Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ethan, nurtured and admonished

4:03 p.m. Today's project was to use my 50% off coupon at Berean Christian Store in Riverside. Steve was here with his caregiver, mowing lawns and walking the dog. When I left, they were playing Wii bowling!

I needed to find gifts for my dad, Steve, and one son-in-law. But after my daughter told me he didn't want anything, I figured that the very modest gift I got him, plus one more item all the guys in the family are getting, I'd make my dollars stretch for Daddy and Steve.

First, it took me quite a while to search the recent bestsellers for one I haven't bought for them already. Then I popped over to the Bible study group resources, where I saw three copies of my book Galatians: An Exploration of Faith & Freedom, on the shelf among books by very famous authors! I can't remember how many copies the manager purchased during my book signing, but am glad to know that it's selling.

My choices were a daily devotional for my dad, along with a book, for my first trip to the checkout counter with sale items. Then I went to use my "50% off any apparel" coupon to find an inspiring NOTW ("Not of This World") t-shirt for Steve, full of scriptural artwork. As I took my place in line, I heard a young dad behind me calling his little boy, "Ethan, come over here," and then "Ethan, leave that alone, and come over here," a little more firmly, but in a calm assured manner that was totally commendable, and fully expectant of obedience. "Ethan" sounded and looked to be about three, and did come over by his dad. Naturally, the little guy began taking nearby low-hanging items off of their hanging tabs, and was showing them to his dad.

"Make sure you hang those back up."
"I just want to show you, Dad."
"I can see it from here while you hang it up."

Then in a conversation that assured me that this little boy was being raised to know Jesus, Ethan pointed to what must have been a picture of Calvary, and said,

"Is that Jesus on the cross?"
"Yes it is."
"Is He ready to come down now?" [Now that was kind of tricky; that could have called for a complicated answer for the little guy. I was dying to hear what the dad would say!]
"Yes, He is."
"Oh. Who are the other crosses for?"
"Two other guys."
"Why aren't they still there?" [Another interesting answer called for: how do you explain that they're not the focus of the painting; or, that they'd already died and been taken down, to a three year old? No one says that parenting is easy!]
"They're just gone now." [I was now waiting for 10 follow-up questions, having raised five 3 year-olds of my own!]
"Oh." [Ethan just knew that Dad had the right answer!]
"Now you make sure that you put that back the same way it was."

Unbeknownst to him, what a blessing this young dad was to me, demonstrating that there are excellent parents in this generation who are being obedient to Christ, relying on the Holy Spirit to guide them in raising their children. There was no self-consciousness on the dad's part, no worry about which disciplinary step to take next, no fanfare, yelling, or letting his son get out of control in the store. The father simply expected his son to obey him!

What a picture of God the Son obeying God the Father to complete the plan of salvation by going to the Cross! Hebrews 5:8 explains of Jesus,

...though He was a Son, He learned obedience by the things that He suffered.

There is no doubt at all that the son and father behind me loved one another, and that Ethan was being nurtured by his parents in a godly home. But, as the dad demonstrated, the other part of parenting is firm, consistent discipline with actual consequences that are clear to the child. So the parent admonishes, or seriously warns, the child who is tempted to do wrong. Today's scenario at Berean was the perfect example of Ephesians 6:4:

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

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