Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Category: Family (page 2 of 5)

An Honest Look Into Our Family Devotions

An example of what our family devotions do NOT look like.

Okay, men. Let’s talk family devotions. Feel guilty yet?

There are few ways to make Christian men feel guilty more easily or quickly than to talk about family devotions. We all know we should be doing it. We see the importance of being the spiritual leaders in our home. We all know that as fathers we bear the primary responsibility for bringing our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. And we know that family devotions is the most practical way most of us can regularly and deliberately do this.

We know that. But most of us fail. And those of you who don’t fail, just know that you’re despised by the rest of us, okay?

One of the reasons why we fail, I think, is because we experience the typical male disease of thinking we have to have everything planned out and that we have to carry out all the details of our plans to perfection. I know sometimes my desire to have all my “i’s” dotted and “t’s” crossed has paralyzed me from taking any action — which is pretty much the worst case scenario. What I’ve found over the past little while to be most helpful and most effective is this: Just do something! Profound, right? Do something and don’t worry if it’s not perfect.

Here’s an honest look at our family devotions from tonight (and yes, this is a verbatim transcription):

Me: (Reading Proverbs 10) A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.

Susie (my 4 year old): Daddy, I know something!

Me: (Excited! She is interacting with the Word!) What is it, Sue?

Susie: Carrots are vegetables!

Me: *Audible sigh…* (Thinking: Man, you’re good at this Bible teaching thing… are you a professional?)

So, as you can see, we are a wonderful example of not doing things perfectly. I don’t always have anything good to say. Our kids don’t always listen. Sometimes I wonder if they’re even getting anything out of it.

But here’s the thing. Whether or not they get anything out of that particular night, I hope that they are blessed by the cumulative effect. I hope that win, lose, or die trying, my kids will see that their parents love them enough to open up the word to them consistently, deliberately, intentionally, and lovingly. I hope that they see that because we treasure them so much we must take them to the truth we treasure most — and we must do it consistently. I hope that as they age the composite image of their parents that they are left with is Christians who love them and who love the word of God. I hope that they see our life is found in this book, which tells us of him who is True Life.

So, men, how about some family devotions? You don’t have to do them perfectly or even perfectly consistently. But are you at least doing something?

An Open Letter to My Bride on our 7th Anniversary

Today is our seventh wedding anniversary. To celebrate God’s goodness to me in giving me my wife, I wrote the following letter to read to her in church (since it happens to be on a Sunday). There are a few inside jokes here (she hates when I try to be funny, and she doesn’t like my attempts at poetry), but I did write it for public consumption, so I thought I’d post it here. I’m so thankful to God for her. His wisdom and grace and kindness to me are manifest here, in my wife, more than anywhere else (apart from Christ, obviously). So here is the letter I wrote to her for our 7th anniversary.


My Bride, my wife, my lover, my friend,

Don’t worry, I will try to keep this short. I will endeavour with everything in me to not embarrass you.

I will not try my poetry, I will not sing or dance,
I won’t try to be funny, that wouldn’t be romance,
for I know that a show is not what you would like,
and my trying to rhyme would probably seem trite.
And I would not make little of your love for me
because you’ve impressed me these four years and three…

Okay, I’ll stop. But I do want to publicly thank God for you. I remember the moment you appeared in your white dress at the end of the aisle in that little church in Welland. I think my heart actually stopped for moment. I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness to me. That was seven years ago today.

Bride & Groom

You have been a faithful friend, confidant, and support to me through seven years, five jobs, four houses, three children, two churches, and one argument. Okay, maybe more than that. But you’ve loved me, listened to me, supported me, challenged me in all kinds of good ways, and breathed God’s strength into me through your words of encouragement. We have been through much inconsistency these few years together, but you have shown me the meaning of consistency and faithfulness in your love for me.

According to Matt Chandler, Adam’s words when he first saw Eve in the Eden could be paraphrased as ‘She’s mine!’ After seven years of marriage I’ve never felt that more strongly for you. I rejoice at how you ‘fit’ me. You free me up for gospel-labour, you make my home a joyful place to be, you diligently and biblically mother my children, and you constantly remind me that I’m to be leading our family to Christ from a heart that genuinely wants me to lead. I treasure you for how God has made you.

I treasure your wisdom and joy, your humour and courage, your insight and truthfulness, your weakness, and the faith that overcomes it. I love hearing you pray. I love kissing you. I love calling you mine. I love that we think alike when it comes to just about everything.

The moment I decided to marry you was the moment I realized that you made me love God more. You still do. How could I ever thank you for that?

I can’t believe it has been seven years. I can’t believe you still let me hold your hand and call you my own. I can’t believe I’m still such a bad husband. I can’t believe God has given me such a precious gift in you. But I can believe that you are God’s gift to me. You are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, the source of just about every single blessing in my life. And I praise and thank God for you.

What I thought I saw when you appeared on our wedding day was God’s goodness. What I’ve come to see every day since is that being married to you is a continual experience of coming to understand just how full of wisdom and grace God’s goodness really is. I had no idea then; I’m just beginning to see now.

I thank my God for the woman he has made you, for how you reflect him, and how you make me love him.

Thank you for being my wife,
With all my love,



** I decided to post this letter here as a part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday. I cannot help thinking of my wife and how God has blessed me through her whenever I reflect on his goodness to me over the course of my life. **

The Gospel at Breakfast

Our effort to live out Deut 6.4-8 includes many conversations at the breakfast / lunch / dinner table. Here’s a little home video of one that I thought was pretty fun. 🙂

We spent breakfast this morning talking about the gospel. Thanks to Paul for the memorable little thing with the hand!

In case you can’t understand what the girls are saying, it’s ‘Christ died for our sins and was RAISED!’ (1 Corinthians 15:1-7)

A Blessing

It’s been one of my habits for some time now to give my children each a blessing before they go to sleep each night. As their father and spiritual head, I view it as my responsibility to teach, to discipline, to pray for, and to bless my kids. I want all of God’s blessing for them. First I sing them an old hymn or two, then I pray for them, with them, and then I bless them.

Pronouncing a benediction over them is a means of teaching them the word (I try to memorize biblical benedictions and use those), and invoking God’s blessing on them. It’s a joy to see how my girls have come to love it and expect it. Tonight I thought Caitie (my two year old) was asleep so I said her blessing silently–but then as I went to walk away, she sat up and asked me in her sleepy voice, ‘Daddy, do my blessing!’ How precious! I love how Susannah (my three year old) will regularly say the blessing along with me as well. Simply by the repetition, she has now learned a Bible verse that contains precious truths about who God is and what he does for his people.

While there are tremendous benefits of using the biblical benedictions, I’ve enjoyed modifying them to fit my growing understanding of who God is and what he says he’ll do. For example, when John Piper blesses his daughter, he says the Numbers 6 benediction (‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace’) he adds ‘… and someday, a godly husband.’ I love that! It reflects an understanding of God, his blessing, and what a father earnestly desires for his daughter.

When I do that same blessing, I’ll often fill out the blessing with some of the most glorious elements of the New Covenant that I’ve personally been overwhelmed to discover. So for me, it will often be, ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance on you and give you peace and life, and hope, and joy.’

Recently, however, as I’ve been greatly encouraged by reading through the opening books of the Bible I’ve been freshly reminded of the faithfulness and covenant-keeping nature of God. I’ve found my heart warmed by thinking about the fact that we are children of the promise to Abraham. I’ve been challenged by the faithfulness of God through all generations; he never changes!

I was also challenged recently by the testimony of William Kiffin who wrote a memoir not for publication (though he could have easily had it published) but simply as a testimony of God’s grace in his life for his children and grandchildren. He wanted them to know who his God was and what he’d done for him.

With those truths in mind, I created a new benediction for my children based on God’s self-revelation in Genesis and Exodus, Psalm 103 (which we’ve been memorizing at church), and the example of Kiffin. I’m still trying to work it exactly as I would like it, but here it is so far:

May the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the God of your father
be merciful and gracious to you
and bless you with abounding steadfast love and faithfulness
so that by the power of his Spirit
you might know peace and life and hope and joy.
In Jesus’ name, amen.

How about you? Are benedictions a part of your family worship? How do you use them? What are your favourites?

Family Business in the Star!

martins-the-flower-peopleI got an e-mail from my mom this morning letting me know that the Toronto Star had done a special on our family business, Martin’s the Flower People.

Here’s the link where you can read all about it! Or, click on the logo to go order flowers for Mothers Day (yes, it’s coming fast!).

Like Father, Like Daughter

image_308There are certain moments in a father’s life that make you stop and think… ‘wow… that child sure reminds me of me!’

Last night, after proudly proclaiming that if she finished her dinner she would get a treat, Susannah finished her dinner. Of course, now Daddy was somehow obliged to provide a treat (since Mom, who may well have kaiboshed the whole treat thing, was not there).

Anyway, I didn’t know what to get her, so I thought, ‘What would I like?’ The first thing that came to mind (as usual) was ice cream. So Daddy heads to the freezer, scoops some gelato into a bowl and returns it to Susie.

Within moments she was meticulously scraping the last of the melted ice cream from the bottom of the bowl. Once she had that done, she lifted the bowl to her face and licked the entire thing clean (as evidenced in the picture of the bowl which looks like it’s just come out of the dishwasher.

What was the result?

image_309She was about as happy as her daddy would have been. Which actually did make her daddy pretty happy. 🙂

My Family’s Business

In case there was any doubt, here is evidence on film that I was not meant to be an actor.

This video was taken last summer and is a skit done by the Junction Historical Society. I’m playing the role of my great-great-grandfather, Alfred Martin.

I’m telling the story (which actually is a good one!) of how our family business has survived for over 110 years now!

If you’re not interested in the story, it’s still worth watching the video, just so that you’ll have good fodder to use to make fun of me (as if you needed more).



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