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thanksgiving-getaways
A number of years ago I saw an advertisement in a magazine (perhaps for a kitchen appliance? I searched, but couldn’t find it) that showed a woman leaving a kitchen carrying a baked turkey, walking into a dining room filled with happy people. It was a wonderful, ideal holiday scene and what I noticed was this: The kitchen (in the foreground) was sparkling, clean and unfilled with dishes and dirty cookware.

And what I thought was this: No way.

Because every cook makes a mess (and the more lavish the meal the more complete the mess), this is impossible.

Lately, however, I’ve been changing my mind about this. Because there are other people besides the cook. So here’s the tip:

Dads, take an active roll in cleaning up the kitchen*, even before the meal is served.

Do you see the ingredients that have already been used? Put them away**.
Do you see the utensils that were used to create the pie? Wash them.
Do you see the extra food particles on the counter? Clean them up.

And then you can eat joyfully without all of it hanging over your head as you eat. And then clean-up will be less hopeless after your meal.

*Dads, if you are a cook for the hosted meal, or if there is no room for a cleaner-upper, or if your wife forbids you to do this, you may disregard this tip.

** Making sure that the cook is done with them, certainly.

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Dads, teach (and model for) your kids: You don’t have to be the best in the world (or your family or your church or your workplace) to be of value or to experience joy.

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It’s hard, when you’ve sinned against a child, to apologize (confess, repent, ask their forgiveness) to them. But this is something all parents should do. Here are nine reasons why.

  1. We’re commanded to.

Right at the end of James it says, “Therefore confess your sins to one another…” Notice it doesn’t say, “Confess your sins to one another, unless you’re in a position of authority over them.”

  1. It shows humility.

Proud parenting is dysfunctional parenting. Apologizing shows you aren’t too proud to admit failure.

  1. It shows you know you aren’t perfect.

It encourages bad theology to make your kids think you are sinless. And you probably aren’t fooling them anyway.

  1. It helps them learn how to forgive.

If God can forgive us, we should forgive each other. This isn’t always easy and experience helps.

  1. It demonstrates that your behavior wasn’t biblical parenting.

When I yell at my kids (or otherwise show anger sinfully), it would be very bad if they walk away from the experience thinking, “I guess that’s just how dads act.” Apologizing says, “That behavior is not the way I should act towards you, and it’s not the way you should act when you’re a parent.

  1. It demonstrates that your behavior isn’t normative.

Family life is a precursor to everyday life. Again, when you sin against your kids, it would be very bad if they walk away from the experience thinking, “I guess that’s just how people interact with each other.” Apologizing says, “You shouldn’t expect that behavior from others, and you shouldn’t act towards others in that way.”

  1. It models to kids requesting forgiveness.

You want your kids to apologize to others when they do wrong, don’t you?

  1. It shows God’s sanctifying work in your life.

Humbling yourself in front of your family may be one way that God is making you more like His Son and more like the image bearer that you were created to be.

  1. Motivation

The knowledge that you don’t like apologizing (and that you’ll have to do it if you sin against a child) might make you less likely to act in that way in the first place.

  1. It increases openness.

Talking about the situation surrounding your sin might be very helpful for your relationship.

  1. It shows them the Gospel.

Our need for forgiveness from God is the first part of the Gospel. Being aware of our sin is required for this. Our only Hope is reconciliation with God and confession, repentance and forgiveness is necessary for this to happen.

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Now all of this is assuming you sin against your children from time to time. If not – if you’re sinless in all your behaviors towards them, congratulations, you’re the only one.

Yes, again, it’s hard to ask forgiveness of anyone, especially a child. But you should ask yourself, why is it hard? Are you holding onto your sin? Is your pride holding you back?

Let it go. And hold onto your children.

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Did I miss any good reasons?

Dads, if you want to help your kids understand days, weeks and months, buy them a calendar with a theme they like – horses, cars, legos, spaceships, cats, dogs, …

Celebrate the turning of the page to each new month.

And then when something they are looking forward to is coming up, put it on the calendar and count down the days with them.

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These tips are actually to my kids…

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My family watched the new version of Beauty and the Beast this weekend and reheard this line: “There’s something sweet, and almost kind. But he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined. And now he’s dear, and so unsure.”

And I told my daughters this: Generally speaking, you shouldn’t let moments of kindness and uncertainty you see in a man make you overlook other darker aspects about him. Like, for example, the fact that he’s holding you prisoner.

And in the sang song we heard from the beast: “And when we touched, she didn’t shudder at my paw”

And I told my sons this: The thought “She is no longer revolted by my physical presence” should not be considered evidence that she is becoming romantically interested in you.

I mean sure, it worked out well in the movie, but it shouldn’t be applied as a general principle.

Dads, teach your sons (especially older brothers) that how they treat their sisters may be what they grow to expect from a husband.

Just so you all know, the Fighter Verse Song Team (including me) has finished their new CD. It’s Set Two!

You can go read the information page about the new CD over at the Fighter Verse Song Blog.

trajectoryReality #1: As a parent, the first thing I need to realize is I’m not sovereign over my children’s future, God is.

Reality #2: As a parent, the second thing I need to realize is I can have a major impact on the direction my children’s lives take.

There is tension there, but both ideas are biblical.

And as we watch our kids grow, there is a first thing we as parents need to continually ask ourselves: What direction is my daughter heading?
Or …
Where will my son end up if they keep going this way?

In other words, what is my child’s trajectory?

There are several areas we parents should consider as we reflect on the trajectory question. Here are five of the most important:

1. Is my child heading towards or away from determining what his gifting is?
You children need to learn to use the gifting God has given them, or what they will find fulfilling. Are they heading that direction? Are they moving towards being more able to serve God and others?

2. Is my child becoming more or less godly? More or less worldly?
As your children head towards maturity, they should be heading away from foolish and sinful activities. They should be ashamed of sin and hope to please God. Does it look like they are pointing this way?

3. Is my child moving towards our family or away from it?
Your children should enjoy family time. They should feel a need for family support. They should like being home. Do they? Or is the orbit carrying them further out?

4. Is my child making decisions that will increase or decrease his or her own personal joy and that of others?
There are people in the world who are only living in the now, with no thought to long term happiness. More blessed are those who are not self-destructive, but are building themselves up as they are building others up. Which mode is your child moving towards?

And most importantly
5. Is my child moving closer to or further from God and his salvation?
Our children should know the Gospel. They should love the Gospel. They should be becoming more aware of their sin and the distance it puts between them and God. They should see their need for a Savior more and more. They should be choosing Jesus.

If we are honestly asking these questions about our kids and getting answers we don’t like, we should do two things:
1. Pray, because Reality #1 is true, and
2. Act (Love, Speak, Respond, Listen, Encourage Exhort), because Reality #2 is true.

But … how? How should I intervene? Should I be a wall that stops them or a hand that gently guides them? What if they are too far down the road towards destruction?

You can always go back to action #1: praying for wisdom. God grants that petition. And then seek to understand your child more. Listen to them. Read the Bible. Talk to wise God followers who have gone before you.

And pray some more.

Dads, when you’re throwing away dried-out markers, keep some of the tops in preparation for the eventual day that you find a marker with a lost top.

I have regretted not doing this.

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Dads, say this to yourself: I’m not sovereign over my children’s future, God is.

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