I'm Going To Let My Kids Decide

I have decided. I’m going to let my kids decide whether they want religion in their lives. My children's choice of religion is like all of the other unimportant things I will let them decide on their own. They can decide their favorite sports team, their favorite foods, their favorite music, their favorite television shows, their favorite websites, and, now, their favorite religion or lack thereof. Maybe I’ll even let them decide how much video game time they can have, what foods they will eat, and what their bedtime will be. 

Now, when it comes to important things like whether they are going to learn math, English and reading, be respectful to others, develop a good work ethic, chew with their mouth closed, etc., I am going to guide them. But on little things like their religion, that is up to them to decide whether they want to follow Jesus or not without any encouragement or influence from me. I don't want to cram religion down their throats.

In all seriousness, there is a huge difference between listening to our children, validating their concerns, and including them on decisions compared to letting them run things while pretending they are old enough to make the important decisions in life. 

There will come a day when they will make all of their own decisions. Until then, we must realize that God has placed our children in our care for a reason. For starters, having children shows us the great love that God has for us combined with his grace and patience. A grace and patience that we also have to reflect to our children if we want them to grow up with the skills ready to achieve their dreams in the world. Dreams, mind you, that we nurture and develop in them when we help them come up with a worldview that will guide them toward what we believe is the best life to live.

Some day, when they have the wisdom and strength to live on their own, they will know the purpose of living if we have taught them what that is. We must realize that if we don’t teach them the purpose of living, someone else gladly will. The television shows they watch will. The video games they play will. Their friends will. The music will. Other adults will. Everyone else will gladly do the task we are tempted to neglect. Society will gladly take the opportunity of shaping our children's thinking if we choose to opt out of it.

Now we might say that it is better for them to learn on their own. But we don’t really hold to that view when it comes to things that we truly believe are important. We want them to have the skills and work ethic to succeed in life. And religion helps us define what godly success looks like. In the important things, we are quick to encourage and steer them in the right direction.

Wouldn’t it be irresponsible of us to just let them develop their worldview on their own? I guess I am a product of the faith I believe in. In the Bible, we have a God who cares about humanity so much that we see him interact with humanity to help us live the best life possible. He went so far as to even become a human himself to show us how to live. 

Paul wrote, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV).

It’s this worldview that God has given to me that I want to pass down to my children. Being a servant to others and self-sacrifice are not traits that the world encourages, but it is at the core of the message of who Jesus is. It should be at the core of who we - people who claim to follow Jesus - are.

If you believe in God and that the life he wants us to live is the best life for us to live, why would you not want to pass that down to your children?

Do we really believe?

One Step

I sit around moping, wondering why continue on. Why write another article? Why preach another sermon? Why do this? Why do that? It doesn’t seem to matter. Things don’t seem to be working. You might feel the same way with different activities.

It seems that most of what I do is fruitless.

I remember sitting in the crowd at the Rock 4 Water wondering if God had really wanted me to put this on. Had I just made up that leading? I felt he did. But then less than a 150 people showed up despite promoting it as well as I could. I felt sorry for the musicians traveling here and investing their time to sing to such a small crowd. I felt pathetic despite enjoying the music.

I wish I was like Superman. Always able to do the right things, say the right things, and be invulnerable to the plight of humanity. Maybe I am Superman, but oxygen is my kryptonite.

So I sit and mope.

And then God tells me that it isn’t about me. The concert. It wasn’t about me. The sermons. They’re not about me. This article. It’s not about me.

Everything I do is supposed to be about God. If I felt his leading to do something, then he will bring about his will through it when I am faithful and do what I have been led to do. The results are sometimes not visible to our physical eyes. But over time, things start to fall into place. This blessing happens. A joy springs forth. Life makes sense. God knew what He was doing after all. I wasn’t as confused as I thought. And it’s like a single ray of revealing light beaming through a cloud.

One step. That’s all we see. While he sees the journey he has planned for us. We just see the next step. Often, it’s around a corner or up a hill. We can’t see what direction where we are going. But he knows. And he leads.

Are we listening?

"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed" (Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV).

Pictures of Wilfred

These are pictures of Wilfred.

During the Q&A at one of the sessions on faith (I wasn't in that session, it was relayed to me), he asked, "If I have been praying to God for food for my family and have not received it, and I do it again the next day and still have not received it. It's hard to have faith."

I hope it was just rhetorical. But knowing the situation in Liberia at times in the last twenty years, I assume it is not. How do we continue to have faith during times of crisis?

Tough question.

This is part of a series that I wrote showing the mission trip I took to Liberia.
I divided the subjects into individual pages, for ease of use.

Here are a few articles that I wrote upon my return:
One Drop

The End of The World Again

A poll was released by Reuters last week that showed one in seven people believe they will not die before the end of the world. This seems to be a trend throughout the ages.

In 1499, Mathematician and Astronomer Johannes Stoffler predicted that a great deluge would cover the world on February 20, 1524, a catastrophic event similar to the time of Noah and the Ark. This prediction gained traction due to Stoffler’s respectable position at the University of Tubigen. During the intervening twenty-five years, over one hundred different pamphlets were written and distributed warning of the predicted disaster.  People built ships on the Rhine River to survive. Land began to sell in the lowlands and along the waterlines for greatly reduced rates. One famous count, Count von Iggleheim, led the charge and built himself a three-story ship to survive the deluge. This ship sat with many other boats and ships in the Rhine River. Merchants made good money selling survival supplies to all of the fearful people.

February 20, 1524, came. The wealthy who were able to purchase boats were sitting securely with their survival supplies in their boats. And then a giant thunderstorm came. While the wealthy were sitting in their boats, panic set in with the rest of the people. The great storm convinced them that Stoffler’s prediction was true. And hundreds of people died. Not from the storm, but from the mad rush to try and get in the boats already in the river. The deluge did not come. It was just a storm.

Stoffler recalculated to find his error and came up with a new date. He predicted that the world would end in 1528 this time. The Germans failed to heed this new warning and the date passed with barely a notice.

In 1998, Michael Drosnin wrote the Bible Code. A runaway best-seller. It had sold over 20 million copies by the time his predicted atomic holocaust failed to manifest in 2000. I’m sure the money from all of those books comforts his broken ego. It’s comforted it so much that Drosnin has gone on to write Bible Code II and Bible Code III. I don’t recommend picking them up.

One after another, end times prognosticators pop up and their predictions about the end of the world fail to manifest.

And here we go again. You would think we could learn like the Germans learned in the early 1500s. Last year, we had Harold Camping. And the list of failed end times prophecies goes back and back. But now it’s 2012 and on December 21, the Mayan calendar ends and the planets align. Don’t blame the Mayans. They just ran out of room. Blame all the paranoid Americans who easily succumb to fear.

Jesus taught us three important things to remember when end times fervor strikes. First, he gave us a Spirit of peace, not fear. We should not let our hearts be troubled or controlled with fear (John 14:27).  Second, He claimed that He nor the angels know the day or the hour of the end (Mark 13:32). If he doesn’t know the end, then why we would expect Harold Camping, the Mayans, or Johannes Stoffler to know it. Third, He told us to stay awake (Mark 13:35-37). We should live our lives looking for Him. Not in a paranoid state, but in a state of righting wrongs and doing the good things today that we could easily put off until tomorrow.  

So when you hear of another end of the world prediction or circumstances around you make you think this might be the end, remember, don’t fear and make things right today. The best remedy for the paranoid, selfishness that end times predictions seem to bring about in people is to keep Jesus and the life He wants us to live in focus at all times.