Should Kids Go To Funeral Homes?

Never had I cried so much. I felt a tinge of embarrassment, a touch of confusion, a Funeral Home Blogsmall amount of fear. As a eight-year-old boy, I hated being noticed by adults. A few years earlier, I had welcomed the arrival of my little sister. Thankfully, I was no longer be the “cute one” getting his cheeks pinched. Praise the Lord! And yet, I kept sobbing quietly at the of front of the church for all the world to see. I couldn’t help it. All I could see was my grandmother’s coffin. And so I cried.

Over the last few years, many parents have questioned the wisdom of exposing kids to funerals. Death is hard. Many adults struggle to grapple with it in a helpful, biblical manner. Can we expect kids to do any better? Consequently, some parents will not let their kids attend their own father’s funeral.

However, parents on the other side of the fence view death to be a normal part of nature. They want their kids to know all about it. Some even go so far as to have little junior slap some painted hand prints on his grandpa’s coffin.

As parents and as those who work with kids at church we need to develop a biblical position on death and funerals.  Should we hide death from our kids or should we encourage our kids to interact with death?  The Bible says: we should talk about death.  Let’s take a look.

The Bible On Death

Almost from the get go, the Bible discusses death (Gen. 2). It is everywhere in the scriptures. In the Old Testament, kids could be put to death for cursing their parents (Lev. 20:9). In the New Testament, Christ talks about fearing the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28). 

The Bible talks discuss death not because it is a morbid book. It talks about death because this is our number one problem.  As Ecclesiastes 9:5 says, “For the living know that they will die.” Everyone including our kids know that death exists. And most everyone is scared of dying. All around us, people are seeking out vitamins, surgery, and even cryonics in an attempt to escape death. Thankfully though, the Bible has a real solution and much less complicated solution. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin are death but the gift of God is eternal life for everyone who believes.”

Kids At Funerals

The Bible exposes kids to death. And, we should not be afraid to introduce our kids to death. It is a part of our DNA.  But more importantly, it is part of our spiritual DNA. We are by nature children of wrath, children of death. And so are our kids. “For as in Adam all die” (I Cor. 15:22).  We shouldn’t pretend otherwise. Rather, we should encourage our kids to mourn the death of loved ones and their own spiritual state.  

Funeral kids 2By letting me attend my grandmother’s funeral, my parents helped to process death from a biblical perspective. I learned that trials of life could not be solved through pretending, new toys, or junk food. And as I mourned the death of my grandmother, I started to get why the world needed a savior. I started to get that we all need someone to save us from our tears. Revelation 21:4 was starting to become real.  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

By bringing our kids to funerals, we expose them the worst and the scariest aspects of being human. But, that isn’t all. Our story doesn’t end with grief, loss, and hopelessness. It goes on to tell of the savior who died and rose again, the savior who conquered death. By helping our kids wrestle with death, we get to expose them to the beauty of Christ. “In Christ all shall be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22).  Later on Paul sums up things nicely writing: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:56). By walking our kids through death, we get to show them the beauty of the gospel. As pastor and author Marty Machowski said, 

Knowing one day they would die would remind them to trust God for each and every day. 

 

A Quick Caution 

Before I end, I want to address those of you who passionately disagree with me, those who are determined to shield their kids from death for as long as possible. Let me encourage you to be careful. I can’t see into your heart, so this may not be you at all. Feel free to ignore what follows. But in my limited experience, parents who keep their kids from death often do so out of fear. The parents don’t know how to handle death. They think God unjust for taking a loved.  They aren’t sure of their salvation and tremble at the thought of being laid to rest one day. They avoid the subject of death with their kids because they don’t know handle it.  If this is you, I encourage you to sit down and talk through the scriptures with a trusted friend or pastor. The Bible offers you a lot of hope.

Though we all are prone to fearing death, no Christian needs to fear the coffin. God is the God of the living!  

He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken – Isaiah 25:8.

 

Is your kid a Christian or a Materialist?

piggy bank blogIs your kid a giver? I don’t mean do they give 10% of their allowance to the church and put 10% of their $5.00 income into savings. That’s a great habit. But, the Christian is called to do more. We called to be free will givers, givers who regularly exceed their tithe to meet the needs of others. Do our kids have this heart within them?  Do we?

Why So Much Financial Debt?

I fear the answer for many of us is “no.” The average American household carries around $204, 992.00 in debt. Over $15,000 of that amount is credit card debt. This number is astronomical when compared to our average income.  The average American household salary is $55,192. If people stopped spending and devoted every dime to paying off debt, it would take the average family 3 years and 8 months to get right side up.

I mention these stats not to shame anyone but to remind us all that American culture is not about giving. It’s about materialism i.e. stuff.  The world says that joy is attained via trips to the Bahamas, kitchen remodels, and HD T.V.’s hung on the wall. And so, we Americans spend ourselves into debt, seeking meaning, hope, and value in the stuff of life.

Our kids’ world is no different. Instead of trips to the beach, stainless steal appliances and 90” T.V.’s, our kids find their value in vacations to Disney World, the newest Bratz Dolls, and the latest edition Madden. Because they come into the world as fallen sinners, kids have innate desire to like stuff. And not too surprisingly, our kids our great at encouraging us parents to buy things. According to Canadian researchers, kids directly influence everything from which cereal goes in the pantry to which software Dad puts on the computer. The natural kid excels at coveting stuff. But what about the biblical kid? What about the kid who claims to be a Christian? What should she live for?

Why So Much Giving?

The scriptures say that that the Christian kid is one who gives freely to others. Instead of using his limited income to fill his barn-like toy chest with stuff, he buys his classmate a new coat. The Christian kid counters the culture by living out the truth that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). We read in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

                Our kids can tithe and save up money to fund well budgeted trips, Playstations, and concert tickets without doing anything to advance their own spiritual life and the proclamation of the gospel. The rich, younger lived for the law and missed Christ. The transformational grace of Christ should move us beyond budgeting to giving. We may not all be cheerful givers now, but this God’s plan for his children.  “God is able to make all grace abound to you.”

To be a Christian is to be a person who excitedly gives from heart as they are able. For our kids this may mean they joyfully give a classmate a pencil or send $5.00 to a missionary.  For us we may 4896996561_541b024452_obuy a homeless man a meal or donate a car to charity. The amount may vary but the heart attitude is always the same. We give generously and freely seeking to expand our faith by glorifying God through serving others.


But what if this is not our experience? What do we do when our kids struggle with giving? What happens if you struggle with giving? How do you become a cheerful giver? Let me offer 4 insights from Paul that have helped my heart.

What Do We Remember?

  1. Remember what giving is not. Giving is not an element of salvation. Giving is not to be done, “reluctantly or under compulsion” (7). No one needs to give to earn God’s favor. Nor do with give to earn the praise of our fellow men or to earn a deacon nomination. We are fully saved by the work of God on the cross apart from human effort. Giving is not a work of the law. It is an act of Grace. We don’t have to give to earn favor with God.
  2. Remember What Giving is: Giving is an act of faith. We give to reap bountifully. We give as much as we are able because we desire to grow in our faith and because we desire God to bless our lives. Many Christians have both depressed spiritual and physical lives because they don’t give. We can’t grow if we are unwilling to sow. If we our unwilling to submit our wallets to God, we cannot expect him to bless with more money. He will not encourage us to develop habits that lead us away from the throne room of heaven.
  3. Remember What God Gave: Ultimately, we are generous givers because everything we have was given to us. Giving in cyclical. We give because we have been giving things. If we have a pencil or a million dollars, we have it because God gave it to us. When we give things to others, we are handing over things that were given to us from God through other people. We aren’t giving our stuff away, we are giving away God’s stuff. Most importantly, the greatest thing we have and the only thing we can take with us after death, our salvation, is a free gift from God. God gave us the most awesome gift ever. He became poor so that we could live more abundantly (2 Cor. 8:9). If we get this truth, how can we not give?  
  4. Remember Who Gets the Glory: Often when people think of giving they think of the people getting the stuff. Biblically, this is slightly off base. Yes, we give to others because we care about people and their needs. But ultimately, we give so that God will be praised. Our giving is not based on the quality of the need. We give so that others will look at us and praise God for his work.

Giving is not a natural impulse. But it is a divine mandate. If we will stay at the foot of the cross and plead with God to change our hearts, we can and should be confident that we will become givers. Until that point, we keep reminding ourselves about the above for points.

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Let Your Kids Be Your Guide?

forget Jiminy CricketOne of today’s new and up and coming parenting trends is to replace Jiminy Cricket with your kid’s voice. When it comes time to evaluate the value of same-sex marriage or time to choose which charity to support, increasing number of parent are asking their kids to be their guides. Since my little guy can only communicate through grunts and cries, I am not all that tempted to jump on this latest bandwagon. But this new development in the world of postmodern, American parenting poses a great question for us to think through: “Should our kids be allowed to speak into our lives?” The simple answer is both yes and …no. Let’s take a look. 

Negative Words

First, let’s get the negative out of the way. As Christians, we should not surrender our decision making to our kids. Once while working as a server, I witnessed a 5 year-old order for her parents. She asked for refills and dictated the pace of the table for the entire evening. In addition to being awkward, such a situation is not healthy. As Christian parents, we should not let our preschooler order us around for the following three reasons:

  1. Our authority is God. It makes sense for non-Christians to make kids their authority because they’ve rejected the Bible and the idea of real truth. For secular parents, it ultimately makes little difference whether they choose their middle schooler or Buddha to be source their source of wisdom. It’s all relative. But as Christian parents, we claim to have direct access to truth through the Bible. If we want to know which charity to support or decided whether or not divorce is bad, we should look towards Jesus. God has all truth and all power. Why would we turn to anyone else for spiritual and moral guidance? “For you are complete in him who is head over all principality and power” (Col. 2:10).
  2. God calls parents to guide their children. We even see this example in the Trinity as Jesus follows the will of God the father (Luke 22:42). Moreover, our perfect savior obeyed his human parents (Luke 2:51). If ever there was a kid who could legitimately tell his parents what to do, it was Jesus. And yet he still followed his Mary and Joseph’s wishes. What God models, we are to follow. All throughout the Old and New Testaments children are told to obey their parents. And parents are charged with instructing their kids. To be faithful parents, we have to guide our families (Col 3:20; Eph. 6:1-4; Ex. 20:12; Deut. 6)  
  3. Our kids will fail us. If we make any person our source of wisdom and happiness our lives will end in despair. Because all kids are touched by sin (if not control by it) and lack the day to day knowledge of life (like how to use a credit card), our kids will fail us. If anything, surrendering our adult responsibilities to our kids is cruel. We are asking them to make decisions they are not prepared to make. Perhaps they can order a meal that we like, but most cannot balance our budget or determine right from wrong on their own. When we place unreasonable expectations our children, our family life will be filled with frustration, chaos, and bitterness.

Positive Words

Now for the positive! Although we should not allow children to control our lives, we should invite them to speak into our lives for the following three reasons:

  1. Though my little man can’t say a word, God has used facial expressions, the words of my younger siblings, and the comments of other children to convict me of sin.Kids are super perceptive. They can often spot hypocrisy as quicker than free candy in the grocery store.  After all it was a little boy in the famous fable who first said, “The Emperor has no clothes on.” When our children do speak up, we need to be humbly receptive and repent. Accepting rebukes is one of the many listening earways by which we can encourage our children’s hearts (Eph. 6:4; Col 3:21).
  2. God uses children to proclaim truth. Think of the Naaman’s servant girl and or Samuel who all pointed people to God (2 Kings 5:2-3; 1 Sam 3:10-21). As parents we need to realize that God can and does deliver messages of hope, salvation, and comfort through children. My wife and I experienced this first hand as several children encouraged our hearts through signs, notes, and kind words as we mourned the death of our first son.
  3. And Lastly, we should want to hear from our children because we are not God. We all misunderstand people. We will think our kids love dance with in reality they would rather taking guitar lessons. If we always assume we know what our kids like without talking to them and discovering their god given interests, we cannot help but make them bitter. Let’s encourage their hearts and get to know our kids as they change and grow.

Although we should never appoint our kids to be our conscience’s guide, we also should never shut them out of our lives. God’s given us children in-part to help us grow in our faith. For this to happen and for us to by godly parents, we need to listen to our kids without surrendering to them.