I normally have two or three reading projects going on at the same time. Right now I actually have four or five, if you count my daily time in the Bible! Currently I am following a specific commentary as I study the Word each morning. Then I have the book on healing that Piper and I are reading together after breakfast and lunch. Before we get up from the couch in the evening we watch a Christian minister teach on one of the Christian TV channels. From there we head to bed and I read our confessions to Piper. Once she is off to sleepland, I enjoy winding down for about half an hour by reading a fun, adventure book following in the genre of Clive Cussler. And just before turning off the lights for the night I like to conclude my day by reading from another Christian teaching book, with the current title covering the subject of God’s grace.
I find it really interesting and exciting when all those various inputs converge on the same subject, as is happening right now (… although, not so much the adventure book)! And that subject is God’s grace. This morning’s Bible study focused on the father’s/parents actions of grace in the upbringing of their children. I was telling my wife at breakfast that the verse that really jumped out at me was Colossians 3:21 where Paul tells the fathers (or ‘parents’ as the word can be translated either way): “don’t make your children resentful, or they will become discouraged.” (God’s Word ©)
Having spent the majority of my ministry years involved in Student Ministries, I think that was one of the most common situations that we dealt with! That is one reason we always liked to have Parent of Youth groups, parent and youth activities, as well as Family Fun Nights. These events gave us an opportunity to be involved with the parents of our students as well as the parents with the other parents. They set up numerous opportunities for learning through teaching, experience and just watching how others interacted with their children.
I realized a few years back that as our own children transitioned into adulthood, that Piper’s and my input into their lives was also in transition. I have become aware that our approach to our kids has transformed into an attitude of grace, prayer and encouragement. A good example was our stay in Oklahoma. That three year period was one of the greatest times in my life… but it was also one of the most difficult from many different fronts!
It was great as it seemed like we were living in heaven upon the earth. Bible school was fantastic! So excellent in the depth of teaching that I could not get enough of it and a church fellowship that seemed to only get better and excel at all that they/we did! But then there were the other experiences. First was my time limitations as I was going to school full time and working full time… and caring for a few yards on the side! Then there was all the strange things that were beginning to come into focus with my wife’s health, followed by all the tests and facing the scary results that no one – at that time – seemed to be able to get their hands on.
Along with all this during the first year, was the trauma of helping both of our kids that came with us through many difficult times as a result of the move. I have to give God all the glory because at the early onset of His clear directive to me to move and attend school (over a year and a half previously to our trek across the country), He assured me that it would turn out better for our kids than they had ever known before… and it did!
Then there were our finances! We had a plan to take care of this part of the equation before we left and it seemed to be working great… for the first month or so! As it turned out, both our son and my wife had difficulty in securing jobs, and when my wife finally did, she was let go after three months due to her having difficulties remembering directions (which we didn’t understand fully until we got back to California and the diagnosis of her health needs). Then we suddenly had a past debt (that I actually thought had been taken care of a few years previous to this time) pop up with large forced monthly payments. I had been pre-warned by others who had followed the Lord’s leading to attend Bible College previous to us, but I honestly thought I had all the bases covered!
As I look back now, it is clear to me that it was God’s grace, lots of prayer and faith in His Word in the provisions that Jesus has provided us through His finished work of the cross that got us through! Romans 5:1-2 confirms this revelation as it declares that “Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand…” (KJV)
I spent many sleepless nights in the midst of everything that was going on back then in prayer over our my wife, our kids and our needs, while I physically approached every one of them each day with an attitude and approach of grace… not criticism, complaining or guilt. I wish I could have taken my wife to more of the activities at the church during that time, but to be honest, I was just too pooped! I am so thankful that our younger daughter was able to accompany her to many seminars and other events.
I believe that a positive and encouraging attitude and approach of grace is what prevents our children from becoming discouraged… and especially our adult children. I love to hear of our kid’s dreams and visions for their families futures and I love to encourage them to be free to pray over them and step out in faith when the time is right to pursue them. According to Romans 5:2 we have a firm standing in God’s grace and thereby have access through this unmerited and undeserved favor of God, by faith, to all the provisions that Jesus has already provided for us through His death, burial, resurrection and assumption to the highest position in heaven, at the right hand of Papa God!
That is the kind of Good News that I want to proclaim to my family… How about you? Have a great weekend and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting to encourage my family within my standing in God’s grace today?”