The last time you were at a Church service…were you challenged? Did God speak to you about something you heard while at the service? It happened to me today. I was a 2nd time guest at a Church today. The Church is New Creation Community Church in Anthem Arizona. Eric Sass is the Lead Pastor and the Church is only about 7 months old. I wanted to check this Church out because I met Eric and traveled with him throughout Uganda Africa.
Now, understand that I have been a preaching Pastor for the last 20 years and have been doing the preaching nearly every weekend in that same time frame. I confess that I like the Quarterback side of preaching instead of the Receiver side of preaching. You get that right? I would much rather deliver the sermon than receive one. So many times in the past 20 years of preaching I would have someone approach me and ask if I had a video camera or something in their house because the message that I spoke seemed completely directed at them. I actually experienced this phenomenon today. Personally, I don’t like it. Its too personal. But, God has his way doesn’t He?
I won’t go into the details of Eric’s 30 minute message today, because like any good preacher…and Eric is good…they will wrap the message up in a take away sentence that is easier to remember. Eric’s take away sentence is this, “The purpose of parenting is to show the world the love of God in action.”
Dang it! I had not thought of parenting that way before. Maybe I’m a bit slow. But that sentence really resonated with me. It stirred me. It ticked me off. He’s right. I have said many times that the older my kids get and the more interaction I have with them the more I understand my personal relationship with God. You get that, right? You and me…we are Children of God. God is the ultimate Father. Need some examples?
When my infant son threw a temper tantrum and pounded his head on the floor until he nearly bled…well…that’s like me as a grown adult going through a tough time and shaking my fist at God and shouting out that I don’t believe in Him anymore. When my son was throwing his temper tantrum…as his father…I let him bang his head until he stopped and learned his lesson that the only one being hurt was himself. Just like if you shake your fist and say God isn’t real anymore. God will let you have your tantrum. He loves you and will patiently let you learn that the only person you are hurting is yourself.
How about when one of your teenagers gets in your face and shouts you down, yelling with passionate anger; “I hate you!” Does that action and those words change how much you love your teenager? No. So it is with God when our actions to dive into sin seem to shout out to God…”I hate you.” He still loves us and never forces himself upon us. Oh…he might punish us…but that is still love.
Or, on a positive note, when my daughter climbs up in my lap and falls asleep…man that is heart warming. So it is with God when you are laying in bed and reading the Bible and you fall asleep while reading it. You just fell asleep in your Father’s lap. (Or are you of the old school that thinks you must feel guilty because you fell asleep while reading the Bible.) I think that must be a special moment for God the Father. Have you ever had your child fall asleep in your lap while reading a book together? Did you punish that child for it? If you did…you are evil. Really. You should go to bad parenting purgatory.
Back to point. I wish there were a 3 point sermon that gave us all a formula for how to parent. I wish we could all take a “good parenting pill.” There is no such thing. Most of us are trying to figure this parenting thing out as we go. I personally find it really easy to make commitments to be a better parent…but the follow through thing is a whole different story.
So, I guess I want to leave it vague just like Eric did today. He gave a sentence for me to remember. “The purpose of parenting is to show the world the love of God in action.”
I think if Eric would have given me 3 points and a “deeper” explanation, it would have left me in a fashion of not thinking about it much more. But he left me with a haunting sentence that I can’t seem to get out of my head. I am blogging about it. I hope to do to you what Eric did to me. Make me think about it more. Make me stare in the face of my children and be reminded that my next sentence/action/discipline/facial expression/move, is a demonstration to my kids, my spouse and the rest of the world the very behavior of God in action.
I’ve got to guard this better. You too? My everyday parenting decisions and actions is a display of how God is. That is the pressure of being a Christ follower. There is no shortcut. There is no cheat sheet. There is no get out of jail free card. This is the real deal.
As I sit at the kitchen table typing this out…I looked up and saw a Bible verse that my wife has written on her dry erase board. I haven’t asked my wife’s purpose in writing the verse in the kitchen, but I think God had her write it for this very moment. I think it is the solution to being a better parent, leader, work associate, athlete or just a better person…period. I paused and took a picture of the dry erase board…see it below…
That picture really sums it up. Parenting…like anything…is a heart issue. Let’s do this. Let’s be a better representation of the Love of God. Let’s be better parents. I pray that one sentence haunts you like it haunts me. I want to show the world the Love of God. Don’t forget that Love is Justice and Mercy. Love is Grace and Discipline.
How I parent….demonstrates…to the world the love of God in action.
Let me be the quarterback at this moment….
The purpose of parenting is to show the world the love of God in action.