Expectations, what are they today?

Many people seem to have fantastic expectations of their children and their lives today. In many ways, we seem to try to live our lives or some part of our lives through our kids and their accomplishments, don’t we? You see it portrayed in movies and on television and on the Internet and social media, our lives and our children’s lives are open to all of the world in one sense or another. Depending upon the security that you have in place, and unless you are knowledgeable about such things, many of us don’t have much security at all.

I don’t know how many emails that I have received about a poll which was taken at random, that showed that thousands of people still use “password” for their password or “0123456” even. These are ridiculously easy for a child to crack, let alone someone who really is a true hacker! The security that I am speaking of is in reference to the “stuff” that you store in the cloud or on Facebook’s servers. How easy would it be for someone to crack your password and get into your family photos and other things which should be kept private?

We have expectations of security and life, along with what we expect or want from our children. To put it a bit more politically correct, “what we want our children to become is just to make us look and feel better”; maybe not so politically correct, but a sight more succinct maybe? We expect or hope that our children will do better with their lives and their careers than we have been able to do, but do we give them the esteem and the knowledge of applying themselves toward that goal or do we just coddle and spoil them until they graduate into the real world and hope that they get it right?

Many times it seems that is exactly what we are doing to the next generation. We “baby” them and give them stuff that they didn’t have to earn until they graduate from high school or college and then we expect them to hit the ground running toward a goal which they have no idea how to accomplish at all! We never tried to get them to earn their way in life or through school or with chores to do at home! They played games and watched TV and movies on DVD, when they weren’t whining about all of the two pages of homework that they had to do. Yes, some kids actually have far more than two pages but so did we when we were growing up!

In the public school system, there is now something called “common core” which is the biggest joke of all on our kids. No one can be left behind while taking this curriculum because not even the teacher understands it, so how can our kids know or learn it? We are expected to raise our children to be good people with character, but how can they have character when many of us don’t even have it? Do you know any of the Ten Commandments? Do you know where they are found? This country was founded on principles which came from the Word of God and all of the Ivy League schools were founded, at first, to be seminary schools which trained preachers and missionaries.

What happened to our country? What happened to the values and the beliefs of those who run this nation and those of us who live in it? We have allowed science and political correctness to invade our churches and our homes. Many people are mourning the loss of values and purpose in our country, but it is our fault that it has slipped away. We allowed it to happen because we as Christians did not speak up and try to keep our country as a Christian nation. Now, we are paying the price although the true price hasn’t been set yet.

Lies, lies, lies

In one sense all lies are lies to God. However, as the passage below shows, there is a particular type of lie that qualifies specifically as lying to God. I think of this as “lying on steroids.” Often, this lie is not about hiding things that are wicked, but about misrepresenting things that appear to be good, even righteous. This is where the greatest danger lies for children raised in Christian homes. That is why your parenting must go beyond addressing just their behavior.

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” Acts 5:1-4

Each day you challenge your children to obey God. In each home this challenge comes with the promise of some kind of negative consequence for not obeying and some type of reward for obedience. Even when you neglect to follow through with the consequences of disobedience, the specter of accountability hangs in the air. Given their sinful nature, the tendency of children is to find ways to avoid these consequences. At the same time, there is also the promise of reward attached to requests for obedience. So again, even when the reward is not consistent (or even not biblical), human nature desires the reward, whether it is deserved or not.

For example, one sibling sees that his sister is rewarded for cleaning. So, he is careful to mention that he too, helped, even if he did not actually do anything. This child realizes that he can achieve what he wants if his parents perceive that he is doing good things. Thus, he might participate by appearing to be busy, but only when mom is looking. Internally, he may be resentful of having to do something he doesn’t want to, but he is motivated by the reward or praise he thinks he will receive. He may even agree that God helped him to obey because he knows that is what his parents want to hear. This deceptive, self-serving attitude may eventually lead to the kind of deception that Ananias and Sapphira practiced. They were seeking praise and status without the sacrificial spirit of truly loving Christ. It was in this way that they lied to God.

As parents, you must not become complacent when your children give only outward compliance to your directions. If you put up with a grumbling, complaining spirit as the price for your children following your directions, you open the door to lying to God. God desires obedience from the heart, not the outward form of ritual sacrifice. (Amos 5:21-23; Isaiah 29:13) So, the mindset that says, “At least he took the garbage out, even though he moaned and groaned about it,” totally misses the point of loving God. This child is not being shepherded. Rather he is being encouraged to believe that God will be satisfied with mere outward compliance to his commands, even when his heart is not involved in his obedience.

Ananias and Sapphira believed that they could trade the appearance of obedience for spiritual status—for recognition from others that they were devoted to the church. But God is not mocked. He cannot be deceived. Lying expresses the hypocrisy of the human heart. This is why the Lord detests lying lips. As lies progress beyond mere self-protection to the point of lying to achieve personal desires, the danger of lying directly to God increases. Ananias and Sapphira tried to manipulate the appearance of doing good. The fatal mistake they made was thinking they could deceive God as well as people.

Lying is not something to ignore, deal with lying whenever you discover it. Don’t allow the busy routine of life to cover patterns of outward compliance. But we must address this sin carefully and wisely. This requires a substantial investment of time and biblical wisdom.

Tomorrow, Dad

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”  John Wayne

How can we have an effect on tomorrow? The future is our children and the only way for parents, fathers specifically, to have an impact on their lives is to bring them up seeing us put God first in our lives. Not just by going to church, but by living the teachings that are found in the Bible. Reading the Word, praying for and with your children daily if need be, talking with them about questions that they have concerning their faith and yours.

I heard that John Wayne became a Christian because of a question that a child asked him. It was a profound question, like children ask, but it was one that touched his heart and pricked it to the realization that he needed Jesus. My own walk with Christ was prompted by becoming a father and the realization that I needed to have Jesus in my life so that I could be a better role model for my son.

We will never be a perfect reflection of Jesus in this life, but even an imperfect reflection is better than just us alone. Our children deserve to have an example of God to be present in their lives and we as parents are the only example that they will see and hear. While they are small, they will say and imitate almost every word and gesture that you do and say. You all know this is true.

Fathers are admonished to not “provoke your children to discouragement”, but what does that mean? It means that you must not cause your child to lose hope in God, to lose hope in a future with Jesus, to lose hope period. Some translations render that word as “anger”, well when you are discouraged you do get angry so it fits. The point is that you must put your hope in God and in His purpose for you and your family so that your family will know where their hope lies…in God. Not in money or power or success or any material thing but in God.

That is our job as fathers and even though sometimes we fail miserably at controlling our tongues and the words which come from our mouths, we still should strive for the relaying of information to our children which embraces God and shows that we place our hope in Him. Then, if our children see us doing it, then they will see the value in God and Jesus and follow through in their lives.

Give your parents, mother and father alike, a hug and let them know that they did the best job that they could do. Encourage your children to live their lives so that their children will see Jesus in their lives and follow in your steps to Jesus. Children, love your parents enough to show it and don’t be afraid to do so, because Mom and Dad both would like to feel it from you whether they show it or not.

Think about your Mom or Dad tomorrow if they aren’t here, I know that I will be thinking of my grandpa and my Dad tomorrow. Happy Father’s Day to all of you who read this.

A Father’s place

In our culture, a father is needed in the home today more than ever before. But, there are many who are growing up without one present. Oh, some men are there in the home but they are so caught up in their careers that they don’t have time for the kids and their spouse. But, the sad fact is that for many families there is no father figure around at all. There are too many single parent homes today and the men that are around are not giving the children that are around them the support that a father is supposed to give.

I mean, what can you do about being a father or a Dad if you weren’t raised by one yourself? Did you have a role model like a grandfather or an uncle to teach you the things that your father should have? Boys need a father, a Dad that will be there when they want or need to ask questions, they don’t need a gang or some schoolyard “friend” who may teach them things that they really don’t need.

Our country is reeling from a lack of fathers…of Dads, who need to step up and be the Dad that their children need, even if the child in your family is not yours, they still need a father figure to show them the path that they need to be on! God‘s Word says that we, as fathers, should train a child in the way that they should go and when they are old, they will not depart from it; that is exactly what needs to be done but in the last fifty years there have been many who did not or would not do this! So, why do we seem to be surprised when there are so many men in prison and so many crimes committed by men? They didn’t have someone to look up to or anyone to teach them, so where did they get their example? Who showed them the “ropes” of being a man?

Life is hard enough with a Dad to help you, to show you how to do things and the right way to do them, let alone going through life without an example from a man, especially a Godly man!

Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
2 For I give you good doctrine:
Do not forsake my law. (Proverbs 4:1-2)