From loss to hope

Loss.

This one word sums up so much about foster care. First there is the children’s loss: they come to us to so full of it. They’ve lost just about everything by the time they move in – family, home, familiarity, possessions, belonging, security, trust… the list goes on and on. And then there is our loss: the empty hole in our hearts every time we let go of a little one we have loved as our own.

Loss hurts.

20180925_114603Last week we said goodbye to our fifth little love. Letting go just doesn’t get easier. But loss was not a part of God’s orignal plan. In the garden of Eden, there was no place for loss – all was perfect and so, so good. Yet now we live in a world marred by sin, and loss is rife.

But God was not content with loss. Instead, He decided to suffer the biggest loss of all, so that He could win us back and put an end to all loss and pain for good. Jesus Christ, the human personification of God himself, lost his connection to the God-head when he chose to die in our place. Of all the losses this world has seen, none can compare to this.

And now loss is not the end of the story. Jesus rose back to life, conquering death for us all. Now we can exchange loss for gain. We can exchange hurt for hope. We can exchange emptiness for fulfilment. Despite this broken world, God can work all things for good. He can turn the bad on its head.

This doesn’t mean that loss itself is good. No – the loss inflicted on the kids I love is painfully wrong. Desperately unfair. In no way good. But because God IS good, He can turn it around.

When we began this life of foster care we chose to embrace loss. We are priviledged to be co-workers with God, a part of turning bad into good in the lives of the children entrusted to us. And as we feel the pain of our own losses, God steps in and walks alongside us. He turns our tears to joy, gives us peace that passes understanding. As we follow His will, the richness of His presence in our lives makes the sorrow seem small.

Truly, we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.

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The power of one gentle spirit

On Wednesday 28th February my dear Granny Merle went home to heaven. She went gently and gracefully, just the way she had lived here on earth.

It was long before I was born that Granny’s life was reborn. She became a Christian when my dad was just a teenager. Her conviction that Jesus Christ was real changed her life for good, and her life response to this conviction changed generations more lives to come.

Granny had her share of hurt in this world. As a young woman she became a single mother to four children. Later she was forced to leave the homeland she loved to start a new life in a new country. In her last years she was afflicted by a cruel motor neuron disease, which slowly robbed her of all independence and replaced it with constant discomfort and pain. Yet she bore everything she suffered with the most humble and loving spirit; never complaining, always grateful for what she had.  (Philippians 2:14)

Granny’s Christianity was a lived out faith. She was not a passive pew-warmer. Granny knew that the truth she had discovered was something that needed to be shared, and one way she did this was by going around the neighbourhood and inviting anyone who was interested to Bible studies, to learn more about the good news she had found. It just so happened that she knocked on the door of a lady called Margaret, a post-Buddhist agnostic who thought Christianity was a hypocritical fairy tale. However after throwing all her favourite trick questions at these Christians, and finding surprisingly sensible and irrefutable answers, Margaret eventually came to realise that this Jesus of the Bible was indeed real. Because of Granny Merle, Margaret and her children became Christians, too. Later on Margaret’s daughter would marry Merle’s son, and become my parents. What a rich heritage.  (1 Peter 3:15)

A life transformed by Jesus should look like love in action, and this is exactly what Granny Merle’s life was. Unable to find a job once she moved to England, Granny did find herself lots of spare time. She wasted none of it. For a while she became a Betterware representative in order to bring in a small income, and as she delivered catalogues to her neighbours she became aware of many lonely, elderly people in her local area. For years Granny faithfully visited and befriended these isolated folk, caring for them until they passed on, infusing their lives with joy and love.  (James 1:22)

At home Granny was characterised by gentle kindness. It was impossible to visit without her making you feel loved. Her servant-heart, generous nature and always gentle voice were standard, and all too easy to take for granted. But the effect of her constant, daily tender love was profound, and has influenced all her family and friends for the better.  (Ephesians 4:2)

Granny has left a legacy of love which has spread across generations and to people across the world. Her faith in God has poured down to her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. Her gentle spirit has touched the hundreds of people who knew her, no matter how briefly. She was truly a reflection of the love of Jesus, and she made the world a better place.  (Psalm 103:17)

The beauty of Granny’s gentle and quiet spirit will never fade. The power of her humble, gracious love will go on transforming lives. Thank God for Granny Merle.

 

Granny Merle

‘Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.’  1 Peter 3:3-4

 

 

The secret of Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4

I love how the apostle Paul expresses himself. Here he is (in prison, no less!) telling the people of Philippi, “Be joyful in Jesus ALL the time. Did you get that? I say, be JOYFUL!” I think I get why he puts such emphasis on this point. I crave for my children to feel the joy of the Lord in their spirit. Because I know that once they’ve tasted real joy in Jesus, they will never want to let go.

Have you ever watched Veggie Tales’ DVD ‘Madame Blueberry‘? It’s about a lady (or rather, blueberry) who tries to buy joy. She knows it’s out there, but she doesn’t know how to get it. Until one day she sees a little boy rejoice despite his circumstances. Suddenly, Madame realises that joy is closely tied to thankfulness. She is well quoted in our house: A thankful heart, is a happy heart. Proverbs 17:22 tells us the same thing: ‘A joyful heart is good medicine.’

Paul tells us we should be joyful always. If joy is tied to thankfulness, that means we should be thankful, always. Not just when we live in peace. Not just when we are well. Not just when we get what we want. Always. We can be barren, threatened by terrorists, or plagued by illness, yet we can rejoice.  The secret is keeping that eternal perspective. ‘Joy in Jesus’ is because of Jesus, and not dependent on anything this world can or can’t give us. His sacrifice and victory and freely offered grace are the source of an eternal joy that we can know and live despite our circumstances. However saddened we are by the situations we are in, they cannot and should not rob us of true joy.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deut. 6:6-7

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deut. 6:6-7

The question is, how do we impart this joy to our children?  I have shared before some practical ways to encourage joy in our children. We also need to be living joyfully ourselves. On top of this, I believe teaching our children to live life God’s way will help them access joy, as it says in Proverbs 19:8 (emphasis mine):

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the
heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

Most importantly, we need to infiltrate their lives with the Good News. Grace should be woven into every conversation. We need to talk about it as we sit in our house, as we walk along our way, when we go to lie down and as we wake up to each new day. It should be inextricably bound up in our words and actions. It should be sprinkled throughout our home.

As our children go through life they experience all its frustrations, fears, temporary pleasures and empty promises. We must be there to help them see things from the right perspective. To help them grasp that yes – life will fail them. But this is not the same as God failing them. Because God looks at the big picture, the forever. And with regards to eternity, He has sorted it out on our behalf – eternal joy.

Education is not a god: part 2

Last week I wrote about how education is not the ultimate goal of childhood. All this was not to say that education is irrelevant. But we need to remember that education is there to serve us, not be served by us.

So what is education really, then? Here are some thoughts.

Education is a tool

Getting a good quality education is one of the tools which helps to shape our children’s future. The foundation of knowledge they build up though childhood is a platform they can bounce off to reach the heights of God’s plan for their lives. Equipping our kids with wisdom and understanding in academic, spiritual and practical arenas prepares them to use their God-given gifts to their fullest potential. A good education will open doors of ministry and enable our kids to take hold of any opportunities which come their way.

Education should teach children to approach work with an attitude of diligence. If we nurture their natural love of learning, if we show them how to solve problems effectively, and if we teach them to self-discipline and allow them to self-direct their studies, then their education will serve them well when they go out into the world. And the best education will teach our children good stewardship of their talents – helping to grow them, not bury them.

Education gives our wings to soar into all God has prepared for them!

Education gives children our wings to soar into all God has prepared for them!

Education is a gift

I love to learn, and I want my kids to know the joy of learning too. Knowledge is a blessing! As children learn about the world, their minds begin to open up. They make connections between topics, and they start to grasp concepts which open up further new thoughts. With knowledge, kids are able to take part in meaningful discussions and feel that their contributions are valuable. They are learning not just to be part of society, but to be a useful part of society – contributing their gifts and understanding to help better the world around them.

One of education’s greatest blessings is the way it helps our children to connect with people of diverse opinions, beliefs, and cultures. As they learn about the world they begin to appreciate the common value of people as well as appreciate their diversity. Education breaks down barriers and misconceptions and stereotypes. Jesus reminds us that unconditional love for others is one of the most important things we need to grasp as Christians. Quality education helps our children to do this with ease and joy.

I pray that as we seek God’s will for the education of our children we will not lose sight of what is truly important. May our children be blessed with an education which encourages them to live a life of love, not gain.

Education is not a god: part 1

I want to give my kids an excellent education.

In fact, one of the reasons we home educate is because we believe that the smaller ratios, focused learning, and personally tailored curriculum that can be provided at home have the potential to produce a better quality education than that which can be achieved in an over-crowded, peer-dominated, test-orientated school setting.

But I want to be very clear about something which I think has become very unclear in our society: Education is not a god.

Our children need to know that while they should always strive to work to their personal best, grades do not define who they – or we – are. There is only one God, and our children have immeasurable worth in His eyes, and in our eyes, which is not defined by their academic or sporting ability, the career they obtain, or the number of extra curricular activities they attend.

Education is good, but it is not a god.

Education is good, but it is not a god.

It is easy to ‘know’ this. But do we live it out?

Before I go on, I want to make clear that I don’t think any of the things below make us ‘worthy’. God alone provides our worth, and it is not dependent on works or behaviour. I also think all of the activities below have a value, a place and a time. However – the fruit of our lives reveal the secrets of our hearts. It is worth examining our priorities honestly.

I believe that education is often worshiped as the ultimate goal of childhood. It is evident in a culture which prioritises academic achievement over character development. It is evident in the efforts to make sure our kids understand geometry, and yet neglect discussions on evidences and controversies of faith. It is evident when parents fear lack of education for their four-year-old, more than lack of compassion. It is evident in the way parents work longer hours to pay for a extracurricular activities, but leave no time for quality, relationship building.

I want to repeat – all of these things have good and right places in our children’s lives. Geometry, sports and academics are good things.  But the question is – do we let ‘good things’ take a higher place than the ‘best thing’?

There is only one thing of first importance, and we only get one shot at parenthood. Let’s make sure we don’t get our priorities confused.

In part two I will be looking at some of the things which education is, and how it can be used to help our children, not hinder them.

The refining pot of marriage

There’s a book I’ve been wanting to read ever since I first heard about it: Sacred Marriage by Gary L. Thomas. The tagline for the book is ‘What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy’.

Wow.

After writing about Dating, marriage and lists last month, a friend of mine made a great comment,

“I strongly support the idea of having a list; you’re certainly right that it keeps us focused on what’s most important. But I also have recently learned the value in having a list also for myself if I have a list for my potential spouse. Who do I want to be to my future wife? Can you write one sometime on who you’ve striven to become before and in marriage?”

These ideas about marriage being an opportunity to refine our own character, and not simply a selfish ‘get what I want out of it’ union, is, I think, exactly what God intended.

Wedding

Young, in love and ready to be refined!

If we look right back at the beginning of time in Genesis we see that Eve was created not simply as a companion but as a helper for Adam. And so that the men reading this don’t get to full of pride and power, God clears up any confusion in Ephesians 5:35 where he says: ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her’. The love referred to here is 100% sacrificial, guys – to the point of humiliation, torture and death.

One of Satan’s biggest, most successful lies is that being selfish (i.e. focusing on what I want before what I can offer others) is the way to happiness. Now there are many opportunities in life to find out that this is total rubbish, but perhaps none so effective as marriage. When you live with someone every day for the REST OF YOUR LIFE; when you are confronted with all their ugly character traits which you never saw during dating life (because don’t we all put on our best behaviour on a date?); when you are so vulnerable that you expose all your own ugly character traits – this is when true love kicks in.

Proverbs 117:3 says, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts.” God is reminding us of the extreme value he places in making our hearts right before Him  And 1 Peter 1 tells us why. In verses 24-5 he says “All flesh is as grass,and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” (Emphasis mine.) We need to go through the refining pot because the spiritual is foreverThe physical – marriage – is ultimately temporal but it’s value in refining our hearts is eternal.

Eleven years older, wiser, and more in love.

Eleven years older, wiser, and more in love.

Perhaps the most famous love passage in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I once was told to read through this passage, replacing the word ‘love’ with my own name. Yikes! It was sobering. We are free with the words “I love you” to our spouse. But do we really know what love is? What if we measured our love against this description? We say, “I love you so much I would die for you.” But do we love our spouse enough to live for them? In the everyday frustrations of opposing opinions, of different priorities, of conflicting personalities? That is where we really learn to lay down our life.

Marriage is not there to ‘make us happy’, but when we let it make us holy, happiness happens. Take it from me – in my eleven years of marriage I have always been happiest when I have lived closest to God’s definition of servanthood. When (if!) we can conquer selfishness, there we find true joy.

Go read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 with your own name. Pray for true love. Live it out.

Dating, marriage and lists

Recently I’ve had some conversations with single friends about how to choose someone to marry. Of course, it’s not so simple as ‘choosing’, as we all know. But even so, we agreed that within one’s own mind, there should be some set ideas about what qualities we feel are important when thinking about who to date and, eventually, marry.

I am so blessed to have been married for over eleven years to my very best friend. Before we dated, though, I had written out a list of things I believed were important in a man. I knew from experience it was all too easy to get caught up in the dating trap (going on dates without the goal of potential marriage) with just anyone I felt attracted to. Being single can be lonely, and it’s tempting to let go of ideals in the desire for intimate companionship. But after reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris, I decided to write out a list to help me keep my focus when tempted by pointless dates with people who I knew, ultimately, I would never want to marry. (By the way, I definitely recommend this book to all teens. I disdainful of it when my Mom gave it to me, but after reading it I completely changed my mind! The next boy I dated after reading it was my husband 🙂 )

So what was on my list? Well, here it is:

Qualities of My Perfect Man

He shall…

  •   Be worthy of respectTitus 2:2
  •   Have a strong faith in God1st Corinthians 16:13
  •   Be able to rule his house wiselyEphesians 5:23
  •   Have a happy disposition1st Thessalonians 5:16
  •   Be romantic!
  •   Love me as himselfEphesians 5:28
  •   Be willing first to listen, then to talkJames 1:19
  •   Be good at communicating
  •   Commit his heart, life and soul to GodMatthew 22:37
  •   Understand me
  •   Be able to pray with meJames 5:16
  •   Be thoughtfulProverbs 21:29
  •   Be considerate1st Peter 3:37
  •   Love my family as his own
  •   Fear GodProverbs 1:7
  •   Be a zealous Christian – Romans 12:11
So glad I've got this man in my life.

So glad I’ve got this man in my life.

Obviously this is a personal list. But that was the point. I had this printed out and kept in my Bible, where I could be reminded of it often, pray about it, and use it to keep my focus.

One thing I didn’t write on my list was that he should be my best friend. In hindsight, I can see that this is one of the major reasons that our relationship has stood firm through the trials we have gone through in marriage. Our solid foundation of friendship has made commitment, forgiveness and perseverance so much easier when they were called for. And believe me, they are called for in every marriage.

Writing a list may seem picky, idealistic or closed-minded to some. I beg you to think differently. Rather, it is freeing, helpful and keeps you focused on things of importance. If you are single, please consider the value of writing out your own list of qualities you’d like to see in your future spouse.

And yes – I did find someone with all of the qualities on my list.  And yes, I do know how blessed I am.

Guest Post: He is with me

With thanks to my sweet friend Leigh Roberts for writing today’s encouraging Guest Post.

He is With Me

One thing I’ve learned from being a mom is that Quiet Time with God comes in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes finding quiet moments alone with Him can be rare, especially when you have two kids under two. I found making time for Him especially tough after my son was born trying to adapt to new schedules and lack of sleep. And frankly, I failed a lot. Some days – okay, most days – I chose sleep over Quiet Time with Him (and when I did stop to talk to Him, my prayers consisted of a one-sided, five-second imploring: “Please help me not to pull out all my hair today.”) But I do believe in the importance of journaling, especially as mothers – storing moments in our hearts like Mary to remember forgotten blessings and answered prayers. One day I finally found an uninterrupted moment to write – so many blessings that I needed to record – and noticed my last entry had been in October, right after my son’s birth.

And it was December.

I was also behind in my daily devotional readings, but I found amazing grace in the passage that day. A passage from a book I found on my grandmother’s bookshelf, Streams in the Desert. A passage meant for October that touched me in December…

God’s timing is like that.

"He is always waiting, even when I am hiding. I always find Him there. His patience with me on days when I feel inadequate. On days when I fall short."

“He is always waiting, even when I am hiding. I always find Him there. His patience with me on days when I feel inadequate. On days when I fall short.”

I found hope in these following words: “There is an inarticulate fellowship, more sweet than words. The little child can sit all day long beside its busy mother and, although few words spoken on either side, and both are busy, the one at his absorbing play, the other at her engrossing work, yet both are in perfect fellowship. He knows that she is there, and she knows that he is all right. So the saint and the Savior can go on for hours in the silent fellowship of love, and he be busy about the most common things, and yet conscious that every little thing he does is touched with the complexion of His presence, and the sense of His approval and blessing.” (C.E. Cowman)

So my goal this year has been to look for Him in the Ordinary Moments of Motherhood. Not just in certain places or postures but In the Chaos and Cleft of the Rock. He is always waiting, even when I am hiding. I always find Him there. His patience with me on days when I feel inadequate. On days when I fall short.

On days when everything is a battle and my kitchen counter looks like Armageddon, when my son needs my bosom and I need Christ’s…

Like a weaned child is my soul within me….as a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.

On days when I cannot measure up to that oh-so-annoying Proverbs 31 woman who awoke every morning before the crack of dawn…

He surrounds me with other moms’ stories of failures and kind words of support.

On days when I am drowning in guilt. And dirty diapers. On days when I fail…

He reminds me that I tried and that His mercies are new every morning. 

On days when I don’t have enough hands and I envy every girl that lives within a 60 mile radius of their mother…

He surrounds me with surrogate mothers and grandmothers who pour out love and help and strength for me and my children.

And I hear lyrics I usually ignore…my daughter singing along to the song on the radio…”He is with us, He is with us, Always, Always”…comfort and truth from the mouth of babes.

And when I lay my head on my pillow at night and feel like my biggest accomplishment that day was the slam dunk I made with a dirty diaper from ten feet away…He reminds me that I fed and cultivated souls that day. And that He is with me. Always. In spoken prayers and written words. In simple reminders from my daughter to pray. In the sweet, innocent smile on my newborn’s face. Like Brother Lawrence searching for God’s presence in the most menial of moments, I find treasures of grace and love in dirty dishes, dirty laundry, dirty diapers, and dirty little faces.

From the moment I feed them their daily manna to the moment when I tuck them in bed…He is with me.

And I am touched daily by this beautiful prayer: “Commune with me through ordinary work and duty. Be my companion when I take the common journey. Let the humble life be transfigured by Thy presence.”

He is with me.

Grace vs discipline? It’s not a dichotomy!

“For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
Ephesians 6:1

I have been blessed to observe many wonderful examples of parenting amongst my friends and family. I am always seeking to learn how to become a better parent myself. When I see children who are full of love for God and others I look carefully at how they have been parented, hoping to find some wisdom I can apply in my own family. There is nothing so important as the job of a parent, and we only get one shot at it. I desperately want to get it right!

It is a combination of my own experiences, observations of others and study of the Bible that has lead me to believe that grace-based parenting and parenting with discipline are two pivotal parts of the parenting puzzle. I believe they must work together, and that when they do the result is beautiful to behold. Yet so often grace and discipline are seen as opposing perspectives – an either/or choice. My experience is that to show grace without discipline leads to stress, strife, and sadness. To insist on discipline without grace leads to fear, shallow faith, and distant family relationships. The most successful parents I know apply both of these principles, balanced in just the right way – and their children are a delight and an inspiration. Let’s look at these two aspects in a little more detail.

So blessed I get to parent these two precious kids.

So blessed I get to parent these two precious kids.

It is abundantly clear in the Bible that we are saved by grace, and that NO amount of good behaviour or Godly virtues can get us to heaven. It is essential that we teach this to our children. We need to model grace in our daily interactions with them, and we need to show them that we, too, are in constant need of grace. Our children should know in their innermost being that they are part of a messed up humanity, AND that they are loved beyond imagination by a God who wants to freely offer them salvation. This truth is vital. We need to talk about it and live it out openly at every opportunity. It is foundational.

Secondly, we need to parent with strict discipline. I include the word ‘strict’ here because I think most parents discipline to some degree. The type of discipline I’m talking about here is the kind that requires obedience and respect. This is where I begin to hear some dissent. Within the Christian parenting circle we talk a lot about grace. It is generally agreed that grace, unconditional love and forgiveness are central parts of parenting. But when discipline comes into the conversation many people begin to look wary. It’s not that parents don’t want their children to be obedient – but many seem to be afraid of enforcing it. They appear to feel that being strict is at odds with offering grace. But if we look at the Bible, I think this idea is unfounded.

The Bible  shows us two very clear aspects of who God the Father is, and how he relates to us as his children. Firstly, he is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Psalm 103:8.) Yet at the same time we are told – no, warned – that “it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31.) Also, that “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:6) We can see here that despite our free access to God’s grace, he also disciplines his children and is not afraid to punish those who reject him. That seems very much like a balance between grace-based parenting and parenting with strict discipline.

Proverbs 13:24 is pretty straight forward on the topic of parental discipline: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” This verse tells us that avoiding discipline equates to hating our children. Yikes. In fact, if you really love your child (and most people say they do), then you will prove this by being careful to discipline “diligently”, or “promptly”, as the NASB and NKJV put it. Why? Because living according to God’s principles will bless your child, their family, their friends, their neighbours, their country, and the world. Hebrews 12:11 sums it up perfectly: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

So YES – it is by grace, not works, that we are saved. This is the foundation we absolutely need to teach our children to live upon.  But let’s not allow that wonderful truth to prevent us from disciplining our children – for their own good.

Guest Post: Why we need graffiti

Writing on the doorposts. I love the name of this blog. It’s a phrase that has fascinated me since sometime in my mid-teens when I realized that an apt paraphrase of it might be, “graffiti your homes with my word” or “put my tag all over your house”. We live in a society with so many words around us that we don’t always appreciate their power. Especially in the ancient world, words were seen as powerful. They were how you communicated with your gods or how your gods communicated with you. While archaeologists find plenty of random lists and receipts for used chariots and the like, many of the inscriptions that we have are religious in nature. People wrote blessings and curses and pleas to their gods all the time, because to write them was to give them permanence. So for Israel to write God’s words on their homes was to lay claim to God as their god. His words were written on their homes. His words were tied on their hands. His – and no other god’s.

Writing on the doorposts!

“Graffiti your homes with My Word”

The actual phrase “write them on your doorposts” occurs only in Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is a series of lessons that Moses gave right before his death and Israel’s entrance into the Promised Land. In these lessons, he recaps Israel’s history, he gives them more laws, and he tells them why the Law is important – that the Law teaches them how to rightly love and obey God (Deut 30:16). The phrase “write them on your doorposts” occurs twice: in Deuteronomy 6:9 and 11:20. The first use is in a very positive context. Moses tells the people that remembering and obeying all the laws that God has given them will let them enjoy all the blessings that God will give them in the Promised Land. Keeping God’s word ever before them in their homes will help them to do that. Deuteronomy 11:20 comes from the other direction: if they don’t remember and disobey God’s commands, God will curse them. They will suffer for forgetting God’s word. Thus the instruction to write on the doorposts is also a preventative measure, so that they will have less opportunity to forget what God has said.

So what does this mean for parents? Well, I’m not a parent so it may be that most of you reading this will be able to answer this question better than I, but let me take a stab at it. Parenting is discipleship. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to raise up the next generation of God’s people. Jesus’ command to his disciples was to “make disciples…baptizing them…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19). Paul says to the Ephesians elders that he spoke to them “the whole will of God” (Acts 20:27). The totality of God’s revelation to us is important, and it is vital that we pass it along to our children. The work that parents do day in and day out – and by this I mean not only work, but loving and serving and playing and snuggling – has eternal consequences.

Therefore the best thing you can do for your child as a parent is to be firmly entrenched in God’s word. No parenting guide or book or class can prepare you for parenthood like God’s word. It will teach you the nature of God, and his indescribable father love for you. It will teach you godliness. It will transform you into the likeness of God’s Son. And as you are transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus, you will be transformed more and more into the parent that God wants you to be.

Keep his words always before you.

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