Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Values

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This weeks guest blogger is John Dias of cornpone.net. John wrote us and asked to put together a post for the Balance of Power, and so we gave him a shot. It's pretty much that easy to be part of the Balance of Power.

New Years Eve is also my oldest child's birthday. This year, he'll bring in 2006 at the age of 16. Where did those years go?

Last night, as I lay in bed wide awake waiting to get up at 12:01 and wish him a happy birthday, I wondered if I had done all that I could do as a parent. Of course, I haven't. Not that I think myself a poor father, but I'm certainly no uber-pop, either. But I think, despite my failings, I've been able to impart some of my ideals to my son and I hope that I've given him something to think about rather than being an old bore.

Anyway, I tried to think of the most important things I want my boys to know and understand before I'm no longer responsible for their care and feeding. Mind you, these aren't exactly pearls of wisdom, but I hope my young men will find them useful, if not now then later on when they're on their own. After considering recent events and circumstances I really feel there are some lessons to be learned. Rather than sit my son down and lecture him on his happy day, I thought it better to purgatize on my own and spare him the words. It's best to communicate ideal living through action, anyway.

Dear Son,

You are responsible for your own hide. Sadly, I think we all count too much on the soulless entity we call "government" to provide for us in time of need and failing. Instead of looking within ourselves, and making wise decisions, we've become accustomed to having a safety net below us so that no matter how carelessly or foolishly we live, "the government" will do something to make us whole again. Never were so many disappointed when the city of New Orleans was all but destroyed and they learned that the safety net doesn't have the tensile strength to withstand the weight of so many in need of salvation at one time. And frankly, although this was a huge disaster, it could have been much worse.

There are certainly situations that you can't plan for or avoid, but a huge meteor notwithstanding you can protect yourself from most dangers in this world. You only have to motivate yourself with the simple realization that nobody can take care of you, your beloved and your property like you can.

The best part of being prepared is that you are also able and ready to help others around you. Not only is this the essence of civil living, but it's also beneficial spiritually. Notice that you don't have an obligation to help. You're free to sit on your ass and watch your neighbor's home go up in smoke. But then, that's not a good way to live - for several reasons.

Speaking of being free, always remember that freedom and responsibility are inseparable. Here, the Golden Rule typically applies. Of course, that doesn't mean that others will always abide by this simple guide to living. There are those who are just plain rude or uncivilized. Let them alone and eventually time will show them the error of their ways. Just know that it's not your job to tell others how to live. You must show them how to live and do so quietly and humbly. I've raised you as a Christian, and hopefully you haven't picked up the wrong idea from a good many of your fellow Christians.

By that, I mean that it's OK to hold certain things or thoughts or deeds as sinful and contrary to what your belief system regards as good living. But you should avoid telling others that you believe they are wrong. First, it's just rude and secondly it turns them stone hard against anything you may do or say in the future that my show them your light. As the old proverb says, "Actions speak louder than words."

I'm not talking about a relativistic approach. Don't compromise on your own values and beliefs. But somehow we've got to shed the idea that we can force people to good. That's been the greatest failing of the Church throughout history. Conversion must be intellectual or it will never last.

Speaking of Christianity, don't buy into the notion that American Christians are under attack or are being persecuted somehow by the media or Hollywood or some other such imaginary enemy. American Christians enjoy more freedom than anywhere on Earth or anytime in history. If we Christians in America were really being persecuted, I don't think we could stand up - as a group - to the pressure. I really think you'd see a good many "Christians" abandon the Cross without a pinch of guilt.

Learn your faith, continue to study and be reasonably proficient at apologetics and you'll have nothing to fear. No one can take your faith, anymore than they can take your name or your will. Only you can do that to yourself.

That's about all, son. Be true to yourself. Love your brother, always. Keep in touch with friends. Pray and work.

You'll do fine.

Love,

Dad

John Dias of Cornpone.net


Having a 16 year old son myself, I couldn't help but to read this post and find myself nodding my head along in many places.

It is a hard thing, raising a child of character, of values, of conscience in this world today. In so many ways they are assaulted on multiple fronts. Makes the job of parenting that much harder at times.

For myself, I have tried to raise my son to be a man of substance in his world. To have opinions, thoughts, views, dreams, ambitions that would not only bring to his life a sense of pride and accomplishment but also to bring good things to the lives of the world and people around him.

We don't always agree on things, he and I. But it doesn't mean that I can't respect the things that he thinks. We have our meetings of the minds and our knocking of heads on myriad issues but in all of these times.. I am thankful that I raised him to be an independent thinker--to not follow after the crowd but to forge his own way where he must and to truly live out the goal of "To thine ownself be true."

I try to teach him that it is good to experience new things and to attempt to do things in the manner that he feels best--but to temper that with the ability of knowing when to ask for assistance.

I recall to him, the times that his great-grandfathers served in foreign conflicts proudly- distinguishing themselves as men of honor and yet I cannot make him aspire to military service, nor can I even justify the actions of the military in the world at this time. It is difficult but I remain in hope that should he feel led to serve his Nation that he will do so proudly, with integrity and not because its a great way to get a college-education, see the world, etc. but because his heart feels led to do so from a well-spring of patriotism within him.

I speak often of history and matters of our world. It has been said that those that do not remember history, are doomed to repeat it. So I tell him the straight truth of things as I've found it and armed with that he sees his world through his perspective and has formed well rounded opinions on things that are not always respected or appreciated by others but they are none the less--his own.

He's learned already that many times, a man must walk alone with his convictions--that not always will others agree with you and sometimes, they will be downright mean to you when you differ from them. I've taught him that it's alright. I've tried to impart to him that sometimes our own conscience and convictions are the best company with which to keep ourselves. I've tried to impart to him that he should "be the change you would most like to see in your world."

So in essence, I have a "punk" son with a leather jacket of metal spikes and a heart of gold.
As a parent.. I couldn't be more proud.

Nariel of Ancient Eyes for Current Times


Much of my life has been influenced by song. Nowhere is that more true than in raising my 10 year old son and almost 13 year old daughter.

There are two songs that mean a lot to me, one I sing to my son, and one will be the song my daughter and dance to at her wedding.

Phillips, Craig and Dean wrote this several years ago. It remains one of the cornerstones by which I parent:

I Want To Be Just Like You - Phillips, Craig & Dean (Lifeline)
He climbs in my lap for a goodnight hug
He calls me Dad and I call him Bub
With his faded old pillow and a bear named Pooh
He snuggles up close and says, "I want to be like you"
I tuck him in bed and I kiss him goodnight
Trippin' over the toys as I turn out the light
And I whisper a prayer that someday he'll see
He's got a father in God 'cause he's seen Jesus in me

Lord, I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be just like me
I want to be a holy example
For his innocent eyes to see
Help me be a living Bible, Lord
That my little boy can read
I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be like me

Got to admit I've got so far to go
Make so many mistakes and I'm sure that You know
Sometimes it seems no matter how hard I try
With all the pressures in life I just can't get it all right
But I'm trying so hard to learn from the best
Being patient and kind, filled with Your tenderness
'Cause I know that he'll learn from the things that he sees
And the Jesus he finds will be the Jesus in me
Right now from where he stands I may seem mighty tall
But it's only 'cause I'm learning from the best Father of them all

(c) Star Song

The other song, the one my daughter Lexi and I have decided we will dance to at her wedding, is Butterfly Kisses, by Bob Carlisle:



There's two things I know for sure:
She was sent here from heaven and she's
daddy's little girl.
As I drop to my knees by her bed at night
She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes and
I thank god for all the joy in my life
Oh, but most of all
For butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer;
sticking little white flowers all up in her
hair; "Walk beside the pony, Daddy, it's my first ride."
"I know the cake looks funny, Daddy, but I sure tried."
In all that I've done wrong I know I must
have done something right to deserve a hug
every morning and butterfly kisses at night.

Sweet 16 today
She's looking like her mama a little more everyday
One part woman, the other part girl.
To perfume and make-up from ribbons and curls
Trying her wings out in a great big world.

But I remember
Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer; sticking
little white flowers all up in her hair.
"You know how much I love you, Daddy, But if you
don't mind I'm only gonna kiss you on the cheek this time."
With all that I've done wrong I must have done
something right to deserve her love every morning
and butterfly kisses at night.

All the precious time
Like the wind, the years go by.
Precious butterfly.
Spread your wings and fly.

She'll change her name today.
She'll make a promise and I'll give her away.
Standing in the bride-room just staring at her.
She asked me what I'm thinking and I said "I'm not
sure-I just feel like I'm losing my baby girl."
She leaned over... gave me butterfly kisses with her mama there,
Sticking little white flowers all up in her hair
"Walk my down the aisle, Daddy-it's just about time."
"Does my wedding gown look pretty, Daddy? Daddy, don't cry!"

Oh, with all that I've done wrong I must have
done something right.
To deserve your love every morning and butterfly
kisses-I couldn't ask God for more, man this is what love is.

I know I gotta let her go, but I'll always remember
every hug in the morning and butterfly kisses.

There are no values I could impart to my children than coming to know Jesus, and seeking to be like Him. As our guest blogger so aptly puts it, we've got to shed the idea that we can force people to good. And that begins with our children. Our children will live what they see in us. Such is the great joy, and the great responsibility, of being called to be parents.

Mark of Liberty Just In Case


The love of a child is incomparable to any other emotion. You never know true love until you have a child, or at least I never understood the true nature of love until my darling cherub was born. That type of love compels me to instill in her important values about life, which will serve her well into the future.

Even at the tender age of six she is learning to be self reliant. I have been teaching her that no-one is going to provide for her for her whole life, that she needs to make her own way. (of course this may partially be lost in between the "Did you wipe, flush and wash, in that order?" sessions, but I still try. She's 6, some of the basics still elude her… boy is my childhood biting me in the butt.) I hope that when she is a young woman she knows that she is loved. I hope that she knows she can do anything she puts her mind to. I hope she has learned that she needs to know herself and love herself, before she can try to share that with others. I hope that someday she will feel the love that I feel today, with her, and she has at least a slightly easier time of it.

Our children are precious gifts and we must mold them so they can become gifts to the future. They are our only legacy, and the only thing that will matter 50 years from now.

Matthew of Liberty Just In Case


This is great advice. I think you're absolutely right when you say "...you should avoid telling others that you believe they are wrong. First, it's just rude and secondly it turns them stone hard against anything you may do or say in the future that may show them your light." Much of the polarization and hostility in our culture and politics today results from busybodies on each side heaping disapproval onto the other side. This makes it harder to find common ground.

This is not to say that one shouldn't speak out against immoral acts that actually affect the rights of others. It is not only the right, but also the duty of every citizen to oppose acts, such as murder, theft, and tyranny, that cause actual harm or risk to others without their consent. But when it comes to matters of private morality, it is best to tolerate differences and to lead quietly by example, rather than to try to use the force of law to control the private behavior of others.

Jason of Leave Us Alone!
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