Five Things Every Christian Parent Should Ponder

1) God has given you charge over not only their bodies, but also their souls.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 implores us as parents to guide our children into spiritual truth. If you leave this to the “experts” at church, they may begin to see their faith as a Sunday thing and not something lived out during the week. After all, if parents don’t talk about “God-things” with them during the week, they won’t see it as important for their daily lives either.

2) Model for your children how a wife and husband should treat one another. 

My kids “gross” out when Christi and I show any PDA. You would think we were putting hot coals in their eyeballs! Yet, I know that behind their disgust are happy children who feel safe and secure having a mother and father who love each other. A young man needs to see how to treat a woman by the way his daddy treats his mom. A young woman needs to know how to respect and love a man by the way her mom respects and loves her dad. I hope my daughter will want to marry a guy one day who treats her like I try to treat Christi. There is a good chance that will be her standard and expectation.

3) Don’t just focus on their behavior, but focus on their hearts. 

Our goal as parents is not just to get our kids to act right in public. It’s not even to get them to act right at home. We want to go deeper with them. God desires for us to show them the importance of right motive behind their actions. Why do they do what they do? How does the Gospel motivate their thoughts and behaviors? If we just drill into our kids the need to do right things without teaching them the importance of proper motive then, at best, we make them legalists — at worst, hypocrites.

4) Train your children to be measured by grace and not by their performance.

In Exodus 34, God reversed Himself to His people as a God who is compassionate and slow to anger. Yet, God also punished the wicked. His approach is balanced between grace and discipline. Your children need to see you love them for who they are and not what they do. Our kids don’t need to feel we care for them less if they don’t “perform” properly. We give them grace not because they deserve it, but because God has given grace to us. If our kids think we care more for them when they are less of a bother to us then we teach them their value is earned. This flies in the face of what the Gospel teaches.

5) Teach your children to be sensitive to the effects of sin and not desensitized to them.

Everywhere we turn our eyes are filled with immorality. Whether it be commercials, shows, Internet, news, magazines, or billboards, we are inundated with sex, violence, and all kinds of debauchery. Unless we are extremely intentional, we will become desensitized to the effects of these images on our souls. The effect on our children should scare us. If our children become desensitized then sin will become commonplace, and they will live lives of compromise and justification. This is an epidemic in our world today.

 Top 10 Topics Christians Are Not Learning About

As infected saints, we would do well to not avoid topics because they are convicting. If we desire to be like Jesus, we should want to know and experience the deeper things of the faith. Here are the topics I believe are being neglected by most Christians today.

1. Fasting– Fasting is found throughout Scripture as a way of mourning and refocusing. Even Jesus fasted before He started His ministry. Fasting is a spiritual act of creating space by abstaining for a period of time from something good in order to draw nearer to God. I can say from my own experience with fasting that it is a megaphone to God’s voice in my life. I gain clarity of purpose and perspective from the Lord. It is a neglected discipline that would be powerful in our lives if we practiced it.

2. Repentance– Who wants to talk about turning away from the pleasures of sin? Repentance is out of style with churches that have gone easier on sin. Yet, repentance is a way of life for a Christian trying to be like Jesus. Confessing and turning away from sin must be part of the Christian life.

3. Holiness– We are called to be holy as God is holy. We don’t talk often enough about being “set apart” as a holy people. Holiness is what makes us different than the world. If we look like the world, then our message loses its relevance and power to a lost world. How we live matters.

4. Accountability– In our rebellion towards God, we resist accountability. We don’t want to be told we are wrong, especially when we like doing what we are doing. We find all kinds of ways to excuse accountability and rationalize our sin. Many Christians neglect this practice in their lives and are hindered spiritually because of it.

5. Singleness– The church often lacks a strong message about being single. Most messages and programs are centered around the married. Singleness is not addressed as it should be. The Bible celebrates singleness as an opportunity to be more devoted, without distraction, to the Lord (1 Cor 7).

6. The Holy Spirit– We often celebrate two members of the triune Godhead. We magnify the Father in worship and prayer. We highlight the Son as our hope of salvation. So often, the Holy Spirit is, at best, insinuated in our churches. There is the assumption the Spirit is real and moving. We non-charismatics just don’t speak about Him often enough. He was so vital to the church that Jesus told His disciples to be glad He was leaving because He was sending the Spirit!

7. Sex– This is often a taboo topic in church, though it is a major topic in the minds of young people and adults. Its distortion is plastered on billboards, magazines, Internet, and television. Yet, God created it as good. The church needs to speak boldly and clearly on the topic.

8. Old Testament– It is easy to focus on the New Testament as a Christian; it is the story of Jesus and His church.  On the other hand, the Old Testament offers strange stories, the constant failure of Israel, several gruesome battles, and prophets preaching naked in the streets and talking about dry bones. It feels more appropriate for a Jerry Springer show than our reading list. Yet, the Old Testament is raw because life is hard and cruel—it gets real about sin and consequence. It tells the story of man’s restoration to God and the promise of the coming Savior.  Therefore, it is vital to our understanding of the Gospel.

9. Heaven/Hell– We refer to Heaven and Hell a lot, but do we talk about them as a future reality in our lives? We need to talk about Hell because it creates urgency within us to share the Gospel with those who are without Jesus. We need to talk more about Heaven because it spurs us on to endure and finish well.

10. Parents as Spiritual Leaders– Parenthood is the toughest thing I do! It is difficult to parent well. Our kids need to see their parents are not Christian in name only. Kids should not get all of their spiritual knowledge and training just from the church. Parents need to be challenged to be spiritual leaders at home. This is an epidemic in churches today. The church is given the task of raising students spiritually. That robs children of the guidance they need from their parents spiritually. It robs parents of playing a role in the most important area of their child’s life!

I pray we give more and more attention to these topics. They are vital to our spiritual life.  ~Dax

A TRIBUTE TO AARON CARL TORIAN

 

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While I only met him once, Aaron Carl Torian grew up in the church, Heartland Worship Center (AKA Bible Baptist Church) in Paducah, Kentucky, where I am one of the pastors. I never knew him except for a quick hello here and there but I heard about him often. I heard how he had immense passion for his country and that many of his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan were due to his volunteering. Aaron understood that freedom had a price. He was willing to sacrifice it all to protect that freedom for you and me.

While I’ll never know exactly all that he did, I know that he was a sniper and that his rank was a Master Sergeant. I read how he was named 2005 2nd Marine Division’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for his actions during Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.  I know that he was well respected by all who spoke of him and that he received great honors over his career. The word is on the street that he saved several lives of other soldiers and civilians. That he risked his life for their benefit.

There is a lot I don’t know about Aaron but I do know this… He is a Hero. A hero is someone who gives his or her life to something greater than themselves. That was Aaron. He was adored by his mom and step-dad. Adored by his children. Adored by his church. He is not just a hero because he died doing what he loved, defending our country. He was a hero before that. My guess is all his brothers who served with him would tell you that we in the states only know a small fraction of all the reasons Aaron is a hero. The sacrifices he made. The courage it must have taken to go where he went and to do what he was called to. The brotherhood he shared that very few will ever experience.

I wish I had known him better. I wish I could have spent time with him to see what motivated him. I wish I could have been inspired personally by his passion. To be challenged by his discipline. To be a better person because I spent time with him. When I heard he was killed in service my heart broke as if he were someone very close to me. When heroes die we all feel the weight of it. We know that we have lost someone significant to the very world we know.

Most of all I am thankful for Aaron’s faith. That he put his ultimate trust in Jesus Christ. There is nothing that brings more joy to my heart and to the heart of those who knew Aaron than to know he is now in Heaven. A place where there is no more suffering, no more tears, no more pain. A place that Aaron will be able to rest and enjoy His Lord for all eternity. I will see you one day Aaron and I will be honored to call you a brother and to enjoy the presence of the Lord with you for all eternity. For now I honor you and remember your sacrifice for me and my family. Thanks for reminding me what constitutes being a hero.

To his wife, Jurley, and his children, Elijah, 9, Laura Bella, 4, and Avery, 2, we will do our part to remember well the man you called Husband and Father. Thank you for your sacrifice and know that his memory will live on in the hearts of a nation.

PARENTING MYTH

Happy family together, parents with their little child at sunset.

 

The way of the parent is often the way of the Cross: the glory and grace and joy in it come at significant cost.

                                                                                                                                                                             ~ Rachel Stone 

What’s easy about parenting?  Nothing.  In all the things I have tried to do in my life, nothing highlights my feelings of inadequacy like parenting.  All I can say is WOW!  Parenting is a constant dispenser of humility.

I have such high expectations for my children.  I want my children to be perfect (just keeping it real), and I want to be the perfect parent.  Not going to happen.  This should not be my expectation.  Reality is, I have sinful children being raised by sinful parents.  Recipe for at least some disaster.

Here is the truth:  parenting is not always fun.  If our goal in parenting is to be happy, then we have the wrong goal.  A better approach is to understand our responsibility as a parent to love them enough to always be honest with them.  They will not always respond this way to our training: ”Oh Daddy Dearest, your compassionate rebuke of me lights my way like stars to the heavens.  What would I do without your constant guidance?”  After I got up off the floor from fainting, I would ask my child what they want and how much is it going to cost me!

Children push our buttons.  Even if they know we are right in what we are teaching them, they are not going to make it easy on us.  Did you make it easy on your parents?  They are going to resist being less selfish just like we do.

There is no such thing as pain-free child rearing.  It involves cost, sacrifice, and pain.  Now by this time you might misunderstand me to be saying I loathe being a parent.  Quite the contrary.  The result of my persevering through feelings of inadequacy, sacrifice, and frustration is not misery.  It actually produces joy.  That’s how it is like the cross.  Parenting comes at significant cost when it’s done right, but the result is joy.  Joy when you see your child responding to another adult with manners.  Joy when you see them put their brother or sister first.  Joy when they remind you how much they really need your support.  Joy when they get excited about God and following Him.

Parenting is not always fun, but it produces great joy in my life.  I love my children fiercely.  I love them too much to let them stay self-centered, defensive, and deceitful.  It’s going to be painful to call it out in them because they are not going to like it.  They will try and make me regret it even if they don’t mean to.  But in the end, I trust God to work and the things I suffered to teach them to leave an imprint. And watching them grow up in a healthy, God-honoring way will bring more joy to my heart than all the gold in Alaska ever could.

You cannot be the type of parent I am talking about without God.  He is crucial for finding joy in parenting.  It is God who teaches us that loving our children means teaching them to live holy.  Just like us, our children are desperate for Christ and His formation in their lives.  That is why our most important purpose in parenting is to help our children see their desperate need for Christ.

Parenting is not easy, but it is an incredible journey of joy when you approach it the right way.