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Parenting with God's word

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As parents, God’s word is such a great gift to us. In a world that is constantly changing its mind about what is true, and good, and right, we have a sure foundation.

For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.   (Psalm 33:9)

Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.   (Psalm 119:89)

But God’s word is not an abstract set of principles spinning above our heads floating in space. It is not locked up in the Bible until we crack it open. God’s word is not bound. It is free and it has already broken into our world in a concrete way. The word has become flesh and we have beheld his glory in Jesus Christ. (John 1:14).

If you want to know what it looks like to parent your children according to God’s word, look to Jesus. He often called his disciples “children” (Mark 10:24, Matthew 9:2).  If looked at from this angle, His life gives us many concrete ways we can help our kids “grow up” in the same way that he helped his disciples.

Consider these six patterns in the life of Jesus-   

  • He involved his disciples with him as he ministered to others (Luke 8:51, 9:16).
  • He taught them the Scriptures (Matthew 5-7).
  • He put them into risky and difficult situations (Mark 9:18).
  • He spent time in lonely places praying without them (Luke 5:16).
  • He spent time praying in front of them and teaching them how to do it themselves (Luke 11:1).
  • He laid down his life for them washing their feet (John 13)

The list could go on.

But let’s stop there. How would these six patterns shape us if we saw them as  parenting tactics?

It really depends on how old our kids are.

If you have a Newborn, then #6 is especially important. Let the word of God shape your parenting by performing the necessary routine functions of life such as cleaning, feeding, touching, and holding your child. By washing their face after a meal or giving them a bath before bed, you are putting their needs first.  You are truly allowing God’s word to guide your parenting.

If you have an elementary school age kid, #5 is crucial. They need to hear you talking to God about your hopes, your needs, your worries. And they need you to teach them how to do the same thing themselves.Teach your kids to pray and pray with them regularly, in the car, before bed, whenever and wherever. This is parenting according to God's word.

If you have a teenager, #1, #2, & #3, are indispensible. Involve them with serving others, take them with you when you serve meals for the homeless, use their skills and talents when you are raising money for that good cause, open the Scriptures with them and expect them to get their hands dirty with ministry to the real world. Don't just send them to do it. Do it with them.

And of course #4 is something every parent has to make time for. "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." As his followers we will do the same.

But, if you find making time for personal prayer is impossible as a parent, take heart. You are not alone. Children demand a lot of our time and attention. But breaking away to quiet places to pray and meditate on God’s word IS possible. And it is as important to parenting as breathing. Following Jesus in this way is how we make sure we do not “copy the behavior and customs of the world,” but instead “let God transform us into a new person”. (Romans 12:2). Without this pattern we will fall into the trap of motivating our kids with fear instead of love.  And we will begin to look to them as our justification in the world instead of looking to Jesus. (If you want to start prioritizing personal prayer check out this other post).

 As a parent of 5 children, ranging from 15 to 6 years old, I know how demanding and exhausting it can be. When we feel ourselves sinking we seek for solid footing anywhere we can get it. But God’s Word embodied in Jesus Christ is truly the surest foundation we can find.

Do you see other patterns in Jesus’ ministry among his disciples that we should incorporate into our parenting? Comment below and let us know.

Posted by Rich McCaskill with 0 Comments
in Prayer

3 Ways to Pray Like Jesus

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The year was 1896 and Charles M. Sheldon decided for his Sunday night church services that he would write a story that continued one chapter per week. The story would be about different people who decided to model their life after Jesus. He was soon preaching to a packed crowd. Eventually the chapters were combined and published with the title “In His Steps.” One of the main themes in the book was people making decisions in their everyday lives by answering the question “What would Jesus Do?”

The popularity of this book and the eventual fad of the bracelets, hats, t-shirts and tattoos tells us something about the Christian faith. We don’t just want to BELIEVE in Jesus. We want to LIVE like Jesus. In fact this is what 1 John 2:6 tells us the Christian life is all about, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did”

This is particularly true when it comes to prayer. 

Jesus “would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16).

When was the last time you and I did that? When was the last time we powered down all of our devices, got alone and settled into a conversation with God?

Jesus prioritized communication and communion in his relationship with his heavenly Father. And so must we.

But what did Jesus’ prayer time look like?

If we look closely at the accounts of his life we will see that Jesus used his prayer time for (at least) three things.

1) First he used it to bring IMPORTANT DECISIONS to his heavenly Father.

2) Second, he used prayer to DEAL WITH FEARS.

3) Finally he used his prayer time to INTERCEDE for his enemies and friends.

DECISION MAKING

First let’s look at his decision making. Luke 6:12 Jesus goes out to a mountain to pray, and all night he continues to pray to God. In the morning he calls his disciples and chooses from them 12 whom he called as his apostles. This may have been one of the most important decisions Jesus made and we see him spending an incredible amount of time in prayer just before it.

Do you have a major decision? Get out away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life. Find a trail, find some trees, find a mountain and pray it out with your heavenly Father.

This gives us an important insight into the nature of prayer. We often define prayer in terms of talking to God, but major decisions require that we also LISTEN. Psalm 81 has a theme of listening.

God says in verse 8 “Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, If you would but LISTEN to me!” And then again in verse 13 we see God lamenting, “Oh that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways.” In typical Hebrew parallelism we see Psalm 81 equating Listening to the LORD with walking in his ways.

When we pray over big decisions our prayer must include both speaking to God and then listening to God.

One way to listen to God is through stillness and silence.

Psalm 46:10 says “be still and know that I am God” This is why it tells us that Jesus would withdraw to isolated places to pray (Mark 1:35).

Another way to listen to God is through his written word. He has already spoken through the prophets and the apostles. If you have a big decision-  read the book. Often there is a clear answer in there. Recently I was talking to a husband about difficulties in his marriage. He wanted to know what God’s will was. We looked at Ephesians 5 where it says “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” This was the answer he needed for his big decision. Prayerfully reading Scripture in a listening posture is how to deal with big decisions.

 

FEARS

One of Jesus’ most well known prayer times was right before his crucifixion. He goes into a grove of olive trees and takes his three closest friends, Peter, James and John. Once they are alone he becomes anguished and distressed. “He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me..’ He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying

 ‘My Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.’”

As the passage unfolds we see Jesus went and prayed that same prayer three times. Jesus brought his most raw and disturbing desires to God in prayer.

 And so can we.

 

Psalm 51:6 tells us that

 

God desires honesty. 

 

Pray out your fears.

 

Pray out your ungodly desires. Pray them over and over each time declaring, “but not as I will, but as you will.”

INTERCEDING

Jesus spent some of his time in prayer lifting others up to his Father and standing in the gap on their behalf. He told Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you Simon, that your faith should not fail” (Luke 22:31). This was so key to Jesus’ prayer life that we see him doing it on his death bed as it were. From the cross we hear Jesus praying for his enemies.

 The very people who hammered the nails in his feet and mocked him and spit on him now overhear him at prayer.

“Father forgive them,” he prays “for they don’t know what they’re doing”(Luke 23:34).

He taught us to do the same in Matthew 5:44,

“Pray for those who persecute you”

Pray for your friends that they will be able to deepen their faith in Jesus. Pray for your enemies that God will forgive them. This is what Jesus would do with his day.

NOT ON YOUR OWN

As we look at Jesus’ life and we desire to become like him, it will quickly dawn on us that there is no way we can do this. He was perfect and we are not. But there is good news.

He has given us his Spirit.

 

Jesus lived the life he lived by the power of the Holy Spirit and he has given us who believe in him the same wonderful gift.

Pray like Jesus? Yeah right!

 

 

 

Pray like Jesus by the power of the Spirit? Absolutely!

That is our hope of becoming a praying people. Our only hope.

 

Romans 8 puts it this way,

“The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us.” (Romans 8:26). We do not know how we should pray but the Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to get alone and to settle down into communion with God.

If Jesus can conquer death, he can certainly make prayer-less people pray.

 

Take your fear, your decisions, your friends, and even your enemies to God in prayer, and do it now by the power of the Spirit who lives within you. 

 “Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you” - Psalm 32:6

Posted by Rich McCaskill with 0 Comments

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