It’s Not Always Easy to be a Kid

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photo credit: Daddy-David Crying at dinner – Day 331 via photopin (license)

I have gathered, when kids express they feel it can be hard to be a kid, some parents laugh, saying the kids’ feeling is wrong, that what is hard is being an adult and having to work and pay a mortgage, to earn money to care for and provide for kids who would turn and complain about their lot in lives.

Certainly, children know little of the problems of adulthood. There’s the exertions of work, the stress of finances, and the time consuming tasks of raising children. There’s the emotional stresses of wondering whether our life has really mattered, if we’ve made the right choices, and what type of world we’ll leave to our children.

We may find ourselves looking out on a summer day which we’re about to spend doing thankless office work or thankless housework and remember those summer days that were as free as rain water when we could do most anything we wanted. When we could sleep until 9 in the morning or later and then run until the sun went down, with almost boundless energy. What energy we often have is drained in drudgery spent at work and at home for kids who complain about their lot in life.

There’s something to be said for gratitude. Modern middle class American children need to learn it. If they were born another time or in another country, their lives would not be spent playing video games or demanding cell phones. They’d be spent working in the field or in some sweatshop. Their country and their parents have afforded them a great deal of opportunity.

Rather than blaming the children for feeling their lives are hard, let’s graciously remember two things. They typically lack the perspective on life needed to realize how easy they have it compared to past generations of kids and kids of lesser economic situations. They are also not capable of commiserating with the challenges of adult life. They’ve never been adults. But adults are capable of taking off their rose colored glasses and remembering what it was like to be children–what it was really like.

In addition, beyond the confines of the safe home you raise your well-adjusted family in, the sad reality is many children are suffering greatly in situations bad beyond our comprehension. Kids are easy to abuse in the most vile ways imaginable by adults. Kids from abusive and otherwise disadvantaged backgrounds can be easy prey for bullies. Kids suffer from hunger, starvation, discrimination, and poverty in every corner of the United States and even more so around the world.

Yet even kids in far better circumstances lack control. The biggest things that kids can’t control is who conceives them and who parents them. While there are now designer parents, children will never get to have designer parents. An infant doesn’t get to request an emotionally supportive father, a mother who will encourage her interest in sports, or a parent who will sacrifice part of her career to stay home with her and any siblings she has. They don’t get to choose if they’ll have a parent who will read to them.

Birth parents begin making decisions for a child before he’s even born by the birth mother’s habits during pregnancy and how she takes care of herself and then during the developmental years. Decisions are made about exposure to media and stimuli that will set the course for the rest of their lives.

Kids don’t get to choose their economic strata or what type of schools they’ll be able to attend. They don’t get to decide whether their parents will be dedicated to making their marriage and family work. They don’t get to decide how much exercise they’ll get in early life or whether their food will be healthy. They don’t get to decide whether the parents will make decisions that are far beyond their ability to understand: whether they’ll receive religious instruction or how it is given if it is.

Kids suffer all the time due to parental unwise decisions made as a result of a lack of knowledge of their unique kids’ unique needs and how to meet them while emotions like pride, fear, and shame keep the parents from seeking professional help. Parents can allow kids to do whatever they want, only for the children to suffer later because the parents didn’t consistently say no to something harmful.

Some types of short term pain produce long term benefits. Parental-induced boredom may be meant to prepare children for the fact life isn’t a non-stop party of fun. Limiting junk food and screen time may produce healthy bodies when they’re older. Yet, such reasoning is beyond a child’s comprehension.

From a child’s own, limited perspective, it is indeed hard to be a kid. After all, even as adults, Christians are still children in relation to God. We don’t get to decide his Word or His Commandments, His Ways are often beyond our comprehension. And, if we are truly submitted, then we are not in control, He is. And at times, we don’t understand, and get very frustrated at how hard this foreign way to live is.

If it is hard, at times, to be a child in the hands of a God who loves us, how much harder is it to be a child helplessly in the hands of well-intentioned but flawed human beings?

[tweetthis]It’s Not Always Easy to be a Kid guest post by Adam Graham @idahoguy[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis]If it can be hard to be a child of a perfect, loving God, how much harder is it to be a child of flawed humans?[/tweetthis]

 

 

The Parable of the Computer

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Brothers and sisters in Christ, forgiveness is plentiful and free. Grace and mercy are equally extended from the Lord to all. All we must do to receive it is humbly acknowledge we need it. As God’s children, we all know this well. So why do we ever pridefully insist God is wrong and any number of pet sins are right actions for us?

Look at the machines we have made. What computer program would dare say to its coder, “You have coded me wrong. I will ignore your instructions and do what is right in my own eyes”? Today’s machines have no ability to disobey us even when we have erred and don’t want them to do exactly what we told them to faithfully. Aside from user error, when it does stop performing as expected, its buggy, broken, corrupted, fragmented, hacked, infected by a virus, etc. and it is in need of repair, cleansing, or to be thrown away and replaced.

Brothers and sister, don’t we know God is to humanity a “user” who never errs? Don’t we know we are corrupt and buggy? Aren’t we grateful God will never throw us out, that instead God’s in the process of repairing and cleansing us? Don’t we know God is working for our good, not our ill? In any area, are we resisting the process?

Would it be right for a bride to tell her bridegroom to change who he is, deny his character and alter his personality and what he believes and loathes to please the will of a controlling person who will not love him for who he is? This is what we’re doing to God when we act as if we’re God and hence are the experts on who we truly are, as if our creator does not have the right to decide what his creations are.

How God designed us to operate is a reflection of his very nature. When we question God’s judgment on what is sin and make ourselves the determiners of right and wrong, we’re remaking God in our images.

Be alert, brothers and sisters. The enemy attacks our mind with lies and half-truths to provoke doubt in God and pride in ourselves and to convince us an issue in our lives that is particularly difficult to overcome is a crucial, integral part of how God designed us to be.

No matter how much we struggle in the flesh, no matter how weak we are, whatever we’re battling is not any part of who we are in Christ. Phil 1:6 promises God has began debugging us and the latest that he will get around to delivering us from this battle is Heaven.

To the one who’d ask, “Isn’t it unloving (and therefore against God’s character) to say behaviors we deem integral to our identity are sin?” Beloved, this question assumes we have a right to self-determination that God must lovingly respect. We don’t, not with God at least. Demanding it is us being unloving and rebellious towards God. Look again at our machines. Many of us fear machines gaining the ability to rise up and rebel against us. At the first rational sign of such a thing coming about, wouldn’t we at once judge them and seek to either forcibly bend them back to our will or else destroy them?

God is love, though, so God is slow to wrath and patient, giving us undeserved blessings and benefits. He seeks to show us he is worthy of the trusting, obedient, faith our computers mistakenly have in us. He even sent his own son to pay the penalty for our wrongdoing and enable us to be reconciled to him and function again as he designed us to. And our creator does let us choose for ourselves whether we’re staying as-is but going in a rather hot trash can or whether God will be performing a system-wide restoration. It is a generous, strong act of love for our creator to give us that choice and the choice whether to obey or rebel, considering humanity tends to give its creations (our machines) no free choices at all.

Let’s each freely choose this day to not contend with our maker, but to confess our sin, humbly ask God’s forgiveness, be reconciled to the Lord our God and Father, and worship in spirit and in truth.

Original draft written on Nov 22, 2011

[tweetthis]The Parable of the Computer[/tweetthis]

Is Christianity “All About Relationship?”

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“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)
How close do you suppose the Father and the Son are? How well do they know each other? That is how well Christ knows his sheep and how well he desires us to know him.  His chief end is indeed an intimate, close relationship with us. Trouble is, so often, professing Christians don’t know him well enough to understand what a good relationship between us and God looks like to him. We don’t read his word carefully to discover where his boundaries are and what his expectations for his relationship with us are. Instead of trusting the Good Shepherd and responding to his sacrificial, loving care with submission in return, we listen to wolves in sheep’s clothing who tell us whatever we want to hear is acceptable to God. We follow after them and stray from the Good Shepherd, who was perfectly obedient to his Father’s will.

But His sheep know his voice, we know his character. We read his word, we know what his values are and how he says he designed us, what he says  he made us to be. Many of us have had false shepherds, people in our lives who devour their flocks and warp our minds, some even use scripture.

The good shepherd keeps his own in his hands.He lays his life down for the sheep. He will protect us from predators in sheep’s clothing and from the unseen predators in the shadows and he will heal the sickness of the flesh known as sin. Let us trustingly submit to the Good Shepherd’s care today. If he places his little lambs into our care, let us imitate our Good Shepherd in relation to them.

Lord, grant all of us reading this ears to hear your voice, and discerning hearts that know you and what is of you and what is not of you. Heal our  hearts and minds and spirits of the ravages of sin and wolves who seek to steal your sheep and devour us. Reveal your truth to us and strengthen us to walk in the light. In Jesus’ name we pray, Lord, amen.

Untwisting a Scripture Abusers Pervert

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“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (1 Peter 3:8)

Peter just finished advising employees (or the ancient equivalents) on how to conduct themselves with their employers, and wives and husbands on how to conduct themselves in the marriage relationship, so it’s possible “all of you” here means “all of the persons in the previous specified roles.” In other words, if you’re equally yoked in business*and marriage with a believer, both parties are exhorted to be of one mind equally, to have sympathy and brotherly love for each other, to be tender-hearted towards each other, and to be humble of mind in how they view and treat each other.

This is not a picture of submission-dominance at all. This is a picture of different roles and different functions, but equal power and equal respect for one another, working together, lifting each other up mutually, not one person crushing the other under their feet. Any man who tells you to submit to him while he uses you to wipe his feet is being a hypocrite and in trouble with God. Peter warns husbands in particular in verse seven that husbands who don’t treat their wives with the respect due a co-heir in Christ will find their prayers are hindered. So we know how Christians in authority treat the people that they are called to serve (not to oppressively rule over!) is a really serious matter to God.

Unity of mind likewise is often misused by spiritual abusers, who like to claim it gives them the right to be the group mind and to threaten with hell anyone in their “care” who dares to think differently than the spiritual abuser on any topic under the sun. Instead, consider Peter also requires humility, compassion, love from the leader as well as the follower. True godly unity of mind must require open, mutually respectful discourse between all parties and humbly and prayerfully seeking the mind of Christ together.

*Peter doesn’t specify instructions specifically to employers, but he does instruct all believers to honor all people, love their fellow Christian, and to live as people who are free rather than as slaves. It apparently did not need spelled out further to him that Christian employers should respect their Christian employees as their brothers in Christ and their fellow servants of God. Instead he focuses on the employees of non-Christian, abusive employers, in a day when you were under contract to work for him until he sold your contract.  His advice to do good and endure suffering in oppressive circumstances does not give the spiritually abusive the right to mistreat their fellow believers and turn around and demand their fellow believers endure it without complaint.

Love like Brothers, Compete like Godly ones

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“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

 

These instructions come to us in the midst of similar instructions. At first glance, we are tempted to think context offers us no additional insights. But let’s look again anyway at the immediate context:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12:9-11)

See it now? Again we have a careful balance between truth and love:  Being sincere, real, loathing evil/sin, doing good–but also loving one another as much as we love our natural siblings, but competitively seeking to one up each other only in terms of preferring each other before our selves, serving one another, and showing respect for one another (all being tied up in the concept of honor as I understand it.) We are not to be lazy in our pursuit of God, but fiery hot, even shining or glowing in our spirit as we serve the lord. (Thank you, m-w.com)

Again, as we noted in a similar passage from James, Paul treats the qualities we associate with those too heavy on truth as the book ends of love, wrapping love inside truth in a way that suggests these should all be inseparable qualities held together as a whole, not one side barking at the other. Truth isn’t true without love; and love isn’t loving without truth.

Lord, strengthen us, to be truthful in our expressions of love and loving in our handling of the truth. Grant us grace to love our spiritual family with the affection we have for our natural family. Check us in our spirits, and change our hearts, that we should strive and compete against each other only in how we lay our arms down and seek what is best for the other person, the rest of the family, first before ourselves. Deliver us from fear. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.