Being Too Hard On My Boys

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.

Treating Your Children Differently

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.

How To Change The “No” To A Positive Conversation

If you are a parent, you have said the word, “no” to your child.  Some of you say “no” on a hourly basis.  A few of you probably say “no” as soon your child begins to ask.  And there might be  a person out there who say’s “no” the minute the child wakes up.

There isn’t a problem with saying the word “no.”  We don’t want our children to get everything and anything they want.  Part of being a parent is setting boundaries for our children.

So when our child comes into the room and asks “can I juggle sharp knives while jumping on the bed?”  I am hoping everyone who reads this blog would agree that this is definitely a “no” answer.

Despite the need to use the word “no” I’m guessing some of us get tired of saying it, and are tired of the negativity. Well, we can change the “no” answer to a positive by taking a few extra steps.

Here is some sample speech you can use to change the “no” to a positive.

The first thing thing you do is start with a “yes” before giving the “no.”

Child: Dad, can I juggle sharp knives while jumping on the bed?

Me: Well, son you can juggle some balls, but let’s stay away from the knives and I would appreciate you not jumping on your bed.

Suggesting the option of juggling with balls was the “yes” in this example. When you start with a yes, it confirms that you are listening to your child and keeps the child engaged in the conversation.  Once you say, “no” it automatically makes a person shut down or if your child is young, opens the door for them to have a tantrum.

Start with a “yes,” then give the “why” if needed.

Child: Dad, can I juggle sharp knives while jumping on the bed?

Me: Well, son you can juggle some balls, but let’s stay away from the knives and I would appreciate you not jumping on your bed.

Child: Why can’t I use knives or jump on the bed?

Me: Thank you for asking. Juggling is okay but knives are very dangerous.  And it is my job to keep you safe.

Adding these two responses before the automatic “no,” will help your relationship with your child.  When you’re in auto mode, The conversation shuts down and could, after a while, shut down conversations on more serious issues. But the “yes” method shows the child that you are engaged.

The best part of the “yes” before “no” is you can practice this method every day, because as we all know, your child asks you plenty of questions.

 

 

 

 

Create A Blessing Journal

A few month’s back, my wife and I went up to alma mater (Great Lakes Christian College) for a special alumni prayer for the students during chapel.  It was an enjoyable experience and grateful for the opportunity.

Before the prayer, one the alumni shared a journal that was given to him at graduation from his mom.  Inside the journal were prayers that his mom said to him while he was at school.

WHAT A COOL IDEA!!!!

And I thought to myself; I will have to remember that when my children get into college.  Then it occurred to me, why don’t I start now.  Why do I have to wait for my kids to be in college to pray a blessing over them?

So I started, I ordered some Moleskins, and I try to write faithfully blessings for my children.

The blessings are no more than a paragraph long.  And they normally have to do with something that I witnessed them doing or even things that I am learning in my life.

Here are some examples of my blessings that I wrote for them.

I’ve been thinking lately about making the most of every moment.  I believe that Jesus is coming back, so it’s important to be showing the gospel of grace and mercy every day as much as possible.  I pray that when you look back at these years that you look back with memories of grace and mercy.  ~ Love Your Dad

Today we went and saw Zootopia.  The movie was about harmony and peace.  The main point is that peace is up to you.  Paul say’s in Romans 12:8 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  This is my prayer for you, and a truth to pass on ~ Love Your Dad

Nothing complicated or overly tedious, just a simple thought and prayer.

The main idea I want my children to know, is that I care for them and want them to know that their father cares for the spiritual welfare, and hopefully, they look back and see God moving in their life.

 

 

Spiritual Parents Need To Be Spiritually Healthy

Sounds obvious…..

But is it true in your life?

Take a few moments and consider how much time you put in your spiritual life?

Is just once a week on Sunday?  Is it daily, if so how much time?

What do you do?  Do you journal? Do you say prayers? Do you read Christian books?  Do you read your Bible?

If the Christian leader in your home (aka you) isn’t spiritually healthy, then how can the home be spiritually healthy?

A Christian parent needs to be faithfully seeking God themselves, not only for their spiritual pilgrimage but also to be a living testimony for their spouse and children.  If I say, my favorite football team is Ohio State, and I watch every other team but them, would you think I am a real fan?  Same goes with our faith, if I say “I believe the Bible to be true and Jesus is important in my life,” but never pick up the book or say a prayer, would you say I am genuine about my faith?

We don’t need to spiritual gurus.  We don’t need to perfect examples.  We need to show our families that God is the priority in our lives.

Here are some way’s to make sure God is your priority

Turn loose time  into God time.  We all have some loose time during our day.  Take one of those times to read a verse or two.  Take one of those times to say a quick prayer for your spouse and children.

Plan time in your day, your week and your year for God.  If you are not careful with your time, it will fill up fast.  Make sure not to overload your time with things that are not spiritually essential.  Maybe plan time off during the week or even plan a sabbatical sometime during the year.

Share your spiritual moments.  When a verse strikes your interest, share your thoughts with your family.  It doesn’t have to be a well thought-out idea, tell your family a verse you are thinking about, and maybe they might have insight that will help you! When you have an answered prayer, let your children know. If God is working in you, make sure your family knows it.

Something Extra

Make a spiritual journal for each of your children.  Every night when they go to bed or prepare for bedtime, write a God-moment and say a prayer for them.

 

1 Peter Bible Study: Doing Good, Knowing Your Hope, And Let God Be God

In this week’s Bible Study we are talking about always doing good, knowing your hope, and allowing God to be God.

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Read 1 Peter 3

Reflect on this passage (1 Peter 3:13-16 ESV)

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

After reading this passage in context, jot down some of your initial thoughts.

There are a couple of things in these verses that stick out, that I would like to flesh out a little bit more.

Do Good Always

In the verses before vs.13, Peter explains what it means to do good.  And by doing good Peter say’s “who is there to harm you?”  If we took that verse out of the context of the scripture around it, this would make an excellent verse to build a church around.  “Do good and bad things will stay away,” but we need to move to vs.14 and it starts off with a “but”.  Peter say’s “but even if you should suffer.”

Question: Why would someone hurt you for doing good?  Have you ever been hurt for doing the right thing?

I can’t tell you why good people get hurt.  There could be a variety of reasons, but I can say this, “Do good always.” Regardless if you get mocked at work.  Do good.  Regardless if  you are getting pressured by today’s society.  Do good.  No matter what happens today, tomorrow or years down the road. Do good.

Know Your Hope

Vs.15 is that verse that terrified me for many years.  I came across it close to the beginning of my spiritual pilgrimage, and I felt that I didn’t know enough about God to be confident in my faith.  So I went to a Christian college, learned theology, apologetics, greek, hebrew, spiritual formation, discipleship and I still wasn’t confident.  Then a few years back, as I was writing a lesson for youth group, I realized something profound.  Peter isn’t talk about knowing God fully to defend the faith.  Peter is talking about knowing why you have faith.  I don’t know every type of theology out there; I can’t debate the nuances of apologetics.  But I can tell you why I believe what I believe.  I can tell you why I believe that Jesus lived, died and rose from the grave.

You will never know everything about God and you will encounter people who have a deeper knowledge about Christianity than you.  But, If you know why you believe, then you can silence those people who will question your faith.

Little Extra:  Think back to the day you started to truly believe in Jesus.  Jot down the reasons why you started believing.

Allow God To Be God

Peter then goes on to vs.16 and say’s “God will put them to shame.”  Christians are the worst at getting upset for any reason.  Outsiders, look at Christians and think “they need to cool down”.  Christians get upset over everything.  From theology to politics, to what my children watch at home.

If you are one of those Christians who get easily offended, I would say “grow up” but that wouldn’t fix the problem.  Instead, take Peter’s reply to the Christians (WHO WERE BEING KILLED FOR THEIR FAITH) which say’s “God will put them to shame.”  Or “God will judge them.”  There is no if’s, and’s and but’s about it.  The day will come when those who defile God, will have to face God’s judgement.  Don’t be overly sensitive, allow the worldly to look stupid for their over sensitivity.  Be different, and when you feel God is being disrespected, don’t protect God.  God doesn’t need to be protected; He is our refuge.  We are not His.  Allow God To Be God.

For Parents

One of the things that worries me most is having my child in the world.  Will they be treated fairly? Will they be bullied or harassed?  What if there is a dangerous person who wants to harm them?   Those uncertainties can make any parent stay awake at night.

So, what I can do right now? I can prepare them to be good, to know Jesus, and not to get upset over trivial things.

Question: How can you teach those things to your children?

1 Peter Bible Study: Submitting And Developing Inner Beauty

In this week’s Bible Study we are discussing submission and developing inner beauty in our children.

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Read 1 Peter 2:13 – 3:22

Reflect on this passage (1 Peter 3:1-7)

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

After reading this passage in context, jot down some of your initial thoughts.

Take a moment to consider the “likewise” in each section. What is Peter trying to correlate between submitting to authority with slaves, wives, and husbands?

Submission is not a word we like to hear in the U.S. In our culture; we want to be free from authority. I have free speech, religion, and government. I am a free person, to make the choices I want, to live the way I want, and to be my own person. Those things are all good to have, and the Bible speaks favorably of having freedom. But and it’s a strong “but,” even though we are free, we are called to use that freedom to submit.

What is even harder to understand, the submission to husbands from wives is not about the wives submitting no matter if their partner is a believer or not. Peter asks them to live in such a way, that their non-believing partner “may be” won by their conduct. And one of the ways is to make sure their beauty is more so inward than outward.

Then Peter goes even deeper and calls husbands to be submissive to their wives and slaves. Often in this passage people get stuck on the “weaker vessel” and many people use that as a verse to degrade women. Those who get upset with that word or use that word to degrade someone is missing the point of this section. Women were considered second thought in Peter’s culture and Peter isn’t degrading them; he is upgrading them. Peter is telling men, who thought themselves high and mighty to be equal to their wives. In the culture, women were considered weak. And Peter is going against the culture saying “if women are weak than men submit, so they are equal. So it’s not about the weaker vessel, but about men submitting, so both men and women are equal.

 

Question: How does this passage depart from the views of society today? 

Question: In what areas of your life do you need to submit to your spouse? How does your relationship reflect that of Peter’s message?

For Parents

Although this passage is about wives and husbands being submissive to each other, there is one thing that we can teach our children from these passages and in verses 3 and 4. I like the Message paraphrase

Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.

There are many outside things our children and students are pressured into having to be relevant. Maybe it’s new technology. Maybe it’s clothing. Maybe it’s other luxury items.

As a Christian parent, we are called to work developing our children’s inner beauty rather than worrying about being trendy in our culture.

Question: What are some way’s you can work on your child’s inner beauty?