A HAPPINESS-FOCUSED CULTURE

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1 HAPPINESS VS JOY

2 A HAPPINESS-FOCUSED CULTURE Happiness is a transient feeling Has to be constantly fed by non-stop entertainment The ubiquity of entertainment gives this away And still our children cry bored, which means entertain me!! And adults buy into the same things Thus, even kids at Disneyworld gripe and complaining Even though The Preacher in Ecclesiastes told us all of this is vanity

3 EVEN PSYCHOLOGY KNOWS THIS Much work on happiness and it finds: Once above poverty, no relationship between money and happiness Seligman s study with two tasks for homework Students found more pleasure in helping than in self-indulgence Flow People are happiest when engaged in a challenge that musters skills Versus the average dullness of video and computer activities

4 JOY IN THE BIBLE A joyful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22) And research supports this Spiritual joy is greater that worldly joy Fullness of joy is in God s presence (Psalm 16:1) Joy comes in obedience (Dt. 28: warns against grumpy obedience) Romans 12:8: do acts of mercy with cheerfulness Can be joyful even during affliction (2 Corinthians 7:4) How can that be?

5 CHRISTIAN HEDONISM It is in our catechism: Glorify God and enjoy him forever. And as Piper has explained, Glorify God BY enjoying him forever It is rejoicing in the Giver, not the gifts In who we are in Christ, not in what we re doing at a given moment In pursuing God, not in serving self So joy is rooted in an unchanging God, not in transient activities God brings us joy because we are in relationship with him, not because he is Santa Claus As in a good marriage, it is being with the loved one that is key, not always doing something fun

6 SAINT AUGUSTINE

7 APPLICATIONS Pray for their joy, don t try to manufacture it Fight for joy by battling sin in your life and that of your children In reading Scripture with them, point to God behind the stories controlling the action (e.g., Joseph) Meditate on the Word of God in family worship so they learn the joy of it Spend time with God-saturated people who exude joy Teach how God, like a good coach, makes us better through hardships Do good deeds with your children so they can discover the joy in serving others

8 PEACE

9 PEACE VERSUS BOREDOM Our culture undermines peace by distraction Children complain of being bored for they feel they must be entertained every moment And where did they learn that? Addicted to the intensity of video games Lost value of simple or imaginary play Schools, too, put pressure on children (and parents) in an effort to be competitive Tying us into implicit goals that education is more important than maybe it is Family life is lived at too fast of a pace Running here and there; kids caught up in this

10 PULLED MORE THAN DRIVEN The result is children are not selfmotivated Feel pulled and thus resist Driven only to high-intensity distractions Thus mood in video play is often irritation, not pleasure All of this undermines a sense of peace

11 PEACE IN THE BIBLE Hebrew word is shalom and serves as greeting and blessing Used at beginning and end of all epistles except James and 1 John It is less a focus on absence of conflict And more on soundness, wholeness, completeness Or peace in a relationship when used as a greeting

12 PEACE The idea of soundness is heard in language today such as I ve come to peace with the loss or with my decision. It is a freedom from internal conflict more than external conflict Consider the hymn It is Well with My Soul In part this is integrating all of the aspects of our existence Or, to borrow from Kierkegaard, Purity of heart is to will one thing. And that is to be in sync with God and his Word And trusting in his protection and provision

13 PEACE IS NOT EFFICIENT God is not very efficient as we use the term Moses 40 years in the wilderness Jesus only ministers 3 of his 33 years And slipped away to pray often Paul called apart prior to ministry Consider the biblical mandate Wait for the Lord But we tend to push to do as much as possible And expect that of our kids at times

14 PEACE OVER PACE Live in such a way as to show children that we trust God to provide And that peace is preferable to pace

15 PEACE SUGGESTIONS Take a media fast one night a week And a routine peaceful time each day in the household Promote creative play rather than media-themed play Note peaceful moments by calling them just that Discuss with your spouse: what can we cut out of our schedules/ Make meal times peaceful No media, no phones, ask creative questions of your children Model peace in your life as you face challenges and changes Teach children the beauty of peace through getting into nature Let them know it is a value

16 PATIENCE

17 PATIENCE The famous Marshmallow Experiment Yet how instant are our gratifications these days Faster food Microwaves Instant access to media posts, etc. Constant personalized media programming While convenience is nice, we may be overwhelmed by addiction to instant gratification And getting our way so often and so swiftly develops a sense of entitlement Patience is thus a lost virtue

18 PATIENCE IN THE BIBLE Rooted in the character of God (Romans 2:4; 9:22) Impatience comes from not resting in God s sovereignty and wanting things now Patience then comes from knowing God will keep his promises to us (e.g., 2 Tim. 4:2) Thus the refrain wait for the Lord

19 KEY VERSE Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV)

20 APPLICATION Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV) Assumes we will experience trials and delays in gratification Only comes from testing one s faith And how often do we rush in to fix things for our children Hardships can be immunizations Moreover, we are to embrace trials since we want to learn patience Children to be taught the sovereignty of God And see us live in accordance

21 SUGGESTIONS Consider your parenting style and where you might allow children to experience some minor frustration and grow from it Limit food choices (or let child know s/he can choose a meal on Sat if no fussing about meals during the week) Use the term patient when called for so child is cued to it in the real world (e.g. waiting in a line) Teach elementary and older kids the terms sovereignty and live like you believe it Patience can be learned by exposing children to older adults in church Slow down on impulse buying Credit cards thrive on impatience! Put children around others who might require some patience (e.g. feeding a baby, etc.)

22 DELIBERATE ACTS OF KINDNESS

23 KINDNESS IS COUNTER-CULTURAL Media portrays naughty as cute Even old cartoons played this out How mean the Road Runner was!! Not an excuse that boys will be boys Self-assertiveness, self-esteem, etc., rule the day Watch out for #1! So kindness is not valued

24 PASSIVITY WON T CUT IT Rwandan genocide People watched on the news and felt sad then went back to eating dinner Philip Gourevitch: To denounce evil is a far cry from doing good.

25 SELF-CENTEREDNESS IS THE PROBLEM Psychology is largely to blame What was touted as self-esteem has proven to be narcissism We pass on to our kids in competitiveness in sports (or other activities) Kids all too naturally put each other down It is NOT enough to correct children when overtly selfish

26 AUGUSTINE ON SELF City of God is built on the love of God and service to Him City of Man is built on the love of self and service to self. Which are we raising our children into? Which do we serve more?

27 WE MUST DELIBERATELY TEACH KINDNESS Americans spend enough annually on pet food to meet the basic health and nutrition needs of the world How do we teach them to be sensitive to the big picture or at least others near us? Teach them how kind God is in all of his works (Ps. 145:7) Practice the good ole counting of one s blessings And do so with children

28 KINDNESS IN THE BIBLE Kindness of king of Babylon to Jehoiachin to let him out of prison (Jer. 52:32) Joseph asks cupbearer to show kindness of mentioning him to Pharaoh (Gen 40:14) Kenites shown kindness for showing mercy to Israel (1 Sam. 15:6) David shows kindness to Mephibosheth (2 Chron. 24:22) Being rebuked by a righteous man is a kindness (Psalm 141:5) David denounces the wicked for not showing kindness (Ps 109:16)

29 KEY TEXT He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 ESV)

30 BUT ALSO THE GOLDEN RULE Luke 6:31, As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. KEY then, is empathy: placing yourself in the other person s shoes Great example in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37)

31 MOVING TOWARD KINDNESS Expose the unkindnesses of the world for what they are Remember your parenting goals And Calvin says self-denial is the key to the Christian life Become more aware of God s daily kindnesses to us And lean to be alert to opportunities to be kind Our selfishness blinds us to many chances!

32 PROMOTING KINDNESS Let kids care for younger kids to the extent they can Don t laugh at cute selfish behaviors Read stories of kindness In Sunday School, make crafts to give to other church members Each person at the table give thanks for something at each meal Participate in a ministry project Deliberately teach kindness as a virtue Send thank you notes for birthday and Christmas presents Point out daily opportunities to help others as you go your way

33 GOODNESS: WHO YOU ARE WHEN NO ONE IS AROUND

34 TERMS Goodness comes from the same Greek word group as kindness We focused in last section on kindness as behavior and deeds We ll look at goodness as the godly character of our children It is rooted in the new nature given to the children of God And best seen when no one is looking

35 AND MORE TERMS Historically, we discussed sin and morality With idea of agreed upon standards Ideally based in the Bible, but at least in most cultures a common agreement Now we re more inclined to speak of values which are personal, subjective, and not able to be criticized by others Over 67% of Americans no longer believe in absolute moral values So, parents are taught to call behavior inappropriate rather than wrong or selfish Shift from character to personality And so we lose moral indignation

36 ANTI-GOOD CULTURE Goodness is devalued in most heroes in the media today E.g., James Bond kills without pity and womanizes and drinks without care Many heroes in media today are violent and dark Culture presses kids to be cool, not good And good is actually uncool Even in appearance Culture presses immodest styles and self-focused trends (tattoos, piercings) Young people get much pressure to fit these images

37

38 GOODNESS IN THE BIBLE The fruit of the Spirit are rooted in the character of God And the most basic thing we teach our children is that God is good Or more theologically, holy Numerous verses speak of God as good (e.g., Ex. 33:19; 1 Kings 8:66) David famously notes in Psalm 23 how the goodness of God will be with him forever So followers of God and His Son will reflect this Being good freely and not out of compulsion (Philemon 1:14) So, it is unforced from without and flows from within where the Spirit dwells Scripture says little about what produces goodness Though it comes from faithful obedience and abiding in Christ and His love for us

39 REFINED IN THE FIRE And may come through suffering E.g. Saul told by Ananias he would suffer for Christ (Acts 9:16) Paul admonishes us to pursue and rejoice in suffering as it leads to God s grace (Phil. 3:10; Rom. 5:3-5) Think: in all other areas being good requires hardship Athletics Music Education

40 MODELS OF GOODNESS Children are exposed to goodness more than taught it, so it raises the issue: Are we pointing out good and evil in characters/people we watch with them in media, even in characters in movies? Do they see us as parents as good and loving it? Parents helping each other joyfully Doing for neighbors And us as a church community: what do they see?

41 SOME SUGGESTIONS Catch them being good Point out good behavior and attitudes, not just bad Promote a countercultural approach to life Teach them to pray when you are not there Teach the value of suffering in life, but especially in the Christian life Read Christian biographies Build relationships with Christians of different ages For middle/high schoolers, mentors can be wonderful Show your trust Teach the hard parts of the Bible, such as the beginning of Romans 5

42 The story of Frodo and Sam (and this an example of virtues in literature) Recall how many stories used to teach morals Several books some years back compiled stories of morals Such as Wm. Bennett s Book of Virtues FAITHFULNESS

43 THREATS TO FAITHFULNESS Western culture values self-service and being true to self over others Thus, marriage is convenient, not committed And Christians have high divorce rate also But nearly half of all babies born in the US are to unwed mothers now 25% of children have no real relationship with their father

44 NEW AND IMPROVED Now we are taught by the media to always want something new and better From foods To phones To relationships Yet by nature children prefer the familiar And relationships are no different May move on if uncomfortable Versus growing in the relationship with friendss

45 BIBLICAL FAITHFULNESS Seen largely in stories Joseph through all of his hardships (and even helping his brothers!) Hebrews 11 is a great summary And Paul: Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one I am talking like a madman with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 ESV)

46 FAITHFULNESS IN PERSECUTION We easily like being Christians if we think God will help us But lose sight that we re in a warfare And thus raising soldiers, not consumers and comfort-seekers Consider how different it is for Christians around the world And changing here!

47 But Ruth said, Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you. (Ruth 1:16-17 ESV) Hosea as example And J. Roberson McQuilken FAITHFULNESS TO THE FAMILY

48 FAITHFUL FRIENDSHIPS David and Jonathan a great story to share with your kids Kids choose friends from the people parents place them around

49 PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE Do we read children stories that promote faithfulness and other virtues? And critique media that presents contrary views? Teach faithfulness in peer relationships And in dealing with groups of children in classes How faithful are you to church? Careful on contexts E.g. highly competitive sports teams Point out God s faithfulness to you and the family Keep firm limits as a way of keeping your word

50 GENTLENESS

51 ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE Most TV programs contain violence and a large part of them play it for humor 44% portray the perpetrator as an attractive character Average child sees 200,000 acts of violence, including 40,000 murders Not to mention the violence and aggression in video games Shift from gentlemen and ladies to both being warriors So fights between women, or between a man and woman now standard fare Even sex more likely to be portrayed as aggressive, passionate than gentle and loving Power is a postmodern value

52 GENTLENESS IN THE BIBLE Related to meekness, so seen in the Beatitudes Jesus, though all powerful, was meek and gentle Countercultural in his ministry to children Gentleness to mark church leaders (1 Tim. 3:3) TO be meek rather than angry (James 1:21) Correction to be done gently (2 Tim 2:25 (cp. how parents often react) To pursue gentleness (1 Tim. 6:11) And women in particular to be gentle and quiet in spirit (1 Peter 3:16) Gentleness a trait of character before it is a behavior Stems from seeing our weakness And God s strength/sovereignty

53 SUGGESTIONS Guide children into gentle play Animals can help Choose media carefully And spell out the values being portrayed in unbiblical Discipline to be gently Fathers in particular may need to model this virtue Avoid the myth of boys will be boys Revisit the idea that feminine is bad With teens, correct gently and shift from forced consequences Pray about attraction your children may have to violence

54 SELF-CONTROL

55 THREATS Lack of direction (we regulate behavior toward goals back to the minigolf illustration) Instant gratification Yields angry children Video games do not equip to think, but to react Can t equip minds to ponder the world and God Our culture values rules-breakers (compare media themes) E.g., Laverne and Shirley theme: Give us any rule, we ll break it. Sexual impulsivity (one report says now 95% of Americans report having premarital sex)

56 SELF-CONTROL IN THE BIBLE Key in self-control is to have a specific goal to which to orient behavior For the Christian, that goal is Christlikeness Self-control is the Spirit s gracious control of the will to resist temptation and stay true in pursuit of righteousness Model of the athlete s discipline (1 Corinthians 9:25) The will s control over sexual impulses (1 Thess. 4:4) Self-control particular to women s virtues (Titus 2:5) But also a requirement of leaders (1 Timothy 3:2)

57 HOW OBTAINED? For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live selfcontrolled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

58 EYES ON THE PRIZE Overall, the key is to focus our parents on the true goals And train our children into pursuit of the same

59 SUGGESTIONS Teach children to stay in their seats during meals Limit exposure to ads that tempt to want stuff And to yielding to your desire to give kids all they want Give children chores Schedules help Teach responsibilities for possession, etc. Spend meaningful time with kids/teens to talk about life s goals and the need for self-control And let s make our church a counter-culture promoting the fruit of the Spirit and not indulging the flesh!

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