Posts tagged ‘faith’

Parenting by Faith

Parenting: the most rewarding, scariest, snake infested, fear filled, fun, and wonderful adventure, right? Save for, maybe, marriage, what part of life can produce more of a rollercoaster of emotions? Parents with and without God would say you try to do your best and hope for the best. Try to survive the teen years and maybe some of the good things will rub off. There’s definitely some truth in those words, but I think parents who are willing to invite God into their parenting, even when it’s not convenient, can expect more.

“By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (Hebrews 11:23-26 NIV)

Let’s begin with the end in mind, shall we? Don’t get distracted that we’re talking about Moses, OK? We have a boy who is offered every desire is sinful human heart could want: treasure, pleasure, power, prestige. Yet, he chooses the hard path: ill-treated, disgrace, future reward, Jesus. Why? This passage points to how his parents, despite circumstances against them, parented by faith. Woe, now I’m challenged. But I also know I can relate because his parents said “He’s no ordinary child.” I’m tempted to think he had a red “S” on his chest to let them know he would be super. But I think there reaction is more like ours. My daughter? Have you talked to her? She so smart. I think I should have her tested to see if she’s a genius. My son? He’s so funny, and such a servant. We all feel our kids are extraordinary. Because of that, I have four thoughts for us to consider, which will probably extend over a few posts.

1. Our Compass:
A compass is a device, through the magic God put into the world of magnetic poles and such, that can point you due north. I believe that all parents have a compass pointing somewhere. Even the worst parents who do things parents should never do have a compass pointing somewhere. It may point to themselves and their needs, but it’s still a compass. Parents who haven’t examined where their families are pointed are pointing somewhere. If your family doesn’t have a pattern pointed toward God and where he’s taking you, you will end up somewhere other than his presence. He details where his compass is pointing through every word he’s shared with us in the Bible. If our family isn’t shaped by his word–not a fake, pass the test of your neighbor’s way–but a true, behind closed doors when no one but God can see kind of way, our compass is pointing somewhere else. The Bible describes Moses’ parents as not being afraid of the King’s edict. There compass pointed to God. Mom or Dad does your personal compass point to God. If no, good luck passing it on. Because things aren’t just taught, they’re caught. Your kids hear what you say, but they imitate your compass. Also, what does my family value? The investments–time, money, conversation—will tell us. Where does your families compass point? Answer this and you’ve picked up the first key to parenting by faith. I’m writing this and challenged by this.

2. Our Commitment:
The world around us, including the general parenting environment, tells us many wrong, yet deceptively convenient messages. Many of the things I hear as I interact with parents are to pacify our kids. I’m not just talking about the binky here. I mean giving them something that comes from the outside that makes them quiet or behaved, or generally gets them out from under foot. Guess what? My brain tells me this is good. But real parenting always requires energy. This doesn’t mean it’s all tough, but it always takes effort. Pacifying may change behavior, but it doesn’t change the heart. If throwing a fit or wining can get your child what they want from you, we’re not committed to parenting the heart. Don’t get scared. We have all given into this at one time or another. But if the pattern of your life is letting fits win the day. You’ve got work ahead of you to break this pattern. This is as good a time as any to bring up something else that requires commitment. The parents are the authority. In the 50’s parents were authoritarian at times. Kids sat in nice straight rows, but may have missed true love and affection at times. We are benevolent dictators. We are the authority from a place of love. I will discuss this more in one of the other points in a future post, but we should decide, parents, that we are the authority. This authority was give to you by God. If it’s powered by love, like God, authority is a good thing. Your kids need you to set the boundaries. In fact, they love it when you do this despite what they may say. Learn to wear this authority all the time. This doesn’t mean you don’t listen. Please listen to your kids. It’s the only way to know what you should do for them, but when everything has been heard, you decide what comes next. Many times your kids should get what they’ve asked for. But you make the decision. Jesus is the ultimate example of this. He is the king of kings but he doesn’t mind wrapping himself in a towel and washing the dirty feet of his best friends. There’s your example of authority, parents.

Parenting requires training the heart to change. Behavior will truly change from the inside out. This takes commitment. This takes time. This takes slowing down long enough to discuss, sometimes repeatedly, the heart of love we should aim for in each situation. We have to model from the inside out so it will be taught and caught by our kids. This will take committing to do the hard things, slowing down, listening longer and our kids not always getting what they want, but more often getting the love and teaching they need.

Let’s marinade on these two points a bit. What do you think? Here is a link to a message that discusses “Parenting by Faith.” In addition, here is

Is your faith made for walking?

Sunday’s gone and Monday’s getting there.  Would you say you walked with God today?  I was on a few planes today, so I had a chance to bring up a few people to God I’ve wanted to pray for, but I feel I could have used more of that air time, maybe not so much walking, but flying with him.  Take a few seconds to hum a few bars of “I’ll Fly Away.”  I couldn’t help myself, so why should you? 

In the family of God where I belong, we’ve been exploring the life lived “by faith.”  We’re unpacking Hebrews chapter 11 and bouncing back to Genesis and other places in the Bible that give the rich detail about the men and women that the chapter describes as living by faith.  Have you ever looked into a man named Enoch?  He’s a bit of a mystery man, but one thing we know is God didn’t let him die.  He took him to be with him with out having to experience death.  That got your attention, right?

One thing that is repeated about Enoch in Genesis chapter 5, the Enoch bit begins in verse 18, is that he “walked with God.  If you want to hear the message where we talk in more detail about this, it’s called “This Faith was Made for Walking.”

So in hopes to imitate some of Enoch’s faith, my church family and I were brainstorming the other day about what we’ve learned through the Bible and our collective experiences about walking with God.  What was shared was encouraging.

One brother started the sharing of ideas by describing preparing for a marathon.  It begins with a plan, running shorter distances at first.  There are times when you stretch yourself to run greater distances dove-tailed with times of rest.  You don’t run the entire marathon’s distance until that time comes.  All the distances you’ve run before prepare you for the big race.  The proper diet is important, along with a healthy understanding of your limitations, coupled with the desire to reach for more.  I’m not even trying to be spiritual; I’m just describing the preparation for the long run he shared.  Try checking out someone talking about getting ready and see if there’s something there for you.  I found one description here.

Some other ideas people shared that got me thinking about my walk were 

  • Reading a book that stretches your mind about God’s creation.  This man mentioned Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time.”
  • Taking small bites.  Taking a small peace of scripture or a concept and parking on it until God reveals something about it to you.  I find taking scripture in bites instead of bits.  Reading a whole book or chapter and trying to see the big picture can help me as well.
  • A sister shared the decision, with God’s help, to simply “never give up.”  This decision had given her the ability to walk with God no matter the circumstances, whether she was feeling like walking or discouraged and wanting to stop her walk.  This was said by a woman who doctors had told they had done all they could for her cancer more than twelve years ago.  Her decision to never give up keeps her walking no matter the circumstances.  Her walk is not based on her feelings that day but on her commitment.
  • One woman shared a practical tip of keeping a prayer list.  This is one, I think is worth imitating.  How often does someone ask you to pray for them, you tell them I’ll pray for you, and it goes right out of your mind?  A list that you take on your walk with God where you share the people and situations you want to bring before God, may sound like a no brainer, but are you doing it?  I need to be better at this and keep the list with me more.
  • Sharing the walk with other people.  This started a great conversation.  Some focused on how it’s great to get encouragement and accountability from other Christians to invest in their relationship with God.  Others brought up how sharing it with someone who has little to no relationship with God helps them to feel closer to God.  Both sounds right to me.  For the record, putting these thoughts down here, I’m finding helps me to prioritize my walk.
  • Scheduling time with God.  This one is another no-brainer that is easier said than done.  If I look at my relationship with my wife, our time together doesn’t happen automatically.  Why should it be different with God?  Do you know when you’re going, in your day, to take time to walk with him?  Sure we can squeeze in “hi’s and buy’s,” without planning.  But a walk takes time.  When is your time with God?  IS that something you prioritize? 

 

One final thing, which surprised me, is the use of pictures.  Some people said they put pictures of people they wanted to pray for on their prayer lists.  Others said they used their Facebook photos or friend lists.  High tech, huh?  Still others said they had created books of the aspirational things they wanted to pray for.  Taking pictures from magazines or where ever to visualize and share things with God.  Examples I heard were marriage, pictures of wedding dresses, children, etc.  I thought these were really cool ideas.  If you know you’re a visual person there might be something there for you. 

I was encouraged by the ideas people shared in a short amount of time.  I think there are a few new routes I want to try while walking with God in the coming weeks.

While writing this, I saw a great resource Tim Challies posted at his blog.  It was a “prayer manual” with 1600 scriptures and promises from the Bible you can use in your walk.  I encourage you to take a look at this resource written by Tim Kerr, a pastor from Canada.  The analogy was made of a child reminding his father that he promised to take them to the zoo, and we can remind God of his promises too.  I think I like that.  The post is Take Words with You.

Now, let’s talk about your walk.  Shall we?

Our Seesaw Faith

Do you ever begin thinking about faith and immediately feel guilty?  You wish you could muster the mustard seed of faith that Jesus mentions?  If my faith was sitting on one end of a seesaw and you dropped the mustard seed on the other side, sometimes my faith would go flying into the air.  It’s so light and insubstantial. 

How about this verse?  “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)  From Jump Street, you can choose to look at this verse as discouraging.  Thanks, that sounds like a tall order.  Being sure or certain of things I hope for and especially things I don’t see is above my spiritual pay grade.

First, let’s consider what I will call functional faith.  Have you recently put a glass under the faucet and taken a drink.  Unless your like my engineer friend Greg, you didn’t take your water testing kit and determine the make up of your H2O.  With me so far?   I recently got on two planes to get me from LR to LA.  Two hundred of my acquaintances did too.  We believe this metal bird someone made could fly us across the continent.  We trust there was an unseen pilot up front who knew what to do and where to go and could perform all the subtle course corrections it would take to get us to the place we were hoping for but was still unseen.  But sometimes there’s a boil order, and your water isn’t safe.  Sometimes, sadly, planes don’t arrive at their destinations.  Yet we exercise a functional faith in hundreds of things each day.

So what’s the difference?  God, through his word, asks us to put our faith in the faithful.  He says trust in the trustworthy, and that’s him.  “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.” (Deuteronomy 7:9-10 NIV)  Do you hear it?  He’s the faithful one.  For better, if you love him, or worse, if you hate him, he is going to do exactly what he said he would do.  He is faithful.  If you were wondering, I recommend the covenant of love. 

Back to Hebrews 11:1.  This verse says trust there’s a pilot.  He knows where he’s going.  He’s a faithful pilot.  The rest of chapter 11 goes on to talk about other passengers who by faith got to a city only the pilot knew well.

Recently, I feel God has been taking me to new places by faith.  I plan to share with you some of the things I’m learning.  A few more things that are helping me hold my own against the mustard seed on the other end of the seesaw.  Consider the words “sure” and “certain” from the verse above.  The New Revised Standard Bible translates the Greek words “assured” and “conviction.”  The New King James translates “substance” and “evidence.”

I am finding encouragement to trust the pilot from all these words. 

Sure: I’ve seen planes take off and land, I’m sure it will work. 

Assured:  I’m reminded that God isn’t passive.  He’s active in assuring me of what’s hoped for.

Substance:  What a great word?  This is something solid.  What’s hoped for will, at times, be able to be touched.  The rest of the Bible assures me that, some day, it won’t be hope it will be reality.

Certain: Even though I don’t see God, I am convinced his loving hand is working for my good.

Conviction:  This word invites me to do something with this trust.  If it’s a conviction I back up my faith with doing something.

Evidence:  This word reminds me of all the stories I read in Hebrews chapter 11.  It causes me to want to find the rest of their story in the other parts of the Bible and figure out what their faith looked, sounded, felt and even smelled like, so I can imitate it.

Jim Martin over at A Place for the God Hungry recently wrote about five different approaches to prayer.  I felt he was in my head on some of the points he was making, especially the questions.  You can read his post and my response here.

As you’re thinking about your faith, ask yourself this question:

“What impossible thing do I never pray for because I’m afraid of failure?”  Let’s discuss.

Why “Bone Fire!”?

Welcome to Bone Fire!  I intend for this to be a place where I share my thoughts.  That insures this will be, at times, both inane and sublime.  Hopefully, this will be a place for your thoughts as well.  Why “Bone Fire!”?  Sounds like it might be about pirates or something?

“Bone Fire!” is drawn from Jeremiah 20:9 “But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his

name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” (NIV).  I can relate to what the prophet is sharing here.  I sometimes love and sometimes resist God’s influence in my life.  Sometimes I can’t help talking about God’s impact and presence in my life.  At other times, I’m frozen with fear, weakness, embarrassment, selfishness and my tongue is glued to the roof of my mouth.  This is true for all the paths I tread as a husband, dad, friend, employee, etc. 

I have been on the fence about beginning a blog.  Since you’re reading this, I have given in to the “Indeed, I cannot” from above.

I have been married to my best friend Laura for eleven years so far.  She is my complement in all senses of the word.  I have a daughter, almost 6, who we got the old fashion way and a son, 4, who we adopted from India.  I have an apple for each eye.  They are a constant source of fun, frustration and all points in between.  I work as a minister for a church in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA and in public relations for a national nonprofit.  I am blind and have a Seeing Eye dog named P.J.  This may make you curious on its own.  Many people have never known a blind person.  They’ve only seen them in the wild.  Get to know me and the mystique will be shattered, I assure you.  God has blessed me with friends and acquaintances from many different backgrounds.  I hope this is another way to fan all these relationships into flame and to ignite new conversations and friendships.

For the days I want to extinguish the fire burning in those spaces in my bones…  For the days I’m content to let it glow like a nice camp fire: warm my face and hands, you know…  And for the moments where it burns white hot, this is why I want to write “Bone Fire!”  So you and I can find those moments more often and stay there longer.

I will do my best to make this a place where we can throw kerosene on our collective fires.  The world around us all can be cold, with a chilling wind plucking and puffing at our fires in hopes another light will go dark.  But no matter what circumstance you find yourself in when you read these words, know this: “Our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 11:29.

Whether you read, lurk or comment, my prayer for you is this God will light a fire in you that will warm the days and nights to come for you, yours and those around you.  But for the record, I hope you’ll read and you’ll comment.