Law and love

RE Verse reading–Exodus 20:12; Luke 2:45-52; John 19:25-27 (day seven)  ”Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land.”

It will be a long road back, but we can do it.  ”He is not willing for any to perish.”  We will need to change.  Attitudes.  Ideas.  Where we once thought of His Law as an imposition, a burden, we will now see it as blessing and necessary check on self-will. Where we once resisted His will, we will yield, in our recovery, to a government that rises from His great grace.  We will teach children to respect parents, to never consider themselves “free agents” from this obligation of gratitude.  We will repent from homes with absent fathers–either physically or emotionally– and will ask only from our children that which we also are willing to live and do.

The Bible doesn’t say God is Law.  It says God is Love.  But, maybe to God, these are the same thing.

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Favor With God

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:12; Luke 2:45-52; John 19:25-27 (day four)  When Jesus remained back at the Temple and His parents finally missed Him, they searched and found Him in the middle of the teachers.  Jesus’ response was “Why is it that you were looking for Me?  Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”  From early in His life, this was His driving goal…to be about His Father’s business.  John 4:34 says, “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’.”  John 5:36 says, “…for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish–the very works I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.”  Is that our driving goal in life?  Are we so concerned with doing God’s work He has for us, that we lose track of things that are going on around us?  Do others recognize this goal as a driving force in our lives?  The result of a ‘yes’ to these questions just might be favor with God!

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Grow

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:12; Luke 2:45-52; John 19:25-27 (day three)

“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.”

It is no coincidence that two sentences after we about Jesus’s obedience, we read that Jesus grew in all aspects of his personhood—body, mind, spirit, social context.  Children are not physically smaller versions of adults.  They are not capable of the complex moral reasoning required to help shape the social order for the common good.  Obedience is the discipline that helps children develop such capacities.  To teach children to obey is not to burden them with an oppressive power structure; rather, it is to take seriously their potential as moral creatures—capable of great good or great harm.  Obedience is the only pathway towards the good life God created each child to live.  Are you teaching children to obey?

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Family Business

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:12; Luke 2:45-52; John 19:25-27 (day two)  And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must about my father’s business? Luke 2:49

Did you know that Johann Sebastian Bach had 20 children, and that most of them became great composers or performers? Did you know that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s father Leopold was a first-rate musician? Is this because these families were predisposed to be great composers? Perhaps, but more often than not, it was just the family business. Bach’s children would likely have the task of copying manuscripts ad nauseam which was a common way of picking up the trade. Even today we often find this familial occupational tendencies. My parents were both teachers, so it made sense. I never felt compelled by them, but I was clearly influenced by how they helped people. I saw the leader that my dad was to his team, and to the school. These were things I wanted to emulate. When Jesus responded that his place was in his father’s house tending to his father’s business it just made sense.

Beyond setting a possible career track for our children, consider what else they may want to retain from our example. How do you love the Lord? Is it in full view of your children, or would they be hard pressed to notice. How do you love your spouse, treat your friends, the lost?

It’s not too late to be the example that will make a difference.

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Ears of clay

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:12; Luke 2:45-52; John 19:25-27 (day one)

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”–Ephesians 6:1.  The Bible describes God’s plan for a child with an unusual word.  Hypakouo.  (Hypo=under, thus a hypodermic needle goes under the skin, and akouo=to hear, thus acoustics.)  Hypakouo was both action and attitude.  It described a child who listens as one “under” authority, with the intention and expectation of obedience.  Ever hear someone described as having “feet of clay”?  It is not a compliment!  It means a person who takes a stand/makes a commitment that eventually crumbles away with time.  “Ears of clay”, however,  is a good thing.  Sharp ears.  Soft heart.  Children who learn this suppression of self-will find it easier (later) to take this life-giving attitude toward God.  “Lord, have Thine own way.  Thou art the potter, I am the clay.  Mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.”–George C. Stebbins.

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Home field advantage

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (day seven)

“Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth.”–Psalm 127:3-4.  These words stand in stark contrast to the way moderns think and speak.  Children to the ancients were possessions (heritage), wages (reward) and weapons (arrows).  Our fathers in the faith perceived, sometimes more honestly than we do, the conflict and struggle that life is. . .between good and evil. . .between God’s kingdom and man’s pride.  And children are our secret weapon. No single factor has influenced history more than the Jewish (and then Christian) home.  Parents who carefully and prayerfully shape children for the service of God do, indeed, send them out as arrows aimed at “enemies in the gate.”–v 5. Like the old baseball manager said after an away game defeat.  ”They got the best of us tonight, but we will beat them at home.”

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Along the Way

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (day six)

The most significant thing any of us can do for our children, without doubt, is to teach (and model) them to love God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might. Not sure any of us would debate that. Deuteronomy 6 presents to us though, a particular value in discipleship that we do struggle with, a lot. And that is we are called to disciple our children in all of life. We are to disciple our children as we go, or when we rise or lay down. It gives a picture of discipleship that is very different from the one we are accustomed to; we tend to lean towards programming or events to be primary, but in fact as valuable as those may be they were never intended to be. Sunday school or VBS are best served as supplements to what we are called to do with our children in the ongoings of our normal hectic lives.

So, let us all be encouraged to point our children to see and love Jesus in and throughout all of life.

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Rhythm

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (day five)

Hello from Youth Camp at LeTourneau University.  Our theme for the next two weeks is “Rhythm”.  Galatians 5:25 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”  One of the truths we want our students to understand is that Life in the Spirit is best accomplished with regular and consistent attention and determination.  There is a rhythm needed to keep “in step with the Spirit”.   Worship, Bible Study, Meeting with Other Believers, Prayer, Devotions, and Service are means to a fullness of Life in the Spirit.  The goal for camp is to NOT be a once a year spiritual vaccination to keep us “spiritually healthy”, but rather a reminder that throughout each day and week, that we can and should be regularly and intentionally engaged in activities, conversations, learning, study, and relationships that would point us to the Scriptures and the Author of our Faith.  This same principle is mentioned as a prompt and prescription for parents and those who have influence in the lives of children and teens to bring Rhythm to faith growth and development. See Deuteronomy 6:7-9.

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Like a Warrior

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (day four)

In the Psalm 127 passage, the analogy is to a warrior.  “Children…are like arrows in the hand of a warrior,”  A warrior gives the picture of one who is skilled and well-trained.  He knows his weapons and how to use them…his arrows are straight and properly fletched so they will fly true to his aim.  Likewise, children who are well trained will be true and accurate.  Training comes by constantly repeating the message until they have mastered the truth.  Deuteronomy says surround your children with God’s truth at home, when traveling, on their hand, on their head, by the door, or by the gate…the picture is to immerse them in his truth.  When they are effectively trained, you will not have to worry.  They will respond in God’s wisdom and power.  We also have the promise that they will not stray from His truth.  What a wonderful promise!  Shouldn’t we get busy training our kids and grandkids?

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Childcare

Re: Verse reading–Psalm 127:3-5; Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:1-9 (day three)

“Children are a heritage from the Lord.”  Pop culture tries very hard to make childhood disappear.  Movies often portray children as people who have the most wisdom of all the characters in the story.  Child celebrities often get celebrated and congratulated when they finally leave behind all the “kid stuff” and present themselves as sexually savvy.  We want people to be smart, cool, sexual rocket scientists who rule the world.  Who has time for children who actually act like children: innocent, vulnerable, and trusting, but also selfish, grumpy, and undisciplined?  If the world has no room for children, the world will eventually have no room for you, because caring for children is what makes people able to care for each other.  How are you caring for children?

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