Tag Archives: parenting

2 Chronicles 33-36; There Is No Time Like The Present

A few weeks ago my pastor, who is doing a series of sermons through the Gospel of Mark, shared a heart-felt, heart-wrenching sermon on the unforgivable sin. We all went away from there knowing one of two things: either we would not commit that sin because we have already accepted God’s gift of grace through the blood of Jesus, or we were guilt of that sin because we are rejecting Him.

A couple of days later I was at our Good News Club at a local elementary school. The leader was helping the kids with our memory verse, John 3:16. “Jesus died,” she said, “so that anyone anywhere who believes in Him will be saved, and have eternal life.”

One boy raised his hand. “My pastor says some people run from God. They say, ‘I’ll get saved later. I want to live life my own way first.'” The boy and his family have been attending our church for several weeks. I rejoiced that his youngster understood what he was hearing.

I thought about that as I read the last chapter of 2 Chronicles this morning. Manasseh was the son of Hezekiah, a good king who did mostly what was pleasing to God during his reign. But when Manasseh became king, he wasted no time undoing the good his dad had done. Under Manasseh’s leadership, the Jews did more evil than the pagan people around them.

Manasseh eventually quit running from God, humbled himself, and repented. Then, with as much fervor as he’d had doing evil, he began to clean up his mess. He got rid of foreign gods, restored the altar, and told the people to start serving God.

All good things. But his years of defiance took its toll. His son Amon, who became king after Manasseh died, totally defied God his entire reign. Manasseh may have given his life to the Lord, but his son who had lived in his house during Manasseh’s rebellious years, never did. Manasseh had time to clean up the mess he’d made of the nation, but the time to repair the damage he’d done to his son ran out.

Sometimes I think we forget that our influence, our actions and attitudes, effect those closest to us in a very real way, for a very long time. If you are holding anything back from God, don’t think that isn’t effecting the dear ones who live in your home, or who love you and are loved by you.

I certainly hope you aren’t one who is saying, “I’ll get right with God later.” Don’t be living with that unforgivable sin hanging over your head. And for goodness sake, don’t give your children the impression that’s ok. They are watching your example, and learning from you.

Let our loved ones see that NOW is the time to deal with sin, to humble ourselves before God, and accept His forgiveness. Model for your children what a Christian looks like, by the things you do, the places you go, the things you say, the attitudes and passions you have.

There is no time like the present.

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2 Chronicles 8-10; Try A Little Tenderness

Rehoboam didn’t inherit the wisdom his father, King Solomon, had possessed. His first act as the newly crowned king of Israel split the nation in such a way that Jews became enemies of Jews. Rehoboam’s actions had consequences that were felt for generations. And it started with a word.

Play the tough guy, Rehoboam, so people respect you. Come down hard so they obey you.

I wonder how Israel’s history would read if Rehoboam had replied to Jeroboam with a little kindness.

I don’t know what position of authority you hold. You might be a preacher, a CEO of a large company, or a small one. You might be the shift manager at a fast food restaurant, a parent, a teacher, the captain of your HS football team. I would suggest we all take a lesson from Rehoboam.

Ruling with an iron fist, making sure people know they are under your thumb, does not encourage loyalty. Oh, they may obey you while looking for another job, or counting the days until they can get out of your house. But rest assured, more likely than not they will leave you the minute they can.

Authority doesn’t have to be mean. Taking a stand doesn’t mean beating people into submission. A person can be firm and kind at the same time.

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Not sure why anyone would go fly-hunting, but I get it. Treat people the way you want them to treat you, goes for the workers and the bosses, the children and the parents, the parishioners and the pastor.

Rehoboam’s story tells me meanness divides. Try a little tenderness.

2 Kings 11-13; As His Father Did

As we are introduced to one king after another in the northern and southern kingdoms of the Jewish nation, we are told whether they were good kings or bad. And very often we find out whether or not they followed in their fathers’ footsteps.

There are a lot of things about my own dad I would like to exhibit in my life. His quick wit and generosity, his love of God’s creation and his sense of adventure. But there are also some things I don’t want to model, like his quick temper and critical spirit.

When I take inventory of myself, I see a lot of Dad in me, both the good and the bad. It makes me stop and consider what influence I am having on the little ones in my life. Would it be a good thing or a bad thing if they did as Aunt Connie did?

One of my nephews has a birthday today. He’s a daddy himself, with four precious children who will have to decide one day whether they want to  follow in his footsteps or not. I hope they choose to be like their father who loves God and follows Him unashamedly. Happy birthday, Ryan. I have tears of joy in my eyes as I remember the past thirty something years, watching you grow into the man you are today. I wonder what kind of influence I have been on you, your brothers and sister, your cousins, and now the next generation of people I love with all my heart.

When I read about Elisha here in 2 Kings I see the kind of influence I’d like to have myself. Elisha was a godly man, a man who never compromised his faith, a man everyone knew as a man of God. And when Elisha died, his influence didn’t die with him. Touching Elisha’s bones brought life.

I have Steve Green’s “Find Us Faithful” running through my head.

You see, this life I’m living isn’t just about me. In fact, it’s not about me at all. As a Jesus follower, my life is about Him, and the impact I have on my world in His Name. It’s living a life that would inspire my loved ones to live lives doing what is “right in the eyes of the Lord” because they saw that in me.

Even after I am gone, I want the fire of my devotion to continue to light their way, my footprints to lead them to believe in Jesus as their Savior.

I hope you’ll go to You Tube and listen to “Find Us Faithful” today. May it be the prayer of your heart, as it is the prayer of mine. And may we live lives that would please God if our children did as their father or mother or aunt did.

My dear Heavenly Father, thank you for my parents and the influence they still have on me today, years after they’ve gone to live with you. God, I want to be gentle like my mom, to pray like she prayed, to love You like she loved You. I want to be self-sacrificing like Dad was, and to be uncompromising in my belief the way he stood firm. God, I want my love for You to translate into something my nieces and nephews want for themselves. And I pray my sweet great-nieces and nephews will see Jesus in me, and be drawn to You. Find me faithful, Lord. Find us all faithful.

Deuteronomy 25; The Family of the Unsandaled

I got stalled in my reading today at verse 10. Moses was talking to the Israelites about the rights of a young woman, widowed before she could have a child. Moses said the dead man’s brother was to marry her, have a child by her, and the child would be considered the extension of her first husband’s ancestral line.

If the living brother refused her, she could take him to court. If, even after the town’s elders talked to him, he still refused, the widow would bend down, remove her brother-in-law’s sandal, and spit in his face. He would be totally humiliated in front of the whole town as he held on to his stubborn disobedience.

So why wouldn’t he be identified as “The Unsandaled Man?” Why did Moses tell the people this man’s family would always be identified with his disobedience: The Family of the Unsandaled.

Jewish genealogy was so important to them, I wonder why a guy would set his children and grandchildren up to bear the tarnish his sin caused? How self-serving can a person be?

I went to the commentaries on my shelves, and even Matthew Henry had little to say on the subject. So I went to Google. Google has an opinion on just about anything. I wasn’t disappointed.

Well, a little disappointed. I found one pastor who said these verses in Deuteronomy support gay marriage. (sigh). But another pointed to Ruth and Boaz and the fact that Jesus came out of their union. Another pointed to the time the religious leaders tried to trip Jesus up by using this passage. But I couldn’t find an answer to my question concerning the family of the guilty man.

So I decided to pray. (Not proud of the order of my actions here today) I asked God if there was something He wanted me to know about this verse. I sat and thought about it, meditated on it, and I prayed again. And here is what I believe God would have me share:

We are all born into a family. We all carry a family name. We rub shoulders with the people in our community as part of an identifiable family. My sisters and I grew up as “The Zehner Girls.” And even though today most of us have different last names through marriage, we are still known to many as “The Zehner Girls.”

But there is another means of identification. And that has to do with character. I bet you know a “Family of the Unfaithful.” Or a “Family of the Liar.” Or a “Family of the Gossip.” What about “The Family of the Lazy?” “The Family of the Hot-Head,” or “The Family of the Drunk?”

Some people believe the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Maybe you also know “The Family of the Compassionate.” And a “Family of the Humble.” Do you know “The Family of the Dependable?”

The thing is, what you do and who you are in the community reflects on those dear ones in your home. Maybe you live like what you want is more important than they are. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself it’s your life, and they have nothing to do with your choices, or that your choices can’t hurt them. I think God would have us know differently.

Then I thought about another family with whom we identify. That’s our church family. When people look at your church family do they identify them as “The Church of the Faithful” because YOU are faithful? Do they recognize your fellowship as “The Church of the Generous” because of YOUR generosity? Are you known as “The Church of the Compassionate” as you reach out to the needy in your community? “Do they see you as “The Church of the Truth” because you live your life according to Scripture?

Like it or not, the world is judging your family, and your church, by how you live and the choices you make. I don’t want my legacy to be a slap in the face to my family. In fact, as I sit here and wonder about what I’d like that legacy to be, I would like us to be known as, “The Family That Looks Like Jesus.”

And if that’s my goal, I’ve got some praying, some searching of Scripture, some loving and serving to do in His Name.

I hope you will consider the title your family is known by, and what you’d like it to be. I’ll be praying for you.

Deuteronomy 9-11; Parenting Eternal Souls

We all know parenting is a huge responsibility. The first time you held your newborn, weren’t you overcome with the fact that you were going to play an important role in shaping that little one into the adult he or she would become? Did you understand that you held an eternal soul in your arms?

Kids learn from us, even if our parenting is not intentional. They learn to laugh by watching what we think is funny. They learn how to handle anger, how to love, how to work and play, from watching us.

Kids learn from our example, but if that’s the extent of your parenting, you might as well be an alley cat teaching her young how to hunt. Our children need more than just an example.

In the chapters I read today in God’s Word, Moses is telling the Jews they need to obey God. They need to love and fear Him so God can bless them, and not destroy them. He talked about the Ten Commandments, and in 11:13-15 he shares what God told him about all that:

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today– to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul– then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

Once again we are reminded blessings follow obedience. And if we lived our lives like Moses describes, we’d be living a pretty good example for our kids to follow. But then, Moses said something more.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframe of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (18-21)

Do your children understand why you laugh at certain things and not others? Do they know that they can be angry and not sin? Have you explained to them that love is more than a feeling? Have you talked to them about why you go to work every day, why you do your best on your job, why you ask for forgiveness when you are wrong, why you go to church, why you believe what you believe? Have you talked to them about what sin is?Your children are not kittens. They need to know these things. And they won’t know unless you talk to them about it.

God told the children of Israel to write His commandments on their doorframes and gates. Makes me wonder what we have hanging on our walls in our homes. Makes me wonder what TV shows our kids see us watch. Do we talk to our kids about those things?

What are your conversations like around your dinner table? (I hope you make it a point to gather around your dinner table) What do you talk about when you are together in the car? Have you sat on the swing in the back yard with your child, and enjoyed God’s creation together, talking about how it all began?

I think God is challenging us to make it a point to talk to those little ones in our lives about spiritual things at a very early age. Sure, it’s important to model morality, and work ethic, kindness, and respect. It’s important to live lives that demonstrate obedience to God. But it’s also important that our children understand the whats and whys of our choices before a Holy God. And it’s even more important that they understand their own choices and responsibilities before the same Holy God.

It’s eternally important.

 

Numbers 1-3; Family

We celebrated my niece’s wedding this past weekend with a reception at the local arts’ center. It was so beautiful and so fun to honor the love of her and my newest nephew. To add to the occasion, our family from Texas traveled the thousand mile journey to join us. I got to see my Texas niece’s daughter for the first time, and hug on my sister’s new husband and his daughter. 35 of our immediate family gathered together for brunch on Saturday, then had an Easter Egg hunt for the eight little ones in our lives.

The five “Zehner girls” were all together for the first time in five years. We followed each other around like sappy puppies. No one wanted to miss a moment of our time together. And having almost all their children and grandchildren with us was nothing short of amazing.

Maybe that’s why this morning, as I read these first chapters in the book of Numbers, I was impressed with the fact that God told the Israelites to camp, and travel with their families. Yes, they were all God’s children. But they were divided into family groups, numbered as family groups, went to war as family groups.

I’m thankful for my family group. I won’t pretend that everything has always been as it was this past weekend. There has been hurt, and anger, and separation. There have been times when there was little or no communication with some of us. But as I sat together with my sisters, laughing and remembering the good times, as I watched our children enjoying each other, someone said, “Thank you, Bob and Ginny.” Our parents gave us quite a gift in our forever friends.

Some of you may be experiencing brokenness in your family group. I don’t know your situation. But I would encourage you to do what you can to fix it. Reach out to that one with whom you are estranged. Confess. Forgive. Encourage. Family units seem to be important to God.

If you are a parent I would suggest that you would raise your children to be friends. Model the behavior with your own siblings that you want to see in your kids. People don’t believe that a house full of five girls could exist without fights. But we didn’t get away with fighting. We weren’t allowed to be mean to each other,  and our parents never thought it was funny if one of us would strike another or take another’s toy.

I, being the oldest, was never given authority over my younger sisters. I can’t remember ever being “in charge” when our parents weren’t home. (Oh, I might have thought I was in charge, but I don’t think that position was ever really given to me). We weren’t all forced to fit into a single mold. I never heard, “Why aren’t you more like your sister?”

Parenting is hard. But how you raise your children will have a lot to do with the relationships you have with them when they are adults. I’m loving the adult relationships I have with my nieces and nephews, and their spouses. And I love that the second generation of Zehners are friends with each other, too.

 

Jesus’ friends were concerned for His family, His mother, brothers, and sisters. Jesus told them that we who do God’s will are his family. Yet, when He was on the cross, He looked at Mary, His mother, and told John to take care of her. There was still that family connection.

So I believe the Bible teaches that families are important. They can be those people who love you best, hold you accountable, encourage, and challenge you.

I’m praying for yours.

August 4 – Your Children’s Children

2 Kings 20-21

Every time I read this account of the life of King Hezekiah, I get angry. Why God answered his prayers I don’t know. When God promised to heal the king in three days, Hezekiah asked for a sign. He couldn’t wait three days? Then, when God told Hezekiah that because he had sinned, Babylon would defeat the nation, steal everything Hezekiah had worked for, and capture Hezekiah’s sons, Hezekiah thought, “Is it not so, if there will be peace and truth in my days?”

Yes, Hezekiah your life will be just fine. It’s your children and your children’s children who will realize the consequences for your sin. Happy?

I know Hezekiah did a lot of good while he was king. I just happen to think he ended badly. And his son, Manasseh brought back idol worship when he became king. In fact, under Manasseh’s reign the Jews acted worse than the heathen nations around them.

Then when Hezekiah’s grandson Amon became king, he continued where Manasseh left off. Quite a downward spiral that began, I believe, with Hezekiah’s self-serving attitude.

Just wondering, parents, what is it your children are learning from you? Obedience? Worship? Self-sacrifice? Integrity? Compassion? Love of Scripture? The fear of God?

You may be doing alright in your personal walk with the Lord. But what about the dear ones who are following you? Are you preparing them to know God, to love and serve Him? Or are you satisfied knowing you’re ok, and let them fend for themselves?

I think you know how I’m praying.