Monthly Archives: June 2017

Getting them to the starting line

Last night, I was humbled as I heard the voice of a six-year old little girl answer the calling in her heart to accept Christ as her savior.  My daughter asked a million questions over the last few months, and you could certainly see that she was dealing with the question of “what do I do with Jesus?”.  In a simple moment, she made a decision to ask Jesus to save her from her sins and live in her heart.  In that moment, my heart melted.  I silently prayed a prayer of thanks to God for giving her to me and for convicting me with my parental responsibility to tell her all about Him.  As someone living in the millennial age, my next duty was to share it on social media.  I don’t post a lot, but I felt like screaming from the mountaintops.  The “likes” and comments flowed in and I beamed as I went to bed.  When I woke up this morning, I went through my social media again, and a comment caught my eye and it spoke to me so profoundly.  It was a simple “my heart is happy for you” and then a follow-up comment.  “Now the hard work continues…to train her…”.  I kept reading that over and over and it reminded me of my importance in her life – in the life of all my kids.  My job isn’t over.  Yes, we were able to lead her to this point where she realized her need for a savior and where she made a decision for eternity, but that’s just the starting line.

The Bible is very clear on the responsibility of parents, and especially fathers.  One of my favorite movies is Courageous.  It has a very clear story of a father coming to grips with tragedy only to learn what his real responsibility is concerning raising his children.  At the end of the movie he gives a speech where he emphatically answers questions, about who will lead his family and help his children grow in their walk with Christ, with a resounding “I will”.  In God’s word, I am charged with discipling my children and helping them grow in their lifelong walk with Christ.  It doesn’t just end with getting her to this point where she has accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation.  It continues to help her see what that means and what that opens up.  It continues as she learns about giving all areas of her life to Christ and committing to serving Him with her whole heart in all that she does.  It continues as she learns to love everyone the way Christ loves her.  It continues as she silently learns how she’ll raise her own children, leading them to the Lord and walking this same path with them.  I am so grateful for that comment to remind me of my importance in my children’s lives.

I studied Ephesians 6:4 this morning and found great delight and humbleness as I was reminded of the responsibility God has given me.  “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  In this verse, God summarizes a lot of what he wants me to do as a father.  I am constantly butting heads with my 13-year-old because…well he knows everything.  I have always read this verse and thought, I need to be careful not to push his buttons so I don’t make him angry. That lasted all of about 10 seconds.  Reading that again today, and looking through the study notes in my Bible, I understand that it is not just keeping the peace, but being realistic.  I need to create a home where He can grow, learn, succeed and fail and it all be alright, because in the end, we love him unconditionally.  It should be that way with all our kids.  Ultimately, we want to model Christ, and there is no greater picture to model than what He did for all mankind on the cross.  My children will become angry when they get in trouble, but discipline is a key part of discipleship.  My job as a parent is to never stop learning and leaning on Christ and to be consistent as I model that behavior to my kids.  My expectations should be clear and based on my walk with Christ.  If I expect them to love the Lord, they have to see me loving the Lord as well – in all that I do.  I believe the best way to avoid provoking their anger and their resentment of Christ is to be consistent, forgiving and most of all in love with God.  The  last part of the verse is pretty easy to understand.  When I was a young child my parents told me about Christ.  They took me to church and they raised me on biblical standards.  That’s my job with my children.  I am called to impart on them the discipline and knowledge of the Lord so they will continue to honor Him as the generations before them have.  It’s getting harder and harder to see in our society, but that’s still the basic idea.  We are training the next generation so that people will continue to hear the good news of the gospel.

So, we are at the starting line and ready to run this race.  I am thankful that I know how the race will end, and I can already celebrate the victory.

Father, thank you for your son Jesus Christ.  Thank you for the perfect gift that satisfied my sin debt.  Thank you for extending that gift to my daughter.  I pray for your wisdom, strength, perseverance and courage to raise her to honor you, fear you, and most of all love you with all of her life.  Make me the man, husband, and father you want me to be for my family and all those in my life.  I pray for my daughter’s lifelong walk with you.  In Christ I pray – Amen.