Your Presence Required!

The pressures and strains of being a father are great. It has always been that way. Fathers have in most Western homes been the provider and primary worker and this has naturally pulled them out of the home. However, there are some significant differences that modern society has foisted upon us such as the 24 hour work day. Some dads are in bed before the little ones get up, and they go to work before they get home from school. The time they have awake no one is home. Another great thing that has been adopted, and for the life of me I cannot figure out why, is the variable schedule. You will have a different schedule every week. Want to plan a family event, want to make it to your kid’s soccer game? Tough you can’t plan ahead because we will tell you your schedule and it will be different every single week. The 9-5 M-Fr. job is as rare as finding a closed store on Thanksgiving. I wonder why families don’t eat together anymore?

Coupled with the bizzaro business practices that seem to think you can have stable workers by destabilizing their life, you also have the sheer volume of stuff to do. If you have school aged kids you know what I mean. Everything from music, dance, soccer, karate, basketball, to reading night, parent conferences, school talent show, open house, etc etc etc.   In addition there are the required activities (Wednesday Family night and church on Sabbath) and you can easily be gone out of the house every single day of the week and sometimes we are!

Even when the external pressures of life are not there, you still have a shocking number of dads who come home from work, find a couch with a remote conveniently located on it, and fail to move until bed time. The time they spend with the kids is in front of TV.

The reality is , we need to be doing less whether is it work, play or anything else we are doing and spend more time with our children. Dads, do not believe the lie that quality time makes up for quantity. Your kids not only need quantity but they need high quality quantity. They need to be in relationship with you and being in your presence. They need to learn from you. They need to spend time with you.

This week we will talk about God’s design for dads, but design will mean little if you are not there with them. Shape your life so that you are present with your children. Do what it takes, no excuses.

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child

 
Whenever there is a conversation about parenting it must inevitably come to the topic of discipline. It is also inevitable that “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is brought up as the Biblical perspective on raising children. Some evidently think that God advocates and wants us to beat our children with sticks and that this method of discipline will produce well behaved and respectful children. Here is a curious and profound truth:

“Spare the rod and spoil the child” is not in the Bible

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 According to Wikipedia the phrase most notably first occurred in a very popular satirical poem written 1663-1664 by Samuel Butler about the English civil war. “In the context of Hudibras the phrase is a bawdy metaphor suggesting the best way to curtail amorous passions or, through double entendre, to prevent conception:

 If matrimony and hanging go

By dest’ny, why not whipping too?

What med’cine else can cure the fits

Of lovers when they lose their wits?

Love is a boy by poets stil’d

Then spare the rod and spoil the child (Part II, Canto I, ll. 839-44).”

Latter in the poem it also says that women would rather have a good spanking than an assortment of pretty ribbons. I guess we should be thankful that that phrase does not get quoted as the Biblical perspective on marital relationships! (Although if you watch movies from the 30’s 40’s and 50’s you might question that- no comment on current movies!!!!)

The Bible verse most often associated with this is Proverbs 13:24 “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” This is a far cry from beat your children with a stick! Also the word for rod has a greater interpretive range than just a stick. For instance, one might ask how is it that the shepherds rod and staff comfort us? I have yet to be comforted by a good woopin with stick. Or how about the scepter (rod) would not depart from Judah? Rod is more than just a word about spanking but represents the exercise of parental authority in discipline. Plainly understood if you do not discipline your children you hate them, but if you discipline them diligently you demonstrate your love for them. Who could disagree with this?

The next time you hear someone quote that popular phrase, you might ask them “Did you know that it is not in the Bible?” Or if you really want to be clever you might say “Women would rather have a good spanking than an assortment of lovely ribbons” but why are we quoting Hudibras?

Come find out what the Bible actually says about discipline.

See you at church.

 Pastor Chris.



Because I Said So!

One of the great crises of parenting today is a crisis of authority. Authority is something to be resisted and to strive against. Authorities are distrusted and protested against, and generally maligned until one is needed. The cartoonish characters in sitcoms as well as literal cartoons make fathers out to be buffoons and mothers to be vacuous airheads. Respect, which is the fruit of an understanding of authority, is dramatically missing in the youth of today. While this is certainly painting with a broad brush, when you look around it is also undeniable. The question is are kids reflecting popular culture or is popular culture reflecting what is happening in families.

The self esteem movement and all its related expressions are supposedly geared toward producing confident and secure children. While this is a noble pursuit, as in most pendulum swings, they have taken it too far. Children are being raised in a fantasyland thinking they are in control coupled with the mistaken understanding that they are their own authority. It is reflected in their speech when a child tells his or her parent NO and no correction is given. Obedience is often obtained with the right bribe further teaching the child that they are in control. They are raised having no clue about authority. The results are far from producing confidence but rather kids are flying apart longing for the security of someone to be in charge other than their own self.

 Admittedly some of these approaches come from an overreaction to authoritarian parenting where kids are to be seen not heard, and no explanation is needed for anything, and you do it because I said so! Authoritarian parenting certainly builds respect, but at the cost of relationship, love, and closeness.

 There is an alternate way; we must create a culture of authority in our homes. Just like the culture of blessing it is not just a technique it is an ethos. It influences and impacts everything from rules to our communication. Rather than based in the latest and greatest cultural engineering experiment, it is based in understanding the authority of God.

 Come discover how you can create a culture of authority in your home.

 See you at church

 Pastor Chris



PG – Unconscious Parenting

Have you ever stopped to think about your parenting and ask the question of yourself and your spouse; “What are our real goals with our kids?” What is it that we really want to accomplish? How will we know we were successful as parents and as a family? Failure is pretty easy to see and characterize but what of success? If you don’t have a conscious goal in your parenting, one will be assigned to you. You will be guilty of unconscious parenting.

The unconscious takes over when we put the conscious brain on cruise control. Just like unconscious driving, it always ends up in wreck. As it turns out our unconscious goals are usually not up to par and come out of motivations that say more about us than about our kids. For instance, one unconscious goal might be simply this; “ I want my kids to like me.” I know it sounds kind of shallow but we are talking about the unconscious mind here. Everyone feels that way. We do want our kids to like us.   If we were to sit down and write it down as a goal we would feel silly. Yet I have seen parents who are parenting with this as their primary goal. They try and do everything they can to please their kids and appease their kids. They employ stuff, events, experiences, and usually permissive and liberal boundaries thinking that if they do their kids will like them.

Another often-unconscious goal of parenting sounds like this “ I want my kids to have/do all the stuff I never got to.” This goal seems unselfish, and indeed a parent with this goal may sacrifice much for their children. But ultimately this is pointed toward the parent’s own unfulfilled fantasy’s and expectations or possibly even a repudiation of their own parents. A child raised with this overarching goal exists in the confusing world of constant entitlement and disappointment. The parents that achieve it give their kids everything they didn’t have and the kids grow up thinking it is all about them. More often, the parents are rarely ever able to deliver on their goal. So the child grows up thinking that some how they got ripped off or constantly hearing parents say “ I never wanted you to have to …. like I did….”

There are many more examples of unconscious goals (you will hear more tomorrow) but all of them come from a fairly consistent source: Self. Whether it is hoping our kids have more, avoid some perceived trauma, or achieve some lofty status, when self is the source it will always fall short. What we really need to do is look to God for the source of the goals of our parenting. It is not by mistake that Jesus teaches us to relate to God as Father. When we look at and then consciously shape our parenting based on God’s parenting goals, we will quickly move past the more shallow goals of our unconscious reactions and move into a place where we are parenting with purpose. The results will speak for themselves.

Are you unconsciously parenting? If you were to write down your top 5 overarching goals for you children what would they be? Tomorrow we will look at some of the goals God has for us and that we can apply to parenting with purpose.

See you at church,

 Pastor Chris



PG – Deafening Silence

 

You’re a mom and you are busy doing all the things you have to do to get ready for the next thing you have to do (because that is a never ending story) and in the middle of doing what ever it is , you suddenly realize; where are the kids? You know the time where suddenly it is too quiet and you wonder, “What are they getting into?” I am pretty convinced that being sneaky so you are not caught is a genetic trait, because most of the time they are too young and inexperienced to have actually figured it out.   It is at these times that you come into the kitchen and find them “cooking” or go into the living room and they have discovered that the walls were much too bare and obviously needed more color. Burnt Umber was the Crayola they boldly chose and used with utter abandonment. Silence is very rarely indications that sneaky good things are happening.

There is another kind of silence that occurs as a result of anger. It is the kind of “I am not going to talk to you ever again” kind of silence.   It is funny and almost cute (if it wasn’t so defiant) when they are little. It is so much less fun when they are 15. For some it is a day of celebration when you get more than an ug, uh huh , fine, or other monosyllabic answers to complicated questions about things like “how was your day?” Once again silence doesn’t seem to work real well.

Do you long for rich conversations with your children? Don’t you want to be part of their life and do everything you can to communicate with them? You want them to ask your advice and seek your counsel. You want to be part of their decision-making and hope that they look to you first before doing anything rash. Your ultimate desire is for them to achieve the ultimate life and you have so much experience and wisdom to offer them. If only they would seek you out, involve you, and talk with you.

This is why parents more than any others, should understand the heart of God concerning prayer, and why parents should lead their families by creating a culture of prayer. For all too many families, the silence is deafening.

Parental Guidance Required, come learn how you can create a culture of prayer in your home with your children. A practical question and answer time will follow the sermon.

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



Understanding Design

I was watching a television program the other night where there was a lady fishing in Alaska. Fishing in Alaska is on my bucket list, and the scenery was spectacular. They as it turns out are the last ones permitted to have cabins in a big Alaskan Wildlife refuge. It is clear she had been fishing her whole life. There was certainly a sense in which she knew exactly what she was doing. But when she went to reel in the lure something surprised me. She was using a spinning reel and instead of the reel being in front hanging down from the pole, she had the reel up and was awkwardly reeling it from that perspective. She was doing it wrong!

She is not the first one I have seen do this. She might have been a lefty and so this maybe felt more comfortable to her. But the thing is , that is not the way the reel was designed to be used! I wanted to go to her and show her, “not that way silly, this way.” And if she complained that she was a lefty, I would switched the side that the handle was on for her so she could do it the right way. Most things in life don’t get me but that one is like finger nails on a chalk board. If you hooked a really big fish doing it that other way, chances would not be in your favor. It just wasn’t designed to work that way.

Understanding design helps us operate not only little fishing reels the right way, but really it helps us in any number of areas of life. When we don’t understand the design of something we are often tempted to take short cuts, to misuse or even abuse something. But when we understand and honor the design of something, things work so much better.

God designed motherhood. His design is spectacular. Our world often wants us to believe that God’s design is awkward and unwieldy. The world neither understanding the design (or the Designer) does it wrong and then blames the designer. They think that they can do it better. Like the vintage baby formula adds that suggested that their product was much better than what mom has to offer. Or those branches of science who are pursuing the creation of children without the need for men. They ignore both design and designer.

As we launch the PG sermon series, it is fitting that we begin with God’s design for moms. Not only do we want to look at what God has designed but we want to honor it. It honors moms and it honors the Designer.

Come discover God’s design and how we can honor it and honor moms.

As with all the sermons in this series, there will be a time of discussion led by Susan and I . We hope to share some of our insights into parenting and encourage you.

God Bless,

Pastor Chris


Kids Dance On The First Song!

If you have ever been to our worship services then you know that the first song is where we come into the presence of God in worship, we greet each other all around the church, and the kids get to come up on the small stage and dance! It is not by accident that we do this and I would never want you to miss what we are saying with our actions. Church is for everyone, kids, teens, and the adults. We want kids to be excited to come, excited to worship not just with their parents but up front! Kids have no hang ups about worship. They already know that it is fun to dance and praise Jesus! We hope they teach the adults in their lives how to do it!

The same is true when the teenagers take over the sermon, which is this week! They have an alive vibrant faith. They have things that they want us to hear. Church is theirs as well! As they live for Christ in their world, they are literally on the front lines. They are challenged every day in ways that are nothing like what most of us adults went through in school. Thiers truly is a different world.   Giving them the opportunity to speak to all of us, using the words, media, and methods that are more common to their world , gives us the opportunity to hear them, appreciate them, and listen to a sermon in a completely different way.   I am excited for what they will bring and excited that Wellspring Fellowship is a church for them as well.

 

I hope you are looking forward to a great time this week in worship and in hearing what the youth group has ready to bring to us.

 

God Bless,

 

Pastor Chris.



Character Matters

When I was a science teacher we used to do the most wonderful and fun experiments. One of my favorites was almost the cliché of science, the egg drop.   In the ones we did it was to emphasize and teach the scientific method and so we would give them certain parameters and have them go to work designing and building the perfect capsule to protect their egg.   I would often get some amazing results. There were categories really. There were those who did it on the way to school, which involved gym clothes and duct tape (and oh yeah I need my gym clothes for next period), then there were those who really did their research. The thing is you couldn’t really judge which one would work just by looking at it. It had to be tested. Some of the ones that looked the worst, actually performed better. And others looked great on the outside and produced horrific eggstruction.   The character of the method of protecting the egg was only evident after the test.

This is true of our character as well. We might look good on the outside and all those around us might think we would do great in a test, but it is not until the test comes that we really find out. We are tested every single day. This world is fallen and sirens of temptation call to us from the shoals of shipwreck. They beckon us to just get by, to hold back, and to compromise. How do you respond to them?

 This week we will look at the character of Daniel and discover there some examples of how to live with character in a broken world.

Come be encouraged!

 Pastor Chris



What are you afraid of?

What scares you? Clowns, spiders, IRS audits, snakes, or maybe it the boogie man under the bed? Even as adults there are things that still scare us. Most often they are silly and inconsequential. But occasionally our fears have merit. A diagnosis can scare us and rightly so! Other times it might be a circumstance or an event. World news is scary especially in this age of elections and geopolitical chaos. It is not by accident that the most prevalent command in scripture is “Do not be afraid.”

The biggest problem with fear is not the feeling but rather what it causes us to do. On one hand it can cause us to run the opposite direction of where we ought to be headed. The danger there is that we miss what we are supposed to do. Other times it may cause over reaction and our actions are out of step for what is called for. Like shooting a spider with a shotgun, we do too much and the results are worse than the fear ever was. Most often our response to fear is paralysis.   Stuck on the edge of the high dive, we are too afraid to go backwards and too afraid to jump in.

Walking with Jesus means that we must face the things that we fear the most. Not the silly things, but those fears that actually have substance. Death, persecution, inadequacy, poverty, irrelevance, and doubt all can paralyze us. But paralysis is not an option. Jesus says “take up your cross” not “stand there and look at it trembling”.  We have no choice. It is impossible to go where Christ would take us without facing our fears. We must do what he is calling us to. No matter the consequences, our faith demands it. And that is the rub isn’t it. It is faith that dispels fear. “Do not be afraid” is actually positively said as “Trust me.” Fear is ultimately a lack of trust.

 This week you will be challenged to face some fears; to move, to let go of paralysis’s, and to get out of the boat.

 See you at church,

Pastor Chris



A Culture of Blessing

This week is special. After church the men are going to gather in the upper room and there we will recognize something that has already occurred. While it is not unheard of for men to fit well into the role of “captain obvious” this has a bit more significant. We are going to be recognizing in a formal way the transition from boy to man.
 
Rites of passage have largely disappeared from our culture and the result is confusion. 14 year olds can be tried as an adult if their crime is heinous enough but no one really considers a 14 year old an adult. When you are 16 you can earn the right to drive a 4000 pound weapon, but people don’t think of you as an adult then either. 18 year olds can sign up for the military without mommy or daddy having anything to do with it, they can vote, and get married. They are kind of adults. A person who is 21 can demonstrate that they are they are chronologically an adult by purchasing alcohol, and then many who celebrate the moment promptly dispel the notion by irresponsibly and stupidly getting drunk. The confusion continues and even has a name of “delayed adolescence” to describe the adults living in the basement hoping to be able to sell their level 100 World of Warcraft characters. (The record is $10K). There is a hole, a missing element in our culture and while we can complain about it (it is actually more fun to mock it) the reality is that we are not helpless.   This is an opportunity for the church.

 

The church should be a light in a dark place. We should be the place where people find help in negotiating the rapids of this clueless culture, and we can. We can create meaningful rites of passage that both recognize adulthood but also bestow adulthood with all its privileges and responsibilities. We can raise our children with the expectations of when that will come so that they can both eagerly anticipate it but also make sure they are ready to assume that mantle. These rights of passage should be reasonable and be able to translate to the overall culture we live in and can we please not tie them to reproductive potential?! The church needs to seize this opportunity. The church needs to create a Culture of Blessing.

 

This week we be talking about what that means. I hope you come and find out how you can be a part of it!

See you at church,

Pastor Chris