Selasa, 30 Agustus 2016

Should We Stop Having Children to Save the Earth?

Should We Stop Having Children to Save the Earth?

  |   August 30, 2016   |  
BABY Once, as my wife and I were walking down the aisle at a Whole Foods grocery store with our five kids, a lady scowled at us. I’ve acclimated a bit to this, since that many children seems to many to be not just freakish to some but selfish, a critical using up of the earth’s resources. I just shrugged and whispered, “We use organic birth control,” and walked on. I was joking, of course, but my quip wouldn’t have ended the conversation for some ethicists and scientisst who argue that we should have fewer, if any, children, to save the earth.
A recent National Public Radio feature highlighted a growing movement to encourage people to have fewer or no children, as a move to protect the ecosystem. This is, as one put it, a “moral obligation.” As one professor told NPR, “Maybe we should protect our children by not having them.”
This idea is hardly new. The twentieth century was filled with warnings that the earth was populating at such a pace that we would be out of food and water by 1970 or 1990 or 2010 or pick your date for apocalyptic destruction. And those of us who care about environmental protection are often frustrated by finding a lack of allies, due to many parts of the movement insisting on population control. We’ve seen, over the years, the ways that depopulation has been just as hazardous for communities and landscapes as “overpopulation.”
For some, this sort of call to limit children would be easily dismissed, along with the rest of the project of caring for the earth. These people would simply laugh at the entire project of stewarding the earth. That’s not an option for people who believe that the universe is not an accidental fluke but a creation deemed by God to be “good.” I am not a “quiver-full” type who insists on the maximum number of children possible per family. Still, we should see how an aversion to children isn’t the answer to stewarding the earth.
For Christians, the material creation around us is not some temporary staging ground for heaven, despite what caricatures from our critics might say. All of the creation around us signals the glory of God (Rom. 1:20), and is encoded with something the Apostle Paul calls “the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4). All things are to be “summed up” in Christ; that is, he will unite everything on heaven and earth in him (Eph. 1:10). The physical creation, then, is to be, like our bodies, ultimately a temple of the Holy spirit and a dwelling place for the reigning Christ Jesus. The original mandate of our ancestors to care for and to cultivate the earth does not just point us to the past (Gen. 1-2) but also to the future (Rev. 21-22).
In a Christian view of the world, the creation is to be safeguarded by human beings, the image-bearers of God. We are not trespassers or parasites on the earth. The call to “dominion” is not, biblically, a call to exploit the creation, but, just the contrary, to cultivate it safely for the future. This is a responsibility uniquely given to human beings.
At some level, we all recognize this. We do not hold dogs or coyotes or eagles morally accountable for their eco-systems. We do hold human beings morally accountable, and rightly so.
The rearing of children is, at the most primal level, the same impulse that should drive humanity to check a reckless, selfish form of “dominion.” Our connection to future generations, cultivated in a love for children, is one that is to spark an other-directed, future-directed domino, one that preserves and protects eco-systems for generations to come. Procreation is pro-creation.
The principle is made clear in God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28), and in the command to steward the earth. The care of creation is motivated, at least in part, by our concern for future generations. Mistreating the land or the waters or the air is to assert that one is the alpha and omega of one’s own existence. That is a denial of the future. When we welcome children among us, we are reminded that we are not self-creating gods, and that our generation is not the only one that matters.
That’s why one of the most important concepts for caring for the creation, biblically, is that of inheritance. I don’t overrun my plot of land or my part of the water system or the air around me, due to my devotion both to God and to neighbor, including neighbors who will walk the earth long after I’m gone.
It’s true that many are dismissive of the challenges we face in safeguarding the eco-systems around us. But the answer is not turning against the blessing of children and future generations. To do so would harm not only the family, but the earth too.

How Did Male Friendship Become "Bromance?"

How Did Male Friendship Become "Bromance?"

In January 1944, German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer sat in a Gestapo prison. He passed the time by writing, and in one of many letters to his dear friend Eberhard Bethge, Bonhoeffer tenderly reflected on what Bethge meant to him.
 
Back then his missives didn’t raise eyebrows. They sounded like those of so many before him who, in moments of triumph and trial, had taken their greatest joy in the love of a friend of the same sex.
 
Of course, times have changed. Years after Bonhoeffer’s death, while speaking publicly about their friendship, Bethge found himself facing an awkward question:
 
Surely, said one audience member, your friendship with Dietrich “must [have been] a homosexual partnership.” How else could Bethge explain the startling affection Bonhoeffer had for him?
 
Bonhoeffer and Bethge’s friendship was not an isolated victim of this kind of revisionism. Modern readers seem to be on a virtual crusade to open every closet in history.
 
Thus, we’re told, the bachelor Abraham Lincoln was obviously gay because he shared a bed with his best friend (a practice that was common with both sexes at that time). Ditto William Shakespeare, who wrote love sonnets for an unnamed male friend. The biblical David, who lamented Jonathan’s death, calling his friend’s love “finer than the love of women” was plainly gay, too, the reasoning goes. And the Apostle John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” has sparked speculation of his own.
 
You see, to the modern eye, all close love is sexual love. Deep friendship, especially between men, gives us an uneasy feeling. This leaves modern men with a tough choice: They can risk being pegged as gay for forming deep friendships with each other, or they can give up on making friends and just have “bros.”
 
That, argues Stephen Marche in “Esquire” of all places, is what the majority of men are now doing.
 
“The word bro,” he writes, shows an “underlying contempt for male friendship it implies.” “Bros,” he says, are “men who get together to be idiots with one another,” drink, watch sports and grunt, but never get involved in each other’s lives. So dominant is machismo over male friendship these days, that when two “bros” get a little too close, popular culture has a new, sexually-charged term for their relationship: “bromance.”
 
All of this leads Wesley Hill to ask in “Christianity Today,” “Why Can’t Men Be Friends?”
 
Citing sociologist Niobe Way’s recent book “Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection,” Hill writes that “[pre-adolescent boys talk] in shockingly intimate terms about their male friends.”
 
But as the boys grew older, Way reports that they “lost the intimacy they once enjoyed. Afraid of being perceived as gay or feminine, they withdrew,” despite longing for male friendship.
 
This isolation is not benign. Way correlates her findings with data showing that male suicide rates skyrocket at puberty—while among women, who tend to maintain strong friendships, the rate remains steady.
 
Far from being unnatural, heartfelt male friendships are clearly healthy—even essential. As the Church, we’ve got to encourage boys and men to invest in each other’s lives on more than a superficial level.
 
That means transforming “bromance” into what the Bible calls philia, true friend-love. And I can’t think of a better resource on this than C. S. Lewis’ “The Four Loves.” Come to BreakPoint.org and we’ll tell you how to get a copy. I hope you’ll use it to strengthen true friendships between the men in your life, and remind the world of a love it has consigned to extinction.

BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Senin, 22 Agustus 2016

Christian Husbands Suffer First

Christian Husbands Suffer First

Christian Husbands Suffer First
“Look at Christ on the cross, and let’s love our wives like that.”
“Why is it always on us?”
The leader of the wives’ study group looked at Lisa and me, explaining that after reading numerous books on marriage together, it always seemed to come down to the wives being the ones to set the relationship right.
All of these women had read many books on marriage. At best, their husbands had started maybe one or two.
The simple answer to this woman’s sincere, honest and fair question is that we men aren’t acting like Christian husbands. If we would meditate on what love, Jesus style, truly means as it applies to our marriages and families, we would see that we may not be the great husbands that we perceive ourselves to be.
Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). To love as Christ loved is to be the initiator as Christ is the initiator in His relationship with the church. We were estranged from God, but Jesus came from on high to bring us back. He didn’t wait for the church to approach Him. He didn’t expect that the bride, as the “relational” one, would be more invested in the relationship and plead with Him to come back.
Which means, men, that to be like Christ is to be the ones who chase after our wives. If things go bad, we think of ourselves as responsible for setting them right. We should be the ones having marriage study groups. We should be the ones saying to our wives, “We need to talk.” We should be the ones who buy the books, sign up for the marriage conferences, initiate getting away from the kids for a while or who research the best marriage counselor.
As part of His love, Jesus wasn’t just the lead initiator, He became the lead sufferer. He “took the bullet” so we didn’t have to.
This was Paul’s attitude expressed in Colossians, when he made the astonishing statement that the mistreatment he so often suffered was “completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is the church” (Colossians 1:24). Paul wasn’t suggesting Christ’s suffering was insufficient—not at all. It’s rather that Paul knew the church in Colossae was young and fragile, and (in the words of N.T. Wright) “it is as if he, as the leader of the church in that part of the world, is drawing the enemy fire on to himself so that the young church may have a breathing space, a time to grow.” Wright suggests his attitude, as he sat in prison in Ephesus (where Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians) is, “Well, as long as they are concentrating on me, then Christ’s body, the church, can grow until it is strong enough to stand on its own feet.”
Paul was willing to suffer so the Colossians didn’t have to. That’s the attitude of our Savior as well, and that’s the attitude of a mature man in Christ. If suffering must come, let it begin with me. If someone needs to get a second job, it’s me. If someone needs to speak up to my parents or in-laws about undue meddling, it’s me. If someone needs to have the painful conversation with a child about who they’re dating, it’s me. If someone needs to say “No” to more requests so that there’s more time for marriage and family, it’s me.
This doesn’t diminish our wives—as if they are incapable of any of the above—it’s done in an attitude of service to our wives. I agree that Lisa can do many things much better than I can, but when I let her take the lead it’s a matter of strategy, and hopefully not because I’m being afraid, lazy or apathetic.
Men, what does it mean to be a Christian husband? In part, it means we take the first bullet. How about we spend time this week asking ourselves, “What bullet can I take for my wife? What burden is she carrying that I should carry? What action has she been forced to take that I should be taking?”
Let’s do this in an attitude of humility. If we’ve been passive and suddenly come on too strong, our wives might think we’re disappointed in how they’re handling things. We need to be repentant, explain what’s going on, thank them for stepping up when they did, but then offer to carry the burden from now on.
Paul’s words are simple, powerful and profound: Look at Christ on the cross, and let’s love our wives like that. Christ was the initiator, and He took the first bullet. May we settle for nothing less.

What the Church Gets Wrong When We Talk to Unbelievers About Sex

What the Church Gets Wrong When We Talk to Unbelievers About Sex

sex
This is a classic case of the church and culture not being on the same page.
John Mark Comer believes a chasm exists between how culture defines sex and how the Bible or how Jesus defines sex.
Culture defines sex as: “recreational play between two consenting adults.” It’s purely physical play for grown ups.
The problem we encounter is that instead of trying to show people the truth about sex, the church just comes trying to impose rules on something the culture only understands as a physical thing.
What we should be explaining, instead, is how the Bible describes sex as more than a physical thing. In Genesis chapter 2, the word echad is used, which means fused together at the deepest level. The bonding of two people into one entity—body and soul; physical and spiritual.
Inside of marriage, sex is beautiful because it takes two people and it doesn’t let them drift apart. It keeps them one.
Outside of marriage, however, this is dehumanizing. It’s a constant tearing away at your soul, so to speak. When you break up, it tears apart echad.
Comer concludes, “I think we need a higher view of sex.” We need to let culture in on the “mysterious, beautiful, powerful reality of what happens when a man and woman make love.”
This video is great for any age—but may prove particularly helpful to those in your youth groups.

6 Signs He or She Isn’t Marriage Material

6 Signs He or She Isn’t Marriage Material

6 Signs He or She Isn’t Marriage Material
“Somebody could be beautiful, funny, a pleasure to be around and even be active in their church, but still not be good marriage material.”
Somebody could be beautiful, funny, a pleasure to be around and even be active in their church but still not be good marriage material. A few relational “infections” can all but erase many good qualities.
Put it this way: A gregarious guy could be a lot of fun to have in the dugout of a baseball team, but if he can’t hit, throw or catch a baseball, he’d be a poor choice to join your team. In the same way, someone could be wonderful in the context of dating and still be sorely lacking when it comes to the “game time” issues of marriage.
I’ve seen the following six major character weaknesses become significant hurdles for marital intimacy and satisfaction and even take down some marriages. This isn’t, by any means, an exhaustive list. There are many more. But each one of these is significant enough that if the person you are dating displays several (or even one or two to a deep degree), they may not be emotionally or spiritually ready for marriage—regardless of how much fun it is to date them.
1. He or she is a “taker”
The sad reality is some people are givers and some people are takers. Givers don’t always mind being in a relationship with a taker because they like to give; it brings them joy. But there are times when the giver will need to receive. For instance the giver gets really sick or is laid off, even though he or she provided the bulk of the income or just goes through a discouraging time and suffers things she has never known before, like depression or anxiety.
In those instances, can your taker learn to give? In many cases, sadly, the answer is no. The taker freaks out, abandons the relationship, or just runs around in an emotional and relational panic wanting everyone to feel sorry for them, only adding to the giver’s problems rather than alleviating them.
If you marry a taker, you’re sitting on a relational time-bomb, because you’re making the bet that, as a giver, your fallen body and your fallen soul won’t ever get so fallen that you’ll someday need help, even for a season. You’ll have better odds trying to win the lottery.
It is not selfish to want to marry a giver. It is wise. It is being a good steward of your time and life. It is a gift to your future children (just think about it).
How do you know if you’re dating a taker? I have an entire section on that in my book The Sacred Search (pages 203-208).
2. He or she is lazy
Many, particularly younger, couples are often surprised at how difficult life can become. It’s a lot of hard work. Raising kids is exhausting. Taking care of a house, working and being married will sometimes push you to the limit of your energy. Unless you have unlimited funds and can pay for your house to be cleaned, your kids to have a full-time nanny and your spouse to stay home (if he or she wants to), you’ll run into serious problems if you marry a lazy person (and if you are a married person you won’t be able to afford any of that).
It might seem like a holiday when your boyfriend or girlfriend is all about play and always trying to take you away from work, but if they do that to an extreme and never demonstrate self-discipline and initiative, that carefree spirit will grow very tiresome, very quickly.
3. He/she lives primarily in the virtual world instead of the real one
I’ve talked to couples where the wife spends too much time on Facebook or Instagram, or the wife is so invested in her blog about her marriage that she barely has time for her marriage.
I’ve also seen many occasions where the husband can barely restrain himself from getting into his video game seat for eight-hour sessions. I’ll grant that a man or a woman without kids can enjoy a four- or five-hour round of golf on occasion and still be a rather responsible adult. But when someone is playing video games, or is online several hours a day every day, or eight hours at a time, it has become an escape. Worse, the more we participate in an escape, the more tempted we are to double down and do it even more. The real world loses interest and the virtual world becomes our passion.
If your guy plays a little too much gaming now (or has to play on Christmas and Thanksgiving or is inflexible to be with you at an event that’s important to you because he doesn’t want to let other gamers down), it’ll frustrate you even more when kids come along or household tasks get ignored. If your girlfriend regularly loses herself in 10-hour Netflix marathons of Gilmore Girls or Grey’s Anatomy, ask yourself a simple question: “If this is how she escapes from pressure while single, why wouldn’t she do the same after we are married?”
And if you’re thinking, “Hey, if she watches 10 hours of Parks and Rec then I can do 10 hours of gaming!” you’re accepting a very low level of intimacy in marriage.
4. They’re not kind
A study listed kindness as one of the top two qualities contributing to marital happiness, and I believe it. Kindness never gets old. Bodies may deteriorate, mental functioning may slow down, beauty may fade, but a kind person usually becomes kinder. Your happiness will increase if you marry a kind person.
If you choose a kind person, you’re going to be blessed by their kindness for the rest of your life, maybe even every day. Kind persons love being kind; it gives them joy to be kind. Does your girlfriend look for ways to encourage and bless others in their discouragement? Does your boyfriend go out of his way to make people feel better rather than worse in social situations? If there’s a need, is your significant other someone who is often the first to step up?
Why stress kindness when so many other issues could be mentioned? Kindness is one of those qualities most associated with happiness, and most people desire a happy marriage. If that’s you, choose someone who is kind and drop someone who is unkind.
5. They’re addicted to porn and not dealing with it
I wish this wasn’t true, but the devastation I’m seeing from it has to be stated: Women, if you marry a man who is an out of control porn addict, he won’t be able to be a satisfactory lover in marriage for very long (if ever). He will lose interest in you. He will face ED issues decades before men normally do. He will fight the urge to use you in bed instead of bless you. He will be comparing you with women who are acting according to script, not real life.
Infatuation can temporarily “cure” men of porn use for about nine to 12 months. But once the marriage settles into routine, many men go right back to the easy sexual fix. High speed Internet pornography will literally re-wire your man’s brain, affecting how he gets aroused and his ability to handle that arousal. Google it. Study it. Look it up. Don’t just take my word for it! The results will and should concern you.
Some of you will say, “Isn’t this true for women, too?” Yes, though it appears to affect their brains a bit differently. But as a man, you should be equally concerned.
Women, be wary of allowing a man to rush you into marriage in hopes that this will take his struggle away. Marry a healthy man who wants to have an intimate, mutually satisfying sexual relationship, not a man who wants to use you to overcome a habit that he hasn’t been able to cure on his own. Marriage alone never cures pornography use.
Since porn use is now virtually universal among younger men, you’ll be hard pressed to find a man who has no history with this or even one who doesn’t still occasionally struggle. Just be wary of a man who has never found any freedom in this area for any significant period of time. There’s a huge difference between marrying a man who has some accountability in place, people he talks to and long stretches of obedience, and yet still occasionally stumbles, and someone who has never been able to live without porn for any appreciable length of time.
I have worked with some young men with good hearts and a sincere desire to follow God who have struggled with porn to various degrees—and yet I was able to recommend them to marriage with no hesitation. They may yet struggle, but they are fighting the battle instead of simply surrendering to the desire, and they are intent on living without it. They’ve demonstrated obedience and wise living and I believe they will be honorable husbands. I don’t want you men to think I don’t have any empathy for you—I do. And I admit that there is a difference between a guy whose brain is being shaped by this who in fact has no history apart from this, who settles into hours-long porn sessions as his brain is sadly re-wired away from real-life on a regular basis, and a man who earnestly struggles because of his past but is seeing far more victory than defeat.
Any defeat represents future vulnerability, however, and women do need to be careful and wise—that’s simply the nature of addiction. Porn certainly isn’t the only sin, but left unchecked, it can be among the most destructive.
6. They’re not humble
Humility is sadly under-rated. The Christian classics call it “the queen of the virtues” for good reason. Humility is the foundation for virtually every other positive character quality. It’s what spawns kindness, service, generosity and confession.
Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but less about yourself. If you marry an arrogant person, every time there’s a conflict he/she will expect you to change instead of examining their own heart to see what they need to change. That gets really old.
A proud person will choose to live where he/she wants to live. They will spend their holidays with whom they want to spend their holidays, and they will find ways to punish you if they don’t get their way. They will spend money as if their needs and wants are more important than anyone else’s. And you will feel as if you matter less and less as the years go by, instead of mattering more and more.
If you want a few tests for humility, I’ve got a few sections on this in The Sacred Search (see especially pages 127-128 and 134-136).
A lot of married readers who follow this blog still read the posts intended for singles, so other married readers, help me out: what important warning signs did I leave out? Do you agree with the ones I mention here?
Let’s start a conversation.

Let’s Teach Our Kids ‘Beautiful’

Let’s Teach Our Kids ‘Beautiful’

Let’s Teach Our Kids ‘Beautiful’
“My job as their parent is to point them to their Father and help them grasp their need for a Savior.”
On a recent vacation, I sat on the beach enjoying a sliver of one of those exquisitely designed days: clear sunny sky, warm breeze, the Atlantic Ocean that stunning mix of clear and steel blue.
My four kids were content and un-requiring (for once), so I sunk into my chair to take it all in. Almost immediately, a child walked into the expanse of sand between me and the sea. I watched as he aimlessly wandered up and down the beach, cell phone in hand, eyes squinting at his little screen, completely oblivious to everything around him.
It made me think about parenting—not this particular kid or his particular parents—but my own parenting.

Oblivious to Beauty

Vacations tend to provoke all kinds of ideas about life, work, balance and everything you want to do differently when you get back. The quietness and loveliness contrasts real life so much it begs for some recalibration. You realize, at some point along the way, you may have started heading the wrong direction.
It hit me as I watched this wandering, distracted kid, mesmerized by a tiny handheld device, oblivious to the glorious beauty stretching in every direction. Are the things I am consistently putting in front of my children helping them see and enjoy God, or are they blocking the view of him? It’s easy to simply focus on what not to put before them, but forget to show them beauty, or forget to teach them about beauty when they’re exposed to it.

Children Learn to See

My one-year-old was new to the beach this year. It wasn’t enough for me to plop her down in the hot sand, and tell her to have fun. I had to teach her how to experience and enjoy the beach—carry her to the water and help her begin to dip her toes in the waves. I had to point out the shells, and show her how to rinse the scratchy sand off her hands.
My five-year-old is a bit further along. She knows how to dig for sand crabs, and points out how the ocean changes shades of blue from day to day. My older boys can now swim out to the sand bar and catch waves. The oldest notices cloud formations, warning me there will likely be an evening storm. They’re each learning to see and savor the beach. Just like I am.

Five Ways to Teach Them Beauty

As I watched this all unfold, I realized how badly I want them to be able to experience and enjoy God. I want them to see him in ways I was oblivious to for such a huge portion of my life. My eyes were glued to lesser things that seemed so big and wonderful at the time, until I finally exchanged the poor shadows and reflections for the true and full source of all beauty.
And yet so easily with my parenting, I slip into rules and lecturing that (in the words of my 10-year-old) “make God sound like a grumpy old man.” I hide the beauty and the wonder.
How do I avoid this? Here are some resolutions I’m working through as a mother.

1. Put before my children what is true and lovely and excellent.

Saturate their lives with God’s word and God’s creation. What I put before them is often more important than what I am not. It’s so easy to surround them with what’s mediocre, flashy and dumbed-down, and then wonder why they don’t respond to excellence when finally confronted with it.

2. Parent them like God parents me.

Am I parenting from God’s strength and grace, or from my emotions? My ultimate goal should be that my children desire to do what is good and right and excellent because that’s who God is, not just because I say so. Yes, children need to learn obedience and boundaries before they can enjoy freedom, but they are never too young to learn beauty.

3. Teach them and show them how everything points to God.

Teach them about beauty that makes our soul soar, and about ugliness that makes our soul ache. It could be the sunset, or an artistic masterpiece, or Greek mythology with its capricious and temperamental gods, or a musician singing about sorrow or longing, or a movie that make us laugh, or well-written literature about the triumph of good over evil. It all points to God.
And don’t waste the ugliness that ends up before them, because it can make the beauty that much clearer. Point it out if needed, and talk about it with them. The goal isn’t developing cynicism, but identifying truth and valuing beauty. If we’re regularly showing them beauty and excellence, it quickly becomes easier to identify a counterfeit.
We might talk about why an overheard word is wrong, or why acts of violence in our world are so contrary to God’s character, or what that TV commercial is trying to sell us and how. The light shines through far brighter in the darkness. Use discretion, but make sure they understand that it’s the gates of hell that shall not prevail against Christ and his church—not the other way around.

4. Stop relying on someone else to do the majority of this for me.

God has not given this particular job first to teachers, or Christian radio, or even our church. God entrusted these sons and daughters to my husband and me. Teaching them should be a constant, intentional, organic process in our home and outside of it—at times, requiring surprisingly few words.
Point out God’s handiwork in how plants grow and in the beauty of nature. Pray together and often, and about lots of things. Read God’s word, and memorize it together. Lead them to the source. Resist the urge to lecture or package it up into entertaining little child-friendly snippets, while underestimating the power that simply God’s word and his creation can have on a child over time. Let the Holy Spirit work. Allow them to experience the wonder and joy of God as he wants them to see it, not the weariness that can so easily come when I hit them over the head with God’s truth as I want them to see it.

5. Enjoy God in my own life and allow them to witness it.

Don’t focus so much on my children’s souls that I neglect my own. How can I point out beauty to them if I can’t see it myself? Why would they yearn for the joy of knowing God if that joy is not evident in me? My life needs to revolve around Christ, not my children. I can parent far better when my heart is set on him first.
I’m slowly learning this in my own life. I’m learning how to see and savor God in the peaceful moments, as well as in the chaos. But knowing God isn’t a journey we begin once we’ve hit adulthood; it’s one we embark on the second we can see, and hear, and smell, and taste, and touch.
My children belong to God, not to me, and they were created to know and enjoy their Maker in the same way I do. We are on that journey together. My job as their parent is to point them to their Father, teach them to truly see him and help them grasp their need for a Savior. That is why we teach them “beautiful”—because there is nothing more beautiful than the cross and the One it purchased for us—the One whom every other beautiful thing reflects.

John Piper’s Funeral Prayer for a Family of Five Preparing to Be Missionaries to Japan

John Piper’s Funeral Prayer for a Family of Five Preparing to Be Missionaries to Japan

large_john-piper-s-funeral-prayer-for-a-family-of-five-jkyb9lzx
“And we praise you that they did finish it—like your apostle Paul who wrote from Rome, ‘I have finished my course,’ though he never got to Spain.”
Last Sunday morning, at around 11:30, an entire family entered heaven together.
Jamison and Kathryne Pals and their small children were driving from Minneapolis to Colorado for final preparations as missionaries to Japan. They planned to leave in October. But in an interstate construction zone in western Nebraska, a semi-truck rear-ended the family’s vehicle.
Tragically, the entire family died at the scene, including Jamison and Kathryne, both 29, and their three young children, 3-year-old Ezra, 23-month-old Violet and 2-month-old Calvin.
The 53-year-old trucker was arrested and charged with five counts of felony motor vehicle homicide.
Today, the faith and obedience of Jamison and Kathryne Pals was celebrated at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. John Piper was asked to deliver the pastoral prayer. Here’s what he said.

O Lord, God of might and mercy and mystery, you have driven the arrows of your quiver into the breast of your people, your beloved. You have filled our throat with bitterness and gall. You have made our teeth grind on gravel, and laid us down with wounds in the ashes of dreams.
You have taken away our sleep, and replaced our gladness with groaning. You have covered us with the shadows of those we love, and we have reached out in vain to touch their bodies.
Happiness has left through the window where the rain pours in, peace has put her hand on the latch, and endurance wavers at the threshold of our soul.
A voice is heard, like Rachel’s—lamentation and bitter weeping. Where is the comfort for her children, because they are no more. You have spared us—us who have lived out our days through no merit of our own, who would happily have finished our course and taken their place, but you have not spared the children, or the valiant, young lovers and your most loyal servants.
O Lord, our eyes are on you. We do not look to another for hope. To you alone. To you we cry. Remember our affliction, remember the bitter wormwood and the gall! You have not made us drink this cup in vain.
This we call to mind, and therefore we have hope: Your steadfast love, O LORD, never ceases; your mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. You alone, O Lord, are our portion, therefore we will hope in you.
You are good to those who wait for you, to the soul who seeks you. You are good today. You were good last Sunday. We are waiting, we are looking for the salvation of the Lord. We are not running from the yoke of this dark providence, or throwing off the burden of your good sovereignty. But we are waiting, and looking, for the yoke to be made easy and the burden light.
You do not hide yourself forever. Though you cause grief, you will have compassion, according to the abundance of your steadfast love; for you do not afflict from your heart, or grieve the children of men.
We know your heart, O God. For there is nothing in the world more bright, more blazing, more terrible, more beautiful, more bloody, more hopeful, than the revelation of your heart in the death and triumph of your Son, Jesus.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This is the great and glorious Rock where we stand—or lie prostrate—and on which we give thanks for the lives of Jamison and Kathryne and Ezra and Violet and Calvin, who did not count their lives to be more valuable than obedience.
We praise you that they did not snatch a few vain years of life on this earth in exchange for allegiance to their King, but set their faces, like flint, toward Japan and the finishing of their course and the ministry they had received from the Lord Jesus.
And we praise you that they did finish it—like your apostle Paul who wrote from Rome, “I have finished my course,” though he never got to Spain.
We stand on this mighty Rock of Christ, and his shed blood for our sins, and for the sins of the Pals family, and on his victorious triumph over death. And standing on this Rock we pray…
For these parents—grandparents, great-grandparents—who sit with pieces of thread in their hands from a fabric of life woven from the womb, and then consumed. Father, we ask that you would sustain in their hearts an unshakeable confidence that the countless hours of investment in Jamison and Kathryne and the children were not in vain. Because your promise in 1 Corinthians 15:58 that their labors were not in vain is built with a mighty “therefore” on the massive foundation of the greatest chapter in the Bible about the blood-bought resurrection of Christ and his people from the dead.
And we pray for these brothers and sisters of Jamison and Kathryne that in spite of the sudden and horrific severing of priceless sibling ties they will feel the unbreakable bond that binds them still through the brotherhood of Jesus, who said, “Who are my brothers and sisters? Here are my brothers and sisters! Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” Lord, cause this family to know and feel: This circle is not broken.
And we pray for these cousins—the children. O God, make the risen, living, reigning Jesus real to them. And as they taste what we could wish no child would have to taste, grant them to know and feel that in the arms of Jesus all are well, for he did not promise, “I will be with you to the end of your life,” but “to the end of the age.” In death and life.
And we pray for the young people who remain—in this church and throughout the world—that they may find the love of their lives—their Kathryne, their Jamison—and embrace together the second proposal Jamison made—to lead the family in obedience—“whether it is life or death or discomfort or disappointment…to take up our cross—just as he did—to suffer and die” (April 15). Lord, in the name of Jesus, and by the blood of these five, I ask, raise up—raise up!—a legion of replacements for the global glory of his imperial Majesty, Jesus Christ. Forbid that any of your children would hear of this news, and waste their lives on trifles.
And we pray, Father, for Tony Weekly, whose head is covered with shame and whose hands are stained with blood. The heart of this family is not a vengeful heart. We pray that Mr. Weekly will find the one and only remedy for shame and guilt, Jesus. And we ask that, in time, through Christ, he would make his way to heaven, and know the indescribable miracle of reconciliation with those already there.
And finally, we pray for Japan, that the great idols of gold and silver and material success would fall before the blood of this family—that these five, even these three little ones, who have now grown to the fullness of their glory and the perfection of beauty, not through the trials of three score and ten, but in the twinkling of an eye—that these all—all five—might be found among the champions of the victory of the gospel in Japan.
In the name of Jesus and for his glory, Amen.