Friday, October 22, 2010

Ready, Aim, Fire Your Children at the Devil

"Children are arrows in a quiver,and they are to be trained as missionaries & shot at the Devil." -- Jim Elliot (thanks Dan Dumas for posting on Twitter)

Who do my kids belong to? Me, or God?

The answer will change everything about their life.

If they are God's, then we are to be raising them to live out His purposes, and His word is perfectly consistent with Elliot's quote.

No, I'm not excited about my kids being martyred in a foreign country -- but it's not my call!

 I'm not even excited about my 15-year-old daugthers' passion to reach homeless people by feeding them and witnessing to them as they stand at street corners begging. All I see initially is some old man ogling my daughters! (It is, however, my responsibility, call and choice that they will not do this alone.)

I'm not excited about my wife potentially spending three weeks in a small town in Ukraine without me while waiting to bring home our son -- but a 12-year-old boy's life depends on it.

Someone may say, 'You are taking this all too seriously,' to which I have no choice but to answer, 'And you, if you say you are a Christian, are denying the very Word of God written by the God you say saved you!'

The trouble I see in our culture -- and I mean in our southern, evangelical, we-say-we-believe-the-whole-Bible church culture -- is that most parents are preparing their children for absolutely nothing apart from successful navigation of the American dream (which, if you haven't noticed, is becoming less and less attainable. So they are being equipped to accomplish something they are likely to fail at, and which had no altruistic purpose in the first place).

Most college freshman today are equipped to to manage high-tech toys and use a condom. Impressive, eh?

Is it any wonder so many teens are depressed? They are being led into pointless lives by unfocused parents who are as depressed and/or frustrated as they are because they live pointless lives.

Hard stuff? Yes.True stuff? Look around.

It doesn't have to be this way.  Indeed, it is not this way for everyone. I see many parents making the transition to meaningful lives, and wrestling in a healthy way with how to translate that to their children. We are power agents of the Most High. The Holy Spirit is in us. We are called to be on assignment.

As Alex and Brett Harris write, our children can 'Do Hard Things.' We have to lead them into them. We have to do them first, or at least with them. We have to know by the Word and the Spirit that there is a higher calling that can bring life change to us and countless others.

What -- and who -- are you and I hanging onto?

Let's throw it all down and go for it. As Elliot also more famously said,  "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why Cool is Really Lukewarm (or, How to Keep God from Spitting Out Your Kids)

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know them."
-- 1 John 3:1

Does the world know your children? Do they fit in perfectly at school, or on their sports team?

Be careful how well your kids fit in. You say, 'But I want my child to be well-liked.' We all do, but if your child is well-liked for the wrong reasons, he or she will be the wrong kid, the person who conformed for short-term satisfaction. When one starts down that trail, they rarely turn around. The allure of popularity is great.

I'm not saying we want to produce a generation of outcasts.  But, think about it:

Given a choice between outcast and typecast, which type are you trying to produce?

God's children are not to be like other children. Nor are they to be haughty and holier than thou. It's a delicate balance that will feel right some days, so very wrong some days. That can be a roller coaster ride of insecurity for the most surrendered Christ-follower. The key is that their security be found in nothing besides their identity in Christ. With you backing up that message, that is enough!

Being a child of God will cost your children some points on the cool meter. But cool is often merely the enemy's way of being (luke)warm. A cool Christian in a public school is possible depending on the demeanor, gifts and personality of the teen and the culture of the school. But there is no perfect formula, no guarantee. What satisfies your child has to be on a higher plain. Ridicule and disdain shouldn't be desired, but it must be acceptable if it comes for the right reason.

Verses 2-3 give us more clues. "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies Himself, just as He is pure."

The unsaved or carnal Christian child needs to be cool to have identity. The born again child has identity, and is working to discover "what (he) will be"  as he matures into it. He is not trying to be like the cool kids. He is not wearing stripes because the other kids are. (Now, if he is wearing plaids and stripes, please, homeschool!)

Here is what the child who knows his identity, knows Whose he is, is doing: "Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself."

The purification process includes not doing some cool things because a) they are a bad witness, b) they don't need to be cool in the world's eyes because they are sooo cool in God's eyes.

How do you make this work? If I knew that precisely I'd be a gazillionaire author and conference speaker, spitting out the formula to the mass of hurting parents! (Now, that would be cool LOL) We humans keep messing this up. But here's the deal: it comes down to them knowing who they are, and that comes down to you introducing them to Christ, leading them to salvation, and unpacking for them what the Word of God says about their identity.

That's a lot of hard work. I know, Judy and I are speaking it daily to two teens and a pre-teen. But it's worth it. Sometimes it's cool to see your kids be uncool.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Supplement Your Family Needs

We see a lot of advertising about taking supplements to replace needed nutrition lacking in our regular diet. Indeed, depend on your condition, the supplement can be essential.

Tonight Judy and I took turns reading James to our family, then we prayed as if we were Elijah!

We read with nominal commentary -- just a quick expansion or explanation here and there. Then the Spirit moved me to write to you, covering a few benefits of reading the Word to your family.

  • The Word is the food the Holy Spirit feeds back to Christ followers when He gives them counsel, hence your family must hear it!
  • You as parent(s) reading the Word to your children establishes, over time, the priority of the Word in your life, and thus theirs.
  • It is like taking a bath spiritually and emotionally. Even when it challenges, it also soothes and comforts. You want to settle down a restless, dispirited, irritable house? Wash it in the Word.
  • It resets the mind. If you believe that how you think impacts your emotions, which usually determines your actions (seriously, this is true and vital to understand), then you'll see the value of hit the reset button often.
Families appear too busy today to read the Word. They are giving their minds -- then their hearts and actions -- over to the enemy very subtly. Don't let it happen in your home. Read the Word over your family.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The American Dream and Your Kids

Thanks to Tom Ascol for this tweet (on 'Twitter' micro-blogging service, if you don't recognize the terminology): "The danger with pursuing the American Dream is that you might actually attain it & then settle for it."

That prompts several thoughts. It is a good idea for parents to regularly discuss: 'What are we pursuing, and do we really want it?"

Can you think back to high school or college when you wanted to go out with, or marry, some certain person soooo badly? And you now (I hope!) look back and thank God that didn't happen!

How many of us are pursuing the American Dream, and do we really want that?

Let me just give you two ways pursuit of the American Dream might be harmful to your children:
  • It could give them a sense of entitlement. How many middle-class and higher teens awake every day expecting to get what they want and be treated the way they want to? is that the character you want to cultivate? Will they ever serve God, much less know Him and live in His power, with a heart like that?
  • It could be good at the expense of best. This is Satan's big one. Find a nice mate, get a nice house, take nice vacations, make good money, grow old, look back and wonder why you lived. I know senior adults who are miserable as they slowly fade. They are miserable in part because they got it all so to speak, but made virtually no difference.
Let's re-think. Let's set our sites higher. Let's challenge our kids to find God's purpose in them, and to make that their 'dream.'