“What Happens When You Don’t Go To Heaven?”

February 9, 2009 at 7:36 am (Biblei-Octopi, Parents) (, , , , , , )

So, tonight we are reading a passage in a “children’s” Bible – you’ve probably read one with your kids – condensed message that outlines a bible story without a whole lot of details. Tonight’s story was about some friends who brought a blind man to Jesus to be healed and through the passage I was discussing with my 6 year old daughter and 3 year old son how important it is to choose and be a good friends.

I don’t recall how, but the conversation progressed into believing about Jesus and somewhere in there my daughter asked, “So what happens when you don’t go to heaven?”

I should preface by saying that my wife and I have a strong commitment to the principles of 1) being available to discuss ANY topic with our children and 2) not glossing over the truth but working to help our kids understand truth to the best of their ability to comprehend. The topics of hell and sex are obviously some of the biggest challenges to these principles, but here we are in real time.

“Well, heaven is where Jesus is, where those who believe in Him get to live with Him forever. When you don’t believe in Jesus, you go to a place called hell, that is where Jesus is not and it is not a very nice place at all. Those that do not believe in Jesus have to go to hell, where they will not be with Jeuse, they will be with the devil.”

6 year old daughter: “What does the devil look like?” (Note, this is a 6 year old and the progression of questions are quite logical but also reveal an exposure to spiritual topics and a hunger for truth)

“Well, he probably is very beautiful to some degree as he was created by God and had a very important job but decided that he wanted to be like God. Since only God can be God and the devil had decided to do something other than what God had created him for he had to be sent out of heaven.”

6: “Isn’t the devil red?”

“No, that is an incorrect creation of people, similar to many of our religious images (talked about the wimpy images of Jesus).”

6: “Did great grandpa go to heaven?”

“I didn’t know great grandpa really well and only Jesus decides who goes to heaven. From what I understand of great grandpa I don’t think that Jesus was a priority for him, I don’t know that he believed in Jesus.”

6: “So then he didn’t go to heaven?”

“I don’t know for sure because I didn’t know him but it would depend on whether he believed in Jesus.”

I don’t remember just how she worded it, but she mentioned something about when we die we our eyes are closed so we can’t see in heaven. We talked about physical bodies and spiritual bodies, I turned to Philippians 3:20, 21 and we discussed that we will have perfected physical bodies. Since the word transform was in the text and my children are quite familiar with Transformers, I used that as a discussion point to talk about transformation through Christ.

Some nights we have good discussions. Some nights the discussions are brief. I think the important thing is that there is an open format for spiritual discussion and when times like these come along, there isn’t a fear of diving into difficult topics. Tonight was about 45 minutes of deep topics all centering around heaven, hell and death.

As my wife and I were reflecting on the conversation, we were discussing the natural consequences of our commitments and the deeper truth that was revealed by our 6 year old. We were enlightened to just how much of a hunger for truth our 6 year old daughter was displaying, just how logically she was processing the information (granted, 6 year old logic, but none the less logical) but also the reality that she is receiving information that is of a spiritual nature with or without us. If we do not create an open door for our children to discuss ANY topic they will find some other source to feed them information about those topics. If we are not honest with our children, they will not get the information that they yearn for as they search for truth and the trust they have in us as a conduit for truth will deteriorate over time.

If you didn’t catch that, let me sum it up: IF YOU AREN’T DISCUSSING (fill in blank) WITH YOUR CHILD, SOMEONE ELSE IS. If you aren’t discussing spiritual things or sexual things or any other thing with your child, then someone else will and they probably won’t be framing topic in the proper moral context.

A resource that has been pivotal in changing our mindset towards youth ministry and parenting has been “You Want To Pierce What?” by Walker Moore (available as a book and/or movie presentation). We were so blessed when we were working with youth to have attended a presentation at a SBC Youth Conference where Walker presented his ideas. What struck us was that you could tell Walker had put his time in understanding how not just to create a successful youth group but how to actually help youth develop into spiritually functioning adults.

Last I checked on Amazon there were 6 avaliable (92 cents plus shipping) – type in “You Want To Pierce What?”

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Why Can’t We Be Friends?

December 19, 2008 at 5:56 am (Parents) (, , )

Pinnochios Bad Friends

Pinnochio's Bad Friends

The prayer of every parent should be that their children will choose good friends. I believe that a significant part of this is due to self-confidence, which we as parents play a role in the development of. A child who isn’t self confident will be more likely to select the friends who select them or whomever is available (regardless of their quality).

There are obviously several factors that go into this development, but I think some of the items I have noticed are:

1) Discipline: While I have strong convictions about means of discipline, I believe that the most basic and essential is consistency. If you are not consistent in your approach to discipline then there is confusion and frustration with boundaries and consequences. A child’s ability to do right and please his parents hinge on their ability to comprehend and comply with the rules. If you are skilfull and consistent in your discipline then you help your children to develop a clear understanding of right/wrong, consequences, moral processing and satisfaction in doing right.

2) Self-Sufficiency: As a child matures in their ability to process and internalize making right choices then you as a parent begin to expand the boundary in which they are enabled to take increased personal responsibility for their own decisions. As a parent, the goal is to bring your children to a point where they are equipped to sustain themselves and make their own decisions (be a functioning adult). Clear foundations for right/wrong, consistent discipline and positive reinforcement allow a child to build within themselves a confidence for doing right.

There is a third thing, which is the basis for my writing this blurb, which recently grabbed my attention. My wife and I had been discussing how to address a developing acquaintance with a family that had a parenting outlook that was opposite to ours, especially in regards to discipline. The child was very unruly, disrespectful and arguably dangerous in his disregard for others. (In case you do not know me, I am a strong believer in the difference between boys and girls, I believe boys are appropriately different from girls and must be allowed to operate as such.) We came to realize that there is a dangerous line in allowing our kids to be around these kinds of children. If you expose your children to persons and other children, on a regular basis – as “friends”, who very obviously do not abide by the principles that you affirm then you are creating confusion. By inviting people into your life that are not of the quality that you esteem, you are creating an example in your actions that persons of lesser character can be our friends. By example you are doing the very thing that you will try to steer your children away from when they are older.

I realize in printing this some might filter this as a form of elitism, perhaps it is, but the weight of this decision is not based upon class or race or the like, the decision is based upon moral factors. Again, we are trying to teach our children that those who are going to be our friends should be of good moral character, persons who will encourage us to do the right things and people that will fight along beside us. Our friends, those whom we let closer to us than others, those we trust more than others, those who will have a more direct and personal access in our lives must be persons who will contribute value into our relationships. Isn’t this the definition of friend, a relationship of mutual and positive benefit?

In closing, I believe that some of the most important influences in my life have been my friends. I have been incredibly blessed to have the friends that I do. As a parent now I desire to instill in my children a friendship sensor that places a high value on quality relationships and recently I was confronted with just how easily we might be sending our children a small but contradictory message towards that pursuit. Something to consider

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The Waves…

August 31, 2007 at 8:30 am (Biblei-Octopi, Parents) (, , , )

I was reading Abbie’s Princess Bible (thank you Eydie) and we came to a passage discussing the disciples confrontation with the storm.  As you will remember, disciples and Jesus are on the boat, storm brews and slams the boat.  The disciples are freaking out while Jesus is napping.  They finally wake Jesus up and inform him about their impending doom.  Jesus calmly commands the waves and…their is peace.

Princess Bible pointed out that no matter what may happen in life, Jesus has the same control over all situations.  I thought this was a little odd for a devotional aimed at preschool girls, but it was a great point.  It’s so true, we run around like the world is collapsing and where is Jesus?  Probably napping!

I know, he never sleeps…but the truth that Christ can speak a word and the world comes into existence, demons leave a man troubled by legions, a girl gets up from her death bed and the waves stop (just to name a few).  We’ve recently embarked upon a few intimidating paths and it was good to be reminded of the power of Christ.

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