Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Raising Children

There Are No Perfect Parents

Sometimes I hear people quote Proverbs 22:6 as if it were a promise.  The verse reads:

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

People quote this verse often toward parents who are struggling with a rebellious child.  I have watched with my own eyes children remain in rebellion despite the fact that they were raised in God-fearing homes.  The fact that Christ was preached did nothing to keep them from turning to a life of sin.

Now I don’t mean to discourage parents.  I am a parent myself of three boys.  I know the blessing and struggles of seeking to raise my boys to be God-honoring, God-fearing, Christ-exalting men of God.  I pray almost daily for my boys to be saved and to know Christ on their own.  I don’t want my boys to be “forced” to become disciples of Jesus.  I want them to see their own need for a Savior and to repent on their own by the power of the Spirit (John 6:44; 16:8-11).  As someone once said, “God has no grandchildren.  Only children.”  This is biblically true (Galatians 3:26).

In my devotional reading, I was struck by the last four kings of Judah.  Judah, unlike Israel, had had good kings who followed the Lord with their whole hearts.  The last five kings summarized the kings of Judah.  The five are:

  • Hezekiah – who was a good king and sought the Lord.  God delivered him and Judah from the hands of Sennacherib king of Assyria.
  • Manasseh – who was a wicked king at first before he repented and turned back to God.  Prior to repenting, Manasseh was on a track to be one of the wickedest kings in Judah’s history.
  • Amon – who was a wicked king.  He did not humble himself like his father Manasseh did (2 Chronicles 33:23) so he was put to death by his own servants.
  • Josiah – who was a good king.  Josiah restored true worship according to the Law of Moses in Judah (2 Chronicles 35).  Sadly, Josiah did not heed the word of the Lord and died in battle.
  • Jehoahaz – was the king of Judah only for a short time.  The Bible does not say if he was good or evil.  This ends the line of the kings before deportation to Babylon.

So in essence, we have four kings to work with in regard to parenting here.  Notice that Hezekiah was righteous but his son Manasseh was not righteous.  Yet in this case, Proverbs 22:6 was true.  Manasseh did repent and return to the God of his father.  Amon, however, did not repent.  Perhaps Amon saw the wickedness in Manasseh before he repented and enjoyed it.  We don’t know.  All we know is that Amon was wicked and died.  Yet the son of Amon, Josiah, was a good king.  In this case, Amon did not raise his son to fear God nor regard God yet Josiah walked with God from a young age (age 8 according to 2 Chronicles 34:1-2).  The sovereignty of God must come into play when we see children of wicked folks turn and repent before God.

My point here is encourage us parents (myself especially).  I am not a perfect parent.  I am not a perfect man. I am not suggesting that I am wicked.  I pray that I am walking in the Spirit before a holy God (Galatians 5:16-17).  I know the command of God (1 Peter 1:15-16) and I want my boys to see the gospel in my life but more than anything, I want my boys to see the grace of God in forgiving me (1 John 1:9).  It’s not that I seek to live in sin.  I pray that I don’t.  I want to be a 1 John 3:7 man.  I want my boys to see my faith and imitate my faith (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Part of that faith is realizing that I need Jesus always.  I always need His grace to empower me to godliness (Titus 2:12).  I want my boys to see that in spite of my imperfections, I love a perfect God who saves me by His grace alone (2 Corinthians 5:21).  I want them to see that I am not striving for holiness in my own flesh but by the grace of God.

Furthermore, even God has disobedient children (Hebrews 12:5-11) yet He is perfect!  Sometimes our children disappoint us and break our hearts but God is faithful to us.  Like our Father, we too should respond with much grace and mercy toward our wayward children.  We should always pray that our children will love the Lord and serve Him always with a pure heart.

The gospel must be our focus in parenting.  Because we have children of Adam, none of us (self included) have perfect offspring.  Scripture is clear that all have sinned (Romans 3:23).  We are raising sinners.  Apart from the grace of God, we will still be in our sins and dead to God (Ephesians 2:1-6; Titus 3:1-7).  Watching our sinful children grow should cause us to love them, to pray over them, to encourage them toward repentance, and to be an example of the gospel to them.  The example of the gospel is not one of absolute sinless perfection and not letting them see our faults.  Sadly, this was my dad.  He would not confess his sins to us.  He wanted me to see him as pure and holy but, like my children, I saw his errors and his faults.  I saw his sins.  Like Proverbs 20:9, he could not hide them from me or my sister.  Yet the gospel helps us to teach our children that Christ died for sinners like us (Romans 5:8-9).  1 Peter 3:18 says that Christ died for the unrighteous.  That is me.  He died for my sins (Galatians 1:4).  He was crucified because of my sins (Isaiah 53:4-6).  I am only saved because of Christ Jesus and not anything or anyone else (Hebrews 7:25).

I want my boys to see Christ in me.  Yes I want them to see me seeking God, seeking to be holy.  Yet I also want them to see that I too need His grace and forgiveness.  I am not a perfect man by far.  I long to be pure and holy before God (2 Corinthians 7:1) and through faith in Christ, I am set apart by His grace (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  I am thankful that God is a forgiving God who does not cast me aside but He loves me and disciplines me and calls me to repentance by His Word.  I want to live a life of trusting God before the eyes of my boys so that, like Manasseh, they will repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

 

 

 

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/22/2014 at 4:27 PM

A Baby Brings Joy!

I am the proud father of three boys.  My youngest son, Levi, turned 4 today.  What a joy he is to our home!

While reading in the book of Ruth during my devotions, Naomi returns from Moab to Bethlehem and there she complains that her life is bitter and for the people to call her Mara “for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).  She went from Naomi (which means pleasant) to Mara (which means bitter).  Naomi was bitter of the loss of her husband and her loss of her two sons and her return in shame to Israel.

But the book of Ruth is a book that is full of hope.  In the midst of the turmoil of Judges, here is the story of Ruth who would eventually marry Boaz (Ruth 4:13) and she had a baby, Obed.  Obed would be the father of Jesse who would be the father of the greatest king in Israel, David.  And from David would come the promised Messiah, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the One who would sit upon the throne of His father David forever (Luke 1:32-33).

Yet in the midst of all this, Naomi seems to be forgotten but in Ruth 4:14-16 we read:

14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.

I love verse 16!  How precious it is for a parent (or in this case, a grandparent) to take a baby and hold them.  I loved holding my baby boys and feeling their warm skin, their baby smell, and hearing them breathe.  I loved being close to them and protecting them.  Babies are so trusting, so loving, so forgiving.  They don’t care what you look like, how bad your day may have been, they just love you.

What I find precious about this story in Ruth is that Naomi doesn’t go back to calling herself Mara.  She remains Naomi.  Naomi is a much prettier name and I believe this baby boy named Obed brought her joy.  Babies do just that.

Isn’t it any wonder that the disciple of Jesus hates abortion!  Abortion murders a baby.  Yes abortion destroys the mother and scars her for life but it murders a baby and anyone who has held a baby (even a down syndrome baby or another handicapped baby) knows that children are precious.  Babies are truly a heritage from the Lord.

Psalm 127:3-5 (NKJV) reads:

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.

5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

And I say “amen” to that.  I praise God that He allowed me, this sinful fallen man, to have children and to be able to raise them in the fear of the Lord along with my precious wife.  I pray for my son Levi to be a great man after God’s own heart.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/08/2014 at 5:28 PM

Short Thoughts on Sending My Sons to a Calvinist College

I am a long ways from having my sons ready for college.  I have 9 more years for my first to enter into college.  However, the thought crossed my mind today about college.  I attended a conservative, evangelical college that has since changed in many ways.  When I first entered college, I came to my school by default as I wanted to attend a Bible college in Florida but changed my mind at the last second.  I dreaded my first year at college as the students around me were very shallow, few were seeking God, and the school was largely Calvinistic.  However, I persevered and graduated and did enjoy my time in college though I would not go there if I could do it all over again.

As I ponder this, I question would I send my sons to a Calvinist college?  I went into my school an Arminian and came out a stronger Arminian.  I was not one of these college boys who liked to debate theology.  I simply went to classes, worked at night at UPS, and spent my other free time hanging out with my church friends and seeking God.  I did not spend my time reading Arminius or Wesley or Calvin.  I didn’t care about the issue.  All I knew was that I was saved, hungry for Jesus, wanting to use my life to exalt Him however that looked.  I met some other international students who were prayer warriors and they would be my friends at college for their passion for Jesus and not for their theology (in fact I don’t remember once in four years discussing Arminianism or Calvinism with them).

However, I had a friend (who is now with the Lord after dying from cancer) who, like me, came to our college as an Arminian (he was Nazarene).  By graduation, he had embraced Calvinism.  He graduated and attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY where his Calvinism was rooted and grounded.  I do rejoice that my friend remained faithful to Jesus (though initially he embraced Calvinism for their teaching on the security of the believer because of besetting sins in his life).  He later pastored a couple of Baptist churches where he preached Calvinism.  Again, I praise God that my brother died in Jesus and not in sin.  In this case, his Calvinism drew him closer to Jesus as he grew sick.  I rejoice that my brother was faithful to Christ till the end.

Here are my thoughts on the issue.  Obviously, neither Arminianism nor Calvinism is a salvation issue. I know some will contend that it is.  I don’t.  I believe on can be an Arminian and be saved (praise God!).  One can be a Calvinist and be saved (though barely!).  In reality, only Jesus saves us.  If my boys love Jesus and that is evident, I will be a happy man.  Of course, if my boys did decide to attend a Calvinist school, I would simply pray over them and debate them until I prove to them that I am right!

The bottom line, in all seriousness, is that I want my boys to love Christ.  I want them to go where He wants them to go.  If the Lord wants my boys to not go to college, that is fine with me.  If He wants them to go to the mission field after they finish school, I am okay with that.  I just want my boys to exalt Jesus.  I pray daily for them to be saved and for them to live lives that glorify Christ.  I often remind them that as they grow older, my sins will become more obvious.  I am not a perfect man though I strive for holiness (Hebrews 12:14).  I remind my boys that as they see my imperfections, may they always remember that I am saved by grace and it is grace alone that will take us to heaven.  I want my boys eyes to be on Jesus and Jesus alone.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/23/2013 at 5:34 PM

%d bloggers like this: