Monday, October 27, 2008

Proverbs 10

I've been reading through Proverbs slowly in recent weeks. A few days back I read through Proverbs 10 and had meditated on verse 9. But as I looked back through it, the very first verse jumped out to me. This chapter is the beginning of the actual proverbs, the short pithy statements that carry a lot of weight. Listen to what the very first one is:

"A wise son makes a glad father,
but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother." - Prov. 10:1

What's this proverb communicate? The two lines make the same point, just from opposite angles: Parents' joy, or lack thereof, is in large part due to the level of wisdom in their children.

Did you catch that? Solomon is telling us that parents' "gladness" and "sorrow" will typically stem from the level of godliness in their children. If your children are obedient and growing in their ability to make godly decisions, you will be glad. If they are persisting in foolishness and rebellion against you and against God, your heart will be sorrowful. One brings peace and unity, the other brings division and hostility.

Why is this significant to us as parents? Well, I think many parents try to find gladness in what they are able to provide for their families (a nice house, gifts, allowances, braces, education, etc.). Those are wonderful goals to have. But they will NOT lead to your own happiness, and they are NOT what your child most desperately needs. Your child needs someone to discipline and instruct their heart and to point them to their Savior way more than they need any tangible signs of love that you can offer.

Settling for something less than the development of wisdom in our children might lead to temporary peace or gladness in the home. (What kid wouldn't be temporarily pacified by a new iPod or the new outfit they wanted?) But it is the development of wisdom and godliness in our children that will lead to lasting joy in our homes and in our hearts as parents.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

James 3 Video

I saw an interesting video this morning, produced by Desiring God, a great ministry that I've been influenced by a great deal. Here it is:

The title is "James 3." James 3:6-11 says:
6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

This video does a great job of showing how "two-faced" we can be as Christians...using our tongues to hurt and cut down our family members, then using that same voice to sing praises to our great God. This might be common in families today, and some might look at the video and laugh; but this should not be taking place in our homes, period. We can pretend to be peaceable and encouraging with our church family on Sundays, but if the rest of our week--with our real family--is spent complaining, arguing, and disrespecting each other, that reveals the true condition of our hearts. We might fool our brothers and sisters at church, but we do not fool our families who see us day to day. And we certainly do not fool our Father in heaven who sees all things!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Proverbs 6

These are great verses from Proverbs 6:20-23

20 My son, keep your father's commandment,
and forsake not your mother's teaching.
21 Bind them on your heart always;
tie them around your neck.
22 When you walk, they will lead you;
when you lie down, they will watch over you;
and when you awake, they will talk with you.
23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,

I read this earlier this morning and meditated on it for a while. What a great instruction from a father to a son! In Deuteronomy 6:4-8, God had told His people to love Him with all their being, to keep His commands on their heart, and to diligently teach them to their children--while they sit together, walk together, lay down for sleep, and wake up in the morning. You hear those same ideas here.

Fathers and mothers--this verse reminds us that the mother's role is vital too--are to instruct their children. All parents teach their kids, but are you teaching them God's commands and His ways--or are you putting your own expectations and burdens on them?

These verses remind us to teach our children's hearts and not to settle for outward conformity. This dad wants his son to internalize what he's taught, not just externally pretend that he agrees with his parents in order to avoid punishment. If their heart is never addressed, they might "behave" while they're in your house, but the second they're out of your house, their heart's true desires are going to run wild.

Lastly, these verses remind parents that they have a responsibility to provide "light" for their child. Children are born sinners who don't see the world rightly. They live in darkness. They don't see things the way that God does. They tend toward selfishness, pride, anger, envy, deceit, etc. A huge role of the parents, as ones whose eyes have been opened to the way things truly are, is to shine light into their children's darkness. In a loving way, you have to help them see their sin, their need for a Savior, and the way to live rightly. These things do NOT happen naturally for any child. They have to be intentionally taught over the course of time.

That's all for now...Keep loving your children, leading them, and teaching their hearts. Hopefully, your teaching--which should be God's teaching--will help them make godly decisions even when you're not around!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Psalm 139

My wife Stephanie has been studying and trying to memorize Psalm 139 recently--one that is particularly beautiful in light of what's happened in our family in the last week. One week ago today, our nephew Burke Michael Goodwin was born--two months premature and by emergency c-section.

Thankfully he is in good health right now and is developing better than expected! God has truly worked a miracle in the life of my little nephew, one that would take me longer to explain than I have room for on this blog.

Psalm 139:13-16--
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

God knew when Burke would be born and knew how all of this would take place. He "knit him together," made him "fearfully and wonderfully," saw his "unformed substance," and wrote the dramatic script of his birth before the world even began!

And that's true of every little one ever born--or lost prior to birth. He is in complete control. If you have children, remember that God made them as they are, unique and beautiful. Yes, sin makes them difficult to bear sometimes and easy to lash out at. But remember that your child is a gift to you from God--to be loved and to be taught how to love the One that made them.

Thank you God for Burke and for these great reminders of your sovereignty.