Mother's Day 2011
2 Timothy 1:5
“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”
You know you have turned into a mom when...
You automatically double-knot everything you tie.
You know you have turned into a mom when
You find yourself humming the Barney song as you are folding clothes.
You know you have turned into a mom when
You hear a baby cry in the grocery store, and you start to sway gently back and forth, back and forth, even though your children are grown.
You know you have turned into a Mom When
You actually start to like the smell of strained carrots mixed with applesauce.
You weep through the scene in Dumbo when his mom is taken away, and you never watch Bambi without a good cry.
You spend a half hour searching for your sunglasses only to have your teenager say, "Mom, why don't you wear the ones you pushed up on your head?"
You know you have turned into a mom when
You are out for a nice romantic meal with your husband, enjoying some real adult conversation, when suddenly you realize that you have reached over and started to cut up his steak.
Mothers are a major part of our lives. Obviously, we would not be who we are without our mothers. Of course, that can be good or bad. A few months ago, Amy Chua was in the news as the most famous or infamous mom in the world.
Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School. “On Jan. 8, the Wall Street Journal published an essay she wrote headlined 'Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,' in which she discussed her approach to child rearing. Her kids, Louisa and Sophia, were never allowed to have playdates, watch TV or get anything less than A's in school. They played instruments of her choosing (piano, violin) and practiced for hours under close watch. If they resisted, she pounced: at one moment she called her daughter 'garbage,' in another 'pathetic.'”
[Time Magazine: Tiger Mother': Are Chinese Moms Really So Different? By Emily Rauhala / Hong Kong Friday, Jan. 14, 2011]
Professor Chua called herself a “Tiger Mother.” Her super-strict parenting philosophy stirred up the whole nation. She questioned our parenting, our kids' educational achievement, and our nation's ability to compete in today's world. I do not admire her methods, but I admire her commitment to her children. Unfortunately, she seems not to give any thought to the spiritual component of her children’s education. That is important. That is just as important as learning to play the piano.
There is immense value in a godly upbringing. Many a Christian mother has been used by the Lord to plant spiritual seeds that produce good Christian lives. They do this not so much by their talk as by their walk. They live out Biblical principles that are reproduced in the lives of their children.
Of course, we should all be doing this, not just mothers. The Bible gives us instruction on how to live in such a way that would show others the abundant life promised in Christ. Influential mothers and fathers who want to be Christian role models should remember this advice from Philippians:
(3) Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
(4) Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
(5) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (2:3-5).
A Parent needs, above all, the humility of Christ flowing in and through them. A Christian mother who has been taught of the Lord on how to apply this principle of child rearing will know the joy of sacrificial living. The Holy Spirit has taught her the difference between working to get ahead in life and of working for the good of others. This Christian mother will train, equip and care for herself in a way that benefits the family. A mother of godly influence works to keep herself healthy, alert and well equipped for the work God has laid before her.
She asks herself this question, “Will what I am doing help with the Christian upbringing of our children or will it keep us too busy for the things of God?” Many a Christian mother has done without in order to benefit her children, to ensure that her children are being brought up in the faith as Timothy’s mother and grandmother did. 2 Timothy 1:5 describes the sincere faith that Timothy's grandmother Lois had. His mother Eunice had this same kind of faith, and Timothy also.
Rev. D. E. Bison remembers how his mother lived a God fearing life before her children. She made the time to teach him to pray and made sure he learned about Jesus. She denied herself in order to have the finances and especially the time to help oversee the spiritual training of her children. When he grew up he did what many have done, he walked away from the teachings and the Christian example of his mother. After being beaten to the point of unconsciousness, he found himself lying in the hospital bed in a Juvenile Hall in California, scared to death. It was at that time he remembered the teaching of his mother about prayer and the Word of God, and he prayed desperately. He is now a pastor of a church and he makes this plea to all mothers on this Mother’s Day, “Mothers, turn off the television; turn away from worldly distractions, make time to plant seeds; lay a foundation for your child in Christ.”
Be supportive parents. Proverbs says, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (15:4). Contrary to Amy Chua, Kids need a kind word. Plenty of people beat them down. They need to be lifted up. Kids can be ruthless to each other; they tear into each other and tear each other down. The last thing your child needs to hear when they come home is “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” That is not true. A broken bone heals faster than a broken spirit. Mothers who are guided by the Holy Spirit will see failures as opportunities for giving words that can heal.
There is a Peanuts cartoon in which the little red-haired girl calls Charlie Brown on the phone and says, “Hey, Chuck, guess what? I am running for queen of the month of May at our school.” Charlie Brown says, “That is interesting, Lucy has already been chosen queen of May at our school. She is standing here right now wearing her crown.” The little re-haired girl comes right back with a put-down, saying, “Your school has pretty low standards, Chuck!” Then Charlie Brown, with kindness and tact, turns to Lucy and says, “Lucy, she says Congratulations.” Charlie Brown was right; Lucy heard what she needed to hear.
As children start to grow up and encounter other people's criticisms, they soon realize that they do not measure up to other people’s standards. They need to understand that does not matter. They need words of support from their closest ally, from mom.
Christian mothers take such times to tell their children that they are brothers and sisters of Christ. They are children of God who live in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every child is a miracle of God. Every child can mature into a unique person with gifts and talents to use for the Kingdom of God. We make a mistake if we do too much comparing of children. One child may be talented physically, may be a great runner; another child may have great musical talent; still a third may be a fantastic mathematician. Who is the best child? There is no best. Each has, as I said, unique talents and gifts from God. When children find their identity in Christ and what the Lord has called them to do, they overcome the anxiety and the frustration that can come with trying to measure up to other people’s standards.
Christian mothers, through their support and sympathy, have the power of positive influence. Romans says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (2:15). Of course, Paul is talking about all Christians, but his advice especially applies to mothers. They should share in the rejoicing and mourning of their children. Jesus is our example, he wept with those who wept over Lazarus (John 11:35) and he rejoiced over Zacchaeus (Luke 19:9)
The most influential mothers are those who grieve when their children grieve and rejoice when their children are rejoicing. A few years ago at Synod, I had the privilege to meet Dan McManus. He shared the testimony of a time when his mother’s tears really comforted him. Several weeks before he started first grade Dan broke his ankle. His dad rescued him and took him home. His dad figured that it was just badly sprained so he did not take Dan to the hospital until the next day. Dan’s mom was working late at the grocery store, and it was somewhat late into the night before he saw his mother. When she walked into his bedroom, Dan was crying. The first words out of his mother’s mouth were not “How did this happen” or “Dad, why didn’t you take Dan to the hospital?” Rather her first words came with tears, “Oh, sweetheart, I’m so sorry.” Her words comforted him.
We all need a mother's words of comfort sometimes, but, having said that, we also need a mother's words of truth. Proverbs says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (27:6)--which means that a true friend can sometimes say hard truths to us. Mother should be our best friend, and sometimes, mothers need to be candid and frank, leveling with their children, telling them when they are going the wrong way, when they are letting the sins of the flesh, the lures of the world, and the lies of Satan overcome them.
Probably you have seen the bumper sticker that says, “Real friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” Real mothers do not knowingly let children make mistakes that can ruin their lives. A mother should do all she can to stop children from driving through life under the influence of the flesh, the world, and the devil.
No one wants or needs a physician who will sugar coat the problem. Our doctors are taught to speak authoritatively, to say, “You must take this pill or you must have that surgery.” Mothers who are real friends spell out the danger of spiritual heart disease; they point their children toward a life in Jesus.
But this does not mean that they are always lecturing their children about religion. Galatians says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (6:10). Emphasize the phrase, “as we have opportunity.” Most of us have heard the term, “Teachable Moment.” Every moment is not a teachable moment. Some mothers do not seem to realize this. They are constantly nagging at their kids about this or that or t'other. and not having any influence at all.
Mothers need to look for opportunities to make a point, to be a good influence. For example, perhaps there is a new film out, and everyone is saying, “You have got to see this.” In this day and age, you can find out a lot about a film without seeing it. So find out about it, and if it is not appropriate, discuss that with the children. Tell them why it is not appropriate, why you would rather they not see it.
This is not to say that all movies are bad, or all books or all video games or all music or all friends, but some certainly are, and if a mother decides that a given activity is wrong for her kids, she needs to act like the parent. She has to be the adult, and say no we are not going to do this.
And she should point them to other activities. That is what the Apostle Paul is doing in Philippians when he says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8 ).
Furthermore, parents should seize the moment to get their children to ask questions. So many times, it seems kids act mindlessly, and then they wonder why they are in trouble. They need to be taught to think about what they are doing. Parents should seize the opportunity to encourage children to reflect on their lives and on how they can serve God.
In Closing: Mothers who raise their children as Timothy’s mother and grandmother did will find God’s Holy Spirit working in the lives of their children. Those children will be moved upon by God and will have a fabulous life in Jesus Christ. However, I do not want to overdo or overemphasis the influence of a parent. The child’s will also comes into play. Mothers will not be held accountable for all decisions made by their children, but they will give an accounting on the Day of Judgment for how they lived their Christianity before their children.
However, in a sense they already have their reward. Influential mothers know the joy and fulfillment that comes with rejoicing and mourning with their children. They also have the courage to correct and guide their children. They are spontaneous in their teaching, and seize opportunities to get their children to think about God.
A couple of years ago, the ARP Magazine carried a story about a Union chaplain who visited a severely wounded Confederate prisoner, during the Civil War. When it came time to pray, the chaplain was surprised that the soldier did not make the usual request, which was to petition God for a speedy recovery. His request was a prayer of thankfulness for his mother. The soldier wanted a prayer of praise and gratitude for a Christian parent. He appreciated the sacrifice his mother made for him; he appreciated her godly life. The story does not have a happy ending. Not long after this prayer of praise, the Confederate soldier died, but still his prayer is a lesson to us. We all ought to thank God for mothers who gave us birth, who raised us, who prayed for us, who always wanted the best for us. God bless them all.
If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant
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