When "Because I Said So" Isn't Good Enough

The most popular question that my children to ask is "Why?" I have to admit that I have allowed this question to irritate me at times. Often the best answer is "Because I said so." However, it doesn't work all the time. If we are working to raise our children to be mature, Christ loving believers, then we are going to have to come up with a better answer. We are going to have to tell they why.

 Photo by  Gaelle Marcel  on  Unsplash

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Part of being mature is being self-motivated. The key to being self-motivated, as opposed to only being driven by outside forces, is to know the "why" of what we are doing. We must understand the heart and purpose of our actions. 

One of the most important roles we play as parents is to help our children develop a biblical worldview in which the "why" questions are answered from God's perspective. Check out Part 6 of my video series How to Help Your Children Become Self-Motivated to dig a little deeper into how we can give our children the "whys" of the Christian life.

Have You Discovered the Ultimate Goal of Parenting?

IMG_4397.JPEG

What we are aiming for as parents has a major impact on how we relate to and raise our children every day. Have you discovered the ultimate goal of parenting from God's point of view? It is easy for us to get distracted by all sorts of other parenting goals and motives that will not produce the outcome we are really looking for. 

Here is Part 2 of my video series on How to Help Your Children Become Self-Motivated. [Hint: Helping your children to become self-motivated is not the ultimate goal of parenting!]

The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Know or Believe

“Give Grandma a hug!” The toddler refuses, hiding behind mom’s legs. Now what?! Mom is embarrassed of her child’s behavior and feels bad for Grandma. Even worse, the little one has disobeyed her Mom. Some parents proceed to give awkward public lectures or vain threats and bribes. Others swoop their kids off to another room for discipline. The tear streaked grandchild returns to give a reluctant hug.

How does Grandma feel about all this? “Leave her alone,” she says, “It is alright. She’ll give me a hug when she’s ready.” Does Grandma want a forced hug? Of course not. Grandma wants love, not just a hug. True love is freely given; you cannot force someone to love.  

Since God created us to love him, he also created us with freedom of choice. We can choose to love and relate to God, or we can choose not to. When God created the first two humans, Adam and Eve, he gave them a choice. Since God wanted a love relationship with them, he gave them the choice to trust and obey him, or to do things their own way. Adam and Eve made the wrong choice. The Bible calls this failure to love and obey God sin. Sin has been a part of human life ever since.

Sin is the rejection of God and all that is good and right. God loves us and what he tells us to do, or not to do, is good for us. God is beauty and goodness and love. When he tells us to trust and love him only, he is doing what is best for us. He is giving us himself. And what God tells us to do, or not to do, is not only good for us, it is right. He tells us to love others, which means that we do not lie to, steal from, or harm them. Everyone knows this is right behavior.

All of us have failed to love God and obey him. All of us have failed to love others as God has said. All of us have sinned.

“All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way”

Isaiah 53:6

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23

What do we do with people who steal from or harm others? Even people who don’t believe in God believe in justice. This is why we have justice systems that punish people who commit crimes. Because of this, it is not difficult for us to understand God’s standard that those who disobey his law must be punished. Much more than human laws, God’s laws are good and right. And so we may expect consequences and punishment for our sin. The Bible teaches that punishment for sin is eternal separation from God in hell.

Now, let’s see where we stand. God created us to love him. He gave us a choice to love and obey him so that we might enjoy his life and goodness. However, all of us have chosen to disobey instead of love God. We are therefore guilty of sin and deserve to be punished.

This is where the good news (the Gospel) comes in! God loved us so much that over 2000 years ago he became a man, Jesus Christ, and died on a Roman cross to take the punishment for our sin. Then he came back to life and went back to heaven.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;  
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;    
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.  

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” 

Isaiah 53:4-6

We were hopelessly separated from God and heading for eternal punishment. But God wouldn’t have it. God is able to fulfill his purposes. He is able to fulfill both love and justice. There is now a way to know and love God again. We must confess and repent of our sin, believe that Jesus Christ took the punishment for our sin, and receive by faith his forgiveness. Our choice remains. We turn back to God and receive Christ’s payment for our sin or we must pay for our own sin in hell, separated from God forever.

“But [God] is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish,
but that all should reach repentance.”

2 Peter 3:9

            Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation? Have you restored your relationship with God through Christ and determined to love him? If you have not, do it now. Talk to God and confess your sin to him. Express your faith that Christ paid for your sins on the cross. Express your desire to love and obey him with the rest of your life! Receive his forgiveness and rejoice in his love!

The Day I Discovered My Purpose in Life

What is the purpose of life? I believe this question is embedded in the heart of every person. We are all asking and answering it, even if we are not aware of doing so.

As I have written before, believing that God created the world and human beings is foundational to finding any real purpose at all. Furthermore, I believe that the God who created us has revealed himself in the Bible. And in the Bible, he has also revealed his purpose for us.

I remember the day I discovered the simple and powerful answer to this universal question. I was in college, sitting in a Sunday School classroom reading the Bible before things got started. In the Bible story I was reading, an expert of the Jewish Law asked Jesus a question: “Which commandment is the most important of all?” What an opportunity and what a question! God had given the Jews hundreds of commandments in the Old Testament. Here is Jesus, God in the flesh, and he was asked to boil it all down to the most important commandment of them all! His answer is no less amazing and satisfying. Quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4, Jesus answered,

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
And you shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Mark 12:30

This is it. This is what God wants from us. God created us to have a personal, loving relationship with him. I’m not sure if I could have guessed what Jesus was going to say, but when I heard it, it answered the longings of my heart.

As I sat there in that Sunday School classroom as an 19 year old young man reading this passage, my life took a new direction. I had grown up in church and heard the Bible taught my entire life. I had undoubtedly heard these verses before. But that morning I understood them. I realized that I had been striving to “be good” or to “be a good Christian.” I was failing to see that there was something greater than doing the right thing. Jesus severely criticized the Jewish teachers for knowing the Scriptures, keeping the law, and failing to do what God really wanted. They failed to love him.

Hundreds of passages throughout the Bible reveal that God wants us to love him. The whole Bible, from beginning to end, speaks of relationship with God. We see it in God’s relationship with the Patriarchs, God’s covenant with Israel and hatred of idolatry, the sending of his own Son to take our punishment and provide forgiveness, the personal, indwelling presence of God by his Spirit, and the fulfillment of all creation in the marriage supper of the Lamb, uniting Christ and his Bride, the Church.

When we discover that God’s purpose for us to is love him, everything changes. Why we do what we do matters to God. Being good without loving God is empty. Loving God is the real good, without which being good doesn’t even count. And it is in love that we find the joy and satisfaction of life.

Is Your Family Stuck in the Raging River of Busyness?

Sometimes our lives feel like we have been thrown into a rushing river. We are just trying to survive, barely keeping our heads above the water and avoiding the jagged rocks. We have little control over our direction and speed. This is how we feel when we have surrendered to the tyranny of the urgent. We are at the mercy of deadlines, appointments, and activities. We are driven by what the culture says we must do, by what others want us to do and by the gratification of our immediate desires.

But I have had enough of this. I have sputtered and bumped along in these rapids for too long, watching my life whiz by, watching my children grow up. God has given me a call and purpose for my family, and it is not being accomplished in this raging river of busyness!

So I desperately swim for the shore, not even sure I can break through the powerful currents. Drenched, coughing and exhausted, I crawl out onto the bank. And now I am asking myself, “What is this supposed to looks like? How do I build a different life?”

First, I must refocus on my purpose and mission as a follower of Jesus Christ. My purpose and mission is to love God, love people, and make disciples. This is not only the purpose and mission of each of us as believers, but of our families as well.

Next, in order to see what my life is supposed to look like, I reflect on my biblical responsibilities and priorities. I have come up with five areas of responsibility and priority. These are the ways that we can fulfill our purpose and mission in our families.

  1. Relationships

  2. Discipleship

  3. Order and Work

  4. Education

  5. Ministry

Relationships

To be a family is to have relationships. To love others is to relate to them. How am I loving my wife and children? Am I treating them with kindness, patience and selflessness? Am I affirming and accepting them? What kind of relationships am I building with them? Are we making time to talk? Are we spending time together? Strong relationships are the foundation for the next category, discipleship.

Discipleship

To disciple others is to help them love God, love people and make disciples. This must be the ultimate goal of family because it is the ultimate goal of life. How am I helping my family to love God? How am I helping them to love others? How am I equipping them to know their own gifting, calling and personal ministry?

Order and Work

Loving God includes stewardship. All that we have is from God, and our responsibility is to care for what he has given us and use it to bless others. Stewardship requires work: cleaning, organizing and maintaining. Work is our contribution to the family and community and it is how we provide for our basic needs so that we are free to minister to others. A messy, chaotic home is not a place where discipleship, education or ministry can thrive.

Education

Education is the acquisition of knowledge and skill. These are tools for helping us accomplish our God given mission. Facilitating and leading our children in the acquisition of knowledge and skill is part of our responsibility as parents. Am I faithful in educating my children? Am I preparing them for a life of productivity and blessing to others?

Ministry

Ministry is the culmination of all that we have discussed so far. A spouse is a partner in ministry. A family is a ministry team. Are we joining God in his work to build his kingdom? Are our hearts beating with his for the nations? What are we doing as a family to express the love and truth of God to others? How much of our time is spent serving and entertaining ourselves? Are we intentionally giving our money, time  and energy for ministry?

By faith I am rejecting the tyranny of the urgent. I will break the patterns of busyness and reactionism. Instead of focusing on what others expect from me, I will focus on what God desires for me. By faith I am choosing a life of peace and purpose for my family. In order to do this, I will make these five building blocks my priorities: relationships, discipleship, order and work, education  and ministry. It may be a desperate swim to the shore, but God can help me make it. He can give me everything I need to live out his fantastic mission for my family.

Which God Is the Real One?

As I wrote before, if our universe came into existence by chance, then we have no purpose in life (except for whatever we make up ourselves). However, I believe the most logical conclusion we can make, based on our observation of the universe, is that a powerful, intelligent being created everything. If so, then the creator determines our purpose. 

But how do we know who this creator is?

God has not only revealed himself in creation, he has revealed himself through the Bible. The Bible is God’s book to us. 

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable
for teaching, for reproof, for correction,
and for training in righteousness, 
that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16

But aren’t there other gods and bibles? How do we know the Christian Bible is the right one? The Bible is internally coherent and is confirmed by our experience in the world. A person can read the Bible and compare it with other Scriptures and decide for himself which one, if any, is from God. You should not take another person’s word for it. Read the Bible and decide for yourself.

Voddie Baucham explains why he believes the Bible is God’s Word: “I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies, and they claim to be divine rather than human in origin.”

I am suggesting that these facts are obvious: God created everything, and the Bible is his Word. So, why are there so many other religions and worldviews? Are there really logical and scientific arguments against what the Bible teaches about God? In Romans 1 Paul explains why people reject God. He says that “by their unrighteousness” they “suppress the truth” (Rom 1:18). He goes on,

“For although they knew God,
they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him,
but they became futile in their thinking,
and their foolish hearts were darkened. . . .
They exchanged the truth about God for a lie
and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”

Romans 1:21, 25

Yes, there are difficult questions about God, the world, and the Bible. But there are many reasonable and satisfying answers for those with an open heart and mind. Yes, what scientists say often seems to contradict what the Bible says is true. But “scientific” conclusions have changed throughout history. Everyone has his own bias, even scientists. In addition, there are laws of nature and observations about the universe that point to the existence of God and his creation of everything.**

I know that some people are genuinely confused and want to know the truth. If they honestly seek the truth, they will find it. In the end, those who reject God do not do so based on scientific evidence or intelligent reasoning. They don’t believe in God because they don’t want to. They don’t want to believe in God because they don’t want to be accountable to him. They are not making a mental choice; they are making a moral choice.

** [Here are six scientific observations you can study more about and how they point to a Creator: 1. The order of the universe (the teleological argument); 2. The existence of DNA; 3. The impossibility of spontaneous generation; 4. The Second Law of Thermodynamics; 5. The gene pool and the limits to change; 6. Fossil gaps and intermediate forms.]

How to Find Your Purpose

One day when shopping at Trader Joe’s, I saw an employee wandering around carrying a sign, “Ask me!” So I walked up to the young man and asked him, “What is the meaning of life?” He looked at me, surprised and speechless. When I broke into a grin, he looked relieved and seemed to hope I didn’t actually expect him to answer the question. People often refer to this as the supremely difficult or unanswerable question. Is it really impossible to answer?

Like most people, you have probably asked yourself, “Why am I here?” Another way of putting it might be, “What is the purpose of my life?” Now you can make up your own answer to that question, and many people do. However, many sense that there is a greater purpose outside of themselves to discover. Who or what else might determine our purpose in life? This brings us to another question that most people ask, “Where did I come from?”

We might begin answering the question, “Where did I come from?” with “From my mother and father.” But where did they come from? Where did any of us come from? Where did the world come from? There are primarily two common answers to this question: We came from nothing (The Big Bang and Evolution) or we came from God (some intelligent, powerful being). If we came from nothing, then you get to make up your own purpose in life (because there really isn’t one). If we came from God, then we should ask God what his purpose is for us.

So, which explanation makes more sense to you? Have we come from nothing or from God? It seems obvious to me that a world full of beauty, freedom, design, love, morality, and order did not come from nothing. The other explanation is that God created everything. The Bible teaches that the existence of God is obvious to us because of creation.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them,
because God has shown it to them.
For his invisible attributes,
namely his eternal power and divine nature,
are clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,
in the things that have been made.
So they are without excuse.”

Romans 1:19-20

Next time we'll ask: "How do we know who this creator God is? Aren't there other gods and bibles?"