Archive for September, 2013

The Hard Parent Question

September 25, 2013

“O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I will declare Your wondrous deeds…
Until I declare Your strength to this generation.” Psalm 71:17-18

I have two Godly, amazing sons-in-law. One of them sent this question recently:

“Hard question of the month for you. How do we raise kids who love and pursue God
because they love Him, not kids who know about Him but put up with Him because
parents make them go to church and endure prayers among other things? I know
the first thing is prayer”…

I’m struggling with this because it is so easy to know about God without actually knowing
Him. I want (along with every other parent) my kids to understand the difference between knowing God and knowing about God. That is much easier said than done…”

Dear Samuel,

Could there be any more important question for a parent? You have the heart for God to ask it with grace and courage. And yes, it is easier said.

I have written twice but not sent them and your Christ-centered question chases me. You are exactly correct: to pray is primary, for the Christ-enamored heart of a child first comes from God. I especially think you’re on target to make the goal and means God.

At the onset I must say this: children and adults have their own wills. Parents can do what is right and children can, on their own, reject Christ. (Too many parents are weighed down with inappropriate guilt.) But children who choose Jesus for themselves must see the real Jesus in you. He is, after all, the most colorful, unique, engaging, powerful person in history.

I agree with the quote, “More is caught than taught.” Parent by faith in God based upon Scripture, not by your fears. While constant in prayer (you were right), talk about Jesus, grow in knowledge and fascination about Jesus. Openly love the Word of God that points them to Jesus. Say yes to everything you can (the grace of Jesus) but say no when you must (the justice, instruction, and discipline of the Lord). Like Jesus, live out an emotionally healthy, God-centered, creation-appreciating, people-loving life. Take them into the world and love people as Jesus did. Live holy lives and avoid religion like a plague—like Jesus. Adore your bride openly, because Scripture says she is the bride of Jesus.

Love your heart and you Samuel,

I think Samuel and Robin are on the right track. Last week, we joined other family for a funeral in Macon, GA. Shawna, their two-year old, behaved well during the service. Cute as can be, she did call out “Popi” when she saw me right in the middle of it all! But something was wonderfully right (and cute) when the pastor prayed his last prayer, said “Amen,” and Shawna said—out loud—“Amen.”

It was a little, profound moment in the midst of her young life with God.

Sappy Sounds Good to Me

“They shall be full of sap and very green” Psalm 92:14

This is the year of Medicare for me. How do all those businesses know? And the calls…I think I will forward them to one of my friends that makes fun of me—a young one. One letter I received l this week touted “Free Pre-Paid Cremation.” I guess keeling over now is cheaper, though Cheryl might object.

Is this the end or a new beginning? Can this season be purposeful, satisfying, God-honoring, and kingdom of God building?

Who would have thought a hundred years ago turning sixty-five would be a milestone?

Though our own culture is aging—10,000 baby boomers retire daily—we worship at the fountain of wrinkle-free and athletic youth and at the altar of radical personal freedom. But they are hollow—and not God’s call. I watched moss grow under the feet of retirees for ten years when I was a part-time pastor of a wintertime golfing resort. It was a gift from God. The other 50-60 hours a week I was a prison chaplain, complete with strange religions, threats, and lawsuits. (There were many, many bright spots, too.) The resort folks loved my family tremendously. Yet, when they weren’t golfing or choosing the evening restaurant, most seemed empty.

But I noticed something. In midst of the thousands we met over the years, the ones that seemed most satisfied with life—the ones with joy deep inside—were the ones who served sacrificially as a response to their love for Christ. Harvey organized and led Sunday services; Bob and Lib often called me to tell of someone they were taking a meal to because something had happened; some stayed on call for hospital runs and visits; many reached out to my family and me knowing the demands of a prison chaplaincy. They exercised their spiritual gifts of helps, mercy, faith, leadership, giving, and encouragement right where they were. They were kingdom builders and Christ-reflectors. Think about Romans 8:29: we are “predestined to be conformed into the image of Christ.” Consider Titus 2, exhorting older men and women to intentional engagement with younger men and women, teaching and building them up in their faith. Harvey and Bob were that to me in those days.

Psalm 92 has the life-stimulating promise that “the righteous” can “flourish…grow… yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green.” Sappy sounds good to me these days.

Kailie, my twenty-something niece, posted this quote recently: “The well-educated person is the person who has the habits of mind and heart to go on learning what he needs to learn to live in a Christ-exalting way for the rest of his life—and that would apply to whatever sphere of life he pursues.”

The mail and phone calls for my Medicare year aren’t urging this plan from my young niece. I think she already has it right and I plan to fully subscribe.

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