parenting displays the gospel…

Tim Keller writes of the substitutionary sacrifice of parenting in his book King’s Cross.

If God is really a loving God, why doesn’t he just forgive everybody? Why did Jesus have to go through suffering into death? Why did he have to be a ransom?

Here’s the beginning of an answer: Jesus didn’t have to die despite God’s love; he had to die because of God’s love. And it had to be this way because all life-changing love is substitutionary sacrifice…

Think about a dramatic example of substitutionary sacrifice – parenting. When you have children, they’re in a state of dependency. They have so many needs; they can’t stand on their own. And they will not just grow out of their dependency automatically. The only way that your children will grow beyond their dependency into self-sufficient adults is for you to essentially abandon your own independence for twenty years or so. When they are young, for example, you’ve got to read to them and read to them – otherwise they won’t develop intellectually. Lots of their books will be boring to you. And you have to listen to your children, and keep listening as they say all kinds of things that make for less than scintillating conversation.

And then there’s dressing, bathing, feeding, and teaching them to do these things for themselves. Furthermore, children need about five affirmations for every criticism they hear from you. Unless you sacrifice much of your freedom and a good bit of your time, your children will not grow up healthy and equipped to function. Unfortunately, there are plenty of parents who just won’t do it. They won’t disrupt their lives that much; they won’t pour themselves into their children. They won’t make the sacrifice. And their kids grow up physically, but they’re still children emotionally – needy, vulnerable, and dependent. Think about it this way: You can make the sacrifice, or they’re going to make the sacrifice. It’s them or you. Either you suffer temporarily and in a redemptive way, or they’re going to suffer tragically, in a wasteful and destructive way. It’s at least partly up to you.

All real, life-changing love is substitutionary sacrifice…Therefore it makes sense that a God who is more loving than you and I, a God who comes into the world to deal with the ultimate evil, the ultimate sin, would have to make a substitutionary sacrifice.

These are insightful words as we remember the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus, and the sacrifice he calls us to as his disciples.

Why Parent and Child Dedication?

pcd-header

It has become an annual tradition in our church to dedicate young children and their parents on Mother’s Day. But why do we do this? In Psalm 78, we see that it is God’s desire for every generation to know and trust Him.

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.
Psalm 78:5-7

These verses command parents to teach their children God’s ways, and indeed this is a weighty responsibility. The primary context for children learning about God is through the loving care of godly parents. Discipleship of children happens in the planned moments as parents share the truths of the Bible, and it also happens in the unplanned moments of life; in the car driving around town, at the child’s bedside, and at the dinner table. While Psalm 78 is clear about this parental responsibility, it doesn’t leave parents alone with this great task. This charge from Psalm 78 is given in the context of the believing community – discipling children is a community project and the role of the entire church! Psalm 78 sets the backdrop for why we do Parent and Child Dedication at our church. First, parents stand before the church to dedicate their children to God: “God, all we have–even our children– belongs to you.” Secondly, parents dedicate themselves to God, recognizing their God-given responsibility as parents. Third, parents come before the believing community to ask for help in raising our children.

On the second Sunday of May, we will do more than ooh and aah over the cute babies standing at the front of the sanctuary. We, as a church family, will pledge our allegiance and support to these families. We will covenant with them to do all that is within our power to teach these children the gospel, and by our example we will demonstrate to these young children what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. We will commit to pray for these young hearts, and we will yearn for them to know Christ as their personal Savior.

Join us on May 11 to pledge your support to these families. And, yes, we can ooh and aah a little too.

When is Easter?

tomb“Do you know when Easter is this year?” This seems to be the question that we ask, each year. I was talking with a dad just yesterday and he mentioned how he wished someone would just set the Easter date (“let’s just go with the 2nd weekend of April”). Easter is one of the major events on the yearly Christian calendar, and yet we often wonder what part of the calendar. You will hear believers say things like, “Easter just slipped up on me this year.” Contrast that with Christmas, whether it’s the year 2014 or the year 2514, we know that Christmas Day is going to on December 25th. And that seems to help us as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Christ. We decorate our homes with Christmas trees, stockings, and nativity scenes that remind and prepare us for the special day. We read Bible stories to our children and we fill with anticipation during the Advent season.

Christmas is certainly a significant holiday in the life of the church and the believer as we celebrate the incarnation of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Equally important is Easter, as we celebrate the sacrificial death and resurrection of this incarnate One. The Apostle Paul writes about the significance of Jesus’ resurrection in and its significance in the life of every believer in 1 Corinthians 15,

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. (verses 12-14; emphasis mine)

Because the resurrection of Jesus is as significant as his incarnation, how can we prepare ourselves and families for the Easter holiday? How can we be intentional this year and not let this Easter Sunday “slip up on us?” One CSBC family has been using The Messiah Mystery, a curriculum written by Barbara Rainey of Family Life, to prepare for Easter. They have been blogging about their experience – check out these posts, part 1 and part 2.

I would encourage you to spend some time in the coming weeks to consider your faith and the sacrifice of Jesus. If you have children or grandchildren, how can you use the coming weeks to tell them of the amazing love of God that he would send his Son to die for us?