Tag Archives: raising children

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.

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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.

 

December 30

Revelation 15-18

I have shared that I spent 37 as a public school educator. When I got my first job in the 70’s we could demand obedience of our students. A call home, a swat on the bottom, or worse… being sent to the principal’s office accomplished two things. One, it taught the disobedient student that there were consequences for disobedience and those consequences weren’t fun. Secondly, it taught the other students in the class that obedience was probably a better choice.  Then some genius decided that kind of punishment ruined self-esteem and the government stepped in and told schools they could no longer teach that lesson. Today we see bullies who mistreat their classmates without fear of consequences. We read about young people who have so little fear of discipline they bring guns to school with the intent of killing others.

When I first started teaching it was a rarity for the parents of our students to be divorced. Children almost always shared the last name of their moms and dads. And it was unheard of that a student’s parents had never married. Eventually, that became less and less true. So we were told never to address a mom as “Mrs.” for fear of offending her. “Ms” became the norm. Today, a nuclear family, married parents is the rarity.

It was rare that a student got pregnant. But when a teenager did get pregnant, she was given the opportunity to continue her education at home and she certainly did not bring her new-born to school with her. But, again, we worried about her sense of self, and eventually protruding bellies became commonplace in the classrooms. Some schools even opened day care for the babies to make it convenient for the teenage mothers. Today the number of teen pregnancies is astronomical, even down into the middle school ages.

I thought about these things when I read about the prostitute in John’s vision. She said, “I sit as a queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.” She has no conscience. But she’s not hurting in the self-esteem category, is she?

Are we raising kids to think like this? Entitled? Above the rest? In the attempt to protect self-esteem (which is not a biblical concept) have we neglected to teach our children to recognize sin and repent of it? Paul described himself as a wretched man when faced with the reality of his sin. Doesn’t sound like he was feeling too good about himself at that point. Shouldn’t our children learn to describe themselves in the same way in light of sin in their lives?

Recently a young mom expressed to me concern that by swatting her child on the bottom she was damaging her child’s self-esteem. She felt guilty for spanking her disobedient child. The thing is, she is a good mom. She’s a mom who is determined to raise children who love and serve God. And her young children already have a sense of God’s love and presence in their young lives. 

God spanks, doesn’t he? And it doesn’t feel good when we are disciplined by our loving Heavenly Father. But it’s necessary for our relationship with him. I don’t see anywhere in Scripture where it says we should strengthen our sense of self. Quite the opposite. Because unless we see ourselves as wretched sinners, we won’t recognize our need of a Savior.

Here’s a thought. Self-esteem is not the same as confidence. We can encourage our children’s confidence in their talents and abilities and at the same time give God the glory. It’s important for our children to have the confidence to tackle new things, refine a talent. But teaching those children that they are self-centered, worthy, better than others without consideration of consequences for doing wrong, is teaching them to think like Satan did before the fall.

Holy God, I thank you once again for prompting John to write down his vision. As I look at the prostitute he saw, I wonder if she doesn’t represent our world in 2013. Father, I pray for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, and baby sitters. May we who love little ones not be afraid to lovingly discipline when needed. Help us to raise children with consciences and a sense of self that causes them to run to the Savior. Give wisdom, give courage, and may we love our little ones enough to discipline them like you discipline us.