How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home – Restore Ministries

Source: Resource Ministries' Website http://restore-ministries.org
Source: Resource Ministries’ Website http://restore-ministries.org

How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home – Restore Ministries.

This is a short, easy-to-read article but it contains some very pertinent points for parents to be aware of. Don’t gloss over it too quickly or you will altogether miss what the author, Barrett Johnson, is trying to share.

The scary thing is that you can behave like a Christian and yet not be one at all. Hmmm …. food for thought? Are you raising your children this way?

God bless you and your family!

10 Reminders for My Parenting Journey

9G7A6561Hands up, all who agree that parenting is not for the faint-hearted.

We’ve all been told that we have an awesome responsibility to train and raise our children in the ways of the Lord. We may start out with zest and enthusiasm, but it doesn’t take very long to realise the challenges and distractions that come against us every day; and sometimes, every moment! We determine to take these in our stride. And then we discover that the battles are not necessarily always against the external influences but some of the toughest ones are found right at home, in the hearts of our children and in the issues we each personally grapple with.

Like the winds and waves that come against a seemingly solid rocky cliff, our resolve to be great parents can be slowly eroded as fatigue and discouragement set in, slowly but surely. If you have been there, you know what I’m talking about. You know the feeling, and it’s not a nice one. All you have are questions but no answers. And worse still, the loudest questions are those that taunt, accuse and condemn your ability and credibility as a parent.

I’ve been there too — many times. God may have blessed and graced me to be a father to my seven children, and indeed, I know my roles and responsibilities as a steward of these blessings. That said, how I view parenting and what I expect of myself may not always be accurate, even though I strive to be as biblical as I possibly can. And that’s why I need to be reminded of the following over and over again.

1. I am not a perfect parent. This sounds like a no-brainer, but I desperately need to remember this and not beat myself over the head each time I fail. But my perfectionist streak gets the better of me, time and time again, and I feel really lousy when I mess up or am told that I have overlooked something again. But perfect I am not, and the truth is, I will make mistakes. I can be aware and learn from them, or I can wallow, be condemned, and give up.

2. I do not have perfect children. Another obvious point, but don’t we all wish that they are perfect? I know that my children all struggle with their sinful natures, and yet, my idealistic streak keeps hoping that I will wake up one day and suddenly discover children who are always cheerful, polite and obedient. (Interestingly, as I am writing this, there is a whining and crying child in the background.) Oh, how my countenance falls each time my expectations of them are not met! But they are not perfect, and it is utterly foolish and unreasonable of me to consider otherwise. Remembering this enables me to understand their struggles, as I do mine, that I may be patient and compassionate in my dealings with each of them.

3. I cannot monitor every activity my children engages in. I will be as involved in the lives and activities of my children as I possibly can. But to be present physically 24/7 and to know every detail is simply not practical. The biggest irony is that often, children break the rules right under the parents’ nose, right in the home where boundaries are clearest! What about when parents are not around? You can set up an entire tracking system but there will come a time when their own schedules will take them out of the house and they will have to make decisions on their own. Admittedly, this is toughest as we watch our children grow. We know there is a need to let go. We just don’t know if we are doing it too soon or too late. My prayer is for knowledge not just to be lodged in their heads, but that godly wisdom would rise and rule in their hearts.

4. I am not responsible for my children’s sins. As parents, it grieves us when our children sin. When they are little, it may be lying or throwing a tantrum. But as they grow, they may read books, listen to songs, watch movies that are just not right. We tell them, they know and yet there is a curiosity in them that needs to be satisfied. We pray they wouldn’t sin, and yet they do. And we feel as if we have failed miserably in our instruction and training. I am reminding myself that my part is to teach and impart. But if they choose to disobey, to sin, it would totally break my heart, but the responsibility remains theirs — and the consequences too.

5. I am not the one to meet my children’s every need. Today, just being dad is not enough anymore. You must also be friend, coach, mentor and teacher (did I mention pastor and counsellor too?). And every parenting talk and sermon adds another descriptor to the already endless list of who you are to be and what you should be doing. In short, we are never doing enough and we are the one to blame for any dysfunction our child may display. Hey, I will watch out for my children’s needs. Yes, I will be dad, the best that I can be. But if they hope to have one that never fails them, man, will they be disappointed. My prayer is that they will quickly learn and find sufficiency only in Christ, and Christ alone.

6. I do not have all the answers. By now, this statement should not be a surprise at all. Yes, it’s ok to say “I don’t know.” I don’t know why things are happening this way. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know when the children will love the Lord passionately and serve Him wholeheartedly. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. What I do know is that God is faithful and His Word is true. That is who and what I will cling to, regardless how my children are behaving or responding, and especially when I don’t know what I know anymore!

7. I am not the one who provides for my children. At some point, every parent struggles with needs and wants of our children. With seven children, this is a very real point! Just this week alone, I have been advised (warned) that certain expenses have increased and that I should not faint when the next statement arrives. Sure, as dad and head of the household, it is my responsibility to provide for the family. That could be a huge burden for me if I do not first understand and then remember that it is the Lord who provides as we serve Him and Kingdom faithfully.

8. I do not have to worry nor be anxious. I am not joking. I know that you think this is totally impossible. After all, we love our children and that is why we will always worry for and about them. That said, let us be reminded that there is an extremely fine line between loving concern and anxious worry. I am concerned for my children, and rightly, I should be. However, when I dwell on that and all the unknowns, it begins to eat me up from the inside out! My focus on the Lord shifts to my own inability to comprehend nor resolve the issue. It turns to worry and before long, I am taking it out on myself and my children. This reminder is for me to always trust the Lord, regardless. He has great plans for each child and only He can bring it to pass in His time.

9. I do not have to journey alone. Sometimes, parenting can seem like a very lonely journey on a very long road. Allow this to stick in your mind and you will soon be having the biggest pity-party ever. Unless you are a single parent, always remember the partnership of your spouse. Discuss and pray with one another often. And don’t forget the extended family through the Body of Christ. At times, the same point I have been making, when made by another may bring conviction in the hearts of my children. Ouch! That just dented my pride. Precisely, for often, it is our pride that restricts us from sharing our challenges with others, or learning from them. This only leaves us stranded and alone.

10. I do not have to take everything so seriously. If I can remember the above, it would be much easier to remember this. Then again, this might be the first and most important reminder to heed. Serene and I say this often, “If we don’t laugh about it, we will go crazy!” Most definitely, we could do with a lot more of that when we parent. In most cases, it is not the end of the world. Don’t let our uptightness, our pride, our need for control, our worry, our ‘face’ rob us of the joy of loving and walking with the children God has so graciously blessed us with. I know this is more easily said than done, hence, the need to be reminded over and over again. Not only will this be good for the parents, but also for the children. After all, who wants to live in an environment where there is only stress, anger and anxiety? Stop frowning. Smile more. Laugh.

Oh, how I need to revisit these points often in my parenting journey. You may have more to add but I would be happy if I can remember these for starters, consistently. And most importantly, that the Lord is enabling me by His Holy Spirit to achieve what He has called me to do as a father. May He enable you too!

Saturday 29 June 2013: Family Day?

Saturday 29 June 2013. This would be an interesting date and day to watch. Not only in the natural, but also in the spiritual.

NFC Family Day Article
The Straits Times, Tuesday 23 May 2013, Home, B10.

This date will mark the end of Singapore’s National Family Council‘s (NFC) month-long National Family Celebrations 2013. They have designated it as Family Day Out, and families are encouraged to spend that day together, visiting places of interest or participating in activities and events together as a family unit. And specifically at 6:29pm, the NFC hopes everyone would call, tweet, text or hug their family members because “6:29 is Family Time”.

Pink Dot Article
The Straits Times, Tuesday 23 May 2013, Home, B12.

Coincidentally, or otherwise, the Pink Dot Movement will also be holding their 5th rally at Hong Lim Park on 29 June. As we know, this group that represents the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders) seeks to establish these ‘alternative’ expressions of love and relationships as fully acceptable and mainstream. Put another way, LGBT relationships that include same-sex unions and marriages are hoping to be recognised as “family units” by society, not to be frowned upon nor discriminated against at all. This rally has been gaining momentum and popularity since its first event in 2009. The high point is when congregants, comprising LGBTs and non-LBGTs, adults and children (family), form a giant Pink Dot to show their support for this cause.

Without thinking too much, these are simply two separate events. But are they? Events and dates are not determined overnight, at least not for these of such scale, size and significance. The question is, which came first? Is the Pink Dot Movement riding on and taking advantage of the NFC’s efforts, cleverly positioning themselves as a family-related event to the unsuspecting man-on-the-street? Or might the NFC be subtly supporting the Pink Dot Movement’s event, thereby sending a message that the family is being re-defined to include LGBT relationships? If not, would the national agency change anything so as not to send a wrong signal? Or would they gently request the Pink Dot Movement to consider shifting their Hong Lim event, at the risk of appearing as discriminating against LGBTs?

Surely, there are no easy answers or solutions, not that these are necessarily desiring to find any alternative (no pun intended). Am I suggesting that I know something, that I might have an idea that there is more than meets the eye? No, not at all. I am just a concerned Christian Singaporean parent, wondering where all this is leading to and how I am to respond. Indeed, 29 June is a date to watch. I may have no control over these events taking place in the natural, but I can and will pray because the authority I have is in the spiritual.

All said, I guess I shouldn’t make too big a deal of it. After all, it might really just be pure coincidence that both events are taking place on the exact same day. But why then did the two articles appear on the exact same day in the Straits Times, one page after another!? Sigh, there I go again — I will just wait and watch to see if the Pink Dot will be formed — at 6:29pm.

Related Post: The Need To Rebuild the Walls Around Families

A Disciple and a Parent

Family Pix at Sushi Tei Christmas 2012

In my short stint as a father, I have had many opportunities to dialogue with Christian parents.  Although the conversations take different forms, the issues remain the same – time, money and children – more specifically, how to have more time, more money and preferably less children.  And when the discovery is made that I am in fulltime ministry, with seven young children, and a wife who homeschools and manages the entire household (without a maid!), I am instantly asked, “How do you and your wife manage?!” to which I reply, “We don’t … we rely on God.”

But this is not the answer they want.  What they really want to know is how we afford our larger-than-normal family, how we find the time and energy to do all we need to do, and how we manage, nurture and train all the children.  Yet, the answer is still the same … “We don’t … we rely on God.”

Like everyone else, we face the same challenges and struggles of parenting.  On our own, we don’t and can’t manage anything.  It is only in Christ that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).

We don’t stop being disciples. At this point, you may be wondering what this has to do with discipleship.  Let me say that it has everything to do with discipleship.  When we decide to follow Jesus, it is a commitment that stands regardless our position in life, single or married, with two children or ten.  We don’t stop being disciples!  To stop means to stop following Jesus, to stop abiding in Christ, to cease drawing from the true Vine.

As such, it’s not about finding more energy to pray or more time to read the Word, but critically recognising the need to pray and to constantly abide in the Word.  Serene and I have experienced this time and again – the moment we take our eyes off Jesus, things go crazy around the house and everything falls apart.  We have learnt that, truly, apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

All that we have is from God.  How else can we but manage these for His glory?  How else can we manage but with His strength and power?  How else can we have strength and power but to draw from Him daily?  Discipleship is not about knowing how to manage, but knowing who we are in Christ, our Master, out of which flow our call and our priorities.

Disciples know their Master. If I am a disciple, I have a Master.  The question is, “Who is my Master?”  Jesus said that no one can serve two masters.  We will love one and hate the other.  Anything and anyone can take the place of Jesus – my wife, my children, my career, my worldly pursuits, even my church.  When that happens, I only serve Jesus on Sunday mornings.  For the rest of the week, I serve my other masters.

I have come to acknowledge that I need Jesus desperately.  My source and strength is Jesus.  If I don’t spend time with Him, I have nothing.  It is only out of my relationship with Him that I can relate with others. In loving Jesus, I love my wife and my children.  In trusting Jesus, I know that my best can never match His best for my family.  In following Jesus, my family knows that we are headed in the right direction for the right destination.

My Master is Jesus and I am His disciple.

Disciples know their Purpose. Not everyone may be called to fulltime ministry, but every believer is to be a fulltime disciple. When Jesus says, “Follow Me,” He is inviting men and women to give up everything to be with Him and to learn from Him.  And everything includes our families.

To follow Jesus means to have my eyes fixed on Him.  Problems come when my eyes are fixed on myself, my wife, my children and our needs.  When I yield to the call of these needs, I invariably miss the call of Jesus to walk with Him.  In Matt 10:37, Jesus says, “… he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”  So do I stop loving my family?  No, I don’t love them any less.  It just means that I love Jesus more.

We are disciples first before we are husbands, wives, or parents.  And disciples are very clear of the purpose of following Jesus – to become more and more like Him.  With this purpose and promise of transformation, a true disciple of Jesus makes for a better husband, wife and parent.

Disciples know their Priorities. So many Christians struggle with discipleship because of misplaced priorities.  An over focus on needs will lead to a focus on money, job, self-improvement, and career.  Soon, worry and anxiety set in, and they wonder, “Where is Jesus in all these?”  I believe the Master is still there, patiently waiting.  It’s the disciple who has gone missing.

A disciple’s priority must be to do what the Master has called him to do – to declare, establish and manifest the Kingdom of God (Matt 10:7,8).  When Jesus sent His disciples out, He told them not to worry about anything for they will be provided for.  Their priority was to do His will and to please the Master.  The same applies to us today.  Matt 6:33 reminds us that between our needs and God’s Kingdom, we are to seek the latter that the former will be taken care of.  How often have we got it upside-down?  To be sure, the question is not whether God will meet our needs, but if we are seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness.

A disciple’s priority is to look after the Master’s business.  The Master will look after the disciple’s needs.

So how do we manage? We don’t … we rely on God.  As you can see by now, discipleship, as with parenting, is not merely about methods and how to’s.  There’s something more fundamental – it’s relationship.

If you are struggling with being a disciple and a parent, it’s not more steps you need.  Instead, you have to determine what is it you find difficult to let go of, for it is that cost of discipleship with which you are struggling.  Don’t struggle to be a disciple.  Strive instead, to know the Master.  For when you know who your Master is, and how faithful He is, you will gladly follow Him wherever He leads.  When that happens, priorities become clear and everything falls in place.

This is Life!

This morning (Tues 25 Sept 2012), I had the opportunity to have breakfast with my parents just before they left for the airport for another long trip.

Honestly, I have lost count of the number of trips and where they have been. Each time someone asks me if they are away or where they are, I find myself saying “I don’t know” as I have not been able to keep track of their travels. And to comments that they travel a lot, my reply would always be, “Isn’t it such a blessing that they are able to, that they have both the means and the health to travel and enjoy themselves?”

Looking back, my parents did not come from rich families. They have experienced the hard life and have both worked very hard to provide for myself and my sister. It is indeed wonderful that they can relax and enjoy each other’s company as they take in the sights and marvel at God’s creation all over the world.

In Singapore, they enjoy their 7 grandchildren. And on this trip, they will see their other 3 grandchildren over in Southampton. Along the way, there will be stopovers in Bangkok, Spain, Rome, Israel and South Korea before returning to Singapore.

Truly, this is life! And I am so thankful to the good Lord for sustaining them with His grace and favour. The greatest joy I have is that they have both encountered the Lord personally for themselves and have learnt to continually rest in Him for strength and direction.

Dad & Mom, I love you lots! You have showered us with so much of your love and care in your own special ways. My prayers are always with you that the Lord will grant us many more years of being together. And we praise Him too that when time on earth is done, we have the confidence that we will continue with one another through eternity in His presence!

42 Parents Turned Up For “Raising Christian Families in Today’s World”

I want to give God all the glory for what took place at Wesley Methodist Church today.

At the invitation of the Family Life Ministry, I had the opportunity to share about raising families for Jesus in today’s challenging and ever-changing landscape. A total of 42 parents turned up to attend this talk (from Wesley MC and also other churches).

The morning started a little tentatively with me experiencing some technical and connection problems – interestingly, this tends to happen at Wesley MC … perhaps, it’s time for a new computer (MacBook?) – haha! Anyway, one of the parent-participants, Jonathan, helped me troubleshoot and got everything set up. Truly, God-sent!

With so many things to share, the three hours zipped by so quickly. As far as I could observe, the crowd was attentive and everyone was duly engaged with the SEVEN key points presented, drawn from Nehemiah 4:1-20.

Another high point was that for the first time, my wife Serene was able to join me (albeit a little later). I’ve always felt that we should be doing this together as husband and wife, father and mother. And today, with the children able to stay home themselves, Serene could be present. During Q&A time, the women had a chance to ask questions, which in my opinion, are better answered by my dear wife 🙂

Feedback and responses after were positive, indicating that the participants were provoked to think further and more deeply. Is it all about surviving the rat race, education and academic grades? Or are they raising Christian families centred upon Jesus that these would be purposefully used for God in the advancement of His Kingdom?

I am praying that the Holy Spirit would have convicted the parents who attended, and continue to lead them as their cast their vision for their families and make choices that would glorify Jesus!

Raising Christian Families in Today’s World

At the invitation of Wesley Methodist Church’s Family Life Ministry, I will be sharing this family seminar, “Raising Christian Families in Today’s World”*, on Saturday 18 August 2012, 9am to 12nn. Registration Fee: S$5.00 per person. For more information, you can contact Priscilla Shin at 6837 8610 or priscillas@wesleymc.org

Synopsis: Families today are under extreme pressure as they face new challenges in a fast-changing landscape. The enemy knows that if he hits the family unit, relationships will be broken and the testimony of the church will be weakened. What then are our roles as Christian parents? How do we protect our families from the spiritual and moral decline that is prevalent in societies today?  Indeed, parenting skills are important; but even more critical is a return to God’s Word and His mandate for parents to raise godly families for His Kingdom and glory!

If you can make it to attend, I’d strongly encourage you to; even better if both parents can make it. I won’t position this as a parenting talk, but a talk to and with parents. Feel free to share this seminar with others from your Christian community. It’d be a wonderful time of interaction, learning from one another and being made aware of the challenges that surround the Christian family in these perilous times.

*formerly titled, “Building a Household of Faith”