When was the last time you thought about how your family can grow in Christ and make a difference for the kingdom? Don't wait any longer. Now is the perfect time to step back and evaluate what your life looks like and to implement changes that can help you and your family grow stronger together. I would like to challenge you to start out by making eight changes that would help you to become a family of purpose. These ideas won't cure every problem that you have, but if you take them seriously and commit to do them, they will help you refocus. And as a result, positive change will take place in your home.
Pray with your spouse every day. This is the single most important investment you could make in your marriage. Why? Prayer is one of the most intimate forms of communication God gives us. It knits your heart together with your mate's. For Barbara and me, practically speaking, no other spiritual discipline has done a better job of placing Him at the center of our lives and marriage. Prayer says, "You alone are Lord of my life. There is none other."
Never say the word, "divorce." Our society has convinced the majority of the people that divorce is the cure for marital problems. It's not! It only creates more problems. There are only two things that will mend your marriage: hearts that are grounded in Christ and hard work. Make a commitment to your spouse never to say the "d-word" again. And together decide that divorce is not an option, no matter how tough times get.
Study your spouse. You may think you know your spouse, but have you really gotten to know him inside-out since you first got married? People change and so do their needs. In the next weeks and months, determine your mate's top three needs. Does she have an emotional need, a need for conversation, or for romance? Write down at least three things that you know will show your love to your soul mate—then make them all happen as soon as possible.
Have a daily quiet time each day. God gave us His Word to help us survive in a hostile world. As Psalm 119:105 says, "Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." His Word is truth. If we are to experience change in our families, we must admit we are lost and need to find our way to the truth of God's Word. I often hear Christians complain that the Bible can't be read in public schools. But do we faithfully read it in our own homes? The Bible cannot light a dark pathway if it's lying on an end table in the family room covered with dust.
Fast from television for one month. I want to challenge you to take one small step toward slowing down your life by taking one month and "fasting" from TV. I know this won't be easy—especially as central as television is in our culture, but fasting from TV will limit isolation in your family and give you time to do all those little things you have been putting off. It will cause you to take a close look at the amount of time your family sits in front of the TV and to think through better ways to use that time.
Get to know your neighbors. I believe the needs of the family today will not be met by relying only on professionals and counselors, government officials, ministers, or parachurch organizations. The need is for Christians who have growing marriages to begin to reach out and influence other families. Many couples have started Bible study groups like the HomeBuilders Couples Series® right in their own neighborhoods and invited people they would otherwise only occasionally see. People who have no religious affiliation or background feel comfortable in these groups because they are formed around the felt need of marriages. But none of this can happen if you don't get to know your neighbors first.
Hug and kiss your kids. As a child grows up and develops physically into a young woman or man, a concern may grow in you about how much physical affection should be given to your child of the opposite sex. The tendency is to think he is grown and doesn't need the affection. Don't stop lavishing your child with physical affection; he needs those hugs and kisses more than ever! A mom hugging her son and a dad hugging his daughter will send the message to both—you are a young man or a young woman who is worthy of attention and affection from someone of the opposite sex. How many times have you heard about young women who say that they sought affection from boys because they never received it from their fathers? Don't make that mistake with your child.
Date your kids. Pursue a relationship with each of your children. Rules without relationships can make children angry. That's why the Apostle Paul admonishes fathers in Ephesians 6:4, "And, fathers do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." If our children are to receive our "discipline and instruction," we need to build and maintain a relationship with them. One way to do this is to take each of your children on a date. By doing this, you not only give undivided attention to that child, you show him that he is important to you and that you are willing to sacrifice your time to be with him.
Becoming a family of purpose is not easy. It begins with individual sacrifice. It's time to return to God's Word, experience Him on a daily basis, and change the way you are living. If you can implement these ideas in your home and in your personal life, you will see a change in your family that would spill over into the lives of your children and someday, into the lives of their children. I pray that the Lord gives you strength to fulfill the task that He has set before you.
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