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In the world, but not OF the world.

“Like everything else God calls people to, God doesn’t call people to be parents because they are able.”

Wow, this year has been full of so much life! As our kids are getting older, and the world seems to be getting crazier, we have really had to analyze how we are equipped to parent through it all. Our goal is to raise kids who love Jesus and love others, but the culture around us reveals itself to be SO far from that. The culture surrounding us is constantly pulling our children (as well as us!) into so many different directions, directions that can and will never bring us hope or joy. The things of the world are distracting and empty and promise nothing.

"The most fundamental task of a mother and father is to show God to the children. Children know their parents before they know God. This is a huge responsibility and should cause every parent to be desperate for God-like transformation. The children will have years of exposure to what the universe is like before they know there is a universe. They will experience the kind of authority there is in the universe and the kind of justice there is in the universe and the kind of love there is in the universe before they meet the God of authority and justice and love who created and rules the universe. Children are absorbing from dad his strength and leadership and protection and justice and love; and they are absorbing from mom her care and nurture and warmth and intimacy and justice and love – and, of course, all these overlap."

This year, we have definitely had more real-life conversations and discussions as our kids are getting a little older. We could look at these conversations in 2 ways - 1. “Oh no, they’re too young, this is too much. Let’s stop it all, shelter them, and protect them from the world.”, or 2. “Ok, this is an opportunity to walk and talk them through this, showing the difference of God’s way and the world’s way. Let’s not shelter them, but allow this opportunity to reveal how much we need Jesus.” Of course, my immediate response is protection, but I know that God gave me these kids to teach them about HIM, and raise them to love HIM — and honestly, the only way to do that, is to ALLOW them to go through things and walk them through things. How will they ever learn to deal with these issues if our first response is to run and remove? They won’t!

“Parents who really do understand that they are never anything more than representatives of someone greater, wiser, more powerful, and more gracious than they are know that their daily work is not to turn their children into anything. They have come to understand that they have no power whatsoever to change their children and that without God’s wisdom they wouldn’t even know what is best for their children. They know that what they have been called to be are instruments in the hands of One who is gloriously wise and is the giver of the grace that has the power to rescue and transform the children who have been entrusted to their care.”

These days are their times to go from full dependence on us, to independence, to full dependence on GOD. And guess what?? They aren’t going to always realize their need for dependence on God, unless they see how broken everything would be without Him. But the key is, they have to see “brokenness.” If we were in a bright room our entire life, we wouldn’t know darkness, because we’ve never seen it. And then, as soon as those lights go off and everything gets dark and broken, we wouldn’t be prepared. We couldn’t handle the darkness, if all we did was keep the lights on and run towards the light every time it gets dim. But…instead….what if we taught them how to LOVE the light, run always TO the light, but also walk into the darkness and BE A LIGHT?! As a mom, I feel that way prepares them much more for the hardships they will face as they continue to get older.

So, how do we do this?

  • Well, we must pray…. A lot. Haha. We gotta face the fact that these kids aren’t ours to begin with! They are God’s, given to us as a huge blessing, privilege, and task. The Bible says children are “like arrows”, because we train them, and send them out into the world. They must be carefully shaped and formed, with strength and skill, and faith - and then aimed and sent in the right direction. They have so much potential, going out from “the hand of a warrior.” WE TRAIN THEM TO FIGHT THE BATTLES. How can we possibly have the power to do that ourselves? We can’t, which is why we live on our knees in prayer.

  • BIBLE. Reading alone, reading with them, teaching them to read it themselves. One time about a year ago, my kids were at my parents’ house without us. My dad called that night to tell me what happened. He went on to explain that he put a movie on for them, and Jackson came out shortly after asking my dad to turn it off, because he felt it was too inappropriate, and he didn’t feel right watching it. My dad was shocked, and told me how proud he was of Jackson. I hung up the phone and cried! I was so proud, too!! I was proud that, even when he was without me, unable to hear my mom voice telling him no, he heard God's voice telling him no in his heart. And that comes from reading the Bible and knowing scripture that corrects.

  • We must have daily dialogue and conversation, and BE present. Our goal is for our kids to talk with us about EVERYTHING. We want to share our struggles with them, and vice versa. We want them to KNOW they WILL have issues and temptations, and we want to hold their hands through it. We strive to let them know that we don’t expect perfection, because we are not perfect either. We admit where we fail, giving them grace to also fail, just as Christ gives us.

  • We let them be IN the world, but pray they don’t be OF the world. I don’t care where you take your children, or where you send them to school or don't send them, or how many youth groups and church events you send them to, or if you homeschool and never leave your house — they are still sinners, and they still need Jesus! We cannot separate ourselves from sinners because guess what, we’re the worst of em! We have major guidelines and boundaries, etc. in our house, but we do not "seclude" in hopes of running away from "the world". Every one of our hearts is still filled with sinful thoughts, desires, behaviors, etc. no matter how far we try and run. Instead, we prepare them with scripture, and DAILY guide them. Is it exhausting sometimes to be so involved daily? YES. But do we see the fruit from it? ABSOLUTELY YES.

I want them around people who aren’t “just like them”, places with others who don’t believe as they do. And maybe even experience situations of temptation to learn to FLEE from it. Without these harder situations we obviously wish we could always want shelter them from, they won’t live in NEED OF GOD without seeing the darkness. They will live in comfort and complacency, and we don’t want that for them.

If we want to raise children who are strong in their faith, and who truly believe their need for Christ, we have to decide to prepare them for it, but also kinda let them go. Do we want to raise a sheltered kid who then rebels once they leave our house? I sure don’t!

We go from full protection to full preparation. And the result of that is allowing them to be in situations where they are forced to make choices in their lives. In these situations, their true faith comes out. They aren’t making choices based on whether “mommy and daddy will be mad,” but instead, “this isn’t what God would want of me.” Their convictions have now become their own, and that is such a cool and beautiful thing!

“Your work as a parent is a thing of extreme value because God has designed that you would be a principal, consistent, and faithful tool in his hands for the purpose of creating God-consciousness and God-submission in your children. You can’t create this yourself, only God can, but you have been appointed to be an irreplaceable tool in his powerful hands.”

If you’re like me, and sometimes question how in the world can we raise our kids in this crazy world, REMEMBER - our God hasn’t changed!! The God He is now is the same God He was, and the same God He is always going to be. Full of mercy, grace, love, forgiveness, conviction, jealousy for us. And in the harder days, we experience even more fully our need for Him, and our childrens’ need for Him. I cannot imagine living in this world without a hope in Jesus.

"Effective parents equip their children to overcome the world – not by changing and controlling their environment (things external to their children), but by going after their children’s hearts. We change their hearts by teaching the gospel, modeling the gospel, and centering our homes on the gospel. The gospel, rightly understood and modeled, makes Christianity attractive. Effective parents make the gospel so attractive that the world cannot get a foothold in their children’s hearts."

My prayer is our hard work now raises some awesome adults who go into the world with a strong foundation, able and willing to share the gospel with anyone they see, solid in their convictions, and on fire for God. I want them to know they aren’t living for mom or dad, but for their Creator. God is working for US, we aren’t working for HIM. He can reach our kids’ hearts without a perfect performance by us as parents.

"As we assessed our parenting options, we wanted a style that took into account our children's unique personalities, their fragile natures, the corrupted world that surrounded them, their personal bents, and the individual pilgrimages in which God would take them.

We wanted our method to be powered by our confidence in God rather than our concerns about the messed-up world we were raising our children in.

The success of our parenting rested far more on our personal and daily relationship with Christ than any other factor. We simply wanted to make sure that our children's home reflected the spirit of the relationship that God maintains with us -- Grace."

“Without the intervention of God’s grace, your children will not be who they are supposed to be or do what they are supposed to do.”

"Parenting – not politics, not the classroom, not the laboratory, not even the pulpit – is the place of greatest influence. To suppose otherwise is to be captive to the shriveled secular delusion. We must understand that it is through the godly family that God’s grace, a vision of God, a burden for the world, and a Christian character are most powerfully communicated… Parents, don’t abandon your place of influence. It is still true that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Believe it."

"God has so designed that children, in their formative years, naturally look to their [parents] in order to emulate them… "Mold me – impart to me what’s most precious to your hearts." But so often a child sees behind all of the religious garb of his parents and finds what is really precious to them! He sees patterns of heart which lure them toward a pursuit of wealth, leisure, athletics, entertainment, television, shopping or religious busyness. A child can easily see when these things are more exciting to his parents than devotion to Jesus Christ! When this proves to be the case, a child will embrace those same affections – to the detriment of his own soul!"


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