Well, here we go with our first offering in “Tending the Garden.” I (dad) feel the need to keep mentioning that we are not putting ourselves in the position of being authoritarian parents who believe that we know more than anyone else, but rather we are just wanting to try and make a contribution to our family “Garden;” something any one of you can do as well. I probably will annoy everyone by continuing to mention this, but since we don’t want our motives to be misunderstood I’ll just say what Pat said when I discovered she had eaten all of my Armadillo Droppings Christmas candy, “ I couldn’t help myself.” So, there you have it, “I can’t help myself.”

As we mentioned before, we were the recipients of information that was designed for parents to pray on behalf of their children. While I believe it was primarily for younger “at home” kids, the information is timeless and relevant at any stage in life. While some of the topics may be a stretch at times we are going to follow the list and hope no one thinks, “We are beyond that, what’s the point (that may often be true)?” So if the topic doesn’t fit, don’t take it so serious, we probably need it more than you do, and keep it in perspective by remembering that at the very least we need something to do.

In thinking back over a lifetime of raising the family and struggling with what it means to be a follower of Jesus and to be a Christian family, we both have hopefully matured in our thinking to distill out of all of the experiences that which is the critical core. All of the things we thought were important, and the sometimes strange things we did were exactly what most Christians do as they grow and mature (now I see the eyes rolling again and you thinking “mature?”, now quit that). Some were good and some not so good., and as each generation plans for their children to do better than they (parents) did, many motivations become frivolous and sometimes not very Christian. I’m reminded of a Christian friend telling me that a friend of his knocked on his door one day and announced, “God told me to move in with you and be your mentor.” My friend promptly said, “That’s funny, God didn’t tell me about it.” He then added, to me, “I wouldn’t put anything past a Christian.” Well, some Christians are pretty funny sometimes. And we could fall into that category at times.

Anyway, to continue. In the natural, we want our children to be wealthy; we want our children to be famous; we want our children to be smart and educated; we want our children to be leaders; we want, we want, we want………………! Well, none of our wants for our children are necessarily bad things, but some are certainly non-Christian. In a way they may end up being things we wanted for ourselves and maybe couldn’t achieve. All parents I know want their children to be better than they were.

In the last few years, however, what we have come to realize is that there is only one thing that we really wanted for our children, which at times may have gotten covered up or side-stepped, and that is, that each one be a dedicated born again Christian. That’s it! Whatever happens after that doesn’t really matter. Because if that is in place our children will make the best decisions, (most of the time, anyway), they will lead honorable lives, be persons of integrity, compassionate, loving, giving, successful (in God’s eyes), and exhibit all of those qualities that follow a follower of Christ. And as with all “knowers,” any failings have an immediate remedy. Forgiveness. How can we possibly lead a more successful life than when we don’t have to carry any burden of guilt! Those without a remedy for failure, I believe, carry a free floating “existential anxiety” that is undefinable, unidentifiable, but nevertheless always there. They attempt everything under the sun to quench that thirst for being “alright.” Even as Christians we are never entirely exempt from some of the same “anxieties,” but we have a remedy. It is hard to be in the world and not be, sometimes, a little bit, “of the world.”

We are part of a wonderful Bible study that meets every week in rotating homes (not houses that go around and around). There are few topics that have not been discussed exhaustively. Every once in a while we debate the age old theological question of, “can one lose his/her salvation?” Calvinistic vs Arminian theology. I believe the Bible teaches that one can lose his/her salvation, but it is dangerous for anyone to make that judgement for another person. If that’s true, then, how far can one go before the line is crossed and salvation is in jeopardy, or lost? As our formerly Christian culture continues to slide into secularism, one of my “distresses” is the fact that it is difficult to point out many real differences between professing Christians and everyone else. Barna research confirms that many self-professed “Born Again Christians” do not differ much in beliefs either! A majority of these same people believe that Jesus is not the only way to God! Now how do you think God views such beliefs from “Born Again Christians?” Does He say, “I know I told you that ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by Me’, but hey, you’re a nice person so if you believe that Allah is equal with Me I’ll let it slide, after all, you know, ‘once saved always saved’.” What is even scarier, is that the professed person apparently doesn’t know that “I am the Way……….,” is even in the Bible!!

The Bible teaches that we are a people “set apart,” and others will be influenced by our “quiet” lives of witness at the very least. So if we are in the world but not of the world, shouldn’t there be some observable differences? Too many professed Christians dress like everyone else, act like everyone else, hang out like everyone else, behave like everyone else, and ………….., there are more. When is the line crossed and we have stopped working out our salvation with “fear and trembling?” Do we still have it, or has it little by little slipped away? Can that happen? Thank God we are rescued from the law by grace. For some, making A’s in grace may be easy. I never was entirely an A student, so I hope I’m on a pass/fail system. Then again, maybe being saved by grace makes us all A students! Then again, maybe all Real Christians are supposed to look like the Amish? I’m not sure about that, but I do think the Duggars look cool.

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