"What To" Truths for Parents

You love a good “how to” article, don’t you Mom and Dad?  You really want to know how to do this Christian parenting thing.  In your honest moments, like all of us, you would confess feelings of inadequacy, fears, worries, and even failures.  If parenting as a Christ follower was easy, then we would not need Christ.  Jesus makes up the difference when we fall short.  And God's Word guides us when we don't know where to turn next.

As a Christ following parent you probably know of Deuteronomy 6:4-7.  It provides a “how to” model for us.  It says, “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.  Repeat them to your children.  Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up

You heard it in a sermon.   You read it in a magazine.  You spent some time thinking about it.  You considered teachable moments.  You live it when you remember it.  You may have it memorized.   You may be practicing it.

And you may have stopped right there.

Right there in Deuteronomy chapter six, I mean.  Be honest.  You lose interest right from the whole "binding them on your hands and forehead" part.  Interesting fashion accessories those would be.  And you are a bit concerned with "writing them on your door-posts and gates" too.  I mean, what reputable decorating magazine would recommend that?

So, you stop with verse seven.  And that is not a bad place to stop.  Not bad at all.  If you can love God with all you have got.  If you can keep His Word in your heart.  If you can pass that sort of honest-to-goodness faith to your kids.  Wow!  You are doing great!  So, what's the fuss?

Well, no fuss.  Just a call to look further.

You have the “how to” above.  How about a model for the “what to”?

Practicing good biblical hermeneutics, we read the context.  The chapters and verses before and after the a given passage.  In the case of Deuteronomy Six, just as clearly as the “how-to” of teachable moments in verse 4-7, we see a template for the “what-to” in verses 20-25.  Let’s take a look: 

20 “When your son asks you in the future, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees, statutes, and ordinances, which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 tell him, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. 22 Before our eyes the Lord inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his household, 23 but He brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that He swore to our fathers. 24 The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today. 25 Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’ 

“When your son asks,” states verse 20.  Not if.  God made us in His image.  Creative and inquisitive.  Our children ask and experiment to learn.  What truths about God should we teach them.

There are four “what to” teach topics in Deuteronomy 6:21-24:

  • Experiences with God. Verse 21 teaches that you should be ready to share stories of lives impacted by an intersection with God.  Scripture stories.  Your own stories.  The stories of others you know.  We must “always be ready” to speak of the hope within us commands 1 Peter 3:15.  These stories should illustrate the greatness of God to meet our needs.
  • Judgment of God.  Verse 22 shows that God is just and will judge sin.  This is essential truth. In order to call Christ our Lord and be saved, we must first recognize our own, personal sinfulness as in Romans 6:23.  Sometimes, these are conversations in the midst of administering discipline.  More importantly, like Moses in Deuteronomy, these are conversations during the good times to set boundaries as warnings to the consequences of judgment during the rebellion that will come.
  • Purposes of God.  Verse 23 points to God’s leadership in all circumstances.  When our own faith is challenged we must rely upon the sovereignty of God in all of life.  Good or bad.  Anything that touches our lives has either been caused or allowed to work His good purpose within us we learn throughout Deuteronomy and from Philippians 2:13.
  • Obedience to God.  Verse 24 is clear that God’s Word is not for our convenience, but our obedience.  And that obedience leads to the blessings only God can provide.  John 14:21 teaches that our obedience is a love issue.  If you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem.  We must make sure we know God’s Word.  And obey it.  And teach our children to follow us as we follow the Lord.

And what will be the hallmark of the life following God as these verses teach?  Righteousness.  A state of right being and living that can only be fully powered by God’s Holy Spirit and can only be fully reward by God’s amazing graciousness.  Stories.  Boundaries.  Sovereignty.  Obedience.  These four foundational teachings are the “what to” truths we build our children’s lives on.  Now stop reading and go parent with these truths in mind, Christ follower.

The Christ Following Citizen

 

The celebration of Independence Day weekend, the Fourth of July, has us tuned to what it means to be an American.  The Bible, as with all things, gives us guidance.

In Matthew 17:24-27 Jesus & Peter are challenged to pay the Jewish Temple tax.  This raises questions. Shouldn't Jesus, as a rabbi, be exempt?  More so shouldn't Jesus, as God's Son, be exempt?  Wouldn't his followers be exempt as well?  Yet Jesus leads Peter to the conclusion that Christ & his followers should obey earthly authorities with willingness & care not to offend.

The immorality or corruption of the governmental authority does not matter.

The obedience & service of the Christ follower as a citizen does matter.

Further Scriptures provide thorough guidelines for the attitude, understanding, & obedience of Christ followers desirous of being God honoring citizens.

As Christ following citizens:

  1. We recognize our primary citizenship (1 Perter 2:9).  This is not only our new belonging as citizens in God's Eternal Kingdom, but our new being in Christ, & provides foundation for all that follows.
  2. We are recipients of God's mercy (1 Peter 2:10).  We are Kingdom citizens because of God's mercy.  The living out of His mercy should be a hallmark of the Christ following life.
  3. We live for the sake of others (1 Peter 2:11-12).  As citizens first of an eternal Kingdom, we must live such exemplary lives that others easily recognize the difference & glorify God because of us.
  4. We obey authorities for the sake of Jesus (1 Peter 2:13-14).  More importantly than for others is that our submission to authorities is for our Lord's sake.
  5. We must not offend authorities (Matthew 17:27).  As Heavenly citizens first, we obey not only the letter of the law of earthly authorities, but with a joyful attitude as well.
  6. We pay taxes to the authority due (Matthew 22:21).  As beneficiaries of all our earthly governments provide, we must also participate in their support.
  7. We submit to authorities (Romans 13:1-2).  God Himself has ordained the governing authorities of this earth, & we must not rebel lest we bring His judgment upon ourselves.
  8. We obey authorities willingly (Romans 13:5).  Our good conscience as citizens of God's Kingdom, not the possibility of punishment here, should motivate us to obedience.
  9. We pay taxes as God requires (Romans 13:6-7).  Since God has established earthly authorities as His servants, we must support them in their work.

Christ followers should be exemplary citizens.  That's our bottom line.  That is how Scripture guides.

May God bless us as citizens of His Eternal Kingdom.

May God bless the earthly nation of our citizenship.

 

Noel

Don't you just love Christmas carols?  Singing to celebrate our Lord's coming to save us from our sinful selves is such joy!

Let's continue our Christmas Carol lessons with The First Noel.  Noel comes from Latin, through French meaning "birth."  This rich carol tells of a one-of-a-kind, first & all time birth.  The coming of God to earth as a human.  This rich carol can teach us lessons today too.

The first Noel the angel did say, Was to certain poor shepherds
in fields as they lay; In fields where they lay, keeping their sheep, 
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.

You're a shepherd.  A societal outcast.  Cast out because you've got a menial job.  Cast out because you got a smelly job.  Cast out, well because your job keeps you out with the sheep & not in town.  But you are doing your job.  Watching your sheeps & hangin with your peeps when... An angel.  An angel appears & God's glory shines round your shepherd band.  Terrified.  Dumb struck.  Frozen.

"Don't be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." the angel says in Luke 2:10.  I'm not a shepherd, but I have a question: Do I fear God’s power?  Do I fear God's awesome power?  His righteousness & justice?  Or do I fear his mercy & grace?  Which do I deserve more?

For all to see there was a star, Shining in the east, beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light, And so it continued both day and night.

You're a smart person.  At the top of the societies pyramid.  At least close.  You've got lots of education & enough means to support yourself in pursuits of the mind.  You & your intelligentsia pals notice a new star. One of you connects that star with a new king.  It's a great star.  It must be a great king.  Let's roadtrip.

"We saw his star in the east & we have come to worship him," says one wise man in Matthew 2:2.  We get pretty busy in our hustle-bustle days.  So I gotta ask, do I see God’s signs?  When God shows up, am I paying attention?  When God lights the answer to my prayer up in neon do I notice?  When He points one of those big arrow signs toward his will for me do I see it?

And by the light of that same star The wise men came from country far;
To seek for a king was their intent, And to follow the star wherever it went.

And when I do see God pointing the way - when I am clear He has a plan for me to follow -  do I obey? Do I follow God’s lead?  Do I get up & get moving?  Do I change direction because God has changed my mind? What am I gonna do about it?

Then let us all with one accord Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made heaven and earth of naught, And with his blood mankind hath bought.

If you were a shepherd outcast outside Bethlehem, then were one of the first to know the great news, of great joy for all people.  "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord," Luke 2:11 tells.  Wow!  Lowly me?  The King.  The Savior.  Came for me?!

How good is that news?  How many people would you be telling?  Facebook status.  Twitter tweets.  Texting homies.  Skypin far off friends.  Emailing your entire address list.  Or just plain talking & telling the news.  It hurts me to think, with how much - or how little - enthusiasm do I share God’s story?  A story of salvation for all people.  It's my news to tell!

Fear God's grace.

See God's signs.

Follow God's lead.

Share God's story.

It's CHRISTmastime.

Rejoice!

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, Born is the King of Israel.