Identity Through the Eyes of a Nine Year Old

Identity Through the Eyes of a Nine Year Old

Identity conversation with a nine year old

Date

January 13, 2023

Categories

Parenting

One of the highlights of my week is driving my daughter to her ballet lesson. I enjoy the time with her, our conversations, and honestly, treating her to a slurpees afterwards. What follows is a sneak peak into one of our recent conversations. All of our conversations are not like this. But it is in having lots of average conversations that we get the ones that are particularly gratifying. I offer this as an encouragement to parents with younger children that their kids can begin to do commerce with their identity in Christ.

Eric: How did you day go?

Ella: I helped mom with Isabella. (Isabella is a 4 year old that Leslee sometimes babysits).

Eric: How did that go?

Ella: She arrived loud, angry, and crying. It was really hard.

Eric: What did you learn about yourself through that?

Ella: I don’t like to help.

Eric: How does Jesus help you help mom with Isabella?

Ella: He died for my sin.

Eric: Ok. How does Jesus dying for your sin help you help mom?!

Ella: Because he died for my sin, I should be able to put up with Isabella.

I doubt that my daughter fully grasps the full meaning of what she said, but, that does not concern me. She is LEARNING to THINK like a new creation in Christ!

For more encouragement:
The Ology by Marty Machowski
Three Essential Truths We Need To Tell Our Kids

What is the Goal of Parenting?

What is the Goal of Parenting?

parenting goals

Date

January 13, 2023

Categories

Parenting

Few emotions are harder to deal with than betrayal. Whether a child completely rejects our faith or passionately disagrees on some secondary issue, almost all parents feel some degree of betrayal.

We all know conscientious, faithful parents who have raised their children a certain way only to see their children reject those beliefs—and we share in their pain. The pain is not merely personal. We also mourn—and worry about—the multiplex of consequences that these decisions might render in the lives of our children.

Even when it is a relatively small issue, we can feel hurt and react strongly. We raise our children to believe a certain way and to do certain things and we can feel crushed when they decide differently.

Challenging Conversations

Recently, Leslee and I were engaged in conversations with some of our adult children that brought us face-to-face with a little taste of these feelings.

Some of the issues discussed were practical. Others were of secondary theological importance. We were having trouble getting them to see—and accept—our point of view. Ultimately, we reached the conclusion that in a few cases, our children did not fully agree with us. Note: this was harder for me than Leslee.

There was a time when based on what I had been taught by people who purported to know THE right thing to do in practically every situation, I might have said, “You’re wrong! We are your parents and you have to do what we say because the Bible says so!” Over the years, I have had that thought motivating what I said, if I did not spew those exact words. But this time by God’s grace and mercy, I didn’t do that, but my displeasure while veiled to the kids was clear to Leslee—and she addressed this with me later that day.

The Gospel Comes to the Rescue

My point in this article is to share how the gospel message, namely, my identity as a new creation in Christ helped restore me and also reminded me the goal of parenting which in those conversations I struggled to remember.

Why Parents Argue With Their Children

First, let’s answer the question, why do we argue? James 4 says warring desires are the reason we argue. As parents, the uncomfortable truth is that we often argue because we (although we usually don’t realize it in these moments) are fighting for righteousness. It is easy to find identity in our children, especially when they do well in life. We love that feeling of spiking the ball when sharing our children’s successes with others. Conversely, we tend to be silent or evasive about their failures because they feel like our own. When reality does not meet our dreams, we can easily slouch into thinking that our parenting report cards (our righteousness) reveal a less than average or even, failing grade. As Paul Tripp says, “Parenting is a miserable place to look for identity.”

What is True?

So, who are we as imperfect, poorly performing parents? We are perfect in Jesus. Our righteousness is completely provided and sealed in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. No amount of failure as individuals or parents erases that. No amount of success enhances it either. Where we have blown it, we are forgiven (1 John 1:9). In fact, we have the promise of Romans 8:28-30 that all things work for good. This promise encompasses our failures (and those we perceive in our children) because God is God and he keeps his promises. What we do still matters. We can’t give up. This message compels us to re-engage the battle.

All of this is the essence of what Leslee told me after the conversations I mentioned. Honestly, at the time I was irritated because I knew she was right and that I needed to hear it. But it was the truth, humbly and graciously spoken at the right moment. God promises in John 8:32 that the truth shall set you free. But the truth of our union with Christ is more than the truth that frees us from our poor parenting grade. It is really the purpose of parenting to begin with.

Truth is What we Teach our Children

As parents, we seem to end up whether we know it or not, approaching our task as one of molding our children in our image—or some more glorified image we have conjured up. We envision good-looking kids, who have at least a B+ average, the best manners, getting culturally respectable jobs and marrying spouses that we hope were raised better than they were. We prefer trophies but settle for above average. But does God even care about that?

Man looks at the outward appearance. God looks at the heart. A child can look different from our ideal but still have a passionate heart for God. I need to hear that, and so do most Christian parents. It is a heart for God that is most important to him. How does God change the heart of a child from an idolater to one whose heart loves and seeks after him? The same way he does for us.

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). He became sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21). God has brought us into an irrevocable, gracious, loving, eternal relationship with himself through Jesus Christ. We are in Christ. Therefore, we have a new identity. We are new creations in Christ; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). We are new creations with new life, now. Clearly, we are not perfect and will never be without sin in this life because we are in between the already and the not yet. But what defines us, assures, and motivates us to live more like we are in Christ, is solid as a rock.

Truth Produces Joy

The joy of this good news is unsurpassed by almost anything else in the Christian life. The tragedy is that it is little talked about around the dinner table because we are all so busy with our own little worlds that we fail to take time to collect its life-giving nectar. It is tragically overlooked in our devotional practices. It does not impact our minute-by-minute decisions like it should. When we hear it proclaimed to us, it does not stop us; it rarely registers as anything since it can feel like church jargon. But it is the wisest counsel; it is the truth we desperately need. The confidence we gain from this truth is the rocket fuel the Holy Spirit uses to animate our faith in pursuit of Christlikeness.

We and Our Children Need the Same Message

God is good. He is good to us and he is good to our children. We and our children need a solidly passionate focus on the grace we have been given in Christ. As this is our focus, we, through our Helper are better able to navigate the difficult conversations and seasons of discontent with humility, grace, and confidence.

We can win and still lose if we try and force our children to agree with us on everything. We can lose and still win when this fundamental truth defines and compels us.

Our riches in Christ, exercised by daily faith through the Holy Spirit, are what free us to live more like Jesus. We need to help our children do commerce with those riches so that they make their choices in all matters of life from the victorious position of who they are in Christ.

This is not fairy dust but powerfully practical because it meets them at the crux of every problem: desires. Our desires are formed out of an understanding of who we are. When we’re reminded of who we are in Christ, that he has already given us what we need in our union with him, we are satisfied with him and not trying to suck the life that only Christ can give from everything and everyone around us. I, along with my children, need to learn this fundamental reliance on him, and not anyone, or anything else.

We Are Never Betrayed

As I bring this article to conclusion, I think back to the conversations I mentioned at the beginning—I realize that I really have no good reason to feel betrayed because despite my insecurity, I am rooted in Jesus Christ. Ultimately, my mental well-being, my “grade” in anything is not earned by anything other than Jesus. I am free from my own self-condemnation and the judgement of others (1 Corinthians 1:10-17).

On Judgement Day, I think I would be disappointed to hear my Savior say, “Well done, Eric. You have convinced you children of your secondary opinions.” When I’m thinking as a new creation, I know I would much rather hear, “Well done, Eric! You have faithfully shown your children the riches of my Beloved Son.”

We have many resources to help, start here:
Step 1- Rediscover

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Indicative/Imperative

These Two Words Will Change Your Life

These Two Words Will Change Your Life

Does the bible contradict itself

Date

November 22, 2022

Categories

Home

When was the last time someone thanked you for something you did for them? Were you surprised? —”Wow, I had no idea what I did meant so much to them.”

When was the last time you thanked someone for something they did for you? If you’re convicted by the last question, do not fell put upon! That is me. That is all of us.

What I want to share with you is not a typical Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving message (I’m not kicking dust on ole Norman). But it is something that I hope will be a great encouragement to you and lead to greater joy in Christ—which is what I want to be about.

My main point is simply this: when we say, “thank you!” we bless others, and receive a blessing back in the form of a changed life. Here’s how this happens in three steps.

STEP ONE – Practice saying, “Thank you!”

Given human nature, it is safe to say that our natural tendency is toward entitlement rather than thankfulness. Sometimes, “thank you” is not reflexive but something we have to remember to say—or to say well. For example, as parents, we know how hard it can be to get our children to say thank you for a gift from a friend or grandparent. I suppose in this way our children are more like us than they are unlike us, but I digress.

Over time, saying those two words and penning handwritten notes create an awareness that we each have been given much more than we realize. We have taken a lot for granted. It is not only decent but healthy to practice saying “thank you” for everything from a Christmas gift, a good deed, a word of encouragement, personal concern voiced, or even for an enduring friendship.

STEP TWO – Grow in gratitude

Over time, as we practice saying “thank you”, we become more grateful people because we realize how dependent on each other we really are. Little things: the words of encouragement, the times given for impromptu conversations at desperate moments, the simple meals with a friend, the many “I’ll pray for yous” about your scary doctor’s appointment, financial or marital struggles matter. These and so many more blessings we enjoy take on much greater meaning. And this is where it really gets good!

As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we enjoy a huge benefit. We begin to see how God is really the One who is behind all of our blessings. God is behind every act of kindness we receive because he is love. Giving was his idea because that is who he is. He is the giver and redeemer of life. He is at work in all our lives, making us more like him as we are woven together as one in Christ through his Holy Spirit. This is a joyful thing to see happen.

STEP THREE – Let joy change you

Our joyful response to seeing God’s love poured out to us through others, quite frankly changes us. Here’s how. God’s love is reflexive. It has the effect of causing us to love others (see 2 Corinthians 5:11-21). Growing in being others-centered represents Christ-like change. Gratitude causes us to see ourselves as the truly unworthy recipients we really are. This gives us joy! God loves me so much that he has put people in my life who genuinely care about me and who will help. We become what the world is desperately seeking but that apart from Jesus, will struggle to ever find: people who really care about others—no matter who they are.

Say thank you to someone this Thanksgiving. Say thank you to someone the day after Thanksgiving, and on January 11, March 3, July 21, and September 15 (i.e. every day!) Doing so cultivates a grateful attitude that will not only spawn new and deeper relationships. It will increase your joy and also change your life.

As I close this Thanksgiving article, I want to say, “thank you!” to you, our faithful audience. Some of you are new to the ministry, some have been with us for years. All are a blessing to our family. As you listen to our humble attempts at podcasts and support the ministry through donations and prayers, you have meant so much. We look forward to walking into the new year with you and growing in the joy of the gospel, together. Happy Thanksgiving!