Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Category: Children

Netflix, Patience, Parenting, and the Gospel

The other day Stacey and I had some family friends over. Since the day was hot and the kids had been outside for the whole day we wanted to give them some ‘down time’ in the basement, where it was cool and they could calm down for a little.

I suggested a couple of the DVDs that we had, but there was no consensus among the children. Then one of the kids just said, ‘Let’s watch something on Netflix!’ I don’t know why it surprised me. After all, our own kids watch things on Netflix fairly regularly, but coming from a child in another family it just hit me how quickly kids become familiar with new technology and new opportunities for entertainment.

Apparently kids aren’t alone, either. Last month (June 2012), Netflix streamed over 1 billion hours of programming into households around the world. That is a lot of entertainment. it puts Netflix at the forefront of all entertainment products and providers in our world today.

The Evolution of Entertainment Eliminates Waiting

Remember cassette tapes? Remember how we used to have try to fast forward and rewind to find our songs? Remember the frustration of getting a video from the rental store, only to find out that the last person had not remembered to ‘be kind and please rewind’? How frustrating to have to wait to watch your movie while the tape rewound! Or how about watching TV shows before PVRs? Remember when we used to have to wait for commercials to be done instead of just fast-forwarding through them?

So technology advanced and with the advent of DVDs and CDs there was no more rewinding. No more waiting. And with PVRs, even waiting through those little breaks in the middle of your entertainment is removed.

And Netflix is the next stage in that entertainment evolution that eliminates the ‘weak gene’ of waiting. Any show, any movie, any time, no waiting.
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A Genuinely Moving Story

All of creation is groaning together, awaiting redemption. Praise God for the life of this little image-bearer and for the glory his life gives to God. Praise God for the faith, hope, and trust of his parents. Oh, how we await the consummation of all things when all that is wrong with this world will finally be made right!

Come, Lord Jesus!

 

Eliot was born with an undeveloped lung, a heart with a hole in it and DNA that placed faulty information into each and every cell of his body. However, that could not stop the living God from proclaiming Himself through this boy who never uttered a word.

In the midst of heartbreaking tragedy, the Mooney family found the presence of God strengthening, comforting, and guiding them. Their story reminds us to seek God and endure our struggles rather than blame Him for our hardships.

Parenting and My Heart

Sometimes it’s good to do what’s counter-intuitive. In fact, I’ve found that the longer I’ve been a Christian, the more I need to second-guess and examine every motive. Sure enough, there is deep-rooted sin in there somewhere. I’ve found God’s evaluation of humanity in Gen 8.21 (‘the inclination of their minds is evil from childhood on’) to be absolutely correct in my case every time I’m willing to consider for longer than 23 seconds.

This examining and cross-examining of motives and actions is almost nowhere more necessary than in parenting. What can on-first-blush appear to be ‘for the baby’ can really be simply for my immediate gratification (‘I made her feel nice, now I feel better about my ability to parent’). What is really sad about this, though, is that what is often for my immediate gratification as a parent will more often than not be to the child’s long-term harm.

So, for example, we’re in a store and Susie really wants something, but I already told her she can’t have it, I had not planned on buying it, we haven’t budgeted for it, and she doesn’t need it. What do I do as a parent? The ball is only $1.99 or something silly like that. She is sad if I don’t get it. She’s happy if I get it. Why not just ‘make her happy’ and get it? Wouldn’t it also make me happier to just buy something for my daughter that I know will make her happy?

Because we teach by example, I’m teaching Susie something in that situation when I give in and buy it. I’m teaching her that it’s okay to make unplanned purchases, on an impulse, whether you have the money or not. I’m teaching her that when you complain and fuss in life, you get want you want. I’m teaching her to look for happiness in ‘stuff’ that can be purchased. I’m teaching her that it is okay to strive against an authority. In all these ways I’m doing my daughter tremendous spiritual harm by ‘making her happy’ in that moment.

If that’s true–and I know it is–then why would I give in to her? Why would I cave when she has a fit? Why would I leave her undisciplined when she breaks rules? Why would I let her go to bed late, get up early, eat what she wants, etc., when I’ve thought it through and prayed it through ahead of time? Why would decisions that my trusted counsellor (my bride) and I have talked through at length be discarded in a moment?

Because I love my daughter? Far from it. That’s the opposite of love.

Why would I be willing to ‘do whatever it takes’ to stop our baby from crying and make her ‘happy’? Because the inclination of my heart is evil from my childhood on. Because my heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all else and I cannot understand it. Because my near-sighted selfishness is willing to sacrifice the long-term spiritual welfare of my child for the immediate gratification I get from feeling like a good parent; or maybe so that I can congratulate myself on how gracious I am.

I believe it. Now all I need to do is continue to preach it to myself as I make the moment-by-moment decisions I need to make in parenting. God give me grace to be faithful!

Rich Man’s Vacation

Well this afternoon I’m back in the office, sorting through e-mails and trying to figure how to begin catching up after two weeks of vacation. The highlights were (among other things) a trip to DC to visit Covenant Life Church, and a trip to the cottage this past weekend.

More than just doing stuff though, this vacation was great because I got to spend time with my family. In a song called ‘Home‘, Paul Brandt says ‘Time just flies no matter what you do.’ That’s true. Especially when your kids are as young as ours are. I can’t believe how quickly they change. What a blessing to be able to have this time with them!

And then there’s my amazing wife. Stacey is so patient to put up with me and my schedule. Without a doubt one of the things in life that never ceases to amaze me is how my wife can just keep going, doing job after job (though it’s more like job-during-job, piled on top of job) around the house, and with the kids, yet she always seems to be able to do it well and do it with grace. She ministers to me in amazing ways, even though our schedule doesn’t allow me to be able to spend as much alone time with her as we’d like. So this vacation was a blessing in that regard as well.

I’ll post a few pictures from the vacation below, after the words of one of my favourite Paul Brandt songs. While our house is not ‘run down’ and our bills have yet to ‘pile up’, I can totally identify with what he’s saying.

Rich Man
I look in the mirror, don’t see much
Fashion sense a little out of touch
The house is run down as the bills pile up
But I’m a rich man

Breakfast table, morning rush
Sometimes it seems we barely have enough
But if it’s true that all you need is love
Then I’m a rich man

When she smiles or they call me Daddy
All the worries of the world just seem to fade away
I’m alive and I know what matters
If this is all I ever have
Well, that’s ok
‘Cause I’m a rich man

So every morning, and brand new day
With each and every single breath I take
I’m blessed and I’m thankful, yeah I’ve got it made
Oh, I’m so glad life turned out this way

I’ve loved, I’ve been loved,
Show me someone else with as much as me

Yeah, I’m a rich, rich man
Yeah, I’m a rich man
Oh, I’m a rich man
I’ve got it made
What matters, what matters
I know what matters
Oh, I’m alive








Passing It On

An old professor of mine used to say ‘The teacher’s questions become the students’ dogma.’ In other words, what the teachers fancies with, the students accept and develop.

Don Carson puts it a slightly different way. He relates the American Mennonite experience as somewhat paradigmatic of what can happen in any church setting. He says, roughly, that the first generation of Mennonites believed the gospel, and saw that it had certain social entailments. The next generation assumed the gospel and believed in the social entailments. The third generation denied the gospel, but was committed to the social entailments.

Every Christian parent and every Christian teacher I know wants to pass gospel-belief on to the next generation. But how do we do that? I would suggest, based on the above insights, that the way to pass the gospel on is to be excited about it.

As Carson has often related, he understands that as a teacher, most of what students hear will be forgotten. But what do students remember? Ultimately, students remember what excites their professors. Children will have impressed on their hearts and minds what was most important to their parents.

Do you want to pass gospel-belief on to the next generation? Then let me ask: What excites you? What occupies your thoughts? Your time? Your imaginations? Do you spend more time on hobbies than on developing gospel-passion and gospel-living?

Everyone laughs when children first begin to imitate their parents and do things we unwittingly do, but they clearly see. It’s funny. They are observant, they notice what we do, even when we don’t. Why would we expect any less when it comes to our spirituality?

What do you speak about most at home? What issues get you most passionate? What causes get you to get excited at the drop of a hat? What habits in your life are the most consistent? What priorities are evident in your home?

These are the things you will pass on… whether we are intentional about it or not.

So let’s be intentional! May it never be said of us that we passed on causes or diets or health-awareness or gender equality or views on parenting or anything that is less important and less eternally significant than the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Children (of) Believers

A little while ago, the Challister posted some thoughts he’d been working through on why it is that children of believers are more likely to believe the gospel–and in particular, why they are likely to believe at a young age.

Here’s a part of his conclusion:

A person’s spiritual condition, it seems, is much like the condition of a patient with systemic sclerosis. While all humans are born sinful, children have less of the pollution and less of the hardening of adults. While the extent of our depravity cannot change, for from the moment of conception it encompasses all that we are, the degree will and must change. Life without God progresses much like the disease. It causes increased hardening. What was once soft becomes hard; what was once supple becomes stiff and stretched. The longer a person denies God and the more his internal pollution increases, the more hardened he becomes against God and against His gracious offer of salvation. 

I agree with what Tim wrote in this post, and recommend you give the whole thing a read.

I was thinking about another reason today, though. The gospel is ‘good news.’ It is good news of the grace and mercy of God. The trouble is that most people in our world find grace and mercy irrelevant anyway, since they don’t need them (at least from their perspective). I think another good reason why children of Christians might well be quicker to receive the gospel is simply that they have categories for thinking of issues like right and wrong, sin and holiness, law and justice.

A little while ago Stacey and I were at a playground with our kids. One of the kids that were there playing had decided to go run and jump in a big mud puddle. He played around in it for a little while, getting himself into a disgusting mess. When the mother / caregiver / guardian / nanny / keeper of some sort saw what had happened, she was upset. She yelled at him from across the playground: ‘Didn’t I tell you not to do that? That’s not a good thing to do!’

I thought to myself ‘That’s not a good thing to do’? Why would she say that? And then it occurred to me: ‘What else could she say?’ Without God, categories that are absolutely necessary for raising children disappear. If that had’ve been Susannah, we would’ve had a talk about authority and obedience. We would do everything in our power to enable her to understand that there is a definite ‘right’ and a definite ‘wrong’ in that situation (obeying being right and disobeying being wrong), that she had chosen what was wrong, and that the necessary consequences would be meted out.

What would we be doing there? Is the important thing mud on the clothes? No, not at all. The important thing is her heart. If we are going to have useful inroads into her heart for discussions about the gospel, she’ll need to be able to understand that there is an authority over her who has established right and wrong, that she has chosen what is wrong, and that apart from grace and mercy, the consequences will be severe.

The Christian parent who takes biblical categories like discipline, instruction, authority, obedience, submission, law, etc. seriously is building avenues into their child’s heart everyday so that someday they’ll be able (by God’s grace) to think through their impending judgement and their need of mercy from the Judge.

Obviously, none of this will guarantee that a child will come to know the Lord. But I think if we’re faithful to use the Lord’s appointed means (discipline and instruction, establishing authority and obedience, etc.), he’ll be honoured by our choices–and what’s more important than that? But in addition, it gives us opportunities to preach the gospel to our children now–before the hardening is finally fatal.

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