Friday, March 27, 2015

Parenting--the Pleasures and the Pain

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”  (Malachi 4:6)
[last verse in Old Testament.]

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21)

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

I have three children and three grandchildren, and they are the joy my heart. I'm sure many of you can relate. It is often said that there is not a handbook on parenting but that is not true; the bible has many insights into parenting. In fact, the book of Proverbs begins as a"handbook" from father (Solomon) to his children.

My greatest pleasures, as well as my greatest pain, has stemmed from parenting. Let me quickly add that the pain part was not necessarily due to my children's faults, but to my faults as a dad. Out of respect for  my kids I will not mention personal details.

How do we know how to raise our children? How do we teach them how to love and respect others?

What does it mean to display mature masculinity or femininity? How do we teach them the difference between right and wrong? And what do we tell them is the most important thing in life? How do we attain eternal life? Without the bible we are left to wing it or do what our own parents taught us...but were they right?

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was told that a "sword would pierce her soul." A sword through the heart is an apt description of what parental pain feels like at times.Was Jesus ever spanked? I'm sure He was, not  because of anything He did (He was sinless), but because Mary and Joseph were not perfect parents--all parents overreact at times, in some way...

It is instructive that the last comment in the Old Testament has to do with parents turning their hearts toward their children, and vice versa. There are thousands of images that the Lord could have chosen to symbolize the in breaking of the New Covenant, but the Lord chose the image of a parent turning their naturally selfish heart toward loving deeply their children. This shows how the gospel has a deeply invasive affect on the most basic of institutions, the family. Malachi is the last book in the Hebrew Old Testament and the last verse in the last chapter speaks to this matter of parents turning their hearts toward their kids. 400 years go by and when the New Testament opens, it is as if the Lord was still 'on the same page'....He does not skip a beat, but continues with the same imagery. He tells us that John the Baptist and Jesus will fulfill the prophecy of turning the hearts of the parents to their kids. He  did not skip  a beat over 400 years--obviously this is crucial to God.The point is this--we are all selfish and we need to daily ask God to turn our hearts to our children, and their hearts toward us.We need to ask the Lord for wisdom in knowing how to shepherd our children's hearts.

Parents, please take yourself and your children to church; a loving church that preaches the bible. Some of us have older children so all we can do is pray and gently suggest that we all need help with parenting, and a good children's ministry is invaluable. If you have younger children one of the most important things you can do as a parent is regular attendance at church. My family is not the only one that has had a painful experience with a church, but that is no reason to throw out the baby with the bath water.

Loving God is the single most important thing we can teach our children. But where do we learn how to love God? Reading the bible, and again, attending a good church with a solid children's ministry. Let  me say this--cultivating your own personal relationship with God (through bible reading and prayer) is the most loving thing you can do for your child/ren. The Lord loves our children infinitely more than we do, and He created parenting/family. He longs for us to seek the wisdom we need for this unspeakably wonderful adventure.

Please, from the bottom of my heart, look to the Lord to help you with both the pleasures and the pain of parenting.

"Seeing Ghosts through God's Eyes" (also in a Kindle edition)...please consider purchasing my book which uses science, logic, and the bible to analyze the true source of power behind paranormal activity.