Does raising arrows mean that all our kids should only pursue full-time ministry or missions?
Absolutely not! Raising an arrow of God means raising a child to always focus unwaveringly on bringing the love of Jesus Christ into every aspect of the journey throughout his or her life, regardless of location or vocation. Along with raising a daughter who might decide to become a heart surgeon, I also want to prepare him or her to be ready and able to be used as a healer of hearts. In addition to raising a child who decides to become a teacher, I also want to prepare him or her to be a disciple-maker of Christ. Instead of raising my own girls to have an affinity for international travel, I'd like to take it a step further and give them the opportunity to develop a heart for missions. Instead of raising just channel changers, I most definitely want to raise world changers.
"There is a difference between the man who goes into medicine because science, service, and humanity course through his veins, and the man who sees it as a lucrative career," Voddie Baucham, author of Family Driven Faith, explains. "One man is pursuing the best the world has to offer; the other is pursuing the best he has to offer the world."[i]
I’m gonna break a Cardinal Rule of parenting so buckle up and hang on! I’m going to admit that I probably liked my son better when he was a kid than I did my daughter. OK, I said it! (Really sorry Kimberly, but after age two you and I butted heads all the time.) I’ve never said it aloud before because we always assure our children that we have no favorites, but that’s not true…I loved them equally and fiercely but I didn’t always like my daughter as much as my son.
I don’t know if boys are easier, or if only mine was, but my son and I were completely simpatico throughout most of my tenure raising him. We had the typical bumps in the road but otherwise we were on the same page and very close.
Beyond shaping our kids, we need to sharpen them. I believe that a ready knowledge of God's word will do just that. To show you what I mean, let's look at an example of an arrow that did its job. In Acts 2 verses 14-37 we find the Apostle Peter delivering the first-ever presentation of the message about Jesus. In verse 37, we see the effect...
"Peter's words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, 'Brothers, what should we do?'"—TNIV
So, God tells us that children are his gift to us and he wants us to pass that truth on to them, but what about the second word picture—that of children as arrows in the hand of a skilled warrior. It seems to me that there are two things to be observed here. First, this is a wartime theme—arrows in the hand of a skilled warrior. Every child born since the fall has been born into a battlefield. In God's estimation, they don't enter as prisoners of war or refugees, they enter as arrows. Here is how Julie Ferwerda, author of One Million Arrows says it,
"Remember, there's a war going on in the heavenlies. Our children can either be pawns unaware, or they can be weapons of mass destruction against forces of evil in the unseen realm. We've got a choice to make. 'It's the righteous man who lives for the next generation,' says Dennis Rainey of FamilyLife Ministries. 'This is not the time for peace, it's time for war. Raise your kids to become arrows for war.' Only then will our kids be the conquerors God intended, not the casualties."
Psalm 127:3 says, "Offspring are a reward from him." I work with children and I know that if you offer a reward to kids, it better be something good. Ice cream is a better reward than broccoli. In some homes, ice cream might be a reward for eating broccoli. Simply put, kids are a blessing-priceless treasures that we get to enjoy. They help us remember to play. They make us laugh. They can be a source of great gratification as we watch them grow and become who God wants them to be. And, ultimately, they will care for us when we are old. It's like the old saying goes, "Be nice to your children, they get to pick out your nursing home."
So how should we as parents and other caregivers react to God's extravagant gift of children? Well, not to sound too cheesy, we should treasure them. How do we do that? First, we need to make a decision to be intentional about affirming them. Once we take hold of the truth that our children are unique creations of God put here to bless us, we should make sure they know that too.
Have you ever wondered why stuff that should just come naturally is sometimes really hard? I mean, why don't people come out of the womb craving vegetables? Why does exercise hurt? Why are there classes on how to give birth? And why is it that everyone I know, including myself, wishes they were a better parent? With as easy as enrolling in parenthood 101 seems to be for most people, why do so few people get a B+ or better from parenting U? The answer to all of these "why" questions is the same. We are fallen people in a fallen world. Our ancient ancestors chose disobedience and so creation was cursed.
From that moment on, things that came naturally got a lot harder. But hard doesn't mean impossible. As believers in Christ, we are called to participate in reclaiming what was lost. Rather than passing on just our sinful nature to the next generation, God wants us to pass on the effects of his redemptive work through Jesus. Let's look at God's vision of parenting and how we can partner with him to make that vision a reality. While there are many great resources out there, there is only one completely reliable source for God's wisdom on life. 1 Peter says that the Word is pure milk without any deception. Consider Psalm 127:3-5:
One arrow mom shares: The other night my husband and I were discussing whether or not we could attend an out-of-town event we'd been invited to. We both knew it was going to be tons of fun and we wanted to go. But after a brief discussion we decided that for us, in this season of our lives, it just was not possible for us to go.
If you're the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning: Your child [may be] following a "mutant" form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.
Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.
Want to invest your time into something meaningful this summer? Don't miss this great selection of books for summer reading. Your family will be radically challenged (and changed) for the better!
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (David Platt, 2010). "David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple—then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a "successful" suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus. Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment --a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.
Reckless Faith: Let Go and Be Led,(Beth Guckenberger, 2008). When Beth and her husband Todd took a missions trip to Mexico thirteen years ago, they just thought it was an opportunity to do a little good with their summer vacation. But they couldn't forget a chance encounter with a forgotten orphanage, couldn't forget that transcendent feeling of having participated in something truly profound and like addicts they wanted that feeling again. A year later, they moved to Monterrey, Mexico. This is her inspiring story.
Small Town, Big Miracle: How Love Came to the Least of These (W.C. Martin, 2007). One memorable day, God gae W. C. Martin and his wife, Donna, a one-word message: "Adopt!" Over the next five years, the Martins adopted four kids. The members of their church of 200 soon caught the same vision and at last count have all together adopted 72 children.
The Christian Heroes Series, (YWAM Publishing, 1999). This is a simple, inspiring collection of biographies of great men and women of faith who have changed the world (great to read with your kids!).
What is true encouragement? Is it merely praise or is there more? Today, learn the two magic phrases for helping your kids internalize positive feelings about themselves through interactive encouragement. And don't be dissuaded by the subtitle for children with health issues—these are great tips for raising any kids!
The only thing I would add to the message is that we are raising our children to feel good about who God made them to be and to acknowledge that He is responsible for their gifts, abilities, and accomplishments. We want them to feel good about Jesus in them, enabling and empowering them for the mission! Hey, I guess we have a couple more "e's" to add!
You're trying to raise world changers but you can hardly get through the morning without some act of defiance. How should you respond verbally (and non-verbally) to your children's behavior while disciplining them? The WAY you discipline your children will either lead to remorse or resentment. In our next video, find out what Dr. Foster Cline recommends to help your children own their behavior in a positive, life-influencing manner.
Many parents who visit this site have adopted special needs children. I think you will be blessed by the cohost of this series who has two special needs children as she gives practical advice on how she is raising her children with love and logic. However, the lessons provided here are great with any kids, not just kids with health issues!
Today check out the second "E" of Example in this short video clip.
One of my favorite, empowering parenting books when my kids were younger was Parenting with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. The timeless wisdom in this book spawned many creative measures in the way I approached discipline, especially in those areas that would cause any normal parent to want to give up and move to a deserted island. After this video series, I'll share a couple ideas that really worked for our family. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy the ideas presented and be sure to read the book—it's a keeper!
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