New Hope Notes
The Blessing Of Parenthood
Bless This Mess
Pastor Jon Burgess
The Blessing of Parenthood
Bless This Mess
Pastor Jon Burgess
May 11 & 12, 2019
Welcome, New Hope! How many are glad that our God makes miracles out of our messes? I’m so thankful for this series—Bless This Mess! It shows us how God brings His blessings into our messes!
Have you ever had a job where you had no experience before you were hired; no training before you were hired; and never allowed to quit—yet lives are hanging in the balance? Welcome to parenting—that’s exactly what parenting is! No one gives you any training about parenting.
I remember walking out the hospital with Elijah, our first child, thinking, “Really, is no one going to stop me? I have no idea what I’m doing! Someone should stop me. I don’t even know if I can get the seatbelt on right around Elijah, and you’re going to just send me home with this precious creation? It’s so nerve wracking!”
And that’s just the start, right, parents? That’s just the beginning of all the many opportunities when you realize, “I need help! Someone has to help me!” This goes from hard to impossible in 0-5 seconds; and, yet, God is saying, “Hey, I’ve gotcha. We’re going to do this together.”
Do you remember what an expert you were with your hypothetical children—before you were parents? Cyndi and I would go for walks; we’d see parents with their children; the children were acting up in stores; we’d say, “Oh, my goodness our kids will never do that!”
We saw that parents were letting their children eat junk food and stuff, and we’d be like, oh, my goodness, we would never feed our children that! We walk around as experts in parenting, until we have children; then, all of a sudden, we are ultimately humbled! Then it gradually degrades—like the law of diminishing returns!
With our first child, Elijah, everything has to be organic and well cooked, clean and sterilized; we’re just so careful! By the fifth child, we’re thinking if they’re eating Cheerios off the floor, we’re happy that they’re fed!
Remember when you started out as a parent, you have dulcet sweet tones, and you’re so careful, you don’t want to hurt or bruise their feelings, and you’re just so quiet, so gentle. By the fifth child, your parent voice is so loud, telling the kids, “Brush your teeth and go to bed!” And your neighbors are brushing their teeth and going to bed, and don’t even know why!
And there comes a day when you start out as a parent; then, one day thinking, this child could be the president of the United States! It kind of degrades to the point—I just want you to live through this day!
If there’s any place we need to invite God’s presence into our mess—it’s certainly in parenting! This is for everyone (whether your children are at home or are grown and out of the house); we are all speaking into the lives of others, and they are looking to us for an example!
Parenting is a burden if we try to do it on our own, but it becomes a blessing when we invite the Blesser to show us how to do it and renew our vision! A blessing is something we declare over the lives of the people that we are influencing.
It’s when we try and do it on our own that we really mess things up and get worn out! Some of us are just tired—just let me take a nap! But God is saying, “I want to give you more than just a nap; I want to give you restoration of vision, refreshing, and renewal!” God wants to speak into our life to remind us that parenting is a blessing when we let Him do the heavy lifting. That's exactly what God is showing us in this amazing psalm:
Psalm 127:1?5 NIV says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves. 3 Children are a heritage from the Lord (physical children or those you mentor), offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.”
This series is called Bless This Mess, but what does it mean to bless anyway? My definition that germinated in my heart is: A blessing is an invitation for the presence of God to be present in each and every one of my situations.
Just freshly invite God into the middle of your greatest struggles, biggest frustration, and deepest need, and you will experience blessing where there was burden; and release and refreshing when you felt like giving up!
God commanded Moses to commission the priests to bless the people whenever they were leaving the temple, to be a guide between now and the time they returned to the temple. Here’s The Priestly Blessing spoken over the people to bless them intentionally—not accidentally:
Numbers 6:22-27 NKJV says, “22 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: 24‘The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace. 27 “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
According to the New Testament [I Peter 2:9, “…you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood”] we, as believers, are the priesthood of God, and our job is to continue speaking the blessing over the people in our lives—not accidentally, not just when we feel like it—but all the time! I want you to walk out knowing that God looks at you as a priest of your home, that He has given you authority to speak the blessing of God over the people in your life, even your grown children. It starts with what we all need:
1. A Safe Space: Guarding (means there is someone on guard)
Numbers 6:22-24 says, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: 24 “The Lord bless you and keep you…” God wants to set a guard over our homes because we have an enemy that is seeking to tear our homes apart—he is after the family. Without families, the country could fall apart; and, currently, our country is falling apart! But I have good news for you we serve a God who never sleeps! Psalm 121:3 NKJV says, “…he that keeps you will not slumber.” God works the night shift! He covers us, and what we can't see, He sees! And you are the guard over your home and family—creating a safe place!
People will judge you because you put limits and set guards over your home. Even your children will say, "My friends can do that. Their parents let them go and do that, etc." But you're not responsible for their friends. The reality of parenting is that God has given us the responsibility of setting limits. I call it fences with freedom. Don't worry about what the other parents are doing. Do what God is asking you to do. And if you're wondering what God is asking you to do, ask Him. Seriously, the only way that we've made it this far and our children are still alive is because we realize that God wants to partner with us in parenting our children!
2. A Friendly Face: Guiding with Grace
"25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;” literally means God is smiling on you! This stresses the hope that God will be disposed towards that person and is literally smiling on you! Isn’t that a precious picture? But some of us never picture God smiling.
We picture God smiting but not smiling, looking at us with a sneer, trying to catch us in a sin. Do you know He smiles when He thinks about you, and looks at you? If we don't see our God as a smiling Father, we’ll become parents that never smile—think about it!
Grace is a two-way road. If you want to receive it, you’ve got to give it. So how do we guide our kids with graciousness—not perfectionism or legalism?
I need grace for those highly tense moments when the last thing we’re thinking is to bless our children—that's when we need grace! If you intentionally speak lower and slower, it will cause tensions to lessen—this is a psychological truth. I practiced it. It works! It also shows the kids that you respect them, even if you don't agree with what they said. The worst thing that can happen is when they stop talking to you.
So affirm and respect the fact that they're sharing something with you—even if it's not something you agree with, and it's not even biblical! The worst thing is if you shut them down every time they open their mouth, and, guess what? They won’t ever share anything with you, again!
What if we’re the first to humble ourselves and apologize? We would be showing them what a friendly face and a house of grace look like. I have found so much traction and trust with my kids when I'm the first to admit, “You know what, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have talked to you that way. I shouldn't have raised my voice. That was a bad call. I really apologize.” Let's take a second and show them a friendly face and a house of grace.
As guards of our home, we must prioritize one thing: This home is built on a foundation of grace that cannot be removed!
3. A Peaceful Place: Keep giving
26 “ The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace. 27 So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
Not only is the Lord smiling at us, He's paying attention! As my first of five sons is about to graduate from high school, I'm just realizing that the most precious thing I can give him is my attention, my time—there's really nothing more precious than our time.
We picture God as someone who has a million other things He’d rather be doing, and has no time to listen to us—but He gives us His full attention! When you picture your God giving you His full attention, you’re willing to give your children your full attention. That means if we want them to unplug, we’ve got to unplug first.
God purposefully tells His priesthood to pray a blessing over their children so that every time they walk out of the temple, they're reminded that God is listening and giving them His full attention. This blessing that brings peace to a heart of chaos brings understanding that regardless of how many likes or dislikes they get on their latest posts—their parents love them and are giving them their full attention. Some of us may feel that we have nothing to give our kids; I would say you have the very thing that they need the most—your full attention! Surveys show that no matter how much children are connecting digitally, they're completely disconnected!
Proverbs 18:21 NKJV says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” You have been given authority as priests in the home to speak a blessing over them. I would like to speak in the name of Jesus, that they would find their identity and security in Jesus alone.
When we feel that we have nothing left to give, God is reminding us that He is partnering with us in this parenting thing: The blessing of God is in the middle of your mess!