Parents & Kids of Faith

  • Friday, July 15, 2011

    Question: To whom is baptism to be administered?
    Answer: Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance toward God, faith in and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ and to no other.
    Scripture: Acts 2:38; 8:12; 10:47; Matt 3:6; Mark 16:16


    The following is our counsel for those who are newly married, to help prepare them for parenting:

    Mess Test: Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains. Now rub your hands in the wet flower bed and rub on the walls. Cover the stains with crayons. Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there all summer.

    Toy Test: Obtain a 55-gallon box of Lego's. (If Lego's are not available, you may substitute roofing tacks or broken bottles.) Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a blindfold. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not scream. (This could wake a child at night.)

    Grocery Store Test: Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them with you as you shop at the grocery store. Always keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.

    Dressing Test: Obtain one large, unhappy, live octopus. Stuff into a small net bag making sure that all arms stay inside.

    Feeding Test: Obtain a large plastic milk jug. Fill halfway with water. Suspend from the ceiling with a stout cord. Start the jug swinging. Try to insert spoonfuls of soggy cereal (such as Fruit Loops or Cheerios) into the mouth of the jug, while pretending to be an airplane. Now dump the contents of the jug on the floor.

    Night Test: Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bag and fill it with 8 - 12 pounds of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water. At 8:00PM begin to waltz and hum with the bag until 9:00PM. Lay down your bag and set your alarm for 10:00PM. Get up, pick up your bag, and sing every song you have ever heard. Make up about a dozen more and sing these too until 4:00AM. Set alarm for 5:00AM. Get up and make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

    Physical Test (Women): Obtain a large beanbag chair and attach it to the front of your clothes. Leave it there for 9 months. Now remove 10 of the beans.

    Physical Test (Men): Go to the nearest drug store. Set your wallet on the counter. Ask the clerk to help himself. Now proceed to the nearest food store. Go to the head office and arrange for your paycheck to be directly deposited to the store. Purchase a newspaper. Go home and read it quietly for the last time.

    Final Assignment: Find a couple who already have a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve their discipline, patience, tolerance, toilet training, and child's table manners. Suggest many ways they can improve. Emphasize to them that they should never allow their children to run riot. Enjoy this experience. It will be the last time you will have all the answers.

    By Rick Thomas, Counseling Solutions

    In some ways Tab is your normal 8-year old.

    He laughs, plays, cries, …and gets in trouble.

    These are the things that kids do.

    Unfortunately, the “gets in trouble” part has only increased through the years.

    Rather than the normal process of walking a kid through his various sin patterns, Tab’s sin patterns have only escalated and become more complicated. His parents, from all appearances, love God and are faithful to the contexts of their local church. They faithfully attend their corporate meetings, seek hospitality opportunities, participate in small group gatherings, and attend their church-wide family fun days.

    I met with Luke and Clarissa at the local Starbucks to talk through some of their parenting challenges with Tab.

    While they were more interested in what may be “wrong with Tab,” I was more concerned about them, particularly in the area of modeling the Christ-life before Tab.

    I have found that in many cases with parents, the focus goes too quickly to the disruptive or rebellious child and they by-pass an essential step in the whole parenting model. That step is fleshed out by asking something like:

    What is your relationship with the Lord like and how are you practically living it out on a day-to-day basis inside your home?

    If you don’t ask this question and even press the issue to draw out more data, then there is a good chance you will not be able to serve them in their long-term parenting goals.

    It would be like trying to make a car go, but not realizing there is no engine under the hood. The parents are the “engine” that make the family go and if they are not right, then there is little hope for the family to move toward any satisfying God-centered goals.

    Low-grade anger
    One of the things that quickly became apparent was that both Luke and Clarissa are angry parents. When I first brought this up, they were immediately reluctant to embrace my assessment. They had a narrow interpretation of what anger meant and they did not see themselves fitting within my interpretation.

    After I explained to them a more biblical interpretation of anger, then they sadly agreed that they are angry parents. Here are some “angry words” that did not fit within their narrow interpretation:
    • Impatience
    • Frustration
    • Slander
    • Dismissiveness
    • Irritation
    • Bitterness
    • Condemning
    • Criticism
    • Gossip
    • Aggravation
    • Apathy
    • Self-righteousness
    • Stubbornness
    • Lecturing
    • Exasperation
    • Hand gestures
    • Raising the voice
    • Rolling of the eyes
    • Huffing under the breath
    • Silent treatment
    At my wit’s end
    Clarissa is an overworked stay-at-home-mom. She is tired during her waking moments and rarely rests well during her sleeping moments. Most of the time she “manages” her anger, with only a few of what she called “loud moments” during the week.

    Luke is a discontented and overworked production worker for GE. He feels as though he missed his “calling” somewhere back in time, but when pressed on what his calling should be, he could not come up with anything. He’s discontented, or as he knows now, he is an angry man.

    There are many times during their week when their anger comes to the surface and one of the more consistent times is when Tab messes up. For them, though they would not have said it this way before we met, it is just one more thing and there is no more room for one more thing in their frenetic lives, so there is a “blow-up” that is usually directed toward something Tab has done.

    I’m not saying that these “blow-ups” are major on the volatile scale, but they are major on the disappointment scale. And it is their disappointment that is tripping Tab up at the level of his heart.

    The dynamics of anger
    The key that Luke and Clarissa are missing is what their anger is producing in Tab’s heart. Tab’s desire has always been to please his parents. He was more optimistic about it when he was younger than he is now. At this time he is more exasperated than hopeful (Ephesians 6:4).

    Key Truth: If you sin in response to someone’s sin then you are, in that moment, disqualified from helping that person through their sin.

    Let me illustrate through a parable: A boy falls down. A man does the “big splash” on top of the boy who fell down. The boy who fell down is now more concerned about the man who jumped on him rather than the fact that he initially fell down. The first order of business is to get the man off of him.

    The parable explained: To sin is to fall down. This is what Tab does. Then Luke (or Clarissa) sin in response to Tab’s sin. When you sin in response to someone sinning, it is the equivalent of jumping on top of them. In that moment, the one who was jumped on will be more concerned about the one who jumped on him than the reason he fell down. Tab can’t do anything about his own fall until his parents stop complicating the matter by “jumping on him.”

    Bringing it home
    Fortunately, the light went on in both parent’s heads. They are humble. They got it. They knew what they had been doing. Whenever they sinned in response to Tab’s sin, their sin “put Tab on his heels.” Tab was afraid he was not going to please them. In some cases, he was fearful of what his dad might do if his dad really blew-up.

    In football it is similar to “piling on.” That is when a player is already tackled by the opposing team, but another player from the team jumps on the pile. Because of this, Luke and Clarissa could never appropriately deal with Tab’s sin issues, whatever they may be.

    Tab would immediately go on the defensive, tighten-up, or shutdown as a matter of self-preservation. Sometimes he would even lie about what he did. He was scared. All he could sense in those moments was that someone was mad at him and that was enough to cause him to put up a wall that was not conducive to a grace-filled conversation about his sin.

    First Steps
    #1 – The first thing Luke and Clarissa had to do was accurately describe what was going on with them when Tab sinned or disappointed them in some way. Thankfully, they owned their sin. They began to define it for what it was.

    #2 – Now that they knew what they were doing, they could begin to address their hearts as to why they were angry. Their anger was not because of Tab. Their anger was because of something broken in their individual relationships with God.

    #3 – Of course they did not become perfect in their reactions to Tab, but the difference now was that the gift of repentance had come to their home. Whenever they sinned, regardless of whether it was against Tab or not, they worked through the process of personal, marital, or parental repentance.

    #4 – They began regularly encouraging Tab when he got things right. Rather than primarily de-motivating him through disappointment, they began to motivate him through encouragement.

    #5 – They invited Tab to speak into their lives regarding their sin. They asked him specific questions about his observations regarding their behavior and how they could “do it better.” Tab began to feel and experience their affection and trust.

    #6 – When the times came to correct Tab for his sins, if the parents “piled on,” they quickly repented before addressing his sin. They developed the habit of addressing the log in their eye, before addressing the speck in Tab’s eye (Matthew 7:3).

    #7 – In time their home became a culture of mutual encouragement. It was easy to talk about sin because the Gospel was the overarching focus and the undergirding theme of their home.

    Through humble personal repentance, Luke and Clarissa “re-qualified” themselves to parent Tab. They rarely “piled on” anymore. Instead of two sins to deal with, they could graciously interact with just Tab’s.


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