trust

Some Parenting Tips Pastor Dan has learned from almost 30 years of Parenting

By: Dan Seale

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What does it say that after 27 years of parenting, I attended a parenting seminar a couple of weeks ago?  It says, “I am still learning as a parent and I am not an expert nor will I ever be.”  Each parent, each child, and each family system are unique, and there is no one size fits all formula or method.  Above all else, I want my children to know and follow Jesus. I have prayed that  Psalm. 73:26 would be the cry of my children’s hearts.   Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  I offer my parenting tips with the hope that they help water and fertilize the soil of our children’s hearts so that God’s Spirit will make this prayer become a reality.

1)     Parent out of hope not fear.

Yes, the world can be a scary, dangerous place.  When we parent out of fear, we tend to try to control circumstances and our children.  This rarely works out well in the long run.  As they get older, you realize you have less and less control over them and their environment.  So usually, instead of trusting God, you only grip tighter and tighter. 

Accept you are not in control, but God is; so quit trying to control your child and his/her/their world.

Our confidence in parenting must be in the promises and presence of God.  God is at work accomplishing His purposes. (Romans 8:28-29).  He is our Creator, King and Savior (Colossians 1). He alone can change the hearts of people, including our children.   Therefore, we should not fear.  Too often our minds are consumed by what could happen and worst-case scenarios. In those moments, we must cling to the promises of God – that He is with his people, for his people (Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 13:5).  In the midst of some of our hardest challenges as parents, Debbi and I would constantly remind one another, The story isn’t over.  This isn’t the last chapter.  God is at work.  We can trust him with our lives and with our children’s lives.

 

2)     Parent out of weakness not strength.

The best thing I can do for my children is show them my sin and weakness and my need to be rescued and strengthened by Jesus.  That means I should ask their forgiveness when I sin against them or in front of them. I need to admit that what I did was wrong and not excuse my sin.   Also, parenting out of weakness means that I recognize I can’t parent my children to Jesus or to success in this life.  Therefore, I need to pray to the living God to work in the lives of my children.  It is easy to only pray when circumstances are bad, and we clearly see what is always true – we are not in control.

 

3)     Parent in community not in isolation.

We are not meant to live the Christian life alone, and we are not meant to parent alone.  We need to take advantage of God’s gift, the church, to help us in parenting.  Surround your children with other adults who love Jesus and who will love them.  I am thankful for the many adults who have befriended my daughters.  They have served and some continue to serve as confidants.  My daughters felt free to ask them questions they may have struggled to ask us and share struggles. Yes, I know many of you want the type of relationship that your child will tell you everything and ask you anything.  That may happen for a few. However, even if that does happen, you want other adults speaking the same truth into their lives.  This will ultimately strengthen their faith because it’s not just mom and dad talking about Jesus.  They will see that others believe these same life-changing truths and love Jesus.  These relationships won’t form themselves.  We intentionally invited people into our home to share meals and play games with us and our children so they had time to build connections.  Additional connections were built with their Sunday School teachers and youth group small group leaders.  Let your children be influenced by other godly followers of Jesus. Invite someone over to dinner this week.

 

4)     Parent by example not merely by words.

If you want your child to pursue Jesus, then you must pursue Jesus.

If you want your child to love and value the people of God, the church, then you must model that love and commitment. 

If you want your child to love and respect their mom or dad, then you should model loving your spouse. 

If you want your child to be a helper and servant, then model sacrifice and servanthood.

What are you modeling to your children that you love and live for?

Your actions teach your children far more than your words.  One of my great sorrows in life is when I see my sin reflected in my children. I never intentionally said to follow my sin, but they caught what I modeled, positive and negative.

 

Bottom line – the best things you can do for your children as a parent are …

  • Love Jesus and pursue spiritual growth among the people of God, the church.

  • Love your spouse and model forgiveness and sacrifice in daily life.

This is assuming you are not a single parent.  If you are divorced, then how you treat your ex can model the Gospel in powerful ways.

 

I will pray for you and I hope you will pray for me that we will increasingly parent not by fear but by faith in the power and presence of God as we actively pursue Him.

There are countless good books out there and some bad ones.  Here are two books and some audios that if you synthesize them, will give you a solid biblical foundation for parenting.

 

Parenting by Faith not by Formula by Julie Lowe

Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Big Picture Parenting or Just Good enough Parenting by John Cox

Rookie Mistake on Proverbs 3 & the Rest of the Story

By: Dan Seale

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Sunday morning as I was preaching at the 8:30 am service, I realized I made a rookie mistake.  I had too much material. So, while I was preaching my mind was also considering what changes I needed to make which impacted both the content and the delivery of the sermon.  Thankfully, I know God uses His Word by His Spirit no matter what, so while frustrated, I was not too discouraged.  That has not always been the case.  It can be very difficult to wrestle with feeling that you not only failed your people but that you also failed God in handling a passage of Scripture.  I had one pastor friend who would just disappear into the basement of the church after he preached a bad sermon.  By God’s grace, the Lord has taught me to be resilient after many perceived failures and trust Him more.  However, I used the time between the two services to reorganize and adjust my sermon for the 11 am service.  I also texted a few people to pray for my rewrites, for my heart and for the second service. I think my second sermon was greatly improved in organization and delivery, but again, the effectiveness of the sermon is ultimately up to the Lord not me. 

 

So why share that experience?  For the small number of people who heard both sermons, it will explain the changes I made – assuming anyone but me noticed.    Also, we all fall short of our own and others’ expectations at times in our work; and how we deal with that can help us or hurt us.  We need to learn to be resilient and lean into the Lord in our failures and be humble and grateful for any wins we experience. 

 

And here is the rest of the story of Proverbs 3 that never made it to either sermon.

 

First, a quick review.  In verses 1-12 we saw that if we want to experience life to its fullest, we must trust the Lord, with our whole heart and our whole life.

 

These  poetic couplets of commands for us followed by the benefits of wisdom lay out for us a compelling call to pursue wisdom and obey God’s commands.

 

v. 1 - Keep my commandments                                 v. 2 - Life & peace (shalom)

v. 3 - Don’t let go of steadfast love and faithfulness           v. 4 – Favor & success before God & people

v. 5 - Trust the Lord                                                   v. 6 - straight paths – get you to your goal

v. 7 -Fear the Lord                                                      v. 8 - healing and refreshment

v. 9 - Honor the Lord                                                 v. 10 - more wealth to use for Him

Don’t despise discipline                                            v. 12 - It’s a sign of His love

 

We are commanded to know God’s Word, to know His love, to trust Him, to know ourselves, and to worship him with our best.  When we fail to do that, he will lovingly discipline us to bring us back to him (Hebrews 12:1-11).

 

The next section, Proverbs 3:13-20, speaks of the beauty and value of wisdom.  The person who finds wisdom and gets understanding about how life works has greater wealth than all the gold, silver or jewels they could own.  Wisdom creates a culture of life in this world that is filled with so much death.  Wisdom enriches all who find it, not just in their length of days but also in the quality of those days (3:16). 

 

The reference in verse 18 to the tree of life is very provocative.  This causes us to think of the tree of life in the garden of Eden.  This image suggests more than long life but eternal life, being in the presence of God.  As long as you embrace the tree of life you live.  In order to prevent Adam and Eve from extending their lives in judgment in perpetuity, they had to be ejected from the garden. This removal provided the opportunity for God’s plan of redemption to be fulfilled ultimately in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the promised seed of Eve (Genesis 3:15).  Now through Jesus, who is our wisdom, we have contact with the tree of life, and can look forward to a future day where we will be with God again in a glorious garden in the new heavens and the new earth.

 

3:19-20 shows us again that wisdom matters to God and was used in creation (Proverbs 8, John 1).  Creation is ordered.  It is not random.  The fact that God created all things is why we are able to discover the logic and wisdom of how things work in the world in the realm of science and medicine. Recognizing wisdom in creation should make us want to pursue this wisdom and to study creation.  In the past Christians were often leaders in medical and scientific discoveries, and I believe we need to encourage believers to pursue being the best scientists and researchers.

 

The last section, Proverbs 3:21-35, unpacks what it looks like to trust God with all your life.  God’s wisdom provides personal safety (3:21-26).  Ray Ortlund writes, “As we grow in wisdom God protects us from the land mines that sin has hidden in the world.”  In addition, v. 26 reminds us the Lord will be our confidence and companion protecting us.  This idea is throughout the Bible and culminates in the incarnation of Jesus who is with us no matter what we face (Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5).

 

In Proverbs 3:28-35, we see the marriage of worship and ethics. How we treat others is a prime indicator of how we view God and of who/what we truly worship. 1 John 4:20 says,

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brothers, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” 

This proverb calls us to love our neighbor.  Ray Ortlund has a helpful summary: We are to help our needy neighbor, protect our innocent neighbor, and avoid our violent neighbor.  In a culture of life where wisdom is valued people will help each other as much as possible.  We will protect and trust our neighbors. Trust is the glue that holds relationships and communities together.  When trust is broken it can take a long time to rebuild the trust that was lost. Lastly, wise people steer clear of trouble makers and violent people.  It can often seem like violent or evil people are getting ahead in the world which can tempt us to follow their behavior. The psalmist often cried out about this apparent success.  But 3:34 is translated this way in the Septuagint (the Old Testament written in Greek and quoted in James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5):

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

 

Wisdom fosters an abiding trust in the Lord that emboldens us to love others.

Wisdom fosters a proper humility as we know and fear the Lord in all his beauty and holiness and understand our own limitations and tendency to self-trust and self-reliance.  

 

If we want to experience life to its fullest, we must trust the Lord, with our whole heart and our whole life and only the wise will do so.