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The Challenge of Parenting

Tim Jackson —  September 19, 2011 — 4 Comments

Parenting has always been a challenge. Jim Dobson nailed it years ago, “Parenting isn’t for cowards.” That sure has been my experience.

From the days of Adam and Eve in the Garden with their first of many children–Cain and Abel–parenting has been fraught with problems (Gen. 4:1-16).

So, what hope can parents find in raising the next generation to be productive and God honoring?

One of the teachings that has helped me as a parent is to focus not on producing a product, like a well-behaved kid, but on encouraging my children to have a heart for God. While good behavior is certainly desirable in our children, it’s equally as certain that it’s not enough.

While we as parents will often make the mistake of settling for outward appearances of compliance in our children, God’s focus, as always, is on their hearts (1 Sam. 16:7).

Two theological questions that have helped me focus more on our children’s hearts are tied into who they are as a son or daughter made in God’s image, worthy of love and respect, and at the same time who they are as little rebels at heart who are born into the world thinking they are the epicenter of the universe.

(Now I can just about hear some of you thinking, “My little Billy or Nancy could never have been a rebel.” Oh, please. Hear me out. Remember the trench warfare waged with each child when you had to finally draw on all your strength and forge a pact in blood with your spouse that neither of you would respond to their demanding cries that you take care of them IMMEDIATELY!!! Yea, you know what I’m talking about.)

The two questions are:

Am I loved? This question ties into a child’s Dignity because they are made in God’s image. Check out Genesis 1:26. It’s foundational for understanding your child’s value and worth to God, which should reshape the way you view them as well.

Can I get my own way? This question ties into what I referred to above, your child’s Depravity. Your child has inherited a sin nature from . . . you, his or her parent. How do I know it’s true? Well, first, the Bible is clear that our kids are just miniature versions of us big people, i.e. beautiful and broken. Romans 3:23 sums it up: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The glory of God is our dignity that was marred in the Fall (Gen. 3:1-24). “All” is loosely translated, well, all. Us as parents as well as our kids. We’re all in this together.

And finally, and here’s the catch. Now that you know these questions as parents, the challenge facing you is that you must answer both of them simultaneously. How you answer these two questions will determine the kind of parent that you are and how you  handle the hearts of those precious children that God has entrusted into your capable hands.

So, how’s your parenting? We’d love to hear your comments and questions.

Who do you love the most?

Jeff Olson —  August 11, 2011 — 1 Comment

A young child once asked her father, “Daddy, who do you love the most, me or my brother?” The father wisely explained to his child that he loved each one of his children the same, but he sometimes expressed his love in different ways.

Later, the young child then asked, “Daddy, who do you love the most, Jesus or me?” The father told his daughter that he loved Jesus the most, because without Jesus, he couldn’t love his children as much as he does.

What a great answer. It parallels the words of another father figure once wrote to a group of Christians he considered his “dear children” (1 John 2:1). The Apostle John wrote, “We love each other because He loved us first” (1 John 4:19 NLT).

Who do you love the most?

If you are going through a divorce, please don’t put your children in the middle of the conflict between you and the other parent.  The children didn’t cause the divorce and they can’t, nor should they be expected to, fix it.

It’s confusing enough for children when they learn that one or both parents want out of the marriage. What children often hear is that the other parent wants out of the family. That mom or dad no longer loves them. That somehow if they had been better kids, didn’t fuss and argue as much, that parent would be happier and stay.

Some parents lose their good judgment and add to their children’s pain and confusion by putting them in the middle of mom and dad. They force them to take sides. They put their children in the role of “message-bearer.” Or they use the children as emotional confidants telling them how painful this divorce is for them and how much they miss their spouse. 

Children need to be relieved of this kind of pressure and responsibility. They need to hear each parent say, “I love you and I will always be here for you.”  They need to know that while this is a painful time,  mom and dad will be OK.  They need to hear both parents explain that the divorce is because of adult problems, but that won’t change how much they love their children. And one of the best ways to love your children is not put them in the middle of the conflict.

Idol Worship

Allison Stevens —  October 4, 2010 — 6 Comments

A friend of mine recently confessed to me that she has made her children her “idols.” She said her world is wrapped up in them and worrying about them has become a normal way of life for her.  When they do well, she soars emotionally. When they fail, she crashes.

She confessed this sin and reaffirmed that there is “no other Rock” besides God Himself (Isaiah 44:8.) I can identify with her struggle, and, unfortunately, just like Israel, I’ve had to confess the sin of idolatry many times.

God says this about idols:  They’re worthless and those who worship them are blind and stupid. Continued idol worship will bring a person to shame and their lives to destruction (Isaiah 44:8-20.)

Anything can become an idol, no matter how good of a thing it is. Some idols are easier to identify than others. And some idols are incredibly subtle. But they can become idols just the same:

If only I had that job promotion, more money, bigger house, more recreation, expensive clothes, nicer car.

Relationships: Well-behaved children, a better spouse, cooler friends

Anything that gives me my identity: power, popularity, intelligence, beauty

How can we know if something meant for our enjoyment has turned into an idol?  Maybe a good test is this: When we think about not having what we want, we feel anxious, confused, and desperate. 

We think and plan and connive ways to get what we’re after. We’re consumed with anxiety about how to get what we want. We’re confused about which direction to take to get what we want. We wrongly believe that this thing, whatever it is, will bring us life; that it will save us. In desperation, we think that if we don’t have this, we will die.

Can we live without idols?  We can’t live with them. It’s like feeding on ashes (Isaiah 8:20.)

Happiest Days of Your Life

Jeff Olson —  September 11, 2009 — 1 Comment

boat for sale-flickrJust the other day I over heard a man say that the happiest days of his life were the day he bought a boat and the day he sold the boat. As one who owns a small fishing boat, he makes a good point.

A friend and fellow boat owner jokingly says that that the word “boat” is the acronym for “break out another thousand.” It can certainly seem like that, especially with the price of gasoline these days. 

I’m grateful to the Lord for many happy days. The days that rank up at the top for me would certainly include days like the birth of my children or the opening day of deer season or hearing the news that a close friend is cancer free.

What would you say are the happiest days of your life?

First Day of School

Allison Stevens —  September 8, 2009 — 2 Comments

The first day of school always brings with it a mixture of emotion for us parents. Whether you’re walking your 5-year old in for her first day of kindergarten or dropping your son off for his first day of high school, we feel sadness, excitement, apprehension, and maybe even a bit of relief.

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