Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Parenting by Faith

A small boy breaks a chair because he was jumping on it from the bunk bed. Unbelief sees the cost of replacing the chair. Faith sees the aggressiveness and courage, both of which obviously need to be directed and disciplined. Suppose a boy gets into a fight protecting his sister. Unbelief sees the lack of the wisdom that created a situation that could have been avoided; faith sees an immature masculinity that is starting to assume the burden of manhood. Unbelief squashes; faith teaches. Faith takes a boy aside, and tells him that this part of what he did was good, while the other part of what he did got in the way. And this is how to do it better the next time...Unbelief cannot look past the surface. If there was any sin involved, unbelief sees only the sin. Faith sees what was turned aside in service to sin and seeks to turn it back again. Sin is parasitic and cannot function without some good it seeks to must distinguish that which must be preserved and developed and that which must be abandoned as sin...So faith is central in bringing up boys, but it is important to remember that the object of faith is not the boy. It is faith in God, faith in His promises, faith in His wisdom. Faith concerns the boy, and the boy can see it concerns him. Parents are to believe God for their sons, which is a very different thing than believing their son.
-Doug Wilson, Future Men, pp. 10-11

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday Dad! Today my father celebrates his 57th year of life. He will celebrate the day with my mom, two of his grand-children and his two dogs (Jack and Jill). He will go for a walk, a dinner out, undoubtedly for cheese burgers, and have fun with the family. He will attempt to not smoke a cigarette, praying for you there Dad, and he will be missing us and my sister, while longing for a simpler life. This year has been an especially difficult one for my dad, and I know he is hoping year 58 will have less drama, tragedy and sickness. However in spite of a progressive disease, a broken family and sick parents, my Dad has approached this year with grace and mercy. He has attempted to love all of us with all that he has to give. He gets up each day incredibly early and lugs his tired body to work and to play and to bed, just to do it again the next day. He has been picking up a lot of pieces of a lot of brokenness this year, and I know he is doing it with an eager hope of something better tomorrow, both in this life and in the next. Dad, I love you! Thank you for the great example you have been to all of us in the midst of much difficulty and suffering. I know you wish all of this wasn't so, but I also know you are eagerly awaiting new days, new life and resurrection. I love you, pops! Keep hoping in Jesus! This quote especially resonates with me today, after this year, on your birthday.

This is our great hope and joyful expectation. In the midst of all our struggles now, as we confront evils we cannot understand and as we cry out to the God we cannot fully understand, we are urged by Jesus himself to pray, "deliver us from evil". More than merely a prayer for daily protection, that is a cosmic request that will one day be cosmically answered. God will answer that prayer! It will be fully answered at the moment when God answers two other phrases in the Lord's Prayer: "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10).

When the reign of God extends over every corner of the universe, when the earth is filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea, when the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ, when heaven and earth are renewed and united under the righteous rule of Christ, when the dwelling place of God is again with humanity, when the city of God is the center of all redeemed reality - then we will have been delivered from all evil forever.

The cross and the resurrection of Christ accomplished it in history and guarantee it for all eternity. In such hope we can rejoice with incomparable joy and total confidence.
- Dr. Christopher Wright, The God I Don't Understand, p. 71

Today we have an amalgamation of all -and more-of these Jesuses running rampant in the world and in the church. These versions of Jesus confuse the former and misrepresent the latter. In much of the church today we worship a convenient Jesus. We designate Him our "Lord and Savior," but this phrase tends to serve as merely a label that, in our superficially spiritual lives, belies his real function --our Great Example. He's there when we need to lean on Him, but a bit out of mind when we feel more self-confident. He's Role Model Jesus. He's Therapeutic Jesus. We know a bit about what He said and did in these Gospels of ours, but not enough to be dangerous with it. And the stuff we do know, we frequently misunderstand or take out of context to suit our agendas. How often do you hear "Judge not lest ye be judged, " or "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"? These are probably the two most often quoted of Jesus' many sayings, but not because we face a constant threat of legalistic judgment. Instead, it's because we want to justify how we live, without the pesky burden of what Jesus requires of us.
- Jared C. Wilson, Your Jesus is Too Safe, p.14

Faith Trumps Feelings

Helpful post here from Michael Kelley:

Many times I think we have the tendency to avoid personal discipline in our lives because we see it as a kind of legalism. And it’s true, in a ideal situation, we would always wake up in the morning hungry to read the Word of God. We would excitedly thumb through our Scripture memory cards in anticipation of adding a new Scripture to our minds. We would happily order our lives, and we would do so because we “feel” like it.

After all, aren’t we supposed to love God? And isn’t the emotive quality of love very important? The answer is yes to that question, but we don’t live in a world if ideals.

The truth is that most mornings, I don’t feel like getting out of bed, so I don’t. I don’t feel like memorizing Scripture so I don’t. I feel I’d like to indulge in sin so I do. If I waited to feel like doing all this stuff. I’d never do anything, or I’d always do everything.

But how do you do those things without becoming a legalist? We know we need to do them, regardless of how we feel, but it’s so easy to slip into the pattern where we hold up our personal discipline as a score card for God.

Enter faith.

Faith is how you choose good and discipline without becoming a legalist. We must choose for faith to trump our feelings. We read even when we don’t feel like because we choose to believe God will speak to us. We obey even when we don’t feel like it because we believe that the pleasures of God are better than the pleasures of earth. We believe that God, in His faithfulness, will bring along our feelings. So we act in faith.

When we act in faith, we are trusting rather than achieving. We are humble rather than proud. We are acknowledging our weakness and trusting our feelings to follow. In this, we make little of ourselves and much of God.

So maybe – just maybe – I will get out of bed in the morning. Not because I feel like it, cause I won’t. But I’ll swing out my legs in faith, trusting that God will bring along what I lack in time.
Good thoughts. Help my unbelief, Jesus!

(Vitamin Z)

Saying Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids

Chapters 1-3

Recently I have been uber-convicted about failing to seek wisdom in regards to parenting. When we had Jed, I began buying books that would see me through his 18+ years. I began reading feverishly, but as time became more sparse, and as many issues I was reading about were not cropping up in the life of my newborn baby boy, I began to hold off on reading any more parenting books. This putting-off has lingered for many years now. I read an article here, and a page there. I listen to a sermon every now and again, but my children are at some very precarious ages, and I have noticed many bad habits of the heart - not just in them, but especially in me. This has caused me to re-chart my course, and to intentionally again utilize the many good navigating tools that I have at my disposal. So, I am planning to read 10 or so parenting books over the course of the school year. I chose to begin with the two that were most in need - one dealing with whining/complaining/bad attitudes and one dealing with raising boyz to men - I mean boys becoming men, one of which is fastly aging before my eyes. I hope to write many of the quotes and thoughts from these books on this blog, mainly for me and for practice. I need to better summarize what I am learning, so I can better apply it to my heart and life. Below are some of the key quotes in the first 3 chapters of Saying Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller.

This is a book about honor. Honor doesn't just address behavior, it involves the heart.
Honor is treating people as special, doing more than expected, and having a good attitude.
Obedience is doing what someone says, right away, without being reminded.\
Move from the wrong behavior to the dishonoring heart issue to the honoring heart issue to the right behavior.
Right behavior grows out of the honoring heart issue.
Whining and complaining are manipulative techniques used by children to get what they want...Another technique is badgering...Children must see that their tricks won't work and they need to learn a more honoring way of communicating...there is an honoring way of asking permission, making requests and getting approval.