Parents & Kids of Faith

  • Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Question:  What is the sixth commandment?
    Answer:  The sixth commandment is “You shall not murder.”
    Scripture:  Ex 20:13

    (Maybe this really happened)

    Deb and I were watching Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs with our three youngest grandsons, as they were seeing it for the first time. The wicked queen appeared, disguised as an old lady selling apples, and the boys were spellbound. Then Snow White took a bite of the poisoned apple and fell to the ground unconscious. As the apple rolled away, Isaac, our 6-year-old grandson, spoke up. "See, Grandma. She doesn't like the skin either."

    By Tedd Tripp

    Teenagers need grand and glorious things in their lives. They are idealists and need grand and ennobling things for which to live. But parents too often focus on the do’s and don’t’s of daily living together and fail to point teens to the truly great things in life. If we are to be successful in influencing our teens in a godly manner, we must keep things (even the struggles) in their place and focus on the big picture that God gives us. Struggles of both teens and parents look different and play out differently when we keep them in perspective.

    In this article, we’ll consider ways to give our teens biblical ways of understanding and interpreting their world. We will put the big picture of God’s glory in front of them.

    We Live in a Fallen World
    Our teens face hard things. Teens know what it’s like to be gossiped about, dissed, excluded, betrayed, rejected. They face rejection and attacks from people because they live in a fallen world. They get serious sports injuries. They fail to get into a school play, to make the team, to get accepted by their first choice college. They live with parents who let them down and siblings who are selfish. But even greater than to escape from these troubles is to know God. To know God in the midst of all the turmoil of life, to know God, to be a person who dwells in the presence of God, to be a person who is set on a rock by God, to be a person who is above the fray and above the storm because you are bound in this relationship with God—that’s what you’re made for. Everything within you that wants life to make sense and be filled with meaning is ultimately designed to center on God. The psalmist describes God with beautiful word pictures. Listen to the richness of these words.

    Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens.Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
    Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, Your justice is like the great deep.
    O LORD, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is Your unfailing love!
    Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
    They feast on the abundance of Your house.
    You give them drink from Your river of delights.
    For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.” (Ps. 36: 5-9)

    We need to help our children to learn how to feast on the abundance of God. Our consistent message for our teenagers is always, “Don’t exchange the truth for a lie and worship created things rather than the Creator. You’re made for God. Life is found in knowing God. Life is not found in the abundance of possessions. It’s not found in going places and doing things. You were made for God. And that God is beautiful, safe, generous, dazzling.”

    Interpret Life in Reference to God
    Your teenagers long for something that answers the question, “What is life worth living for? What matters?” They long for a cause that is beyond simply slogging it out day by day. You and they, as God’s people, have available the one authentic thing—that for which we are made—a view of the glories and excellencies of God.

    Modern evangelicalism rarely talks about the glory of God. Salvation simply becomes a saving transaction when we pray the “sinner’s prayer” and we get our tickets punched for heaven. But the heart of the gospel is not just that we get to go to heaven when we die. The heart of the gospel is this glorious God. The proclamation of salvation is the proclamation of the glory of God (Ps. 96:3). Life is found in understanding who I am as His child, redeemed by Christ. I am made for Him. I will find fellowship and meaning in life as I find Him. The heart of the “of the kingdom” is the King. That’s the most important truth that your teenagers need to understand. Those big truths are worth living for and sacrificing for. There’s a reason to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions. Great things about God will move our kids to nobility. They will become people who live extraordinary lives because they have gotten hold of the wonderful God.

    Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matt.13:44). That treasure absolutely dazzled him. “Nothing else in life matters. I must have that field!” That’s what God is to be for our teenagers, as for us. Part of your calling as a parent every day is to give your children reasons to know our marvelous God.

    Interpret Life Circumstances in Reference to God
    We must interpret our life circumstances in reference to God. Why? Because no one lives out of the circumstances of life. We live out of how we interpret those circumstances and how we respond. We must interpret in order to know how to respond. The key to right interpretation of the circumstances of life is the person and character of the God of the Bible. You can’t interpret life properly without this God. The only thing that will enable our teens to interpret life properly is to be dazzled by God. The more they are dazzled by possessions, friendships, relationships, skills, achievements, the less they are equipped to interpret life correctly. When we prize what is of no ultimate value above what is ultimately valuable, we can’t interpret life correctly. Part of our calling is to help our teenagers go through life and interpret the circumstances and conditions of life correctly.

    We have a marvelous illustration of that in the life of Joseph. Think about Joseph’s life experience. Terrible things happened to him throughout his life. He was repeatedly betrayed. But at the end of his life, he could say to his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant good to bring about saving many people” (Gen. 45:5-7) What kept Joseph from becoming a bitter, angry, cynical, hardened man? Why didn’t he take revenge upon his brothers when he had the opportunity? Because he had a clear lens through which he interpreted his life experience: the glory of the God of the Bible. If you want your children to interpret life correctly, you have to give them a dazzling vision.

    We must interpret our circumstances in relation to God because no one sins from duty. We sin from pleasure. Part of our task is to help our teens understand that the pleasures of sin are fleeting. Solid joys and lasting pleasures belong to the people of God. As Augustine said, “We were made for God and will be restless until we find our rest in Him.”

    If we are going to hold this vision out for our teens, then we have to be dazzled by God ourselves. You can’t give away what you don’t have. We have to be people who continually keep God before us. We must interpret our lives through the lens of the glory and wonder of who He is. We need to be people who are dazzled ourselves so that our hearts overflow with the wonder of the glory of God.

    In my observation, from speaking with thousands of mothers and fathers, parents rarely hold out the glory and wonder of God for their teens. Instead, they feed teen idols by giving them an over-abundance of material things. Families don’t even have time to have meals together, let alone have prayer or family worship. Outside activities keep us running in all directions. The people of God track right along with those in our culture who search for meaning and fulfillment in a mad pursuit of performance, possessions, or pleasures. Somewhere down the line we have to conclude that life is not found in those things. It’s found in knowing and loving God. You and I need to be people who are dazzled by God ourselves so that our hearts overflow when we talk to our teens. Don’t exchange the truth for a lie by worshiping and serving created things rather than the Creator.

    The Christian life begins with glory. Paul tells us that God caused His light to shine into our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge and glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). When we see the face of Christ, we’re dazzled. We say, “I must know this Christ” and we come to faith. Until then, we are blind (2 Cor. 4:4). “And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which come from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18) The word “reflect” actually means “meditate, contemplate, behold.” We behold. We meditate. We contemplate on the Lord’s glory and we are transformed into His likeness.

    Do you know how you stay dazzled with the glory of God? Behold Jesus Christ. He transforms us into His likeness. You experience the nearness to God when you bring Christ before you. The more you contemplate, the more you meditate on Him, the more you besiege your mind with truths about Him, the more you watch Him in action in the gospels, the more you know Him. As I behold the glory of Christ, I see that this is what I’m made for. This is where life is. If I behold Christ, I am transformed.

    Your teenagers need something worth living for that is worth dying for. Only one thing is that big: our wonderful God. No matter how much you might feel like a blind person tapping with a cane, try to find your way to show your teens the glory of God. You’ll help them make wise choices. They can’t make wise choices without understanding who God is. They can’t understand what life is about without understanding who God is. They can’t be wise in friendships or circumspect in behavior without understanding who God is. Give them a vision of our dazzling God.

    Tedd Tripp is Senior Pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.


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