February 2016 Posts

Being a Parent

If you have children, you have a high-intensity, high-risk, high-reward discipleship environment right at home with the little ones God has entrusted to you.[1] As a parent, you have live-in disciples who are going to become just like you – whether you like it or not. Sometimes I watch my kids when they start misbehaving and wonder where they picked that up. Then I look in the mirror and realize they learned that from me!

When it comes to discipling kids, parents need to recognize the priority of their role in this regard.[2] The Scriptures teach us that parents should be the hub of discipleship in the life of a child. At the breakfast table, when driving the kids to soccer practice, when making their lunches, when they’re getting ready for school, parents should take point on the spiritual development of their children.

Unfortunately, we live in a world that outsources. We hire out services and assume that by paying the professionals we are taking advantage of their expertise, and thus receiving a better product. So we hire a mechanic, hire an electrician and hire a pastor. But God does not care about your ability to change your oil or rewire a GFI plug. He is, however, very interested in your investment into the spiritual life of the children He has entrusted to you. Children are a gift from the Lord[3] that He has graciously placed in your care. We are to train and discipline our children that they might be more like Jesus.[4] We cannot outsource this responsibility.

So invest in the spiritual life of your child. Share with them what you are reading. Pray for them. Show them what God is teaching you in His Word. Help them come to understand the gospel (grace alone, faith alone, in Christ alone). Model for them faithfulness to your spouse. Attend church regularly as a practical discipline of experiencing community together. Let them see you living in relationships with others who hold you accountable and support you in your walk with the Lord. Invest your time in the things of God and help them reorient their lives toward others as well.

These are all powerful deposits that are made into the life of a child. You don’t need to have the answers, but you need to help them see Christ in you. That is your responsibility. That is being a parent.

[1] Psalm 78:1-8
[2] Deuteronomy 6:6-9
[3] Psalm 127:3
[4] Psalm 22:6

Watch Over Your Heart: A Closer Look at Proverbs 4

What does it mean to watch over your heart? Proverbs 4:23 tells the reader to do just that:

Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
– Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)

The heart is the root of emotion. It is the seat of desires. It is the place where passion is born and where every action finds its origin – thus the admonition to watch over your heart.

Your heart is influenced by input. The things you watch, listen to and interact with directly influence the state of your heart. From a spiritual standpoint, what’s going on at the heart level will eventually show in life. It cannot be hidden or covered. It will eventually come out.

If your heart is full of the things of God, that cannot be hidden either. If your input is godly and your heart is full of the Lord, then your life will reflect that.

As in water face reflects face,
So the heart of man reflects man.
– Proverbs 27:19 (NASB)

However, our steps are not guaranteed to be honoring to the Lord. Obedience is still a choice and the outworking of the heart is often full of challenges.

Proverbs 4 continues, challenging us to be diligent to watch over our hearts, but then to also watch over the outworking of the heart in life. And from this guarding of the heart, three cautions arise:

  1. Watch what you say.
  2. Watch what you see.
  3. Watch what you do.[1]

Not only do these reflect the state of your heart, they also serve as potential inputs. If you want your life to reflect Christ, being mindful of these three potential inputs is a great place to start. They serve as indicators and warning signs. If what you say, see and do are honoring to the Lord, it indicates a right heart. However, if what you say, see or do is dishonoring to the Lord, it reveals a heart in need of the transforming power of the gospel.

The truth is this is a fluid process. You will have your victories and defeats, but the end goal is a greater awareness of what God is doing in your heart and how that is being played out in the world around you.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • What is the status of your heart? Have you thought about that lately? If not, take a few moments and dig a bit. What do you sense on the inside? Is there an abiding peace with the Lord or are you in disarray on the inside? If you find yourself struggling, turn to the Lord and invite him into the chaos. Remember, Jesus is Lord of creation and has the ability to calm the storms of life – even the ones in your own heart.
  • What do you say? What do your language, tone and content of speech say about your heart? We are called to show love for one another and to speak in a way that builds others up. How are you doing in the battle with your tongue?
  • What do you see? Are the things you are watching honoring to the Lord? It’s worth exploring the very root of desire that causes you to “want” to look at the things that have your attention. What is driving the desire to see what you are seeing? Is it to honor the Lord or are you driven by the flesh? If what you are looking at, or the very desire to look is not brought into submission to the Lord, you are fighting a losing battle. Invite the Lord into your temptation and see if He will help move your desires to other things.
  • What do you do? Actions and environments speak volumes of the state of the heart. What do you find yourself doing and where do you find yourself going? If the places you invest your time are not influencing you toward Christ, why are you there? If the circumstances in which you find yourself are not moving you to Jesus, find other environments to invest in. If bad company corrupts good character,[2] find people and places that fill your heart with godliness.

[1] Proverbs 4:24-27
[2]1 Corinthians 15:33