Parental Identity

Who am I? Where do I find value? These are two questions that we must ask ourselves. Especially true when it comes to being a parent. For many parents, their identity is wrapped up completely in the performance, behavior, and success of their child. Go to any ball field or any after school club and you are bound to see the parents that find their identity in the child’s performance. When they score a goal, the parent’s erupt in cheer, when the ref makes a bad call, the parent has to be held back from trying to physically harm the referee. This identity is one that is bound to crumble and fall.

First, your children are not capable of bearing that type of weight. Their shoulders were not meant to carry around with them your identity crisis and unrealistic expectations of performance, no one is for that matter. Children are trying to work out their own understanding of God, the world, and just getting good grades for that matter. To try and add, live up to parents’ unrealistic expectations for their personal identity crisis should not be high on their priority list.

The place that parents, and everyone for that matter, need to find their identity is in the One who gave them identity in the first place. When we find our identity in creation rather than the Creator, we are bound to have an identity crisis. Creation was never meant to give identity, rather to point to the one that does. Look at 2 Peter 1:3-4 “3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, 4by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

We have been called by God and given power to participate in Him. That through His promises you can be partakers of his divine nature, and I love the last part, escape the corruption of the world, in other words, escape the identity in the world. Mom, Dad, Grandparent, caretaker, your identity can only be found in Christ alone. He is the one that gives you the identity as child of God. He says come to Him in Matthew 11:28-30, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,]by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 

This is where we find our identity as parents. When Little Johnny strikes out or the referee makes a bad call, your identity is not found in the performance of Little Johnny. Little Johnny gets to wrestle with failure without the weight of your identity on him. He learns to trust in his own identity and not try to perform and carry yours.

Jesus: Holy God

In Acts 5 there is a story of a couple that come to give an offering to the Lord. Though they come and lie about the offering to the Apostles. Because of this mistake it cost them their life, not because they lied to men, but because they made a mockery of the Lord. They allowed their pride to overcome the holiness of the Lord in their lives. When they could have simply said we are giving a portion of the profit rather than the entire thing, since as Peter said to them, it was yours to do with as you pleased. Rather, they lied about the amount to be seen. Reading this story should remind us that first, God is Holy. When we sin, we do not offend men, rather we offend a Holy and Righteous God. David echoes this truth in Psalm 51 when he states, “Against You only have I sinned.” Sin is against a Holy God. Secondly, sin costs life. In Genesis when God tells Adam to not eat of the tree, He tells him that sin will ultimately cost him his life. Sin always cost something, someone has to pay, for believers, it cost Christ His life.

 

Application thoughts: How are you robbing the Lord of what you’ve promised? Do you think too lightly of your sin? Take this time to pray and repent as David did.

Jesus: Our Conerstone

In Acts 4 we see Peter and John standing before the council. At this council they are asked to basically explain themselves, to explain how they were able to heal a man that was lame. “By what power or what name did you do this?” This question sets up an understanding, there is power in a name. In Roman rule and today, a name carried weight. We see it when people “name drop” or when they speak on behalf of someone influential. “By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead- by him this man is standing before you well.” That name was Jesus Christ, you remember Him right? He was the one that you crucified and then God raised Him from the dead. You remember right?

Upon this statement we get a powerful statement that would have resinated with these leaders very well. “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation is no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” The builders, those teachers and leaders of the people, were to build upon Christ. This stone which they were to build on was the stone that they rejected. They built upon something else, but God built upon this stone. This stone has become the chief cornerstone. For there is no other name to build upon. There is no other name given to men where we must be saved. There is no other name to build upon, Christ alone.

Have you trusted upon the name of Christ? Are you building upon another rock?

Break Away

For the past month I have taken a break from social media. Though I have missed some of the latest discussion on issues in our culture, missed the latest dumb teen challenge, as well as another viral video. Here’s the secret, I didn’t really miss it. In terms of not experiencing those things, I’m truly ok with. So much of the past few years has been looking at endless feeds, concerned with issues I have no control over, as well as missing out on things that I didn’t want to miss. It’s time for this generation to take back our lives. Time to take back the events that are worth remembering, and I don’t mean for a social feed.

Thought of the day.

Recently I have been listening to podcasts from various different perspectives on society, parenting, technology, even handwriting… I am coming to many conclusions on what is going on in the direction of our current western culture and the climate to which my children will grow up in. I can honestly say that I do not like where it is going. Now listen, I am not saying this because of some sort of conservative nor liberal agenda, I say this because we are losing our backbone. Today if you disagree with someone you tell them on the false security of the internet. The face to face conversation with those of opposing views doesn’t happen, rather we find people who think like us, look like us, and want the same things that we do in order to have non-confrontational conversations. If we want to disagree with someone, we do it on the internet. Lately I have been making some experiments with folks to purposefully disagree with them to their face to see how they respond. Almost 100% of them gave up their side to agree with me on the most outlandish of claims. Friends, we have to restore healthy conflict in face to face dialogue. I don’t have that answer, but I am trying to help my children to think on their feet, not to have to go to facebook or twitter to disagree with someone.

Going Paper

As of late I have really been struggling with how much time I’ve spent on my smartphone. The events that may have passed me by because of a screen. Not knowing really where to turn, I began a web search of all things to discover if anyone else was having this struggle. Through this web search I found a book, “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport. In his book he argues for a digital philosophy called, Digital Minimalism. I am currently in process of implementing some of these philosophical changes in my life. As a pastor, I’ve often thought that I need to get my message as wide as possible to impact as many as possible. While partly true, I was missing other portions that are more true, discipleship, relationships, and seeing how this small screen had captivated life that I didn’t want it to have. I highly recommend the book.

The question: why?

My wife and I are blessed to have a soon to be six year old, three year old, and one year old. From our oldest and three year old we’ve heard this question over and over, why? Why dad? Why mom? Over and over until the final answer becomes, because I said so. Yesterday I was telling my son that he needed to pick up the toys that were scattered all throughout the living room. His reply, why? I then proceeded to explain to him the dangers of toys all over the living room. Again, why? Trying to appeal to my oldest child logic, I then tried another appeal of these toys could get broken. But as you can guess, that didn’t appease his curiosity. He was genuinely trying to understand why these things would happen.

Have we lost our sense of wonder and questioning? I’ve been in the church long enough to know that this question is one that no one likes to try and answer. The common answers of because that’s the way it is, or because I said so should be good enough for you. When did it become unacceptable to ask the question why? Why do we do this or this, or why have we always done it that way, or my favorite, why has that chair that doesn’t match anything been sitting there for as long as I’ve been alive? While these may spark a laugh or a chuckle in our minds, all to often in real church life they spark anger, hostility, and frustration. Why? The simple answer is, emotion over rationale. There is emotion tied to those chairs, ministries, etc. Emotion will run over rationale anyway of the week.

As a pastor I’ve been trying to navigate how to ask that question with the understanding that emotion is tied to everything. What are the right questions to ask in order to move past the emotion and move forward with the mission. Here are a few things that I’ve learned to be beneficial.

  1. Ask about the history of the subject. When did this ministry begin? Who started it? What was their hope in it? When it was at its best what did it look like? What do you think happened? These are questions that you have to ask in a manner of showing that you genuinely do want to know about the ministry, and why wouldn’t you. Someone has poured years of their life into this ministry with a purpose. We can never discount their service.
  2. After you’ve gained a good understanding of the history of the ministry, usually there is a history with the person who won’t let it go or give it up. Maybe they came to know Jesus because of this ministry, maybe it was their parent or grandparent that ran this ministry. Your conversations have to turn from how can I kill it, to what a legacy they’ve left. They poured their lives into this, and it has obviously left an impact on you.
  3. Make the appeal for their legacy. Ask them what questions about what hopes do they have to leave behind. Is there a way that they can leave a great legacy?

This takes time and effort. It takes investment. But it’s worth it, why? Because these are people that you are dealing with. Every sacred cow you get rid of you are getting rid is usually tied to some emotion in the church. While we destroy idols, you don’t do so without helping people move forward. They are your people, love them well.

Aaron