Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Power Outages = Opportunity to Teach

Hey everybody...It's been an interesting week to say the least! You always have an opportunity to teach your children, especially in circumstances like we have had recently.

Some of you still might not have power, but I think most of us experienced at least a little bit of electricity-less life in the past few days. Steph and I got to thinking about our time in the dark for a little while on Sunday and thought how nice it was to have nothing distracting us and sucking away our time and attention.
When the power is on, we have television, computers, cell phones, iPods, video games, and movies to distract us from God and from each other. The more people you have in your family, the more profound the impact of electricity is on the dynamics of your home. Each of your children has any number of things that can suck them in and draw their attention from life's more important concerns. And over time, we let electricity and gadgets run our lives instead of running them!

Wasn't it nice--after your kids, or maybe you yourself, stopped complaining about the power being out--to just relax and talk. Steph and I got to have a 45 minute conversation with our neighbors who we'd said probably ten words to in three months. We got to play board games with each other and just relax. I even thought of someday, when we have kids, having an intentional power outage occasionally. I think I'll just flip the circuit breakers, confiscate all phones, and have us do something fun together.

Make sure that as a parent you are teaching your children (and modeling by your own example) how to run their life--and not be run by technology. Help them evaluate what is truly important and worthwhile. Make them spend time with each other and just enjoy living together simply. It's a shame that so much of our kids' childhood years are now spent "connecting" with the outside world, while they are distracted and distanced from the people within their very own homes!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The purpose of parenting

I heard a quote recently that I thought I'd share with you. It was made in the context of talking about parenting and making the church a priority in your family's life. The quote was this: "Parenting is ultimately preparing your child for the day of judgment."

For some reason that just rang very true in my mind. Sometimes I would imagine that it is tempting as parents to see the purpose of parenting your child as something other than that. It's tempting to see the goal of parenting as: making them "well-rounded," ensuring a good education, involving them in plenty of good activities, etc. And when we settle for those goals, then our family priorities fall in line with them. If being "well-rounded" is the goal, then things like sports and music take priority over the local church. If the goal is ensuring a good education for them, then academic work will take precedence over and above local church involvement.

It's only when we realize that the ultimate responsibility of parenting is doing our best to prepare our child for their inevitable day of judgment that their spiritual development takes its rightful place at the top of our priorities. God has given us the local church as a place to learn, to grow, to be challenged, to be under the loving authority of pastors, and to serve. Local church involvement is not an optional activity or a hindrance to your "family time." It is essential to the spiritual development of your child.

Yes, YOU are the primary discipler of your child; BUT, the church is also a God-given means of educating and training your children in godliness. Don't let coaches and instructors from other activities take the place in your children's lives that should be occupied by loving members of their church, who want to help you as you "prepare your child for the day of judgment."

Here's a link to the audio file where I heard this quote...It'd be worth listening to:
Click here to listen.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

School Activities and Church

I tread carefully here, but I think that this is important to discuss. How should parents of children weigh the importance of school activities against church involvement?

When I was growing up, I had no problem missing services for baseball games once in a while, foregoing Wednesday nights when I had a volleyball practice, or missing retreats when I had a basketball game out of town that weekend. These weren't big deals to me. And maybe that is how you feel with your children too.

We tend to think that extra-curricular activities help shape our children and make them "better people." So we justify them missing church for the sake of "bettering" them in areas outside the spiritual realm. After all, they have the rest of the year to attend services and be part of their church family. What's the big deal about "missing" every now and again, we ask.

But what are we teaching our children when we make decisions like these? Indirectly, we are teaching them that the team is more important than their church family. The game is more important than worship. The performance is more important than sitting under the teaching of God's Word at church....The way we schedule our family's calendar tells our children what should be truly important in their lives. If church involvement is subject to seasonal adjustment or temporary neglect, then it is just another thing our family "does"--rather than being a vital, non-negotiable part of what God desires for our family.

I am not one who thinks that you have to be in church every time the door is open. But I am one who believes that the church should only take a backseat to the family. Church should have priority over extracurricular activities--whatever they might be. I am not suggesting that missing once is a grave sin, but supplanting church with extracurriculars on any sort of regular basis teaches children to have poor priorities.

God gave us the church--He gave us this church--for a reason. I think we do our children and ourselves a great disservice when we neglect it in favor of lesser pursuits.

Acts 2:42-47
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.