WHY TIME with NannyGranne

I Don’t Believe in Dad Anymore

(This week’s post is by guest blogger, David Roper.)

I used to believe I had a dad. In fact, when I was younger, I thought I could see him and thought I talked with him and he with me. But I’ve learned that’s just kid stuff.

You see, some time ago, my father moved away and I can’t see him anymore. Since that happened, I’ve been giving the matter a great deal of thought and I’ve decided I don’t really have a father.

Oh sure, I get letters that are supposed to be from him, but how do I know they are reallyfrom him? Someone could be forging his handwriting and the letter carriers are probably supporting the deception to protect their jobs. And the phone calls? Perhaps voice impressionists hired by the phone company.

What brought about this change of mind? I suppose it started when I met a man with a lot of degrees. He said nobodybelieves in fathers anymore. He told me that scientists are now convinced that fathers are not really necessary, that we can come into existence without them. As proof that there are no fathers, this very educated man cited the problems that many families have.

Well, that made me think. I started remembering that my dad didn’t always give me everything I wanted, even when he could. I especially remembered one time when I wanted something specific so very badly—and he said, “No.” I begged and I pleaded, my heart was breaking, and he still said, “No.” I ask you, who could believe in a father like that?

I admit I sometimes miss the comfort of believing I have a dad, but I guess that’s part of the pain of growing up. Really, I look with pity on those poor uninformed individuals who still believe they have fathers. No, I don’t believe in dad anymore.

*  *  * *  *  *

The above sounds silly, right? But I’ve heard the same reasoning from those who say they no longer believe in their heavenly Father. Just make a few substitutions, such as “preachers” for “letter carriers,” and you’ll see what I mean.

Can you no longer “see” your Father? Look around and above you. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). Would you know Him? Read the Bible, His “love letter” to you, which carries His imprint on every page. Has He ever said “No” to your prayers? Realize He still loves you and will ultimately cause “all things to work together for good to those who love” Him (Romans 8:28).

“There is . . . one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4, 6). “We had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9).

Who Made God?

The night sky appeared almost magical.  The moon, yet to rise, allowed the stars to dazzle against the blackness of space.  Magical moments happen when you’re camping with your kids.

As we sat on the parking lot guardrail by the lake, we talked about God knowing just how many stars He’d made, and even knowing their names. Psalm 147 says God “counts the number of the stars.  He calls them all by their names.”

Suddenly, we each grew quiet, lost in thought.  I wondered what my son was thinking.  He was born with a vivid imagination and a sometimes maddening curiosity.  Then he asked, “Who made God?”

“That’s a really big question.  Who do you think made God?”  I wanted to know if he’d given much thought to his question.

“I don’t know.” he shrugged.  “Everything starts somewhere.  Chickens lay eggs that hatch and make chickens.  Water comes from rain and then evaporates and turns back into clouds. Rocks even used to be dirt or lava. So where did God come from?” Yep.  He’d been thinking about it for a while.

“OK, how many chickens have hatched since the first chicken laid the first egg, do you think?”

He looked at me, grinning, and then slapped his forehead.  “That’s crazy!  Bazillions!”

“But there had to be the first chicken at some point, right?”

“Well, yeah!  God made it!”

“That’s right! The fact is that God made every piece of everything in the whole universe.  And God made space,” I waved over the sky above us, “And God even made time!”

“I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Time measures what is happening in the world.  Everything in the world has a beginning and an end.  Does that make sense to you?”  I waited while he pondered and then slowly nodded his head.

“I think so.  God started time, and God started the world, right?”

“Yes.  God made time, space, and we call everything we see ‘matter.’  Have you heard of matter at school?”

“Yes.  Everything we can see or touch is called matter. That’s what my teacher said, except some matter is so tiny we can’t really see it.”  He explained, pleased with his eight-year-old academic prowess.

I wanted him to understand the vital truth about who God is, so I tried an example.   “If I bake a cake, am I part of the cake or am I different from the cake?”

He looked at me puzzled by the sudden change of subject.  “What?”

“You heard me.  I want to explain something to you.” Repeating, I said, “If I were to bake a cake, would I become part of the cake?”

“Well, no.” He wasn’t convinced that this made sense.

“Then if God made time, space, and matter, He isn’t part of them, either.  He is separate from what He made.  Now does THAT make sense?”

His eyes grew wide and, speechlessly, he nodded that he understood.

“And He created everything we can see or touch–matter–but God is invisible because He is not  matter.” I waited for his reaction.

“Oh!  So that’s why He’s invisible.  He’s not made out of anything!”  He got it!

” And God also made space, but He doesn’t live in that space.  He can be everywhere all at once.”

Now his eyes bore into mine as he waited, poised for another surprise.

“And God made time, but in His world, there is no time.  That’s why He has always existed and always will.”

“Eternal,” he mused.  “Forever.  No time.”   I loved watching his eyes light up.

“So you see, God is the only One who could make the world because He didn’t have to be made by anyone.  He has always been there and will always be there.  Just think!  One day we’ll get to be where He is, right there with Him.  Then we’ll get to watch what He does next.”

We both returned our gaze to the sky, both of us filled with wonder.  I thanked the God of that beautiful universe for my son’s curiosity and imagination;  gifts that would enhance his faith as he discovered the ceaseless wonders of God’s creation.

What Was Growing Up Like for Jesus?

He was 14.  Being a 14-year-old boy in 21st Century America is hard.  I watched him as he sat in Bible class and stared at the yellow slip of paper before him.  That yellow slip was an open invitation to ask any question about God and His ways and world.  It was to be anonymous.  He was free to ask what was on his heart.  The question he asked heads this post.

What he really wondered was: Was 14 as hard for Jesus as it was for him?  Did He struggle with parents’ expectations?  Did His teachers ever seem clueless, too?  Was it hard for Him to be ‘good,’ too, and sometimes get in trouble for nothing?   Did He ever feel like an outsider?  Did He ever fight with his siblings?  Did He ever have days when He just felt like he was a mistake?  Does Jesus understand what it’s like to be a 14-year-old boy in 21st Century America?

To him and so many more who wonder the same thing I want to begin by saying, “YES, Jesus understands!”  If He hadn’t wanted to understand human childhood, He’d have appeared as a grown man. But Jesus wanted to feel, touch, hear and taste it all.  He wanted us to know He understands what it feels like to be helpless, misunderstood, or different, to experience puberty, and, yes, even understand girls.

There are two ways to look at Jesus’ childhood.   Some might say it was ideal with two God-fearing parents – a working dad, a loving and wise mother – and always knowing the right thing to do.  But there is another way to see into Jesus’ youth.  Joseph was his step-dad who died before Jesus left home.  His mom was just a teenager when He was born, and she became pregnant with Jesus before she was married.  In those days, girls were sometimes killed for pregnancy outside of marriage.  Some may have thrown that in His face all his life.

He was God in a human body. That had to be limiting, frustrating and at times even disgusting.  As a baby, He would be sick, have His diaper changed, fall down, learn to walk and talk before He could be understood.  As a youth, He always did his best, but maybe this made His siblings jealous.  Maybe He intimidated other kids.  Maybe it wasn’t fun to hang out with boys who weren’t respectful about God (after all, He wasGod).  We don’t know when He became fully aware of His deity, but it’s not hard to imagine Him sitting in class, listening to clueless Rabbis teach him about the Old Testament when He had been there and was the One responsible for the writings themselves.

Jesus got in trouble with His parents once, and they were the ones in the wrong.  They even chewed Him out in front of the men he was talking Bible with, but He “went with them and submitted to them” just the same.  He managed to have a good reputation with most folks, so He figured out how to get along with people, all kinds of people.  His secret was His motive.  He did everything for God.

Jesus had to grow up, but it wasn’t easy.  He had to obey rules that others made up.  He had to wait until the grownups thought He was “smart” enough to teach.  He had to wait and watch and listen while people taught useless and foolish things about God.  But hardest of all was to know that after everything He’d done, NOBODY would stay by His side to the last, except a few women (including His mother) and one friend.  And they would be powerless to do anything to help Him.   Everyone else, even His siblings, wouldn’t want to be seen with Him. He wasn’t even going to have a funeral.

So, yes, Jesus understands everything every kid goes through, and He wants to be in your head (Bible words) and at your back (God answers prayers) and in your life (the Holy Spirit lives in every Christian).   With Him, you’re going to make it.  And even though life isn’t easy, life in Christ is full of hope and good.

 

RESOURCES FOR CONSCIENTIOUS PARENTS

(The guest writer for this post is the author of the Zoey books, David Roper.)

If you wish to instill faith in your child, the most important resource is the Bible. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The second most important resource is you. Your child needs to see and hear you read the Bible, needs to see and hear you pray, and needs to see and hear how you respond to the challenges of life with faith. All this is part of “bring[ing]them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4; see Proverbs 22:6).

However, there are also TOOLS that conscientious parents use to help them in this most important task. These include Bible classes (and other activities for their youth supplied by the church) and Bible picture books that you use with your children. The ZOEY books fall into the latter category—but are unique regarding faith building. They do not merely have a story with Biblical teaching the child will enjoy; they also include apologetics principles, introducing basic arguments for the existence of God, the deity of Jesus, and the inspiration of the Bible. For instance, the first Zoey book (ZOEY LIKES TO ASK QUESTIONS) notes that everything that exists has been made—it did not “just happen”—and then moves from there to the One who made everything: God.

The second Zoey Book (ZOEY STILL LIKES TO ASK QUESTIONS) will move from there to this logical conclusion: If God made us (and He did), it is reasonable to believe that He would communicate with His creation—and that communication is the Bible.

The Zoey books have been written with preschoolers in mind. We hope parents and others will start reading them to their children while they are still babies. Reading to a baby in your lap connects books and reading books in their minds with comfort, security, and love. Reading the Zoey books also connects those specific books with those things—and will help make these books favorites as they learn to read.

But we did not want to stop there with resources for instilling faith. Featured on this website is the blog WHY TIME WITH NANNYGRANNE, in which Anne Coleman addresses questions and issues that concern children, questions and issues that can impact faith if not addressed knowledgably, gently, and lovingly. Anne is assisted by her son Travis who has a degree in apologetics. If you have not signed up to follow her blog, you need to do that.

There are other resources we will mention from time to time, such as series of apologetic books for older children—but I want to close with one more: Anne also has a Facebook page on which she has been referring her readers to videos that address apologetics questions, such as arguments for and against the existence of God.

It would be worthwhile to also “like” that page so you won’t miss any of her recommendations. Her Facebook page is also labeled “WHY TIME with Nannygranne.”

Until next time I guest post, I send out a prayer for you and yours. David Roper

 

 

 

Did God Make Satan?

As we rode in the car, we discussed the fact that we all have questions about many things, but that God helps us find the answers by from the message He left us—the Bible—and by watching the world around us..

“I have a question,” she offered.

“Good!” I smiled, “Questions help us learn.  What’s your question?”

She turned to me with a look of concern.  “Did God make Satan?”  I knew she needed not only the facts but reassurance concerning Satan and his power.  Then she pulled out her iPad just in case she’d need it.

“Well, I know a little bit about Satan from the Bible….and from seeing a lot of the bad stuff that happens in our world.”  I began.  “Do you think God made Satan?”

Shrugging her shoulders, she concentrated on her iPad.  She didn’t want to venture a guess.

“But Satan is bad, right?”  To that, she nodded her head soberly.  “And God’s only supposed to make good things, right?”  This time, with eyes searching mind, she nodded her head slightly.  “When God finished making everything, He stood back and looked at it and said, ‘See?  It is very good!’.  So when God made Adam and Eve they were good, right?” (Gen 1:31)

“I guess so.”  Cautious now, in case this was a test.

“You are exactly right,” I assured her.  “God made Adam and Eve and said they were very good.  But did they do anything they shouldn’t have?”

“They ate the Forbidden Fruit!”  She was glad to know the answer.

“They sure did!  Why do you think they did that?”

She looked at me, studying my face for a clue.  Then looking back at her iPad she said, “They were hungry?”

“Well, that could be one reason, but there was plenty to eat in the garden.  God had given them lots of trees full of good stuff to eat.  I think Eve got curious and went to look at God’sforbidden tree.  And then you remember Satan talked her into eating what God had told them not to eat?”

“Oh yeah!” she said.

“Satan wanted them to do what he wanted and make them get in trouble,” I explained.  “And Adam and Eve did get into trouble.  They did something bad.”  She was quiet now.  I could tell she was mulling good vs. bad in the story.  I continued. “But did God make them bad?”

“No, it wasn’t God’s fault,” she defended.

“You are right.  God made them good, but they didsomething bad and they did get into big trouble.   But God loved them, still, and the Bible tells us how He would help them get out of trouble again because He wanted them to be with Him.

“So did God make Satan?  He’s bad.”  She was ready to settle this.

“The Bible tells us that everything was created by Jesus, everything in heaven and on earth, everything we see and the things we can’t see, including everything in God’s world. Everything was created by God’s Son, and everything was made for Him.   Satan was an angel that God had made that chose to become God’s enemy. He is jealous and angry and tricky.”

“Oh!  So God did make Satan, but he was good at first and then went bad?”

“You understand!  Good for you!”

“Can Satan make us go bad?” I felt for her young heart, remembering my own uneasiness about there being something evil out there that I didn’t understand.

“He tries all the time, but he can’t makeus do bad things.  God promises to help us get out of trouble if we listen to Him, and when we become Christians He sends the Holy Spirit to live inside us and He’ll help keep Satan out, too. Then, when we listen to His word, the Holy Spirit teaches us how to live really well and how to make the world a better place, too.”

“So God made me good?”

“Yes, He certainly did.  He made all of us good.  But He knows we’ll get curious and do things that hurt Him, ourselves, and even others. That’s what it means to sin.  We don’t listen to God.  But God still wants us and will  always help us grow better and better as we listen closer and closer to Him.  So we need to choose God and try not to be selfish.”

At this, she smiled, bobbed her head decidedly and put away her iPad.  “OK,” she said.  “Can we stop for ice-cream?”  She’d read my mind.

* * * * * * * *

Col 1:16  Everything was created by him, everything in heaven and on earth, everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers, and all rulers and authorities. All things were created by God’s Son, and everything was made for him. CEV

Eph 6:10-11  Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong.  Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. CEV

Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Will I Turn Into a Boy, Too, Like Chrissy? (Part Five)

I heard the knock on the front door.  My sweet friend had arrived with her mom.

“She brought a book she found at the library and said she wanted to read it to you,” her mom explained with eyebrows raised.

“Oh good!  We’ve been talking about this.  Has she told you?” I smiled.

“Yes, she did.  I’m so glad you’re helping.  I honestly didn’t know how to handle the subject.  Then it came up at school and I’m at a loss.”

“Well, I don’t have all the answers…but I think there are answers and I’ve given this a good deal of prayer and thought since yesterday.  I’ll keep you posted.” With a wink and a wave, she closed the door behind her, calling goodbye to her daughter.

“Oh, I see you’ve brought some things.  Show me what you have,” I said as I helped her off with her coat and shoes.

“I brought my LOL dolls and some gummies….and this book from the library,” she explained.

“We’re going to have an interesting day, then. And remember we’re going to bake some banana bread for you to take home today, too.”

She quickly went to the table and began to open her tiny dolls and arrange them just so.

“I see you have a little family there.  Tell me about it.” I ventured

“It’s a daddy and mommy and sister and baby,” she began.  “They are a family God’s way, huh?”

“They look like they are.”

“But I have two mommies and just one daddy.”  Her perception was beyond her age. Indeed, not everyone finds a lifetime spouse.

“Hmmm.  You mean you have two women and one man doll?  Which one is the mommy?”

“The one with the purple pants.”

“What do you think God wants the lady in black pants to do if she isn’t married?”

“I don’t know.  Will she get in trouble with God?”  She stopped her play and looked up at me, concern on her face.

“Remember we talked about how Jesus said not everybody needs to get married?”

“He did!”  Her honest surprise made me laugh.  I love kids and watching them discover the meaning of things for the first time.

“He did.” I assured her.  “In fact, when He told his disciples that God never wanted families to come apart, he also told them that not everyone needed to be married.  God had other things in mind for them to do to make the world a better place.”

“Like what kind of things?”

“Doing their work, helping and loving their parents and relatives and neighbors.  Teaching Bible class or being a college teacher.” The more I talked, the more enthusiastic my voice became.  “She could be a doctor or scientist, or maybe even an astronaut! Or maybe a missionary who lives on the other side of the world.  Or maybe just being the best aunt in the world who knows all about Jesus and His ways!”

“Oh.”  She turned back to her miniature family and said, “Aunt Sally is here for dinner.  Kids give her a kiss!” Then she looked at me and, smiling, continued. “Aunt Sally’s been a missionary helping the starving children in Africa!  She’s a doctor!” She certainly grasped the concept. Then she stopped and looked at me wide-eyed. “But will Aunt Sally be sad that she doesn’t have a husband or a baby?”   Her eyes widened.

“You know she might be sad from time to time.  But if she wants to get married, she always can.  But if she’s not married, God wouldn’t want her to have a baby without a daddy to help.  But she could take care of children who don’t have mommies and daddies to help them. ”

“Oh yeah!  That would be good!”

“And when I read my Bible, I see lots of ladies who didn’t have husbands or children and they were very important friends of Jesus and did very important things, too.”

“Who?”

“Well…there were two sisters named Mary and Martha, and another lady named Mary Magdalene, and some other ladies that worked in the church with the Apostles.  Let’s see….there was a lady named Phoebe and one named Lydia, and a girl named Rhoda…and maybe more.”

“Wow!  I didn’t know Jesus knew that many girls!”  I laughed and hugged her. She was so much fun!  “But my book talks about two mommies. Why?”

“Remember I said that there were a lot of people in this world with a lot of different ideas?  And remember how we said that some people don’t know God’s ways, and others just don’t want God or anyone to tell them what to do?”

“Yes”

“Well, the person who wrote that book wanted children to think that having two mommies and no daddy is fun.  But God made it so only a mommy and a daddy can make a baby. If mommies and daddies stopped having babies, we’d run out of humans.   Sometimes people do wrong things and we may be disappointed. And sometimes people want us to like everything they do. But we just don’t.  But that’s OK, too. It’s always right to choose God’s ways for ourselves.”

“But we still treat other people like we want to be treated,” she added seriously.

“Yes.  We can always treat others kindly.  Sometimes two men want to get married, or people live together and don’t want to get married.   And there are even some people who don’t want to take care of the babies God gives them.”

“Why don’t people want their babies!?”  She said as she stopped and looked at me in shock.

“Honey, people sometimes just don’t want God or anyone else stopping them from doing what they want to do.  So they make up their minds to do whatever they want or think of doing. The saddest part is that they’ve missed out on the beautiful plan God had for their lives and sometimes it’s because nobody told them what God’s plan was.  That’s why I’m glad you asked your question. I’m glad you know God’s dreams for you.”

“Me, too.”  She smiled up at me.  “I want God’s dreams for me to come true. ”

“Me, too,” I echoed.  “I hope you’ll always try really hard to listen to God’s word and learn His ways as long as you live.  Then all God’s dreams for you can come true.” I gave her a hug and said, “You ready to bake that banana bread now?”

“Yes!  Can I crack the eggs?”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~NOTES TO THE READER~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our story is obviously elementary in nature; however, the issues addressed span all ages.  We hope you’ve gleaned from this the following points:

  1.  We need to adopt God’s perspective toward masculinity and femininity and avoid being offended when a person’s demeanor isn’t in line with modern western viewpoints.  (Examples being men who cook, sew, decorate, or are quieter in nature. Or women who are independent, leaders by nature, not gifted in domestic pursuits.) It is the object(s) of sexual desire and the behavioral outworkings of that desire which are paramount, not how personalities and talents coincide with particular stereotypical gender roles.
  2.  Accepting God’s wise design regarding marriage and singleness, realizing that everyone–whether married or single–has to learn to say (and accept) “NO” to sexual activity with anyone other than their spouse as husband and wife.  This is a mark of maturity and a life skill.
  3.  Value celibate singleness as a legitimate God-blessed choice and the opportunities it affords for individuals to serve our Master with fewer distractions. And whether it is chosen for a lifetime or just for a pre-marriage season, we must teach our children the responsibilities singleness holds.
  4.  Related to number 1 above, understand that the word “gay” is sometimes used to refer to anyone who doesn’t fit into the stereotypical gender molds.  This can result in our children concluding that if they feel “different,” then they must be “gay.” This perversion is usually orchestrated by the adults who push these confused youth over the psychological cliff by reinforcing and perpetuating this overly-broad application of “gayness.”

Will I Turn into a Boy, Too, Like Chrissy? (Part Four)

She helped me clear the table and carry lunch dishes into the kitchen.

“You want to wash the dishes?  I’ll dry and put them away and I can tell you more that I’ve learned about God’s dream for men and women together.”

“I like washing better than drying….thanks!”

As she dawdled with the suds and enjoyed dowsing and refilling cups, we could talk more. “Do you remember what Jesus said was God’s plan for husbands and wives?”

“Uh…..that they help each other live God’s way?”

Yes…but let me read what he told his friends when he was still living on earth. Someone had asked him if it was okay to get a divorce.” I dried my hands and pulled my phone out of my pocket, quickly finding the Easy English version of Matthew 19:4 and began to read.

‘You surely have read about this in God’s book,’ Jesus replied. ‘At the start of the world, God made men and he also made women. Because of this, a man leaves his father and his mother.  God joins him and his wife together. The man and the woman become like one person. They are not two separate people any longer. They are like one person. God has joined them together to be husband and wife.  So nobody must separate them.”

“So you can see that Jesus wanted people to live God’s way because He created us to be together and he doesn’t want families to come apart.”

“A lot of people get divorced,” she observed.  My Uncle Milo and Aunt Maya got a divorce.” She was a bright girl.  She wondered where this fit into her family.

“Yes, they do.  And people got divorces back then, too, but Jesus doesn’t want folks to have to go through that either. Divorces hurt, don’t they. Sometimes people just get stubborn and won’t try to stay on God’s path.”

She grew quiet, seeming to turn it all over in her mind. Finally she said, “Yeah. Everybody’s feelings were hurt. I miss seeing Aunt Maya and my cousins.”

“The Apostle Paul, a really wise friend of Jesus, said that even though sometimes people have really messed up their lives by just doing what they felt like doing, not trying to live God’s way, that if they want to start listening to God, Jesus will wash all that pain away and give us a new start. Then we can start over and live God’s best way. When men and women get married and treat each other the way God treats us, then that makes the world a better place. But you don’t have to get married, but if you do that’s okay with God, too.”

“I have another question:  Why does Heather have two mommies?”

“Can I talk to God about that and let’s talk some more tomorrow?  I’d love for you to help me bake some banana bread and could use your help.  Could we do that?”