This past weekend was a memorial service for a beloved member of the church that I serve. Even though I haven’t been at the church any more than a year, it was nice to hear the stories of life served faithfully to the Lord. Not only faithfully, but with so much joy toward his friends and family.
It made me think of my memorial service someday and how my family will remember me when I am gone. Will they remember me as a person filled with joy and happiness or just a grump?
I say that because I know that I can be too hard on my children. I only know this to be true, because my wife lets me know and I am thankful for a spouse who isn’t afraid of honesty and letting me know that I am not fair with my boys.
The problem that I have with my children is that my expectation may be too high at times for their maturity level. It’s a mixture of my lack of patience with their mistakes and thinking too much into the future.
I came across a Bible story that I have read so much that sometimes I skim through it. But this time I looked a little closer.
It’s the story of the prodigal son. And I want to look more closely at verse 17-20.
But when he (the son) came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him (ESV)
Something that I didn’t notice is that the son isn’t sorry for what he did. The story doesn’t show or tell of the son’s remorse for his mistakes; it only says that he noticed he was hungry and his father’s servants eat better food than what he is currently eating. So he comes up with a sappy speech to give to his dad.
Have you ever practiced a speech? If you have, you know prepared statements are not typically sincere. A prepared statement usually is trying to convince someone to act on something. Maybe you wanted to sell something? Perhaps you seek to win an argument? Sometimes it could be to show honesty or love, but not always. I don’t practice good loving speeches to my wife because you feel the words.
The son was not giving a feeling speech; he was trying to convince his father to hire him as a servant.
But the father does something that I have a hard time doing with my children when they make stupid mistakes. The father doesn’t ask the son anything the why? The father embraces and loves.
If this were me, I would have asked some questions? Maybe would have the least waited for an honest apology. But the father just embraces and loves.
What I take from this story, is that maybe I need to love first my children when they make mistakes. Instead of waiting for remorse, I should embrace them before they can go into their practiced speech.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could get a glimpse of our children’s future? Like if you knew some of your child’s negative qualities. Man, wouldn’t that make parenting a little bit easier? You would have at least some areas to work on throughout the years. Because let’s be honest parenting is like walking through a fog in a dense corn field. You have a good idea what direction you want to go, but you don’t know until it’s all over how far you were off the mark.
Not only can you not predict the future, but living with your children every day, makes it harder to see negative qualities. I know concerned, informed, and proactive parents, that cannot see the negative qualities of their children. Even I, a person that works with kids, studies parenting books and adolescent development, do not see the negative qualities of my children.
As a parent, I know my job is to make sure I lead my kids into adulthood as a fully functional member of society. As a Christian parent, I know my job is to lead them to know God’s will for their life and to put them in situations where they can use their spiritual gifts on a regular basis.
The first step in this is to know and recognize that even though my children share my DNA, they are not carbon copies of me. Sure we have similar quirks and mannerisms. They are not me. Each of my kids deserves a shot to be their own individual. I need to recognize that truth because will make parenting a more enjoyable process.
I think if we can recognize our children’s differences, which gives us a good blueprint to start with in raising out children to adulthood.
After that, parenting is trial and error, and I hope and pray every day that my kids grow up as devoted followers of Christ and quality adults.
This past weekend at Northwest Church, I had the opportunity to address the church a little bit about the vision of the Children’s Ministry and how we are going to work with parents in providing Intentional Family Experiences for our families. It’s a new challenge for the church and me, and I am eager to see how I can implement these experiences to a larger church than I originally started the program with back in Michigan.
You can check out the video of the service at Northwest Church Facebook Page
Over the years, I have had some pretty incredible God moments happen in my life. They were clear moments that God was leading me in different directions, whether it was calling me into ministry at an early age, to landing my first internship, to my first full-time ministry, to eventually God calling me to the west coast.
Each one changing my life in ways, that I could not have imaged and each happening with God’s direction.
As a Christian parent, I know that God is at work in the world around me. And I want to help my kids and my spouse to know that God is just as active today as He was in the stories in the Bible.
And we can do exactly that!
We can help our kids see God’s working by creating moments in your day to teach and show them God’s actions
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 say’s
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
We are commanded as parents, to teach our children diligently, every moment we can with them. We teach them by living with them but also by creating visual opportunities. In the Old Testament, if God did something, they would make a shrine, so when they passed by they could tell their families what God did for them. This visual would be great of what God has done.
This isn’t a command that we should take lightly, and it is something we should always in the back of our mind.
So what can you, next time you are at dinner with your children. Talk with your kids about what God has already done in your life. Maybe even have a little trinket that would help be a reminder of God’s story in your home.
After you told your family about what God has done, be aware of what God is doing for you today. Maybe He isn’t doing anything right now, but we on look out for God and be able to tell your children when they happen.
Finally, I was to encourage you to put yourself in opportunities for God to moving. A great way is to make sure you are worshipping God regularly. Praising God in church week in and week out does a few things.
First, it helps us make sure God is number one in our life. God needs to a focal point, and what better way is to make sure we are worshipping Him.
Finally, we are surrounding by other believers, and we can see how God is moving in their lives, which can be an encouragement in difficult times. And that works vice-versa as we can be an encourager to them during difficult times.
In God’s Word
The Lord God gave the man a command. He said, “You can eat the fruit of any tree that is in the garden. But you must not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you do, you can be sure that you will die.”
The serpent was more clever than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. The serpent said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat the fruit of any tree that is in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We can eat the fruit of the trees that are in the garden. But God did say, ‘You must not eat the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden. Do not even touch it. If you do, you will die.’ ”
God gave Adam and Eve freedom to live in the Garden. They could skip, jump, run through the trees. They could interact with animals. Maybe swing on vines…. okay I pretty much described Tarzan, but you get my point. They had so much that could be done, except for one thing. The only thing they were not allowed to eat was from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Sounds simple, but there was a deceiver in the Garden. The deceiver was someone who was seeking his desire, his will, and it wanted Adam and Eve to choose themselves over God.
- What would you be doing in the Garden if you were Adam or Eve? What was the one restriction God gave Adam and Eve?
- What did the deceiver ask Eve?
- What do these tell us about God and the deceiver?
Sticky Note To Your Child:
Stand firm in God’s will
Prayer for the Family
I pray that my family will stand firm in God’s will and not fall into the trap of the deceiver.
Thanksgiving is a week away, but you can start helping your children understand thankfulness by reading a scripture each day with your family. I prefer doing this at dinner time, and letting my oldest son read the scripture. But you can do it in the car ride home, before your child going to bed, during breakfast or whatever time works best for your family.
Day 1: 1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
Day 2: 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 ESV
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Day 3: Philippians 4:6 ESV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Day 4: Psalm 147:7 ESV
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
Day 5: Psalm 100:4 ESV
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Day 6: Psalm 95:2 ESV
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
Day 7: Colossians 3:17 ESV
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
What is Perseverance?
Perseverance is characteristic of staying the course, even though it may be difficult. People who are sick with cancer, persevere through treatments of chemotherapy so the cancer may one day die or go into remission.
Perseverance is part of God’s characteristics. The fact that Jesus persevered while on Earth, to die eventually through the torture of crucifixion. Is great example of God staying the course through difficult times.
As a parent, I want my children to be able to persevere through this life. We cannot protect them through life’s challenges, but we can help them to persevere.
Showing Perseverance For Your Family
First is to stand firm in our faith. There are times when I do not want to worship God. Maybe the night before was bad or I as up all night restless about something, and the last thing I want to do in the morning is go to church. Poor me, right? There are people in this world, who would love the luxury of going to church on a weekly basis without the threat of persecution, and I had a rough night so I want to sleep in my bed? We need to stand firm in our faith, that even when we are not “feeling it,” we still choose to worship God. If we quit on church, cause we are tired, what does that say about faith to our children.
The other is to endure. As an adult, we have the ability to quit any time we want. I could quit my job tomorrow. I could quit my marriage at any moment. I could quit anything I want because I have the ability to do so. Who is going to stop me? Are those decisions wise? No, but I have the right to make stupid decisions. That is the reason, we must endure during difficult times, because it shows an example to our children to keep going.
Perseverance is a godly characteristic that we need to show to our children. It is too easy to teach being a quitter. If we show our children that quitting is always a top option during opposition, that may have some negative consequences on their behavior as an adult.
Grow in your perseverance so they can learn from you.
What are some ways, you can show the value of spiritual perseverance to your family? Feel free to let me know in the comment section.