Welcome to my musings...

After a 3 year hiatus from blogging (too busy parenting teens to have time to write about it!), I have decided to revive my blog. I look forward to sharing my perspective on mothering as I am at the tail end of my child-raising journey. Nothing could be more beautiful, more full of joy and pain and anguish, than the divine calling of motherhood. I pray my musings will bless you on your own journey, and that you will feel encouraged and equipped!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Legacy of Faithfulness - Part II

Recent statistics have shown that our children are abandoning their faith in record numbers after leaving home. One such study claims that 75-88% of children raised in Christian homes will leave their faith by the end of their freshman year in college. That number should terrify us and motivate us to reexamine what we are doing in our own homes to pass down a legacy of faith to our children. Obviously, we are failing our children in the most important aspect of parenting. So, what do we do? Do we just hope for the best and stumble blindly toward the finish line of parenting, hoping that they will “turn out okay”? We would never accept this answer if the question were our children’s education. We spend an incredible amount of time and money making sure they get the best possible education, and we spend countless hours (and dollars) taking them to dance classes, sports practices and music lessons to give them every advantage. Why, then, have we placed so little importance on their spiritual upbringing?

We are raising a generation of children who have no spiritual heritage. Because of this, we are sending them out into the world as easy prey for the one who seeks to destroy them. Even Karl Marx recognized this, saying, “A people without a heritage are easily persuaded.” We need to be giving our children a strong foundation for their faith, making sure they know what they believe, why they believe it, and that they are part of a legacy going back two thousand years to the birth of a Savior in a humble manger in Bethlehem. So, how does this happen?

God makes it clear to us in Deuteronomy 6 exactly how this is to take place. He says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” God doesn’t say to casually impart His commandments to our children, or to take them to church once a week and hope that they somehow “catch” our faith. He says to impress them on our children. I looked up “impress” in the dictionary to get a better feel for what that word means. It means “to affect deeply or strongly in mind or feelings; to fix deeply or firmly on the mind or memory; and to urge, as something to be remembered or done.” To me, this implies something very purposeful and serious. First, God commands us to love Him completely; then, He commands us to pass on this command to our children. We should be teaching our children about Him at every opportunity, not just at church, or on Christmas and Easter. Talking about spiritual matters should permeate our days, including discussing such things at the dinner table, in the car on those many drives to baseball practice and in those heart-to-heart talks when their hearts are aching with hurt or frustration. When you read the newspaper at breakfast, talk about what you see in the world. Help them to recognize differences in worldview and how that affects what people see and believe. If we are not purposeful in making this happen, the years will fly by and our children will be gone…and possibly, so will their faith.

We also must be faithful in teaching them truth…that there is ONE truth, not many, and it comes from the Word of God. We must teach them to search Scripture to see if what they are being taught is true. We must make sure the education they are receiving is filled with truth, not lies. We must give them an appreciation for history and help them to recognize God’s hand of providence as they study stories of the past. As Os Guinness says, “Those who don’t know history have no sense of identity, and no sense of wisdom as they explore where they’re going to go. Without history, we’re lost!” Deuteronomy 32:7 tells us to “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.” We need to pass on stories of God’s faithful people and how they persevered through trials, often giving their lives rather than surrender their faith. We need to instill in them a passion for truth in doctrine, as well. The Nehemiah Institute released a study showing that less than 10% of churched teens have a true, Biblical worldview. The world is apparently doing a whole lot better job of instilling its worldview into our children than we are…and that is shameful.

As we raise our children, we need to be disciplining them in ways that are intended for long-term results, not short-term peace. Just as pacifying a screaming child with candy at the grocery store gives a short-term answer (we are no longer embarrassed!) but leads to long-term disaster (a disobedient child who learns they can get whatever they want by misbehaving), our “quick-fixes” in spiritual matters often fail as well. While the world teaches us that we should desire happy children, God teaches us that our goal should be holy children. Be purposeful and persevering in looking to the end goal, a young adult who is surrendered to God and to His will. Let’s give our children a sense of vision and a purpose much bigger than themselves. Let’s raise children who will change the world for God, not lose their faith the minute they are no longer under our supervision. Let’s pass down a legacy of faithfulness which will continue for a thousand generations. Let’s wake up and take responsibility for our families before it is too late.

What kind of legacy are you leaving your children?

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”
Deut. 7:9

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Legacy of Faithfulness - Part I

A few months ago, we threw a big celebration. The occasion was my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary and our goal was to host a party that was memorable, fun, and that honored my parents’ love for each other through the years. The party was in a 50’s theme, complete with poodle skirts and swing dancing. We performed a skit, showing memorable scenes of my parents’ fifty years together, which brought much laughter and maybe even a few tears to the family and friends gathered to honor this much-loved couple. While the party was tons of fun, we also had a message that we desperately hoped to convey.

In recent years, the idea of legacy has had a profound impact on my family. We have come to understand that God intends for us to do much more than raise our children to be successful adults. We believe that God calls us to pass down much more than life skills or money-making talents, inheritances or college funds; He calls us to pass on a legacy of godliness and devotion to His will. If we raise our children to be fiscally responsible and well-educated, we still may have failed. Even if we raise our children to be hard workers and popular with their peers, it still isn’t enough.

Over and over again in the Old Testament, God promises something to us. He promises His faithful love “to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments (Deut. 7:9).” This verse has had a profound impact on my family. We have begun praying for this blessing for our family, praying not just for our children, but for our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren, and our great-great-grandchildren. We pray for this blessing for generations we will never meet, but hope to influence. My parents pray this prayer faithfully for their grandchildren and for their grandchildren’s grandchildren, knowing that the prayers they pray now will have profound influence on the generations to come, long after they are gone. Our family legacy that we pray desperately to pass on to our children is simple: we pray that they will serve God faithfully and passionately for a thousand generations. If we have have nothing material to give our children when we are gone, yet succeed in teaching them this, we will have succeeded beyond all measure.

As a young mother, I think my vision for my kids went something like this: “I hope to raise them to love God, be financially stable and well-educated.” Some days, it went like this: “I just hope to get this kid potty-trained before kindergarten.” Other days, I despaired of ever raising them right. The vision was cloudy and changeable, and often I lived my daily life without really thinking of a vision at all. Now, my vision for them is much, much bigger, and much clearer: “I pray that my kids will change the world. I pray my kids will have lots of kids themselves and teach them to change the world for Christ. I pray that my family will serve the Lord God faithfully for a thousand generations.” I have started a book that I hope will be passed down in our family for generations. It is called “The Metzger Family Standing Stones”, representing the idea that God set forth in the Old Testament of building monuments to remind the Israelites of what God had done for them. In this book, I plan to write stories of the Metzger family…stories of God’s provision, His faithfulness and His everlasting love. I envision reading these stories to my grandchildren someday, helping their parents to teach them of a very special legacy. We will record our family stories for future generations, so they can see exactly how God’s faithful love spans the generations.

My parents have begun a beautiful thing in their fifty years of marriage. They came to know Christ early in their married life, and as they grew in their love for Him, they passed on that desire to serve Him to their children. As we grew up, married and had children of our own, we, too, grew in our love for Him, and now we seek to pass on that legacy of love to our children. I am blessed beyond measure to have been given such a beginning, and I pray that my husband and I will be diligent and purposeful in passing on the torch of faithfulness to the next generation.