Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lord Garmadon and Proverbs 24:1

At lunch on Monday Daniel announced to the couple sitting with our family: "Daddy found a verse about Lord Garmadon!"

In order to appreciate that announcement, you need a little background. This Spring, Allan came home from first grade excited about Ninjago, a newly released set of Lego characters. It was/is all the rage!

Lord Garmadon, according to Lego's wiki, is the wicked king of the Underworld whose weapon of choice is deceit. His brother, Sensei Wu, and his ninjas are trying to stop him from destroying Ninjago.

Whatever big brother brings home, younger brother drinks in like water to a thirsty camel. It wasn't long before I began to hear, like an interminable mantra, "Sensei Wu and Lord Garmadon" coming from Daniel's mouth everywhere he went around the house.

It didn't seem to matter that he had no first hand knowledge of these toys. He was captivated. I looked up the names he was repeating and wasn't pleased. Figures of darkness are not acceptable objects of focus for my boys. But how to dislodge it?

Sometime last week, I read Proverbs 24 in my personal worship time. Verse 1 reads, "Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them."

So I announced at breakfast: "Boys, I found a verse about Lord Garmadon!" Their eyes got big. Really!? What is it?

After I read the verse, Allan's face fell. Daniel wanted to know what 'envious' meant.

I pressed home the point: "A wise boy does not want to be like evil people, doesn't pretend to be evil, doesn't even want to be around evil men."

"That's why you are not allowed to pretend to be Lord Garmadon. He is evil. The Bible tells us not to make evil men our heros (i.e., those we are envious of or want to be like)."

That's about all I said. Apparently, that's all it took to make an impression on Daniel. That discovery was worth announcing publicly! "Daddy found a verse about Lord Garmadon!"

I haven't heard the mantra again, but if/when I do, we'll review Proverbs 24:1.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Scripture for Easter

This week we have been following the last week of Jesus through Matthew's gospel using Thomas Nelson's Matthew, with Jesus played by Bruce Marchiano.

There are several things I like about this dramatic presentation of Matthew's gospel. The first is that it is a verbatim rendition of the NIV text of Matthew, no additions, no deletions. The second is Bruce Marchiano's portrayal of Jesus.

After we watch the day's section, I quiz the boys about what they saw and heard. There's not a lot of deep reflection that takes place (at least that I can see), but it does allow the story of Jesus' passion to grip the boys.

This evening I read the crucifixion account from Matthew to the boys since we got home too late to watch the DVD. I still had their attention, but I could tell it wasn't the same as the other evenings this week.

Either way, it opens the door to questions, discussions, and then spent time thanking Jesus in prayer for allowing his hands and feet to be nailed to the cross for our sins, for wearing the crown of thorns, and taking the wrath of God that we rightly deserve.

I'm praying that the Spirit will make this Easter one of dawning realization for the boys: Jesus loves them more than they can imagine.

How are you implementing Scripture into your family's celebration and remembrance of our Savior's passion this week?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tattling and Matt. 18:15

"I'm telling!!! .... Daddy ...!" If you have kids old enough to know right and wrong and talk, then you've probably heard those words.

If you're like me, you get tired of hearing about every real or perceived misdemeanor. Really tired!

However, there is no verse that says, "Thou shalt not tattle." In fact, just the opposite is true. Scripture commends, even commands, reporting wrong doing to proper authorities (Lev. 5:1; Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Tim. 5:19-20).

But, there is a biblical process. The biblical process is not See a sin > report to authorities. The biblical process is see a sin > rebuke your brother (Matt. 18:15; Luke 17:3) > assist in appropriate restitution (Gal. 6:1). If the brother will not repent, then report it to 1 or 2 who are qualified to serve as arbitrators (that's us parents).

So, I implemented this process several weeks ago. I sat the boys down and had a conversation something like this:

Daddy: Boys, the Bible says, if your brother sins against you, you are to explain to him that he did wrong and ask him to repent. If he repents, you must forgive him.

Boy: So if Brother A hits me, I'm supposed to tell him he needs to repent?

Daddy: Yes, that's right. He needs to say, I'm sorry for hitting you, please forgive me. If he repents, you must forgive him.

Boy: But what if he doesn't repent?

Daddy: Then you come tell Daddy and I will deal with it. If he does repent, then you don't need to come tell me.

It seemed simple enough, but it quickly became more complex. There are certain rules that I want to know about any infraction regardless of whether there was repentance or not.

I can immediately think of ways to abuse this biblical principle: big brother hits little brother, then repents, and insists that little brother can't tell parents, OR little brother commits serious infraction, is confronted, repents, and then insists that mom and dad don't need to know about it.

I'm still working on how to explain when I need a report about wrong-doing and when I don't need a report.

Anybody figure out a clear grid that is easy for 4-7 year olds to apply? All suggestions welcome.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Proverbs 11:1, Black Clouds, and Hosea 8:7

This morning I came to breakfast planning to talk about Proverbs 11:1 with my boys.
Proverbs 11:1 A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.
I was going to talk about the importance of honesty, why God hates dishonesty, and reinforce the standard "Woe be unto you if you tell a lie!" speech that I heard many times as a kid and have integrated into my child rearing.

The boys were really sleepy at breakfast so I thought I'd let them listen in to me talk to Marianne about this verse. I quoted it and then asked her what she thought it meant.

Almost immediately after she said, "God hates dishonesty," she looked out the window and exclaimed about the really black clouds that were billowing into Cincinnati from the West. That led to a comment about tornado warnings, and the boys were off and running asking questions about tornadoes.

So much for Proverbs 11:1!

Rather than insist upon my previous plan; however, I shifted gears and quoted Hosea 8:7 (No, I couldn't remember the reference this morning, just the first half of the verse!).
They [the wicked] sow the wind and reap the whirlwind [a tornado]
Why not capitalize on little boys' fascination with tornadoes? So we talked about how a little sin reaps big problems. You breath out a few disrespectful words and a tornado descends on you (in the form of a wrathful parent).

I want my boys to know you can't sin and get away with it. Sow a wind, reap a whirlwind!

Friday, April 8, 2011

As you walk along the way: name calling

I overheard the boys calling each other names last evening before family worship. Viola! The topic for family worship: the image of God in us.

James 3:9-10 says, "With [our tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way."

I explained that God made Allan in His image, so when Daniel calls Allan names, he is actually calling God's image names.

It's like having a picture of Mommy in your hand. After you tell Mommy you love her and give her a kiss, then you take the picture and say all kinds of nasty things to it. Or you tear it up in little pieces.

How does that show that you love Mommy? It doesn't, right.

Daniel is a picture of God too. If Allan calls Daniel names, then he is calling God's image names.

I'm not sure it stuck, but it's line upon line. That's the first line, I'm sure there will be plenty of "along the way" opportunities to repeat it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What's the most important thing in all the world?

At least once a week, sometimes more often, I ask my boys: "What's the most important thing in all the world?"

The rehearsed answer is "Loving and serving Jesus!" (cf. Deut. 6:5)

Then I ask, "What's the second most important thing in all the world?"

Answer: "Loving and serving other people." (cf. Lev. 19:18)

This simple catechism reinforces Matt. 22:37-40. There is nothing in life that does not hang upon Loving God and Loving others.

Yesterday, when I asked Daniel the first question, he ran them both together: "Loving and serving Jesus and loving other people."

When I insisted that we have to serve other people, he balked: "Why do we have to serve other people?" And that led to a discussion of Jesus as the greatest servant and his statement, "If anyone would be great among you, let him be the servant of all."