Passing on the Story of God


He established a decree in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children;  that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise up and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their ancestors, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. – Psalms 78:5-8 (NRSV)

Information is almost too available to us.  Stories are made, ingested and forgotten like cheap candy.  TV shows come and go and few stand the test of time.  Books are written with a movie in mind and movies are made with product sales in mind and somewhere in there a good story died.  We are slowly losing the rich and powerful gift of storytelling.

Asaph was concerned about this same issue in his own day.  He saw a weakness in mankind that we are quick to forget what we do not hear repeated again and again.  His exhortation to tell the story of God and His people is the cure for hereditary disobedience.  If we are tied to the rich heritage of all that God has done through history, we are more likely to remember His promises walking through a broken world.

Today we have a lot of distractions to take our eyes and minds of the story we are living with God.  Our children are growing up in an instant information world with technology specifically designed to occupy their time with crushing candy or flinging birds at pigs.  It is easy to live life on short term memory and forget the heritage that ties us all together from Adam’s first breath to the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We need to tell our children the story of God; stories of His love and grace and mercy and power and compassion.  Stories of his people overcoming the brokenness of the world with the wholeness of His Spirit within us. Stories of His unending patience with our unending stubbornness.  Stories of His everlasting love for a world gone astray.  These are stories to tell again and again and again so they will recognize when they are living the story themselves.

Lord, help me to share your story with my children so that they might follow you all the days of their lives. Amen.

Security


I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalms 18:1-2 (NIV)

We live in a time of insecurity and uncertainty.  Many have come on difficult circumstances through no fault of their own, and most of us are wondering what changes we will need to make to make ends meet.  It can be easy to look for our comfort and security in all the wrong places during a season such as this.

God grants us security that fluctuating markets and political turmoil cannot affect.  This security is rooted in who He is, not what happens to us in this life.  God loves us when we are poor and when we are rich.  God cares for us when we are wounded and when we are healed.  God is unchanging.  He is the rock and the fortress that holds our hope.

I want to face this life without fear or faltering because of what is happening around or to me.  It takes a daily reminder that the rock that can hold me safe above the stormy waves will not fail; that the fortress that shields me from a wayward heart and mind will persist forever.  This gives me the strength to face each day with hope and perseverance and be a fortress and shield to my children.

Lord, help me rest in Your in the safety and security of Your presence.  Shield and protect me from the ways of the world, even if they are in me.  Give me the strength to watch over my children and guard them for Your sake. Amen.

In the End, God


But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me. – Psalms 13:5-6 (NIV)

Psalm 13 has a number of bad things going on: loneliness, abandonment, evil overcoming good and internal conflict.  David is in a bad place.  These are the dark nights of the soul that most of us will face in our lives.  It really does not matter how we get there, but the way out is essential.  David keys in on this way out – trust in God.

This is an overwhelming theme in the Psalms.  The idea that no matter what circumstance the writer finds himself in, God is still loving, trustworthy and righteous. The Psalmist testifies time after time that salvation is still found in God and that He is still deserving of worship.

In the end, God is always God, though we may not feel it in the moment.  We may struggle, strain and twist in this life, burdened with pain and sorrow, but we must hold onto this truth.  Everything else changes, but God doesn’t.  No matter how we start, or where we go, or where we end up, God’s love is there welcoming the prodigal child home.

I desperately need to believe this in my life.  This truth needs to define me more every day, not only so I can see my way through the pain and sorrow, but so I can begin to live this out with my children.  I need to exemplify this steadfastness to them.  They need a father who does not change in his love for them, no matter what circumstances the choices take them to.

Lord, help me to live with the truth of Your unchanging character deep in my heart.  May I learn to love my children with integrity and grace. Amen.

Close To the Vest


I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do forJerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. – Nehemiah 2:11-12

There is something very comforting in the privacy we have with God.  There is someone who knows us completely, but will never break that trust.  Whatever we share with Him is sacred and safe.  Nehemiah uses that safety to give him confidence in his mission and to plan his steps.  The truth Nehemiah shared with God and God alone was the restoration of Israel’s security.  By inspecting the wall with that truth between him and God, Nehemiah didn’t open the door to argument or anxiety from those he was with.

This is a great lesson for us to keep in mind as parents.  As we are leading our children in their life with God, we don’t always have to let them know when we are parenting and discipling.  Sometimes we need to keep the truths that God has given us close to the vest so we don’t incite argument or anxiety.  Our children don’t always need to know what God has put in our hearts.  Nehemiah shows great wisdom in his restraint.

This is the kind of wisdom I want God to grow in me.  I want to know when to keep those works and words He gives me to do and say to myself until the time is ripe.  I want to know how to lead my children without them always knowing they are being led.

Lord, help me to have the wisdom of privacy with You.  Help me to know when the work you are doing in me or through me is for my eyes only.  Build in me the inner boldness to act on Your will in my life without fear. Amen.

Godly by Association


“What!” exclaimed the king ofIsrael. “Has the LORD called us three kings together only to deliver us into the hands ofMoab?”

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no prophet of the LORD here, through whom we may inquire of the LORD?”

An officer of the king of Israelanswered, “Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.[b]”

Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the LORD is with him.” So the king ofIsraeland Jehoshaphat and the king ofEdomwent down to him. – 2 Kings 3:10-12

Elisha was requested by kings because of who he hung out with, not because of anything he had done.  While God had worked through him a few times up to this point, he had not built up a very big resume yet.  Jehoshaphat jumped (pun intended) at the chance to hear from the man who had attended the prophet Elijah.  It is good to have a good name behind you.

So what kind of name are we making for our children?  What do people think when they hear who our child’s parents are?  Are we living in such a way that people will have a good opinion of our children because they know us?  The mistake for us is to try and make a reputation for our children with the world’s rules.  Our world is about status and clout and manipulation, but all of those will inevitably bring ill-repute.  We need to trust God to decide what ours and our children’s reputations will be.

If we want our children to be thought well of, we need to live lives in obedience to God and teach them to do the same.  This is why Elijah had his reputation; he lived for God.  This is not an easy task in the politics of modern life.  We will need to remind ourselves with great frequency that seeking a good opinion from God is far better than seeking a good opinion from men, and that the first often leads to the second, but the second never leads to the first.

Lord, help me live a life beyond reproach.  May my life be a positive influence on how others see my children.  Remind me to live to please You and not mankind. Amen.

Walking in Power


As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.  Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen ofIsrael!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.  He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.  Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. – 2 Kings 2:11-14 (NIV)

Power has become an ugly word.  Power corrupts.  Power makes one person stronger than another and makes things unfair.  But God has called His people to be empowered for His work.  Elijah walked in the power of God and God worked His power through Elijah.  Foot races with chariots, calling down fire, praying for rain and parting the waters were some of the acts of power God used His prophet to perform.  Elijah lived with an expectation and anticipation of God’s power working in and through him as He followed God’s direction and Elisha followed quickly in his steps.

We don’t talk much about empowering our children to do God’s work.  We talk about equipping them and educating them and protecting them, but we don’t talk much about power.  There are conversations about releasing their potential, but not enough about God’s power being released in their lives.  But power is exactly what they need to be prepared to handle.  Our children should live with an expectation of God’s power being released in and through their lives.  We cannot ask them to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and then not teach them to expect His power to work in their lives.

We also cannot expect to teach them an expectation and anticipation for God’s power to be expressed in them if we don’t expect it ourselves.  Elisha expected the power of God because Elijah did.  We live and breathe by the power of God.  We minister His grace by His power.  We produce fruit by His power.  We walk and wait and worship in His power.  It is the life we were made for; we and our children.

Lord, help me live a life defined by Your power.  Give me the will and the way to expect and anticipate Your power moving in and through my life and lives of my children.  Lord, show Your power. Amen.

In the Counsel of the Wise


Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king.  When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still inEgypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned fromEgypt.  So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly ofIsraelwent to Rehoboam and said to him:  “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”

Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So the people went away.

Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.

They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”

But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.  He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”

The young men who had grown up with him replied, “Tell these people who have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter’–tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist.  My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.'” – 1 Kings 12:1-11 (NIV)

This is not the best way to start off a reign.  Rehoboam has the opportunity to heal some wounds, repair some cracks in the kingdom and become beloved by his people, but he decides to hang with his friends.  Where the elders under Solomon had gained wisdom, experience and perspective, Rehoboam’s friends had gained arrogance and bitterness.  Stupid friends.

There is a disease that every generation suffers from in varying degrees.  It attacks the mind, especially the areas controlling perspective, logic and reason.  Those who suffer from this disease become convinced of their superior intellect, accepting their opinion as absolute truth.  Usually the malady affects children beginning in the pre-teen years and can only be cured by respecting your elders and being teachable.  The sickness is known by many names; I-know-it-all-itis, you-ain’t-the-boss-of-me-enza, and it’s-all-about-me-fever.

Rehoboam certainly had contracted the disease and it seems it was his friends who were contagious.  Unfortunately our children can contract the disease very easily from friends, TV and even at home.  We need to provide a healthy environment at home and inoculate them against the foolishness of this world.  This requires discussing hard issues with hard answers, honesty and whole-hearted dependence on God for His wisdom to salt those conversations. Teaching our children to walk in the counsel of the wise is a daily challenge, but God will meet our daily need if we ask.

Rehoboam did not heed the words of his own father, “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:5-7)  Our children need to hear this truth again and again, but more importantly they need to see it in action.  They need to see God’s wisdom at work in our lives.  They need to watch us reject the foolishness of this world for the wisdom of God’s kingdom.  Let’s cure the disease by seeking healing for ourselves first.

Lord, help me to be wise.  Give me a hunger for Your wisdom and good counsel.  May my children grow in wisdom and humility, seeking friends who follow after You and You alone.  Let them not “despise wisdom and instruction.” Amen.