All posts by Steve Maxwell

More on Shared Secret: Answering a Comment

Recently, the blog post Shared Secret, generated interest and more questions. Here’s a question we thought would make a great topic for a new post. Following it is my answer.

I concur with the idea that entertainment detracts from more useful application of one’s energy, especially since time can so easily slip away when you’re distracted. My question for you is whether there comes a point in time when one is too focused on serious pursuits, i.e. being a “work-a-holic”? How do you balance focused learning or on-task time with relaxing fellowship time? Erica

Hi Erica,

First, I’m not sure it follows that the opposite of loving entertainment is being a work-a-holic. It seems like there might be a subtle inference of that in your question. That aside, maybe there are some who become too focused on serious pursuits. However, our personal experience and observations of others is that the natural pull/tendency is toward wasting time, particularly through various forms of entertainment, versus too many serious pursuits.

For believers, Scripture sets an example of working six days and resting one. Thankfully, most don’t have to work six days to live, but Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 10:23 is important: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” Given available time, how can it be used to edify (build up) ourselves or others?

To spend time beneficially has become a guiding principle for our family. Serving, loving, and learning are foundational verbs in making time edifying. The following verse keeps everything in balance because it is easy for something to get out-of-balance, whether it be learning, resting, and even working. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).

That verse means that our time is to be completely surrendered to our Lord Jesus. He may for a season shift time so that it is heavy in one area, maybe serving, or another time in loving someone in need. But if our time is under His direction, then we can have confidence the result will be good. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

In Christ,
Steve

I’m so glad to have kids who are hard workers and jump right into a project.

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are
without, redeeming the time.”
Colossians 4:5

Shared Secret

Many ask how I taught my children to do so many things. Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family is the long version of this.

Teach your children that they can do all things through Christ which strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). If God calls us to do something, He will enable us. If we don’t know how to do it, we have to first learn how (the easy part), and then we do it. Parents set the example by being sponges to learn (and enjoy work).

Learn:

  • of the Lord Jesus, first and foremost
  • technical/vocational skills (make your time worth something)
  • relationship skills
  • communication skills, one-on-one and speaking to groups.

(Side note: if you aren’t a self learner, learning will cost you.)

Now comes both bad news and inversely the key. The enemy of learning is entertainment. If you and/or your children love entertainment, sorry. Ignore all of the above. Your children might as well be wearing a 100-pound backpack through life. Few want to learn and work when they can play.

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4).

This is what I shared with my weekly Seriously Dads e-mail list. I encourage any Christian guy reading this to sign up if you haven’t. You can sign up through the button at the top of the sidebar or at this link.

Steve

Pouring concrete together for our house
Oh, the bus days. John learned so much about fixing things through research and trial and error.
Laying a beautiful wood floor at Joseph’s house. Joseph had never laid a floor like this before, yet he jumped in and learned.
Jesse also jumped into his house remodel! It was really awesome to see him figure things out as he went.
Nathan working with his girls at Jesse’s house.
My girls are amazing learners too.
Anna and Mary jumped right into demolition at John’s house.
Christopher loves working with Joshua, and this summer, they did lawn projects.

Morning Exercise Together

This summer Teri and I modified our morning schedule to beef up our exercise, and we are greatly enjoying it. We go to bed at 9:00 p.m. so we can get up at 5:00 to beat the heat. Yes, it gets pretty warm in Kansas. We walk 7 miles, and during that time, we spend about 1/2 hour talking, 1 hour praying out loud, and 1/2 hour listening to an audiobook. Some days we come home and do a short kettlebell workout too. After that is personal Bible and prayer time.

Having the same walking route at the same time each day, we are developing some friendships with other walkers we meet regularly.

I love exercising with my best friend and also having that time multiplied for fellowship, prayer, and edification.

We invested in Airpods so that we could listen to the same book together. Some affectionately call them “sharepods.” Right now we are focusing on biographies of great Christians.

It is such a sweet and beneficial time.

Steve

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge,
giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as
being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not
hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

Happy Birthday Sarah

Happy Birthday, Sarah. We love you.

Sarah, you bless so many by your ongoing, day-to-day investment in them. Your perseverance and determination are so appreciated. Even though it costs what you want to do, you are always investing in solving issues others are happy not to deal with.

Thank you for writing for children. They (and their moms) tell us how much they love your books and want more.

We love you and appreciate you.

Little known facts about Sarah:

  • Sarah hardly ever skips a workout.
  • Sarah loves coffee and chocolate. (That’s probably well known not little known:).)
  • Sarah began a tradition of getting the birthday person’s favorite mini-candy bars and putting them in the shape of the birthday person’s age on the living room floor on their birthday.
  • In order to help develop her writing skills, Sarah often reads out loud to Anna and Mary before they go to sleep.

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10)

Content in Christ: One Recipe for a Debt-Free Home, Part 2

We’re very excited to give you the final part to Amos’ house story. His testimony shows how it is possible for a young man to start off debt-free. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here

I got a used water heater from a neighbor, which is still serving us 10 years later without trouble. I bought windows and a used door from another person. My grandpa procured some interior doors that the company he worked for was getting rid of. Some friends of my wife’s family gave us their used (but working!) washer and dryer. I also got a used fridge and stove. Instead of cabinets, I made shelves from some plywood crates I tore apart but eventually I replaced these with normal cabinets.

Most of the building was done by my family and myself but a lot of others helped. I traded a calf to a carpenter from our church for a couple days of help, and he loaned me a book on general contracting, which was very helpful. We didn’t have high speed internet then, and I don’t recall googling how to do anything. We did all the plumbing ourselves and the wiring too.

The week before I headed to my wedding, some friends from a few hours away drove up and helped finish mudding and painting the drywall on the main floor. The second story had no inside walls framed yet and no insulation in the roof so we lived on the first floor for a while. When I was gone on my honeymoon, my family laid some flooring and finished getting things livable. The house was only covered with house wrap, but a couple years later I put on siding.

I believe that if a person is committed to remaining free of debt and is trusting God to provide, He will do so. One may need to start small and patiently move forward, but life is not about the things we possess. If we are willing to learn, work, and be creative, I think that much more can be accomplished, in saving money and buying, or in building a place, then what might first appear. I’ve also found that often people in one’s church and family are willing to share knowledge and help in various ways, especially when they see a young man with a worthy cause.

Here are a few more testimonies from people I personally know.
  • My brother Isaac saved his money and bought some land with a small old trailer house and barn.
  • I have a friend, who has steadily held his job with a low income yet bought a fixer upper without debt when he was getting married.
  • Another friend works at Culver’s and pastors a small church. He has never had a job for more than a few years and never a high paying job, but he has had multiple homes with no debt.
  • A friend, Bob, with ten children, moved here and bought an old cattle barn which he converted into a home so he could have a house with no debt.

Amos and his wife

Amos and his family at present. (If that happy crew doesn’t make you smile, we don’t know what will. It sure put a smile on our faces at the Maxwell home.)

In closing I’d like to share a couple specific ideas that have become part of my thinking, and I think probably come from your materials. One is avoiding expensive hobbies like flying planes. Another is viewing computers as tools and not as toys. Thank you for teaching truth.

Amos

“That the generation to come might know them, even the children
which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their
children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the
works of God, but keep his commandments.”
Psalm 78:6-7

Content in Christ – Debt Free House – Part 3

Mark, the young man who bought his house debt free and his two brothers read Buying a House Debt-Free. They report that the book was an encouragement to them, and they discussed, as a family, the biblical principal of living debt-free and being content in Christ. 

We Maxwells have a vision for families and the children in them learning to be content in Christ and live debt-free lives. With that seed planted in the heart, what seems impossible—a young man purchasing his first house debt free—can become a reality. It is true for our three married sons and our two unmarried sons have the finances to buy their homes debt free. In Buying a House Debt-Free, we share multiple stories of young men who have purchased their homes debt free and give practical steps toward that goal.

The story of Mark is yet another one that we hope and pray will not only inspire you but also motivate you—to own debt-free convictions, to live them out, to teach them to your children, and to read Buying a House Debt-Free if you haven’t already.

You may start small. That’s okay. Simply take the first step.

The exciting “end” of Mark’s story (see Part 1 and Part 2)? He just got engaged!

Mark and his fiancee

“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower
is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).