What makes parenting hard: There are no easy times, but there is hope

The biggest problem we face in this world, John Piper preached this past Sunday, is not politics or culture or choices we make but the power of sin. Because sin entered the world, childbearing and childrearing, for one example, became hard. There are no easy times for parents, Piper said, although some times may be harder than others. “If you think (parenting) is easy, you’re dreaming,” he said. “Or wait a few days.”

His sermon, “Parenting with Hope in the Worst of Times,” looked at the situation the prophet Micah was in around 700 years before Jesus was born. What we see in Micah 7 is parenting in the worst of times, where the situation in his culture and at home is bleak. There is no one he can trust, whether it’s in his community or even his own home. In verse 5: “Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms.” And it goes further in verse 6: “For the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.”

Is this uncommon? No. Many have families that are torn with strife, broken in some way either by corruption or some other problem. Or even something else. Jesus in Matthew 10:34 quotes this very passage where he talks about the way he divides one family member from another because of his calling. He does it. Not because he loves to break up families, but because there is something so radical about what Jesus demands that it causes disruptions in families. You know what this looks like. The family that doesn’t get that call accuses the one called of being “arrogant” or “too good” for them. Jesus wants them all, but the split can happen over Jesus. The point is is that the tear is not always over some evil.

What is the response? What can we learn from what Micah says? Here are his words from Micah 7:7-10:

7 But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. 8 Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. 9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication. 10 Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, “Where is the LORD your God?” My eyes will look upon her; now she will be trampled down like the mire of the streets.Read More »

Tonight, we celebrate the great indoors

Because I am a native Minnesotan, I am taking my son to see what ballparksofbaseball.com calls “one of the worst venues in baseball,” The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

The Metrodome

It may not aesthetically pleasing, but we won’t be swatting at mosquitoes as we watch the Twins take on the dreaded Chicago White Sox in all its 72-degree beauty. Ah, summer! Next year, when the Metrodome will be abandoned for the great, new outdoor Target Field, we can talk about the wonders of outdoor baseball. But, for tonight, we’ll take what we can get.

O Canada: Our neighbors to the north

My mother-in-law has a creative touch. God made these flowers, but she has tended them well!
My mother-in-law has a creative touch. God made these flowers, but she has tended them well!

Because today is Canada Day, I would like to express my appreciation for what I consider Canada’s best export — my mother-in-law, Dorothy Harmon. Her overall good will, charm and knowledge of what is “proper” (in the British sense) would have been winning qualities in themselves. But add to that her decision to move over a thousand miles south to “The States” and stay here, meet my father-in-law and later have my future wife and that says winner in my book.

Another of my favorite Canadians, Tim Challies, posted today about another reason that makes our neighbors to the north unique — they have two national anthems. Of course we know “O Canada” because it is a cool sounding, more easily sung song than ours here in the USA. But, as Tim explains, it was written in French and English and the translations go two directions. What a country! Tim, as is his wont, is thorough in explanation and gives the topic its due:

Thus we have two official national anthems, one written in French and one in English. It must be noted that the lyrics of these songs, even when translated to the same language, bear little resemblance to each other. Beyond the first two words there is little correlation in language or underlying themes. It is also interesting to note that while the songs are written in different languages, they were also written by men of different theological backgrounds. The English version is Protestant and emphasizes hard work and duty. The French version, written by a Roman Catholic, emphasizes history and national glory.

Today it is common for performances of the anthem to mix the French and English versions of the song. This leads to a rather interesting mixture of thoughts that actually makes the song seem quite militaristic.

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
Just as your arm knows how to wield the sword,
It also knows how to bear the cross;
Your history is an epic
Of the most brilliant feats.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.


In recent years the song has come under attack from various parties who claim that the anthem is either sexist or too religious. Some have suggested removing the words “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.” Others have suggested ways of removing the references to God. So far these suggestions have met with resistance, but it is likely only a matter of time before the changes are made. After all, this is the nation that has legalized homosexual marriage and has decriminalized marijuana. We’re on the forefront of political correctness.

In How To Be A Canadian, Will and Ian Ferguson suggest that a defining characteristic of Canadians is that they do not know their own anthem. Certainly they do not loudly sing it with pride as do our American neighbours (as I noted last night when I was at the ball game—barely a person there bothered to sing along). “First lesson as a newcomer to Canada: Whatever you do, do not learn the words to ‘O Canada’! Nothing will mark you as an outsider more quickly. Canadians don’t know the words to their national anthem, and neither should you.”

And, to finish the celebration, here is the talented Andrew Osenga (not Canadian, but still pretty good because he’s American) singing the praises of Canada:

Bad idea: Trying to fit God into the American Dream

Over the last few days over at the Desiring God blog, Paul Tripp has been answering questions. It’s been a great series, but I thought this one was particularly good:

What is the greatest hindrance to cultivating community in the American church?

The first thing that comes to mind is frenetic western-culture busyness.

I read a book on stress a few years back, and the author made a side comment that I thought was so insightful. He said that the highest value of materialistic western culture is not possessing. It’s actually acquiring.

If you’re a go-getter you never stop. And so the guy who is lavishly successful doesn’t quit, because there are greater levels of success. “My house could be bigger, I could drive better cars, I could have more power, I could have more money.”

And so we’ve bought an unbiblical definition of the good life of success. Our kids have to be skilled at three sports and play four musical instruments, and our house has to be lavish by whatever standard. And all of that stuff is eating time, eating energy, eating money. And it doesn’t promote community.

I think often that even the programs of a local church are too sectored and too busy. As if we’re trying to program godliness. And so the family is actually never together because they’re all in demographic groupings. Where do we have time where we are pursuing relationships with one another, living with one another, praying with one another, talking with one another?

I’ve talked to a lot of families who literally think it’s a victory to have 3 or 4 meals all together with one another in a week, because they’re so busy. Well, if in that family unit they’re not experiencing community, there’s no hope of them experiencing it outside of that family unit.

We have families that will show up at our church on Sunday morning with the boys dressed in their little league outfits, and I know what’s going to happen. They’re going to leave the service early. Now what a value message to that little boy! Do I think little league is bad? I don’t think it’s bad at all. I think it’s great. But they’re telling him what’s important as they do that.

You can’t fit God’s dream (if I can use that language) for his church inside of the American dream and have it work. It’s a radically different lifestyle. It just won’t squeeze into the available spaces of the time and energy that’s left over.

Read the rest of Tripp’s answer here.

Your family makes a poor god

Matt Chandler, pastor at The Village Church in Texas, is preaching through a series called “The Great Cause.” During this past Sunday’s message, “The Reason,”  he spoke about how we really aren’t good at all, pointing to God loving us way more than we deserve. One part of the message I thought was particularly apt was when he talked about how our sins keep us from God.

In Isaiah 59:2 it says: “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” When we are fallen we try to make secondary things in our lives the primary thing. The excerpt below is stinging in our church culture.

The Great Cause excerpt

God, marriage and family

A recommendation from Mark Driscoll:

About the book, from Crossway Books:

We live in a time of crisis regarding marriage and the family, and only by a return to the biblical foundation can these institutions be rebuilt. To provide an integrated, biblical treatment of the full range of marriage and family issues, the authors of God, Marriage, and Family examine what Scripture says about God’s purposes for humans in their marriage and family interactions. Their examination covers the special issues stemming from marriage, childrearing, singleness, homosexuality, and divorce and remarriage. With study questions and points for further discussion, this book is a comprehensive yet concise resource for anyone seeking a Scriptural response to our culture’s complex challenges to God’s intentions for marriage and family.

To get Andreas Kostenberger’s “God, Marriage and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation,” go here.

To spank or not to spank?

You should, and it’s biblical. That it, if you believe verses like Prov. 13:24, which says: “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” And, if Jesus believed the Bible, then I think we can to.

Still squeamish about? Then maybe you should check out this post by John Piper, pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Perspective

My younger brother, who posts at Jedi Blog when he’s not doing his job as a major in the U.S. Army, has written a moving piece about something we can all relate to in some sense. Imagine being in a place that is far from the ones you love, where a good many people hate your guts, where the conditions are hard and you work long hours. Now imagine that the conditions you’ve been adapting to just got worse. Would you complain? Would you feel sorry for yourself? It would be so easy, and my brother makes it clear in his writing that the was definitely the mood. That is, until something changed.

Read here to find out what and then ask yourself if you’ve maybe been feeling sorry for yourself lately.

Short film from DG: Is this you?

I came across this today and I have to say that, sadly, it had a familiar feel to it. This reminded me of some of the conversation we were having last night at our small group about how we lack intimacy with those within our own church because we are often harsher than the world with what we see as flaws and failures. Because of that tendancy, I think we tend to put on phony faces in front of each other like we see in the video. What happens is we are a) hypocritical and b) not really helped by or helping those around us.