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!

Dads, Teach Your Boys How To Honor Women

Boy Giving his Mother Flowers, © Corbis, RF, 2, 5-6 years, 7-9 years, Adults, Affection, Back view, Boys, Caring, Children, Cut flowers, Domestic scenes, Everyday scenes, Eyeglasses, Eyewear, Females, Giving, Happiness, Human relationships, Interaction, Kindness, Love, Males, Mother, Offspring, Outdoors, Parents, People, Porch, Son, Whites, Women

Dad’s, if you have sons at home, you have future princes in training.  They need to be taught how to honor and respect women.  As a father of three daughters, I really think this is a must.  Last weekend I asked an 8 year old boy if he’d done anything for his mom for Valentine’s Day.  He said “no”, so I pried a little further.  Did you at least tell her you loved her?  Again the answer, “no.”  

My fear is that this little guy will not grow up without knowing how important it is to cherish and love his wife.  Dads, we have got to teach our sons to be men of honor.  If you have little men in your home, you should be modeling this honor and respect for their mom and your wife as you love her and serve her by speaking her love language.  

It may seem like a small thing now, but somewhere a little girl is dreaming of her prince charming.  So, please, do your part to make sure they don’t marry a frog.

Winning Isn’t Everything

Urban Basketball Action Photographic Print by Kevin RadfordThe way we raise our kids to handle competition often doesn’t get enough play in our homes.  Competition is an aspect of development that we need to help our kids have a healthy approach to because sooner or later they will be placed in a situation in which they will be forced to compete.  Athletic pursuits can be really helpful for this.

Sports and competition is fun and valuable for teaching kids about life in the real world.  There’s something that comes from being a part of a team effort in some sport that can have a huge influence on the way our kids develop.  Being a part of football and baseball teams have benefitted me, encouraging me to remember the team dynamic.   

But sports and competition can often be a toxic presence in your household.  Too often, we’ve heard of parents going toe to toe with another parent over something that happened in a junior hockey game, or seen that parent who has “encouraged” their son or daughter during the game to the point that they were unable to perform at all.  Unfortunately, I’ve come to close to that in the times that I’ve coached my own kids.  

Parents, we cannot allow ourselves to fall into the emotional feeling that our kids must succeed and that their team must win.  The fact is, losing helps teach too.  We can’t relive our childhood playing whatever sport that they’re now involved in.  We had our shot, and now we need to let our kids have theirs without riding them too hard to succeed on the field of play.  This mentality isn’t just reserved for sports though.  Music lessons, dance and even scouting can lead us to this negative influence.  

It’s fine to hope our kids score a goal, hit a home run, or make a basket.  It’s great to require them to practice their scales, exercise and keep going when they want to quit.  But it’s not okay to yell, ride or otherwise place uncomfortable pressure on them to succeed in the way you define success.  

Winning isn’t everything, and the harder you push your kids in an inappropriate way, the less likely they are to even want to participate in the first place.  

Instead of focusing on every missed shot, or achievement, stress fundamental principles of the activity they’re in and stress effort and persistence.  Lovingly encourage them to go for it, and demonstrate your love and pride whether they go 4-4 with a homerun, or 0-4 with four strikeouts.

Don’t Do As I Do, Do As I Say To Do…

Ever heard of the quote that I’ve used for this post? My parents never used it, but I’ve heard it referred to in a parenting sense. We want our kids to not model what they see us do, but rather choose to do the right thing that we tell them to do.

Well, I’m reading through the book of Lamentations currently. You probably know that this short book in the Old Testament is the sad story of someone crying and grieving, but maybe you’ve never read it. I haven’t read it before completely. I guess it’s like avoiding a movie you know will make you cry (Like, Underdog, for example). Guys especially don’t want to subject themselves to something they know beforehand will tug at their emotions and bring a tear to the corner of their eye.
Let’s face it: weeping and grieving doesn’t sound very inspirational for my daily time with the Lord. We usually like to focus on His promises to be there for us, His grace and love, or passages related to our reward in Heaven. We want to be lifted up, right?

Well, sometimes we need to smacked in the face, in order to see things more clearly. So, as I’m reading in Lamentations 2:11-12 I read these words,
“because infants and babies faint (die) in the streets of the city. They cry to their mothers, ‘ where is the bread and wine?’ as they faint (die) like a wounded man in the streets of the city, as their lives are poured out on their mother’s bosom.”
The context of this terrible reality that is taking place takes us to Jerusalem when the city was destroyed and many of it’s inhabitants were taken captive by the Babylonians. The Bible teaches us that God allowed this destruction and captivity to take place because of the sins of the people of Israel. The consequences of their sins were a high price to pay. During this destruction of the city, the gates were torn down, the temple was ransacked, and the people were wounded, killed or just left to die in the wake of all this. Even the smallest and most vulnerable citizens of Jerusalem had to suffer.

But they hadn’t done anything wrong! Why should they suffer? They were innocent bystanders in the truest sense of the word. This is certainly true, but unfortunately, children suffer the consequences of the sins of their parents.

When I read this this morning, I knew I needed to start writing this down.

OUCH! My kids will suffer because of the sins I commit. Dad, when you spend time allowing your eyes to fall on a woman other than your wife, there are consequences. Mom, when you give in to your kids when they don’t like something they’ve been told to do, there will be consequences. Parents, when we aren’t serious about teaching and training our kids to love the Lord and to serve other people in love, there will be consequences.

The job of parenting is so tough. I’m there with you with three daughters in my house. There are definitely days when you wonder how you’re going to find the energy to make it through the day, much less train your children in spiritual things. Just remember to take it one day at a time, capitalizing on the everyday teachable moments.

iParent-January 15: Smart Parents Use Splinks!

splink_poweredby
If you haven’t been to sign up for Splinks yet, please go to the D6 Family website. This great little tool is a free and comes through email that offers you several different ready made ideas for how to connect with your kids about the Lord and His Word each week.

Many kids experience a disconnect between church and home that isn’t evident while they are kids, but shows up big time when they hit the teenage and young adult years. The disconnect comes from knowing the stories in the Bible from beginning to end, but not understanding how they apply to everyday life. We live in an age where kids go through cellphones and game systems like I went through Captain Crunch as a boy. If something isn’t useful or meaningful to them, they disregard it. We have to work to connect God’s Word to the real world, and there’s easier way to do this than by using Splinks from D6 Family. Seriously, go sign up today!

splink_type_web1

iParent-December 19

Watch this segment of the Christmas Classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

This story is a great reminder of how something small made a huge difference. Just like the tiny tree didn’t look like much to Charlie’s pals, the tiny baby, the Christ child, didn’t look like the Savior of the world. Who could know from that humble beginning that this precious, little baby boy, would grow to become the bridge for all of humanity to join God. Jesus’ humble beginning and Charlie’s tree will help teach your children about how all things are possible with God, even something as small as a baby. Once children understand the true meaning of they can begin to grasp what Christmas should look like in THEIR everyday lives, just like Charlie’s friends who finally understood and decorated the little tree.

Your children need to be reminded that they were born just like Jesus was, and that they can make a difference in the world too. When Jesus lives inside of them, they can perform great acts of service that the Bible tells us in James are literally from God. When we act in a way that Jesus would, we are literally the hands and feet of Jesus. That’s why the Spend Less, Give More Christmas offering will be so exciting for our families. The memory of giving up something so that someone else in the world will have a chance to live a healthier, longer life will be a milestone for your children to use a big foundation for serving God in the future.

God bless you and your family today and everyday as you remember the birth of Jesus Christ and honor Him with some special offering.

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.

Show Your Love!

I’m writing mostly to dads out there with this post, and it’s about something that has really struck a chord in me lately. Currently, I’m reading the story of Brian “Head” Welch. Here’s the cover of the book:

He was one of the founding members of the heavy metal band Korn, who recently gave his life to Jesus Christ, and has since quit the band, drugs, alcohol, pornography and other addictive behaviors. What grabbed my attention wouldn’t leap off the page to most people, but I read the story of his childhood looking for clues about how much spiritual training and love he received as a boy. As it turns out, he received absolutely no leadership from his parents in spiritual matters. Keep in mind he was a regular kid in a regular family, with both parents in the home up until about age 13. He talks openly about knowing his mom loved him and how she showed it to him, but how he never felt the love from his father. His father wasn’t on drugs, or an alcoholic, but the way he treated and didn’t treat Brian played a huge role in his development. His father never felt comfortable showing him love. He never encouraged him in a consistent manner. The only consistent feeling this story described was an impatient anger with he and his brother.

I mentioned that he was a regular kid in a regular family. “Regular” these days too often means that kids have loving parents who want the best for the kids, but don’t have the personal discipline to lead their kids, or the knowledge of how to. Brian Welch had parents that loved him, but kids need more than just the word love. How do your kids KNOW that you love them? Welch writes that he had a need that only his father could feel. A need for love to be shown, approval to be given, recognition and training to help him grow properly. His father thought he was doing fine as a dad, giving Brian lots of chances to play sports or engage in hobbies, one of which became playing guitar. Before giving his life to Christ, his habits and addictions easily could have cost him his life. As a dad, or as a mom, how will you feel if one day your sons or daughters end up like Brian Welch. Sure, he may be an extreme case, but I know if one of my daughters even came close to the behaviors and addictions Welch had, I would wonder what I did wrong as a parent. In Welch’s case, he needed the attention and leadership from his father, not just the love from his mother.

Dads, your sons and daughters need to feel the love you have for them in unmistakeable ways. It may not be comfortable to you to show love in a big, open way, but for their sake, try to become fluent in the language of love that will help you kids bloom and blossom into the champion God wants them to be.