No Regret Parenting

On Saturday I officiated a funeral for a 17 year old young man who was murdered.  Amidst all the pain, confusion, and unanswered questions, there was faith, hope, and a great sense of redeeming the time.  I pray many of the students there will never be the same, never take a day for granted, and never again trust in themselves.  It’s hard not to sit in the hospital room praying for a miracle as a dad over the role of pastor.  And that’s one way that I’ve been pushed forward … as a dad with no regrets.  If that were one of my kids I’d just said goodbye to, I want nothing left unsaid or undone in my God-given place in their lives.  So, some actions on no-regret parenting I commend to myself … and to you if you desire.

1. To never let a day go by without using words to express love.

I’m an emotional man, and I don’t have a hard time with words of affirmation, but I still get tired, lazy, selfish.  I will push past those selfish times and feelings to make sure I craft heartfelt, clear, direct words of love to my children.  Should I miss a day and that be the last for one of my children, I want to make sure they have heard words from their dad of his love and affection for them.  Now I have three boys, I know they won’t always want to hear what I have to say, but I will say it nonetheless.

2. To never let a day go by without praying with my kids.

I love to pray, but I do it with people often being a pastor.  So it’s easy to again get lazy with my own family.  A late night and a quick rush them off to bed and a skipping of our prayer time together.  Nope!  It’s never too late to pray a simple pray of thanks and joy over them to our God.

3. To never preach at them without listening to them.

I like to preach, its what I do as part of my job … and I believe in the power of Godly instruction from the Word, and they need it.  But, I want soft hearts toward the Word and my instruction, not numb, hard, fakey pastor-kid hearts.  So, as instruction is needed it will be accompanied with an ear to hear.  When they do dumb things, I will do more than just lecture them, giving them both a bad taste for parental authority and missing a delightful Christianity.

4. To always help them see God’s perspective in a matter.

It’s always a fight to see life God’s way and not ours.  Always easier to think with myself at center … what a crafty lie of Satan.  I resist the insincere Christian home, and the forced “family worship.”  But thankfully that’s not what is required of me.  My marching orders are to take the everyday stuff of life and help my children see God’s hand, love, and grace in it.  I will help my children see life as worship and God’s perspective on sports, relationships, schoolwork, and work.

5. To make family fun.

I want them to see me kissing on their mom.  I want them to laugh when I do something stupid.  I want them to rejoice when one of us does something great.  I want them to care when one of us hurts.  I want them to like to be together and be disappointed when something gets in the way of that.  Now, I’m not being pie-in-the-sky unrealistic about this, because I’ve seen it with families, and I want it for mine.

I know, nothing earth-shaking here, nothing new or “radical”, but nothing like death to remind you of the great high calling of parenting and a commitment to give it your all to the glory of God.  It doesn’t happen by accident and thankful doesn’t happen by our hard work alone.  God pours grace out on homes where He is worshipped.  So pour it on dear God, pour it on!

A Dad after My Dad’s Heart,

Mark

Hope Keeps You From Shame

So I’ve determined that there are certain things that on my deathbed I will not be uttering, sorta a renewed commitment to ‘no regrets.’  There are a lot of things in my life I’m sure I won’t accomplish or won’t get to experience or just plain won’t get to, but some I WILL NOT neglect.  One of the most simple ones regarding my pastoral ministry is not uttering on my deathbed that I wish I had done better at teaching the group of people I love and God has entrusted to me how to really walk with God.  The last two weeks from the pulpit I have walked through the most important Biblical truths God has taught me over the last two decades about my heart, my sin, the Word, and the Cross.  It has been refreshing and encouraging to me to see how God has shaped and melded together these crucial truths into my thinking and delighting so I can speak freely on them.

Reflecting on certain elements this morning (a Monday) has led me back to Romans 5:5 and the banner over the finish line of the Christian life that says “HOPE” or more specifically “the hope of glory”.  When we have this fixed in our minds, it motivates today.  Do you see that?  What happens tomorrow (if indeed we are certain of it … that’s called faith by the way), compels us to live a certain way today!  That God indeed keeps all His promises and will keep the Biggie (Eternal life, Glory, Heaven, etc) should make me walk in love by faith today.  AND if I do, No Shame!  How does that fit?  Because my sin is forgiven (all of it – past, present, future) and I know (confidently know) that I am HIS, then I need not wallow in the present, but walk in humility, repentance, AND faith.  If sin, or a certain sin “owns” us, we either aren’t a “redeemed person of faith” or have forgotten the word on the finish line – HOPE.  We think the momentary pleasures of sin and the selfish indulgent satisfactions of the world are better than what God holds out in front of us.

Hope is a hard concept for me, I’m guessing you too … it feels quite abstract.  But the finish line of a race isn’t so abstract.  No one starts a race without a desire to finish.  When I go running I have to set attainable “markers” along the way so I don’t give up because I can’t see the finish distance just yet.  When I hit that “attainable” marker, I aim for the next one, all the way until the end (of my 2 miles) is in sight.  What does this mean for being motivated by Hope?  Fix the hope of glory as the ultimate goal, and set certain attainable markers along the way (each day, each week, each month, each year).  Markers that keep you believing God is better.  I’m getting up early today to read the Word, I’m praying at lunch break, I’m reading with my kids tonight, I’m leaving the TV off, I’m reading a good book, etc.  When the marker gets missed, NO Shame, you just start jogging again toward the next one.  Why?  because missing the marker is what we do, but hitting all the markers is what Christ has done.  You’re not condemned, He was condemned for you.  You’re not a stranger, you’re an adopted child.  “Give up” is not in your vocabulary.  So, brother or sister of faith … walk in love, knowing that the hope of glory awaits you.  And guess what you can do it.  Paul ends the verse (Rom 5:5) with “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”  When you run toward those attainable markers, you throw the sail up of your Gospel boat and the Holy Spirit blows into it, moving you toward the finish line.  Let us not grow weary, nor walk in shame … that’s just not how God intended it for you!

Running with Hope,

Pastor Mark