Parenting with Grace

My dad sent me a couple articles on grace based parenting this morning, and they are very helpful to read. The first is titled, ‘Parent for kids who will make disciples among the lost rather than become saved and satisfied.’ My favorite line from this article is:

Be cautious of only placing kids in “Christian” environments and isolated Bible studies assuming that this will grow them into quality Christian adults. What if it doesn’t?

I know many people who have been so careful about keeping their children protected, yet when the children were finally able to achieve independence, they had a crisis of the faith and were unable to follow the faith that their parents forced upon them any longer.

The second article is titled, ‘What I am NOT suggesting AND three warnings against parenting toward moralism.‘ Again, it’s worth the time to read the whole thing, but the main points are:

1. I am not suggesting that parenting from grace is letting kids do whatever they want.

2. I am not suggesting that parenting from grace never involves discipline.

3. I am not suggesting that parenting from grace avoids focusing on character development.

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Prayer Meetings

Read this incredibly helpful article this morning on how one should go about prayer meetings. It begins with you deciding to pray for your church. How often do you do that? You can read the article here.

Contextualization in the Church

The Gospel Coalition has a wonderful article today titled, ‘Don’t Throw Out Your Nice Suit Just Yet.‘ One of the most helpful paragraphs is:

It is interesting, then, to see church leaders intentionally get rid of these more traditional elements in order to contextualize the gospel. Churches all across our nation emphasize casual worship, and their pastors often sport graphic tees, jeans, and flip flops on Sunday mornings. They believe this approach will best reach a generation turned off by “churchiness.” However, while these churches may be contextualizing their church services for one particular demographic, they do not necessarily reach an entire generation.

This is where I think it’s very helpful to have multiple people on staff. One person cannot effectively reach an entire generation of people, but multiple people can. Tied into that, I don’t think that means that EVERY senior pastor needs to wear a suit when they preach, I think they should let their personality shine out in the way they dress. For me, I’m most comfortable in a button-up and jeans with a nice pair of Sperrys. The other two pastors wear slacks and button-ups every week! (I don’t really know how they do it!)

So yes, let’s not forget that not everyone is used to jeans and a T, but let’s not completely do away with them either. Wear what you’re comfortable wearing and praise God that he loves you not for your outward appearance, but for your heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Waiting

Waiting it hard. Waiting is difficult. Waiting takes patience. Waiting is something God has been working on in my life over the past week. I don’t always know why God does what he does when he does in my life, but I’m learning and striving to trust him in the midst of the struggles. As Relient K said, “I struggle with forward motion/we all struggle with forward motion/cause forward motion is harder than it sounds/every time I gain some ground I’ve gotta turn myself around again” And David wrote in Psalm 37, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” Be still and wait. In our culture that is so difficult! We have access to more information online than previous generations had in entire libraries, yet how often do we simply sit and wait?

I read a blog today titled ‘The “Right Time” God‘ that was really helpful for me this week. One of the most impactful things for me to read was:

But we see, in hindsight, see that God was not inactive during that time, but instead knew the right “when.” We know this of course. Of course we do.

Except we don’t.

We think we do, but our impatience and frustration betrays us. In fact, I wonder today how much sin might be avoided in my life if I really believed in the perfect timing of God. Every time I think I must manufacture an opportunity I show that I don’t believe.

I’m thankful God doesn’t work in my time table, and I continue to pray and trust that God will work things our for my good and his glory!

Lead the Church and Family

I found a fantastic article today titled, ‘Leading the Church While Leading Your Family.’ I was again reminded how grateful I am for my dad who, although he didn’t always put the family first, he still does his best to put us first. I’m grateful for the example of my dad and pray for the strength to put my family first when I, Lord wiling, have one. One of my favorite things from the article is:

Fourth, little things really do matter. Every night when I would say goodnight to my children, I would usually pray with them and then my last words to them were, “I love you. I will always love you and there is nothing that you can do that will ever make me stop loving you.” (There were times I would have to add, “But don’t push it!”) I did this night after night, year after year, until when I started in they would say with a sigh, “Yeah, I know Dad, and there is nothing that I can do that will ever make you stop loving me.” And I would respond, “And don’t you ever forget it.”

I wanted them to know that what I attempted to do imperfectly was done for them perfectly by God through Christ. I wanted them to know their acceptance and security was not rooted in their grades, awards, achievements, and success as the world defined it. They heard this before solos, piano competitions, spelling bees, basketball and soccer games, final exams, college entrance exams, and every night before bed.

One day I was at a track meet for my youngest daughter. I was screaming loudly as she ran her event when my other daughter called from college in great distress. She was facing a test of monumental importance that would determine the success or failure of her entire degree program, and she felt that she was cracking under the pressure. Four years was resting all on this! I reminded her that she was not sufficient for this, but that her confidence and rest was in Christ. I was eleven hours away. With my fist pumping the air for my youngest who was crossing the finish line in record time, I cried with my other daughter and prayed with her to rest in Christ. Then I said again. “Remember, I love you, I will always love and there is nothing that you can do to ever make me stop loving you.” She knew I would tell her that and just wanted to hear it.

What would your family say about you? For those of you who are single, what about the people in your church and your siblings and parents? Is Christ leading and guiding all your relationships?

The Wrath of God

It has become very popular in many Christian circles today to downplay God’s wrath. Many people I talk to quickly say that God is a loving God which means he wouldn’t ever punish anyone. Even Rob Bell last year questioned the existence of hell in his well known book Love Wins. In the opposite side of the spectrum is Tim Keller who in a sermon titled, ‘The Dark Garden,’ talks about how he came to realize that a wrathful God is MORE loving than a non-wrathful God. For him, it all hit home in the Garden of Gethsemane .

It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that I came finally to grips—I made my peace, as it were—with the wrath of God. Now, it might shock some of you that…a preaching minister was struggling with the very idea of a God of wrath, a God who sends people to Hell…. And then it was studying the Garden of Gethsemane when I finally came to peace with it because I realized this: The reason why people get rid of the idea of Hell and wrath is because they want a loving God…. They say, “I can’t believe in Hell and wrath because I want a more loving God.” And I came to realize in the Garden of Gethsemane that if you get rid of the idea of Hell and wrath, you have a less loving God.

You can read some more thoughts from the sermon here. I am grateful that Tim Keller took a stance on this issue and is willing to say that God is a wrathful God! He cannot tolerate sin, for he is a holy God. Praise God that through Jesus, we have a way into the presence of God!

Envy in the YRR

I have often identified myself as part of the Young, Restless Reformed movement (YRR, see this book by Collin Hansen). I am grateful for the many people my age who have caught a vision for reformed doctrine, rooted in the Scripture and glorifying to Christ. Yet this movement is not without its downfalls, which a blog written yesterday at Desiring God points out titled, ‘Why Envy Is a Danger for the YRR.’ So many times I have even found myself listening to some people who get accolades and get to speak at the various conferences and think, “I could do that much better than they could.” But that’s not what God has for me now! And I regularly need to remind myself to be faithful in the small things God has given me!

One of the main points I appreciated in the article was,

Where Christ increases, John is content to decrease. But are we? Are we content to decrease, when Christ increases through the ministry of another? Do we even acknowledge that Christ is increasing in the ministry of others? Or do we attribute their success to some other factor: their ambition, their compromises, and in our worst moments, to the efforts of the devil?

May everything we do give glory to God and continue to shake the gates of hell!

Watch Me!

I found a really well done video on how older Christians should help younger Christians in their journey. It uses audio from D.A. Carson as the background. It’s worth watching.