I want to start here. This is not a place to be harsh and judgmental (which is easy in the throes of passionate discussion). I believe that we can have a discussion about these topics and do so in a way that is productive, which having and speaking from an attitude of judgement is not. So, as I said before, let's start with Jesus' words in Matthew 7.
"You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your bother's eye."
Judgement is essential to life. I must deem whether situations and persons are safe. I must determine critically whether my path with lead me to my desired destination. I must observe and think about the things people do and say in order to honor their actions and their intelligence. This means I just pass judgement, everyday. I must pass judgement may times a day, everyday. Judgement is essential to life and Christian life, in particular.
However, "judgmental-ism" is neither essential nor is it even Christ-like. When we look down our noses at people because they are different or "wrong," we walk away from the person Christ calls us to be.
Jesus doesn't say a blanket, "Don't judge." He ends this with saying, "... then you will see clearly to remove the speck..." He expects us to judge, but our attitude is everything in terms of judgement. If we come to others ignoring the sin or fault in our own lives or if we come with a spirit that is demeaning or belittling, we are sinning even further. We take over God's place as Judge. He is the one who determines right and wrong, not us. But, if we come with a spirit of grace and mercy, in order to lovingly help remove the faults in others (faults that we have in our own lives; it's another thing altogether to try and "help" people with things that you have no experience with or expertise in) then we are serving God by serving them. We carry another's burdens and love as Jesus loved.
It might not seem like it most days, but you're invited into your child's life. They want you to be a part of their lives! They NEED you to be a part of their lives.
Deut. 6:7 "Impress [the Laws of God] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
You see what God does there? He encourages parents to be a part of their children's lives... in every part of their lives. Not only does he encourage it, I believe he is shedding light on His design for how we are to parent our children.
Recently, I sprayed my back yard for what I call, "Sand Burrs." Most people I think just call them stickers or something like that. (They're the painful little spiked balls that get caught in you shoe laces at the park.) They had taken over in my back yard and Elliot couldn't play back there without getting several on his shoes and pants. Now, my yard looks like this:
So, I hope that you remember the first line from Caleb's Blogpost: Everything is meaningless.
This is not irregular. This is the norm. That same statement could be made by more than half of our twenty-to-thirty-year-olds.
A Sept. 2006 study by the Barna Group stated, "the most potent data regarding disengagement is that a majority of twentysomethings-- 61 percent of today's young adults-- had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged." (StickyFaith, Dr. Kara Powell and Dr. Chap Clark, pg. 213)
First, this stat tells me that we have been unsuccessful at discipleship with our own kids. It's doesn't say that we're bad parents or that we didn't do the best we could or knew how... it just says that we haven't been doing something that we MUST be doing as Christian parents.
Secondly, and I don't know about you, but that stat fires me up! It makes me want to do something! It makes me want to completely change anything and everything that I do as a parent and as a minister to reach the "OTHER HALF" of the youth in our church.
I don't think that we have specifically taught him to ever pray, we just have always prayed before bed and all of our meals. It's been a challenge at times. Keeping him from eating during our prayers and from trying to talk to us as we talk to God can make for very distracted prayers. However, some time back, after a prayer at one of our meals, he said, "Mine do it." He wanted to say a prayer. He prayed, "Dear God, Amen!"
It was GREAT! I was awestruck!
Vicki and I never asked him to lead the prayer, he just knows that's what we do. We've always prayed at meals and held hands as we did so. After a while, he would sit down with us and reach out for our hands. Then, he would reach for our hands and bow his head while closing his eyes. Now, he does both and waits to see who is saying the prayer. Most of the time, we ask him to say it.
I think this is how God designed this to go. It's all so logical! We provided an example as parents for him to follow and, naturally, he did. I don't think this only applies to prayers at dinner and bedtime. I think this is true for all aspects of passing on our faith to our children.
We must purposefully live as an example to our kids!
In the 1997 NBA Finals the Bulls were playing a tough fought game 6 against the Utah Jazz. Wtih 25 seconds to go, the score was tied at 86 and the Bulls had the ball for what everyone thought would be the final shot of the game. Everyone in the world thought that final shot would come from a guy named Michael Jordan (maybe you’ve heard of him). The shot went up and fell in for a 88-86 lead that ended in a 90-86 win and the 5th NBA Championship in 7 years for the Chicago Bulls. But, Michael didn’t take the game winning shot the point guard, Steve Kerr, took it and buried it. Steve Kerr was the hero of one of the best NBA Finals games in history.
This is a great lesson for us as parents! You see, everyone, including the coach, Jordan, and Steve Kerr expected Jordan to take the final shot. Kerr, after passing the ball off to Pippen, could have and maybe should have disengaged. He could have just stood away from Jordan to give him space and time to take the shot. BUT HE DIDN’T! He was fully engaged in the play! He got to a spot where Jordan could pass him the ball if he needed to pass and when Jordan did pass, Kerr took the shot he was presented and nailed it for a win.
We have to be this way as parents in all things with our kids, but especially when it comes to their spiritual lives! We must be ENGAGED! It’s easy to look to the church or the Youth Minister (see what I did there, made myself Michael Jordan in this illustration) and watch or disengage and let others do the work, but that’s not how God designed it! God gave your children to you for you to disciple and that has always been the plan!
Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”