Saturday, February 20, 2010

A man who owns an Acura is not interested in a Geo Metro

Here's a great passage I read this week. The context is that the author is discussing whether parents should be offensive or defensive in their efforts to bring about change. "Defensive" parents try to protect their children from the world and bank on their efforts to bring about change. "Offensive" parents hold out the gospel--Jesus Himself--and bank on showing His value as the key to their children being changed. Here it is:

"...The best way to overcome the world is not with morality or self-discipline. Christians overcome the world by seeing the beauty and excellence of Christ. They overcome the world by seeing something more attractive than the world: Christ, 'in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge' (Col. 2:3). A man who owns an Acura is not interested in a Geo Metro. In the same way, Christian parents try to make Christ and his kingdom glorious. Their children conquer the lusts of this world with a higher passion: the moral beauty of Christ.
"By contrast, defensive parents have little confidence in the attractiveness of the gospel. They think the world is more powerful. Fundamentally, they are not confident in the gospel's power to transform their children from the inside out. They do not believe Jesus' words, 'Take heart; I have overcome the world' (John 16:33). They have little confidence in the world-conquering power of new birth." (Gospel Powered Parenting by William Farley, 24-25)

Great book so far. You should check it out.

Friday, February 12, 2010

How full is your quiver? -Psalm 127:5a

"Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!" -Psalm 127:5a

Solomon just finished comparing children to arrows in the hands of their warrior-parents. And then he throws in this statement which should challenge all of us who live in America today. Solomon in simple language is saying that it is a blessing to have lots of children.

Do we think that way? Or do we see large families as sort of old-fashioned, unrealistic, and unaffordable? When we see families like the Duggars, who have 18 children, what goes through our minds? "Thank God, I don't have that many kids!?" Or do we think, "How blessed are they to have so many amazing creations of God?"

The average family size in America has steadily decreased for decades now. There are a variety of factors that contribute to this according to sociologists, but I can't help but think that a large part can simply be attributed to a general change in our national attitude toward children. We don't see them as a valuable gift of God any longer. We don't see them as a blessing. We wait longer in our lives to try to have children (sometimes into our mid-thirties and even beyond, while people used to have children in their early twenties), and some people don't even want to have children, period. We are tempted to see them as an inconvenience and think of them in terms of what they'll cost us.

Take a person named Lisa, who is mentioned in an article you can read by clicking here, for example. She says, "I like my house in order. I don’t like a lot of noise or chaos in my home. I like my stuff in order. I don’t want kids the same way some people say they don’t want a cat or dog. I don’t want the responsibility and I don’t want to give up my financial independence. I don’t want to be a parent the same way I didn’t want to be a doctor – it just didn’t interest me enough." Read that again, and let the shock of it sink in. She thinks of children the same way she would of a pet or a career path she found undesirable. They are optional. Certainly not important or a blessing.

Now I'm guessing none of you who read this blog would make such an outrageous statement. But can you see how you might have subtly started to adopt some similar views on a surface level? Have your decisions about child-bearing (whether to have kids, when to have kids, how many kids to have) been based on biblical principles, or have they been largely based on finances and a desire to maintain a certain lifestyle? Let me say, I'm not suggesting that every family should just have as many children as biologically possible (or through endless adoptions). What I am saying, however, is that in general our families--even as Christians--are unnecessarily small.

In the very beginning, God gave Adam and Eve a command to "be fruitful and multiply," to "fill the earth and subdue it." Particularly as Christians, who have been reconciled to our Creator through Christ, we should be reminded of our responsibility and privilege of raising up families. Of course, we should give pause to having another child if we're already bankrupt. And of course, we should never absolutely sink our families financially to adopt a child. We should not be reckless. But, can we honestly justify having no children or only a certain number of children because of reasons like "I still wanna have fun while I'm young," "I can't afford this huge car payment already, let alone with another kid," or "There's no way I can pay for another kid's college," etc.? Let's be responsible, yes. But also, let's be willing to set aside our selfish desires for "freedom" and certain luxuries (like nice cars, big houses, fancy vacations, etc.)--in order to receive the blessing of additional children.

Here's to filling our quivers with arrows. Here's to raising up families that are full of children. What a blessing we often willingly miss out on.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Psalm 127:4--Parents as Warriors

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth. -Psalm 127:4

In the last post, we looked at the imagery of arrows--how children need to be shaped and sharpened just like raw pieces of wood. In this post, I want us to think about why Solomon might have used "warrior" imagery to describe parents. The two go hand-in-hand.

From the beginning, God intended for parents to train their children and send them out into the world to subdue it and to honor Him. In Genesis 1:28, God told Adam and Eve, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Adam and Eve could never have filled the earth or had their descendants have dominion over the earth if they did not intentionally raise their children to be sent out as responsible men and women.

Soon after this command came the Fall of mankind. The world became a hostile, broken, hurtful place. People from then on were sinful and self-seeking. And this has not changed. So how has this impacted parents? At times, we are tempted to shelter our children (because we fear what might happen out there in the world). Our fears might be somewhat legitimate, but we are forgetting that God calls still calls us to send our children out as husbands, fathers, wives, and mothers of their own. So we must remind ourselves from the very beginning of our children's lives that they are to go out into the world.

And this world is hostile to God. The world, in some sense, is ruled by Satan. It is dark and rebellious. And we were once under his rule. But God in His grace has sent a Savior, Jesus Christ. He suffered on the cross in the place of us sinners and offers forgiveness and new life to those who repent and trust in Him. He has started a new kingdom! And if we are His followers, we are part of that kingdom....Meaning, that we have a great enemy in this world whose kingdom is strong. This is why the New Testament writers speak often about spiritual warfare and the battle we are engaged in.

Solomon's comparison of parents to warriors fits this reality. If we want to be used by God to fight against the powers of darkness, our children are a powerful "weapon." If children are taught to love and honor Christ and they are sharpened and straightened into God-fearing responsible adults, their combined influence in the spiritual warfare that is taking place will far exceed what we are capable of on our own. They will further what God has begun in us. They will take the gospel to their own families and to those they come in contact with at work and in their community.

So let's remember today that we are warriors in the great spiritual war that is going on--the one that Jesus ultimately emerges victorious in. And one of our most strategic and precious weapons against the enemy is our children who love our Savior.