Posts tagged ‘God’

Parents, the Fresh Prince was Right

Yes, before he fought aliens or got jiggy with it, before he was the dating doctor in Hitch, when the prince was still Fresh, he was giving his advice on parenting. And what were his sage words: “parents just don’t understand.” “Yeah, that about sums it up.” See here

I’ll share about this morning. As a great parent in her own right, my wife, seeking to avoid the early morning clothes crisis I’m sure parents of six year old daughters can relate too, her clothes were picked out the night before. And testifying to our lack of understanding, the clothes that were “perfect” the night before were now fit inducing. You know kicking, yelling, defiant, and disrespectful. The kind of fit that needs and exorcist rather than a parent. Let me interject here that yes, Fresh Prince, I don’t understand. Although, Daddy Will Smith would probably agree your kid in this state is tougher than Freddy Kruger and Mike Tyson put together. Remember those two, Will? Get old school here and here.

Recap, daughter has thrown a disrespectful, kicking yelling fit over a pair of leggings and still thinks she’s right, and the case is brought to dad. Here are the points that stand out to me for your reflection, but be warned, I don’t understand any of this.

1. Parenting Happens at the Speed of Life: I like it best when I just came out of a powerful prayer time, having read the Bible with a chaser of John Gray, Ted Trip, Sam Lang and an episode of the Cosby show. Yet, most often, it’s like this morning. I’m shirtless, hair sticking up trying to have a serious talk with my daughter, and she reaches over, plucks something off of my chest and says, “You have a feather from your pillow on your booby.” How can you parent effectively, with the wisdom of Solomon and Ward Cleaver, after a line like that? But this is where parenting really happens. It’s Texas prison rules. Kids can say anything and do anything. Parents, here’s my take on this one. Don’t get in a hurry. Anger is fast; patience is slow. If you need to laugh in a moment like that, sometimes you take five and pick up the discipline when the moment has passed. When we discipline rashly from the hip in our anger, we’re retaliating rather than parenting. Stand tall, we’re parents. Take the time you need. Even if you have to say, we’ll talk about this later. As long as your kids know you will truly come back, this can work. It’s one of my secret weapons when an apt reply escapes me.

2. God and Parents Oppose the Proud and Give Grace to the Humble: The concept is repeated throughout the Bible “God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble” 1 Peter 5:5. Admittedly, I don’t understand why we get locked in this battle. Well, that’s not entirely true, I know I’m rebellious and will fight to be right even when I know I’ve done wrong. Why should I be surprised when my kid does the same? The part I don’t understand is why we do it over and over again. This is true, when we are proud and can’t admit we’re wrong, God opposes us. When we acknowledge, I am wrong help me be different, God is there with his grace and favor. Parents, I think we’ve got to do the same. This morning my daughter was not interested in looking at herself. She didn’t want to look at how she was disrespectful, how she was ungrateful; throwing a fit and convinced she’s right. If I love the sweet girl who’s showing these traits, I must parent through this heart condition. The outward actions are symptoms of the greater internal condition. The heart that says I know better, I’m the exception to the rule, I’m not wrong is what pushes us away from close relationships and eventually causes us to turn away from God. It’s our responsibility to help them to unmask their hearts and relent in this area. Some of you may read this and say “I don’t want to break their spirit. I want them to be independent: not a push over.” Me too. Humility is not being mealy-mouthed, a pushover or low self-esteem. Humility is the ability to see yourself as you are and admit when you are wrong. This is the ultimate form of self-esteem I don’t have to think less of myself or too highly of myself just see things as they are and respond accordingly. When I’m wrong, change, be sorry, make amends, and get reconciled. Leggings are never the issue. If we allow our children and ourselves to live through situation after situation where this heart condition goes unchecked. It will be full grown and the foundation of their character for the rest of their lives will always have this deep undermining crack.

3. Don’t be Lazy. Dig until You Reach the Heart: I’m right there with you in all my feather-boobed glory. I get to a point sometimes on an issue like this where I ask myself “What am I trying to accomplish here?” Our kids get there too. My daughter knows the right words. She knows to say she’s sorry. She knows to go to the person and apologize. She knows to seek forgiveness. Parents, here’s where you have to know your children and love them enough not to let the right words and the wrong heart rule the day. It may not be in that moment that you help them to see it. But we’ve got to be vigilant and know that these battles of the heart are more valuable than anything we may give ourselves to. Our wives and kids are the first people in line. They are our greatest ministry. The days are short and before you know it, the world will be opened before them and the time for training will be over and the game will be on for real. This is just an appeal not to let the real issues go. I fight with myself on this every day. Let’s stick together and give our kids the love they deserve.

Agree with me? Hate these ideas? Need some music to listen to while you cool down? Comment and let me know what you think.

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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

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.