We have just completed a couple of trips where we spoke at a total of fourteen cities. What a blessing it was for our family. My heart is encouraged and discouraged at the same time during these trips. One of my greatest joys in all the world is encouraging dads who have a heart to follow Jesus. At the same time my heart is broken as I see dads who are cold and hard-hearted. It is obvious that the world has their heart and as a result their family is suffering.
As in other trips though, to talk to dads that want to grow in Jesus and lead their family in following Christ thrills me to no end. What a joy to speak to a dad who has a clear hunger for and commitment to following Jesus down whatever path He leads. One thing is clear, He will always lead down a path that is away from the world and towards holiness.
We have received many emails following these trips confirming fruit in homes. The Lord led me to ask this dad if I could change the names and include it in the blog. He agreed and with the names changed here is what he wrote.
Just wanted to give you an update on how our family devotions have been going. We met at your Family Conference. I had stayed after the conference to talk to you regarding my younger children not getting much out of devotion time. The names and ages of the children are girl (10), boy (6), girl (4), boy (2), and baby girl. We took the suggestions that you made to me, mixed them with some tips we picked up from the conference and from your books, bathed them in prayer and ended up with the following:
- Devotions start at 7:45pm in the living room. Everyone has an assigned seat. I hold the 2 year old and my wife has the newborn. The 10 and 6 year old sit together and the 4 year old sits next to my wife. This allows those that don’t read or don’t read well to sit next to someone who can.
- I open with a short prayer asking for blessing upon the devotion time.
- We started reading from Matthew (skipping the genealogies) and everyone reads two verses until we get to a good stopping point. If they can’t read then I will read part of the verse while the person next to them points to the words and then they repeat it.
- If the wording was hard for them to understand then I’ll explain the passage. If it is something they are familiar with or simple enough for them to understand then I’ll ask some questions and try to get them to draw application from it. Then I’ll draw some application from it.
- If we have any updates from missionary families that we keep up with then we will share them.
- New prayer requests.
- For prayer time my wife and I came up with a list of people/things that we need to pray for. We organized the list into 3 categories (Spiritual/General/Health). Prayer order is from youngest to oldest. I give the person who is about to pray two or more things from the list to pray for and then they pray. We encourage the person praying to pray for whatever they are led to but they have to at least pray for what I give them from the list. After that person finishes then I’ll give the next one their prayer items and they pray and so on until I pray last.
We will soon be finishing our first month using the new format and so far my wife and I have definitely seen improvement. Our ten year old daughter has always done pretty well with paying attention but seems to be getting more out of it now. Our six year old son had always been a struggle in the past but is now paying better attention and getting more involved. Our four year old daughter and two year old son still need some work but with more prayer, time, and consistency they will start to catch on.
Thank you again for sharing your time with us.
After one month he is seeing encouraging growth in his children. Can you imagine what he will see in one, two, five or ten years? May we all be busy about following Jesus. If we love Him we will feed the sheep. It’s dads like these that make it all worth while.
In Christ Jesus,
Here in Kansas, despite the cold temperatures that usually accompany Christmastime, it isn’t uncommon to see a young boy outside riding a brand new bicycle on Christmas Day – and I always enjoy seeing the smile on his face at he tries out his new bicycle.
This week, although it would seem odd, we were able to see smiles on the faces of adult men who received the gift of a bicycle. It wasn’t at Christmas time, and, although we are in Kansas, the men weren’t.
Earlier this year, we received a Gospelink newsletter (Gospelink is an organization in the States which allows families to sponsor native missionary pastors in a foreign country; many of whom can be fully supported for $110 a month; you can often choose the pastor you would like to support; and you may write letters back and forth to your pastor – more information below). Many of the native missionary pastors that are sponsored through Gospelink have no form of transportation, and will often walk many miles to minister and share the gospel in villages near (or far) from their homes. In fact, at one point, when we asked a pastor that we support what his means of transportation was to the villages that he ministers to, he wrote back that his means of transportation was his feet.
The Gospelink newsletter mentioned that they had received a “matching donation offer” of several thousand dollars towards bicycles for pastors that had no transportation: for every dollar given towards bicycles during a set period of time, this other donor would match with another dollar (up to several thousand dollars of matching funds). Each bicycle cost $75 (US funds). As it was an incredible opportunity to help poor pastors advance the gospel, and at the same time was a great way to increase one’s financial gift, some in the family were excited to contribute towards the project.
Just this past week we received a thank you letter from the Gospelink National Director in the particular African country where the bicycles were purchased and then distributed. Accompanying the hand-written (and then photocopied) letter were photos of the pastors receiving and trying out their new bicycles. The joy that was on the faces of these pastors was a thrill to our hearts – and we hope it encourages you as well.
If you, your family, your church, or possibly your home church, is interested in fully or partially sponsoring a native missionary pastor, please visit or contact Gospelink.org.
Melanie and I have been blessed over and over again as we’ve read your comments in response to our “Joy” post below. We were overwhelmed with the reminder of how many “unmet friends” we have who have faithfully prayed for us and will continue to. Thank you so much!
Nathan and Melanie
As many of you know, Melanie and I have desired to know God’s will for us in the area of children. We thought that children would come quickly after we got married. However, for us and, we’ve learned, many other couples this was not the case.
God has spent the past 4 1/2 years teaching us to trust and lean on Him. We have had to give this area of our lives over to Him, and seek not to take it back. At times this “teaching” has been easier than other times. I have prayed that God would size our family however He can best use us for His glory, whether that means with or without children. And yet, our heart’s desire this entire time was that He would open Melanie’s womb.
We have been blessed by countless numbers of prayer warriors. Our families have faithfully prayed, our friends have commited themselves to prayer, even acquaintances and those we haven’t met have lifted up our desire for children. For example, multiple of my younger brothers and sisters have prayed nightly for “Nathan and Melanie to have a baby.”
And now, in direct answer to these prayers, our hearts are over-joyed as we announce that God has gifted us with a pregnancy. Melanie is now carrying our first child. We anticipate Baby Maxwell’s arrival mid-May of ’07. Truly God is gracious. We continue to covet your prayers for this child’s protection and sustaining these next months.
Today was a catch up day for the Maxwells. Many things needed to be done after being away for a month! The big job on the agenda was cleaning out the shed that was built last year. We needed to completely re-organize it so we could optimize our space for all the books and other items that need to be stored out there. Team work is an amazing thing.
Our garden produced bountifully while we were away. Here’s our crop of jalapenos! We do enjoy spicy food :-). Mom said there are more flowers on the plants, although with the cooler weather coming, I don’t know how much longer they’ll produce.
BTW – we have just a few more openings for the marriage retreat, November 10-11th. If you’re interested, please see this link.
Only for Jesus,
I believe one reason children lose interest in their parent’s faith is that they see a life that is simply religious. There is no deep love and excitement for Jesus, but simply going through the outward motions and with the flow of those around them. Difficulties, persecutions and trials of life that come into our lives provide excellent opportunities for our children to see Who Jesus is in our life.
Certainly, they are not what we prefer, but they bring with them the blessed grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our children have had those blessings and the most recent was this weekend. As we were packing up after our Charleston conference, Sarah was sitting on the floor amidst some boxes. She said she was feeling terrible and really didn’t know if she could do much more. With others pitching in to finish what Sarah normally does, we were soon packed up and heading for the hotel.
Such was the beginning of some of our family’s most memorable days because by Sunday morning six of us were terribly ill and since then only one has "escaped". Still very sick, that afternoon the Lord enabled us to begin the 900 mile drive to Shreveport, LA for a conference on Monday and Tuesday. Then on Wednesday with some better and some worse we drove 600 miles home.
It is easy to praise the Lord Jesus when all is well, but the real growth opportunity is to rely on Jesus and be at peace when things are terribly bad. The children saw that if Jesus doesn’t remove the problem, then He will enable us to go through it.
It made no sense for us to begin homeschooling when Teri was in the midst of depression. She shares that she was hopeful that if she was obedient in homeschooling God would remove the depression. However, we found that God is faithful and He gives grace to do what He calls us to do. We want the difficulties removed, but most often, His way is to enable us through them.
After thirty days on the road and thirteen cities, we are home in our own beds again. We met many special and courageous brothers and sisters in Christ and were shown much love and kindness. I think we would all agree it was our most memorable trip, in more ways than one, and we praise our Lord Jesus Christ for His love, mercy, and sustaining grace.
In Christ Jesus,