New Hope Notes
Parents In <-> Out of Touch
Pastor Elwin Ahu
Nowadays, there are so many challenges in parenting. There are issues in various areas in regard to raising children, and we often will ask how we can be good parents. So today, we will talk about whether parents are in touch or out of touch for our series of “Family Foundations”. It is indeed difficult to be a parent and a child nowadays. And there can be many ways to raise a child. But God already told us what we should do in the Bible. There are many distractions in the world that influence the children negatively. These forces include multimedia and social media. And parents have an increasing pressure on raising their children when fighting against these opposing forces. There are so many training tapes, seminars and different resources in the market to teach the parents how to be a better one. However, we haven’t seen any expert yet coming out of those teaching. In fact, a study showed that there will be a kid dropping out of school every 8 seconds; a kid will be running away from home every 47 seconds; a kid gets arrested from drug offenses every 7 minutes; and a kid gets killed or wounded by a gun every 36 minutes. We cannot deny that there are problems, but who is responsible for them? The responsibilities don’t fall on parents only, but on all of us, the adults. Adults are actually doing the same delinquent acts in the society and the kids are following our bad examples. So we have to fix our foundations first so we are not leading the kids astray.
Our family foundation greatly affects how we raise our children. And it also affects those who are not a parent yet. First of all, how should we address issues when they arise? Joshua has taught us clearly on this as the scripture said, “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and…put away the gods which you fathers served beyond the River…[Choose] for yourselves today whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:14-15) It means that everyone that belongs to the house will serve the Lord and the Lord is the center of the house. We need to first set foundations based on what the Lord wants before we can deal with issues. Otherwise, we will only get lost and be confused without Him. Therefore, we will go through three key and basic foundations that can help us to start anew today. The first basic foundation is:
1. Children are GOD’S GIFT.
That is why we dedicate our children to the Lord. Children are valuable to us and to God. It is written, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!” (Ps. 127:3-5 NLT) Children are not here for us to get more tax deduction; they are not a liability, trouble, burden or mistake. They are never a mistake even when you didn’t plan to have them initially. God wants to bless you with gifts, and children are one of the gifts He prepared for us. When you receive a gift, you would want to treasure it and value it. So we have to love and treasure our children even if they don’t love us back the same way. God asks us to treasure and love our children without expecting love in return. Besides, it takes time to unwrap the best gifts, so we need to be patient and not to give up. How many times have we been rejecting our Father God? I am sure we have rejected Him many times and He never gives up on loving us. Aren’t you glad that He never gives up on us? So we should never reject our children no matter what. As now we know that we need to children are God’s gifts, what is our primary responsibility in response to this gift? Our primary responsibility is to:
2. Train up your child to live a life WORTHY of God.
This is a responsibility for all adults, not just parents. We are often too concerned about what they will become in the world instead of what they will become in the Lord. We put way too much energy on their education, friends making, dating as well as future career; and we would even worry about if we buy the right car seat or stroller, but spend far less time on training them up to be in the right path that leads to a life worthy of God. Do you agree that we often ask our children about school, homework, or career planning instead of asking how they are doing in the Lord or what God has been teaching them daily through devotions? The scripture said “You shall teach [My commands] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:7) That means we teach them the ways of God all the time, not just at one particular time of the day. And we should be more concerned about how they are doing in God more than anything else. We can’t rely on the church to do the job as that will engage them in conversation with God once a week only. Instead, we should teach them about God all the time in your daily life with them so that they will be trained up and develop the hunger for the Word of God; It is our responsibility to help the kids to be hungry for His Words so that they don’t depart from God when they get old, as the Bible said that, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6 NKJV) However, training up doesn’t mean that we need to force them to seek the Lord. How interesting can it be if we are doing so in the same fashion as we check our laundry list? It is definitely not interesting and would not develop a hunger for God’s words in them. Instead, we should live a life that can set for them to raise their interest so that they will start craving for the Lord. It starts with us and that’s how our foundations can be set in raising the children. I admit that I don’t know every single issue you are going through; but the good news is that:
3. You are not ALONE.
It was written that, “[Let] us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24-25) When we assemble together, we can learn from one another, share our stories, and encourage each other. That’s why we have small groups, so that we can help each other out. Therefore, don’t forsake assembling together. I know a lot of us have gone through the toughest time but with God’s grace and victory, they have gone through those valleys with victory. So when we share with one another, it will shred light to us on how we should deal with our issues in the Lord. Today, I am bringing up a panel of 4 parents here, to share with you how they set their foundations in accordance with raising their kids. This panel is consists of Pastor Rod, Cary, Susie and Kelvin. Pastor Rod has been married for 26 years and has 3 teenager kids. Cary is coming from a blended family; he has been married for 7 years with her daughter from her wife’s previous marriage. Susie is in a military family with his husband being away often, and she is also in a blended family, with her 17 year-old daughter from her previous marriage. Kelvin has been married for 36 years; he and his wife had gone through some toughest times because adultery, which brought hurt and damage to them and their 3 children. But with God’s grace they forgave each other and repented in the Lord. They all came from different backgrounds and will be sharing their experience with you.
Meet the parents:
Pastor Rod: In the aspect of teaching the kids biblical principles without forcing them, I would start out by setting myself as an example to influence them. I know I won’t be perfect but as long as I love God and my wife, the kids will see it and be influenced by it. It is important that we do right in the Lord first and follow Jesus in everything we do. Teaching is needed too but it has to come with influence from our lifestyle and characters. We can only teach so much by talking, but if we don’t act according to what we teach, they will not be influenced. As a parent and a husband, I make sure I love my wife according to what the Bible teaches, because I believe that expressing this oneness with my wife in front of the kids is the greatest influential example we can set. You can only reproduce what you are. God is patient and none should perish. And all will come to repentance. We just need to be patient and pray that God gives the time and everything the child needs to come to know Jesus personally.
Susie: When going through divorce, the best thing to do is being honest and real with your kids, and we have to continue reflecting ourselves with Jesus through this process. It is important to focus on the Lord to find out how the Lord wants us to do in dealing with the situation. That would equip you to communicate with your kids in the right path. And you have to keep the communication with your kids constantly to confirm that God loves them and you love them, too. And you will need to show them support as well so they are not left alone to deal with their own hurt. Besides, in the blended family I am in right now, though my husband will be away most of the time, we balance the spiritual leadership by setting core values and foundations with Jesus being the center. And my husband makes sure he continues on these foundations and values in his daily life while he is away. First thing we do is devotion together after we wake up in the morning. When my husband is away, we will still share our devotions and prayers with him through emails or phone so he is always in the circle. We will read the Bible together again in the mid-day so that we can bring our focus back to the Lord no matter what toughness we’ve gone through earlier of the day. Then the kids learn to focus on the Lord and won’t focus on me and my flaws. Thus, setting the core values at home is very important so that we always channel everything back to God whether my husband is home or not. We also do everything together as a team in our home. We don’t need a schedule of assigned chores for the kids. If someone is doing laundry, the rest of us will stop what we are doing and help out in the laundry. So they learn to take responsibilities early on in their life. And this lifestyle brings us close to each other. Don’t disable your kids from participating in the home making just because they are young.
Cary: I am the step-father to my daughter and I can only spend time with her half time because the other half time is for her birth father. So it is important to have communication with her birth father too, to have a commitment on how we are going to raise her, and include him in setting the foundations. I myself have to work with my wife daily as a team effort to make it work as well. It is not easy and it takes lots of prayers. It has to be a team work with your spouse. If you are being labeled as the “step parent” by your kids, first of all, you need to give the child grace and forgiveness. You need to be patient with them, continue to show them love and understanding, and pray for them. In my experience, I realized that I contributed to the disconnect I had with my step daughter, because I wasn’t communicating with her directly to understand her. So the whole family sat down together and I apologized to her for the part that I didn’t do right. Changes take time but we can only keep loving and be patient, and we need to trust in God’s own timing.
Kelvin: With the question whether the blame is on the parents when the child committed suicide, we need to first remember that God is the perfect father but we still all rebelled. For us, we are not perfect and we cannot stop our children from their choices. You can only accept that he has chosen this path. As the parents, you would share the responsibility of the child’s choices, but you are not fully responsible to it. And you can’t hold yourself in a cage, too. You need to reach out to God, and brothers and sisters for healing. Another question we had was for the situation that a child was molested by his father when he was a kid, and how the mother can deal with the confusion, hurt, anger and doubt that are still in the child after he has grown up. As a parent, we can only bring him to Jesus and let Jesus to heal and cleanse him from the past hurt. Don’t force him to come to healing. Jesus is always able and it takes a process and time for someone to be healed completely in the Lord. God is the healer and we have to let God to do it in His own timing. And we as parents need to be sensitive to the kids and not to pressure them, but to support them.
It may continue to get difficult but we can do it together with God’s blueprint in the Bible. Let’s continue to seek Him and follow Him, and set our foundations with Him being in the center of your house. Amen.
1. What are children from God’s perspective?
2. What is our primary responsibility when raising our children in the Lord?
3. What kind of life should we train our children up to live?
4. How can we train up our children?
5. How can we learn to deal with our issues when we can’t do it on our own?