Evil Sons

These verses terrify me:

“And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.  At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end.  For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them.” 1 Samuel 3:11-13

“When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba.  But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.” 1 Samuel 8:1-3

Eli and Samuel were leaders – priests, prophets, judges.  Samuel in particular is heralded as one of Israel’s greatest leaders – he oversaw the transition from a tribal federation to a kingdom during a period of war, laid out the rules for how the kingdom was to be governed, anointed Israel’s first two kings, and then deposed King Saul when he was disobedient.

Yet – and it’s such a big yet – his sons did not follow the ways of God.

Terrifying really.

Such realities push me to pray more, love more, teach and rebuke and train more… But each must stand before God to give an accounting on his own, without his Momma in the background pleading for him.

Please dear God, continue to call my children to follow after you with all their hearts.

A Reward for the Baggage-Keepers

“The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.  David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this.” I Samuel 30:24-25

I made a passing joke about this verse last week, while several of us moms kept everyone’s backpacks and clothing while they were out running a race.  We all laughed, but the importance of the principle remains.

In the body of Christ, in the family, in the workplace, and in our social circles – we are all different.  We have different skills and abilities, different passions, different job descriptions, different personalities, different histories and experiences.  Nevertheless, we are all valuable.  Important.  Worthy.  Each of us bring something different, but equally valuable, to serve in the Kingdom of God.  And, according to the Bible, we share equally in the rewards when they come.

The Screwtape Letters, and one for Moms

Up next on the Thirsty Girls Book Club list, an old-time classic:  The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.Screwtape

Yes, it was written in 1950’s era English and yes, it’s an interesting format that might take a bit of head-scratching to put it all together… but it is one of the most interesting religious satire books we’ve ever discovered.

Reviewers write, “A milestone in the history of popular theology, The Screwtape Letters is an iconic classic on spiritual warfare and the dynamics of temptation.” “At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written. 

As I’m introducing our group to the imaginary dialogue between demons plotting the fall of a young believer, I was delighted to discover this blog article last week.  It is written in the same style as The Screwtape Letters, but addressed to a young Mom.  Read it once and laugh.  Read it a second time and take notes regarding the plot and tactics of the enemy in his efforts to discourage this young lady.  It is excellent!


Phases of Parenting

Imagine dividing up parenting into phases.  Andy Stanley* has suggested this breakdown:

Ages 1-5  Discipline

Ages 5-12 Training

Ages 12-18 Coaching

Ages 18+ Friendship

I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks.  I have a 12-year-old middle schooler.  It’s crazy how suddenly she “grew up”.  It’s clearly a new phase of parenting.  We are shifting from “Mom decides” to “You decide with the help and influence of Mom”.  And on what basis is she making decisions?  On the basis of all the training I have provided (or not provided!) in the last 10 years.  Eeeekk.

Here are a few other bits of wisdom for the coaching years:

– If you fail to discipline and train your kids when they are young, then it’s too late.  You cannot suddenly add discipline when they are teenagers.  Doing so provokes rebellion and communication breakdown.

– You cannot “be friends” with your middle schooler.  You are the coach.  Coach is not the same as friend.

– “Don’t freak out.”  This is your mantra as long as you have teens in your house.  Don’t freak out.  Be calm.  If you freak out they will stop talking to you.  Don’t shut down the communication.  Leave them open to coaching.

– Say “Oh no, that’s terrible!  What are we going to do about that?”  See how you can use your words to communicate that you understand the drama and that you are on their side?  Then let them work out a solution.  Practice encouraging from the sidelines, not charging out into the middle of the field to sort things out.

– Remember that the most important things are not the urgent things.  (True for much of life!)  Do not allow seemingly urgent issues and activities replace the important things…

– Sometimes you say “no” to good things (sports, ministry, whatever) in order to invest more in your kids and have time with them.

– Don’t lie.  Don’t let them lie either.

– Teach them to honor their mother.

– Let them fail when the stakes are low.

– Help them see how their faith intersects three important things: 1. Decision making, 2. Relationships, and 3. School.  You can do this partly by talking all the time, everywhere, in a natural fashion about how your faith affects your thinking processes too.

– And finally remember that “Later is Longer”.  You have only a few short years of parenting, but you will be friends with your kids for 60 or more years.  Make the hard decisions now.  It’s ok to cry for a night.  Later is longer.  Always.

*Our Wednesday night dinner/small group has really enjoyed Andy Stanley’s “Future Family” series.  Session 5 he co-taught with his wife and they discussed parenting. http://www.northpoint.org/messages/future-family

7 Hours. No Regrets.

“No, you don’t want our family to do that.  Really?  Are you sure?”no tv

I was very curious who my husband was talking to on the telephone!

It was the Nielson Television Ratings organization.  We were chosen to participate in their television viewing and ratings survey.  So for one week now we have been filling out the t.v. viewing log book – for each t.v. in the house (two), hour by hour, channel by channel, marking each family member as watching or not.

I’m telling you – we are really going to be the statistical outlier on their survey!

Seven hours of t.v. – that’s the grand total for the last seven days.

2.5 hours of “Phineas and Ferb”, 1 hour of the Grammys, 1.5 hours of “Chicken Little”, and 2 hours of the evening news.

Well at least we’ll never look back and regret all the hours we wasted in front of our television!

Too bad they didn’t ask how many miles we ran this week (40 miles, mostly Ross)…

Or how many hours we spent playing tennis (8 hours)…

Or what books we were reading… “Running the World: the Inside Story of the National Security Council” by David Rothkopf (Ross), “East of the Sun” set in Bombay in 1928, by Julia Gregson (Mindy), “The Lightening Thief” by Rick Riordan (Mark), and I have no idea what Mara is reading because she always has it with her.

How many hours of television did you and your family watch last week? 

Today is Mardi Gras and the season of Lent starts tomorrow.  Maybe you should consider giving up some of your television time in pursuit of something greater?

Mutual Submission and Marriage

Submit?!  Arrrgh.  The first book someone gave me on this topic was called “Me, Obey Him?” and I threw it across the room and resolved not to read it…  It sat there for a good six months, mocking me.  Sometimes we women become overly dramatic about the idea of having to submit to our husbands!

It is my personal opinion that our angst is usually a result of misconceptions of submission, or having married a man who does not understand or embrace his part – the part about loving your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it.  (Eph. 6:25)

Another reason for our angst about submission is that the context of Eph. 6:22 “Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” is often forgotten.  The correct context is from the previous verse, Eph. 6:21, which reads “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ Jesus.”

So what does that mean?  We were talking in our small group a few nights ago about this very idea – the idea of “mutual submission“.  Here’s what it means according to Andy Stanley,

“I will leverage all of the power, energy, and resources at my disposal for the benefit of other members of the family.” 

Did you catch that?  It’s not all about me!  It’s about me working for what is best for my spouse and kids.  It’s about leaning IN toward the middle of the family circle to help others, rather than leaning OUT and away from engagement and responsibility.

Here is the question that we should be asking our spouse and kids daily, “What can I do to help?”

Now that can be a scary question!  However, it is a question we need to get in the habit of asking – every single day.  What do you need from me?  How can I help?  That is the question Jesus asked.   It was time-consuming, energy-consuming, unpredicatable, frightening. It was the ultimate question that cost Him his life.

It was an unselfish question.  Marriage and parenting are about learning to be unselfish.

On that note, let me recommend a book that changed my view of marriage – it’s not a practical, how-to book.  It’s a book that says – “Wait!  You are thinking about this all wrong. Marriage is not really about making you happy!”

SACRED MARRIAGE by Gary Thomas, (Zondervan, 2000).  sacredmarriage

Gary Thomas asks a shocking question:  “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”  Thomas’ argument is that marriage is one of God’s primary vehicles for character change.  “If you want to become more like Jesus, I can’t imagine any better thing to do than get married.  Being married forces you to face some character issues you’d never have to face otherwise.”  After all, marriage is a temporary institution (’til death do us part), designed to last while we are on this earth (no marriage in heaven), and destined to help us develop an eternal relationship with God.  Thomas has chapters on how marriage teaches us to love, to respect others, to persevere, to forgive, to serve, as well as how it exposes our sin, and teaches us more about God.   If we truly believe that we are called to holiness and not happiness, then maybe we ought to reshape our thoughts on marriage!

I’m going to work on being unselfish this week.  I am going to ask, “What can I do to help?” and not flinch when the answer comes back.  Will you join me?