Thursday, May 28, 2009

God. Spouse. Children.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that one of my favorite television shows to watch over the past year or so has been TLC’s John and Kate Plus Eight. John and Kate Gosselin are famous for having had a set of sextuplets after they had already had a set of twins—thus the name of the show. Stephanie and I have always had a great time watching their adorable kids grow up and we’ve generally respected how the Gosselins parented. They are a self-proclaimed Christian couple, and it seems like they make a genuine effort to teach their children about the Bible and try to instill a love for God in them.

During the past month or two, John and Kate have come under a lot of fire in the media, being plastered across tabloids and accused of having affairs among other things. When their season opener came on a few nights back, we were really interested to see how they were doing. There is clearly tension in their marriage, and there were some awkward moments of discussion between the two of them as they talked about their relationship. The thing that disappointed me the most was their repeated statements that they were “doing everything for their kids.” It seemed like, if it were not for their children, they would be in divorce court tomorrow.

Many Christians would listen to their discussion and praise them for sticking it out “for the sake of the kids.” At least they’re not getting a divorce, right? But I’d challenge you to think about whether this is an acceptable attitude for Christians.

God has ordained an order of priorities for us: God. Spouse. Children.

We're first and foremost to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We're to serve our Savior and make Him our top priority. Then, if we choose to enter into marriage, we are to place our spouse and his/her needs above all others--even of our own mother and father. Finally, if God chooses to bless us with children, we are to lead them and do our best to nurture, love, and lead them to Christ.

God. Spouse. Children.

Too often, we move children up in the order--often to second priority, but sometimes even to the top. I think we'd all agree that our children must never replace God and become our idol--the one(s) we center our life around. But they also must never replace our spouse's place of priority. The marriage covenant and the commitments we make to our spouses before God are not optional. During the years that we have children in our homes, we are not to put our marriage on hold. We are not to elevate and center our lives around them.

This is clearly what is happening with the Gosselins right now. I pray that they will stay together and that their marriage will thrive. But I hope their church family will help them realize that their love for God--rather than their love for their children--should be what holds them together.

I hope that as Stephanie and I enter into parenthood we keep the order right.

God. Each other. Children.

Monday, May 18, 2009

If your children were to do "as their father has done"....

I'm reading through 2 Kings currently. And once again, I've observed this repeated pattern. As the history of Israel/Judah and its kings is described, there is a common thread that you come across time and time again.

King Hezekiah--"And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done." (2 Ki 18:21)

King Azariah--"And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done." (2 Ki 15:3)

King Zechariah--"And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done." (2 Ki 15:9)

The nation of Israel in general--"But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God." (2 Ki 17:14)

The way that new generations make decisions is largely influenced by the decisions of previous generations--most notably their actual fathers. This can be both a good and a bad thing. The first two examples above mentioned the godly influence of preceding generations. The second two showed the sinful influence of preceding generations.

Of course, we do not believe--and the Bible does not teach--that godly, Christ-following parents will always have children who are wholly obedient to Christ as well. And vice versa. It is not as if God is incapable of raising up a godly young man or woman from a family that has no interest in Him. God can do whatever He wants to do.

But in general, it is undeniable that children follow in the footsteps of their parents. They see the decisions we make, the priorities we set, the words we use, the way we treat others, our attitude toward church, and our love--or lack thereof--for our Savior on a day to day basis. So as people who have been saved by Christ and who profess to have a serious love for Him, let's live lifestyles as parents that are worthy of being followed by our children.

If there was a written record of your family, and if your children were said to have "done as their father (or mother) had done," what would their lives look like?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Audio Resources
Click on the link above to find audio files of a parenting seminar from some people I really respect and have learned a lot from. There are a few different topics addressed for each specific age group (infants, teenagers, etc.). Check it out!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Protecting our Children

Last week, Stephanie and I were walking into Target on a particularly windy day. In the walkway just in front of the entry doors, there were two Canada geese with three or four young goslings starting a long journey to cross the parking lot. This would normally be a cute little scene, but it turned a bit sad when the wind picked up and the little goslings started being blown away. They were not strong enough to stand on their own against the strong winds. One was even rolling a few feet, completely out of control. The mother goose responded by placing her body between her babies and the wind, blocking the strong gusts from blowing them any further. She sat herself down flat against the pavement and protected her young...We needed to get some shopping done, (and the mama goose would have bit me if I tried to help) so we went in the store. And when we came out a bit later, the family was gone--apparently safe and sound.

This was a great illustration of two things to me.

First, it was an illustration of part of the parenting role--shielding our children from what they are unable to withstand on their own. Parents have differing philosophies about how much their children can handle and how much "protecting" they really need. But we all know that there are certain hurts and temptations that our children need shielded from--particularly when they are very young...So let's be careful to guard our children's innocence and help them develop their strength and ability to withstand life's hurts and temptations.

Second, it was an illustration of what Jesus did on our behalf on the cross. The mother goose was taking the full force of the damaging wind so that she could protect her babies, who otherwise would be blown away and probably destroyed by it. In a similar--but far more glorious--way, Jesus has shielded us from the wrath of God by letting Himself suffer it. He stood in our place, and because of His suffering, we can be forgiven of our sins, protected from the wrath we deserve, and stand up against temptation.

Those baby geese might not appreciate what their mother did for them. Your children might not appreciate what you do for them. But most sad of all, many times we don't appreciate what Christ did for us....Let's be sure to thank God daily for Christ's suffering in our place. And in our parenting, let's keep following the example of sacrificial and protecting love that He set for us.

"We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but He who was born of God ((this is referring to Jesus)) protects him, and the evil one does not touch him." -1 John 5:18

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cut-a-thon for Caleb

I am sure most of you know Caleb Laird, a boy at our church who suffers from seizures and is going to have brain surgery this June. Look at the above link to read about a "Cut-a-thon" on May 16th to raise support for and encourage Caleb. There will be free buzz cuts for guys and free massages for ladies; and then all donations will be given to the Lairds. As a church family, let's do what we can to support this little guy and his family during this incredibly difficult time!