Parenting with Jesus…

So let’s go ahead and skip the Sunday school lesson, today we’re
talking about more than simply name dropping at expected times and places, this
is serious. For Christians, seeking to live as parents requires a supernatural
and un-exhaustible source of love, wisdom and grace. We all recognize our
inability to understand and solve every problem our kids experience, and to try
to do so on our own would put us in mental lock down for weeks.

Over the weekend, we hosted our youth group for some hang time to
start off the summer break. We listened and talked and shared what God had put
on our heart for the year, but mostly we asked questions and listened to the
responses. It was telling. Kids are sensing all of the challenges of life much
earlier than we had to, they are aware for the most part about the need to
“Hear from God” for themselves and for the shallowness of petty
theological turf wars in the church. They acknowledge their frustration with
the inconsistencies of youth leaders, and pastors and teachers and parents, but
most of all they realized they didn’t know exactly who or what to do with Jesus?

Every one of these kids had prayed the prayer, they had done a
youth camp or missions trip, they knew the bible well enough to speak the
language of a Christian and to even spend time with God on a regular
basis…but they struggled to define their relationship with Him. Jesus was a
mish-mash of traditional concept and stereotypes, mixed in with a bit of
current pop culture, and Jesus emerges in our kids’ lives as an icon of the
past with little personal interaction or tangible reality.

Sound familiar?

When it’s all said and done, it’s possible the single greatest
contribution any of us can give to our kids is a solid understanding of who
Jesus Christ is, and what He offers for us to experience with Him over the
course of our lifetime. The other stuff is great, it’s important and it will
serve our kids well to learn to balance their checkbooks, act with integrity,
love with wisdom etc… but if they grow up with a scattered and undefined
grasp of who our savior is. We may be missing the parenting point all together.

Ask your kids… “Who is Jesus?” This simple
question is upon a bit of reflection actually quite profound, inexhaustible really.

Without Jesus in our parenting, we’re kinda of asking our kids to
follow Christianity, burdened upon our own weak and vulnerable examples of
faith. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to do that.

Ask them.

It may be the single greatest parenting choice you can ever make.
Be prepared to struggle a bit yourself as you seek to define the relationship
you have with Jesus. Who is He? What did he actually do for you, for our kids,
for mankind? What has He asked of us? Where is He now? Why didn’t He fix
everything… or did He? Why can’t we see or hear Him… or can we? How can so
many people claim to know Him and yet act as if He never existed?

Taking the time will be a struggle, a valiant one, worthy of every parent’s
full attention and focus. At the heart of the bible, the very pulsing center of
all its teaching, its truth and its power lies one undeniable theme. Jesus
Christ. When our understanding of Christianity and faith and discipleship and
mentoring and life drift away from the central truth of our existence… what
do we really have to offer our kids?

“Lord, help us to grasp the essentials of our faith. Help us
to communicate the truth of our relationship with your only son and our savior
to our kids… strengthen us with your word and flood us with wisdom this day.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen”.

Peace out.

brad

A Critique of Rob Bell’s book…”Love Wins”

 I just finished reading Rob Bell’s controversial book, “Love Wins“. I came away with mixed emotions, but strangely stirred to consider carefully the suggestions his book asserts about what I “think I know”, rather than what the bible actually says.

As a parent, this book engages me to review my way of raising kids biblically and to apply the portions of the book that I believe have real merit for us and to discard the portions that I believe are a pure opinion. As a pastor I feel strongly that Rob has raised a very real and serious concern about how we as Christian’s present the “gospel” of Jesus Christ to our world.

For a fair and balance review of Rob’s book, I would refer you to a post from Christian Today. I believe theologian Derek Tidball has captured my own observations, considerations and concerns almost verbatim.

For real life faith and family issues, read on….

Parents, Rob Bell’s book raises some key elements about our understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus. He uses in particular the parable of the prodigal son as a powerful metaphor for understanding the viewpoint that God Himself has on both those who fail and repent and those who appear to be faithful and reliable servants. His observation that God see’s both sons as separated by their individual sins is a great parenting truth.

So often one of our children are easily identified as the “black sheep” of our families, always pushing boundaries, always the first to get in trouble and the first to talk back… and in converse there will be one sibling who is extra-ordinarily compliant. It’s easy to pre-determine the actions and reactions of each to our instructions and to pre-judge their actions as “good” and “bad” respectively.

Not so fast.

What about the conditions of the hearts of our children? I mean, are we carefully looking into their hearts before we draw our conclusions about their actions ? If so, we need to step back a bit and reconsider.

God judges from the heart, man from the outward appearance. If we are training our kids to simply model our faith, in time they will learn to simply “pretend” their way through childhood and adolescence. By adulthood, they will have mastered the art of deception and risk the tragedy of living out their lives in public as respectable and self-disciplined fakes. It strikes me that many of our churches are full of such individuals.

If we take the time to actually look a bit under the surface of their behavior, we may find that our compliant kids are actually more at risk for connecting with their faith in a genuine way than our “black sheep” are.  The honesty of rebellion is something that we need to actually cherish as we work with them to consider that mom and dad might know what they are talking about, and that the bible could actually be important to their own lives… 🙂

Tomorrow’s blog will consider the issues of this book and its impact on the church from the perspective of a pastor.

Until then, God bless you as you like me… “seek to keep your family in between the lines and on the road of life”!

Peace out,

brad.