The Role of Imagination in the Exaltation of God

boydadsjan2014

 My second son has a pretty vivid imagination.   When he gets that glazed-over look and stares at the same spot on the wall for 5 minutes, you can tell he has departed Earth.  This is a much appreciated attribute when it comes to church… he is the one kid of our four who we don’t have to arm-wrestle or give the death-look to in order for him to quit squirming.  But aside from me appreciating how his imagination can make my life circumstantially easier at times, I will probably admit that I have at best been indifferent to his tendency to “space-out,” much less seeing any redemptive value in it.  Until I spent a few minutes one day chewing on Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV):

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Have you ever stopped to really consider what Paul is saying here?  He is saying that our imaginations, your son’s imagination, the one that we sometimes put up with, sometimes get annoyed by but seldom encourage or celebrate, has huge implications for his view of God.  We see the goal in verse 21, that the glory and greatness of God be lifted high in the church and in Christ through every person, young and old, through every time.  But in between his opening introduction of who he is talking about at the beginning of verse 20, “Now to him” and the resumption of that thought where Paul picks back up at the beginning of verse 21 with “to him” we see a parenthetical statement that Paul inserts to tell us two things about the “him” that he is referring to.

First, Paul says that God’s power is beyond anything we can ask or think.  It is easy for me to see limits to what I can ask.  But Paul says that God’s power is infinitely beyond (far more abundantly) anything I can think.  That means that whatever my son can imagine God having the power to do, He cannot just do more, but infinitely more.  What would sitting with your son for 15 minutes do, if you were to spend time encouraging him to imagine with you all that God could do and then affirm that He can do even more, way  more, than all that you two have just come up with?  Oh how the Spirit could use that time of imagination to increase your son’s vision of God!  And as your son’s vision of God grows, so will his fear, love, joy, reverence, and hope in that same big God.  But Paul didn’t stop there!

Second, Paul tells us that this same infinitely-beyond-our-imagination power that God has, is the power that is inside of us working!  I can imagine some pretty amazing things that God can do.  I can imagine the power it would take to make a galaxy, the might it would take to create a supernova, the strength it would take to not just create but control a black hole.  The power required to do all of these things is way beyond me, but it’s not even a fraction of the power of God.  And that very same power is at work in my son.  That very same power is at work in me.  That is some crazy power flowing through us!  How can those realizations and thoughts not result in the glory of God being exalted through the people of God for all time!

So dads, the next time you son is off in la-la-land, resist the temptation to call him back to the “real world,” and instead engage him in some God-exalting, hope-inducing, fear-creating, imagination-utilizing discussions about His power and greatness and with the hope and expectation that the Spirit will use that God-given gift of imagination to exalt the glory of God in the life your son!

 

 

The Dance

Our family traveled from Virginia to Michigan at the beginning of the month to celebrate our niece’s wedding. It was a “white-knuckled” drive through a blizzard but the prospect of everyone being together provided plenty of motivation. For the first time in a year, Cindi and I would enjoy time and stories from our 6 children, their spouses and “plus ones” as we spent a few days together. I have to admit that it was nice having two other men in the room; most of the time I am considerably outnumbered by the women in my life.

I did manage to make my way to my “coach’s” home to join 20 other men who get together every Saturday morning for a time of reflection and encouragement around God’s Word. It was refreshing, to say the least. The discussion starting point that morning was a reminder that we are called “human beings,” not “human doings.” It seems many of us get so involved in the day-to-day “shoulds” and “to dos” that we lose sight of who God has called us to be. Let me caution you here: if you find yourself overwhelmed by the “do this and do that” or the do-do-do impulse, you may look back on your life someday and find that all it amounted to was a big pile of dodo!

As the conversation progressed, it soon veered into the area of obedience. It seems that many Christians, especially parents, spend a lot their time on this topic. This is probably due to the fact that we spend so much time trying to get our children to be obedient. The things we do in life should be done out of our obedience to God’s direction. After all, the more obedient we are, the more things we will do for Him, and the more we do, the more He will appreciate us. God’s blessings, therefore, are a result of our obedience to God and the things we do for him. It all sounds pretty logical, doesn’t it?

Yet this flies in the face of the reality that we are to be still and know that He is God, that He gives us rest, and that He is our rest. We were created to be in an intimate relationship with our Creator. We were designed to have fellowship with our God and walk with Him in the cool of the afternoon.

As parents, we desire our children to be obedient to our instruction. Even if it is something that they don’t want to do, we desire for them to choose to be obedient out of love and respect, don’t we?

Cindi and I have been taking basic ballroom dance lessons recently. In those lessons we are learning that arm position and gentle pressure from our hands communicate direction. We are learning that in order for the dance to work, I am to lead and she is to follow. The lead, though, is communicated through the intimacy we have as we dance together. When I lead well and she follows well, we dance. If I don’t lead well or she doesn’t follow well our feet get tangled.

I have learned that obedience from God’s perspective is less about doing what He says regardless of the situation and more about following His lead well as we embrace one another in intimacy. It’s a dance and not a duty.

Intimacy with God is not a morning devotional, prayer 3 times a day, church on Wednesdays and Sundays and the memorization of the entire New Testament. Intimacy with God is an embrace that goes on all day and all night. It is 24/7/365 attention to the gentle and guiding pressures of His hand. It is a closeness that can hear the whisper of His voice. It is intimate enough to feel the beat of His heart.

Try it and watch what happens.

What does your son mean when says “I’m sorry?”

repentanceThere is no better theological learning environment than the family.  It is in the context of family that you see the truest picture of your son’s heart, and therefore have the best opportunity to speak life-transforming, Christ-exalting truths to his heart.  And, since it is the Holy Spirit who ultimately superintends our growth and maturity (Gal 3:1-3), it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a seminary degree, or you are just learning all of this stuff yourself; you, dad, can and should be a tool of theological growth in the life of your son.

After the nation of Israel is freed from slavery (Exodus) and makes the journey through the wilderness to the land God promised to give them (Leviticus-Deuteronomy), Joshua tells us the story of Israel taking over the land.  But they failed to obey God and did not drive out all the people living there.  The book of Judges depicts a repetitive cycle of what follows as Israel lives in the land along side those people, a cycle of Israel abandoning God and sinning, God allowing them to be conquered, the people crying out to God for deliverance, God raising up a judge to deliver them from their enemies, the people obeying as long as the judge lived- but when the judge died, the people go right back to their evil ways.

In Judges 6, we again see this cycle of sin– one of these cycles of sin we see a glimpse of the life of the nation of Israel that provides a great backdrop to teach your sons the difference between repentance and regret.

“The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years.” Judges 6:1 (ESV)

This time was worse than any other time.  Usually their oppressors would come in, collect some tribute, impose their political will on the Israelites, but life generally continued.  The Midianites, however, were a different kind of bad guy.  They were a bunch of marauding nomads that liked to ride in on their fast camels, and decimate everything you had, taking it all and leaving absolutely nothing (6:5).  It was so bad that the people had left their homes and were living like a bunch of animals in the mountains (6:2).

The result? “And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.” Judges 6:6 (ESV).

But this time was different.  Every other time, the Israelites would call out and God sent a hero (3:9, 15; 4:3-4), someone who was able to free the people from the tyranny that they were suffering from.  This time, God doesn’t send a hero, he sends a prophet.  This prophet comes and doesn’t lead the people to military conquest over the Midianites, he preaches to them.  And you have to stop and ask, “Why would God give them a sermon when they wanted a savior?”  The answer is in the content of the sermon.  In verses 8-10a, the prophet tells the people all that God had done for them, his deliverance of them from slavery, his giving of the land to them, but in 10b, the prophet tells the people what they have done.  “But you have not obeyed my voice.”  Judges 6:10b (ESV).    You see, the people were filled with regret over their circumstances, but they had not repented.

There is a difference between regret and repentance.  Paul illustrates this difference in 2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV), “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”  Regret is centered on the circumstances. Regret is the expression of your desire for the situation to be different, the pain to stop, the punishment to end, the suffering to subside.  Repentance is different than regret.  Repentance includes a desire not just for situational change but for heart change.  Repentance has more to do with others and less to do with us.  Repentance understands that there is damage to the relationship that needs to be healed.

So dad, when your son says, “I’m sorry,” what does he really mean?  Is he expressing regret or is he expressing repentance?  Does he know the difference?

 

The Path to Self-Control

I’ve been enjoying and old book called The Children for Christ, by Andrew Murray. Being over 100 years old, these daily readings on godly parenting are sometimes slow going, but I’m also discovering some great nuggets of wisdom.

These words on the fifth commandment are especially relevant to our day:

“Man was created free that he might obey; obedience is the path to liberty.

“On this point parents often err; they often say that to develop the will of the child the will must be left free, and the child left to decide for himself. They forget that the will of the child is not free—passion and prejudice, selfishness and ignorance, seek to influence the child in the wrong direction…

“But are we not in danger of repressing the healthy development of a child’s moral powers by thus demanding implicit submission to our will? By no means. The true liberty of the will consists in our being master of it, and so our own masters. Train a child to master his will in giving it up to his parents’ command, and he acquires the mastery to use when he is free. Yielding to a parent’s control is the path to self-control, and self-control alone is liberty.

“The child who is taught by a wise parent to honour him and his superior wisdom will acquire, as he gives up his own way, the power over his will, as he never can who is taught to imagine that he need do nothing unless the parent has first convinced him of the propriety of the act, and obtained his consent.”

Andrew Murray, The Children for Christ, p. 111-112.

This inspires me to recommit to requiring first-time obedience from my little ones. Besides learning obedience to both their earthly and their heavenly Father now, my children are acquiring the tools needed to make their own decisions and live in obedience to God long after they have left my home.

From Obedience to Passion

From-obedience-to-passion

It seems that, at least in my generation, there is a very strong emphasis on passion: on living sold-out, in love, passionate about a relationship with Jesus. It’s not about rules or religion: it’s about a relationship.

There is, no doubt, a great deal of truth to this. Many current books have been written, songs released, sermons preached on the importance of clinging, not to an ideology, but to a Person. Relationship, passion, love.

To be honest, though, I struggle with this concept of faith. I butt up against this image of a Creator who wants us to just be passionately “in love” with Him, and passionate about seeing others in love with Him. As a man not given often given to strong or enduring emotions, I find it difficult to come to that place of passionately pursuing God, of desiring only Him and His word.

Don’t misunderstand me: I love the Lord and want to know Him and His word. But it seems that, perhaps, in our Christian culture, sometimes we may put a new face on legalism, based not on a set of rules, but the strength of a person’s emotions regarding their faith. We venerate those who become visibly excited, who speak of being in love with Jesus, who want to go “all out” or live “sold out,” who want to make a bold and courageous demonstration for the sake of Christ.

What I want to postulate, though, is that perhaps our energies are misdirected when we seek to live passionately for God. Perhaps we are missing some of what it means to be a follower of Christ when we focus primarily on being in love with Jesus. What about those, like me, who struggle to even maintain a regular quiet time and active prayer life? I’m not suggesting that we do away with passion, or with seeking to fall “in love” with Jesus every day; I’m merely suggesting that it is not the place to start.

C.S. Lewis used to encourage new believers who wrote him letters regarding the emotions that they thought should surround their conversion experience. Many did not experience the joy or surge of love for the Lord that others had found so readily. His advice, I think, applies not only to the new believer, but also to those of us who sometimes feel like we’re just plodding along, seeking the Lord but not feeling “on fire”: he told them, only obey. Obey what Christ commanded, and if God wills for special joy and emotions to follow, then they will. If not, remember, we are called only to heed His voice and follow.

And that, I think, is perhaps where the mark is missed. I’ve read, and heard, often that obedience should not be cumbersome or difficult because of the love we should bear toward Jesus. But what if our love for God, for His ways, grows out of our obedience, not the other way around? What if, instead of seeking first to feel the way we should toward God, we seek first to act the way we should toward God?

In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul reminds us, “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more… For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”

God is not concerned that we first feel like loving Him, and feel like serving others or sharing His gospel: God is first concerned that we choose to obey Him, knowing that, as we follow step by step in obedience to Him, we grow to understand that, as for God, His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30), and He is not slow in keeping His promises (2 Peter 3:9). When we follow first in obedience, then we experience His joy,  because we see that the results are just as He promised. And our love grows, our passion grows, our obedience grows.

So pursue God wholeheartedly. Live with passion. Seek Him first in all things. But remember that zeal for His name, for His house, for His heart, for His word, come first through obedience.

Finding a Father Figure to Follow

I spent 22 years of my life observing my father’s actions: the way he treated my mother, his children, and others around him.  I concluded that I really didn’t want to grow up and be the same kind of person he was.  I also noticed that my grandfather and uncle on my dad’s side of the family behaved a lot like my dad as well.  Could that behavior have been handed down generation after generation?  Was it possible that earlier generations modeled the same form of manhood as well?

The kind of manhood and the type of father I wanted to model simply wasn’t available to me as I was growing up.  So try as I may, I really didn’t have any hope of becoming a different kind of man than my father and his father.  Those were the men I caught my manhood and fathering behaviors from.  You see, manhood and fatherhood are caught more so than taught.  Like a cold virus, you will contract the same virus from the one you are exposed to.  Even though I didn’t want to be like my father, it is no surprise to me now that I became just like him.

Why am I telling you this?  Because you need to see your own shortcomings as a man and father and then expose your life to someone who models the type of behavior you want to demonstrate in your own life.  It is up to you to take the necessary steps to make a lasting change in your life.  Otherwise, your children and their children will carry out the family tradition.

The first and most important step is to look carefully at the life of Jesus as a son, how he related to his Father, and how the Father guided him through his life as a man.  For all of the talk about being a Christian father, the one thing our heavenly Father wants for us is to be sons.  If we learn how to be sons, He can guide us into the role of fathers.  This will take a lot of time reading His Word and listening to his voice.  Ask him to show you how he functions as a father and how Jesus functioned as a son and as a man.

The second step is to ask your Father to show you men around you that model the character and wisdom you would like to see in your own life.  When he shows you someone, go and talk to them about it.  Ask them how they learned what they know and how they would help you catch it from them.

A couple weeks ago I was in Michigan visiting friends and watching my daughter play volleyball.  An opportunity came up to spend a couple hours with my coach and mentor.  Although I hadn’t seen him in nearly a year, I really wanted to spend that time with him.  I met him 23 years ago when he was my age (60) and he has been a valuable contributor to my life for all of those years.  Now in his 80’s, he still opens me up to the kind of man and father I want to be.  Just as importantly, he opens me up to the man and father my heavenly Father desires me to be as well.

It’s time to stop ignoring the things that you don’t like about yourself as a father, husband and man. Replace that bad character and behavior by catching the good from someone who has it.  Try it and watch what happens.

The Beatitudes and Boys

The word Beatitudes is translated, “blessed are.” The word means “happy.” The idea is not that we are simply happy in the sense that we are happy after a good meal or after we have laughed at a funny joke. It refers to a deeper happiness, a happiness that comes from peace with God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges his listeners and us as well. As you read the Beatitudes, you might be thinking that it is an odd list of traits.

Typically, Christians want things like the fruit of the Spirit or other traits such as honesty, humility, and reliability. Those are definitely traits that we should strive for. However, the list that Jesus gives in the Beatitudes is quite different. This should lead us to ask, what is Jesus really saying here in this list? Is Jesus saying, the blessed person has these eight traits: they’re poor, they mourn, they’re meek, they don’t assert themselves, they hunger and thirst for righteousness, they’re a peacemaker, they’re pure in heart, they’re merciful, and they’re persecuted?

This is not a list that you hear fathers talking about with their sons.
“Great job being poor in spirit today, son!”
“Excellent work being merciful today, son!”
“I am so proud of your peacemaking skills!”

You don’t hear this because we are wired as a society to raise boys who are tough, hard-nosed men. While those are not necessarily bad things, they do tend to take our attention away from other critical areas. As fathers, we need to be raising sons who are aware of their sin. Jesus says in the beatitudes that the starting point in the kingdom is to know that you cannot rely on yourself, to know that your spirit is poor. You cannot be good enough, strong enough, righteous enough to make it on your own before God or in His kingdom. If you recognize your own spiritual poverty, you will mourn over it, and that will lead you to be meek. Our sons need to be taught this and they must see it in our own lives.

Are we more concerned about raising athletes and students than we are about raising future men that hunger and thirst for righteousness? Are we modeling a life of mercy because we have been shown mercy by our Savior? Are we waging war with the culture to make sure our boys are striving to be pure in heart? I pray that we do not get so wrapped in the world’s picture of manhood that we forget what Jesus values as important.

What are some creative ways that dads can teach the Beatitudes to their boys?

The New-to-Them Car: A Lesson in Integrity

Most dads want to teach their sons and daughters that being truthful and honest is something our God desires and asks of us. Our personal integrity is highly valuable and should be maintained throughout our lives. I can remember those awkward moments when one of my sons had been caught telling a lie. You know those talks — the “I-am-more-disappointed-in-you-because-you-didn’t-tell-me-the-truth-than-I-am-about-what-you-did-in-the-first-place” ones.

A New-to-Them Car: A Lesson in Integrity

Recently, I received a call from my son, Jordan who lives in Montana with his wife, Katie, and their dog, Juno.  With careers at separate non-profit organizations, they have been able to work in their respective areas of interests and passions, but their combined income these days isn’t as large as their father/father-in-law would like to see.  The call I received from my son that day was about their car. A few days earlier it started to make some noise — coming from the area of the transmission; noise that a 7 year-old vehicle with less than 90,000 miles shouldn’t be making. They had purchased the car several years earlier and had it serviced regularly, but they still a balance on their loan for it. So, Jordan took the car to a mechanic and had him drive the car to take a listen.  The conclusion was that it was probably a bearing and could go bad at any time. The mechanic also explained that this type of transmission repair would require a complete replacement when it failed — to the tune of $2500-$3500!

Jordan’s question to me was simple: What should I do? As we talked and evaluated the options of trading the car in, selling it outright, or repairing it, I began to see the fruit of those earlier lessons play out in his decision-making process. His first step was to find out what a dealer would give him on a trade towards another car. But, after looking at the cost of a replacement vehicle, he felt the difference needed would be more than they could afford. They didn’t have an extra $3000 sitting around, so repairing it seemed to be low on the list of practical solutions. The final option was to sell it outright, but that meant deciding whether to reveal the potential problem or not.

Ah, the integrity question.

Honestly, none of the options seemed ideal, but Jordan insisted he would have to reveal the mechanical issue regardless of which option they chose.

That’s when God showed up.

Jordan received a call from Katie’s dad. He told them that a close friend was about to trade in a 3 year-old Subaru, but she didn’t like the trade in value. She offered it to Jordan and Katie for a few hundred dollars more than the trade in amount. It was a great deal and now all that remained was to get rid of the car with the problem. Jordan decided  he would take it to a local dealer and ask him to purchase it. Unfortunately, the dealer wasn’t interested, but had a personal friend who was looking for a similar vehicle. Jordan took the car to him later that evening and told him the whole story. The man looked at Jordan, said he liked the car, wasn’t concerned about the transmission issue, and wanted to buy it for his daughter. Jordan told him the book value of the car, what the repair would cost, and what he thought a fair price would be. The guy agreed and they shook hands.

Today, Jordan and Katie are driving a new car that fits their budget and in their hearts they are thanking the God who loves them for working it all out. I’m convinced that God, who loves us unconditionally, really enjoys it when we decide in our hearts to do things His way. Not every story will turn out with a new car, but every time we decide to follow our Heavenly Father’s instruction (His Word) we are acting out true faith. And whenever we act out (in) faith we are pleasing to our Father.

Try it and watch what happens.

How have you walked through lessons on integrity with your sons? Have you or they had opportunities to live out what you’ve learned from Scripture?

Pursue Godly Sanctification For Your Son!

Before you read any further, answer this question:  What does sanctification look like in your son’s life?  I have to admit that as a dad, the behavior of my son matters more to me at times than the heart of my son.  When this is true, my view of sanctification wrongly becomes all about my son sinning less.  Which, if I am really honest, is a view of sanctification rooted in my desire for an easier, problem-free, suffering-free life.  The kind of life I feel entitled to and the kind of life that their sin is preventing.  That is a view of sanctification rooted more in the exaltation of me than Christ.   Sanctification as God describes it through His Word is more about how we are growing in our dependence on Him and love for Him than whether or not we are sinning less.  God wants more from your son than outward conformity.  He wants his heart, nothing less.boydadpic4

Think about it for a second: if God wanted to, could He have set things up where we became perfect at the time of our conversion?  Sure.  He can do anything He wants.  Yet, He didn’t. (Trust me, my day today has been a testimony of that!)  So, if He could have made us instantaneously sinless, yet didn’t, that must mean He has a plan to use our sin for good, Christ-exalting, righteousness-producing purposes.  So when Paul said in Romans 8:28, “that for those who love God all things work together for good…” all things really means all things.  In the wisdom of God, He knew that your son would love Him more and exalt Him more, living life as a daily sinner in need of grace than as a Christian who was free of sin.  This means that sanctification is more about increasing your son’s dependence on the grace of God than getting rid of the sin that is constantly tripping him up.

Paul was no stranger to this idea.  He himself had a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7) and pleaded with God that it would be taken away but God had other ideas.  He wanted Paul to stay weak, thereby increasing his dependence on Him and exalting the strength of Christ.  So God’s plan for your son is not that he would become some great conquer of sin in this lifetime.  God’s plan for your son is to live a life of weakness that leads to complete and total dependence on Him.  Make no mistake, all those who are Christians are already “more than conquerors” according to Romans 8:27.  We will eventually be rid of sin one day.  But for now, this title of super-conqueror that Paul has made us aware of means that our sin is being used for good purposes.

What difference does this make?  It changes everything.  Now as a dad, my goal is not to get my son to sin less, but to increase his dependence on Christ.  My prayer for my son is not that he would make it through the day without smacking another kid on the playground or giving his little brother a wedgie, but that he would realize that in Christ alone will he find hope.  My goal is not to get my son to live a perfect life of outward conformity, but to have a heart that has been humbled by his sin and knows his need for the grace of Christ in his life, being completely convinced of the words of Jesus in John 15:5 when He said, “apart from Me you can do nothing.”

John Newton knew this kind of sanctification.  In one of his letters that he wrote to a lady in his congregation he said, “afflictions are honorable as they advance our conformity to Jesus our Lord, who was a man of sorrows for our sake.” Read some of Newton’s letters and see this view of sanctification come screaming through the pages.

Now before we get off kilter here, we need to keep in mind Paul’s warning in Romans 6:1-2.  Just because God can use my sin to exalt Christ doesn’t give us license to sin as much as want.  “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” Romans 6:1-2a (ESV).  But we as Christian dads need to have a different hope when it comes to our son’s sanctification.

So what is your hope and prayer for your son’s sanctification, dad?  How do you talk with him about his sin and about your sin for that matter?  Does he see the connection between his weakness and the exaltation of Christ?  Pursue godly sanctification for your sons!

Finding The Truth: A Lesson for My Son

Finding-the-truth

If you have little ones, or remember the days when you had little ones, you may be able to relate to the following scenario…

My youngest son, whom I affectionately refer to as a “tornado in tennis shoes,” is regularly getting himself into mischief. Yesterday, I walked into a room where he was holding a desk lamp, and shining it at his sisters.

“Why are you playing with my lamp?” I asked.

“I’m not,” he responded, still holding the lamp in his hand. Even caught red-handed, a lie is the first thing that comes out. He says it because he hopes he can avoid any discomfort. He is trying to take the easy way out.

I repeat words that sound too familiar. I give him consequences for his sin and tell him how lies hurt our relationship.

“We should always tell the truth,” I say, “even when it may mean trouble for us.”

Since he is (almost) 3 years old, I have no doubt this scenario will be repeated often for quite a while. Soon, it will start to sink in, and hopefully as he grows he’ll learn to value truth. But this starts by me modeling truth to him. He is counting on my integrity–the truth that I am committed to him. He’ll learn the truth that I will provide for him and care for him, and that I will follow through on promised blessings. Deep down, today my son knows he can count on me for all those things … he just doesn’t have the word for it yet: truth.

I am reminded that this scenario was first encountered in the Garden of Eden, clear back in Genesis. Adam does not take responsibility for his actions, but blames Eve, who blames the serpent. We are so easily swayed to redirect blame for our sin elsewhere. They were both trying to take the easy way out. God saw through this. He saw their hearts, their motives, and brought consequences to them as well.

I take comfort in realizing that using lies to take the ‘easy way out’ of his problems is not unique to my son, but I am also very sober in my thinking: this is the very heart of the sin he was born into. My mission in his life is to bring him on a journey of understanding his own sinful state, and seeking the redemption and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6 (NIV).

There are so many that seek God through paths other than Jesus, but He alone is the very definition of truth. Jesus never said that following His truth would be easy. In fact, he said it would be, and should be, the hard path to take.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 (NIV)

Taking up a cross daily is not taking the easy way out!

So, I am also challenged by the truth of Jesus Christ. It is so easy for me to drift into a life of compromise, thinking that I am not too bad, at least not as bad as the person I am comparing myself to. Do you hear Adam’s thoughts in that statement, as he blamed Eve?

It is only when I compare my heart, my actions, and my motives to those of Jesus Christ that I see my own life in the truth that it needs to be seen in. I so often find myself coming short of God’s best for me, and I need to re-align with the truth of God.

I need to continually embrace the truth of Jesus Christ, so that I may share that with my son. My son needs to ultimately embrace the truth of Jesus Christ, as he understands the deceit in his heart. And when he truly embraces the truth of Jesus Christ, I’ll get to see my son shine the best kind of light–the light of truth–on those around him.

And that is hope worth patiently and lovingly fighting for. Raising my son to be a man of truth is not the taking easy way out.