Is Parental Idolatry Real?

If you’re a parent, it is highly likely that you have suffered, and may still be suffering, from parental idolatry. And if you are not a parent, this still will be helpful for you to consider because you may be ruled by your reputation in some other area of life. We all desire to be successful. We also can easily be oppressed by thoughts of what others think of us. Today, a friend brought this article to my attention. I think its worth sharing here…

Friday, May 03, 2013

“The Idol of Success”
by Paul Tripp

I listened as the father said to me in the presence of his teenage son, “Do you know what it’s like to go to church and know that everyone there has been talking about and praying for your rebellious son? Do you know what it’s like to enter a service with all eyes on you, knowing that people are wondering how it’s going and how you and your wife are coping?”

He continued. “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. We tried to faithfully do everything God called us to do as parents, and look what we ended up with! I ask myself, if I knew that this was the way it would all turn out, would we have ever chosen to have children? I can’t describe how disappointed and embarrassed I am.”

That afternoon, with his son listening, that father spoke what many parents have felt but never verbalized. You see, we tend to approach parenting with expectations as if we had hard-and-fast guarantees. We think that if we do our part, our children will become model citizens. We tend to approach parenting with a sense of ownership, that these are our children and their obedience is our right.

These assumptions pave the way for our identity to get wrapped up in our kids. We begin to need them to be what they should be so that we can feel a sense of achievement and success. We begin to look at our children as our trophies rather than God’s creatures. We secretly want to display them on the mantels of our lives as visible testimonies to a job well done.

When they fail to live up to our expectations, we find ourselves not grieving for them and fighting for them, but angry at them, fighting against them, and, in fact, grieving for ourselves and our loss. We’re angry because they’ve taken something valuable away from us, something we’ve come to treasure, something that has come to rule our hearts: a reputation for success.

It’s so easy to lose sight of the fact that these are God’s children. They don’t belong to us. They’re not given to bring us glory, but him. Our kids are from him, they exist through him, and the glory of their lives points to him. We’re only agents to accomplish his plans. We’re only instruments in his hands. Our identity is rooted in him and his call to us, not in our children and their performance.

As parents, we’re in trouble whenever we lose sight of these “vertical realities.” Whenever parenting is reduced to our hard work, the child’s performance, and the reputation of the family, it becomes very hard for us to respond with selfless faithfulness in the face of our child’s failure.

God-ordained moments of ministry will become moments of angry confrontation filled with words of judgment. Instead of leading our needy child to Christ once again, we’ll beat them with our words. Instead of loving, we’ll reject. Instead of speaking words of hope, we’ll condemn. Our feelings will be flooded much more with our own embarrassment, anger, and hurt than with grief over our wayward child’s standing with God.

I want to ask you today to be honest. Examine your own heart. Do you have an attitude of ownership and entitlement? Have you subtly become ruled by reputation? Are you oppressed by thoughts of what others think of you and your child? These questions – no, let me rephrase that – these idols need to be confronted if we’re ever going to be the parents that God has called us to be.

So be honest. Confess to areas of parental idolatry. But be filled with hope, because Christ died to break the back of our self-absorbed idolatry. God is intent on owning our hearts unchallenged. His goal is that our lives would be shaped by our worship of him and nothing else. And, hear this: while God is at work in your own heart, at the same time, he has sent you to be his ambassador in the heart of your child.

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Why Read the Bible Daily?

Believe it or not, everyone (even the most admirable Christians and Bible teachers) struggle to read the Bible daily. Desiring to read God’s Word does not come natural to anyone because desiring God is not in our nature. It is a desire we all have to battle daily to do. Reminding yourself why reading the Bible regularly is important is part of that battle. That’s why I found this article encouraging.

Five Promises for Your Bible Reading and Prayer

By Steve Fuller | Jan 14, 2013

Bible

Do you consistently seek God in the word and prayer? Or have you tried again and again, become discouraged, and given up? We are deep enough into January that this is the story for many us. Resolutions have began to stall. And even if you do get time with God, is it life-giving? Or is it just going through the motions, reading an assigned passage, praying through your list, and being relieved when it’s over?

It’s not too late to make some good changes. So if you are struggling to spend time with God, here are five promises that can help:

1. God Is My Exceeding Joy

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me … Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy. (Psalm 43:3–4)

God promises to be your exceeding joy, not because of what he gives, but because of who he is. When we behold and worship him we have infinitely more joy than we have in anything else.

So why would we rather sleep in than seek God? It’s because we’re not trusting that God is our exceeding joy. So what can we do?

Don’t just grit your teeth and try harder. Do what the psalmist says — ask God to send you his light (the heart-enlightening work of the Spirit) and his truth (the Word of God). Then pray over promises describing God as your joy, like Psalm 43:3–4; Psalm 16:11; Matthew 13:44; and 1 Peter 1:8.

As you do, God will send his light and truth so you see and feel that he really is your exceeding joy. Then, when you see that infinite joy is found in him, you’ll want to spend time with him.

2. Hearing God’s Word Will Increase My Faith

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Many mornings I’m tempted not to seek God because my faith feels weak. But that’s like not going to the doctor because my body feels sick. Just like doctors heal sick bodies, so God strengthens weak faith, as we hear his word.

Weak faith is like a weak battery. But God’s word is a battery charger. So when your faith is weak, open his word, and plug in your weak faith. God promises that as you do that, he will recharge you.

3. God’s Word Is the Only Perfect Source of Guidance

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

The world is like a pitch-black cave in which we can’t see anything. But God has given us the high-powered flashlight of his word.

So if we head into our day without pondering God’s word, it’s like stumbling through a cave without turning on the flashlight.

But starting the day in God’s Word is like turning on the flashlight, so we can see the crevice to avoid, the rock to duck under, the turn we want to take. Don’t head into your day without turning on the flashlight.

4. When You Pray, God Will Answer

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

One reason we don’t pray is because we believe Satan’s lie that prayer does nothing. But that’s not what Jesus taught (Matthew 7:7).

Jesus promises that every time we pray, God will answer. He will either do exactly what we ask, or something even better, which he would not have done had we not prayed.

So if I start the day praying about my heart, marriage, children, work, and ministry, then God will do things in my heart, marriage, children, work, and ministry that he would not have done had I not prayed. Trust Jesus’ promise about prayer — and pray.

5. This Is the One Thing Which Will Not Be Taken Away

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42)

Martha had busied herself in the kitchen, while Mary sat at Jesus’s feet, listening to his word. And Jesus said Mary had made the right choice, because she had chosen the one thing which could not be taken from her.

Everything else can be taken from you. But time with Jesus will never be taken from you, because the heart you nurture for Jesus now will bring you increased joy in him forever. And ever. And ever.

So if you haven’t spent time with God, and you are tempted with the newspaper, Facebook, or a phone call, stop. Ask yourself: what will bring me joy that will never be taken away?

Then set everything else aside to join Mary at Jesus’s feet, listening to his word.

Tomorrow Morning

The alarm goes off.

I’m tired. Maybe just a little more sleep. But wait. . .

God is inviting me to exceeding joy.
His word will strengthen my weak faith.
His word will shine light on the darkness around me.
When I pray, God will work.
This is the one thing that can’t be taken from me.
I think I’ll get up.