Should We Be Quick To Buy Things For Our Kids?

should we give our kids stuff blogMost every parent has been there. You are walking down the store aisle minding your buisness when your child spots a brightly colored new toy. You feel the tug at your heart strings. You love your little guy and can see that the yellow ball with an odd bumpy texture is bringing him unlimited joy. But at the same time, you had not planned to buy him anything. But then you look back into those little eyes, and his kindly, sheepish grin breakouts. What do we do?

Well if you grew up in a situation similar to my background and to my wife’ background, we simply tell him,  “N..O… no.” Our parents had no quandary when we asked for them stuff because they had no money. “We can’t afford that right now,” was a common mantra for both of us.

But what if we do have money, what if we can afford to buy our kids a new toy or video game when they ask? Should we do it?

On the one hand, God says it is good to give gifts.  And, we should seek to imitate our heavenly father by giving our kids good things (Matt. 7:11). We should seek to loving care for our children by sacrificing our wants for their needs.

But before we rush to the checkout line with our kid’s new ball, we also need to think about what our new purchase will teach our child. Often when our child becomes fascinated with a new ball, video game, or pair of shoes, she is coveting. She is seeking satisfaction in something other than Jesus. And when we buy our kid the latest copy of Madden or the new pair of Nike’s, we are helping him pursue his latest idol. We are enabling him for a brief moment to find his happiness and identity in something other than Jesus.

And of course our kids will love us when, we give them what they want. They will try to reward us with hugs, complements, and an occasional day of good behavior. They always like it when we help them achieve their idols.

But often giving our kids the things they want is not the most loving thing a parent can do. Satisfaction, happiness, and joy are only found in Jesus. As Psalm 73:25-26 says,

Whom have I in heaven but you?

    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever

Consequently, we want to parent in such a way that our kids are taught to find their satisfaction in Christ. We should not throw money and time behind their every desire. We should rebuke a greedy, covetous heart and redirect it to Jesus.

And here is another thing to remember. Even if our kids get everything they want on earth, they will not be happy. Life is found is God and not in video games, shoes, or travel teams. Earthly things will eventually disappoint. Games will become outdate, shoes wear out, and travel ball eventually becomes boring. If you doubt me, just think about how many of your kids’ toys you’ve already gotten rid of.

Now I am not saying that you should never give your kid a gift. And I am not saying that we can always prevent our kids from misusing the things we give them. What I am trying to get at is this: the decision concerning whether or not to buy our kids something is bigger than the size of our budget. It goes to a heart issue. We should be willing to lovingly deny our kids things for the sake of the gospel. Love is not fulfilling our kids’ dreams. Love is pointing them to Jesus. Are we doing this?

What Can The Alcohol Debate Teach Us About Parenting?

alchohol-blogThe Alcohol debate has once again been stirred about by the news of Pastor Perry Noble’s firing. The arguments of many modern day teetotaler are once again floating to the top of our newsfeeds. The alcohol antagonists have always feared that their Christian drinking friends lacked the wisdom to properly exercise their liberty. These traditional Southern Baptists types knew that playing with fire would end badly. And now in Pastor Noble’s case, it has.

Today, I do not want to add another page to the alcohol discussion. Rather, I want to pivot and look at some of the parenting implications that spill over from of the latest discussions on drinking.

More Than Walls

Many in the Bible believing world think that Pastor Noble’s main problem was with alcohol. If he had just emptied his cabinets, he would still be employed. Those who disapprove of alcohol are boldly advocating that all wine, beer, and hard liquor should be avoided. If we would simply create enough walls, then we will be protected from sin and disaster. 

And while I agree that we should encourage men and women who struggle to flee temptation, we must recognize that a drunkard’s problem is ultimately not Jim Bean or Budweiser. Jesus said,

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person” (Matt. 15:11).

Nothing we eat or drink makes us a sinner. Nothing we eat or drink causes us to lose our job. Pastor Noble sinned, and we sin because we have a worship problem. We desire something more than God and that desire leads us to sin and destruction (James 1:14-15). In Pastor Noble’s case, he used alcohol to find satisfaction outside of Jesus. And sadly he found out like many before him, that sin only leads to “death.”

The antidote for drunkenness is not a house filled with Sprite. The antidote is satisfaction in Christ. Remember what Paul says in Ephesians 4:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” If we want to stop being an alcoholic, we must replace our drunkenness with the Holy Spirit. We must find relief and happiness in God instead of a bottle of scotch.   

The Heart of the Matter

So what do this mean for us as parents? We must realize that our kids greatest struggle is not outside of them but inside of them. Our kids sin because they desire things more than God. We can and should protect them from drunkenness, pornography, and a whole host of other sins. We should put up walls to keep our children away from temptation. But, we must not boast in our walls. Our moral, sexually pure daughter can still be controlled by a love of softball. Our nicely behaved son can still love his video games more than Jesus. Our nice kids can still easily worship things other than God. They can still be on the road to destruction. Denying our kids access to certain things does not prevent sin. We simply force our kids’ hearts to rumble along to the next device, person, or thing it can access for worship. Our job goes beyond creating behavioral standards.

Instead of boasting in walls and legalistically calling all parents to follow our standards, we must strive to reach our children’s hearts. We must recognize that our job does not come to an end when we can trot out pleasant children that society happily accepts. Our job does not end until our children are perfected in Christ (I.e. it doesn’t ever end). As parents, we are called to tackle our children’s hearts. We are called to tackle our daughter’s love for candy with the same concern that we address our son’s sexual sin. We must daily tell our kids that Christ satisfies. We must call our unrepentant children to place their hope in Christ and remind our believing children that God is good. We must not boast in our walls because standards and limitations on Christian liberty do not save. Christ does. Are we ready to proclaim him?    

The #1 Kids’ Excuse of All Time and How to Beat it!

Blog He Made Me Do It“He made me do it!” Is perhaps the number one kid excuse of all time! I mean is there a better excuse? Is there a better way to deflect responsibility for our sin than blaming our actions on someone else? “I got mad because my teacher didn’t recognize me.” I snatched a cookie because you wouldn’t let me have a snack.” I.e. I sinned because of you!

Why It Doesn’t Work

The only problem with this thinking is that it is not biblical. God never holds other people responsible for our sin. Not even parents are judged for the sins of their kids (Ezk. 18:20). God holds us responsible for our actions. Regardless of the circumstances, our actions are always just that, our actions. We don’t sin because of someone else. We don’t sin because someone triggered all our defense mechanisms with one rude comment.  As Pastor Brad Bigney said, “That button was already there – the pressure only revealed it.” (p.151). We sin because we want to, because we love something more than God! Notice what James 1:14 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”

Understanding The Real Problem

The very first of God’s ten commandments says, “You shall have no other God’s before me (Ex. 20:3).  To really understand how to only worship one God, we need to take a look at the very last commandment: “You shall not covet.”  These two commandments bookend the other 8 because the first one shows us what God requires of us and the last shows us how to achieve it. To worship God and God alone, we have to treasure him above all else. We can’t have idols in our heart. We can’t covet.

fall-651020_1920The reason we sin, the reason we snap when we don’t get our way is that we are coveting. We are worshiping something more than God. According to Colossians 3:5, covetousness is idolatry. Covetousness creates idols in our heart that replace God.  We look at the nude girl on the screen, we scream at our kids when they get too loud, and we rant on Facebook about our job because we are worshiping something other than God. We lust because we covet human companionship more than God. We scream because we covet a quiet house more than God. And, we rant because we love our success more than God.  Spiritual idols are not just limited to the generic category of sports, money, and fame. They are the daily things we want more than God. They are the things we sin to get or sin when we don’t get them. As Bigney says, “An idol is anything or anyone that captures our hearts, minds, and affections more than God.”(p.41).

The Covetousness Cure

To not covet, we have to love God. And to love God, we have to avoid coveting. This is how we overcome sin. We daily focus upon worshiping God. And, we daily do battle in our hearts. We daily worship God and we daily abandon our idols. This is how we find the strength through the power of the Holy Spirit to obey God and our parents. This is how we avoid lying, stealing, and murder. To grow in Christ, we must actively pursue the things of God. We must actively uproot out our idols

The next time your child tells you that they sinned because of what some teacher, some (crazy) children’s pastor, or some little kid did, challenge them on it. Remind them that they are in trouble not because of what the other person did but because of what they thought, said, and did. They are in trouble because their actions revealed that they loved something more than God.  Help your kids to start asking themselves why they sin. For example, show them that cheating to get a good grade means they love the approval of men more than God.  Expose their hearts to the reality of sin, Then, point them towards the God of the universe!