Never has a child been more inept for life than the moment they graduate high school.

As a father of five, I am going to have many times to get the parenting thing right. Sadly, I never will and am OK with this reality, after all, I am pressing into a journey to “produce” children of a certain “type” and the truth is that the world (as it is) is not interested in my thoughts on how children are ready for life.  My oldest daughter is the first in succession, so I will point the remainder of my thoughts toward her and this season of her life:

Cady,

While there is a million points of wisdom that one could give, I choose to focus on those things which hold gravity and are eternal rather than anything else.

  1. Understand that you have not finished anything, but are beginning everything. While your academic endeavors and goals are completed, their completion hasn’t done anything to merit accolade, it is the fulfillment of that which is required. As Jesus taught, [9] Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? [10] So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:9-10 ESV)
  2. Your education, academy, home study and all the points within are not better than any other form of education. The point is to learn to learn, which you have done; but also to remember you have much more to learn and if Christ is not the center of your wisdom in ALL THINGS, you have failed.
  3. While honors and scholarships are certainly yours, these things are wasted in the chasm of eternity when all that we are given is not used for the purpose of giving Glory to Christ.
  4. There is NO separation of your future plans from your future glory. The point of your existence is that you are to be KNOWN by your faith in Christ, nothing else matters. I have said since you were born that I would rather you be homeless living in a box honoring Christ, than to be wealthy and worldly in a mansion without Him.
  5. See that the reality of academic success is wide, not narrow. When I entered the Ph.D. program while in California I felt a sense of honor and pride. I was glad and hopeful that I would learn, add to the conversation of theology and effect change in the lives of others. I was sadly mistaken. There are millions of us in the same field, the same focus and the same academic ability and I was just a small ant in the mound of my mission.
  6. The world is NOT yours to take and make. The world is God’s and he has handed a majority of her over to reprobation, for wide is the path that leads to destruction, but narrow is the gate of righteousness. Be a light in the world, not a faded part of it.
  7. Never blend in with the culture. The culture of every nation is pagan, no matter what “ethics” it may portray. Resist the enemy of God, the temptation of your flesh and love the Lord with all your heart.
  8. Be willing to endure suffering and worldly failure for the cause of Christ. God has NEVER promised his church success in the world but rather eternal life as they “joyfully accepted the plundering of their property”, “rejoiced in fiery trials”, “always being put to death”… The world will offer you what it will, just as the devil offered the world to Jesus. Don’t take the bait.
  9. In that line of thinking, remember the rich young ruler who had the world at his fingertips, the wisdom of the scriptures, the ethics of holiness, the ministry of truth and the wealth of nations.  In the end, this young ruler thought he was righteous because of all he had done. This rich young ruler is the picture of success for many, but in reality, he could not believe that Christ alone is where his hope lay and he trusted “success” in the eyes of God by his works.  Jesus rebuked him and exposed that this young man loved the world and could not love Christ. Never forget that Jesus says that those well-meaning people who press their children into worldliness are wasting their lives and ignoring the promises of God–Gaining the world, but losing their souls.  [I edited this portion due to vague and assumptive thoughts relating to the topic that favored some theological heresies after publishing.]
  10. Don’t fall prey to materialism.  1 John 2:15-17 teaches that one cannot love God and the world. They are incompatible.  We cannot amass wealth on one hand while enjoying the wealth of glory on the other. It is easy to feel as though security comes through substance, but we know that is a lie of Satan. Security is in the one we do not now see, but we love with a joy that is inexpressible.
  11. Run and fight the good fight, the good race, the right dream.  The American Dream is a fool’s errand. While fallaciously I write without argument, this is my remembrance of those things that are already securely planted in your soul. God has never established such garbage for his people and has promised the opposite, “All who desire to live a Godly life will be persecuted.”
  12. Rest in the sufficiency of Christ.  Whether you go to college, get a career, give your life for missions, began a family, start a business, write, teach, dream or fly, never forget that God has you and all that you are is well established in His power and might. Nothing else is needed. Rest in Christ when you have to quit a job because the company is unethical. Rest in Christ when your friends leave your side because Christ’s word is preeminent over politics, family and culture. Rest in Christ when everything you are is hated and you lose it all. Rest in Him when you keep it all and it appears no pain is in sight; it is then you must fight the temptation to not be content in Christ.  Remember Paul’s teaching in Philippians 4.
  13. Live for the glory of God. Now and forever and don’t ever let anyone put you down for that. Even if I fall prey to the stupidity of men’s wisdom, listen not to those words but remember the words of the Lord as I have taught and prayerfully lived before you.
  14. Learn that you will always be a learner. No one is a master of anything and no master of anything is without a master. You will need to glean all you can and grow in Christ as you sort out the chaff of life from truth. Hold fast to the word of life because when the day of the Lord draws near, your knowledge of modulus and Cicero will be useless. That is one of the points of learning, that we see the futility of it all in the face of Christ.
  15. Laugh. Live with joy and know that happiness comes from Christ alone. Period. Nothing more… Take yourself as you are, learn to enjoy laughing at your weaknesses and trials as though you know the reality of the future; because you do. Smile and let the world see the beauty of your soul and the resolve of your heart.

I am proud to have you as my child, my daughter, my friend and my sister in the Lord. I am thankful to the Lord of Heaven for all He has made you to be and how he has given you strength above your age and wisdom above your years. Keep those things that reveal His power, hone those things that are in need of change but in all things, know that your parents are glad you are who you are and most of all I am proud in the Lord that He has saved you and that you do have a love for His truth. Keep that, let the rest go as it will, and you will be truly successful in all things.

Your Dad.

p.s. I may add to this as the Lord strikes me… prepare. 🙂

“It doesn’t get any better than this…” I thought as I looked at my infant daughter surrounded by my four other children and bride of 18 years. Something wells up inside when I see the glorious beauty of my family and in the best of humility, I praise God for them and for His grace to afford me such joy in their lives and learnings. Holding an infant is one of those rare opportunities that few people actually do experience. I know for my other four children, their infant stages are a blur, mainly due to my double time activity schedule and pressure of ministry and the hail storms of expectations I placed on myself during those seasons. But this time it’s different. We are not burdened under a yolk of worldly expectations, but under the yolk of Jesus Christ. Therefore, this season in life is superb and grand in the scheme of them all and for this I am very thankful.

On the other hand, as I peel through the layers of what it all means and discern whether my esteem is idolatry or Christ-centered gratitude, it struck my heart, that this is NOT the best of times and that even though it comes easy to say that “it doesn’t get any better than this” I have fallen prey, just a moment, to the wrong point of focus. I know can hold my family and look wonderfully and joyfully into the reality that is God’s gracious mercy in them and say, “It Surely is gonna get better than this!” I have to think through this carefully so all can follow my thoughts. No better place to start than the beginning…

A Wedding

That wonderful Spring day in 1996 was the first time that I felt such things when as the doors of the vestibule opened for my eyes to gaze upon the bride of my soul.  Her beauty lodged glory into my heart that quickly grew in my throat as I was unable to swallow and I thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this…”  All the dreams and hopes and visions of what will be and for the most part, sans a few pebbles (and larger stones) along the way, it has be greater than I could ever have imagined.  But in all reality as Christ has revealed Himself more and more I see that the fullness of joy that came that day is a taste, a very very small taste of the complete and eternally full joy that will come when Christ and I are together along with my bride and my family, not as we are today, but as siblings in the same body!  The marriage of man and woman is a myopic pointer to the day of Christ’s return for His bride for whom He died.  My bride stood, and still does, at the door of that church in all beauty and splendor and one day, I too will stand as she stood, not just in dress and intention, but in pure righteousness.  It does get better than this, but this is good because it shows us just what we have yet to see! (Ephesians 5:25-)

Birth

Now having five children may seem like excess, but among our circles of friends across the globe, we are the minimalists and are about 40-60% complete as some would say.  But just in my introductory thoughts, the birth of a child is an amazing thing.  It reveals so much about the majesty of God’s power and how He alone can put all things together. (Col 1)  The miracle of life is so much more than just being well loved and having great and deep affection for a child; it bears the image of its Creator, a God who gives birth, not just physically to His creatures, but Spiritually as well.  Scripture teaches us that through suffering comes glory.  This is true in the whole of Biblical history and most specifically, it is true for the Christ, the Son of God who came to die in order to perfectly save sinners who were already dead.  Six weeks ago today we had just ended a 21 plus hour induction with cesarean and the fear at times was overwhelming and inexplicable. God’s grace carried us through and through all the suffering, all the darkness, all the fear, all the “dashed” dreams came LIFE.  A new life, not just one working out kinks and trying to be better or different, but NEW.  Completely fresh, a new beginning in this world.  I reflected on all the other four births and likewise, they all came the same way, though with different circumstances, they all had the same song: suffering yields life.  Jesus Christ came to suffer to bring life and the apostles tell us clearly that we who are in Christ will suffer like He suffered but in the end: Glory.  See 1 Peter chapter 1 for more on this.  In this way, my wife suffered so that life could emerge.  Jesus saves His own through His flesh and blood.  How amazing our God is to help us see His glorious good in our suffering.  We come out on this side, joyfully aware of this little blessing of life and joyfully aware of the grave suffering that our Lord endured for us.  “Light Momentary Affliction” prepares us for a weight of glory.

Rejoicing

So now the glorious part of all of this.  “It doesn’t get any better” fits really well here.  I smile, my wife smiles, my son smiles, my three other daughters smile and life is grand.  3 AM…. not so grand, but we still smile at the prospect of going through all of this again.  But no matter how good it is, it is only a small picture, a snow-globe of the real that we are just shaking through awaiting the full joy.  We are amazed at the love we have for this new child when we thought that there was no more love in us 🙂 we find more.  The birth of our new baby has rekindled the superb affections we have for our other children and each other as husband and wife and if we are not careful, we will lose sight as to why: so that we can see the love of God for us in a deeper way as His children.  The love God has for us is immeasurable in comparison and it blesses my soul to realize that the amazing love that I feel toward my children is nothing compared to the love that God has for us revealed gloriously in Christ Jesus who came to live righteous and holy and die willingly in order to justify us before the Father.

What does it all mean?

It means that no matter how good it is, it is only a small fraction of nothing of the goodness of the true One to whom it all points!  God’s faithful and certain promise to save His children and His amazing “great love” with which He loves us cannot be fathomed.  So until that day when we stand with Him and our Lord Jesus Christ and see for ourselves, we must look ever so carefully at the small glimpses of such things.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:16-21, ESV)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39, ESV)