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Happy Father’s Day

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Allow me to take the time today to say Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!  I could take the time to say what wonderful grandfathers I have…I have the best grandpas!  I could tell you how richly blessed I am with such a tremendous father-in-law…God smiled on me there!  But truly, I only have one dad!  And God definitely blessed me with the best!

I came across a poem that probably defines my relationship with my dad perfectly.  It is titled ‘A poem about my Daddy!’…

I drive you nuts,
I’ve turned you grey,
I’ve made you proud,
I’ve spent your pay.
I’ve stressed you out,
I’ve hurt you bad,
I’ve made you laugh,
I’ve sent you mad.
I’ve made you smile,
I’ve made you sob…

Now I know I wasn’t anywhere close to being the perfect son!  I can attest to what I put my dad through, as I raise my children.  I see so much of myself in them.

As I look over the last 35 years of my life and the impact my dad has had on me, so many different things come to mind.  The many times he’s been done wrong, and yet he still stood strong.  Watching him go through a trial no parent should have to face, losing a child to cancer, and yet remaining strong and being there for mom and myself.  Watching him labour diligently pastoring a church in a town, where many other men would have given up, yet boldly pressing forward.

I could continue on and on, and run out of words to describe my dad, but I will close with saying, I am who I am today, because of a dad who set such a great example for me.

I love you dad!

 

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A letter to the younger me…

I recently hear a question that got me to thinking.  If you were to write a letter to the younger you, what advice would you give to yourself?  While I understand that there is no going back to change choices and decisions one has made, and there is no way to go a different path in your past, wisdom from our experiences has a definite potential to help others to make better choices!  Do we not owe that to the next generation?

My letter to the younger me:

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Dear me,

You are young!  You don’t know everything!  Take time to sit and listen to the elders.  There is such a benefit to listening…don’t speak…just absorb the knowledge you can receive from their conversations.  Learn from them, respect them, serve them…one day you will be able to draw from their knowledge.

While you are in school, take the time to study.  Focus on getting good grades.  You only get one chance, so make it count.  Those good grades will help you get scholarships.  Find a good college and go.  Get a degree!  Don’t plan on waiting…when you wait you won’t go back!  And if you do, it will be much harder!  What’s another four years right now?  If you don’t, then one day, that piece of paper will be the only think that holds you back from getting a good job.  Get a degree that will help you to get a job making a decent wage.

Pay attention in piano…and practice, practice, practice!  It may be easier to pick out the notes, and play by ear, but one day you will wish you had practiced more when given the chance.  Most people either play by note, or play by ear, but if you can do both there is no stopping you!

Learn to live with less.  We live in a society that feels the need to have excess.  You can be happy with less.  One day you will wake up and realize that.  Learn it now, and save the money, and years later, you will have the money, and not the junk.

In everything you do, give it your best.  There is no point in taking the time and energy to work on something, if you don’t do your best.  Someone else will then have to come behind you and correct your mistakes, and that will tarnish your reputation and creditability.  In all that you do, give it the best of your ability.

One thing you definitely don’t struggle with…keep on reading!  Books are investments!  Keep reading them…don’t stop reading them!

One more thing…go easy on your parents.  One day you will have kids, and you will understand your parents much better.  They are doing their best to make you a better man…respect that!

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My Child and Church

Matthew 19:14  But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

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I recently had a conversation with someone on children and church.  My opinion has always been, my children belong IN church!  A lot of churches have nurseries available, so a parent can drop their child off, enjoy the service, pick their child back up, and go home.  When our children were still young, a group of parent in our church wanted to start a nursery in our church.  My wife and I discussed it, and decided our children would not be in the nursery.  It has nothing to do with whether or not we trusted the nursery staff, as we definitely did trust them!  The issue, is that as parents, we have a tendency to take the easy way out.  It’s much easier to let the children play, while we attend service!  But the question is, what are the children learning?  While the nursery may sing some songs, have a short story time, and obviously play time, is this teaching our children to sit and listen to the preaching, to participate in the service, to sing, or to behave during the service???

Our children are MUCH smarter than we give them credit for.  Children learn quite quickly, if I fuss and cry, mom and dad will take me out and let me play.  At the same time, children will very quickly, if I fuss and cry, mom and dad will take me out, punish me, and bring me back into church!  It is much easier if I sit quietly and don’t have to get taken out of church!

Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Joshua 24:15  …as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Train your children to serve God…to come to church…to stay in church…to respect the church…to participate in church!

And while I’m on my ‘soapbox’…keep in mind, children learn by example!
Do you participate in the service?
Do you praise?
Do you follow along, or do you play on your cell phone?
Do you get behind the preacher?
Do you respond to the altar call?
Do you make sure you are in church when the doors are open?

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Discipline

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Have you ever noticed…it can seem like everyone is an expert on how you should raise your kids.  And especially, those who have no kids.  I can remember my pre-children days…I would see children horribly misbehaving (from my point of view), and would boldly think to myself…’my children will NEVER act like that’!  And then…my wife and I had children!

Parenting can be a struggle some days!  You can at times get that overwhelmed feeling!  But then when they’re sound asleep, you quietly slip in their room, and watch them sleep, appearing so innocent!  Children are a blessing…I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I want the best for them.

Psalm 127 3-5  Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them…

We live in a world that teaches that children should only be rewarded, and that punishment is not an option.  A few years ago my wife and I attended a course on discipline, in which the instructor began to teach that discipline does not involve punishment, only choices and rewards.  Her concept was punishment is completely negative and should not be involved in child rearing.

Proverbs 13:24  He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Unfortunately, there are several issues with the philosophy of no punishment!  First of all, life is full of consequences!  If you don’t perform adequately at work, you get fired.  If you get fired, you get no paycheck.  If you get no paycheck, you don’t pay your bills.  If you don’t pay your bills, you lose your house and your car.  My question would be, are the social workers going to be there to bail the children of today out of their financial struggles when their child rearing philosophies produce a nation of adults that are unable to face the consequences of life?

Second, as I watch children who face no punishments, or consequences, and as I observe the parents beg and plead with their children to behave, it becomes quite apparent to me that the philosophy of no punishment is NOT working by any stretch of the imagination!

Of course, one must be careful and have a healthy balance in the forms of discipline utilized!  The goal is to raise a child into a responsible, participating, contributing to society adult who has morals and convictions!

Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Discipline:  Discipline would be a healthy balance of expectations, rewards, and punishment.  Along with the expectations should come a good role model.  While there are some activities or behaviors designated for parents and not children, at the same time a parent needs to model expected behaviors for a child.  In example, if I don’t want my children to swear, why would I swear?  If I want my children to exercise, I should exercise!  If I want my children to clean their room, I should clean my room!  Children learn by the example of their parents!

Rewards:  I do believe in rewards…but not everything in life comes with a monetary reward!  I eat healthy so I feel good…I shower so I don’t smell…I take my medication so I don’t get sick…I pay my tithes because I want to do right by God!  No one pats me on the back…no one gives me a cookie…there is no immediate reward for some expected behaviors.  I also don’t get an allowance from my wife when I do the dishes, or sweep the floor.  She may say thank you and give me a pat on the back…but this is my house, so there is an expectation!  When it comes to children though, if an allowance is offered, there must be an expectation of what is required to gain the allowance, and when the chores aren’t completed, there must be a follow through!  No chore = No allowance!

Punishment:  Sometimes parents can get too ‘punishment happy’!  There should be NO thrill attached to punishment!  You should NEVER be happy punishing your child!  And, if you find that you are constantly punishing, you need to take a step back…your child is not getting the concept you are trying to push!  Why?  NO child enjoys punishment, and no child will pursue punishment!  So where is the break in communication that is causing you to feel the need to constantly punish?

Are the expectation clear to the child, and are they constant?  (What I get punished for today, do I get away with tomorrow?)

Is the child at an age of understanding the expectation, and the punishment?

Does the child ever get positive attention?  Children CRAVE attention, and if they don’t get positive attention, they will misbehave just to get attention, even if it is negative!

Does the child feel loved by their parents?

Does the child see others get away with behavior they are punished for?  (This includes mom and dad!)

When you feel like all the attention you are giving your child is negative, take a step back!  Evaluate the child’s behavior.  Evaluate your behavior.  Evaluate the circumstances.  Evaluate the other influences in the child’s life.  And keep in mind…there is no ‘one size fits all’ method to raising children!  Every parent has a different personality, and every child has a different personality.  What works for one family, may not work for another.

And don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help or guidance!

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Training up a child…

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I just saw a posting that stated, ‘If you have children, remember this: When you finish with them, the rest of the world has to live with them, so please teach them respect’.

I read that statement, and immediately agreed!  I have been around families where the children acted like they had never been out in public.  I have been in restaurants and watched children run around the place, almost knocking waitresses off their feet, and creating quite the unpleasant dining experience for the rest of the customers.  I have been in stores where children screamed and threw tantrums throughout the entire shopping trip.  I have watched as children hit their parents and yelled “NO” at the top of their lungs.

It also brings to memory my pre-children days…when I would take in such experiences, and think, “When I have children…”  It’s quite easy to judge when we are not the ones in the situation at present!

#1 – Proverbs 22:6 gives sound advice to parents.  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  Parents have a responsibility to teach their child right from wrong!  It begins from the moment of conception.  A peaceful home needs to be created.  The day that child comes home, that child needs a father and a mother in his or her life, guiding that child with both a firm and loving atmosphere.  Guidelines and expectations should be set, and the parents need to consistently enforce them.  Their should be consequences for the child who does not meet up with the clearly defined expectations.

Keep in mind, consequences need to be clearly defined as well, and the severity of the consequence should be set according to the severity of the infraction and based upon the age of the child!  There is a great difference between punishment, and child abuse!  A parent needs to be careful to act in love, and not to react in anger, as that is the moment that a punishment may turn to child abuse!

#2 – Titus 2:3-4 gives great advice to the training of new parents.  The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

There is a biblical responsibility to the elders, to pass on knowledge, advice, training, and correction, to the younger generation!  There is also a biblical responsibility of the younger generation, to accept the wisdom being passed on by the elders!  Every young parent should find a few ‘elders’ in their lives to receive good council from!

Want to know where to start???  Start with your pastor and his wife…and ask them for some good suggestions of some elders for your life!  Once you have some elders set in your life, sit down and accept the counsel.  They may step on your toes, they may tell you that you are parenting wrong, take the counsel, pray about it, and raise those children properly!

#3 – Matthew 7:1-3  Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

John 8:7  …He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…

It is so easy to look at others children, and think, “wow…they don’t know how to parent!”  We can be so quick to judge children and parents, without knowing anything about the situation!  Perhaps that child is being raised without a father or a mother.  Perhaps that child has a disability that is not visible to the human eye.  Perhaps there is trauma in the family, such a death.  Perhaps that child is having a rough situation at school.  Perhaps the child was a victim of abuse.  Perhaps the family is deep in debt, and working many hours, leaving the unfortunate children to fend for themselves most of the day.  It is not our place to judge…however misfortunate the situation…the parents may be doing the best they can!

Remember, that is still one of God’s children, and our place is to extend love towards them, not judgement!

#4 – And finally, parents, remember, you get one chance, and only one, to get it right!  Raise that child right!

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