Three Taverns Church


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Be The Loving Memory People Never Forget

As I was leaving my chiropractor’s office yesterday the doctor asked me, “So, you’re feeling better?”

“Oh yeah,” I said, “When I came home last night my two youngest kids ran to the door to meet me. We wrestled around on the ground for a few minutes…we had an awesome time.”

Then I paused for maybe half a heartbeat and, starting to tear up, I said, “Not to get all emotional in your office, but I didn’t realize until just now that it’s been almost six weeks since they’ve run to the door to see me. Ever since I got that herniated disc I haven’t been able to play with them, and they kind of just quit being interested in me when I came home. But now Dad is back (no pun intended) and I could see how excited they were to play with me again!”

Oftentimes when things go wrong in our lives, it’s a long, slow decline into pain and suffering. Moments of shock and trauma are thankfully rare; it’s much more common to wake up one day having forgotten how good things used to be. In my story above I had forgotten that my kids and I used to wrestle and laugh together, and I’d only been injured six weeks! I have friends and family who have been hurting a much longer time. Their slide into suffering was so slow that these days they don’t even realize how much they are hurting; they’ve forgotten what “normal” feels like.

How many of us know someone living in an abusive relationship who thinks it’s “normal” to be emotionally or physically abused? How many of us know someone slaving away for an awful boss because he assumes, “That’s the way it is,” or know a homeless woman who thinks she’ll be on the streets forever, for the exact same reason? How many of us know a family member who’s given up the struggle against age and physical illness because the pain has been present for so long?

Do you want to help people remember what “normal” really means, to recognize life when they see it?

Be the loving memory people never forget.

If you know someone in an abusive relationship, be the love that will open her eyes to just how wonderful human companionship is supposed to be!

If you know someone in a job he hates (or someone dying for any job), be the love that helps him re-discover his hopes and dreams, and the purpose he was put here for!

If you know someone in the final stages of life who has given up, be the love that reminds her of all the good things in life, and the hope she can have in the future.

Be the love that becomes someone’s most treasured memory, something they will never forget.


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Five Ways To Positively Model God To Your Children, #5: Discipline

The Reuben Hill Minnesota Report

The Reuben Hill Minnesota Report from http://www.focusonthefamily.com

It’s true that we are the most influential people in our children’s lives. It’s also true that we tend to treat strangers with more kindness than our own families because it’s impossible to keep our “nice” masks on for long at home. These two facts lead to a third truth: Our children’s negative perceptions of God are often shaped by our behavior toward them.

The chart above is fascinating! It reveals so much I already know to be true about parenting, and it helps me understand my heavenly Father. The chart is laid out on two axes: Discipline on the horizontal axis, and love on the vertical axis. In a nutshell, here are the four types of parents the chart calls out:

  1. Fellowshipping Parents: These parents combine discipline and love in their parental approach. Like God, they are “fellowshipping” parents. They want to be with their children and take part in their development.  Their approach to parenting is authoritative: They acknowledge their responsibility in raising their children and exercise the appropriate authority.
  2. Fighting Parents: These parents employ lots of discipline when dealing with their kids but without the appropriate balance of love. They aren’t looking for a healthy relationship; they’re looking for a fight. This is the angry, alcoholic father who flies off the handle and hits his son. Rather than the ideal “authoritative” parenting style of Fellowshipping parents, Fighting parents are authoritarian dictators in their children’s lives.
  3. Forsaking Parents: These parents don’t show much love or discipline when interacting with their children…In fact, they don’t show much of anything at all. These kids never receive love and discipline, and they internalize the belief that their parents didn’t think they were worth the effort. The children are neglected and will likely develop severe emotional, mental, and developmental issues.
  4. Fearful Parents: These parents show their children “love”, but do not discipline them an adequate amount. They are afraid of losing influence with, and the friendship of, their children. Permissive parents fail to teach appropriate boundaries. Children from these homes won’t learn tough lessons until later in life, when the stakes are much higher.

 

Folks, it’s pretty simple. You need to love your children, and you need to discipline them:

  • Expectations should always precede discipline
  • The punishment must fit the crime, i.e. logical consequences
  • No name calling, ever
  • You should never discipline in anger
  • Praise desired behavior
  • Leave punishments in the past; don’t bring them up again
  • Discipline should be age-appropriate
  • Your child should always know why they are being punished

Your consistent effort to love and discipline your children will lead to emotionally, spiritually, and developmentally healthier adults down the road.

What disciplining secrets would you share with a new parent-to-be?


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Five Ways To Positively Model God To Your Children, #3: Quality Time

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It’s true that we are the most influential people in our children’s lives. It’s also true that we tend to treat strangers with more kindness than our own families because it’s impossible to keep our “nice” masks on for long at home. These two facts lead to a third truth: Our children’s negative perceptions of God are shaped by our behavior toward them.

How many times have I heard people say they don’t pray because they think God is too busy with “important things”? How many times have I skipped prayer because I felt like my own interests didn’t matter much in the “grand scheme of things”? Where in the world do we learn to believe these lies if not from our parents? And where will my own children learn it if not from me?

You have twenty-four hours in your day. On average you sleep 7.7 hours, work 8.8 hours, and spend 6.3 hours doing all sorts of other activities. This leaves 1.2 hours (or 72 minutes) to care for your children. Of course, these 72 minutes are time women spend caring for their children. Men spend only 26 minutes of each day providing the same kinds of care. In fact, fathers spend only five minutes of meaningful time with their children on a daily basis. Five minutes.

When I was working back in Seattle I really only had two hours of each workday to spend with my kids: 6pm to 8pm. This was the gap between when I got home from work and when my kids went to bed. You’d think two hours would go a long way, but you know how it is: You get home and you want to relax, get changed, maybe take a shower to wash work off of you, cook dinner, eat dinner…and before you know it, it’s 8pm and the kids are off to bed.

I know the kind of Dad I want to be, and I know the kind of God I want my children to know. Below is a list of things my wife and I do to “create” time to spend with our kids. Not all of them will be relevant to you, but with a little tweaking I believe they can help you positively model God to your children:

  • Three words: Daddy-Daughter (or Mommy-Son) Dates. My oldest daughter and I go on one “date night” every month. She looks forward to it more than any other day of the month
  • We canceled cable TV
  • I limit my hobbies. Do I deserve that time? Sure. But my kids deserve it even more
  • We limit after-school events. Say what you want, but my kids and I won’t ever be run ragged driving from school to ballet to Girl Scouts with dinner crammed in between
  • We eat dinner together nearly every night. At home. 99% of the time my wife or I cook. If you want to miss dinner at our house, you better have a good reason
  • I play with dolls. Or trains. Or color in coloring books. Whatever it takes. Because my kids’ idea of quality time does not include reading the latest financial news

How do you want your kids to pray 20 years from now? Do you want them to send up a desperate, “If you’re there…” kind of prayer, or do you want them praying confidently, “Father, I thank you that you hear me…”? It’s your responsibility, and I’m guessing you’ve got some tough choices ahead of you. Good luck!

How do you spend quality time with your kids?


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Five Ways To Positively Model God To Your Children, #2: Accept Their Emotions

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It’s true that we are the most influential people in our children’s lives. It’s also true that we tend to treat strangers with more kindness than our own families because it’s impossible to keep our “nice” masks on for long at home. These two facts lead to a third truth: Our children’s perceptions of God are shaped by our behavior toward them.

There was a guy in my recovery group who used to talk about how his parents couldn’t accept his emotions. If he allowed his anger, sadness, or disappointment to show on his face he was sent to his room. He was banished until he could come out with a smile. Fifty years later he was still struggling to accept his own emotions because he’d been taught that anger and sadness were bad. He believed God couldn’t love him unless he was “happy”.

I don’t want my children to believe God will only love them when they’re “happy”. I want them to understand that even Jesus wept. For this to happen, however, I need to model that behavior.

Here is the second of five ways I try to model Christ for my children. With a little tweaking to fit your particular set of circumstances, I believe these steps can benefit your family as well!

2. Accept their emotions
This is a tough one for me. My oldest daughter sometimes hurts herself through clumsy and unintentional ways and ends up crying in pain. I hate these moments. I hate them so much that I almost can’t bear to be with my daughter in her pain. A part of me wants to send her to her room. Or tell her to be stronger. Or tell her to stop her crying because it’s just a scratch. I hate how powerless I am to stop my daughter’s pain, and my feelings of powerlessness come out as anger towards my daughter for getting hurt.

Could there possibly be a worse way to model God for my child? My angry reaction to her pain makes her feel shame and guilt for getting hurt in the first place. It’s ridiculous. When she’s hurt I need to hold her, comfort her, and accept her pain. But sometimes I can’t. That sense of powerlessness is too frightening. I’m tempted to punish my daughter for not being “happy”, even when she’s really hurting.

The danger is obvious:

  • If I’m not careful she’ll grow up thinking it’s wrong to cry in public
  • She won’t be vulnerable
  • She may stuff her emotions to appear “happy”
  • She may feel guilt and shame when she hurts because she’ll believe she’s not supposed to hurt
  • She will grow up believing that God doesn’t want her pain
  • She’ll believe she can only talk to God when she’s “happy”
  • She may develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with her pain. Because I couldn’t just hug her when she hurt and accept her pain and my powerlessness in the moment

How often do you send their kids to their rooms when they are angry or sad?
If they pout, do they go on time-out?
Is it hard to accept your powerlessness to heal their pain and suffering?
How does this have the potential to impact the way your child sees God?


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Someday Never Comes

The idea that ‘someday’ you will ‘arrive’ is an illusion; ‘someday’ never comes. ‘Someday’ is a trick the enemy plays on our minds to keep us focused on the future and out of the present, for it is only in the present that we discover God and find true value in life. As Zig Ziglar says, “Happiness is not a when or a where, it’s a here and a now.”

Imagine saying to yourself, “Someday I’m going to spend more time with my family, but right now I’ve really got to focus on my career.” This statement acknowledges that for a period of time you have already neglected your family; else why would you seek to correct the situation? But let me ask, what did you think would be different ‘someday’? What assumption presupposes that right now you must focus on your career? Do you not make enough money for your family to survive? Or do you assume that proper families must meet a minimum standard of living? For what reason are you willing to sacrifice the here-and-now for a future that may never be?

Let’s say that I tell myself that ‘someday’ I will spend more time with my family but for the next 12 months I must work 60-hour-weeks to earn a promotion. By committing myself to this schedule I sacrifice 20 hours per week, 80 hours per month, 960 hours that year which I could have spent with my family instead. I will never get those 960 hours back, and I cannot make them up. My wife and children will go through unique life-events during those 960 hours which cannot be re-created or re-lived at a future date; they are lost forever. During those 960 hours you will undoubtedly be able to take advantage of unique work opportunities and chances for advancement that you would have missed had you been home. However, there are far more business opportunities in the world than there are members of your family. So you have not only traded time, you have also traded away opportunity to be with your unique family; this is called opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is one of the greatest costs businesses and individuals face.

Consider, then, what you have exchanged for 960 high-opportunity-cost family hours: A promotion. Let’s say that this promotion increases your annual pay 30% from $60,000 per year to $78,000 per year, an additional $1,500 per month. That’s a big raise! With that $1,500 every month you could get a nicer house in a better neighborhood; you could give more to the church and/or charity of your choice; you could take your family on nice trips. Those things have value, to be sure. But what you have done is monetize time with your family; you’ve changed dollars for pesos at a 1:1 exchange rate. I wonder, now that a year has passed and you are $1,500 richer every month, has ‘someday’ arrived? Do you have something now that you did not have a year ago, something that now makes life with your family bearable?  What is it? Do you even know? Is it your new house that you traded countless hugs and kisses for? Do you think you are somehow a better father or mother because of your promotion?

There will always be business opportunities; there will always be chances for promotions and raises, in time. Today is the last May 21st, 2012 that you will ever get to spend with your family. Make sure you get a good price for it.