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Archive for January, 2014

Isn’t Parenting Pursuing Intimacy By Not Pissing Children Off?

God-seekers and followers may look to the Bible for parenting advice. The Apostle Paul didn’t have to write a Letter to Parents because Scriptures is all about the Perfect Parent.  Parenting help is in every story written about God and His children. Advice from earthly parents can be valuable, but worldly wisdom doesn’t hold the same weight as heavenly wisdom. How do we best imitate God by translating heavenly parenting characteristics into earthly parenting applications? Our Creator seemed to have one main agenda from the very beginning.

God pursued intimacy by loving us unconditionally in hopes that obedience will follow. God allowed freedom, despite the risks, because God understood genuine intimacy could not be forced. Bible story after story reads of God’s active pursuit of our friendship despite our failures. Parents certainly can exist without any help from their children, but children can make life deeper and grander. Good luck to parents that think the kind of relationship they have with their child isn’t important in the parenting process.

How do parents pursue intimacy in hopes of having an influential relationship? Parents know children without guidance become more self-centered than selfless, but God wasn’t about power or control. God doesn’t force obedience. God attempts to inspire and influence us through who He is in hopes we follow in His footsteps. About all you will find explicitly about parenting is in Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21: “Parents, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” A modern translation is: “Parents, quit pissing your children off!” Parents understand how they provoke, incite, aggravate, hassle, needle, goad, irritate, inflame, rouse, and whip up young people.

Everything that your parents did that made you mad because it was not a moral issue, stop!  Imagine a world where parents did not anger their children unnecessarily. Imagine if every parent realized control freaks are never in control. Imagine if every parent never tried to live their dreams out in children. Imagine if every parent loved unconditionally daily, hating the sin but loving the sinner. Imagine if every parent never took advantage of his or her position of authority, always staying calm and never excusing verbal or physical abuse.

The relational consequences of embittering or provoking your children to wrath are greatest when children enter their teenage years. Parent must transition from caretaker to authority figure to mentor as a child matures. The mentor on occasion has to yield corrective authority, but a mentor is always looking to guide others toward learning lessons on his or her own. To mentor successfully, a parent must have a clear sense of what is right and wrong, making sure rules aren’t arbitrary or personal. Children aren’t to be possessed but raised to be independent. Parents owe children; children don’t owe parents. We chose to bring them in the world; they didn’t choose to be born. Don’t worry though. When you don’t try to possess or over control children, they often want to give back the love in return.

Morality is not in the way one dresses or the length of one’s hair, though I know kids can take it to the extreme. Be flexible. It does no good to win the battle but lose the relational war. The emphasis of rules should be on character issues such as treating other kids how they want to be treated or not breaking the law for civility reasons. Parents can play an important factor in their teenagers’ behaviors. All adults were once teenagers. They will testify there are certain behaviors their parents did that made matters worse. Wise parents are always looking for options to give so a child doesn’t feel provoked to rebel, always evaluating when to back off and allow the child to make their own decisions and experience failures when needed. I stink at allowing failure, unlike God, but I thought I would say it anyway.

Where does a parent start when realizing they need a stronger bond with their children? Decide on one specific positive action at a time in hopes of building positive momentum. Persist until the action you are attempting doesn’t work, then try something different. Do it because it is the right thing to do, regardless of whether your child praises your name for such actions. Seek out advice from those whose relationship with their child you respect. There are no magic answers in parents. But those who don’t have a relationship with their children are swimming upstream without a paddle due to the many negative influences in our cultures. Parents must spend time building a strong relationship with their children, so they might earn influence.

There are no guarantees in parenting. Parental success is not determined by whether children obey their parents. Many a parent has advised against drugs or other destructive behaviors, and through their relationship with their child gave them ever reason to obey. Children make unwise choices just like adults. Even God’s perfection did not guarantee success. My opinion of God as a Parent is that He doesn’t do things to piss us off. Parents, don’t give children excuses to not heed your advice. Parents, let’s quit pissing off our children by:

  • Abiding by the golden rule – Parents, live up to the standard internally you demanded of your parents when young by treating your children like you wanted to be treated. Don’t excuse your own yelling or hitting because you don’t have creative, calm consequences for certain behaviors. Loving confront your partner as well for such behaviors
  • Spending time spending time with children – Parents, spend quantity time with your children in order to have quality time. Spending time with God our Parent transforms
  • Encouraging children to live out their own dreams, not the parent’s – Parents, participate with your children in what they show curiosity in, helping them to believe they can succeed
  • Disciplining well – Parents, instruct and guide by being fair and forgiving. Parents admit their own wrongdoings and ask for forgiveness
  • Walking the talk – Parents, know young people don’t do what we parents say, they do what we parents do

Does It Matter How We Define God’s Sovereignty?

A Christian’s assumption about God’s sovereignty can cause further unbelief or despair among seekers they may influence. The word sovereign did not originate with the biblical languages. “Sovereign” doesn’t appear in the KJV translation, and the NIV version doesn’t define but often just replaces God with Sovereign and translates Lord God as Sovereign Lord.  Since sovereignty is not a biblical word, we can only surmise how God would define His sovereignty. Most believe that God has unlimited authority, power, or control over His creation; people simply have different ideas how the Bible portrays God using such power.

Many believe that the will of the Omnipotent can never be opposed or defeated. Thus, God must predestinate some to eternity without God since many obviously to not end up believing in God. Has Hell been created so God can supposedly win? The popular concept of hell, where God is involved in the endless torture of people, is not found in the Scriptures. Hell is not a translation but a substitution for certain Hebrew and Greek words. Certainbeliefs or interpretations are necessary to defend one’s assumption about God’s sovereignty.

The Bible implies God, unlike humans, doesn’t have to control to be in control. God, unlike other gods, does not approve the killing of infidels. The biblical accounts seem to confirm that God’s will is opposed and yet God remains sovereign. God declares He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (I Tim 6:15), but God clearly created freedom thus His will can be opposed. People are not free unless able to oppose God. Some solve evil and God’s goodness by suggesting God has limits, but I cannot imagine the Creator of the universe not being all powerful. The truth is God is not One who merely loves to rule but rules in love.

Traditional theists tend to define God’s sovereignty in terms of God’s invulnerability. Some suggest God’s predestined plan included good and evil to protect the idea that nothing can happen outside God’s will. If God created evil in the beginning, we are suggesting God is declaring evil good: “God saw all he had made, and it was very good” (Gen 1:31).   But, God says He hates evil (Prov. 6:16-19).  Who says something is good that they hate? When God says He is Love, is He really saying He is Hate? Genesis suggests evil originates with the thoughts of the human heart and this grieved God (Gen 6:5-6). Evil is not some grand scheme by God! To suggest God foreordained evil ahead of time to accomplish His good purposes and declare His glory is intellectually and morally indefensible.

Few if any traditional theists, who argue God’s will is always done, believe God eventually saves all. Thus, traditionalists must accept that God can’t win over a person’s heart eventually or that God originally never desired to spend eternity with all His children. The latter is not a plausible view of a loving God. Suffering in the world is often defended by arguing that God’s standard is perfection and we all fall short as sinners, so we are all unworthy. Any good is grace! Such rationalizations are totally unsatisfactory in understanding or explaining a loving God to others.

The Bible’s emphasis is much more on God’s vulnerability than deciding history and everyone’s actions in advance. God choose to respect individual freedom, thus there must be the opportunity to love as well as to hate. Besides, a genuine relationship is only possible if one is free to choose to return one’s love in return. The only way God could have stopped evil was to not have risked creating. Perhaps the biblical writers didn’t attempt to explain evil because they understood we live in a free, self-centered world. We may not know all the reasons for why God allows evil to continue or be so random, but we know one reason is not because God doesn’t love us as evidenced by sending Jesus. God forbid our disputable interpretations or understandings of God drive people to unbelief or despair.

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