'Will you throw me up in the air?' (Parents and Grace)

Posted: Wed. Mar, 9 2016

 “Dad, are bugs good to eat?”, asked the boy.

“Let’s not talk about such things at the dinner table, son,” his father replied.
 
When dinner was over, the father turned to his son privately and asked him,  “Now, son, what did you want to ask me?”

“Oh, nothing”, the boy said.
“There was a BIG BUG  in your soup, ---
---but now it’s gone!”



The problems we face with our kids are usually harder to tease out than a bug in our soup.


Wouldn’t it be great if the worst problem we’d ever have to face with our child was a bug in our soup?

But our kids face much bigger problems than that.  Some face life without one of their parents. Others face obstacles such as a disease, or a learning disability, or an eating disorder.  Many of our young people have to deal with other mental and emotional difficulties including depression, self-injury, ADHD, and OCD.   Some of our kids are dealing with the consequences of bad decisions, bad decisions about sex, or breaking the law, or abusing drugs or alcohol.

And they are growing up in a “last days“ world,  where knowledge and travel have increased, yet people are more and more self-absorbed, greedy, boastful, arrogant, disobedient and disdainful of authority, ungrateful, unholy, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, calling good evil and evil good, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, putting on a façade of holiness while dismissing the power of the word of God and the fellowship of the Spirit.  (1TI 3:1-5)

Our kids need our help more than ever. They need God’s help more than ever.
 

The reign of grace

And yet no matter how hopeless and challenging things get, we know that our God is more than up to the task. And He has given us everything we need to be victorious in this life and in the lives of our children.

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (ROM 5:20-21)

Grace.  That one word wipes away the hopelessness behind all the negative stuff that our kids have to deal with.  God’s power is greater than our inability.  The weakness of God is stronger than the greatest problem we will ever face.

Grace is favor and blessing toward the completely undeserving.

The cross met all of the claims of God and God’s throne against sinners in a completely righteous manner.

So we should expect to be blessed, even in these crazy times, even as we realize more and more that we are in over our heads, and we are nothing without Christ.

And so should our kids. They should be brought to the place where they expect to be blessed also.  That’s grace in a nutshell.

So back to the fathers, the parents.   When we think about the daunting task of raising our children, how should we view that task?

Here’s how:  Realize that we parents, we fathers in particular, are called to be the custodians of the reign of grace in our family.

 

How is the Lord looking to use us as instruments of His grace for the hearts of our children?

Fathers, how do we teach our children that our God is a God of grace, the God of ALL grace in fact?

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as  instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as  instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (ROM 6:12-14)

We are not under law but under grace!  That’s true for us. That’s also true for our Christian children! So when we see sin in your child’s life, how do we handle it?

Do we  put them under LAW or put them under GRACE?

Should our children’s sins color how we treat them?  Or should we do what’s best for them, without regard to what they deserve?

If we want to be parents who give grace to our children, we will do what is best for them without regard to what they deserve!  This does not mean that we never discipline them.  It does mean that we discipline them only for their benefit. Never out of anger, and not as a means of punishment. Only for their benefit.

The Lord in the letters to the churches (Ephesians and Colossians) assigns the fathers the task of keeping our fingers on the pulse of our children’s well-being. So on a regular basis we need to check in and find out how our children our doing.

How are our children doing, dads? Are they happy?
You know, there are few things that ache more in the heart of a parent than the ache of seeing one of our children in pain.  And there are few pains more painful in the heart of a child than the pain of being discouraged.
And it turns out that God is on top of this.  He has done something incredibly gracious for us Christian dads.   And believe it or not it is a command to us dads.  Or to the moms if the dad is not around.
It is in the book of Ephesians. And in the book of Colossians.  Same idea, stated in two books.

 

The one New Testament command the Lord gave Christian fathers

What is the one New Testament command that the Lord has given directly to Christian fathers concerning their children?

Of all the thousands of things He might have said to us, when He had our attention - Hey listen up Christian fathers….

He might have told us how to prepare our kids for a job
He might have told us how to best spank them
He might have told us how to protect them from danger
Or what to do when another kid is bullying them

But check out the one thing He did tell us Christian fathers…

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (EPH 6:4)

But you know there is also that King James version, and let’s give a hearing to how it translates this verse:

4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  KJV

And here’s what the Lord tells us in the letter to the Colossians:

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.  (COL 3:21)

That word “exasperate”  means to cause someone to feel resentment - 'to make resentful, to make someone bitter.'

COL 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. KJV

That word for discouraged means to be or to become disheartened and hence lack motivation.   What causes bitterness in our child’s heart?  What things cause our son or daughter to become angry? Disheartened?

We should be experts on the answers to these questions - realizing that each kid is different.
Do we know when our child is disheartened, discouraged, losing hope, losing motivation?
Perhaps we don’t know.  Fair enough - let’s go find out.

 

Some important things to teach our children about the Lord

We are told in Ephesians 6 to bring our children up in the instruction of the Lord.

What are some important things to teach our children about the Lord?
There are SO many - which is why Christian fathers are designed to be experts in the Bible. That is our tool box for the proper care of our children’s hearts.

But here are some important things to teach our children about the Lord.
 

  1.  That God is a perfect, strong, loving and good Father who loves His children like crazy.
     
  2. That our God is a God of forgiveness.   And He has forgiven all their sins.  That’s what happened when Christ died on the cross - our sins were forgiven.
     
  3. That God is for them, not against them.
     
  4. That they have access to God 24/7 and they can cast all their cares and worries on Him, and He will give them mercy for the past and grace for today.
     
  5. That because of the Lord, their future is bright.

    And that means their childhood dreams really do come true....
    What was broken is made whole again.
    What was dirty is made completely clean.

    22 And He answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.  23 "Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me."  (LUK 7:22-23)


And those childhood fairy tales turned about to be telling the truth about life.

There really ARE happy endings.

Yesterday may not have turned out to be a happily ever after…
But most certainly now there is a fresh Once Upon a Time waiting for you from this day forward.

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  (EPH 2:1-7)

It is important that our kids hear from us how the Lord is kind and loving beyond their wildest dreams. 
How He will calm the worst storms in their life. And when it seems like nobody cares, the Lord will be there for them. He will never leave them or turn His back on them.  They are never alone.

Tell them that God’s thoughts for them outnumber the sands of the seashore.

TELL THEM these things!  Remind them of these things!

Explain that they are never alone, never forgotten.
They are wonderfully and fearfully made.
That God has counted each and every hair on their head.
And that when they are weak, God will give them the strength they need.
And that there is a throne for them to approach, with  Jesus Christ- the One who died for them- sitting there.    And that throne is open for their business 24 hours a day.
And gushing forth from that throne in rivers of living water….
Are rivers of mercy
And oceans  of grace.
Just
For
Them!

We Christian fathers are to be custodians of the grace of God in the lives of our children. We have a job that is challenging, but very rewarding.  We are to guard and do battle against bitterness, anger, and discouragement in the hearts of our children.

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (ROM 5:20-21)

 

The best defense is a good offense

How do we not do things that make our children lose heart?
In life, as in sports, it turns out that usually the best defense  - is a good offense.
What is the OPPOSITE of being discouraged?
It’s being ENCOURAGED!
You see, that is our unique calling as fathers, as parents.  Our unique job.  We dads are called by Jesus  to ENCOURAGE our children.

We are custodians of Bible words, God’s words,  that bring encouragement….confidence…hope…a sunny outlook on life…optimism….to our children.

And what John Wooden, the greatest college basketball coach ever, said one time is so on point here:
Young people need fewer critics, and more role models.

 

Tossing our kids in the air

After the assassination of President Kennedy, his young son, John John, asked William Haddad, an associate of JFK’s:  “Are you a daddy?”.  Haddad told him that he was.  In response, little John John said, “Then will you throw me up in the air?”

 

That’s fathers…
We encourage  our kids to soar and fly
And we catch them when they fall.

Optimism.  It’s a word we don’t hear enough about  these days.  But that gets at it. Let’s be optimistic - for our children’s sake. 

31 Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with  wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
(ISA 40:31)

Our children CAN make their way through this life.  Because God our Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  turns the curse into a blessing. The bad things -and there ARE bad things in our children’s lives - will eventually be worked together in our kids’ lives for good, and  by God Himself. God promises they will.  We need to keep reminding our children that God promises they will.  Keep reminding them about all  of the promises God has made to them.

He promises that our truly good things will never be taken from us - And He promises that the best things are yet to come!

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become  conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,

"FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;

WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED."

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (ROM 8:28-39)

So let’s  tell our kids these things .  Remind them of these things.  Best of all, realize that God has placed you in their life, and placed His words in your heart, so you can be the one who gladdens their heart.
So go ahead…..

Tell your kids they can fly.
Then toss them up in the air. 

Be there to catch them when they fall.

Toss them with  your arms if they are still small enough.
And with your heart no matter how big they are.
Definitely with your heart.

 

Until the next time, we’re all ….

In His grip,

Pastor John

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