Monday, September 30, 2013

A letter to our chidren in an age of sass.

My precious children,

You live in the era of Disney.  You are inundated by sass on every front, and usually it is met with laughter and considered entertainment.  On the teen shows parents are depicted as bumbling fools and the kids are the ones who really understand life, have it all figured out, and go about pressing that point home with a myriad of jokes, barbs, and one-liners.  We limit your exposure to these shows in our home but it is still your friends' homes, online, and in every commercial geared toward your age group.  The jeering at one another has become typical if not expected of our teenagers in America.

But there is an article entitled "The Myth of the Teenager" by Dr. Michael Platt that spoke to me and made me think hard.  What are shows like the teen series we see on television teaching you, the children God has entrusted to us?  
This morning I ventured out to the front porch with my Bible.  I opened up to 2 Kings and began to read.  We had just come off a hard weekend, very busy in mostly good ways but ending with some drama and angst that left a bitter taste in my mouth and pain in my heart.  You are growing up in a hard world and the reality is I cannot protect you from it completely.  Even if you never watch another TV show or listen to another secular song this world and the influence of the enemy are pressing hard at you from all sides.  Because you are Christian kids you are targets, don't ever forget it.  I have been on my knees doing battle for you because I realize that if I don't the odds of your standing under such pressure are not good. I am fighting for you, my children.  Always.  But you have to learn to fight as well.

So today I read about Elijah being taken up to Heaven.  I marveled at Elisha's response, tearing his clothes then taking up Elijah's cloak and realizing the power of this great prophet had been passed on to him.  I got to the end of the second chapter and read this:

He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”  And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. 2 Kings 2:23-24

These words literally jumped off the page at me.  These were small boys acting in a way that is considered normal in today's world.  They were making fun of a bald guy.  But this wasn't just any bald guy...this was God's guy.  And look at what happened.  Oh my heart hurts.  Forty-two boys killed by bears for jeering at Elisha.  Harsh?  I think so.  But here is what this passage said to me.

Sin is a big deal. It is a bigger deal to God than we often want to admit.   Even if it is socially tolerated or even acceptable, it is still sin.  God has not changed His mind because the actors on the Disney channel are so cool.  He is not tolerant nor is He politically correct.   And we all need to understand that sin in youth has the same horrific consequences as sin in adulthood.  

Now, I want to be very clear before I go on.

We are under grace, my darlings.  Jesus died to pay the price for our sins so we don't have to fear a bear jumping out of a bush and mauling you for being nasty to your brother or sister.  But the price was DEATH, not a spanking, not a time out.  Sin results in DEATH and if we don't take that to heart then we miss the whole point of our need for a savior.  Jesus suffered a brutal death because our sin...all of it...had to be dealt with in order to be able to be in the presence of God.  Grace is in full effect, not Law, because of Jesus...only because of Jesus.

BUT, you and I both know that there are still very real spiritual and physical consequences to sin.  James says, regarding the tongue:  
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.  James 3:9-12

Cursing people who are made in the likeness of God is a very big deal.  The forty-two boys died because they jeered God's man.  Well, guess what?  YOU are God's man.   You are His sons and daughters.   Your brothers and sisters are His beloved children as are your friends.  You know I am very protective of you, right?  You know how I will step in if anyone ever tries to hurt you.  Multiply that by infinity and that is the way your Heavenly Father feels about you.  He is fiercely protective of his babies.  All of them.  All of you.

So when you are tempted to call your sibling a name I want you to remember this.  When you blow off a hug or make a snide remark, please remember this.  When you snicker because your sibling said the wrong answer to the question or tell them to scram because your friends are around, remember this.  Our words hold the power of life and death.  We can bless or we can curse with our tongues.  This is a lesson for me, too.  I am not without fault in this department.  I have been guilty too many times to count of this very same weakness.  But peace in our home depends on this.  Feeling connected and loved by your family depends on this.  

I have high expectations of you, my sweet children.  I have seen the Lord working in you and, as a result, have felt the battle raging.  It is about so much more than "being nice."  It is about being godly, about exhibiting the fruits of the spirit, of being in this world but not of it.  It is about shedding light in the darkness.  Yes, I know it is hard.  I know you will fail and have to start again.  But just because it is hard doesn't mean you give up.  Our family is different in so many wonderful ways.  Let's be different in this way, as well!  Show your love freely.  Bless with your words.   Choose words of life and just watch. 

Watch what God does in and through you.

Love, Mom

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