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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!

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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

Fatherhood


**********
Our Gen-X daughter, Cristie, made my husband a Father’s Day card entitled
“Things My Dad Would Never Say.” Such as: 

“Can you turn up that music?” 

“Go ahead and take my truck. Here’s 50 bucks for gas.” 

“I LOVE your tattoo. We should both get new ones.” 

“Here, you take the remote.” 


~Submitted by Deanna Schneider (Reader’s Digest)
**********
I was put on the spot this week.  I nice lady called and was concerned about our sign out on Cleveland Ave.  She was wondering where we came up with the phrase “Fathers, Honor your Children.”  She was concerned…thinking that was a quote from scripture, which she could not find.  She was doing the right thing by calling in to someone she doesn’t know and asking a question out of concern not knowing what I would say in return.  We had a great conversation.
Her concern came out of children honoring their parents and them emphasis the Bible places on that specific theme.  I walked her through where we had been as a church family and our recent messages since Easter concerning relationships.  She came to an understanding of where we had been and where we were heading.  But I was on the spot … had to think quick … had to draw a big picture for her about “sequence.”  A Dad needs to honor the position he has and the One who gave him that role in order for kids to get a vistion of the God he follows.  If that doesn’t happen first, then the kids have less of a chance at respecting and obeying like God would want them to.
However, on the flip side of the coin, I have seen kids who honor the dads in a way that makes God smile.  Their dads haven’t been the ones who are Godly role models.  Guess what?  Some of those dads are now in church families.  Go figure! 
What we’re obviously getting back to is the major verse that Paul penned so many years ago.  It’s bedrock in our faith.  It’s Paul’s paraphrase of Jesus’ answer to the legal warriors of His day.  Ephesians 5:21 states, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  Jesus said it this way, “Love one another as you would love yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). 
Does this make sense?  I hope so.  Let’s go back to the beginning again.  I know you’re probably tired of me “going back to Genesis,” but it makes things simpler and easier for me.  I’m getting old.  We find in the first book of the Bible that God and man were separated by man’s sin.  Well, sin separates man from man as well.  That wasn’t how it was meant and created to be.  Man was suppose to be hand in hand with God and with his fellow man as well.  The Father/Child relationship just happens to be the one we’re focusing on this weekend.  Does it make sense that if there is a break in this relationship that there will be consequences and fall-out?  This is true of both the father’s relationship to his kids and true of the kid’s relationship to their dad.  When we get it right, we give people around us, and even ourselves, a glimpse of our Creator’s original intent.  We get a glimpse of perfection.  We get a glimpse of Heaven.
Love-Serve-Spread the Word,
Ed
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Parenting C


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MURPHY’S LAWS FOR PARENTS
1. The tennis shoes you must replace today will go on sale next week.
2. Leakproof thermoses will.
3. The chances of a piece of bread falling with the grape jelly side down is
directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
4. The garbage truck will be two doors past your house when the argument
over whose day it is to take out the trash ends.
5. The shirt your child must wear today will be the only one that needs to be washed or mended.
6. Gym clothes left at school in lockers mildew at a faster rate than other clothing.
7. The item your child lost, and must have for school within the
 next ten seconds, will be found in the last place you look.
8. Sick children recover miraculously when the pediatrician enters the treatment room.
9. Refrigerated items, used daily, will gravitate toward the back of the refrigerator.
10. Your chances of being seen by someone you know dramatically increase
 if you drive your child to school in your robe and curlers
*********
Families are great!  They come in all sorts and shapes and volumes and types of functionality.  God loves families!  They are meant to be a picture of He and His church….His family.  When we work and live and spend time together  well together we become a testimony of God and his people.  We help people see what His Kingdom is like.
Parents, we will all agree that “House Rules” are a necessity.  No throwing balls in the house.  Don’t jump off your bed with sharp objects in your hand.  Don’t take things from your sister’s bedroom.  Don’t play your music too loud.  Don’t be jealous.  Don’t change the ringtones on your parents or sibling’s cell phones without them knowing.  Obey your parents quickly without talking back.  Love each other.  Forebear your brother’s weird habits.  Don’t let the dog in, with muddy feet, just after your parents have mopped the floor.  Don’t put Saran Wrap on the toilet in mom’s bathroom.   Forgive each other when something wrong has been done.  Say you’re sorry.  Don’t yell at each other.  Respect and Love.  Keep God tops.   Submit to and respect each other out of your love for Jesus (Ephesians 5:21).
Picture this:  God has his family, not new to Him but He’s kinda new to them.  They have just escaped the wrath of Pharaoh.  They are now in the wilderness/desert with Moses as their leader.  They are the family of God…and God needs to create “House Rules.”  They need to understand the boundaries.
“House Rules” create safety for everyone.  They help us respect and love each other and the God who created us.  They just make sense.  However, we know that they are often hard to keep…and when we falter, we hurt people and we hurt Jesus.
God’s rules are set up so that we protect each other.  The 10 commandments are set up so that we, ourselves, are protected.  They are also set up so that we look different, act different, talk different, think different than the world around us.  The 10 commandments are born out of pure and Godly love.  When we can do our absolute best at following them, we look more like God to our family members and our church family members and to friends and strangers alike.  People are drawn to pure love…to God.  People are broken by pure love…by God.  Hard hearts are softened by pure love…God’s love.  People can find forgiveness in chaos when they are surrounded by pure love…Jesus’ love.
Can our families show this in this day and age?  Yes.  Is it hard?  Sometimes.  Will we fail?  Yes.  Is forgiveness available?  Yes.  Second chances are what God and His Kingdom is all about.
Work hard to have your family be a beacon of light for others to watch so that they can catch a glimmer of what God’s Kingdom looks like.
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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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Parenting A


On a flight to Florida, I was preparing my notes for one of the parent-education
seminars I conduct as an educational psychologist.

The elderly woman sitting next to me explained that she was returning to Miami after having spent two weeks visiting her six children, 18 grandchildren and

ten great-grandchildren in Boston.

Then she inquired what I did for a living.

I told her, fully expecting her to question me for free professional advice. 

Instead she sat back, picked up a magazine and said,

“If there’s anything you want to know, just ask me.”
***************
Parenting.   I fully remember turning around to listen to a very young mom ask Dr. Ray Gurendi a question during a Q&A session at Walker Elementary.  She had that look of panic that we all know so well.  Dr. Ray had been speaking about principles of parenting that we all know get thrown under the bed when frustration sets in while in the middle of those terrible two’s.  All us parents, who’ve been through that, understand where her question comes from.  With a puzzled and fearful look in her eyes, she asked, “So how long will we have to use these principles before our kids finally get it and start to listen?”  A small chuckle came from most in the room as it really sounded like she was being sarcastic.    ……….she wasn’t.  She was a frazzled mom asking sincerely.  The only answer he could truthfully give her was, “Around the age of 25.”  At that, all of us turned to him with whitewashed faces.  He said, “It’s the truth.”
I found both comedy and insanity in his reply.  But I also knew, from his logic, wisdom and experience of raising 10 children of his own…he was speaking truth.  Parenting is tough.  It has it’s joys but it also has it’s…well, we’ll just call them “moments.” 
So, where are we as parents suppose to begin?  Where is our starting point?  From where do we look at a long term plan?  I think we should look to the Bible.  God’s wisdom is in there for us to use, and often times we just use it for Sunday School class.
Follow the logic here as Paul eventually writes to parents:
1.      Ephesians 5:1 says for us to be “imitators” of God as dearly loved children.
2.      Ephesians 5:21 says for us to “submit” to each other out reverence for Jesus.
3.      Ephesians 6:1-4 then focuses on children and parents.

So if we follow where Paul is heading here, he’s setting up our general behavior as people of the Kingdom.  In 5:22 he talks starts with the relationship between husbands and wives, then he moves to the household family relationships, and finally to slaves/masters or boss/worker.  All of these things are around the concept of “home” and I think Paul is simply saying there’s a good and right way to live with each other.

We are to first imitate God’s behavior, then respect each other out of our love for Jesus.  So, as parents we are to imitate God’s behavior as a parent, respect our children as though they are His children (they really are), and then we are to “not exasperate our kids, but train them in the instructions of God”…..so that they can imitate Him and respect other people and teach other people how to imitate….  You see how this works.
Malachi 2:15 talks about why God wants healthy marriages.  He wants them so that the next generation, our children, can be Godly themselves.  It’s not just about raising respectful kids, or hard working kids, or smart kids, or simply good kids.  It’s ALL about raising Godly kids.  He knows that if we don’t focus on the important things while raising kids, then they won’t see His importance as they grown and form families of their own.  Generations of creation could be lost from Heaven.  Ok…no pressure now.  Parenting is an important subject to God and I think we know why now.

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