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Parenting 101 Part 3

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

In the last couple articles, I’ve discussed Christian parenting.  It’s been tough to write because as I write, I learn.  And what I’ve learned is that I’m struggling with this parenthood things as much as the next person.  When stacking up my strategy or successes in parenting against God’s model, I’m extremely weak.  We covered basic expectations in Part 1.  We covered some basic “how to’s” given from Moses out of Deuteronomy in Part 2.  This time let’s go one step further.  Baby steps!

God wants us to raise kids who love and know Him.  In order to do that, we need to be constantly reminding them of God’s ways.  How many times have you said, “Put that down!”  Moses’ instructions were to write God’s ways on doors, door posts, gates, walls…to talk about them all the time…and to tie them to our foreheads and hands.  OK, so some of you are asking the question, “How in world do I do that?  Posters?  Tattoos?”

I’ve got some simple answers.  I’m not sure how easy this will be to implement if you’re not used to it…but they are simple ideas.  And…..they are from the Bible.  Smile, we’re in this together.  First idea is simple.  And yes, it’s posters.  Haha…some of you didn’t expect that.  Here’s the idea.  Our little brains need reminders.  We forget easy.  That’s one reason we have the Lord’s Supper.  Sometimes we get caught in the rut of continually going through the same routine each and every day.  Sometimes we forget why we do things.  Posters, pictures, and notes taped to the wall help remind us.  3M found this to be true when they started making millions of dollars by selling pre-stickied pieces of paper called “sticky notes.”  What a concept!  There are some awesome artists who burn or carve scriptures into wood (P. Graham Dunn).  Does the name Thomas Kinkade ring a bell?  We love the beauty of the items these and other artists put out, but the hope is that the truth painted, sculpted or carved and hung on our walls will burn itself into our soul.  Moses’ big fear was that we’d forget about God.  My wife has become notorious about printing quotes and verses out and taping them to our door frames and bathroom mirrors.  Why?  So we’ll remember.  How many of us post and repost inspiration and scripture as our Facebook status update?  How many of us Tweet God’s truth on a regular basis?  We need reminders of God’s truth so when we’re up against temptation or inside of a dark time, we can remember the Truth.

So with all of that said, let’s just take Moses’ suggestion literally.  Let’s set ourselves up to remember.  We know we’re forgetful.  We just need to be proactive.  You don’t have to go out and buy a $100 piece of art work.  Just get out a piece of paper and a marker, write down a verse that you think God wants you to remember, and tape it to the fridge, or porch door, or to the dash board of the car.

Second…and this will be a tougher one for many of us.  Get to know your Bible.  Help your kids get to know their Bible.  It’s long been a rite of passage for a child to receive their first Bible.  But how many of our kids carry it daily…read it daily…even know where it is daily?  I know my kids have trouble with that.  Know why?  Because dad does too.  They will do what they see.  How many of us have our kids carry their Bibles to church services on Sunday but then forget about them the rest of the week?  My hand is raised…guilty.  I think this one starts with us as parents.  We need to be “meditating on His word…”  That’s from Psalm 1:2…the rest of the verse says “day and night.”  That’ll rearrange your schedule won’t it.  But the beginning of that verse starts by saying this, “Blessed is the man/woman who…”  Is that something we can do?  Heck yes!  And Satan will fight every step we try.  He will approve of our every excuse.  “I can’t understand it.”  “I’m too busy.”  “I already go to services.”  “I’ll just use the pew Bible.”

The question comes down to this.  Are you willing to fight for what you know God wants in your life?  Are you willing to fight for what you know God wants for your kids?  Will you do things that this world might consider radical or weird?  Are you willing?  We have a church family that spans the globe.  We’re not alone.  Hold on together…encourage each other…pray for each other.  That’s what the family is for.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

 

PART 1

PART 2

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Parenting 101 – Part 2

February 21, 2012 1 comment

Last month I wrote about what I believe the expectations of us as parents are Biblically speaking.  I also wrote of what I think God’s expectations are of our kids.  This month…I’d like to break it down just a little bit more.

The first text I wish to focus on comes from the book of Deuteronomy.  The majority of this book is the last big sermon that Moses gives to the Israelites before he goes to be with the Lord.  They are about to enter the Promised Land across the Jordan River.  He will not be going with them as their leader because of a sin.  The one he’s been mentoring, Joshua, will lead the nation.  Moses however, gives one long last word of instruction from his heart.

Throughout his time leading the family of God, he’s seen them remember God and His ways and then forget God and His ways.  He saw how this cycle was defeating to God’s family.  As a parent would remind a child, he reminds Israel of some simple principles for life.

In Deuteronomy 6, Moses writes what he told Israel to do in order to always have a good relationship with their Creator.  Remember, Moses is the one God handpicked to lead His family.  Moses’ words are probably good to follow.  He says in verse 6 that God’s commands are to be on our hearts and that we, as parents, are to impress them on our children.

God wants to be with us forever…face to face…and it doesn’t have to start in Heaven.  It can happen even now.  God has given us prayer, Jesus who forgives us, the Spirit who lives with us and the Hope that we will be in Heaven one day.  What’s the point of Him giving us all these things now?  He wants to be with us…you and me and our kids.  Eternity starts when we make a decision to follow Him by believing in Jesus.  But sometimes we forget this.  We get tied to our jobs.  We get tied to our calendar.  We get tied down to our finances.  We get tied to our ‘to-do’ list.  We get tied to our dreams.  And when we get tied too tight to those things, we forget about Jesus.

Moses saw this first hand many times.  He stood between the nation and God and prayed He would not obliterate them on the spot.  God saw that His people had forgotten and thrown Him away.  He saw how He was rarely on their ‘to-do’ list or on their calendar or in their dreams.

Moses says this in Deuteronomy 6:7-9, “Impress them (God’s ways) on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”  Basically, remember God wherever you are and whatever you’re doing!  Never forget.

So how do we as parents never forget and then teach our kids to never forget their God?  First, we need to be grounded so deeply that we consider God walking with us every second of every day.  Psalms 1:1 says that the person who meditates on and with God each day is like a tree, planted by streams, who is fruitful and healthy and prosperous.  The New Testament gives us the image of Jesus going regularly to spend time with His Father.  Are we doing our darned best to know God?

If we know God, if we truly know God, I think it’s easier to talk about and represent God whatever we’re doing wherever we going and to whoever is around.  Our kids will see that and learn simply by watching.  But beyond that, we’re to teach them to do the same.  In the end, success as a parent is getting our kids to Heaven and teaching them to bring their family and their friends with them.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

PS—Just asked my 12 year old son Micah to read Deuteronomy 6:4-9 to let me know his impressions.  His response went something like this, “Moses said to remember God all the time and to tell your kids to remember God all the time.”  He also wondered what it would look like to write verses all over your arms!

Christian Parenting 101

January 31, 2012 1 comment

Parenting 101

Many of you are parents like me.  You struggle with your kids.  You struggle with what you think a ‘successful’ parent looks like.  You wonder if what you’re doing, saying, modeling, teaching is the right stuff.  You wonder if you’re kids are going to grow up messed up because of something you’ve done or a mistake you’ve made.  This is true of the single parent, the married parent, the divorced parent or the adoptive parent.  It doesn’t really matter…we worry about these things.  If you don’t worry, you may want to check your pulse…or I need a counseling session with you immediately…and I’ll be lying on the couch.

Sometimes I think we make parenting too complicated by focusing on the wrong things.  I’m not positive about this, but I’d hedge a bet that God has plans for us as parents.  Yes, I’m being sarcastic.  God has a pretty clear plan for parenting.  Does He give the details of what to do when you teen daughter is giving hints that a boy likes her?  No…other than “love is patient” and “do not murder.”  No specifics.  But, there are things that God does ask us to do…or hints at…in order to be successful.

Let’s look at the basics for humanity first.  It looks like we have two grand commandments that sum everything up.  Jesus said love God with all your heart mind and soul.  He also said for us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).  The first part of this is a quote from the Old Testament when Moses is telling the Israelites how to follow God.  In fact…get this now…Moses here speaks directly to parents!  He said, in Deuteronomy chapter 6, that there are some basics for living a life that would make God happy.  Here’s the synopsis.  Love God.  Know His ways well.  Follow His ways.  Don’t forget His ways.  Teach His ways to your kids.  Don’t let them forget His ways so that when they are parents they will follow His ways and teach them to their kids too.

Ok.  So here’s what I get.  Successful parenting ends up with us doing everything we can to help our kids know God and choose to follow Him.  Wow.  Doesn’t say anything about graduating with A’s or getting college scholarships or getting that “secure” job or even making it to the American dream.  In fact, the Bible never mentions any of that stuff.  It doesn’t mention becoming an All Ohio athlete or making Eagle Scout or deciding what your career will be by 18 years old.  It simply says help them know and understand God.  I guess if we can do that, God will lead them through the rest of that stuff.

Yes, this is messing me up.  However, I believe that it will take stress off too.  As American parents, we have expectations for our kids.  But guess what, God’s expectations for our kids aren’t unlike His expectations of kids who hide out to read the Bible in China.  They’re not any different than expectations for a new Christian teen that is the head of his household raising his younger siblings in Nigeria.  They’re not any different from His expectations of the kid who’s living in the Native American reservation in Arizona.

Let’s switch this around.  God’s expectations for us as parents aren’t any different than the parents who read His word in the slums of Mexico City.  They’re not any different for us than they are for the Amish mom who is growing up in a small town in Kentucky.   They’re not any different from those of the dad who is raising his teen in the village of a remote area who just received word of Jesus from a traveling missionary.  Are circumstances different?  Sure they are.  But the end result is not.  God wants us as parents to get our kids to know Him so well they want to bring all their friends to Heaven with them.  That’s God’s end goal.  God wants us to parent so that our kids are raised in, grow up in, and bring more people into the church…the body of Christ.

What will that take?  We need to know our Bible well.  We need to pray often.  We need to talk often of His word.  Will this require guts to change?  I think so.  But we are built and designed to do this.  This is what we were made for.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

ed

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