Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Category: Family (page 1 of 5)

Are You a Good Parent?

Who Is a Good Parent?

It’s a loaded question, isn’t it? It seems to me that often the people who think they are great parents aren’t, and the parents who are doing a great job (even if imperfect) tend to feel their weakness the most acutely.

As evangelicals in the western world in the 21st century, it seems that there is more pressure than ever to do well at this parenting thing. We have Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram telling us everyday how great everyone else is doing at this parenting thing; the proof is in the nicely edited photos, right? The family lives of so many others around us seem to be smiling faces, happy hearts, and many memorable moments of family fun.

And that’s just the world. Nevermind in the church. Other Christians are doing a great job at family devotions, praying for world missions, and teaching their children to memorize the whole Bible (or so it seems). And doesn’t that make sense? I mean, if the non-Christians in the world are doing well at this family thing, should we be doing better? Isn’t family a Christian thing?

Sadly, many Christian parents end up feeling guilty, over-burdened, and stressed trying to keep up with all the family things that we feel we need to do to be good parents.
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Wise Words on Fathering

Proverbat_22_6My friend, Kevin Dibbley, wrote an excellent note a couple of weeks ago to a new father. Reflecting on his own experience raising his daughters, Kevin offers some sound advice that rebuked me, encouraged me, and moved me to tears of thankfulness.

If you’re a parent (or know one) you should read this post (or get them to read this post).

Here’s a snippet:

Don’t take yourself so seriously. That may sound like a strange thing to say, especially at a time in our culture when there is a great need for serious parenting, and in particular, diligent and faithful fathering. I am not saying that as a Dad you don’t need to give yourself fully to your calling to love and to lead. What I do mean is that you need to recognize that God is big enough for the road ahead. When Moses was in the midst of his journey leading the nation of Israel, he became overwhelmed by the task. Israel was a tough nation. Moses’ fear, however, was not the dread of seeing how messed up Israel was. He was afraid of seeing his own inadequacies and failures. In fact, at one point, he pleads with the Lord that if the Lord has favour upon him, that He should kill Moses, so that Moses wouldn’t have to look at his own “wretchedness” (Numbers 11:15). You are about to get a life long tour of your own inadequacies. Remember then that God did not put this child in your hands because He wanted you to show how competent you are. He put this child in your hands to show you how great His love and goodness are. Your goal is to point your child to Jesus. You don’t have to be the hero of your child’s story.

Read the full post here: “A Note for Josh at the Birth of Grace.”

This Friday is for the Ladies

Recently I’ve come across three articles that I find particularly helpful for wives & mothers. Since I often write about being a husband & father or about parenting in general, I thought it might be nice to offer the reflections of some wives & mothers as well.

Here are three posts that I think are worth your time if you’re a wife and / or a mom (or if you’re married to one).
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Back from Vacation… And Thankful

Looking at this portrait makes me think Attlee wasn’t the only one with something to be modest about…

It is said that Winston Churchill once quipped of Clement Attlee, ‘He is a modest man, but then, he has so much to be modest about.’ I can’t help but chuckle when I read that. But when I reflect on it, I think that perhaps, this isn’t a bad thing. If indeed you have much to be modest about (and who doesn’t?) why wouldn’t you want to be known as a modest man?

Returning from vacation, I’m a very thankful man. To adapt the Churchill quote, ‘I’m a thankful man, with so much to be thankful about.’

I am thankful for so many things that God has given me and my family. Here are a few that come to mind at the end of my first day back on the job.

I’m thankful for…
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Something I’m Happy About

I happen to think my wife is a great writer. And I think she has a lot of good things to say. So I was very happy to have her invited to join some of her friends on a team blog. Stacey has joined Maja, Amy, Dina, and Georgie in writing for the blog, ‘This Passing Life.’ I think it will be great!

Her first post was yesterday, introducing herself. I’m very happy for her to be using her writing gift again and I can’t wait to see what she has to say in coming weeks. I just wanted to pass along the link in case you are interested in following along.

John MacArthur: How Can We Rescue the Family?

I appreciated this insight from John MacArthur, dealing with the evangelical obsession with the nuclear family.

With all the material available to help families, why are so many Christian families in trouble?

May I suggest that our preoccupation may be part of the problem? We have become so engrossed in the family itself that we are losing our perspective on why the family is important to God and where it really fits in His kingdom plan.

… not all teaching that claims to be pro-family is genuinely biblical. In fact, some of the popular ideas that have attached themselves to Christian pro-family movements are clearly a threat to the true purpose God designed for families.

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Forest? What Forest?

A fall run through the woods

We’ve all heard the expression about missing the forest for all the trees. It’s easy to do in any area of life, but I’ve found it especially easy in parenting. At any given point in time there are so many issues that are pressing, so many different things you want to teach, and so many ways you want to express love for your children. How can you find time for it all?

The answer, to be sure, is ‘You can’t.’ There just isn’t enough time. No matter how much time I have with my kids, I find there’s always more I’d like to say, teach, discipline, instruct, encourage, rebuke, etc. And at the same time I don’t want to overwhelm them or frustrate them with too many words, too much instruction, too many demands. Fathers are specifically warned, after all, not to provoke their children to anger (Eph 6.4).

The key to this, as with so many things, is balance. I need to learn to not harp on every little thing I see in them, but to pick my spots, look for moments when little hearts are open and ready to receive instruction, and most of all, make sure I make the main thing the main thing–always.

Unfortunately, I fear that I do a bad job at that. I get so caught up in the presenting issues of the day-to-day that I sometimes lose sight of the big picture issues that my children so desperately need me to emphasize.

Here’s a case-in-point: The other night I was putting Susannah & Caitlyn to bed (Maddie had already gone down). I sang a song or two to them and Caitlyn was fast asleep; Susannah, however, was wide awake. I took the opportunity to kneel beside her bed and just chat with her alone in the few quiet minutes we had together. I asked her about her day and what she was happy about. Then I turned the conversation to spiritual things. I asked her, ‘What is the one, most important thing in all the world?’ She replied: ‘Christ died for our sins and was raised!’ (with the appropriate actions :)).

I was pretty pleased with that.

Then I asked her, ‘What is the one greatest commandment that God gives us?’ There was no answer; I could tell she was thinking. I decided to help her a little: ‘To llll…’. Her face lit up, she knew the answer: ‘To listen!’

My heart fell. In that instant my mind went back to family devotions that night after dinner, to the songs we’ve been teaching the kids, to the things I’ve been reminding them of lately… over and over and over again I’d been speaking about the trees, but neglecting the forest. In teaching my daughters about how to be wise and what it means to be ‘all ears’, the unspoken message I’d been communicating to them is that listening is the most important commandment. Somehow in the midst of all the issues I’d completely neglected the heart of the issue, which is ‘to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself.’

All this ‘Christian parenting’, but my kids still haven’t heard clear, concise, convicting instruction about the one thing that matters more than anything else: their love for God. Sigh. Back to the parenting drawing board… and back to my knees to pray for my kids.

There is very little to be proud about in parenting. The mistakes are many and the painstakingly obvious need for God’s intervening grace humbles me continually. I’ve never been more aware of the fact that if my children will be saved, it will be all because of God’s grace in spite of me, rather than because of me.

But there is hope. The next morning at the breakfast table Stace and I spent some time explaining the greatest commandment to the children. I’ve been convicted of missing the forest and am aiming to make it more of an intentional push in my parenting repertoire. And the Lord loves to use broken, fallen, largely-pathetic humans for his good purposes: it’s his way of ensuring that he gets all the glory. And I’m okay with that. I’m just thankful for mercy and hopeful for future grace.

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