New Life in Christ Weekender
A short reminder of events happening this weekend
Dear New Life in Christ Church Family,
This Saturday is the last game of our children’s basketball season. Three of my kids play and I coach one of the teams. I love basketball season, not just for the sport of it all, but for the time it gives me with my kids.
One of my best childhood memories took place driving home from basketball games when my dad and I rehearsed the game. As I remember those conversations, he was much more concerned about my character than my competitiveness. To this day, those car rides with my dad are a treasured memory.
During those rides, I would have his attention and he would have mine. I was very stubborn and unteachable during those adolescent years, but I know I heard my dad on those occasions, because that advice sticks with me to this day. It was one of the most powerful times he had to speak into my life.
There is a verse that resonates with me as I consider those car rides. “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” (Proverbs 23:26).
Richard Phillips, in his book Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men says this verse gives us the “very pulse of the Bible’s teaching on a father’s relationship with his children, including God the Father’s relationship with us, His sons in Christ.” (94)
Phillips goes on to point out what the verse doesn’t say (95). It doesn’t say, “My son, give me your behavior”. It also doesn’t say, “My son, give me your physical presence.” While we can use our parental authority get our children to do what we want them to do (at least for a time), and while we may think that simply being physically present with our children is enough, parents who depend on these two things often find that they eventually lose the hearts of their children through distance, rebellion, and anger. Parents who depend solely on authority find that its effectiveness eventually runs out just as children need something deeper than physical presence.
No, what we need from our children is their hearts.
The importance of the heart is repeated throughout the Bible. It tells us to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Biblically speaking the heart includes the entire inner person including thoughts, desires, emotions, and motives. As parents we want to lead so that our children willingly give their hearts to us as parents … and more importantly that they give their hearts to God as their heavenly Father. God wants their hearts even more than we do.
We can put our children through all the right activities, have them present at church and Sunday school, and put them in the best schools, but if we don’t win their hearts, what do we have? Often we end up with rebellion and rejection in the young adult years. Sometimes the rebellion and rejection will be of us as parents. Often it includes their rejection of God and his authority in their lives. Aiming for good behavior is not enough. Neither is it enough to “just be around”. Parenting intentionally works to win the hearts of children. How do we do this? Let me suggest 4 things (adapted from Phillips’ book, pages 98-103).
We can do this by worshiping God together. If worshiping God is not important to you as a parent, it will probably not be important to your children. And yet, our worship is not just about being at church, but it is about giving your own heart to God in worship. It also is important to make faith a part of our family lives by reading the Bible together daily.
We can also do this by praying for our children. We need to show them how important they are to us and to God by praying for them. We need to have them pray for us as well as they see us as broken people in need of grace.
We can do this by working with our children. By working on a shared goal together we get time with our children serving others and giving to our community.
We can also do this by playing with our children. We need to enter their world and enjoy the things they enjoy. We need to invite them into our world and let them enjoy the things we enjoy.
As I said, basketball season finishes this week. Although I will reclaim a few hours per week, it also means that I will miss out on the basketball conversations we have week to week. I’ve tried to imitate my dad in having those “car-conversations”. After each game we talk about the game and how the kids did. We talk about character and competitiveness. We apply our faith to the game of basketball. One thing I like about kids sports is that we own the sports. They don’t own us. We have the time to enjoy a bit of gaming, yes, but also the time to worship, pray, and work together.
Our family has two cars. We have mom’s car. It is the nice one. A newish Toyota Sienna mini-van. Mine is the other one. It shouldn’t be too hard to see out in the parking lot. It is a 1993 Honda Civic, with the paint peeling off and hail damaged. It is ugly, and worse on the inside. Someday my kids might be embarrassed to be seen in it. I’m just holding on as long as I can.
But until then, I will rejoice that my kids still say, “We want to ride home with dad!” They’ll put up with my car if they know I will interact with them for a little while, to work through their lives, even if it is just about a basketball game.
As a father I hope that I can show my children just a little bit of the love that God the Father has for them. He loves them far more than I am able to in my own sinfulness. He sent his Son to die for them. He foreknew them and loved them before I even knew them.
But I hope that as they give me their hearts, that they will give God their hearts. That is far more important to their ongoing happiness than anything else. If a little extra work now will help see that happen, then I am willing to humble myself, take up the plow, and seek to win their hearts. That is, because God did it for me first.
Men’s Breakfast @ 8 AM
Dear New Life Men, we want to invite you to the men’s breakfast this Saturday morning at 8 AM. It’s a time for great food and fellowship, and this month Dr. Dominic Aquila will be applying the Scriptures to our lives as men on mission. Hope you can come.
9:30 AM – Easter Cantata Choir Rehearsal (music room)
11:00 AM – Easter Cantata Orchestra Rehearsal (room 100)
- 9 AM – Sunday School
- Combined Adult and Youth Class on Missions (meet in sanctuary)
- Children’s Sunday School
- Worship Service – 10 AM –Dr. Dominic Aquila, President of New Geneva Theological Seminary, Preaching
- Cherokee Team meeting – 4:30 pm (Youth Room) – See Jay Storms or George Giddens for more information.
- Evening Service – 6 PM – Jim Melnick Speaking: Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism, Friends of Russian Jewry
- Junior and Senior High Youth Discipleship Groups – Sunday at 7 PM
- Come to Pray – Corporate Prayer at 7 PM.
- College Drama Ministry (room 100) – 7:00 pm