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Parenting B

Three elderly women are sitting together at a Retirement Home in San Francisco, some bragging about their relationships with their sons. 

One begins, “My son is so devoted to me, for my birthday he gave me an all-expenses-paid cruise around the world.” The second pipes in, “That’s nothing. Mine threw a huge catered affair for me, and he flew in all my friends from the East.” The third woman smirks at them both. “Without a doubt, my son is the most devoted. Three times a week he goes to his therapist. A hundred and thirty dollars a session he pays. And what does he talk about the whole time? Me!”

Devotion and honoring our parents can be a tough thing when we’re kids.  We often say respect is earned.  But God asks us to go one up with this one…and respect parents anyways.  Our umbrella verses, as Steve calls them, really come into play here.  Here are some we’ve looked at and a couple more that will explain where I’m heading.
·         Ephesians 5:21 “Submit to one another because of your respect for Jesus.”
·         John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
·         John 13:35  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
·         Romans 12:10  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
·         Ephesians 4:2  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
·         Matthew 22:39  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And the biggy for the weekend ~ Ephesians 6:1-3  1 Children, obey your parents as believers in the Lord. Obey them because it’s the right thing to do. 2Scripture says, “Honor your father and mother.” That is the first commandment that has a promise. 3 “Then things will go well with you. You will live a long time on the earth.”—(Deuteronomy 5:16)

I may have some disagreements with this following point.  I’ve had many kids come up to me and tell me their parents won’t let them come to youth group, or go on a trip, or take communion, or get baptized, or be involved in a church event.  My response?  “Honor your mom and dad.”  Along with this short statement, I encourage them to not argue, not show the pouty face, and not hold it against their parents.   I say, “If you can, show a small smile and respond with a ‘ok mom, no problem.’ “  That’s hard.  But the kids who have followed all of the above verses have found that their parents were very, very pleased with their reaction.  In fact, the parents usually came around.  In fact, there are some families here in our NICC family because their kids bit their tongue, smiled, and honored them.  They started wondering what their kids were being taught while with this NICC family.  They wondered what the rest of us were like.  Jesus was eventually honored by these kids taking the hard step of honoring and respecting…even when they didn’t think their parents deserved it.
And what of those parents that never come around…well, there’s still the promise given in the Bible.  More about that later.
This can happen for all of us all through life no matter how old we are.   Those umbrella verses really drive home how we should treat anyone.  And now, as we focus on parenting, when placed against Ephesians 6:1-3…helps us make sense of how to honor and respect and obey even in tough times.
Being in my position as children’s and youth minister, I often hear kids talk bad about their parents.  Please know that I don’t allow them to continue.  We’ve all been there.   It’s easy to throw out the, “I wish my parents wouldn’t….” or “My parents stink because they won’t….” or even “I hate that my mom or dad said that….”  Those things are not good for our own spirit, no matter how old we are, or for the testimony that we live for Jesus.  And again, I’ve seen huge fruit from those kids that are able to turn that around and do the right thing.  They’ve immediately started to receive that promise of good life and long life.
Let’s focus on that promise for a second.  I think what all of us sincerely want in life is peace.  Remember, when we sin, we voluntarily give up peace.  We give it away.  It was a gift from God, but we handed it away.  Peace doesn’t mean that we get what we want, it means we’ve chosen to be in that spot where God wants us to be.  The bible says that when we can get there, even when it takes all of our energy and focus, that it becomes a peace that we cannot understand.  I’ve seen kids smile at me and completely ok with what their parents have told them…even when I believe their parents are wrong.  Those kids had peace that I couldn’t even understand.  There was a smile on their face.  That’s peace.  They were content with where they were in life.  They knew they were obeying a heavenly Father.  They were choosing peace….good life….long life.  They were choosing the promise over giving away the peace and the blessing of God.  That’s tough, but I envy them for that.
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