Like father, like…Moses

We have a little joke at our house that is based on what I think is a pretty solid parenting truism – “They only do what they see their parents doing.”

When Molly loses her temper, I’ll tease – “She only does what she sees her mom doing.”

When Anne forgets her library card for the 1,000th time – “She only does what she sees her dad doing.”

When Nathan burps at the dinner table – “He only does what he sees his dad doing.”

Yeah, it rarely goes over very well. But unfortunately (or is it fortunate?), it is pretty true. At least it was for Moses.

Look at what Moses’ parents did in Hebrews 11:23 – “By faith, Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw that he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”

Compare that with how Moses acts in Hebrews 11:27 – “By faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”

Did you catch the two similarities? (I bolded them, so I sure hope you did!) #1 – Moses’ parents saw things from God’s perspective; they saw something others might have missed. Moses learned to see things that were invisible! #2 – Moses’ parents weren’t afraid of a king because they knew The King had other plans. Moses learned to follow The King, fearless of whatever a king felt.

What will your kids do some day because they see it in you today? Is that fortunate or unfortunate? The answer is up to you!

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God Whistles

From the time my kids were barely big enough to toddle, every day when I came home from work I would whistle as I entered the door. It was my version, I guess, of “Hi honey, I’m home.” I loved hearing the kids’ squeals and shouts of “Daddy!” and listening to the precious pitter-patter of their feet running to hug me.

As they got bigger, that became my call for them to come find me. When it was time to leave the park or play-place, I’d give that same little whistle and they’d come running, regardless of how much fun they were having. In a loud and crowded room, across a park or swimming pool, from downstairs when it is time to get in the van – they hear that whistle instinctively, and know it means “Dad’s calling”.

That explains why tears filled my eyes when I read a verse from the prophet Isaiah I had never picked up on before. Isaiah 5:26 – “He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he WHISTLES for those at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily!”

God whistles. He whistles when it is time to gather His people.

If you know me at all, you could guess that after I dried my eyes, I whistled – and the kids came running – and we had a little lesson. After giggling together at the thought of God whistling and guessing what it might sound like, I told them I hope more than anything that when God whistles for them, they run to Him swiftly and speedily!

Oh God, please whistle for my kids!

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BB Gun Armor

I’ve noticed a change in my son’s morning routine. He used to start every day by asking if he should wear short or long sleeves. Now he wears long sleeves without asking.  Every day. And sometimes a sweatshirt or jacket. I didn’t think much of it since it has, after all, been “winter” in SoCal.

Then a few days ago he came in with a couple pieces of wood and asked if he could somehow tie them with rope around his head so they covered his face, “and maybe drill some holes here for my eyes so I can see”.

What?!

Come to find out, there’s drama in the neighborhood. One of the boys Nathan plays with got a BB gun. Now Nathan thinks about the reality of getting shot with a BB every day from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed. He frets about it, plans for it, and dresses accordingly.

A BB gun. And he’s crafting his own armor.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

Maybe we should take a lesson from Nathan. When was the last time you woke up planning on being attacked by the enemy, so you buckled some truth around your waist or covered your weaknesses with righteousness before you even left the house?

We are in a battle. Our enemy is far more menacing than the neighborhood kid with an AirSoft. And we must – we MUST – be ready!

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How do we face persecution?

This week, Life Groups at Real Life Church are talking about being a church that faces persecution. Many of you have faced “trials of many kinds” far more severe than anything I have gone through. Others have been tested in ways that, as the author of Hebrews says, “the world is not worthy of them”. I am NOT one of those people. But in studying for a message, God brought this outline together before my eyes and I thought it might encourage you as much as it does me.

How do we be a church that faces persecution?

  1. Desire godliness
    • 2 Timothy 3:12 – “In fact, everyone who wants to live a GODLY LIFE in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
    • We don’t desire persecution.
    • We don’t go looking for a fight.
    • Hebrews 12:2 – “Fix your eyes on Jesus”.
    • We face persecution by desiring godliness.
  2. Don’t be surprised
    • John 16:33 – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have PEACE. In this world you will have trouble.”
    • When don’t you have peace?
      • Before getting on a roller coaster?
      • When a child or loved one is very sick?
      • When a job is up in the air? Or gone?
      • Tax day?
    • We don’t have peace when we don’t know what will happen.
    • Jesus tells us what will happen. We WILL be persecuted.
    • We face persecution with peace, because we aren’t surprised.
  3. Consider it joy.
    • James 1:2 – “Consider it PURE JOY, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds”.
    • Persecution is a sign of our closeness to Jesus and the “prophets who were before you”. (Mathew 5:12)
    • Do your Life Group homework to be inspired by the lives of people who know what it means to have joy in the face of persecution. (Or check out the Persecution Blog by Voice of the Martyrs.)
    • We face persecution by considering it joy.
  4. Preach the word.
    • Acts 8:1 & 4 – “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria….Those who had been scattered PREACHED THE WORD wherever they went.”
    • What is the goal of our preaching? To produce more people who desire godliness… who will have peace… who will consider it joy… who will preach the word…

How do we face persecution? Desire godliness. Have peace because you aren’t surprised. Consider it joy. Preach the word!

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HE

One word jumped out at me today from a very familiar passage of scripture. It is a passage, and even a word, I’ve read many times before. I even have this passage memorized, and I’d bet you might, too.

He“. But not just any “he”. It is the third “he” in the sentence below that jumped off the page.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”

It isn’t the nap in the lush green pastures that restores my soul. It isn’t the drink of refreshingly cool quiet waters that restores my soul. HE restores my soul. Nothing else can do that.

No doubt he works through the pastures and the waters. I would be a fool to not obey him and lie down or drink deeply. But a nap alone won’t restore my soul. A beverage alone, no matter how quenching, won’t restore my soul.

Only by resting in and drinking in my Shepherd will my soul be restored. HE restores my soul.

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Relationslips Week 4 // Non-Compliant

prescription_bottle

The medical world has a name for me.  That name?  “Medically Non-Compliant”.   I have a drawerful of half-empty prescription bottles that testify to my non-compliance.  I go to the doctor and tell him my symptoms.  He sends me to a lab to run some tests and then prescribes some treatments.  I go home and … do some of it … or none of it … and then wonder why this condition is lingering on so long…

I’m afraid many of us (myself included) are spiritually non-compliant.

We go to God and tell him our our symptoms.  “God, my __________ [marriage, son, daughter, relationship, finances, hope, life…] is broken.  Seems like I just can’t seem to get better.”

God sends us to His Word to run some tests and prescribe some treatments.  (If you missed church last Sunday, or need a fresh dose of prescribed treatments for your relationships, you can watch Rusty’s message here.)

We receive the prescription, go home, and … don’t follow through.  We all have different reasons.  Disagree with the “diagnosis”.  Don’t think the treatment will work.  Think we can heal it another way.  Figure it can’t really be that bad.  Go looking for a “second opinion”.  We forget.  Or just flat-out don’t want to.

Ultimately, all those reasons come down to one thing – we don’t trust the Physician.  We don’t care enough about His opinion to heed His prescription for a healthy life.  And then, sadly, we blame Him that our __________ [marriage, son, daughter, relationship, finances, hope, life…] hasn’t gotten better.  We accuse Him for our brokenness and deny our own spiritual non-compliance.

What prescription do you need to follow through on today?  Forgive someone who has wronged you?  Show mercy and grace to your child?  Honor your parents?  Trust God with your finances?  Be faithful to your word?  To your spouse?

What is stopping you?

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Parenting Resources

Friday night we had a fun on-line parenting seminar.  Thanks to all of you who tuned it and added to the conversation.  It was fun, hopefully helpful, and we will definitely find more opportunities to do it again on different topics.

In our talk, I referenced several books and wanted to list those here for future reference:

  • “Right from Wrong” by Josh McDowell.  (Word Publishing, 1994) – This book (specifically chapter 6) was the main source I used for the content of my talk.  See my notes at the end of this post.
  • “Not Even a Hint” by Joshua Harris. (Multnomah Publishers, 2003)
  • “Questions You Can’t Ask Your Mama About Sex” by Craig Gross and Mike Foster (Youth Specialties, 2005)
  • “God’s Design for Sex” series by Stan Jones and Carolyn Nystrum.  (4 Book Series.)
  • “Parent’s Guide to the Spiritual Growth of Children” by John Trent, Rick Osborne, Kurt Bruner (Focus on the Family, 2000)

Notes from my talk:

Intro – Review Rusty’s message from Relationslips Week 3

  • Three hats parents wear
    • Groundskeeper – sets the boundaries
    • Official – enforces the rules for the good of the game.  “This is how it is supposed to be played.”
    • Coach – keeps players focussed on the bigger picture

I’m taking this information from Chapter 6 of “Right from Wrong” – “The Test of Truth” – but applying it in a more “developmental stages” idea.

  • The Test of Truth
    • Precept
    • Principle
    • Person

Proverbs 22:6  “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

  • This verse is a principle, not a promise.
  • We all as parents want so badly for this to be true!
  • This chapter gives us a framework to help it become true for our kids – to give them skills to know what is best, and to help them to choose it when they are faced with a decision.

Precept

  • The first steps in understanding something.
    • Think Math.  We have a 2nd grader who is learning addition facts.  Amy and I know that in a few years, she’ll be doing Algebra and crazy theories.
    • But right now, she NEEDS to learn that every time, without fail, 2+2=4.  Those are the precepts of Math.
  • Developmentally, we start teaching our kids to obey precepts (i.e. “rules”) from the very beginning.  Don’t wait until “they’re big enough to understand.  They are learning authority and obedience from day one.
  • Every time, without fail, we follow God’s precepts.
  • Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young man keep his way pure?  By living according to your word.”  God’s Precepts.
  • Galatians 3:24 NASB – “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ.”
  • Precepts aren’t the end.  The Bible isn’t about a list of do’s and don’ts that we simply obey for obedience’s sake any more than my daughter has to learn 2+2=4 for addition’s sake.
  • Precepts lead us to the next step of understanding…

Principle

  • Behind each specific command (precept) is a principle.
  • Principles explain the “WHY” behind the precept.
    • Honesty is the principle behind “Thou shall not lie.”  Honesty is a better way to live than lying.
    • Value for life is the principle behind “Thou shall not kill.”  Loving people and helping them live and succeed is a better way to live than murder.
  • Principles help us see the right/best way to live, not just a list of rules to keep.
  • My 10 year old son has entered this stage.  He wants to know why he needs to make right decisions when many of his friends don’t.
    • He sees it a lot in areas of respect.  Respect for authorities like parents.  Respect for property.  Respect for other people, like his little sisters and the twerpy kid on the block.
    • I have had to have many conversations with him explaining the WHY behind the rules we have enforced in our home.
  • But Principles for life aren’t even the end.  There is a motiving factor for behavior even beyond that.  It is one we as parents often need to relearn every day…

Person

  • Precepts and principles have one job – to teach us about God and His Character.
  • The ultimate purpose of God in every precept is to bring people to the knowledge of Himself.
    • Don’t murder – Value life – Life comes from God – He IS life.
    • Don’t lie – Honesty is the best policy – God IS truth
    • Don’t talk back – Respect and listen to people who have authority over you – God is our authority AND His ways are best by far
  • Moses said in Ex 33 “Teach me your ways so I may know you.”

Precepts – Boundaries – Right and Wrong = must be learned early

Principles – The “Why’s” in life – the reason behind the rule = help life make sense and show us the best way to live

Person of God – His Character = our ultimate goal

We are not raising kids.  We are raising adults.  When my children are adults, I want them to know and have the character of God.  That starts with obeying His precepts, understanding his principles, and finally embracing his character.

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