Raising Kids

“Train up a child in the way he should go and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

parentingThis verse about parenting, like many of the Proverbs, is a general principle, not a guaranteed promise. Raising kids, like any relationship, can’t be reduced to a rigid recipe. It requires grace.

Training children to become thriving adults requires constant exposure to the truth of God’s Word (loving boundaries) and consistent experiences of His grace (unconditional acceptance). And for better or worse, kids learn more from what they see in our actions than what they hear from our mouths.

The Hebrew word for “train” (noun, hanukkah) means “to dedicate.”  It carries the idea of “dedicate a child to God,” “prepare a child for future responsibilities,” or “equip a child for being an adult.” In the context of Proverbs, the verse encourages parents to direct a child in the way of wisdom to live in the fear of the LORD (trusting, worshiping, serving, obeying) and then trust the results to Him.

For our kids (and someday, future grandkids), I pray my words and actions will encourage them to follow me, as I follow Jesus Christ.

You’re a piece of work!

“Well, you’re a piece of work.” Has anyone ever said that to you? It’s a sarcastic way of saying, “you’re messed up – there’s something wrong with you.”  It’s normally used of someone who is difficult to get along with on an every day basis. Perhaps, it originates from the “What a Piece of Work is Man” monologue from Hamlet – an ironic reflection of how little most people achieve despite being endowed with relatively enormous powers to act and reason.

Well, in some sense that’s true of all of us. We are a piece of work in the derogatory sense.  Left to ourselves, we’re not much more than dirt, not much more than dust. And our Heavenly Father knows that, too. “As a father has compassion on His children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14).

DustGod knows that on our own we’re dead in our sins – dust.  The world, the Devil, and our flesh all remind us regularly that we’re nothing. “But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses (Ephesians 2:4–5). He not only made us alive, but He raised us up and seated us in a position of power and prestige next to Christ in heaven. God did all this on His own, with no help from us! He made something beautiful out of the dust – out of us.

Often, I’ve find myself singing and meditating on the song, “Beautiful Things” by Michael Gungor that reflects both the reality of our death and the resurrection power of God.

All this pain…
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way.
I wonder if my life could really change, at all.
All this earth…
Could all that is lost ever be found?
Could a garden come up from this ground, at all?

You make beautiful things,
You make beautiful things out of dust.
You make beautiful things,
You make beautiful things out of us.

All around, hope is springing up from this old ground.
Out of chaos, life is being found in You.

You make me new, You are making me new.
You make me new, You are making me new.

In Ephesians 2:10, Paul says that in Christ you are His workmanship, His creation.  “Workmanship” from the Greek word poieme has resulted in our English word “poem.” It means a work of art, a Masterpiece. If you are a born-again believer, rescued from death by grace through the death of Christ Jesus, you are a masterpiece of God. When we think of the raw materials He has to work with – dust – His achievement is all the more remarkable.

Indeed, this masterpiece is nothing less than a new creation through union with Christ, for “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). In Christ, you are His priceless work of art – raised from the dust of death’s decay to be made alive to reflect His beauty and glory. You’re not just a piece of work – you are God’s Masterpiece!

May your life and mine be more than just a piece of work. You and I are the priceless work of art, the beautiful love song, the reflective poem that brings recognition and worship to the Creator of all things – the One who made something beautiful out of the dust, something beautiful out of us.