Tag Archives: Parenting

Sour Grapes

child-driving-carLiving in the Spirit
October 10, 2016

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 31:27-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord. In those days they shall no longer say:
‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
   and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge. —Jeremiah 31:27-30

God promised restoration to Israel even in the midst of exile. The comment about sour grapes refers to a proverb of the ages also quoted in Ezekiel 18:2. In reality, the sins of parents impact their children in one way or another. In some instances, children follow the parent’s example. Sometimes children learn from the mistakes of their parents and work hard not to replicate them. Once, the juvenile court called me to give my opinion on whether a 14-year-old should be tried as an adult for grand-theft auto. At that young age, he had been caught and found guilty of the crime several times. He was following in the family business. Probably had accompanied his father on similar adventures from his earliest years. One time the police stopped him, because they thought they were following a driverless car. He was so short they could not see his head from the back.

No parent is perfect; adults do all miss the mark from time to time. Hopefully, we learn from our own mistakes and children see us rectifying them as we attempt to change. Learning how to seek God’s forgiveness and guidance also must be modeled by parents.

The admonition in our scripture targets society too. We wrap children and adults in packages of prejudice that do not relate to who a person is or what he or she might be able to accomplish given a chance. If God chooses not to leave the taste of sour grapes in a child’s mouth neither should we.

Prayer: Lord, make us seers and developers of positive potential, not judges chaining our children in their negative histories. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved

What Wrong Did God Do?

pool-vandalism-08-20100109Living in the Spirit
August 22, 2016

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 2:4-13

Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord:
What wrong did your ancestors find in me
   that they went far from me,
and went after worthless things, and became worthless themselves?
They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord
   who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
   in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
in a land that no one passes through,
   where no one lives?’ –Jeremiah 2:4-6

When I worked with juvenile delinquents, I cannot tell you how many parents raised the question that God asks in our scripture today, “What did we do wrong?” There are no perfect parents except God, and some have more shortfalls than others.

Our work with juveniles ran the full gamut from stupid teenage acts to murder. I remember four boys, 15 and 16-year-olds who thought it would be cool to climb over the wall around a motel pool with a few packs of beer. They became more destructive the drunker they got until they had thrown all the furniture and umbrellas into the pool. The police arrested them, and they landed in court the next day for a preliminary hearing. Each had a parent or parents present who were missing work and not happy. The parents of three of the boys stood before the judge next to their sons as deals were worked out in sentencing to community service, being grounded for what the boys thought was the rest of their lives, and paying for the damaged furniture. The fourth set of parents, very busy professionals, rose when the judge called them forward and said, “Our son is out of control, you will just have to do something about him” and left. The seasoned judge was stunned. The fourth boy seemed more immature and vulnerable than the others. He followed the crowd not the other way around. The judge placed him in state custody, and we placed him in a wonderful foster home in another town while we tried to figure out what to do. The metamorphous was amazing. He bonded quickly with the foster parents, attended school regularly, became a good student, and developed healthy friendships. After the judge had read the report at the follow-up hearing, he ordered the parents to pay child support to meet the cost of foster care and let the boy stay with his foster parents.

We serve a Savior who will never forsake us even show up for court and stand beside us. Why would we ever want to put him in the position of wondering what he had done wrong?

Prayer: Lord, forgive us when we stray so far from you that you wonder what you have done wrong. Please do not give up on us. We know you keep loving us, help us to know that too. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved

God with Us Part 2

Body of ChristChristmas
December 26, 2015

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:41-52

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. –Luke 2:41-44

To say that the change from mangers and shepherds and wise men and all to a self-assertive preteen in one liturgical Sunday is abrupt is a gross understatement. But so goes the role of parenting. There are few paradigms shifts of life as monumental as the birth of a child, particularly the first. Ask any parents, even those who have longed and carefully planned for the child.

It is the ultimate challenge of changing the center of one’s life to someone other than self. This tiny, fragile infant is totally dependent upon it caretakers, usually parents, to help it grow and develop in wisdom and truth.

It is the supreme commitment of continuing the species, claiming a place and role in the future of the world.

It is the consummate act of dedicating oneself to the goal of living in a world controlled by love.

Becoming a parent in most instances is the easiest job in the world to get and the hardest to do. In so many ways it mirrors the call of Christ, whose yoke is easy, but whose vision requires our everything.

Prayer: God of Love, whether we come to you with eyes wide open, by accident, or confused and unsure, meld us together as one to be your Body in the establishment of your Kingdom in this world. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Parenting

Living in the Spirit
July 8, 2014

 Scripture Reading: Genesis 25:19-24 

The children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If it is to be this way, why do I live?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,
‘Two nations are in your womb,
   and two peoples born of you shall be divided;
one shall be stronger than the other,
   the elder shall serve the younger.’ — Genesis 25:22-23

So begins a saga of deception and intrigue. The two boys in Rebekah’s womb are Esau and Jacob—the first the father’s favorite and the second the mother’s. Jacob was a manipulator. We would probably call him a shrewd businessman today. Esau became an outdoorsman apparently a hard worker with little guile. How much of those traits were in their DNA and how much was taught them, I wonder?

Early childhood specialist indicate that the character of most children is well on its way to formation by the time they are three years old. Whether we like it or not, most adults rear their children like they were parented. For those of us who had “good” parental role models we laugh in later years when we recognize some of their traits in ourselves. Usually it is the same trait that once irritated us when we experienced it with our mother or father. Even when ones parental role model was very “poor” or even worse abusive, those traits are very, very hard to change. Change is, however, not impossible.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if such change could be realized before a child is born, if we could reach the teenage mothers and fathers and help them learn to postpone parenthood until they were more mature, if we could give new parents the tools to nurture their own babies, if we could make wholeness a reality for broken spirits?

We can, you know. God empowers us with the ability to love our neighbors and that love coupled with a whole lot of hard work and patience and dedication can change lives as well as move mountains.

Prayer: Father and Mother of all, instill in us the traits of your love and make us champions for all your children even those who are parents. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.