Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Drive To Destiny

Parenting From The Desk Of Solomon

Parenting was a ride. Everyone of our five kids could tell you about the battle from their perspective. Most times, instruction was heeded without conflict. As they got older, there was a unanimous revolt. It's just the nature of life. It started with grumbling but in some cases turned into a full declaration of war.
I am proud that our kids were confident enough to confront me ... but it didn't always win me over. In fact, it rarely did. Especially if it wasn't extremely polite, respectful and full of curtsying. So, I think you get it ... winning me over was really really rare.
I was and remain a bit of a block-head. Oh, I am told I have made progress but it still falls short. Luckily I am 99% percent done with parenting in this area. As I have aged, I really have evaluated what is worth the fight. Some fights of the past are very embarrassing now. Some fights, I am VERY proud to have fought. It's true, there were far too many battles. Some wouldn't even be worthy of my notice now. Yet, there were others ... Oh, how I wish I was more aware of what was happening.
I now know discipline from a childs perspective, from a parents perspective and even from an observing grandparents perspective. None of these vantage points are very fun to experience ... for very different reasons. Now, if you are still young, you may not understand the struggle of the last two perspectives I mentioned ... but I trust time will reveal to you why they are all difficult.
Forgive me here. I need to say this in the clearest way I can in two words.
DISCIPLINE SUCKS!
Can we agree on that at least in principle?
But, I want to also say there is such value in discipline. I want to quickly look at the upside of discipline because I think the downside is very clear to us all ... AND let me also say that the lack of discipline is far worse. I believe that it might take a bit of growing up for some of you to see the truth of this ... but stick with me here.
So, I want to make some general statements.
You didn't discipline my kids. Why? Well, first of all, you didn't want to go to court over it. But, bigger than that ... you were not deeply invested in my kids lives.
When you hear that my kid screws up ... you may think, Oh well, that's too bad, but in no way do you feel like getting involved in the situation. You are not their Mom or Dad. That's also why I don't get too worked up when I hear that your kid screws up. I can feel bad for you but they are not my responsibility.
Godly discipline DEEPLY communicates the responsibility of love. The lack of discipline tells your child that their failure is of no consequence to them or to you. It communicates a definite lack of love.
I can't love your kid like you can! You can't love my kid like me. You directly react to things if its your kid in the headlines ... because of the love you have invested in them. You want their best at all times in all situations. In fact, you may even demand compliance to some things with little or no grace for error. What compells you to do this when it's your kid and not mine? It's the responsibility of love being acted out. I will admit that sometimes it is hard for your kid to immediately see that Mom or Dad is freeking out because of love. But it's there! As a parent I am confident that I can stand before God on the basis of my motives for correction ... even though my methods were often off track. I was motivated by the responsibility of love to communicate discipline (no matter how science-fiction that ever got). We can regret our methods but still have the correct heart attitude for our kids.
We can weep together for each other when we are in trial and pray for each other but it's always more difficult for the actual parent going through the fire.
Here is a biggie I had to learn!
I can't love your kid like you can.
You can't love my kid like me.
We can't even possibly love our kids like God does! He is perfect. God doesn't make mistakes. He doesn't get worked up over the wrong things. He has known our children much longer than us. God knew them when it all began, before you, before me.
When a person places their faith in Christ they become a child of God and they begin a relationship of deeper love. You choose to no longer be a child of the world, but to be HIS! (1 John 3).
It is with that perspective that I read this passage this morning. Godly minded discipline snuck up on me here. Look at the context in which it was mentioned.

Proverbs 3:1-12
1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

How great is our patient and loving Father in heaven?

Have a great weekend!
NikonSniper Steve

Oregon Beyond The Columbia River

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reality Check At 53

Well, tomorrow is my birthday. I will be officially 53. I am sure that sounds young to some of you and dreadfully old to others of you.

My sons, Joel and Kyle, have been trying to get me to go to a football field with them to throw ball around again. I haven’t thrown a football at all in nearly a decade. Many of know you I played for years and at one time could actually toss a ball a fair distance and hit a moving target in stride. I spent more years catching and running with the ball but I was always pleased that I could chuck that pig about 57 yards till I was about 38 years old. Not too bad for an ex-receiver?

About a decade ago, I discovered that I couldn’t do that anymore. I had to warm up like crazy even to throw 30 yards or the pain in my shoulder would nearly kill me. If I was lucky, I was able to throw around 40 yards but I had trouble when a receiver tried to make a direction change to run to daylight. I just didn’t have the power to make the corrections and place the ball where it needed to go. Often, I would just drop my arm and hold on to the ball in quiet disgust (not always quiet) of myself.

I am getting older.

The worst thing about discovering that I couldn’t throw as well was that … I could still see everything that I should be doing clearly. My brain new exactly how to make the adjustment to make the throw. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

So, I haven’t showed up to that field with my sons yet. I will. But I am dealing with it in my head a bit before I go. I may have to warm up way too long and I am trying to prepare myself for only being able to throw 20 yards. If it’s worse than that … I can already hear my sons saying “Good afternoon, Madam, thanks for dropping by here before Mom forces you to go grocery shopping for her”!

Don’t think this aging thing is swallowing me up or anything. Because it isn’t! I’m OK. I am not one of those who is in depression over the coming of another birthday. Nor am I depressed that I am unable to make the practice squad for an NFL team.

I know some things in my future are on the down swing. And that’s OK! I think you get to some point in life and realize that some of the things you thought were important … really aren’t. In our parental youth, we can often fill our lives with activity and busy-ness by chasing after what we believe are the most important things in life. Only to discover that we had let more important things slide.

I do understand that there is by design a bit of a reality check as we age ... an awakening of sorts! It's ... HEY, I’m really not gonna live forever! This should be life altering when it hits you. I think you miss the point if you just keep doing the same things. So, here’s how I look at my life now.

In fourteen years, I will be 67. Lord willing! I am just picking a number out there in the future to make a point. Now, when you are 53, you DO realize that 14 years isn’t a long time from now. So, If someone were able to walk through a cemetery and see my name etched on a stone in 14 years … no one would say, “My, My, NikonSniper sure died young”. In fact, there are many people don’t even live till they are 53 years old. We aren’t invincible! In fact, I was thinking of getting a football jersey with the name “VINCIBLE” on the back because I realize my eternal destiny keeps getting closer.

Now … this isn’t said to be depressing or to be the “Debbie Downer” of the Internet! I am only saying this to state that I clearly realize that my time is short … so, I realize that the words I say now need to be a little less “willy-nilly” than my youth. I’m saying … I want to make sure that I maximize the communication of my love for my family and to do this by stressing what I know to be the most important decision they could ever make in this life. That is a clear and bold choice for Christ alone!

I also want to be clear with all whom I am fortunate enough to encounter in life’s remaining days. This includes you! Follow me here.

If I truly believe, AND I DO, that Jesus is the only way to get to heaven (John 14:6, Acts 4:12), shouldn’t I want to tell you? I mean, if I say I care about you, AND I DO, and I truly believe you might have missed the most important decision in life, … Shouldn’t I say something?

If I truly believe that a wrong choice for your eternal salvation would lead you to a horrible eternity, … Shouldn’t I say something? Not according to the world! The world wants me to shut up. I know that!

The world says, “Just tell people you care about them, even help them with a little cash when they are struggling (if ya have to), … but don’t try to tell them anything that will assist them in finding the source of real love and eternal treasure.”

You can call me a hypocrite! I fall on my face all the time. I’m not perfect. But I know the King of Kings. I know the Lord of Lords. I know the author of life. I know the deliverer of lost sheep. I know the One who lifts the broken-hearted. I know the ONLY way, the truth and the life. And one day He will make me cease to stumble. And Jesus can deliver you from whatever life’s trials are and grant you eternal life in His presence.

And if I don’t tell you about Jesus … I should be considered an even bigger hypocrite! If a “believer in Christ” ISN’T telling you about Him, you should be asking them, “Why”?

That is what is important to me in my remaining days here. I must declare to you that I can’t throw a football … but I know Jesus! I am not speaking to you today of fuzzy feelings. I am talking about the Lord who died for your sins, If only you will accept it and allow Him into your life.

No one will care in eternity that I could throw a football when I was young. The only thing that will matter there is what I did here with God’s Son, Jesus Christ. These are the most loving and caring words I can urge you to hear. The world insists I am not politically correct! But Jesus is ALIVE! Something happened 2000 years ago that shook up the world … and He is still ALIVE and coming again. I hope you will seek Him today.

Your friend.
NikonSniper Steve

Four Mile Beach