Here are my last 3 tips that I have found helpful for parenting kids…
Discipline kids, don’t punish them – Here’s what I mean. Punishment usually flow out of anger. Punishment is often an un-thought through reaction to a child’s action. Discipline, on the other hand, flows out of love. It is intentional. It seeks to teach. It is done calmly and rationally with an explanation for why you are doing what you are doing. It does not exasperate as this passage talks about.
Live with integrity/model a relationship with Christ – Kids are ALWAYS watching – even when you think they aren’t. They are watching the way you and your spouse treat each other. They are watching what your relationship with God is like and whether it is just a Sunday show. They are watching how you treat people when you are out and about. They are watching how you deal with their brothers and sisters. They are watching what you are watching on TV and the internet. Most of what your kids will learn from you will be through non-verbal instruction – because they are ALWAYS watching and learning from you.
Choose significant others to invest in and encourage your kids – Especially as your kids move in to their teenage years and begin to rely less and less on you, it will be to your great advantage to have other spiritually minded adults that are investing in your kid’s lives. This might be a youth pastor or volunteer, or a coach or a family friend. Really anyone who loves God, loves your child, and is willing to be intentional with them – to help encourage them and build godly character into their lives. You can help to foster these kinds of relationships in the early years by creating for them significant relationships with adults as well as with other kids.
“I do not believe that God intended the study of theology to be dry and boring. Theology is the study of God and all his works! Theology is meant to be LIVED and PRAYED and SUNG! All of the great doctrinal writings of the Bible (such as Paul’s epistle to the Romans) are full of praise to God and personal application to life.”
Picking up on where I left off last week – here are a few more tips for parents on raising kids…
Build/Buy memories – There are lots of things that we spend money on. But one of the best investments you can make with your money is to buy memories for your family. For us, this often took the form of travel – especially mission trips with our church. This had a two-fold result. We got to have a great experience together that created lots of memories and we got to do it serving God and helping our kids develop a love for missions. We have already started saving a little each month so that we can buy some great memories with our grandkids. They are very young right now but in 10 years we hope to do some things with them that will be unforgettable memories with their grandparents.
Help them choose the right friends – Don’t ever underestimate the power that your kid’s friends have. They will either move them closer to God or lead them away from God. You need to know who your kid’s friends are and you need to help them choose friends wisely. This starts when they are young and you intentionally choose who they will have play dates with and who are invited to their birthday parties and who you allow for sleepovers, etc. And it involves lots of conversations about what a good friend is and how to be one and how to find one.
Keep them in church – One of the values of a good church is what I mentioned above. We always wanted our kid’s friends to be from our church. This does not necessarily guarantee anything but it ups the odds a good bit. If your kids best friends are other kids who are at church then you won’t have a problem keeping them in church when they turn 16 – which is when many kids start to disappear. They will want to be there because it is where they will see their friends.
I will share 3 more tips next week before moving on to the next passage. Stay tuned.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
“Within this Christian vision of marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!”
The first part of this passage is dealing with kids and parents. Paul offers a tip or two to both children and dads that will help build great relationships. I offer here several other tips, just for parents, that I have learned over the years that have helped in raising godly kids. I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers but I have learned a few things that may be helpful.
Love your wife/husband – Kids need to see parents who obviously love each other. This gives them security and models for them a relationship that they hope to have in the future. Don’t be afraid to let your kids see you being affectionate to each other or to hear you say “I love you” to each other. The best way for you to love your kids is to love your spouse.
Pray for your kids – specifically character qualities – It doesn’t take too long to discover what qualities we need to ask God to build into our kid’s lives. Perhaps it is gentleness. Perhaps it is courage. Perhaps it is compassion. Be specific as you pray for your kids, asking God to transform them to reflect His character.
Be intentional with your words – The one scene that sticks out in my mind from the movie The Help is where Viola Davis’ character says to her young charge, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” She was using words intentionally to build up not to tear down. Our kids need to hear words of blessing coming out of our mouths not words that curse, demean, and discourage.
Eat supper together – This sounds so simple… because it is. And yet it is amazing how many families do not sit down and have supper together. They eat in shifts or on their own or in front of the TV. Supper should be a sacred time for families to enjoy catching up, laughing, thinking, and enjoying being with one another together.
Invest time with your kids – Admittedly, parenting is hard and it is exhausting. But the time invested with your kids will produce big dividends. The act of “being there” can never be underestimated. Being there for your kid’s ballgames or recitals. Being there to cry with them when they hurt and rejoice with them when they are happy. Being there for those significant conversations that our kids need.
I’ll share a few more tips next week. In the mean time… think on these things!
The gospel is like a caged lion,’ said the great baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. ‘It does not need to be defended, it simply needs to be let out of it’s cage’ Today, the cage is our accommodation to the secular/sacred split that reduces Christianity to a matter of personal belief. To unlock the cage, we need to become utterly convinced that, as Francis Schaeffer said, Christianity is not merely religious truth, it is total truth- truth about the whole of reality.
A few years ago I put together some practical tips on how couples could experience “oneness” in their relationship. In Ephesians 5:31, Paul reminds us that “the two will become one flesh.” For those couples that enjoy this kind of intimacy in their relationship I see these ONE-FLESH principles at work. I offer them here to you for your edification. You will note that the tips are a based on the acronym ONE-FLESH.
O – Offer yourselves daily as a living sacrifice to God! This is what Romans 12:1-2 tells us to do. You’ve probably heard it said that the problem with a living sacrifice is that when you put it on the alter of God that it wants to keep running away. That’s why every day you have to say all over again to God, “Lord today I am your man, your woman, by Your strength would You empower me to be the husband/wife that I need to be. I can’t do it on my own. I surrender myself to You.” This is where the ONE FLESH reality begins – as we each acknowledge God’s Lordship upon our lives and willingly submit and surrender ourselves to Him.
N – Never forget your vows/promises to each other! Too many people take their marriage vows lightly. Unfortunately, almost half of marriages break up because people neglect to fulfill their vows. We need to be promise keepers! Nothing will break down trust and intimacy in a marriage faster than when we start betraying each other through broken promises. Be a man and a woman of your word!
E – Express your love constantly and creatively! Men, this is where we need to be pacesetters. Don’t be like the guy who’s wife asked him one day well into their marriage if he still loved her – who said “I told you I loved you on the day we got married and if anything changes I’ll let you know!” We need to become a die hard romantic who is always looking for creative ways to let our wives know that they are loved.
F – Forgive quickly! Scripture has much to say about forgiveness. Never forget how much you have already been forgiven so that you can “forgive as you have been forgiven.” And if we will put Ephesians 4:26 into practice we will never regret it – “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” We will never be more like Jesus to your each other than when we forgive each other.
L – Learn everything that you can about each other! Maybe you heard about the couple that was attending a marriage seminar on communication. The instructor declared, “It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other.” Then he addressed the men: “For instance, gentlemen, can you name your wife’s favorite flower?” The husband leaned over, touched his wife’s arm gently and whispered, “Pillsbury All-Purpose, isn’t it?” It was not a good night for hubby! Marriage is meant to be a lifetime of discovering more and more about each other. Your level of ONENESS will get higher and higher the more you know one another.
E – Establish a Purpose Driven Marriage – Getting married takes about 30 minutes but becoming one takes a lifetime. And we need to realize that God has called husbands and wives together for His purposes. Over the course of this lifetime we will see why he put us specifically together if we will 1) pursue him first and foremost and 2) follow his leading day in and day out. Don’t ever settle for a comfortable marriage – pursue a marriage that purposefully exists to bring glory and honor to God.
S – Sacrificially love your wife/Submit to your husband! Men, according to Ephesians 5 our main job as a husband is to sacrificially love our wives so that they can become holy women of God. According to Scripture, our love has a sanctifying effect upon them. Our sacrificial love will help them to become more like Christ. We are to be the leaders in the home and it is our responsibility to make sure that they continue to grow and are nourished in their faith. God will use our love to make this happen.
Ladies, your job according to Ephesians 5 is to submit to your husband in response to his sacrificial love. Some people think that submission is a hard thing for a woman to do. Actually it is incredibly easy if the husband is doing his job of loving his wife. What wife would not willingly want to respond to a husband who is doing everything that he can do love her in a sacrificially sanctifying way?
H – Honor the marriage bed! – This admonition comes from Hebrews 13:4. The marriage bed is for husbands and wives to physically express the intimacy that has developed outside of the bedroom. We honor the marriage bed in two ways, one negative and one positive. 1) Both husbands and wives need to guard themselves against the enemies of marital intimacy – lack of communication, mistrust, disrespect, boredom, busyness, harshness, neglect, pornography and other forms of sexual immorality. – just to name a few. 2) Husbands and wives need to work at making sex fun and interesting. They can honor the marriage bed by creatively exploring ways to enjoy one another physically. For some reason Christians developed a reputation in the past for being sexual prudes. The truth of the matter is that Christians should be having the most fulfilling sex lives of anybody because of the bonds on intimacy they enjoy outside the bedroom which makes for great sex inside the bedroom.