For the past four years I have had a small group that to me, was family, and we used this as a place of prayer, friendship, trust and encouragement. This group was family. It was a place to let my proverbial hair down and to be fed instead of pouring into. Two of the couples felt called to lead in other areas. This was a group of leaders, not followers and it was really nice to lean on each other during these past few years. This group helped me through the death of my mother. They prayed for my wife and me when we needed it most. And most importantly we didn’t feel judged in this group. That is not to say that they didn’t hold me accountable, because when they did, I knew it was out of love (and truth).
The beautiful thing about these changes are that they will bless other people (other marriages and individuals) as much as they have blessed my wife and me. They will comfort and encourage and urge others to live a life worthy of God.
So what about the others that I left with us? What about the new members in our group? The more the merrier. Seriously, these others are still part of our family. They love me and we will continue to grow and challenge each other, to pray for each other, and to be there for one another. We just had another family start coming and we have been truly blessed by them.
So as I am leading this group, I was praying on what best to talk about: Marriage? Stewardship? Missional? Discipleship? Of course, I decided on a topic after serious prayer: Parenting! We all have kids and we all are our own experts on this subject (not). The one thing, among many, that we have in common is at times we begrudgingly admit that we do not like bedtime when it is difficult – don’t get me wrong, there are many nights were tickles, snuggles, bedtime pillow fights and songs from the heart ring true to my ears, but then there are those nights (well, you know those nights).
This topic was clearly an answer to my prayers because we have had some honest discussion and really good prayer time with each other. The thing that I realize is that there are a ton of books about parenting that try to give you cookie cutter solutions on how to raise your kids, but the honest to God conclusion is that not all kids are the same. Not every child responds to the desires of our hearts that we would like. Not every child can be disciplined the same. Not every child, so the list goes on and on and on.
In my opinion, God gives us the privilege of parenting so we can see exactly how much he loves us. He gives us this blessing to help us understand his mercies are new every day. He shows us how to love even when we want to scream in frustration and he shows us no matter the good or the bad (the child – each one of us are His) He still loves us.
The Bible has a lot to say about parenting, but there is no clear cut way for each parent to follow. I will say this, Lance was spot on in his last post, Parents: You can’t Rush God’s Plan. Because we cannot. He is in control even when life seems out of control for us. He has plans for us, not to harm us, but to give us the abundant life for those who fear and love Him.
God tells us clearly in Scripture to train a child in the way that they should go and that they will never depart from that. There are a few caveats that we have to apply for this to be the case:
- Our faith has to be real
- We have to trust the Lord with all our heart
- We have to not lean on our own understanding
- We have to acknowledge God in all our ways
- And we have to believe that He will make our paths straight
- We have to stay grounded in the Word (because that word is our lifeline to God)
- We have to show love, faith and hope to our children
This all sounds like it would be an easy formula to follow, but the problem with this theory is that we are married and there is one man and one woman in this marriage. The potential problem with this is that we continue to try and fall back to our old selves (the old sin nature) instead of putting on our new self (in Christ Jesus) for those of us who profess the Lord Jesus as Savior.
When we get in the way of ourselves: To our spouse, to our children, to our church and to our work and community – a whole slew of problems begin to unravel themselves. So what to do:
Turn ourselves back to God (confess this to him: our doubts, our fears, our troubles)
Lean on Him (all the time – He is faithful even when we are not)
Let Go and Let God.
As Lance, said, “It’s the difference between living your faith versus knowing about faith.” Your kids can smell a fake a mile away – so be real, make mistakes, get angry, be sad, cry, love, laugh, and live true faith. Let your kids know that God is a God of second, third and infinite chances as long as we continue to pursue him, trust him and love him.
What say you?