Family and Parenting

Redeeming the Time in Chicago and Everywhere Else

I wrote the following blog post on Friday afternoon, March 23.

A 12-hour train ride. That is what lies ahead of Jackson (my firstborn) and I, as we make our way back from Chicago, IL to Wichita, KS (via Newton, KS). For Jackson’s 13th BD, Annie and decided to give him a trip anywhere in the continental U.S. We let him choose the destination, plan many of the outings, etc.

Before deciding on Chicago, Jackson decided he wanted to visit a large city he had never been to. A very complicated process of choosing that city ensued. Well, basically, it involved the question, “Where could we get the best pizza and ride trains and busses?” That narrowed it down to NYC and Chicago, and since deep dish pizza reigns supreme over all other forms of pizza, Chicago became our choice.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Charles Heck, people smiling, outdoor and waterOur week was as “touristy” as you might expect. We visited museums, ate at popular restaurants, went inside local shops, talked with natives about their city, slept in late, stayed up late, watching the river dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day, etc. And speaking of food, of the 7 days we were gone, Jackson managed to eat pizza 6 of those day!

For me, the highlight wasn’t so much Chicago as it was reflecting on the fact that I have a 13-year old son. In the not too distant future, this son will likely be moving on to college or to begin his new life of independence of total responsibility.

Where has the time gone?

It wasn’t that long ago that I was rocking him back to sleep in the middle of the night, holding him on my chest, generating an incredible amount of body heat between the two of us, and thinking, “Will this ever end?” And, of course, that season ended too soon.

The verse that keeps coming to mind as I think about the growth and aging of children is Ephesians 5:16 – “Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Parents, you know that time will fly with your kids. And there is a plethora of conversations and instructions you want to give them before they are “on their own.” Do that as soon as you can.

And don’t wait for someone else to teach your kids what they need to know.

Recently, a friend of mind and I were talking about how to approach the “sex talk” with our children. And I detected a level of hesitancy on his part to do it all, and just let his kids learn that on their own as they get older. I shared them my burden on the issue, “If you don’t teach them, someone else will. And that someone will likely not share your own values and worldview. Paul says that those days that will teach him are evil ones.”

In this chapter of Jackson’s life, there is so much to teach. And there is enough time. It must be seized. Carpe diem!

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4 Ways to Develop a Relationship with Your Children

If you have children in your home, you have a relationship. It may not be as strong or intimate as you like, but there is a relationship that God has provided between you and him/her. And as parents who have the solemn duty of bringing up our children in a way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), each of us are burdened by the need to speak life into the lives of our children not just as units of authority but as fathers and mothers who have a relationship with them.

Relationships are often built on trust, patience and consistency. Our “right to be heard” by our kids isn’t much different. Below is a list of 4 ways that you can build a relationship with your child.

First, pray that God will assist you in having a better understanding of your child (Psalm 139:14-16). The one who knows your child best is not you; God knew your child even when the child was in the womb. Ask God to teach you what He already knows about your child, so you can be more effective in parenting.

Second, commit yourself to address the heart of your child (Matthew 12:34). Our aim with our children is not behavioral modification; it is to pray that their hearts would be softened towards truth. The heart, which is properly informed by the mind, will produce righteous behavior. Look at the root of what is causing certain concerning behavioral patterns.

Third, commend your children when they are worthy of commendation (Romans 13:7). Rewards shouldn’t always be the motivation for spiritual growth, but God meant for us to be aware of them, because He speaks about rewards for being good and faithful servants (Matthew 25:23). Children need to understand sinful and foolish choices always bring harmful consequences, but righteous and obedient decisions bring honor and commendation. Next time you see your child make a wise choice, let them know God and you were pleased with that decision.

Fourth, seek forgiveness from your children when you sin against them (Matthew 6:14-15). We parents sin more often against our children than we want to admit. And sin always creates relational distance. But the blessing of forgiveness is that it often narrows that distance and reconciles people. Your children’s respect and admiration for you as a fallen but humble parent will teach them about the forgiving nature of God and show them how important your relationship with them truly is. Asking their forgiveness when you sin will show them you are real and that we all “live by the same Book.”

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Principles for Parenting from Proverbs

23x “my son” is mentioned in Proverbs.

This book is a book of practical wisdom with a plethora of subjects, and one cannot deny the emphasis on parenting in this manual.

You could say that the entire book is a series of counsels from a father and mother to their children – “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8).

Below is a list of some of the principles for parenting that we can glean from Proverbs.

  • Proverbs 13:22 – With aging parents should come growing generosity.
  • Proverbs 13:24 – Discipline is a tool for teaching our children our love for them.
  • Proverbs 15:10 – There ought to be severe consequences for children that reject discipline.
  • Proverbs 17:6 – Grandchildren are a blessing.
  • Proverbs 17:21, 25 – A wise child brings joy to his parents.
  • Proverbs 20:7 – Children will learn integrity from their parents.
  • Proverbs 22:15 – Discipline is a means to address the sin of our children.
  • Proverbs 23:13-14 – God’s discipline is harsher than our own.
  • Proverbs 23:24 – Obedience is a source of joy for parents.
  • Proverbs 29:15 – Wisdom can be a by-product of discipline.
  • Proverbs 29:17 – A disciplined child can become a thankful adult.

Happy Father’s Day

When I think of my parents and Annie’s parents, I know I am blessed. It is not often that a married couple like us can boast and thank the Lord for giving us godly parents that love the Lord.

So, when I see and read God referring to Himself as the Father, I am aware that my own Dad and Annie’s dad are not perfect examples of what God is like, but they aren’t inadequate either. They both give me glimpse of my Creator.

The passage that comes to my mind when I think of my Dad is Deuteronomy 6:6-9 – “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” My Dad bleeds the Bible. His ability to recall and integrate Scripture into life is unparalleled. He loves God’s Word more than man’s word. His relentless pursuit of knowing God inspires all who he shepherds as a pastor, befriends, and reaches out to. I am happy to have him as a Dad.

The verse that comes to my mind when I think of my father-in-law is Proverbs 20:7 – “The righteous who walks in his integrity – blessed are his children after him.” My father-in-law could be summed up with the word integrity. It suits him well as a man above reproach who serves as an elder at his church. He served in law enforcement for decades and kept his faith and testimony in the recurring challenges and temptations of evil. Both of these men are role models for all young men.

They are worthy of our admiration and a “Happy Father’s Day!”

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Susan Black, On the Need For Wives to See Their Husbands as Mere Men

Image result for susan black marriage is hard“One of the greatest gifts wives can give their husbands is to relieve them of the responsibility of being everything to them. Husbands cannot do it. It is too high a standard. They are, after all, just men. They haven’t been given a witty romantic script, and they cannot produce a perfect ending in just less than two hours. They live in real life, and they have real-life weaknesses and foibles. They have annoying habits and inexplicable idiosyncrasies – just as we do. Dearest wives, we must grant permission to our husbands to be imperfect.” (Susan Black, Marriage is Hard)

Q/A Friday: Why Is Honoring Your Parents One of the Ten Commandments?

Honoring ParentsAfter my blog post from Wednesday, I was given the above mentioned question to address. The 5th Commandment is about honoring your mother and father.

All these commandments – of course – are important, but there must be a reason this is the first of the horizontal commands. The horizontal commands (Commandments 5-10) are those commands that primarily reference our relationship with our neighbor; the vertical commands (Commandments 1-4) primarily reference our relationship to God.

So why Commandment #5? Why did God put it here? Why is this the first in the list of the last 6? Is it more significant than then others? Let me give you some reasons this commandment is given here and why it is so important.

First, real relationships start in the home, because that is where our discipleship and discipline and true character is seen and revealed. No one knows us better than our families and there is no better barometer of our spirituality than the family dynamic. If you want to know whether an individual is living an exemplary life, whether they are modeling God’s truth and holiness, whether they are serving God and His church, then look at how he or she relates to his family.

Second, family relationships mirror our relationship to God. Remember Paul’s instructions to fathers, mothers, and children? He wrote, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, AS TO THE LORD. … Husbands, love your wives, AS CHRIST … Children, obey your parents IN THE LORD, …” (Eph 5:22, 25; 6:1). Each of these phrases not only modifies the verbs that precede them but they give us a reflection of what is supposed to happen when each member of the family unit lives in a godly fashion. When they do that, they are mirroring their own submission or obedience or love to God. In other words, children who don’t obey God, struggle in their obedience to God; wives who don’t submit to their husbands don’t often submit to God; husbands who don’t love their wives as Christ loves the church don’t often love Christ in that same sacrificial way.

Third, parents need to live a life in a manner worthy of honor. Remember when Paul said, “Fathers, do not provoke (or sinfully irritate) your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col 3:21)? Don’t make your children’s struggle with honor you by being dishonorable. If they have a trouble honoring you, make it because of their sin and not yours.

Fourth, it is in our nature to hate authority. This is as old as Adam and Eve rebelling against God’s authority to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is in our nature to not respect and revere and honor anyone who is above us. It is in our flesh to look at those who tell us what to do and say, “I don’t think so”. We need this Commandment to remind us that we live a life of submission and honor to those who have come before us.

Fifth, we tend to de-value those who are older than us. We abandon our parents into nursing homes never visiting them. We try to fill our churches with young families only at the expense of older couples. We don’t help those who are older have a voice or influence in the world as they ought. We make them the object of mocking or jokes. We create so-called death panels in our health care system to euthanize them when they have reached a point of being expendable.

Sixth, and finally, God sets up a structure of authority in the home. We already had structure before the Ten Commandments – of course – but now we have it as part of God’s moral law. The family functions with someone leading it and for children they are to defer to their parents. We know this is the case because the responsibility of teaching truth and the law falls on those who are in authority – the parents (Deut 4:9-10, 40; 6:4-9).

Jews made this a very important commandment in their religious system because of this promised reward. One well known rabbi, Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai taught, “Great is the commandment of honoring father and mother because God preferred it over the honoring of Himself.” I don’t know if I would go that far, but you can see how important this was for the Jews. We need this Fifth Commandment.

 

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please it to charlesheck@cox.net or pose your question in the comments section of this post.