People keep warning you about children. You are not even expecting but they, “the mature ones,” already are throwing out their apocalyptic warnings about the “terrible twos” and “terrible teens.” “You have no idea what’s waiting for you!” they warn us, like prophets in the streets of Jerusalem. “Doom!” “Doom!” Here is my humble advice: Smile, and move on!
There will be sleepless nights, difficult conversations, and sometimes C H A O S all around. The volume level will be between a 4 and a 9 in the Richter Scale. But you want to know the reality? The reality is that for every sleepless night, you will get a hundred smiles; for every difficult conversation, you will hear 100 beautiful ones; for every chaos, there are 100 peaceful moments; for every high volume request, there will be 100 sweet snuggles.
I have often said that those who are anxious bring people into their anxieties. People who warn you of such things may be well-intentioned in their warnings, but they are setting a horrible precedent for future parents. They’re “terrible teachers.” They are not instructing accurately, nor giving you a full picture.
Parenting is such a joy and every phase provides new challenges undoubtedly, but overwhelming joy. You should look forward to the birth/adoption of your first child. There is nothing apocalyptic about child-rearing; but rather, there are millions of awe moments. I can’t wait for you to see, experience, and enjoy these little gifts.
In light of my recent C.S. Lewis quote I posted, you asked how we can “dance” while avoiding “going through the motions.” The question stems from the fact that in a liturgical environment, words, phrases, and paragraphs carry enormous meaning. The fear is that this repetitive feast turns into a requiem for the dead; what some would call “empty ritualism.”
I understand your fear which is why the things we do in the church needs to be done in a highly intentional fashion. What I mean is that we need to shout our worship (Ps. 100:1) rather than whisper it. The liturgy of the Psalter, for example, was always exuberant. God speaks in a still small voice, but we are called to shout unto the Lord. We must sing vigorously, recite faithfully, and hear with great attention. When we mumble our way through the liturgy, we are saying that the “dance” is uninteresting, lacking intrigue, and a necessary check mark on a list of tedious weekly activities. But you don’t just come to church, you have the privilege of coming to church. Therefore, know the liturgy and because of that knowledge, do the act of worship with knowledge and insight and strength.
In a piece by Matthew Boulton in The Journal for Preachers, Boulton argues that the translation “self-control” requires a new orientation in Paul’s fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). He notes that egkrateia is poorly translated “self-control.” The idea of self-control entails ” a mode of ongoing human achievement.” Rather, the word is formed from two Greek words: eg which is “in” or “in the realm of” and kratos which is, “strength or dominion.”
Boulton notes that something like “inner strength” or “inner dominion” fits better with Paul’s list. Further, it also serves as a culminating point in Paul’s list of virtues. He argues that the idea is that Christians are called to be “in the realm of strength dominion.” Such gifts can only come from a pneumatological anthropology and thus, concludes rightly Paul’s list. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness only make sense when they are expressed in the realm of the Spirit’s strength.
I wrote this a few years ago and it’s still a lovely reminder to me of what fatherhood looks like and how I should continue to strive to be more like our Father in heaven. It’s only $1.99 on kindle. You should get it.
For those who have inquired and shown interest in my doctoral work, I have just turned in my last paper for Dr. Sinclair Ferguson’s class. This concludes 3 1/2 years of course work. At this point, I have concluded all the prerequisite classes and papers before I begin working on my project/dissertation in July. As a result, a new stage of writing and reading begins that will hopefully narrow down my topic. My goal is to complete my writing by Advent of 2020. In the meanwhile, I am hoping to establish weekly habits that will allow me to focus on making small, but tangible progress.
To ensure my progress and perseverance, I am starting a newsletter for anyone interested. The newsletter would be composed of monthly updates on my studies, notations, youtube videos, and random scribblings related directly or indirectly to my studies. My general interests, at this stage, focus on pastoral theology and counseling. If you’d like to subscribe, sign up in the link below. Hopefully, I will send out the first newsletter by the end of May. Easter cheers.
Subscribe to Receive Monthly Updates on my Doctoral Studies.
The apostle Paul says in Colossians that “if then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” We are a theological people, but we are also a people who live our theology. The resurrection is something to be lived. The resurrection of Jesus causes us to live a certain way. The resurrection was not an inconsequential event in history, but the event that changed the world and our responsibility to the world. Paul says that our baptisms testify to this reality: “If we are baptized into Jesus, we are baptized into both his death and resurrection. We are dead to sin and alive to righteousness (Rom. 6:11–13).” To be raised with Christ is to seek the life that is pleasing to Him; seeking a heavenly life on earth. So live Easter! Christ is Risen!
Jesus as a psychological ideal is easy to believe. The Jesus that is no more than a gifted rabbi, philanthropist, and inclusive in his beliefs; that’s a teacher any American can subscribe.
On Easter Sunday, the president of one of the most liberal theological institutions in the country said these words:
But what happens on Easter is the triumph of love in the midst of suffering… Those who claim to know whether or not it happened are kidding themselves.
Easter as the triumph of love? Sounds nebulous enough, right? What does that even mean? You see, even in the most potent element of the Christian faith, the resurrection, one can make Jesus fit into your way of thinking.
If Jesus is not raised from the dead by the Father, then Jesus is just an idea; a psychological detail that can mean anything you want.
Beloved, we do not come to worship today to claim the triumph of love, we come to worship today to claim Jesus’ triumph over the grave.
you regret not spending enough time with your kids in their early years. And now, you have noticed that your teenager does not seem interested in being around you or talking to you much. This hurts you deeply and you long to reconnect but have no idea how to do so.
My first encouragement to you is to go to your teenager and ask for their forgiveness. “My son/daughter, I want to repent for not investing in our relationship over the years. I chose work and technology over you. I deeply regret how that decision affects our current relationship.” I am convinced that parents need to be repenters before anything else. I don’t know if repenting will change anything, but it is the first and most biblical place to begin any restoration.
Second, be wary of manipulating your children into liking you. Don’t treat them like they are tools in your garage that you use to fit your needs. They are human beings made in God’s image and need to see that they are loved by you for who they are and not who you wish or manipulate them to be.
Finally, if an opportunity opens for dialogue, use it to listen. It’s likely that your teenager has felt unheard for a long time. Be slow to speak (James 1:19). Inquire. Don’t expect a damaged relationship with your teenager to change overnight. God loves to reconcile family members. Be patient. May this journey bear good fruit.