that, to me. It would not be to you. But if on the way to the birth, one of our children (already born) choked on something and stopped breathing that would quickly become more important because it was more urgent. If someone else that I knew including my own parents had the same thing happen it would not be as important as my child. I would trust that my other parent could do more to take care of getting the necessary medical attention than I could, but that my child would need me to get them to medical attention. Even though labor is quite important and urgent it is not as much so as breathing, in fact, when my wife’s water broke with our last child we called the midwife thinking there would be a birth in a couple of hours. The reality was that our 3rd child was born almost 20 hours later.
Sometimes there is something that is so important that it over rules something urgent. Several years ago I was awakened in the early hours of a Sunday morning to the news that something dreadful happened to a church member who was 4-5 hours away from home. Sunday worship was not cancelled because of this urgency. I did not leave to go check on this member because I had to teach, preach, and worship God. I was preparing to leave after worship when I got the call that there was no need, it was too late. When the family got back home I spent a good deal of time with them comforting them and helping make arrangements for the funeral. Now worship does not seem that urgent. People often live with the attitude, “There will be another Sunday next week and the week after. I don’t have to go this week, but this _________________ (fill in the blank with: ball game, concert, wedding, funeral, tournament, etc.) is only this Sunday.” I know a young man who makes quite a good bit of money in professional fishing. Many of the tournaments are over the weekend and because of his conviction to not compete on Sunday, but rather go to worship God, he probably loses some of these tournaments. If he continues to live by these standards I doubt that he will regret it at the end of his life, but if he sacrificed them to win one he probably would regret that.
Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (Psalms 90:12)
A schedule is something that I knew I needed for school, but we just never did. This past spring, I used a scribbled down schedule and found some benefits from it. But this fall, I began the school year with a schedule. It is not written down, but printed out in ink. It is in a protected sleeve, unchangeable. The kids know they cannot write on it and change it. Are we flexible with it? Yes, but the kids are less likely to argue and complain. The schedule is our law and we follow it.
It is amazing the difference in our school days! The kids are finishing subjects by lunch and eager to be on 'track' by lunch. Previously, they had spent hours on one subject – to much vexation to their mother and teacher. Lack of a schedule did not work for us, but having one makes all the difference! We are even able to add in an additional Bible reading together. The kids and I read from Proverbs. Most days there is time in the schedule (when they are ahead of schedule) for me to say, “Take a break and read our chapter of Proverbs for the day.” They are happy and eager to comply. And let me just say that reading the Proverbs each day has really helped attitude and behavior – both in them and in me! There's so much in there for daily living.
If you homeschool and don't use a schedule, I highly recommend that you make one up, print it out and stick to it! If you don't homeschool, schedule your time around school and you be amazed that you have time to study the Bible together – daily! Remember to be flexible – life happens. The other day something came up that was a good life lesson for the kids and only set their schedule off by ten minutes. Don't stress about it – the life lessons learned are much more important than book learning.