Monday, January 25, 2010

Guilty of Grace

The Parable of the Lost Son from Luke 15, is in my opinion one of the greatest parables of the Bible. You can view the story from so many perspectives. You can put yourself into the shoes of the younger son, the older son and also the father. It was not too long ago that I felt I could not relate to the father very much, but now that I am a father I can totally feel his pain. To have a child reject you as their parent must hurt like nothing else.
Then on top of that pain a parent would probably heap guilt on themselves. They would wonder what they did to cause the child to reject them. They would wonder what could have been done differently. They would beat themselves up again and again.
It may not be as bad as our child leaving us, but there are other things that happen with our children that we heap guilt on ourselves for something that happened. We worry and fear that we will fail our children with decisions we make as we raise them. We want to the best we can, but there are times we miss the mark. And many times other people can't wait to let us know about it.
I believe God does not want us to live our parental lives buried in guilt or fear. God wants to free us from these feelings. (Some fear and guilt is good to let us know an issue should be taken seriously, but too much of it is harmful.) God wants us to be confident as parents of our children. Confident that God will use us to be the best parents we can be.
In the Parable of the Lost Son after the son leaves and comes back, the father openly welcomes his son home. We see the father show his son grace. However as a parent I also see the need for this father to have offered grace to himself because he could receive his son home. He had to stop asking himself what he had done wrong and trying to change the past. Instead he had to offer himself grace and hope for the future.
Parents, be willing to offer yourself grace, as well as offering grace to your children. Grace is amazing and can transform our relationships. So, be guilty of offering grace.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Purpose Driven Family

I have been struggling with this idea lately about leadership in my family. I read a book on leading your family with purpose and realized it was the first book of that kind that I have read. I have a whole shelf of books about leading a church or organization, but just one on leading my family. This book challenged me in this area because I spend so much time visioning and looking for clarity around the direction of my church, but I spend no time looking for direction for my family.
So, I want to get better at leading my family. I am planning to use the advice of the book I read, "The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family" by Patrick Lencioni. (I do not feel right putting the questions on the internet because I feel those belong to Lencioni, but if you talk with me I will share them with you.)
The first question helps you to know who your family is. It helps you discover the core values that are important to your family. This is significant in helping you know when to say "no". When an activity or request comes to your family you can ask if it fits with who you are. If it doesn't, then you can turn it down.
The second question is about what you need to focus on in your family at this time. What pressing issue needs to be your top priority for 2 to 6 months? This could be practical like cleaning the garage to be able to get a car into it, or getting your financial or physical health moving in the right direction. It could also be focusing on a relationship or behavior like potty training or helping a child through a tough transition.
After you come up with your focus and time line, then you come up with your defining objectives which tell what specifically you will do to address the issue. And you come up with standard objectives which remind you not to forget your core values.
The final question asks how you will continually keep these answers visible. You need to continue to remember who you are and what you want to accomplish. It is suggested that you have a ten minute meeting once a week to go over this information, decide how you are doing, and come up with what needs to be done to continue moving in the right direction.
This is just a quick overview of the book, so if you have questions let me know. Also if you would like some help setting up this form of leading your family I would be happy to help. Really it should only take an hour to answer and organize these questions into a helpful format, so that is not much time to give for your family to find its direction.
My prayer is that our families can gain some focus and receive the attention they deserve. Too many families are being separated and distracted as every individual goes their own way. Instead, we can grow as families, be a team, and work together for a common purpose.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Hero

I have a new hero. His name in Manoah and I did not know his name until just last week. Last week I found his story in Judges 13. Manoah is the father of Samson. An angel told his wife she would have a son. Once he heard this news he got on his knees and in verse 8 prayed for God to send back His messenger to teach him how to care for his coming son.
Manoah did not pretend like he would know what to do as a new parent. He did not just assume he would figure it out. Instead, he turned to God for guidance right away. I want to be like Manoah. He seems humble as he is willing to look for help. He seems confident in God's work because he turns to God for the help he needs. And I think he also seems to understand the magnitude of the calling to be a parent. If we really let the full weight of being responsible for another life settle in on us, we should be overwhelmed.
So, I hope my new hero will inspire me to have humility in my parenting, confidence in God's ability to work even through someone like me, and to know that only by God's grace can I fulfill my calling as a parent.
In response to this I would love for my blog to be a place for parenting questions and encouragement. Feel free to post questions you might have or have heard asked about parenting. I think encouraging one another is also important, so if you see some great parenting going on I would love to hear about that as well. Hopefully we can keep this going for the month of focusing on being better parents.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Discipleship Process

Jamison received many, many (too many) sets of Legos for Christmas. Half of them are Indiana Jones Lego sets and the other half are for Lego City. He loves putting together the buildings, cars and airplanes they are meant to create. The other day he spent probably 6 hours putting together a set that had nine bags of legos. The only break he took was when we made him eat supper. So far he does not imagine his own creation, but he follows the instructions very carefully. It is all laid out for him and he just goes through each step until it is done.
I want to help layout the simple instructions our church is using for a process of discipleship. These steps will lead anyone to a deeper relationship with God if they follow these steps.
1) Embrace Christ in worship
2) Experience Christ in small groups
3) Serve Christ in ministry
The place most people will start their journey of discipleship with us is in Sunday morning worship. Most people who connect to our congregation begin there. Then we encourage you to find a small group where you will learn about who Jesus is and God's calling in your life. Then we encourage you to find a place to serve God in ministry.
It is as simple as 1-2-3, but it also more complex than that. It is not 1-2-3 and I am done, but rather the process continues as you go deeper into each step. You can worship more fully. Your small group can dig deeper into God's Word. Your ministry can grow and transform the world.
In this new year, I encourage you to look at your discipleship journey. Where are you in the process? Are you still moving closer to God or have you been stuck for awhile? Take some time in prayer to see what next step you should take this year to become a better follower of Jesus.