Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

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,





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,


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,


Social Network Parenting

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about kids spending a lot of time on the internet – specifically Facebook, Twitter, and other various social networking sites.  I’ve also had more parents coming up to me to ask how I deal with the issues that pop up with this ‘new’ way of staying in touch and communicating.  I thought I’d devote an article here, as the new school year begins, to some of the dangers and what you can do as parents to keep your kids safe.

About 6 years ago, opened up as the first very successful networking sites on the internet.  People of all ages were galloping to it to open an account, meet new friends, talk with current friends, and to keep the world updated on their day by day, even minute by minute, activities.  In fact, in 2006, MySpace became the most visited website topping Google.  Since then, Facebook has come on strong, Google+ is about to launch nationally, and others like Twitter, FourSquare have become daily habits for millions.  MySpace was specifically targeted towards youth.  It was edgy, sometimes dark and advertising was risque and in your face.  It was the MTV of the social networking places.  Facebook took a lesson from MySpace’s downfall, and went with a cleaner approach.  But there are still dangers.

The draw for all of us including our kids?  I think it is to be known and recognized and heard.  The once quiet kid in the corner can now connect with literally thousands of quiet kids in the corner on the internet.  The mouthy adult who likes to be heard now can literally be heard by millions rather than just a few around the water cooler.  The ‘people watcher’ can now spend hundreds of hours per year watching people on their friend feed.  What used to be shared in the lunch room can now be shared globally…in milliseconds.  So what used to be good for a few to hear can now be good for thousands to hear.  And what is said out of place…ummm, it now can be heard out of place by hundreds if not thousands as well.  Therein lies the danger.

I’m writing from a Christian standpoint here.  I’m also writing as one who is on and has a teenage daughter on Facebook.  I have friends from church and friends from the community in general on my Facebook page.  I also have many colleagues from the John Maxwell Team and from youth ministry networks.  So my friend feed has things I often have to delete.  But it also has many things that I pass on to other people because it’s simply great stuff!

Some questions for perspective.  Are the things my kids read on Facebook going to be different than what they hear at the lunch table or in the locker room?  Probably not…they may just see more of it on the net.  Are they going to meet new people at school and at church?  Yes.  Will they probably meet new people on the internet? Yes is probably the correct answer as well.  So how have I tried to navigate these waters?  Peach and I have put up some pretty high fences for our kids.  Are they perfect?  Nope.  But they provide a way for us to stay in touch and they give us bases for discussions…if necessary.

My daughter has a Facebook page.  It is set up with an email address that is mine.  Therefore, I see all the private conversations she has with people.  Some might see that as intrusive.  I see it as being a dad.  My kids also have Ipods with messaging capabilities and access to thousands of apps.  They know that at any given time, we can pick their IPod up and look through it.  We know their Facebook password and their IPod passwords.  If we find that they changed their password without telling us, they lose it.  Is this not letting them have their ‘freedom’ as some have expressed to me?  No.  It is preparing them for the fact that all things will come to light…and in many ways are already very public.  If they are doing or seeing or saying things that mom and dad or Jesus himself wouldn’t like, then it’s probably not worth doing, seeing or saying.  Are they in a prison setting in our house?  Haha, they sometimes think so.  But goodness gracious…they have an IPod!  They can use it away from us just like we let them go to school without us hovering over their shoulder.  🙂

So, in short, monitor.  Don’t let your kids jump into a river that you’ve never jumped into before…or that you’re not willing to jump in with them.  Does this mean you’re going to know their every move?  Not at all.  Does this mean they’re going to grow up under mom and dad’s thumb?  No…not if you do it right and with God’s help.  Oh, and don’t do all this out of fear.  Do it out of the idea that you’re molding them to be people who will glorify God with responsibility, forethought and carefulness.  If you’d like to know more about what we’ve done, just let me know and I’ll we’ll walk through it together.  You could probably help me out too.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,


Divorce Proof…God’s Way

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment


Divorce Proof…God’s Way

The newlywed wife said to her husband when he returned from work, “I have great news for you. Pretty soon, we’re going to be three in this house instead of two.”

Her husband ran to her with a smile on his face and delight in his eyes.

He was glowing of happiness and kissing his wife when she said, “I’m glad that you feel this way since tomorrow morning, my mother moves in with us.”

This is “part deux” of our little study of marriage and divorce.  Our text is still from the words that Jesus spoke on the Sermon on the Mount.  In Matthew 5, Jesus does not mix words about marriage and divorce.  And the reason, we have to remember, is because the covenant of marriage was created by His Father.  Things of God are to not be taken lightly or trivially.  Marriage is one of those things…and divorce, for one reason or another, is the breaking of a covenant.


Again, before I even write any more, Jesus died on the cross for second chances.  If you are reading this wondering if you could ever be given a second chance after divorce or a messed up relationship…Jesus died and rose for that very reason.  Just ask for forgiveness from Jesus.  It is that simple.  Also, remember that just as Jesus can forgive us, we need to ask forgiveness from those we may have wronged through a break up.  On the other side of that coin, we need to forgive as well.  Tough stuff…but you can do it.  You will be blessed through the process.


Now back to the focus of creating an environment inside and around your future or present marriage commitment that does not allow for divorce.  The first thing might sound cliché, but it needs to be said.  God needs to be first in your life.  Without Him, you won’t see the design that He has laid out for the lives of His creations.  God has designed humans, male and female, with differences that only He can explain…and He has through His word.  Marriage was designed and created by God as well.  There are specific things, gifts, abilities, strengths, that He has given us to compliment a life-long mate.


The second thing might at first give you the feeling that you’re being boxed in.  If that’s the case, then please just be patient as I take a moment to outline my thought.  If number one is THE priority in your life, then number two should come easier.  Commit to staying inside the boundaries that God placed around the institution of marriage and commit to accepting them as He has stated them.  This is the hard part.  We’re selfish.  That might sound harsh, but we all are.  We think about ourselves and our feelings and our emotions.  But it’s not about us…it’s about Him.


Marriage is between one man and one woman.  God started with the marriage of His first two humans, Adam and Eve.  That’s the only way God defines it.  Marriage is supposed to be life-long.  That’s the only way God defines it…we know that from last week’s discussion on divorce.  Marriage is not living together…Jesus talks to the woman at the well about this.  Marriage is to always be about loving the other person.  Ephesians 5 defines this for both husband and wife.  These are God’s definitions.  The world, however, has come up with its own definitions.


So with these two things, we can figure that if we get farther away from God…or we walk outside of His boundaries, marriage will never be what it was intended to be for us or our children.  Yes, I know…I had to throw the kids in there…but they are a part of the original design.  Again, marriage isn’t about us.  It’s about God and our spouse and if applicable…our kids.


Ok…so here we are.  There’s the foundation.  We know we’re not perfect.  And many of you reading will say, “Well, I’ve messed it up.”  Yes, I’m in the same boat.  We’re all going to fall short of the perfect mark.  But that never means that we should settle for less…because when we settle for less it affects other people and our relationship with God.  What do we do then when we realize that God isn’t first, or we’ve messed things up with the people who are inside of them family we’ve helped create?


First thing.  Choose to change.  Ok…another simple answer that will take hard work.  Many of you might be saying ‘Easier said than done.’  Very true.  It’s always easy to say something rather than do something.  But when it comes down to it, what do you want?  If you really want a better relationship with God or a better relationship with your future or present spouse…you’ll do the hard work.  But that’s only if you really want it.  God has promised that we will have His Peace, His Blessings, and His Compliments when we walk with Him.  Oh that reminds me…It’s not us alone trying to change.  If we are truly walking with Him, it’s us and Him together doing the hard work.  You have a training coach…a partner.  The One who designed the system is going to mentor you in it.  You don’t often get a relationship like that this side of Heaven.


Change is tough.   I just read a story from leadership guru John Maxwell that detailed an emergency trip to the hospital.  He was having a heart attack.  The attending physician did immediate surgery and saved John’s life.  It was a new procedure.  One year earlier, the older standby procedure was still in place.  The Dr. told John that the new procedure saved his life.  If they hadn’t had changed, the old procedure would not have saved his life.  Change can be good.  John then had to change eating behaviors, lifestyle habits, etc.  Change is keeping John healthier…and…let’s just say it…alive.


What are you willing to change for the sake of God and your partner?  Are you willing to stay inside healthy dating habits as you approach marriage?  Will you commit to staying pure sexually?  Will you choose to keep living arrangements separate until marriage?  If you’re already married, are you willing to stop selfish attitudes that might be harmful?  Are you willing to give up your wants for more gain in the end in relationship to your wife and children?  What are you willing to change?  Are you willing to get help if necessary?  Are you willing to say to God that you want His plan rather than the world’s plan?  Are you willing to do the hard work?  I hope so.  Believe me, many reading this are saying…this has ‘Me’ written all over it.  Meaning…you’re not in the boat alone.  There are always bumps in the road.  Sometimes there are huge pot holes.  Sometimes the bridge is out…there is no road.  But God, the one who created the universe, can recreate roads and bridges.  Again, are you willing?  He wants you to be.  He’s your biggest cheerleader!  He wants you to either start right…or start over right.  He is the God of second chances.  Take the second chance He’s offering you.


Summary:  How to divorce proof marriage?  Accept God and His ways for marriage and follow them.  Blessings will follow.


PS – I know that we’re talking about marriage here, but as Paul states in Ephesians 5, we are talking ultimately about God’s Kingdom and about Christ our savior.  When we operate within the rules of the Kingdom, we show others that God is number one in our lives and that being with Him is a great place to be.  Other’s will notice that and wonder why we have Peace in the midst of a perceived storm.  The Kingdom will keep moving forward.  As Jesus said, “…the gates of Hell…” won’t stop us.



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,
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Parenting C

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.
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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.
Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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”… 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.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: