When God wrote the first book on the family over 3,500 years ago, through Moses, He wrote to 600,000 families fresh out of Egypt's idolatry to guide and nurture them in the Word of the Lord; the need was great.
Think of what type of plan God would devise to train an entire nation and start an entire generation of people towards being holy because God is holy. Sounds impossible, but God laid down the plan and it is captured in Deuteronomy 6.
Amazingly, the plan was simple: it can be called "The God-Centered Family"!
As we open to Deuteronomy 6, we ask, "What specifically did the Lord ask Moses to convey to His people?"
In just four verses, God gave the key to training the families of Israel to keep following their God.
Here is God's plan to disciple an entire nation, one family at a time:
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Emphasis added, NKJV).
Wow, could God say in any more ways than He did, that He was to be CENTRAL to all of the life of His people!
God Is To Be Central To Life
What was the single more important detail of God's words to Moses? It was His call to have God-Centeredmarriages, families and homes! This call is restated by Paul in the New Testament and I believe it represents the marching orders from the God of heaven to us, His creatures.
Obedience to His call for a God-at-the-center life is the only key that will unlock the door to a peaceful marriage, a happy family and a joy-filled home. Yet, strange as it may seem, this very concept is foreign to most of God's people in this generation.
What happens when God's most important of all Voice in His Word is ignored, neglected and otherwise unheeded? A trip to a shopping mall, a local family department store or sports event will alert you.
We have around us a generation of frustrated and frazzled parents who don't know how to handle their children. Growing up among us is the next generation-one that is usually distracted, often spoiled and somewhat undisciplined. The sights and sounds of disrespect, selfishness and boiling egos are everywhere.
Sadly, the odor of selfish living is common in the one place where this type of behavior should be pleasantly absent-Christ's church. So, again on this day that we honor fathers and husbands, we do so by turning back to God and His Word. Moses declared God's desire to call the family, the home, and most of all, God's saints back to the God-Centered life!
God-Centered Living Is Hard
Why is a God-centered home, marriage and parenting so hard? Because we fail in so many ways! But why do we fail? Because until heaven, we are all imperfect.
I am an imperfect husband. I married an imperfect wife. We have an imperfect marriage that has produced imperfect children, whom we have raised imperfectly.
However, we have a Perfect Father in heaven, who has given His flawless Word as a guide to light the pathway for us to follow His plan. That plan is to have a God-Centered way of life. And that is what we have found in God's Word.
What is a God-Centered family? Turn with me to the other end of your Bible, to Colossians 3. Here Paul enlarges upon the call God gave to permeate the lives of His people in Deuteronomy.
The way God wants to be central in our lives is by having His Word captivate our thoughts and desires.
God-Centered living is when we do as Paul explains: when we start pursuing a Word-filled life! The Apostle Paul well summarized this powerful truth and crucial need when he wrote: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..." (Colossians 3:16a). This verse has four distinct elements:
- "Let" means "allow, invite, welcome, give yourself over to."
- "The Word of Christ" can be a word, a verse, a chapter, or a Book.
- "Dwell" so beautifully means "to overflow like a bathtub; to spill forth like a fountain; to drench and soak like a heavy rain; to permeate like water into a soft absorbent cloth."
- "In you richly" means in your mind, in your thoughts, in your life, in your plans, in your world-your marriage, your family, your home and your job.
When we "allow, invite, welcome and give ourselves over to" a verse, a chapter or a Book, a portion of the very Word of Christ spills forth into our lives, drenching us, absorbing into our souls and changing every aspect of our lives, our marriage, home, life and all!
That is the God-Centered, Word-Filled life! (It is also the Spirit-filled life, as Ephesians 5:18 affirms.) And that way of living is the foundation of this book.
The Results of God Centered Living
When we seek to obey this call to a God-Centered life it means that we are:
- Inviting God to speak to our daily lives
- Seeking His guidance in all we do
- Seeking His divine help, godly wisdom and supernatural involvement to overcome our weaknesses and failures
- We do all of this only by cooperating with the Holy Spirit
When God, through His Spirit, becomes central to our lives, we suddenly find that we are plugging into the power for life.
When God, through His Word, becomes central to our lives, we suddenly find that we are using the map God has provided and can follow the directions He left for us.
Devotions become a time of listening to the instructions He has left us for daily living. A God-Centered life is inviting God to speak, welcoming His help, seeking His input, wanting His advice, getting His help, showing we honor Him, partnering with God in parenting and unleashing Him into every corner of our lives.
This reminds us that our marriages and families will grow either our way (without His Word) or God's way (with His Spirit-empowered Scriptures).
Dads, we must start each day by seeking to be emptied of self, with His Word read, our God sought, and His Spirit invited, to work in us so that Christ is honored.
Applying God-Centered Living to Dads
Each time another Father's Day rolls around, I am struck by how quickly the days go by, and how powerful any time we invest in our families can be.
Have you chosen to bless those you love by leading a God-Centered Life?
On my very first Father's Day as a dad, I was serving on staff as a new pastor in California. That day someone passed out to all of us a Father's Day tract. I read it, thought about it and finally taped it into the front cover of my Bible until it wore out.
Now I have it typed and pasted there. Why? Because it is never too late to start doing what is right!
And often listening to someone explaining what they would do differently if they could helps us to start the same pathway ourselves. I listen carefully and try to learn from those ahead of me in their earthly pilgrimages. Do you know what? The changes they often share are so easy to implement even today. No matter where you are in the parenting process.
A Picture of A God-Centered Dad
So here it is: a picture of a dad and husband who listens to God and allows God to become central in all his plans and choices. Listen to these challenging words:
"My family's all grown, and the kids are all gone. But, if I had to do it all over again, this is what I'd do:
- I would love my wife more in front of my children (Pr. 5:19). Because God says in Proverbs 5:19that husbands should always be ravished by their love for their wife.
- I would laugh with my children more - at our mistakes and our joys (Pr. 17:22). Because God says a merry heart is like the best of medicine in Proverbs 17:22.
- I would listen more, even to the littlest child (James 1:19). Because God says wise men are very swift to hear and very slow to speak in James 1:19.
- I would be more honest about my own weaknesses, never pretending perfection (I John 1:7).Because God says we are to learn to always be transparent and walk in the light in I John 1:7
- I would pray differently for my family - instead of focusing on them, I'd focus on me (Acts 20:28). Because God says that as His designated leaders in the church and home we are to take heed to ourselves and to our calling in Acts 20:28.
- I would do more things together with my children (Deut. 6:6-8). Because God says He designed for dads to be a part of the whole day in their family's life from rising up, to eating, to going through the day, to bed time in His instructions in Deuteronomy 6:6-8.
- I would encourage them more and bestow more praise (Eph. 4:32; I Pet. 3:7-8). As Paul says we are to be kind and tenderhearted in Ephesians 4:32 and as we saw Peter added, we are called to bless those we love in I Peter 3:7-8.
- I would pay more attention to little things, like deeds and words of thoughtfulness (Luke 16:10). Because Jesus reminds us that if we are faithful in little things, we'll also be faithful in the big things in Luke 16:10.
- And then, finally, if I had to do it all over again, I would share God more intimately (I Cor. 11:1). Paul said that spiritual leaders are to ask others to follow them as they follow Christ in I Corinthians 11:1
Because God says whether therefore you eat or drink, or whatever you do: do all for My Glory! (I Cor. 10:31)
Renewing Our Desire for the God-Centered Life
Why not pause right here and make a choice to spend some extra time today and in the days ahead with your family?
Now comes the challenge. How do we implement this God-Centered life? The Lord explains how to do so by describing both the method and the results of His plan.
First, look at the larger picture in Deuteronomy 6. These verses describe the call to God-Centered living on a national level for God's Chosen People of Destiny the Jews. This pattern is exactly what we see Paul outlining all the way through the Epistles of the New Testament. God lays out three goals for God-Centered Families:
God-centered families flow from godly parents. The Key Is To Experience Personal ConsecrationDeuteronomy 6:4-6 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one![a]5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
God-centered families have Biblical instruction on a regular basis at home: The Key Is To Emphasize Biblical Communication Deuteronomy 6:7-9 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
God-centered families have the goal of raising pure children: The Key Is To Eliminate Worldly Contamination Deuteronomy 6:10-25 "So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant-when you have eaten and are full- 12 then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 13You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you 15 (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth. 16 "You shall not tempt the LORD your God as you tempted Him in Massah. 17 You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you. 18 And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the LORD swore to your fathers, 19 to cast out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has spoken. 20 "When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the LORD our God has commanded you?' 21 then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; 22 and the LORD showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. 23 Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. 24 And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. 25 Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.'
God-Centered Families Emphasize: Biblical Communication
Deuteronomy 6:7-9 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.8 "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.9 "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
First, notice that the practice is an imperative. YOU SHALL TEACH THEM.
Second, notice that the process is simple. TALK. Not preach, scold, cajole, pound it into them, dump on them...no, make it be so natural a part of your daily life you just talk about it! Let it be natural and unforced, let it flow into every part of life. The key is, if you can see God in every part of life, so will they.
If God stays at church or when you prepare a lecture, they will compartmentalize Him right out of their social life, private life, sports life, dressing life, recreation life and every other part of their lives. As one great old saint said, ‘There's no difference between the sacred in the secular'.
That's what Moses says: Let God flow into all of life. How? Moses gives us:
Five Powerful Pointers to Godly Dads:
LET GOD OUT WHEN YOU SIT IN YOUR HOUSE. (v. 7a) And that suggests we are at home and so are they. Just open your life at mealtimes. Share how you have seen His hand in your life, His face in your devotions, His voice in your heart as you worship. Tell them how your Heavenly Father is so patient with your weaknesses, so loving with your failures, so gentle with your correction. Then live that out for them.
LET GOD OUT WHEN YOU WALK IN THE WAY (v. 7b) Do you walk with them? Take a talk walk and listen until you hear them through their words, and then talk to that person you see in the words. Turn off the radio in the car and let them talk. Seize those moments.
LET GOD OUT WHEN YOU LIE DOWN (v. 7c) One of the most crucial times of ministry for us as dads is at bedtime. Do you treasure those closing moments of the day? So many little thoughts, little fears, little hurts can all be worked on. A wise dad takes life and parenting one day at a time! We train them, lead and guide them and let God move their hearts by prayer.
LET GOD OUT WHEN YOU RISE UP ( v. 7d) Every morning we have the opportunity to start the course of not only our day but our family. Do we take this precious opportunity? Do we reorient them toward the loving presence of Jesus by our kindness, gentleness or goodness? Or is it lateness, shortness and gruffness that they see? Rise up oh men of God...
LET GOD OUT WHEN THEY ARE AWAY FROM HOME (v.8) Make it Portable! Deuteronomy 6:8 Tie them as symbols on your hands [this speaks of what we do for a living] and bind them on your foreheads [this stands for our minds, thoughts and values. god must be a part of all we do and think]. (NIV)
Deuteronomy 6:9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. (NIV) Chuck Swindoll says, "Here again the meaning of Moses' words goes beyond the literal. The door posts and gates signify all our domestic and community activities. Every action of our lives, those lived inside the home as well as out, is to have His Word etched on it."
When God wrote the first book on the family over 3,500 years ago, through Moses, He wrote to 600,000 families fresh out of Egypt's idolatry to guide and nurture in the Word of the Lord: the need was great.
Amazingly, the plan was simple: it can be called "The God-Centered Family"! That is our challenge on this Father's Day!
Some Practical Ways We Dads Can Start To Disciple Our Children
- Read the Bible to them
- Begin Monthly breakfast dates with our children asking them these questions [what do you like about the way God made you, our family and God? What do you want to be when you grow up?]
- Start a Spiritual Life Journal on them [saved, prayed, wanted to be a missionary, reading achieved in the Word, and so on.]
- Pray every night with them [sing and sit together].
- Tell them stories from when you were a child and use them to teach moral, spiritual and practical lessons on your failures and successes.
- Tell them Bible stories and APPLY them to their lives.
- Learn the verses they are learning.
- Start them a read through the Bible chart and help them.
- Take them on your ministry trips to rest home, hospital, visitation, evangelism and so on.
 From the Focus on the Family "Father's Day" tract.
 You and Your Child, IFL Study Guide, p. 59.