Parent Like Almighty God…Seriously!

I had the privelige of sharing with our church, The Donelson Fellowship last night, and spoke about the command of God given to His people in Deuteronomy 6.  My preparations brought me past a passage that provided me with a great lesson on parenting.  It can be so frustrating and stressful to parent your way through a child’s disobedient actions and then subsequent negotiations.  This little insightful passage for we parents is found in Deuteronomy 3:23-27.

In a very compelling direct example for parents, we can learn how parent like God Almighty!  That should get our kids attention, huh?

The back story of this passage is from Numbers 20:8-12. The children of Israel were known for grumbling and complaining often blaming Moses for bringing them out of Egypt.  At this time, the Israelites were thirsty, very thirsty and like literal children, they reacted emotionally to a physical need that they should have know God would take care to meet for them.  The people sang their too familiar tune of woe and despair to Moses who went to God to ask Him what he should do.  God gave Moses very specific instructions about what to do.  Moses was to gather everyone before a large rock and speak to the rock in the name of God and water would pour forth.  Moses was muy frustrated (very frustrated) with the people and in anger cracked his big staff twice against the rock instead of speaking to it.  This was in direct disobedience to God’s command.  God still provided, but his punishment for Moses came immediately

Check out the text…

 

 23 At that time I pleaded with the LORD : 24 “O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”

 26 But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 

 

Moses blew it big time, making the decision to allow his anger and frustration with the people he was leading and there was a price to pay.  The price was that God would not allow him to enter the Promised Land.

This is a situation that we parents are placed all the time.  Our kids are given specific directions about what they should or should not do, and often they will disobey  us.  How are we going to handle this?  I think we should do what God did.

1.  Provide clear directions for your kids.  Make sure they understand the expectation you have for their behavior.  God told Moses specifically to speak to the rock, not strike it.

2.  Expect them to obey, but be prepared in the event that they do not.  God responded to Moses immediately.  His first response was to take care of the task that Moses should have taken care of the correct way.  He still instantly provided water to the people, but He also immediately told Moses that He was displeased with his disobedience.

3.  Keep your emotions in check.  The last thing you need to do is explode to your children when they make a mistake.  God didn’t rain down fire or instantly strike Moses down with any disease.  He simply informed him that he had lost the privelige of leading the people into the Promised Land

4.  Stick to your guns.  In the Deuteronomy passage we see that Moses came back to God and pleaded with God to be able to cross over into the Promised Land, but God refused.   “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”  God refused to relent on the punishment because He knows the failures that follow inconsistency and an unwillingness to make a punishment stick.

5.  Express your love.  God loved Moses and soon after this welcomed him into Heaven and His presence.  When your kids blow it, handle the problem, hand out consequences and then love the fire out of them.  

If we do these five things with our kids when they disobey, they will learn how to act correctly and obey.  We’ll also be parenting the way God has shown us to parent in His word.  

Hang in there, Moms and Dads!

iParent-November 13

Click Here:iParentNovember13.mp3

This time of year, as it begins to get colder and the leaves are mostly on the ground, I start thinking of Christmas. Jesus’ birthday! The most amazing event in the history of the world was the birth of this tiny baby. This tiny baby was the son of God, God in human form. Fast forward 2000 years and we can see that the celebration of his birth has been polluted by the world and commercialized for the benefit of every business interest creative enough to come up with some catchy Christmasy item.

Did you know that Americans spent over $450,000,000 on Christmas last year? Here’s the deal; not only the world has done this to Christmas. We, as Christians have been part of the problem, too. Every year, we look for ways to buy more and more for our kids. They deserve all those things, right? Well, maybe so, but since Christmas is about God giving something of eternal value to all of mankind, and since Jesus’ very life on earth was about giving to and helping the poor in physical and spiritual ways, why don’t we take some of what we’ve always done for ourselves and give it away to those who truly “need” this Christmas. I might want the latest, greatest techie item (and I do), but I DON’T need it.

How could we go about doing this you ask? Two simple things:
1. Spend less
2. Give it away

Here’s a video that I think you’ll love that speaks to this problem in our society and has challenged me to do something different this year called Advent Conspiracy.

Let me know if you’ll join our family in bringing the true meaning of Christmas back to the forefront this year.

Here’s today’s version of the iParent podcast.

Election 2008-Teaching Kids That Truth Matters

As the election draws ever nearer, I felt it might be helpful to address the whole concept of truthfulness. It is my firmly held belief that one of the foundations of our children’s lives ought to be a commitment to truth and honesty. This belief comes from what the Bible teaches us about how we should live. The Bible tells in the Ten Commandments to not “bear false witness” which is church-ese for “don’t lie”. The Bible also tells us in the Gospels to “let our yes be yes, and our no be no.” I believe the Bible teaches that truth is not negotiable, or flexible depending on the situation. What is true for one group of people is true for all groups of people

No where in public life is the concept of consistent truth telling attacked more than during a presidential election, and this drives me crazy. To a certain degree, both candidates are not totally truthful. They both will declare all of the things that they will do for the country, knowing full well, they have no intention of seriously doing everything they say. This is not optimism on there part, but I think a lack of truthfulness.

I believe that parents can make a difference in future generations by never straying from the biblical teaching about truth and honesty. We need to be prepared to explain to them that the candidates are making a bad choice when they tell something that isn’t true about the other one. It’s up to us to correct the bad stories when we hear them, and not just the ones that are against our preferred candidate. Our kids will be voting someday, maybe even in the next presidential election. We owe it to them and our founding fathers to help them abide by the truth and to demand a society of truthfulness.

How Do You Spend Your Resources?

The 2008 Summer Olympics are ready to kick off in Beijing, China.  The opening ceremonies are this Friday, and will kick off competitions in dozens of different events.  The bill for the opening ceremonies is said to be in excess of $100 million dollars!  What an amazing amount of money.  That’s a huge sum to spend, even for a permanent structure. As I recall, LP Field in Nashville, where the Tennessee Titans play was built for somewhere in the neighborhood of $180 million.  That is certainly more money, but when you consider that it is a permanent structure that can hold 70,000 people for a variety of other events in addition to football games, that looks like a bargain compared to the money that will be spent on one, single EVENT.  Wow.  That’s a lot of fireworks and special effects.  

Today, I’m asking you the question, “how do you spend your resources?”.  Specifically, how do you spend your parenting resources?  What are my parenting resources you ask?  I’m no expert, but I think one very important resource is your brain.  You know that blob that floats in your skull, that great central processing unit for your existence?  Our brains are an amazing part of the overall system of our bodies, and experts tell us that we’ve only tapped into a small percentage of the brain’s full capabilities.  

Since your brain is so important for all of life, it makes sense then to me that our brain is one of the easiest and most important parenting tool we have at our disposal.  To begin implementing this resource in our parenting we have to shift our thinking to be intentional about using this resource in a most efficient way.  If we don’t make an intentional and determined choice to do this, we’ll fail.  It takes more than words or thoughts, it may take serious change.  This may seem simplistic, but how many times have we repeated the same mistakes personally or as a parent, knowing full well, what the result will be.  We have to change our wiring mentally to start using our brain adequately as a parent.  One big change to make in our wiring is to start paying attention to our kids.  I know you love them, and protect them from sharks and rabid possums and such, but we need to pay attention to the things that they do, watch and say.  It’s not enough to just bring your kids to church.  

If we allow their brains to be filled with several hours of media per day, how much of a chance can we possibly believe the one-two hours of church each WEEK can have any kind of lasting impact?  That’s not enough time.  It would be like planting a beautiful new bush in your yard and watering it one time, one day a week.  The plant will die in the summer heat, and the teaching that your kids receive at church will die if not watered and fertilized by you as their parent. We need to stay tuned in to their lives to be able to pick up on subtle developmental changes that occur as they grow.    What causes those subtle changes?   Is it the job you do as a parent, or something else that they take in?  We also need to use our brains in helping kids make wise choices about the media they take in.  If we let them, kids will watch tv, play video games and surf the internet until their eyes, ears and hands are worn out and they fall asleep, but this isn’t good for them. 

 Now, don’t get me wrong, I love some media myself, and we have television, internet and video games in our home.  Therefore, I’m not suggesting some “quaker-like” cocoon surrounding our kids, keeping them from experiencing the culture we live in.  I’m simply urging you to use the first parental resource, your brain, to set boundaries with your kids.  Set a time limit on their media intake, follow-up daily about the things they are learning at church, or the things you are learning at church or in your quiet time.  

It takes a lot of resources to consistently involve your children in what goes on at church and it can be expensive in more ways than just financial.  Think about the example about the spending on the Olympic opening ceremonies and the cost of a permanent structure like LP Field that is available for use year after year from thousands of people again.  At the end of your parenting career, that is when your kids are grown, don’t you want to be able to look back and know you spent your resources wisely?  Don’t be guilty of spending them all in one very small portion of their lives.  Spend those resources in ways that will make a lasting difference, and you will be the kind of parent God desires for us to be as written in Deuteronomy 6.

Caring for the Mind of Your Child

This blog is all about how to be the kind of parent God wants us to be. Not how I think they should handle themselves, but how I honestly believe our standard for living, the Bible, makes it crystal clear that no one other than a child’s mother and father has the final responsibility for helping train their kids. Other people and institutions assist us in this effort, but at the end of the day, parents must not deny their responsibility. To brush up on what God’s word has to say on the matter, go and check out Deuteronomy 6 again.

Some of you may be wondering why I’ve taken the time to write about the 2008 presidential elections, and I want to tell you why. I believe part of helping our kids to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is in realizing that we can’t just instruct and train in one or two areas. No, if we’re going to do the job right, we need to help them in every area.

The mind is a fertile field for ideals and principles to be sown like a field of wheat, but is also easily corrupted by the weeds of music, movies, television and other cultural influences. Therefore we must be diligent to keep the field clear of these weeds that can ultimately take over the entire field if left unchecked. Continue reading

Election 2008-Helping Kids Understand the Candidates

We finally know for sure that the two main candidates for President of the USA will be John McCain and Barack Obama. We still don’t know who the vice-presidential candidates will be, but I wanted to give you some quick and easy facts about these two men. Help your kids understand that they will be seeing many commercials on television about these two candidates. They need to know that everything that comes on the tv is not necessarily true. Try and help them understand that the commercials exaggerate at times.


Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee and is from Illinois. He is a U.S. Senator and has been a Senator for part of one term of office, which is four years. Mr. Obama is the first African-American to ever win the nomination of a major political party for President of the United States. He is married and has two younger children.


John McCain is the Republican nominee and is from Arizona. Mr. McCain is also a U.S. Senator and has served for many years in the Senate. He is married and has children who are grown. The most famous thing about Mr. McCain is that he used to be a jet-fighter pilot during the Vietnam War. He was shot down and captured by the enemy and kept as a prisoner of war for several years, and was tortured during his captivity.

There is much more that could be written to describe these two candidates, my words are only meant to serve as a basic intro to the two. For more detailed info, check each candidates campaign or personal websites.

Protecting the Faith of Your Children

If you have been checking out the iParent blog for very long, you know that I am strong proponent for parents stepping up to take the leadership role as their children’s spiritual leaders.  The church simply is not there to water and fertilize the seeds of faith we sow into their lives on Sundays and Wednesdays.  What happens in the other 165 hours in a week, to strengthen them and help them practice their faith?  In everyday life, our children, and we as grown-ups need to be engaging in activities that help us act and think like God wants us to think, not just “turning off” our Christianity while we’re away from church.  I know I must improve in these ways with my daughters and suspect that many parents can relate to feeling like we’ve not done what we could have to help our kids grow into spiritual champions.   Continue reading

Teaching Your Kids Some Basics About Racism

If you’ve been watching the news at all, you know that in the past week or so the presidential campaign of Barack Obama has come under intense scrutiny because of the church he has attended for the past 20 odd years.  The pastor of that church, Jeremiah Wright, has used his pulpit as a soapbox not for lifting up Jesus and teaching people what God’s Word says to them and how to apply it, but to make seriously crazy political statements.   This all has resulted in Obama giving a speech about race yesterday in Philadelphia.  Many of your kids may end up seeing this speech or being engaged in this issue when they return to school next week, so I wanted to briefly address the issue of how to talk to your kids about racism in this country, so that you can help them process these events by looking at them the way God wants us to look at them. Remember to break this down to the level you think your child can understand.  The older your kids are, the more honest and descriptive you may want to be.  1.  Tell them about the beginnings of our country.  Acknowledge that our early leaders, even though many were Christians, allowed slavery to continue, even though the Declaration of Independence should have included slaves as well.  Explain that arguments about slavery began to happen and it resulted in the Civil War2.  Talk to them about Abraham Lincoln and how he was our President when he officially “freed” the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation.  3.   Teach them that even though the slaves were freed, it was still many, many years before black people were seen as equal citizens.  Many white people treated them very poorly, as if they weren’t good enough to be treated the same as them.  4. Show them how God created us all, and explain that different people have different skin colors because of where their ancestors lived, not because they from another species of mammal!  Teach them that God made us all, and loves us all, and wants all people of all colors to be able to accept Him and go to Heaven one day.  Teach them to treat everyone with the same respect and honor.  Every person we come in contact with has been created in the image of God and kids need to know that and express that equality in every way they can think of.  So, if the topic of race comes up in your home, don’t be afraid to talk openly about it, and teach your kids what the truth is.   

Facts Regarding Clean Water Availability in the World

Here are some more facts about real life struggles that happen due to a lack of clean water that were mentioned in today’s iParent. If you’d like more information or would like to get involved in our effort to provide well people in Africa, please contact me at steve@donelson.org.

Just click on this image to open a file that will allow all of the text to be viewed!

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