This New Year’s Eve, I suspect many will be truly celebrating the end of 2020 like they’ve never celebrated before. Good riddance, you might say.
But I think we all know that the flipping of the calendar will not magically wipe away all that was wrong about this year. January 1st will not automatically bring the end of covid or government tyranny, and it will not bring back those lost to us. It will not make the world a better place, or grant us three wishes.
The promises of 2021 are the promises that have always been ours if we love and trust in God. They are numerous, and they are truly ours.
Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 reminds us, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
And my personal favorite, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I think this last one is going to be very important for 2021.
Friends, don’t wait for things to get easier or better, because they might and they might not. Instead, pray that God will make you stronger, wiser, and more faithful. You and your family will reap the benefits, and you just might change the world.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid or dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Mothers, there is no time like the present to intentionally instruct our children in God’s promises, God’s commands, and a biblical worldview.
You can probably compare the culture from your childhood days to the one in which your children are living and see the stark differences. As a child, you may have asked your parents where babies come from, but your children will be asking how a man can be a woman. As a child, you may have been vaguely aware of the differences between Creation and evolution, but today your children will encounter even Christians who are hostile to Genesis.
Determine today, if you are not already, to teach your children the scriptures. Read the Bible with your children. Read the Bible to your children. Get them their own Bibles, and teach your children how to use them.
God commands it, and with this command comes a promise:
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.
Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to teach the Bible to your children. I’ve been asked this numerous times, and I’ve written a simple blog post to get you started. If, as a parent, you are also new to Bible reading, learn alongside your children. There is no time like the present. Start here.
There is much wisdom, peace, comfort, and direction in the Bible. Turn to it first. Teach your children to do the same.
“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17)
If next year is anything like this year, the Word of God will be your most valuable possession.
Be Politically Wise
I firmly believe the popular saying that “you may not be interested in politics, but politics is definitely interested in you.” I think 2020 showed us just how much our votes affect our everyday lives. There are two sides to this coin, and I’m going to address both:
1. You must pay attention to elections at every level. It’s a freedom and a privilege that Americans cannot take for granted. Know who is in your federal government and all the way down to your city council. Get to know their voting records, past and present.
As long as we have the right to elect our representatives (and that’s all they are), we have a say. You don’t have to devote your whole life to politics to stay informed and make a difference. Consider how much time you spend researching your next car or refrigerator purchase, or choosing your next binge-watch. See? This is infinitely more important to the generations to come.
Be an informed voter, but don’t be a blind worshipper. Which leads me to the other side of this coin:
2. Don’t put all your hopes in the White House, or your party of choice, or politics in general.
Reflect with me, for a moment, on the past 12 years. When Obama won the White House in 2008, conservatives immediately rose up to form the Tea Party. They took their freedom (and freedom of speech) into their own hands, and did not sit back and wait for the next election to make a difference.
Fast forward to Trump 2016, when too many conservatives sat back with a sigh of relief and said, “Ahhh, we now have a Republican in the White House. All is well.” And while they wait nervously for Inauguration Day to see exactly what will transpire, all their hopes and prayers are in Donald Trump.
But look at 2020. It’s been a terrible year for liberty and for conservatism. How is this possible with the big Red “R” in the White House? May I direct you back to point #1: elections matter at every level. The President is not (and should never be) all powerful or all benevolent.
I’m not going to argue Trump vs. Biden or Republican vs. Democrat with you. My point is this: your freedom is in your hands. Our founders handed us this precious gift over 200 years ago, as Benjamin Franklin said. When asked what the outcome of the Constitutional Convention was, he answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Keep it, dear friends. Please don’t let the great cost paid by our founders go to ruin. Keep it, and train your children to do the same.
“A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?” (George Washington)
If you dread the thought of being politically informed, start with my blog post on teaching Government and Civics in your homeschool.
Books, Books, Books
I implore you to put more stock in books than any other material good. Read them. Buy them. Collect them. Store them. Learn from them.
Read them: If you’re not a reader, change that. Start simple. Plan to tackle one book every month this year. Choose something that will make you a better person, a better American, a better Christian. If you think you don’t have time, examine your daily routine and see what can be traded for 30 minutes with a book. Read my blog post: How to be a Reader.
Buy them: Make room in your budget for a new book or two every month. Buy them new or buy them used; it doesn’t matter. I buy most of my books used so I get more for my money. Choose quality classics, histories, memoirs, and theology. (Read more here.)
Collect them: Finding great and wonderful and rare books is a hobby like no other. Search out titles that are out of print and preserve them. Collect all the works of great authors, or all the great titles on your favorite topic. Move those dusty vases and decorative knick-knacks off your bookcase shelves and put beautiful books there instead. (Read more at my Knowledge Keepers site.)
Store them: I cannot stress this one enough. Store great books for posterity. Get the great works of Western Civilization in hard copies and preserved them for your family. The internet is a fickle beast, and cannot be depended upon for accuracy. Get original writings from history, the church, science, and literature. Create a home library to share with your children and grandchildren. (See my lists here.)
Learn from them: Choose your books wisely and make them your instructors. Learn all you can about history, about God, about the world we live in. Don’t just look at the pretty books. Take them off your shelf and devour them. And teach your children how to learn from them, too.
Our world is changing. So much information is now online. And people go to the internet first for everything they want to know, without even thinking about the fact that the internet is changeable. It’s updated and biased and revised. I know so many people who have stopped buying print books because of eBooks and search engines. Technology is not dependable. Books are. Invest in books and take the time to read them.
Raise Your Own Children
You’ve likely heard this from me ad nauseum, but I cannot stop. We don’t have children simply to feed and clothe them and make sure they grow into nice adults with good jobs and a nice home. Our children are gifts from God who commands us to train them, disciple them, and to change the world.
When a child spends over 15,000 hours of their childhood outside the home, those outside the home are their primary influence. Have you considered who and what is the primary influence on your children? Is it their teachers, coaches, peers, or the internet?
Don’t just spend the weekends with your children. Don’t just feed and clothe them and get them into a good college.
When you have your children in the home all day every day, you have taken the first steps to discipleship. But it goes further. Relationship is key. Be together. Talk and work and worship together. Have fun together. Be that influence that God created you to be.
Let their first socialization be in the home. Let their education be centered in the home. Let their worldview be taught in the home. Let the home be the center of their world. Let it be the training ground for their future. That time is so short, and should be guarded jealously.
Take them back from the government school. The best teacher, the nicest friends, and the highest-rated school district cannot love and disciple your children as God intended you to do. If you don’t know where to start, I can help: Read my book Anyone Can Homeschool. Comment. Message me. It’s a big step, but it’s not impossible. I’ll be here if you have questions.