Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Seven Gifts to Give Our Children

We had a very special guest speaker at our Women of Faith Bible Study today. Pastor Larry Osborn taught on the subject of Passing the Spiritual Torch on to our children. Within this topic, he shared seven gifts that last a lifetime.

Those of us from the baby boom generation who are now parents all remember that Cats in the Cradle song that could generate a lot of guilt in career oriented parents who may have been neglectful of giving their kids the right amount of attention. Then, there are all those books with eye catching titles that promise us great sounding ideas for raising kids. Did you find that in your own personal family life, some of those ideas worked and some didn't?

So, just how do positive changes occur? Do we witness a slow progression or regression? Good questions. Pastor Larry then shared a humorous story on how his particular talk on this topic has evolved over the years.

1. Before he had kids he gave it the title, "Ten Rules for Raising Godly Kids."

2. After having kids, he renamed it, "Ten Rules for Raising Good Kids."

3. As they were growing up, he renamed it, "Seven Principles for Raising Good Kids."

4. Next, he renamed it, "Five Guidelines for Raising Good Kids."

5. Then, he renamed it, "Three Suggestions for Surviving Parenthood."

Heh heh...

His dream as a father was to successfully pass the spiritual torch. Included in that dream was that his kids would:

1. Love my God.
2. Love their mom and dad.
3. Love the church we serve.

So, what was the organizing factor? What guided him? The answer might surprise readers. But as a pastor, he stated that, "I wanted to make North Coast Church a place where I would want to go even if I wasn't being paid for it." His goal was to see what God wanted to do with this church.

In preparation for the presentation of the seven gifts we need to give our children, Pastor Larry needed to expose a devastating myth. When you read it, you may either be puffed up with pride or devastated by it. He said, "a Godly home and wise parenting does not guarantee Godly kids."

Such a mindset ignores Ezekiel 18:1-20

A False Proverb Refuted

18The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, 2 "What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying:
'The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
And the children's teeth are set on edge'?
3 "As I live," says the Lord God, "you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.
4 "Behold, all souls are Mine;
The soul of the father
As well as the soul of the son is Mine;
The soul who sins shall die.
5 But if a man is just
And does what is lawful and right;
6 If he has not eaten on the mountains,
Nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,
Nor defiled his neighbor's wife,
Nor approached a woman during her impurity;
7 If he has not oppressed anyone,
But has restored to the debtor his pledge;
Has robbed no one by violence,
But has given his bread to the hungry
And covered the naked with clothing;
8 If he has not exacted usury
Nor taken any increase,
But has withdrawn his hand from iniquity
And executed true judgment between man and man;
9 If he has walked in My statutes
And kept My judgments faithfully--
He is just;
He shall surely live!"
Says the Lord God.
10 "If he begets a son who is a robber
Or a shedder of blood,
Who does any of these things
11 And does none of those duties,
But has eaten on the mountains
Or defiled his neighbor's wife;
12 If he has oppressed the poor and needy,
Robbed by violence,
Not restored the pledge,
Lifted his eyes to the idols,
Or committed abomination;
13 If he has exacted usury
Or taken increase--
Shall he then live?
He shall not live!
If he has done any of these abominations,
He shall surely die;
His blood shall be upon him.
14 "If, however, he begets a son
Who sees all the sins which his father has done,
And considers but does not do likewise;
15 Who has not eaten on the mountains,
Nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,
Nor defiled his neighbor's wife;
16 Has not oppressed anyone,
Nor withheld a pledge,
Nor robbed by violence,
But has given his bread to the hungry
And covered the naked with clothing;
17 Who has withdrawn his hand from *the poor
And not received usury or increase,
But has executed My judgments
And walked in My statutes--
He shall not die for the iniquity of his father;
He shall surely live!
18 "As for his father,
Because he cruelly oppressed,
Robbed his brother by violence,
And did what is not good among his people,
Behold, he shall die for his iniquity.
Turn and Live
19 "Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?' Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

The point is, each one of us stands before God independently. We, as parents, cannot force our kids to love God! Some Christians need to get rid of this kind of thinking.

What we do can influence them positively, but ultimately, their salvation choice is between them and God.

Remember the basic "programming" psychology of B.F. Skinner? Sometimes we mis-apply Proverbs 22:6:

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

In the way he should go is better interpreted, "in the way he is made" and also contains a spiritual component. The term when he is old means as a young adult (bearded).

When thinking about the message of Proverbs 22:6, we sometimes forget the core passage of the Bible. That core passage is in Genesis 3. It is there where we read and come to the realization that we live in a fallen world.

Adam and Eve had no sin nature and lived in a perfect environment. What happened was they ended up in rebellion! That rebellion lives on in each of us. If your kids worked out right, don't be puffed up with pride; be puffed up with thankfulness!

Proverbs 21:30, 31 -
[There is] no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.

The horse [is] prepared against the day of battle: but safety [is] of the LORD.

Our job, as parents, is to "prepare the horse." Such preparation is a huge influence but doesn't guarantee anything.

Pastor Larry shared that his grandparents were involved in "casual" Christianity. The cycles of sin were (sadly) greatly apparent in his grandparents lives. 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 described many of the sins they were involved in. In fact, the grandfather had pedophile pornography around the house and Larry was exposed to it at a very young age. It sickened this grandson so much that he never had any dealings or desire for such vile filth.

Now the positive part. He and his siblings determined to share what made their mom and dad special. They ended up having all three kids walk with the Lord; one being a pastor. All of the grandkids are saved through Jesus Christ, too.

The following are the Seven Gifts that the parents gave to their children; which, in turn, were then passed down to the grandchildren.

1. A strong marriage. The biblical model is a spouse centered marriage...not a kid centered model! Ouch! How many of us could plead guilty to that one? Your spouse shouldn't be at the bottom of the barrel of priorities! Pastor Larry's parents were so tight that nothing could separate them! He and his siblings never worried about their parents loyalty. Much security comes out of that.

One hint to discovering if your home is only kid-centered is if when the empty nest syndrome comes, it kills the home.

2. A united front. When questions came up about differing beliefs and ideas on proper parenting, 100% of the disagreement discussions were behind closed doors! The children were given a united front by the parents. They never knew conflict between their parents. They gave them security in this way. If an agreement couldn't be reached in private, they learned about the value of spiritual arbitration. This is different from spiritual counseling (which has its uses, too). But choosing a Godly mediator to choose between two conflicting ideas helped them pick the "idea" that would win. One example might be in discipline. Let's say that as children growing up, one parent was typically disciplined by being spanked almost every day when he/she was found doing the wrong thing. However, as a child growing up the other parent was only spanked once ...and even that one time ended up being done by accident! The mediator (agreed to by both parties) would choose which method of discipline would be used from now on. The other method would be dropped. In this, the children were again given the powerful example of a united front.

3. Spiritual consistency. Don't make the mistake of being overly zealous about your faith!

Ecclesiastes 7:16-18
16 Do not be overly righteous,
Nor be overly wise:
Why should you destroy yourself?
17 Do not be overly wicked,
Nor be foolish:
Why should you die before your time?
18 It is good that you grasp this,
And also not remove your hand from the other;
For he who fears God will escape them all.

Public outward passion and zeal are embarrassing to your kids! Especially in the middle school and high school years. This is a profound principle. Let your kids be kids. Don't embarrass them. Do not allow hypocrisy to creep in, either. Let the children be themselves.

4. Respect for authority. Authority is not always fair, honest, or just. For example. Pastor Larry shared the story about a high school baseball coach that just didn't like him. He found out years later that the coach disliked him because he hated Larry's dad. Why? Because his dad was an upstanding Christian man and teacher. Larry never knew the reason behind why the coach didn't like him. Because of this, the coach chose to not let Larry play much baseball on his team that year. Larry didn't know the real reason why this coach disliked him until he was out of high school. This taught Larry that life isn't always fair, but he needed to respect authority anyway.

People even have such attitudes when it comes to dealing with God. This is typical when people think they know better and that God doesn't "have a clue." But God is the greatest teacher when it comes to learning the principle of authority. We may view circumstances in our lives as not being fair, but we obey God anyway. We need to learn about unfairness. We face it every day. Life is unfair. Remember Genesis 3; we live in a fallen world.

5. Character over performance. We're all over our kids about their grades in school. But do we desire peak performance kids or Godly kids? Some of us are making our kids hate us because we are pushing them to be performance kids. What are they called to be and what do they want to be? Is he/she a godly kid? That's what really matters!

Now, don't take this the wrong way. This isn't a license for them to lie to you about their homework. When they do such things, it's time for a "come to Jesus meeting."

But let them see that it's ok to do a good job and then take a nap. We don't want them to be workaholics...doing everything they can but then collapsing at the end of the day. In eternity, what does it profit them to gain the whole world and lose their own soul?

6. Genuine interest in their world. It is vitally important to take an interest in what is happening in their world. Remember not to critique everything afterwards! You don't have to like it. One example. A proud dad went to observe his son officiate as a line judge in a c-level (not good players) game. If you put down their world, then they won't want to know about your world.

7. Battles picked wisely. Pastor's dad wasn't proud of the way he looked in the '70's (long hair, clothes worn), but his dad focused on his son's heart. In 1972, going to a strict Baptist church dressed like a bum wasn't typical. But he wants to go to church! Does it really matter how he looks? Pastor Larry shared that he accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior before his senior year in high school. However, he didn't reject the culture. He shared the story of how he would sit in a jacuzzi, smoke cigars or drink beer and discuss theology. One person may only see the cigar or beer. The other person sees the discussion. His parents decided that "this too, may pass." It may be an overstated example, but many of the things he learned along to way into ministry may not have been developed otherwise.

These seven gifts were born in the fruit of his two sons, daughter, and many grandkids. That fruit is the fact that they all know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, love God, love their parents and love the church.

1 comment:

Susan Smith said...

Hi Christine:

I really liked the 7th gift... it reminded me of sitting on my porch smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer and reading the Bible many times when I lived next door to my beloved mentor for 18 years.

She never mentioned the beer or cigarettes, because she knows the Word of God does not return void (see ISA 55:11). She is the wisest person I know. I thank God for delivering me from more than 20 years of homosexual behavior by showing me His Love through this woman... a willing vessel chosen for such a time as this. Praise His Name.

Love to the West Coast. (ss)