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No Greater Love

The importance of parenting

                                 PARENTING



From the Editor of ACTS magazine (May 2007):

     After God blessed Adam and Eve. He commanded them to "Be
fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28a NASB). Thus, the primordial
couple soon became parents. Throughout the Old Testament,
children were regarded as a special blessing from on high. The
psalmist proclaimed, "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
the fruit of the womb is a reward (127:3 NASB). Evidence for the
belief that children were a blessing can also be found in the
barren wife motif within the patriarchal narratives. e.g. Sarah
and Rebekah, and in later biblical figures as well, e.g., Hannah
and Elizabeth. In the New Testament children were the focus of
several important events. After Jesus saw His disciples rebuke
children who were trying to come to Him, He said, "Permit the
children to come to Me: do not hinder them: for the kingdom of
God belongs to such as these" (Mark 10:14 NASB). Jesus praised
children for their simple trust as He asked believers to have
faith like a child. (Of course a child-like faith should not be
equated with an immature faith.)
     ACTS' focus this year is on living the Chrstian life. One
aspect of the Christian life for most Christians is the
opportunity to be a parent. Every great opportunity in life comes
with great responsibilities and great rewards. Although almost
anyone can biologically produce children, being a father or a
mother takes a life-long commitment to make the necessary
sacrifices for their children. It takes time, energy, and money.
to say the least. For Christian parents, special attention must
be given to the spiritual life of their children.
     Parents are to love, teach, honor, care for and respect
their children as fellow humans made in the image of God (Genesis
1:27). Fathers and mothers are models for their children, and
children learn by their example. A stable, safe environment must
be supplied for them at all times. The home, in particular, is a
safe haven for parents and children to deepen their relationship
together and with the Lord. The home serves as the ideal place
for parents to listen to their children and communicate with them
daily, expressing concem for their well-being and spiritual life.
Parents are to be active, not passive, participants in the lives
of their children, though children are not an extension of their
parents.
     Paul instructs fathers not to "provoke your children to
anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the
Lord" (Ephesians 6:4 NASB). Therefore, parents should never
humiliate or antagonize their children in public or private.
Furthermore, parents must never give the impression that their
love for their children is based on performance, that is, what
their children do or don't do will determine if they receive love
from their parents or not.
     Children need discipline, discipline that is both fair and
consistent. "Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although
you strike him with the rod, he will not die" (Proverbs 23:13
NASB). Instruction of the Lord is clearly an integral concept for
the Christian family.    Parents who practice spiritual
disciplines like reading the Bible and praying with their
children will lay foundations of the faith. On the contrary,
parents who do not engage themselves in spiritual growth will
send red flags to their children, demonstrating the lack of
importance faith actually plays in their lives.
     Like parents, children have responsibilities, too. Appearing
in the Decalogue, the Bible commands children to "Honor your
father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the
land which the LORD your God gives you" (Exodus 20:12 NASB). Paul
writes, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is
right" (Ephesians 6:1 NASB). One verse later Paul made the
comment that the fifth commandment is the first with a promise
(Ephesians 6:2), thus demonstrating its importance.

In His Service, 
Editor, ACTS Magazine

                              NO GREATER LOVE

By Steve and Joyce Boone

     
     Our society has a low standard for parenting. It seems
anyone who participates in the conception of a child has the
title of "parent," as though biology is all that counts. Is that
all? When we see angry, selfish, parents trying to cope with
defiant children in public places, we emphatically say, "YES,
there is more to being a parent!"
     Good parenting does not come naturally. We didn't bring our
first child home from the hospital completely ready for the
challenges of being a parent. Sure, we started out confidently.
We talked a lot about raising children, molding and nurturing
that new little life. It was exciting! The confidence we began
with, that we could meet all the needs of our tiny daughter,
collided with reality early on. We experienced exhaustion,
frustration, puzzlement, and plenty of mistakes. As we suffered
from a lack of sleep, we realized that this parenting job would
not be easy.
     But we wanted to be good parents. We had good examples from
our own parents to follow, and so we stepped out on our own. Now,
nearly twenty-two years and six children later, what can we say
about being parents?
     We want to take a moment to look at our motivation. What
compels us, as Christian parents, to give it our best effort?
Jesus said in the Gospel of John, "Greater love hath no man than
this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (15:13). When
Jesus spoke these words, He wasn't directly speaking about
parenting, yet there is an application to parents. Godly parents
will pattern their parenting after the portrait Jesus paints of
Himself, loving us so much that He laid down His life for us.
Sacrificing our own ambitions for the good of our children is a
part of our calling to be parents. Words such as unselfishness,
self-sacrifice, and self-denial become the vocabulary of godly
parenting.
     In everyday terms, what do the "self" words mean? They mean
that decisions about where we go, what we spend our time on,
where our resources are channeled, and what our dollars are spent
for, will be made in the interest of our family. To be clear,
sacrificing to indulge our kids with material things isn't what
we are referring to. When we are determined to be great parents,
we don't consider what we want to have, see, or do, but rather
how we can use what we have to best raise our children.
     God must come first as a priority. Learning His word and
following it is essential to equipping ourselves as parents. It
is a fact that we will adopt some model for our parenting. Our
model can be inspired by God's Word and godly examples or
constructed by "rubbing shoulders" with the world. Just as with
any skill, no parent will be able to teach his or her children
the moral and spiritual qualities they do not possess. When our
kids see the examples of parents who "practice what they preach,"
they realize there is value in pleasing God and in having virtue
(moral excellence and righteousness).

     Second to seeking God is maintaining our marriage, one with
a strong partnership between husband and wife. When we married,
we stood in front of God, our families, and friends, and made a
special commitment to each other. Now, as our kids witness us
living out our promises to "love, honor and cherish each other,"
they learn to put value on keeping their commitments. And,
through our respect and honor for each other, we are teaching our
kids the importance of unselfish love in any relationship. We set
an example for them in seeking their own life mates. In whatever
we do, our actions shout louder than our words!
     The commitment we make to each other as a couple gives a
stability and security to the whole family. Our children don't
worry about the family foundation crumbling. They know their
parents are committed to being there today and tomorrow. This
assurance also helps them to place their trust in God's promise
that He is constant and reliable. God is there and they can
commit their lives to Him.

     It is responsible behavior when parents work hard to
establish a stable, Godly family. It has become very easy to pass
the care (and the blame) of our kids off to the church, the
school, and even the extended family. These institutions and
individuals are valuable help in molding our kid's character, but
we alone are their parents. Godly parents have to say, "I am
responsible to train my children up in the way that they should
go because God has placed them in my care."
     When our kids were small, we learned always, ALWAYS, to set
boundaries our kids could not cross without consequences. We
learned not to hesitate to apply spankings and discipline for
willful disobedience during those years, especially during ages 2
to 10. But we never spank for forgetfulness, for spilling milk,
or for accidents. At this age, it is important to treat
separately immature accidents and willful rebellion. As children
grow older, issues requiring discipline remain, but punishment
for crossing the boundaries change. We've learned that respect
has to accompany correction. We let them see that we love them
enough to care about their behavior, and we ask for respect in
return. Remembering we are the parents, we don't try to be their
best friend. We are willing to be unpopular at times.

     When looking at developing the spiritual component of the
family, we hesitate to say, "This is what we do; it's for
everybody." Each family will find methods to put in place,
methods that fit their situations (financial condition, available
time, family age and size, etc), There are so many habits a
family can employ, like daily Bible time, collective prayer time,
"learning assignments," and other activities. We prefer to
emphasize the value of identifying and then implementing God's
basic principles for every family. For example, we have put a
high value on the Sabbath in our family, consistently holding the
standard that no other activities will come ahead of observing
it. Our children take part in school athletics and music but opt
out of Friday evening and Sabbath activities. We let them make
the decision whether to continue to be active or not with the
understanding that the other events can not come before the
Sabbath. This becomes a lesson in living and being in the world
while not compromising truth.

     God must come first as a priority. Learning His Word and
following it, is essential to equipping ourselves as parents.
We have taught our kids they can do many things so long as
nothing they take on causes a conflict with the biblical truths
they have been taught. We encourage our kids to study and know
the Scripture, to think about the basis of our faith and how it
can apply to them in a personal way. We try to talk about their
life issues in terms of scripture, to help them see how the
biblical standards have everyday practical applications.
Deuteronomy 6:6,7 says, "And these words, which I command thee
this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them
diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou
sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and
when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."

     What compels us, as Christian parents, to give it our best
effort?
     Parenting is made difficult today because we live in a world
where everything challenges us to "have it all." Oh, and be a
parent, too. We sometimes sense our family and ourselves slowly,
subtly being sucked into a whirlpool of worldliness. God becomes
less important while our busyness, 'trying to have it all' eats
away at our time. It is critical that we pray for strength to
avoid that cesspool, and that we spend quantity time, lots of it,
with our children. We know our lives are good examples when we
have a circumcised heart and mind, as the Bible commands us. What
qualified Abraham to be the father of God's people? Genesis 18:19
tells us (the Lord speaking), "For I know him, that he will
command his children and his household after him, and they shall
keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment."

     So we think back twenty-two years to the beginning and we
can say, "Wow, we have truly been blessed!" Thank you Lord for
letting us be parents to each of these precious lives. We have
grown as parents as our children have grown into young adults,
learning the true meaning of the words of Christ: "No greater
love hath any man..." Although it is not easy, our prayer is that
you are encouraged in your journey as godly parents.

     Encourage your kids to study and know the Scripture, to
think about the basis of your faith and how it can apply to them
in a personal way. "And these words, which I command thee this
day,  shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them
diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when  thou
sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and
when thou  liest down, and when thou  risest up." Deuteronomy
6:6,7.
                            ...................

The Steve and Joyce Boone family live on acreage near Marceline,
Missouri and attend the Marceline Church of God, Seventh Day.
Steve is a church elder and Secretary of the Maranatha College
board. Steve and Joyce are the current youth coordinators for the
church in Marceline. Megan is a senior nursing student at
Missouri Western State University, Matt is a Junior majoring in
Biochemistry at the University of MissouriColumbia, Kendra is a
senior and Kevin a freshman in High School, Shannon is in seventh
grade and Emily in third grade.

                            ..................

All Scripture is from the King James Version.
May 2007 ACTS

A publication of the General Council of the Churches of God, 7th
Day, Meridian, ID, USA

 
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