Box of Rocks


It’s hard to write when you’re in the middle of a fight. But, I suppose, it’s usually in the middle of your greatest fights that you discover, like I do often, that’s when you have something worthwhile to say.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

That sounds like pretty good advice, doesn’t it? Right up until you realize that the day you’re facing appears to suck pretty bad.  

You know the kind of day I’m talking about.  That day that starts with a 4 year old projectile vomiting all over your last clean suit, when you’re already running late for work and all out of sick days.  Or the day your landlord serves you with eviction papers only moments after you got another email saying you’re overqualified for the position you applied for (and you KNEW you were overqualified…you just need a chance to WORK), so they will not be considering your application. Or, the day when your spouse is packing up their belongings on a quest to, “find themselves,” and you are left to try to explain it to the pairs of young, frightened eyes, looking at YOU for an answer.

You would think that is the day that disqualifies that enthusiastic declaration. Nope.

This is THAT day.  That day was meant for YOU.

And, if you already knew that…this message is meant for YOU.

When I sat down to write this, that scripture jumped out at me.  I didn’t realize when it did, that it was at the tail end of a song that King David wrote, when he was in the middle of one of THOSE days.  In the 118th Psalm, David talked about his enemies surrounding him like a swarm of bees, pushing him violently to make him fall.  How, in the throes of this mess, he had determined to rely on the Lord. Because he knew, if he could stand NOW, in the midst of THAT day, and take it as a chastening, as a teachable moment, he would ALWAYS be in a place to say, “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes,” wherever he found himself.

Standing strong, like a stone, in the face of a tumultuous storm. This is what the Lord desires…REQUIRES of His beloved children. That we stand like stone in the face of days that seem insurmountable.  When it looks like there is no imaginable way that you will make it past this day to see another one.

Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone, asking us to be, “steadfast, unmovable,” and always about our Father’s business.  This means that we are, like Jesus, going to run the risk of being rejected and kicked against.  We are meant to be a monument, a testimony of God’s faithfulness. And the only way that works is if we STAY PUT.  Being consistent in our walk with God is the primary mark of one of God’s ‘standing stones.’

It’s not an easy thing to do.  If it were, everybody would do it.  And, there are a lot of people that use that as an excuse for not being that strong, that sturdy, that steadfast.  It requires that we see things, not as they are, but as we expect them to be, once God has gotten us through the process. It requires that we declare the end from the beginning, much like our Father does throughout the Bible.

And there’s that…the Bible.  We gotta read it like it’s the TRUTH.  If we can’t see it like God says it, we have no Rock to stand on. In it, we have very clear instructions on how this goes. It’s that truth that will make us strong enough to stand on those days, to call them marvelous,  and keep us from faltering and washing away on the days that really are marvelous.

It is then, that we can come together and, as in 1 Peter 2:5 says, be those, “lively stones,” that God needs to build His kingdom on the earth.  And, like Peter himself, be a part of that box of rocks from which God has built His church.

 

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The Problem With Modern Parenting…


We’ve all seen it.  The 5 year old in the department store, stomping up and down demanding a toy or to go home or the 3 year old in the grocery cart reaching for the cereal screaming at the top of her lungs. And then there’s the mom.  She’s either embarrassed and apologizing to the other patrons as they pass by whispering to themselves or yelling advice, or she’s negotiating with her little terrorist child, bartering for peace and good behavior.

AND ON THE OTHER HAND…

We’ve seen the parents who, in those same stores, are issuing threats of violence or verbally abusing their little ones into horrified submission. In this case, you either see the child cowering like a scared puppy or you see the child quiet, acquiescent…yet, in their eyes you see anger, defiance, rebellion and sometimes hate.

You can tell in either scenario, this cannot produce well balanced children.  There’s a lot of emotion associated with both pictures and NONE of them are good.

FAST FORWARD 30 years…

These children are now functioning members of society.  They are holding jobs, hanging with friends of like mind, marrying and having children of their own…or NOT.  They are also very likely, belligerent, disrespectful, manipulative, abusive and in some cases, pathologically sociopathic. Or they run to the extreme of the other side of the spectrum: Mousey, diminutive in nature, willing to do anything to keep the peace. Both perspectives are the victims of what I call “Modern Parenting.”

All parents are guilty of it at some point.  We just want to get done what has to get done in order to survive the day. Isolated incidents of this are forgivable. It’s when it has become the rule, rather than the exception that it becomes a problem

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS.  And good friends. And good children.  And good marriages.  And good relationships…period.  Firm, clear boundaries based on truth and love, coupled with compassion and empathy…these are the things that keep us from becoming and being these cliché-type statistics rather than the victorious, abundant living creatures we were born to be.

I was having lunch with our church Keen-agers (our 55 and up members) after they had finished ministering at a nursing home one Saturday (as is their routine).  We started up this conversation about parenting and this subject came up. We talked about how bad habits create difficult children, which makes for difficult adults and sets us all up for a generational curse of bad behavior.

The question was asked, “How does God deal with bad behavior?”

Both the old and new testament refer to the fact that God’s discipline (or chastening) is a by-product of His extreme love for us and His desire to give us the best and for us to be the best. Sometimes, we are chastened very lovingly with a word of correction, telling us we’re going in a wrong direction. Sometimes, He comes more harshly with a stronger word, giving that behavior a name like SIN.  But what if we are more strong willed?  What if we have been raised, married to or employed by a “Modern Parent” and the more routine paths to correction don’t work?

Mother Willis (my pastor’s mom) made this observation.  “I don’t know, maybe this doesn’t work for anybody else but, the worse thing my mother could do to me if she had enough of me being disobedient was to stop speaking to me.  I could walk in a room, look her in her face and she would just act as if I wasn’t there.  To not have her speak to me, to treat me as if I did not matter was just too much for me to bear.”

Someone immediately responded, “But, is that scriptural?”

Let’s review.

King Saul, in his pride and desperation to satisfy “his people” lost his anointing, his kingdom and his favor with God.  King Nebuchadnezzar was reduced to a wild man, howling in the woods when God took His hand off of him. King David pleaded with abject desperation for God not to leave Him as he repented for his misdeeds. God will, even today, withdraw His Spirit from the heart of the disobedient because He cannot dwell in an unclean temple.

Real parenting is hard on the PARENT.  The saying, “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,” is the living truth for anyone who is determined to be the best for you and bring the best out of you.  AND THIS IS WHY it seems so much easier to surrender to modern parenting.

But what does it really cost you to be a modern parent? You pay the price of losing your HERITAGE…your LEGACY…your CREDIBILITY as a LEADER.

It’s time for us to REPENT for giving in to our weaker nature in all of our relationships and ask the Father of all Fathers to teach us once again what it means to be His children and then parents and leaders after His heart.  It will make us better friends, spouses and leaders.  We will never be a church without spot or wrinkle until we do.

 

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