Tuesday, May 21, 2013

PARENTS: Widen the Circle: 1a

Widen the Circle: 1a (of Godly Influence over my children)

We have all heard, "it takes a village" to raise a family. Well, there are parts of that phrase I believe, obviously, but other parts I disagree with. I would better state my intentions as a Christian Father over 5 children of different ages, stages and personalities that, "it takes the right village" to raise a family, in the right way. Therefore, we look at the topic of Widen the Circle. 

In this post I want to share a few basic ideas that can lead to a great "widen the circle" effort. When sharing with parents about my own kids, I am careful  not to take the credit and to make it known that many people had a hand in building the children and teens we now see before us. Just tonight, while walking through the my least favorite Wal Mart we ran into an amazing lady who tutors my youngest son in kindergarten. Mrs. H, is a wonderful lady, with her own parenting questions and struggles, but also with a mountain of grace and love, and professional skills that she spends on my son every week. My little guy, Elias, has challenges that make learning difficult, he is blind in one eye and legally blind in the other. Mrs. H made every effort to help him learn and loved him like a mother, she is forever part of the "Circle" that influenced Eli to succeed. NOTE: The wrong tutor, with the wrong attitude, wrong skills or wrong heart, would have been the wrong part of our circle. This leads me the topics for the day. 

Widen the Circle: BY PRAYER (hear and do what God says)
Widen the Circle: BY BUILDING YOUR TEAM (relational triangle)
Widen the Circle: BY JOINING FAITH BASED SMALL GROUPS (the right village) 


Widen the Circle: BY PRAYER (hear and do what God says)

There are no suggestions, ideas, insights, tools, tricks or formulas I can give that work better than prayer. There are assumptions around this idea, I understand that. Matthew 21:13 tells us, "It is written....My house will be called a house of prayer...." So, why not jump on board with Jesus and make your house a house of prayer, but before you get started, let's be honest about these assumptions.....

This assumes we have a relationship with Christ. 
This assumes we have the conviction to pray regularly. 
This assumes we have the faith to believe those prayers. 
This assumes we have the tenacity to keep praying.  
This assumes we are the kind of parent who knows how to pray to begin with. 

So, can THIS "Widen the Circle" strategy go wrong in your home or mine, you bet. It's like shooting free throws. Most people can hit one or two, maybe even three in a row, but few have the experience, skill and confidence to hit more than that, consistently, predictably. 

Prayer is like this for most of us. We pray a few times, but rarely pray it through until we can "step to the line" so to speak, and hit the shot most of the time. So, what's the problem......Well, when we are shooting free throws, there is no real problem. But, when you are talking about effective prayer that causes real results in the lives of our kids, missing the shot can be a huge problem. 


PRAYER = Philippians 1:9 "And this is my prayer, that (My Children's) love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that (My Children) may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God." 

Let me get on my soapbox for a few minutes
Doctors go to 8+ years of school, do a residency and get cutting edge training before sticking a scalpel to someone's chest, he does not "think" he knows what he is doing, he "knows" that he knows what he is doing. 

Airline Pilots put in hundreds of hours of flight time, without 200 passengers on board, in order to perfect take offs and landings. By the time the people climb aboard, the pilot "knows" that he knows what he is doing. 

Why is it that parents, me included, when faced with the sobering responsibility of raising kids, will sometimes just shoot from the hip. We take what is the most precious gift God has ever given us, our kids, and "try" to be good parents. I find this troubling, very troubling, so, for me and for you, let this challenge ring loud in our hearts....PRAY, LISTEN, PRAY, OBEY AND PRAY AGAIN, then PRAY SOME MORE.  

Pray over them for protection. 
Pray over them for wisdom. 
Pray over the friendships they make. 
Pray over the teachers and coaches they will have. 
Pray over the habits and hobbies they will invest into. 
Pray over their eyes, ears and words. 
Pray over their heart and choices. 

PRAYER = Psalm 112:2 "Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed." 

Soapbox dismounted

ACTION ITEM: If your child's birthday is April 6th, set a reminder to pray for that child every month on the 6th. Fast breakfast and lunch, write prayer scriptures on a 3x5 card or make a prayer scripture note on your smart-phone and take 15-30 minutes to pray for them instead of eating. On that day, try to really consider what is going on in their life, who they hang around with, how school and sports are going, etc...and listen to anything God might want you to change. 

REMINDER: You are the parent, you are called by God to say Yes and No, to make good choices for your child, not to do what your child says they want to do. Pray with Compassion, Pray with Faith, and just Pray......when you hear God about how to "Widen the Circle" of Godly influence over your children, follow that voice, not the voice of popular culture, status or fun. 

This leads us to our next blog entry regarding the next foundational idea about how to "Widen the Circle" - Building Your Team......next time...

PRAYER = Psalm 17:6 "I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer."

Billy Ramsdell

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