When I was growing up, I went to church with a family that I often heard the mother called a prude. You never heard a bad word come out of her mouth, or that of her husband. There was NEVER alcohol. I do not remember rated R movies in their household. I remember laughter. I do remember struggles about the music that their child listened to, but instead of lecturing, they gave it to God. I remember at that time thinking, “How can you be THIS good?”
What I realize now is that they made a choice. They made the choices not to use foul language in their home, along with all the other choices in life. I was talking to my sister this morning about this subject. We talked about how we were raised in a house with a horse of many colors (Dad). But she reminded me that when both of us first started our families, we had an agreement that we could discipline each other’s kids because we made the same choices. You may laugh, but Donna and I did NOT like the word FART! Not sure that lasted too long. But one thing that did last, you did not tell each other to shut up and video games were screened until an appropriate age. My boys were not, and are still not, raised in a house of foul language or alcohol. That is our choice.
I remember when Trey was 14. He had hit the age of making sure we knew he was approaching manhood. I will never forget the day he told me, “I’m not afraid of you.” I thought to myself, “Where in the WORLD did that come from?” So Jay and I just went with it. What I didn’t realize was Trey was battling his own spiritual warfare inside of making these decisions for himself. He was a freshman at Collierville High School and we had just ended a relationship FOR him.
Yes, I ended the relationship. Our home was not the Cleaver household. There will be forever etched in my mind Trey standing on the balcony yelling at me how much he hated me, how much he hated God, and wished he did not live in our home…then he kicked the wall. Without the kids knowing, I walked out of the house, called Jay and told him what had happened. He was on his way home from work. I was headed straight to Bretta and Keith Cochran’s house in tears begging them to tell me what I had done wrong! Later that evening, I went into Collin’s room to tell him goodnight and found him crying. He was upset because of the yelling and Trey saying he hated everyone – which he took it to mean him too. I marched myself into Trey’s room and told him, “Your brother thinks you hate him!” Trey said, “What?” I made sure Trey made it right with Collin that night. And you thought the Erwin family was always living a life of love and sweetness? HA! We are raising children!
This is the transformation of my horse of a different color. This is just one of the events that transpired before God reached down to Trey in February of 2011 and spoke to him during our Family of Families weekend. Not that Trey “changed” because he was always a loving child. But he finally realized something my devotion said this morning, “You are the only Bible some unbelievers will ever read, and your life is under scrutiny every day. What do others learn from you? Do they see an accurate picture of your God?” That is where YOUR choice comes in.
If you have not caught on by now, the horse represents you, your family, or your loved one. And if you have never seen the Wizard of Oz, then you are just out of luck.
I like the way Peter says in the Message translation, “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” (1 Pet. 2:11-12). Hum, don’t make yourselves cozy in it. How about, don’t be accepting of the foul language around you. Stand firm for your choices. Stand firm for the future of your family. I promise that your choices WILL NOT be the popular choice among some and you MAY lose friends. We are trying to teach Collin this very difficult lesson. We are trying to teach him about his choice of friends and music. What’s in your heart comes out your mouth; (Matt 15:18) what you say is what you mean. Test it. (Taken from Ken Freeman) Don’t get cozy. You may find you only have four months left in this world.
Collin and I were at St. Jude this week (praise God he’s clean for another 6 months!), and while we were waiting for his MRI in pre-op, he heard a child behind another curtain call his mother a B%&*# several times. Collin’s eyes got real big and he looked at me and said, “Did you hear that?” I acknowledged with a nod of my head and tried not to make a big deal of it. (Because I knew he would make it bigger.)He knew it was wrong and I didn’t have to tell him. Don’t miss the opportunity when you experience these opportunities to tell your children, that was wrong and that is not how we act.
There is scripture that is very easy to remember to help you live your life in service and glory to the Lord. If a group of 9th grade girls some years ago can memorize it, you can too, or tape it to your computer, your mirror, your dashboard, your refrigerator, put it in your child’s lunch. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)
We aren’t perfect. Only Christ was perfect. My devotion also said, “Even those who hold to a high view of Scripture may sometimes fail to obey it. We need to be reminded that the authority of God’s Word isn’t simply a doctrine to be affirmed, but a priority to be pursued.” I think our goal should be to keep our horse (family) of a different color one shade. Since Jesus wore a robe of purple, that is what I choose as my color. My family will stand firm and rooted in God’s word and we WILL make it a priority to pursue it. There are days that we may fail. But, how else are you going to know how to lead your horse if you don’t read the guidebook?